MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia Sandton

Our new rules at home... breaking the smartphone obsession

No matter where you are these days (in the shop, gym, or office) you can see almost everybody has their smartphone in their hand. And most are browsing it. Sometimes it's to respond to an email, but often it's a quick glance at Twitter or Facebook. We've become obsessed and I'm probably the most guilty.

I hate being chained to my phone, yet it's an addiction. At home in the evening my daughter could be asking me a question, but I prioritise a quick tweet over answering her. Sometimes I'll be chatting to my wife and she doesn't respond. She'll be looking at her phone, smirking at some photo meme that's doing the rounds on Facebook.

The time has come to break the habit... and as a family we're starting right now.

The Phone Box


There's only one way to not look at your phone and that's to not have it on you. Nicole has implemented the "phone box". Come 5.30pm every evening we place our iPhones in the box (that's left upstairs so we don't dip our hands into it like a cookie jar). 

iPhone obsession

I've got to be honest, when I put the phone in I can almost hear it whispering in my ear to be picked up again, but moments later I feel quite chuffed I broke the spell and wasn't sucked back into the vortex. 

We're not suddenly becoming Amish. If a phone rings, we can hear it downstairs and will answer it. The box just stops us from being unsocial as a family.

Dinner is at the table


Our kids (4 and 6 years old) have been raised eating dinner in the playroom while watching TV. It wasn't a conscious parental decision. It just landed up being that way. Not only has it created a war zone as the girls fight over what should be watched on the screen, but they become sullen at the end of the evening when it's time to go up and bath. That came to an immediate stop as of yesterday.

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Now, Nicole sets the dinner table and we all eat dinner together at the same time. Nobody leaves the table until all of us are done eating. The girls still have ants in their pants and ask about watching TV, but already after 2 days I can see them accepting the situation and becoming more engaging and chatty at the table. Nicole is giving them roles such as laying out the place mats. Also, they each get a candle they can light when they sit down to eat, and get to blow it out when dinner is over (oh, the small things kids love doing).

After dinner, if they have some spare time between bathing and bedtime, they've traditionally watched more TV. Now, no more. They're allowed to play for a bit, and already they're being nicer to each other and playing with their dolls etc. 

Morning school bell


This one we've had for a while, but are being quite disciplined with it again. At 7.30am each morning the kitchen computer sounds a "school bell" alarm. This means the playroom TV goes off (no moaning allowed) and it's time to make their way to the car for school.
School clock

It might sound like we're being militant, but it's about just wanting to be a traditional family that engages with each other, laughing and crying together.

I'll keep you posted how it goes! If you have any other suggestions, pop a message at the bottom of the blog.

Cheers!
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The fairy is not long in the tooth

There's something magical about the mind of a child. Not cynical at all. Simply believing.

It's a time where Santa really exists and there's excitement on Christmas morning when you realise that the cookies have been eaten by the fat guy and he left some presents as he climbed back up the non-existent chimney.

It's a time where your favourite pooch doesn't die, Fluffy simply goes to live on the farm with his mum and dad.

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And it's a time where money has never been so easy to make. Simply leave a tooth under a pillow and the tooth fairy comes in the night and exchanges it for money. There were times as a teenager I wish I could have taken my step dad's false teeth and left them under the pillow to make myself a quick buck.

My oldest daughter has just lost another tooth, and this is one of the big front ones. When it popped out yesterday we were all jubilant. My daughter was happy because she knew the fairy was coming, and mum and dad relieved because we haven't been able to brush the tooth for days as it dangled precariously like a floppy stalactite from a bat cave.

It's also one of those moments as a parent when you realise your child is growing up. It's bittersweet. You want them to see them blossom and hit those milestones, yet you also want them to stay small and innocent forever.

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I've learnt my lesson from a cash flow point of view though. When Tayla-Jean lost her first tooth we were all so excited the "tooth fairy" left her R100! What the hell was the fairy thinking? Setting that kind of precedent is ludicrous considering there are 19 more baby teeth to fall out. Now the fairy only leaves R20. If my daughter ever asks why the remuneration has gone down I'll try and explain as simply as I can about how our president fired Mr Nene the finance minister and it caused a rapid depreciation in the value of our currency, resulting in everyone feeling the pinch...even the tooth fairy.

That's me just being cynical. Let's get back to the innocence of a child. Tayla-Jean got a tooth fairy depository upgrade a few months ago and she no longer leaves the tooth in a little box under her pillow. She has a tooth fairy front door on her wall. The fluttering dentist opens it to get the tooth and leave the money.

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Watching the glee on her face this morning as she saw the glitter on the floor as well as the written note and money behind the door was worth more money than the tooth fairy could ever leave behind.


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Kids and iPads. Draining more than just batteries.

Holy crap, parenting can be tough. You love your kids so much, yet at the same time they can drive you dilly. Someone once said (figuratively of course) that all parents want to murder their kids as some stage. The difference with good parents is... they hold back and don't.

I'm quite the disciplinarian. My oldest daughter HATES being told what to do. She's so strong willed that if I had to describe her in one word, it would be "defiant". This doesn't make for a continually smooth running household and having a headache by 8am is not uncommon in the Pilgrim household. I should try and get Panado to endorse my house. I'll even let them put a flag up on my roof as a means of me admitting defeat!

I've mentioned this a few times before and I still think there is something to it. The moment my girls spend more than about 20 minutes on their iPads, it's as if they struggle to re-focus on what's around them and that "tunnel-vision" puts them in a bad mood. I say "they", but it's amazing how angelic the other daughter is once dad has blown a gasket and sent the naughty one to her room (I'm referring to myself in the third person here because I'm generally a very calm person and don't like being a screaming banshee).

At least by sending my daughter to her room she actually does calm down and comes out when she's ready to acclimatise herself back into normal society. I only started sending her to her room once she was able to open the door herself (didn't want her to feel locked in). So when she was smaller she would have to stand in the naughty corner under the stairs like a free-range version of Harry Potter who was placed in a cupboard under the stairs. The problem was she would just stroll out a moment later, so being able to now send her to her room is much better. She spends an hour or so playing with her "My little Pony" figurines and comes out a happy person again.

So once again, the iPad is on rations. No iPad on school mornings, at a meal table or in the evenings close to bed time.

Apples are not always good for you.



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Losing the nu-nu is a no-no

Here's another one of those "parenting" blogs. If you're not into kids, you might want to skip this one and come back tomorrow! :)

My girls are growing up so fast.

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No matter how much a child grows up though, there's so often one item they like holding onto. It's their comfort "thing", their 'nu-nu".

For my girls, it's always been little blankets. My 2 year old still goes EVERYWHERE with hers:

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My 4 year old Tayla-Jean has pretty much grown out of it, and it never normally leaves her room (in fact, trying to find a photo of her blanket I had to go back to when she was 2 years old as well):

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But even now, when she goes to sleep, she still likes having it in her bed. So when we went on holiday it made sense that we took it with to Mauritius. What was the ONE THING we left behind in the hotel room when we checked out? Yep, the friggin' blanket! How to feel shitty as parents! :)

Despite contacting the hotel, it was never handed in to lost property, so we've had a rough few evenings putting Tayla-Jean to sleep.

One day we'll look back at this and laugh, but for now we've placed an urgent order with our neighbour to please crochet another nu-nu blanket ASAP!



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What to do with your kids this holiday

Reader warning! Today's blog is for parents of young kids! If you were hoping for a gadget review, you might want to come back tomorrow!

It's school holidays. One of the most pressing questions most parents ask is:" How the hell are we going to keep the kids entertained until school reopens next year!?".

Each morning when we wake up, we try and think of something that will keep them busy for just 2 or 3 hours to break the routine of always doing the SAME thing at home (or at the local coffee shop that has a jungle gym).

Well here's a suggestion for you: Build-a-Bear.

We took Tayla-Jean and Alyssa to the store in Sandton City on Sunday morning and it landed up being lots of fun... and killed 1.5 hours of the morning!

The whole premise is the experience of creating and making your own bear so that it "comes to life". It starts with choosing the bear body. My girls are into Frozen, so they chose the Elsa and Arna bear.

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Then, you choose what the bear should say (it's speech box).

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After that, you need to fill the bear with stuffing. The kids push a pedal to get the machine to shoot the foam inside as if it's the ultimate enema:

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Then a little bit of magic happens. As it's all about the experience, each child is given a small foam heart, and there's a little ritual the kids have to do to bring it to life, before placing it inside the bear.

Off to the bear parlour for a little bit of grooming (considering the critter has just had a major operation):

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From there, it's clothing the bear. And there's a LOT to chose from!

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My girls stuck with the Frozen theme, picked the clothes, and dressed their bears:

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The end result: a lot of time keeping the kids entertained. In fact, the parents get quite involved too. I never thought it would be such a tough decision choosing which knickers the bears should wear.

And then my girls had 2 new friends they got to take home:

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Even the bear's "box house" is quite clever. Tayla-Jean spent most of Sunday afternoon colouring it in:

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All in all, a great opportunity for mums and dads to spend a bit of quality play time with their kids. Well worth doing if you have a Build a Bear near you.

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Happy birthday to my little angel Alyssa!

I get very emotional when it comes to my kids birthdays. I think back to the day they were born. To all the times they made me laugh and cry. You see, as a testicular cancer survivor, my prognosis of having children was slim to non-existent.

Well, Nicole and I beat those odds naturally... twice! Two years ago my second bundle of joy came into the world. Today is Alyssa's birthday!  To my little Chicken Sausage...

From the moment you were born you stole my heart...
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Even as a baby your smile made the day's frustrations melt away...
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We play silly buggers and laugh at ourselves...
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Right now in your life, you're fixated with Barney. You love having long showers with your sister. You get upset if you can't feed the chihuahuas.  And you draw me pictures everyday...sometimes on the wooden floor.

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When you read this in cyberspace in 15 years time, just know that Dad loves you so much. Thank you for being in our lives. Happy birthday!!!
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Something fishy about my daughter

It's one of those moments where, for someone else it means nothing, but for me it means the world. My 3 year old daughter has taken to swimming like a fish in water and got her first swimming trophy yesterday... I'm a proud dad!



Whilst Tayla-Jean puts her swimming goggles on all the time, Alyssa (my 1 year old) has developed a shoe fetish and won't even go to sleep now unless she has chosen a pair of shoes to accompany her pyjamas. it also means mum and dad can no longer walk around the house barefoot, because she selects shoes from our cupboards and insists we wear them. Wearing formal Italian shoes with shorts has become the norm for me at home!

Despite what I wear, the biggest thing making me look like an idiot is STILL the moustache.


It's now Day 27 of Movember... the final home stretch. I get to shave it off on Saturday night! As the Movember ambassador I was a guest on e-TV's Sunrise this morning chatting about the campaign and mens health in general.


Here's to the final days of the campaign. And then it's champagne.
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A personalised message from Santa Claus

I remember being a small kid, writing to the North Pole, and getting a reply back from Father Christmas himself (thank you British Post office). 

Still believing in Santa Claus is a magical moment in every kids life, so I've come across a website that I had to share with you if you have young kids. 

The website www.portablenorthpole.com enables you to send a personalized video greeting to your child from Santa himself! Best of all, to create the video and view it online is free. They charge you a few dollars if you want to download a high definition copy to your hard drive. Here's the one I created for Tayla-Jean:



They have a large database of kids names, but didn't have Tayla-Jean (what would the odds be!), so I had to get Santa to say "Taylor", but she's too small to worry about that. In fact, I got Santa to say how nice she's been towards her sister as a little psychological game of positive reinforcement. She was so excited to get a message from Father Christmas she watched the video 10 times back to back.

You just have to LOVE the spirit of Christmas!
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Latest pics of my girls

So it's been a while since I've posted some pics of my girls. Partly because I get so caught up in taking videos of them that I forget about photos.

Tayla-Jean is going through a nurturing phase where she gathers every single bear and doll we have in the house, piles them all up on top of each other... and then sits in the middle! Even when I took a photo of her yesterday (and yes, she had to give me express permission to take the photo), she insisted on some of her furry family being in the shot too:



My 1 year old Alyssa is well on the way to expressing herself verbally. Her favourite words at the moment are CAR, NO, and SHOE:



I'm looking forward to the October issue of Living and Loving as Alyssa will be donning the cover with Nicole.

So while all my girls are smiling, I've been hit by a stomach bug and not smiling much at all! For the last 24 hours I've been moping around, getting tired of just eating bananas, apples and white marmite sandwiches! Nothing can be more unromantic than that gurgling stomach and queasy look on your face as you plan your schedule around trips to the bathroom.

Speaking of Apples, tomorrow night (about 7pm SA time) the big Apple media event kicks off in California. We'll find out about the new iPhone and other bits and pieces too. There's rumour of an Apple TV software facelift, but probably no mention of an iWatch or the new iPad (the latter supposedly now scheduled for an event in October). Looking forward to seeing what happens. Will keep you posted!

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Tips for parents of babies and toddlers that we've found effective

(For the permanent link to this specific blog, click here: http://www.markpilgrim.co.za/Rapidblog/index.php?id=4688067390919175539)

Being a dad of 2 young girls, I'm often asked by other dads if I have any advice for new parents. There are some things I wished other parents had told Nicole and I that would have made our life a little easier. I'm not talking about big things like the type of cot or pram to buy, but rather the smaller things, like the best way to heat up and prepare a bottle, or how to handle baby poo.

So here's a guide as to what we did. It's not a definitive guide, nor the "correct" way of doing things. It's simply what worked for Nicole and I and might help you a little in time of need!

Getting baby (formula) bottles ready in an instant

When your baby wants a bottle, he or she wants it NOW! Also, at 3 in the morning you don't want to have to worry about going into the kitchen to make it. Yet, you can't pre make it and leave it in a bottle warmer all night as the milk starts curdling after an hour or so and expires.

Nicole and I prepare about 5 bottles with boiled and then cooled kettle water.  Only ever boil kettle water once, because if you continually re-boil the same water it starts losing some of it's hydration abilities. We then take the cooled bottles to the baby's room and they stay "fresh" there for the whole day.

You need a decent bottle warmer that can heat the bottle to about 40 degrees. Place one bottle in the bottle warmer (just water in the bottle, not mixed with powder). That bottle can stay there for hours without expiring as you haven't added the formula. Next to the bottles, keep pre-measured containers of your formula.

When you need that bottle in a rush, simply pour the powder in the warm bottle, shake and you're ready to feed the little one with a freshly mixed bottle. Just remember that if the baby doesn't drink everything and you want to put it back in the warmer, you can only use that bottle up to an hour or so later otherwise it starts curdling.

When you're all done, simply pop another bottle with only water in to the bottle warmer and you're ready for the next feeding session without having to dash to the kitchen at the last minute with a screaming baby in your arms.

Stop your room smelling of baby poo

For about 2 years we used the special baby poo bins with the circular bin liners. For three reasons though we didn't like them.

Firstly, the thought of fermenting poo sitting in the bin for up to day right next to our baby wasn't appealing. Secondly, no matter how scented the bin liners were,  the bin inevitably stank. Thirdly, the bin liners can be quite pricey.

We found an easier and simpler solution. Dischem and most baby shops sell poo bags (branded as Nappy Sacks) in boxes of 100 (like a tissue box). They're like plastic shopping bags but much thinner. You simply put the poo nappy in the bag and toss it in the bin outside. Eureka... A clean smelling room!

How to make nappy changing less messy

It's one dads will love. Just like a tissue box, pharmacies sell disposable latex gloves in boxes of 100. We have them all over the house, because when you change a nappy the last thing you want is your baby's crap all over your hands and under your fingernails.

With a glove on, you can get "right in there" without any fear and once you have the poo nappy bundled in your gloved hand, use your other hand to pull the back of the glove over your "nappy hand" and the nappy is then inside the actual glove and well-contained!

Baby sleeping in her own room from day 1

This is not for everybody. I'm a light sleeper and would never be able to sleep with a baby in our room, especially not in our bed. From the day they came home from the hospital our girls have always slept in their own rooms with the lights off.

So how did we keep an eye on them? Easy, with the help of technology we were able to hear and see them all the time. Firstly you need a good baby room monitor. I have 2 brands at home, and find the Angelcare range to be the best, both in terms of connectivity and also what is displayed on the monitor. During the night you want to be able to glance at the monitor to make sure the baby's room is not too hot or cold (books say the room should be 18C. We've always kept our room at about 23C). The Angelcare monitor is readable in the dark, wheres the Tommy monitor needs to be activated to view. The Angelcare also comes with a sensor pad that you place under the baby. This pad detects breathing. We stopped using the sensor pad on both our girls at about 12 weeks though, because it would regularly give a false poisitive (not pick up movement and trigger the alarm, yet the girls are fine).

The second thing you want these days is a "visual" into the room. You can either get a baby monitor that comes with a camera, or if you have WiFi at home, buy any IP camera that connects to your WiFi and lets you view the image from any web browser on your computer or phone. (Go to www.wirelesscamera.co.za for more affordable Chinese generics or www.y-cam.com for higher quality ones).

We have 9 of these cameras in our house, and can view them externally so we can check up on the kids when we're not home. Many people get by with just audio into the room and no visuals, but once you have a camera, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Whose turn is it to get up and feed the baby?

Nicole and I have always played a game of tag. If the baby monitor is next to your side of the bed when the baby wakes up, you're "it". When you're done and come back to the bedroom, you place the monitor on your partner's side and then they're "it" if the baby wakes up. No arguments. Simple.

Baby bag

Ever wondered how to keep your child warm in winter without worrying about a blanket that keeps coming off them. Up until about 18 months we put Tayla-Jean in a type of sleeping bag. It fit the torso like a jersey but is actually a sleeping bag. There are many on the market, and here is an example of one of them we use (you can order them here: http://littlebobabiesonline.com/product/little-bo-baby-sleeping-bag-cotton/)

Getting them to sleep through the night

At about a year old we found that Tayla-Jean was still waking up wanting a bottle in the middle of the night because she was hungry. The same happened with Alyssa. Every young parent dreams of a solid night's sleep... this might help! An author of a well published baby book recommended that from a year onwards, instead of giving the baby a normal evening bottle at 6 or 7pm, change that specific bottle to one containing Pediasure.

This is an nutritional supplement for kids 1-10 years old. It contains more carbs and keeps them fuller for longer. This product might not be for everyone, and chat to your pead first, but it worked wonders for both our girls. By the second night of giving Pediasure they were both sleeping through the night.

White noise

Another little trick we use is white noise. Both my girls have iPods in their rooms which plays the same track 24 hours a day. White noise is essentially a constant hiss, like a TV when you are trying to tune it.  Played softly in the background it drowns out all the other extraneous house noises that might otherwise wake the child up. It's so effective even we always keep a fan going in our room (even in Winter), which has the same effect.

There are many great CDs that have white noise on them. The one we use is tailor made for babies as it also subtly has the sound of a heart beating, which is very soothing for the baby. It's available on a CD called BABY SENSE: In the womb.

Finite choices

As Tayla-Jean got older (about 2 years) we found that she often said "no" to us. Would you like to bath now? No. Please get into the car now? No.

On the recommendation of a child psychologist we started giving her finite choices that empowered her (as she was making a choice), but also was a win-win for us. For example, instead of asking her if she is ready for a bath, we now say: "Do you want to bath in 1 minute or 2 minutes?". So whether she opts for 1 minute or 2 minutes, she feels like she's made the decision and you still get her in the bath.

With the car example, it's now phrased: "would you like to get in the car by yourself or do you want me to put you in the car? You can decide". It sometimes needs to be reinforced with "If you don't choose then it means you want Dad to choose for you".

Another game I started playing with Tayla-Jean was the stopwatch trick. I use an iPad app called "Minu Timer". It's got a big read circle that closes together as the time runs out. We start the timer and see if we can get things done, like brushing teeth, before the time runs out.

Getting your toddler to be good!

It's amazing what a little validation can do. How great do we feel at work when (if ever) the boss comes up to us and says well done on an excellent job! It's the same with kids.

We have a "star chart" and Tayla-Jean gets so excited when she gets another star. All it is really is a sheet of laminated paper with about 20 blocks on it. Whenever she's been exceptionally good, we take a sticky little star and place it in a block. Every day we count the stars to see how many she has (even though she KNOWS exactly how many she has at any given time).

How to stop your 3 year old from waking you up in the morning

I have placed a night light in the passage outside Tayla-Jean's room. Using a regular plug timer, it switches on at about 6pm and switches off at about 6.30am as the sun comes up. My daughter knows that if she wakes up and sees the light on (through the crack under her bedroom door), it means it's still night time and she should stay in bed. It works so well and we don't get woken up with her next to our bed at 5am anymore.

On the dot though at 6.30am every morning she comes into our bedroom and wakes us up with the words "The light is off!".

If you have any other suggestions for new parents, please post a comment at the bottom of this page. Here's hoping these few paragraphs can help make things a little easier for mums and dads.
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The lies our parents told us.

Nicole came up with a great title for a book this morning: "The lies our parents told us".

The conversation came up because at about 3am this morning Tayla-Jean was coughing so much I had to wake her up and give her medicine. In her groggy state she didn't want to open her mouth, so I told her if she didn't drink it I would have to insert the cough medicine up her bum... she opened her mouth quicker than a newborn chick wanting a worm from its mamma!

It's these small little white lies we have to tell our kids in order to get them to do things! My daughter still thinks I don't have hair because I never ate my vegetables as a kid.

Staying with kids, today their playroom is going to be turned a little upside down as we are having the window removed and replaced with a sliding door. So ALL of the toys are out of the room and scattered in the lounge and diningroom. At the moment I'm tripping over teddy bears, prams and pretty much everything else made in China.

I shared this picture on Twitter yesterday, but well worth putting in the blog today. This was Tayla-Jean and the kids in our complex yesterday. They've formed a motorcycle gang... and they are terrorizing the neighbours who don't have kids!

Finally, a quick shout out to the guys at Kia South Africa. Yesterday was the 5-a-side football national finals. Just before the big game, the "Kia celeb team" (MiCasa and myself) were up against legendary Bafana Bafana player Brian Baloyi and his hand picked team. I suck at football, but Brian kindly let me get the ball from him once... and in trying to score a goal I kicked it over the perimeter fence. Danny K was also there enjoying the celebrity disaster that was unfolding!

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My wife was a gadget widow yesterday & now needs panados

I'm not much of a sports watcher so my wife doesn't "lose me" on Saturdays. But give me a new gadget and I'm like a salivating pitbull. I disappear into my own world until the gadget has been mastered!

That's why there was no blog yesterday and my wife also never saw much of her husband either, because my new gadget arrived... and Nicole became a gadget widow!

I have quite a few IP cameras at home (wireless WiFi CCTV cameras that can be browsed and controlled over the internet). A new one has just come on the market called the Y-Cam Cube and I simply HAD to import one and give a test.

All my other cameras are "Fong Yong" generics that do the job well, but look butt ugly.

THIS camera might has well have been made by Apple. It came in similar stylish packaging and looks sleek and simple... something Apple is renowned for. Afterall, if you're going to plonk cameras all over your house you want them to look a combination of stylish and inconspicuous.

It took me a little while, but I got it up and running in the lounge and have been testing it over the past 24 hours, both in the day and at night (it has 28 "nightvision LEDs" to see in the dark). The great thing with all of these IP cameras is that with a little know-how you can feed the signal out of your home and watch the live feed from anywhere in the world on your phone or PC. It's great for seeing what the kids are up to and that your house is secure.

Speaking of kids. It's only 8am as I write this blog, but I'm already exhausted. Tayla-Jean wakes up and probably decides on certain days it will be a moody day, because Nicole and I had to deal with 3 temper tantrums already in the space of 2 hours. It's as if Satan spawned a child and it woke up in my daughter's bed! Parenting can be tough... some days more than others!

I can truly understand the "support group" philosophy, because you only truly understand the kid tantrum drama if you have children yourself and have been through it.

Two Panados later, I'm ready to tackle the day.
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Home alone

Along with Nicole's family, my girls have all left for a family vacation to Mauritius. I stayed behind as I'm the working smurf... well that is until Sunday, and then I join them for a few days.

I don't envy the passenger sitting next to my wife on the flight there this morning. A noisy baby is one thing, but Alyssa is still quite nauseous so they might get an extra deposit next to their soggy blue egg SAA breakfast tray.

It's weird though suddenly having an empty house after being so used to the daily chaos. I must admit, I got more admin done this morning in 1 hour than I usually do the whole day, but it's going to be a tough couple of days without my girls. I have a feeling beans on toast will be on the menu on more than one occasion!

At least now I will be able to get through those movies my wife doesn't want to watch like "Planet of the Apes" and "The Hobbit"!
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They don't tell you this in parenting 101

This is something only a parent can relate to. If I see someone else's child vomit I curl my fingers and toes, block my nose and run in the opposite direction. When it's your own child, you dig in the trenches so to speak, and those same hands uncurl and you try and catch as much of it as possible so maybe you don't have to clean the carpet afterwards.

We've had a 6 week run in the Pilgrim household of the girls having fevers, vomiting and runny tummies (not that I try and catch THAT with my hands). The latest bug has had both girls throwing up so much that our poor washing machine is taking strain with the constant barrage of linen and pajamas.

In fact, Nicole has taken the kids to the doctor so many times over the past few weeks she's worried the doctor might think she has Munchausens Syndrome. No, that's not where you snack on little people. It's where you continually feign illness to get attention.

The reality is, when your child is sick, especially losing lots of fluids, you simply can't take a chance. It needs attention. Tayla-Jean had nausea so badly she had to have anti-vomiting tablets they give chemo patients.  She's been better since Saturday (hot on the heels of the Tonsillectomy that knocked her out for 2 weeks).

On the weekend Nicole and I both got sick with the same bug, and are both feeling better now. But little Alyssa is still sick and as I write this... Nicole is at the doctor with her! Here's hoping my little Chicken Sausage is okay. We were up at 3am this morning giving her a bath to clean her up after a 4th night of hurling.

Being a Mum or Dad is definitely not for the faint-hearted or squirmish!
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The airport, batteries and vomiting.

Hi as I sit at Rhapsodys having breakfast at King Shaka Airport in Umhlanga. One of the nicest things about the airport (and there are many) is that Rhapsodys provide you with free wi-fi. Not some funny "sign up to our database and and get 10 free minutes", but proper Durban seaside surfing!

In fact, as I sit watching people scurry around in the terminal, I've leisurely tapped into my home cameras and and am watching little Alyssa sleep (without it gobbling up all my 20c/mb 3G data).

Speaking of gadgets (and I can go on for a while doing that), here's a little electronic device you might want to get at your nearest cellphone shop. It's the Mophie Powerstation. It's a portable battery on steroids that can fully re-charge an iPhone twice or almost completely charge an iPad. The nice thing about it is that it's not locked into only Apple devices, but can charge anything as it has a "USB out" port. It's been a life saver so many times.


The reason why I'm at the airport waiting to catch a flight back to Johannesburg is because I was in Durban last night to deejay at a Microsoft conference. Being an Apple lover I felt like Harry Potter in Lord Voldemart's clutches, but the guys were lots of fun and it was a big party at a club in Morningside called Bellagios.


My only concern last night was over my daughter Tayla-Jean, who has had a bad run of luck when it comes to getting sick. After getting tonsillitis 4 or 5 times in the past few months, she had her tonsils out 2 weeks ago. She has only just recovered from that and 2 nights ago caught a bug that has had her vomiting for 24 hours. It eventually settled down a little last night, but Nicole was almost at the point of going to the local casualty ward because she was losing so much fluids. As a Dad, it broke my heart yesterday morning when she was leaning over a bucket and she whispered to me to please hold her hair back so she wouldn't vomit on it.

At least I can spend an hour or two with her when I get home later this morning... and then it's off to Sun City as I'm speaking at the Clover conference tonight. Better make sure my Mophie is charged again.


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Muggles and make up

I've been spending quite a bit of time traveling lately, and today is no exception as I'm off to Durban for a gig tonight.

To pass the time at hotels, airports and on the plane itself I've been watching a few iPad movies. About a week ago I decided to give Daniel Radcliffe another chance and I loaded the Potter movies (all 8 of them). So, for the last few days I've once again immersed myself in the world of muggles, sorcery and brooms. I'm four movies down with four to go and I have to once again conclude that I really don't think Mr Potter acted well at all. Having said that though, I really love the special effects and the storyline, so today in the 5 minutes of the Durban flight which is not ascending or descending, I'll switch on my "electronic device" and start the 5th movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Think of it as trivial escapism.

The worst thing about traveling for me is missing my girls. Even for one night. I think I might just miss one of the "moments" when the girls do something for the first time. Like last week when Tayla-Jean decided to apply her own makeup for the first time...
In fact, she could do with some make up now because she's as white as a sheet. Last night Nicole and I were up all night because she was vomiting (the first time I expertly caught most of it in my hands... it's an instinct thing!). This morning I have cancelled a meeting so I can lie in bed with her as she's still quite weak. It's weird being in my pajamas on a "work day".
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How my Sandton kugel wife cuts onions

So we usually have this onion cutting thingy that chops the onions without shedding a tear. As luck would have it, last night a piece of the contraption was missing, so we had to go "old school" and cut the onions by hand.

I would usually just brace myself and prepare to shed a good couple of tears. No, not my kugel wife. She came up with another idea...


Simple, yet very effective. Well done Sandton mamma! :)

Speaking of last night, the highlight of the social calendar was going to the Olympus has Fallen premiere to meet Hollywood actor Gerard Butler. Nicole and I cancelled yesterday afternoon because Tayla-Jean wasn't feeling to well after having her tonsils out a few days ago. Whilst it would have been great to be at the premiere, there was no place I would rather have been last night than at my daughter's side. It's now day 5 after the op and (excuse the graphic nature of the sentence), but it's when the scabs form in the throat. She took a bit of strain last night and this morning, but the medication seems to have kicked in again and all is okay at the moment.

We also got some some great news this morning. After an anxious wait, we heard this morning that Tayla-Jean has been shortlisted for a place in Grade 000 at Grayston Preparatory School next year. They only admit 16 pupils so I've had a knot in my stomach for a while now. Tomorrow it's off to the Principal's office for an interview. It's amazing, no matter how old you get, there's something still nerve wracking about being called to the Principal's office! I almost want to quickly make a "jack pad" out of an old car's inner tube!

Wish us luck. I love the school and really want her to get in.





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My daughter and the North Korean bum bullet

Tayla-Jean had her tonsils out yesterday. While she was still goofed on medication at hospital she managed to smile a little and was very happy when Dad got into bed with her.

After a few hours at home though, the pain started kicking in and there were more than a few tears last night.

She's on a lot of medication, including the ones she hates the most, the bum bullets (suppositories). In between the sobs as the North Korean nuclear missile was latching on to its buttock target, she said to us:
"I'm not having a good day. You're bending my bum with those small things".

She's in for a rough few days, especially in a week when the scabs form in the throat. Mum and Dad are psyched and ready.

On a lighter but colder note, 48 hours ago we were using aircons to cool us down at night...  and then somone suddenly opened the fridge door in Johannesburg. It took me about 20 minutes to get the gas fireplace working (had to bleed the pipes), and in the kitchen I used a bit of psychological warfare on the cold... I switched on my virtual fireplace!
It might be cheesy, but it makes the room seem warmer!



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The birthday party

I'm not going to lie, when Nicole told me 2 nights ago that she had bought Tayla-Jean a dolls house and it needed assembling, I thought it would be a matter of slapping a few panels together and I would be done in 20 minutes.

But alas, it wasn't just a shack, it was a multi storey condo... in a million pieces so the Chinese manufacturers could get it all in the flattest box possible. Even all the "house furniture bits" were disassembled. 3 hours later and a few minutes before midnight it was done!
Just in case you're wondering what to get a 3 year old girl for birthday... this is a sure hit! Tayla-Jean has already spent hours playing with it.

Speaking of birthdays, hers was at 2.30pm yesterday at a kiddie fucntion venue in Sandton. For the record, the storm in the Johannesburg sky let rip at 2.35pm and only stopped 10 minutes after our party ended. Not that the kids minded being stuck in a room... it got them all closer to the cakes and sweets. This was my angel getting ready for the party...

And here is Tayla-Jean at the party venue, all set up outside just before the storm, waiting for all her friends to arrive...

This morning she is in hospital having her tonsils out, and I'm in Polokwane talking at a conference so can't be there until this afternoon. So this is an anxious dad today.
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A tribute to my daughter turning 3 today!

Because of testicular cancer I had at the age of 18, when Nicole and I got married we knew there was a very slim chance that we would ever have a child of our own. We were advised by specialists that even IVF might prove difficult. We indeed tried that route and it didn't work.

4 years ago, moving into a new house, we decided not to worry about things for a while and just go with the flow... and Nicole fell pregnant.

On the 3 April 2010 our little miracle baby was born (as a side note, we were blessed again 2 years with our second girl Alyssa, who is my chicken sausage).

Today, my little angel pie Tayla-Jean turns 3 years old. "Tayla" comes from a name I saw on the radio SMS line and "Jean" was the name of my late-mum who my daughters never got to meet.

Today is a simple tribute to a 3 year old girl who taught her Dad unconditional love. A girl who makes all the day's aggravations melt away when she gives Dad a hug and asks "are you okay?". Today is a tribute to Tayla-Jean Pilgrim:
Here's wishing this blog floats around in cyber space for many years to come and you come across it on google one day when you're much older. Just know that Dad loves you so much. I love you a hundred times more than the hundred kisses I give you everyday. At the end of each day when I get to bed exhausted because you made me jump for what seems like hours on the trampoline or chase you around the house, I fall asleep the happiest Dad in the world. I love you Angel Pie. Happy birthday!! xxx
This is my Tayla-Jean growing up over the past 3 years...

3 days old
6 months old
10 months old
1 year old
2 years old
3 years old

And if you are reading this blog 20 years into the future my Angel Pie... sorry we took your tonsils out 1 day later!!

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One of the music industry's nice guys

This morning Kahn from The Parlotones popped into the studio. He's always a pleasure to chat to.

The band is making strides in the States at the moment. Good luck guys!

I picked up my Kia Sorento yesterday. I can't wait to do a review blog of the car next week. I am blown away by how it's evolved since the last model. It's got all the gadgets and gizmos you could ask for, and so much more comfortable than the previous model. Besides, nothing like that new car smell!

Not that I can drive it around much today as I'm home bound looking after my 2 girls. The domestic worker is away and Nicole is at work, so I'm like Tony Danza from Who's the Boss. I'm gonna avoid the vacuum cleaner at all costs though!

We are not going anywhere this long weekend so I'm looking forward to a few days at home with the family (and extended family ... a few lunches on the cards). We have about 17 people coming over for Easter Sunday.

Have a great long weekend and if you're in JHB, I'll be on your radio tomorrow 6-9am.!
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There's some babies that need your help

If you're a parent I'm sure you'll agree that nothing is more precious and fragile than a little baby.

Sadly, there are many that will grow up without the same privileges that your child or mine will have, even down to clothing that fits them snugly and comfortably.

That's why over the weekend Nicole got tucked into our kids cupboards and spent an entire day putting together piles of clothes for The Grace Factory.

They're an organization that collects clothes for babies that are desperately in need, and distribute to various placed of shelter. They are desperately in need of more clothing as well as formula and nappies, so if you have anything lying around in your cupboard (and you are in the Vaal/Gauteng area), PLEASE drop them an email. Their website is: www.TheGraceFactory.co.za.

Speaking of babies, we are off to the specialist again today to find out if Tayla-Jean's tonsils need to come out. After her being so sick so many times, I think it's time for them to go.  She won't be happy to see the doctor today... I'm bracing for drama! :)


In other news, My chart show, the Kia Take40sa has been nominated for a 2013 Radio Award in the category of Best Commercial Music Show. It took the title last year, so here's hoping for 2 in a row! The awards take place on 13 April.


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My worst fear in a restaurant loo

Yes, I admit, I'm a bit of a germaphobe.

So it stands to reason I'm not a fan of public toilets. I think of them as germ pits, infested with all types of infectious bugs. In fact, the amount of guys who don't wash their hands after going to the loo is horrendously high (and I hear it's the same with the ladies). Some guys, when seeing you at the basin, will make a show of going to the tap, sprinkle a drop of water on their hands, feel like they have done their bit and proudly strut away.

That's why I always try and use a piece of tissue to open the door or turn the tap.

But my worst fear when it comes to a restaurant loo is the DREADED HANDTOWEL.

If you ever see me at a restaurant and I walk out of the loo with damp jeans... no, I didn't wet myself. I just used them to dry my hands. Arrrgghhhhhhh. This was the case yesterday at a restaurant in Fourways. The problem is, half the time they haven't been washed in what seems like a few weeks. They look soggy and just hang onto the hook for dear life.

As a backup I always keep waterless hand cleanser in the car. You just never know when the restaurant bathroom is just too disgusting to enter.

Speaking of germs, the family is getting better after all 3 girls landed up with high temperatures and anti-biotics. It's been a hellish last 2 weeks, but everyone seems to be on the mend at last.

Here's hoping you have a great weekend!
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My wife is on her back again

This was Nicole and I on Saturday night partying up a storm ....



The next day she was flat on her back... with tonsillitis. If you've been following the blog, you'll know that both my daughters are on anti-biotics because of tonsillitis and they've both had raging fevers over the last 2 weeks.  I suppose it was inevitable that Nicole would get it too.

Which leaves just me and my pet chihuahua that are not on medication at the moment! At least I don't have tonsils to get infected (as mine were chopped out in the 70s). I'm not too sure about my chihuahua.

Speaking of 70s, yesterday I did some work for a production agency called The Mediabox in Pretoria. I mention this because they have so many cool retro memorabilia lying around their office. Check this out...


It's an orginal Chopper bike from the early 70s! I was a youngster back in the days of Starsky and Hutch and remember riding those bikes like yesterday. I also remember, on more than one occasion, slipping forward and landing up on that gear lever. Maybe that's why today I only have one goolie?
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I'm on my hands and knees

Apologies for no blog yesterday. I was hosting the AECI Sales Conference and I couldn't get near my computer.

My blogs over the past few days have been focused a lot on my girls simply because their condition has dominated our household. So which girl do I start with first?

Tayla-Jean has gone one whole day without a temperature (woohoo!).

After 7 days of anti-biotics she seems to be on the mend, but she still has another 5 days of medicine to go. Now we give her the medicine on a tiled surface in case we have a re-occurrence of 3 nights ago when she simply hurled it (and her dinner) back up again.

I thought you'd rather not see the CCTV footage of the "event", but this was me 5 minutes later, on my hands and knees with a bucket trying to clean up the couch and carpet.



I'm obviously not skilled enough with the way of the bucket, because 3 days later the room is still ponging, so this morning all playroom toys had to go into the lounge so the carpet can be removed and cleaned properly. So this is how I'll watch TV tonight...


Alyssa is on day 3 of a fever (yes, both my girls are sick). This morning is a good one as her temperature is "only" 38.3C.

But there is a moment every night, when both girls are sound asleep, work is done for the day, and for that BRIEF moment Nicole and I can sit down (tonight though won't be in the pukey playroom or toy-filled lounge) and have that first sip of merlot.

Despite living on the edge of chaos, I wouldn't change it for the world. Parenthood. The biggest blessing ever.
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New car & my vomit comet


Kia South Africa launches the new 2013 edition of the Kia Sorento today.

One of the great things about being an ambassador is that I get to experience the new models. I've been driving the Optima sedan for a year (which is an amazing car), but I'm looking forward to having all the boot space of the Sorento again to lug all my kids' goodies around. The boot space of the Sorento is probably 40% bigger than my wife's Audi Q5.

My black Sorento arrives next week. Maybe if I put my hazards on I can tail the Zuma cavalcade of black sedans that go up and down the M1.

Speaking of boot space and kids, I've had so many people asking how Tayla-Jean is doing. Thanks so much for the many messages. All things considered, she is holding up okay.

My little angel still has severe tonsillitis from which she has also developed scarlet fever. Today is day 6 and she has hardly eaten anything since the beginning, because the back of her throat is so raspy and sore.

Last night the specialist extended her anti-biotic treatment to 10 days (this just 2 weeks after she was on drugs for the same infection) and I have no doubt that when she's better in a week or so, we'll schedule to have her tonsils removed. It's her birthday in 3 weeks time so we'll probably do it straight after that.

Last night she reacted violently to the anti-biotics and just moments after I gave it to her threw up all over me. Nicole is so squeamish that she couldn't come in the room, but did have a good laugh when she looked back at the CCTV footage, watching me get it in the face in slow motion. Nice.

So it was left to me to scrub the floor and couch with a bucket and brush. Getting vomited on is a rite of passage as a parent. You've just gotta grin and bare it! At least this time she missed my watch strap (last time her acidity at away at the watch's leather strap and it cost R3000 for a new one!).

Here's hoping my Angel Pie gets better soon.

Finally, on a lighter note. Here's a photo doing the rounds. It's the new way to queue at Home Affairs.


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I've got the school jitters

This is the time of year when thousands of toddlers' parents get a little nervous as they await news on whether their children have been accepted into their school of choice for next year, going into Grade 000. Nicole and I are just 2 of those parents right now.

Back in my day, you simply went to the school that was closest to you. These days it's very different. When it comes to private schools there are always more applicants than slots so they work on a pecking order based on siblings already at the school and parents being ex-pupils etc. Plus they try to demographically balance the schools by race and gender.

It's a stressful time. We all want the best for our children.  It's like a job interview, where you wait anxiously for a phone call to say you're in (and hope you don't get the email saying you're not).

Technologically so much has changed over the years as well. I was schooled with overhead transparencies, writing a lot on the blackboard and having a single paragraph in an Encyclopedia Britannica as a reference source for a topic.  Now it's all about "interactive computerised white boards",  ipads and google. Being a gadget person, I would LOVE to be part of the generation that goes to school now where Wikipedia is the norm.

Ahhhhh, my little Tayla-Jean is growing up so fast. Here's hoping she gets into the school we chose.


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Marilyn Manson is not the kid from The Wonder Years

I was watching Marilyn Manson last night do a guest appearance on Californication and he acted very well. I mentioned it on twitter and a few people responded with the rumour that's been going around for years that he used to be the geeky kid in the The Wonder Years. So I did a bit of research...


Yep, they certainly DO look similar, but alas, it's not the same person. Marilyn Manson's real name is Brian Warner and the nerdy kid from the TV show is Josh Saviano, who is now a lawyer...


As they say on TV... myth busted.

Staying with things you watch, ever since my kids were born I've been shooting video clips of me growing up and keep them, edited, on a timeline that's constantly growing every week. It's great to look back and see how  they've changed.

Here's someone who has done something similar with his wife's pregnancy. It's a great time lapse video of the baby growing in the belly and eventual birth. You can't go back in time after the fact to record this kind of thing, so it's worth making the effort and filming things as they happen:


And finally, here's the pic I posted yesterday on twitter, taken at Sandton City. They have dedicated "mummy and baby" bays, which really come in handy when you need space to take your kid out the back of the car. I was there yesterday with my 9 month old daughter and couldn't use the dedicated bay because the inconsiderate security company that Sandton City employs, Fidelity,  parked their patrol van there. It might seem insignificant to you, but believe me, when you're trying to get kids in and out of baby seats, you need the extra space on the side.

Asshole.
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The shocking truth about flying

This morning is a quick blog as I sit here at OR Tambo International waiting to board a flight to George. Over the next 2 days I'm filming all over George, Plett and Knysna for my Standard Bank TV. I love going to that part of the country. Truly beautiful.

I just have to be back by Friday night because Saturday morning we're doing the Kia Take40sa live from Eastgate Shopping Centre as part of the annual CANSA Shavathon.

I must admit, I'm not the biggest fan of flying. Not because I worry about crashing (even though I always watch those Air Crash Investigation shows on Discovery!). It's simply because it's so bloody boring. Being a gadget man I like reading e-books, but the downside is you can't use your gadgets on the plane's ascent and descent, so I sit there twiddling my thumbs watching all the people reading a conventional paper book.

But just before I dash off and stare at nothing as the plane takes off, I have to share this photo with you... it's the static buildup on our trampoline at home...truly shocking!
Have a great Thursday and I'll be posting some pics from the road tomorrow!
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My girls were christened by a tattooed biker

Technically it wasn't a traditional Christening or baptism in a church. We had 80 of our closest family and friends over at a venue in Fourways and a minister dedicated our girls to God.

I like going against the stream. If most people are going left, I'll go right. So our minister was someone who goes against the traditional "look" of a man of the cloth. Johan van Eck, a tattooed biker who stands over 6 feet tall and looks like more like a contender from Wrestlemania, also happens to be the Senior Pastor of the NW Bikers church. Pastor van Eck, you rock!

Here's Tayla-Jean and Alyssa dressed up before the event...
Tayla-Jean's best friend is a Jewish girl that lives in our complex and she decided to stand with Tayla-Jean in front of the Pastor during the ceremony (and they continually hugged).  By doing so I think Ashley became the first Jewish child dedicated to Jesus! :) 

Mum and Dad were very proud...

Here is my best friend Kim, who is Alyssa's Godparent (she's also single, so if you know of any nice guys with backbone that aren't assholes let me know!)

But ultimately for the girls, it was just one BIG party with lots of sweets and ice cream!

Thanks to everyone that attended yesterday. It meant the world to Nicole and I.
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My girls and more.

This morning is a quick update on the girls. Tayla-Jean is LOVING her new jungle gym. It was worth sacrificing some garden space for the contraption (besides, the only real lawn I have left now I can cut with a pair of scissors).

Only thing is she's had a high temperature since yesterday so it's off to the Doctor this morning. I've learnt over the years with kids, a fever is the symptom of another problem. It's the body's way of saying something is wrong. She probably has tonsilitis or something similar.

Also Alyssa is now loving the fact that the two long things called legs actually let her stand up and be taller...
I'm glad the house is kid proofed as she's loving the plug switches at the moment. She's crawling around with the speed of a crab doing the 100m dash to the water's edge.

Onto some hair raising news. Last night I received a Movember certificate for the R260 000 raised in November last year. Good to see Garron (the SA organiser) lives his brand by having a moustache even when it's NOT Movember!


And staying with charity drives, the poster campaign for this year's CANSA Shavathon has been published. It's well known SA comedian Marc Lottering and myself going head to head!

 
 Hope to see you with colour sprayed hair or a shaved head next weekend!
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