About stawbe

a perculiarly human somebody

Keep Calm and Stress On

The ways I deal with Contemporary Stress existing in my life

Collin, myself and about 5 billion other middle class citizens live a daily life of ‘constant’.  Constant awareness, constant thought, constant function, constant diplomacy, constant concern, constant calculating, constant rushing, constant … constant stress.

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Obviously he is, he exists in 2015.  It’s pretty much become a moot point to say you’re stressed.  No one’s really special if everyone’s special; no one’s really stressed if everyone’s insomniac/suffering from migraines/losing hair/throwing back rescue remedy.



So this topic has been on my mind because Collin and I have each been to the doctor twice in the past few months, each time with different symptoms, but the outcome was always great health.  So the assumption is the ulcers in his mouth and under his eyelids, the fatigue giving me headaches, nausea, bad skin and back aches, our low immune systems and restless sleep, all results of stress? Stress. See, it sounds bad when you list it all together like that, but really it’s just daily irksomes that come along with being a middle class citizen in the 20teens.  I’m not ranting from any diagnosed depression or self loathing.  I’m quite happy, productive and self appreciating, and also stressed. Everyone won’t share our exact symptoms, but I’d bet the rest of my rescue remedies that every single person can tick off several symptoms on this list.


I don’t know if every other time was less stressful. I’m sure it must’ve sucked having to cook without electricity, wear several layers of underwear, wait months for response by mail, know you’ll probably die before you’re 30, or not have a flushing toilet.  But, let’s us here in this century just agree amongst ourselves that it’s really awesome and also really freaking stressful to spend a day in our lives right now.


There is pressure in every regard of our lives, and every point feels defendable and necessary.  We feel pressured to be healthy, happy, fit, productive, sociable, financially stable, charitable, involved in society, up to date, informative, knowledgeable, polite, energised, connected, loving, safe, protective, over-achieving, interesting, awake, aware, we’re even pressured to feel relaxed.  The craziest part is, most of this pressure comes from within ourselves.  The pressure to be a ‘well rounded, healthy and happy young adult’ seems overwhelming to me.  But I really want to be a ‘well rounded, healthy and happy young adult’.  I want to exercise, study, work hard and well, cook healthy meals, shop for those ingredients, keep a neat home, maintain a healthy social life, be a loving and lovable wife.


Relaxing? When I get to the end of a long week and I take that one evening to lie back, eat take-out and catch up on my guilty-pleasure series, in the far back of my mushy mind is a scrolling tick list of all the things I’m not doing right now.

 

I work with children, and I can’t even tell them, “enjoy the freedom you have while you’re young because it’s tough to be an adult”.  I can’t say that, because it’s just as tough to be a kid these days.

 

  • Why are we doing this to ourselves?
  • Are we evolving to cope, or deteriorating as a result?
  • Does it calm down in the future, or does it escalate?
  • Is the only answer to become an extremist down scaler or buy a small holding and figure out that off grid living lifestyle? (off grid living is another whooole topic I could rant about)
  • How do we in today’s version of middle class overcome the grind?  There aren’t enough dollars or beaches for 5 billion exotic retirement plans.




So I don’t think stress is going anywhere any time soon, but here’s what I’m trying in my life.  My solutions don’t take the stress away, but they make the stress manageable and worth it.  (in no particular order)


 

  • Team Collin and Bron.  Being best friends with my husband is one of the most grounding constants in my life.  Coming home from a long, hard day to loving arms is a 10 second cure to hours of frustration.  We may fight with each other, but when it ever comes to anything versus either of us, it’s teamCollinAndBronForever.com100x
  • A job I feel passionate about.  I love school holidays when they start after a long, difficult term facilitating or teaching, but I love the first day back the next term even more.  I love what I do, I love the kids and the families I work with.  Work stress doesn’t feel unhappy, it feels productive, stressful but productive.
  • A debt free lifestyle.  This is a tough one for middle class because lending is so easy and credit is so necessary.  Collin and I had both (before we even met) decided to avoid debt and credit completely in our lives.  (We have had help from parents that we have paid back, and we don’t count a bond because that’s a wise investment rather than crippling credit.)  To any interest sapping banks, clothing stores, car dealerships we owe nothing, and we’ll try our best to keep it that way.  All our financial stress is positive stress, we are stressing about saving enough for our plans, not saving enough to not be in trouble with our lenders.
  • Actively choosing to enjoy things that matter. I can be quite a grumbler and complainer on an average day (I just like to have people agree with me that crappy things are crappy), but when something is important, like someone special’s birthday, or a trip overseas, and our wonderful wedding day, I decide in advance that I’m going to utterly enjoy it, and then I just do.  Even when things do go wrong, I just feel happy despite, and the atmosphere of my own happiness makes it all happy anyway. I’m not forcing fake happiness, I’m just making a conscious decision not to sweat the small stuff for one day/event, and then I don’t.
  • Have people (including yourself) that forgive you. Have friends that know you so concretely that it’s ok to head to bed early while they’re visiting because you’ve had a rough day and they know to lock up behind them when they leave.  People that don’t falter their opinion of you when you open the door in your pj’s or you’re having a chubbier month because there’s no time for exercise or cooking during exam season.  Those friends that never stop inviting you even though you’ve had to genuinely decline several times in a row.  All the friends I still have in my life are these type of people, and I treat myself with the same forgiveness and understanding.  This, I feel is a crucial key to not being swallowed up by 21st century stress.
  • Have achievable short term and long term ‘dream’ goals.  Collin and I plan a trip to another country every 2 years.  If it’s a good financial 2 years we’ll enjoy exotic places like Japan or a round trip of Europe.  If it’s been a more costly 2 years we’ll do local trips exploring the countryside or hiding in a cabin in the woods.  Point is, we always have an achievable short term goal to look forward to.  We also plan to buy a house with a big yard where we want to keep a sheep and some ducks and raise the children we plan to have.  These are our long term goals, and they’re lovely, but they’re attainable.  We know we can make this happen, and we’re excitedly working towards settling down and starting our family.  It’s so great to be able to dream, but we need to be careful not to overwhelm ourselves with dreams that will hurt us more than help us.  Is the journey worth the achievement? Is the achievement worth the risk? If yes and yes, then change your ‘dream’ into a goal and start planning your steps towards achievement. Enjoy each step.
  • Setup a detailed routine. Don’t be bothered that you don’t stick to it longer than 2 days.  2 days is my record.  I start every single term out with lists, and schedules and routines.  I’m quite good at sticking to them for work where I have to manage other (little) people’s days, but when it comes to my personal life, the routine has never held out more than 2 days.  Now when I say detail, I’m talking 15 min intervals of when and what I eat, sleep, drink, wash, shop, drive or breathe.  It’s my obsession to list, and its then my obsession to not follow the list.  But that’s ok.  The therapy of creating the list is enough to kickstart the momentum that carries me through each term.  At the overwhelming start, I position myself right on top of everything, and from there I tackle it as it comes with flexibility.  Make the routine. Don’t be stuck by the routine.
  • Self de-escalating rituals. Everyone knows what works for them to just calm the f@#k down. I have a set of varying degrees of preplanned de-escalating rituals that I put into use when necessary. Like, for example if I’ve had a rough day, I’ll make a cup of tea, put on an episode of something easy going and for the duration of that episode I zone out completely. If I’m having a panic attack (exams are a bitch), I run a hot bath, wallow and allow myself to cry for the whole time I’m in the bath. When everything is just too overwhelming, I put on an emotional tune (Adele and Ed Sheeren know their emotions) curl into a ball, sob my heart out. When the song ends, I get back up, literally and figuratively. These are all obvious methods, but in every instance there are two key things to take note of. #1 I can do it alone. Whilst my husband or a good listening friend do help, ultimately I am responsible for my own emotional well being. I need to be able to calm myself down without making it someone else’s problem.  #2 There is a time limit. It is really healthy to give into emotions, let out stress and frustrations and embrace feelings, but it is not healthy to hang onto that baggage. Give yourself a song or a bath or a cup of tea’s worth of time to emotion it all out and then pick yourself up and just be ok.
  • Faith. This is not my strongest source of stress relief because I am not that great at feeding my own faith (in a religious sense as well as hope in general).  Though, however small my faith is doesn’t really matter to Jesus, I think He’s the one behind the passion I have for my work, the tolerance I muster on a special day, the goals and dreams I have, and the unnaturally unconditional love I have for my husband.  I don’t share the same belief system as all 5 billion other middle class citizens, I don’t even share the same belief system as Collin (who’s agnostic just fyi).  But faith in a bigger picture than myself, whether it’s God of the Universe, or paying taxes because I know I use the roads and sewerage system, it just helps to not take yourself too seriously.  And there’s nothing like a little “the-world-doesnt-revolve-around-me” reality check to take the sting out of stress.
These won’t work for everyone (or maybe even anyone else), but the idea is to find your own list of what makes the stress worth it.

 

When all else fails, just join Rachel Platten and be a small boat in the ocean.

 

Life is hard. You’re alright x
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Our DIY Woodlands Wedding

More like our Do-It-With-The-Help-of-All-Our-Friends-and-Family Wedding

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{brides and wedding planners, feel free to forage through this list of what our woodlands wedding day entailed}

On October 3rd 2014 amidst family, friends, trees, sky and each other’s teary glances, Collin and I swapped rings, said our I do’s, feasted and made our merry way into marriage.

I whipped up the ‘best day of our lives’ (and it really was) with tons of creative masterminding and much pinterest-sifting.  All these plans and ideas were excuted by myself, my now lovely husband, and the help or input of pretty much every single person we know and love.

These cost effective, easy-ish to accomplish, and thematically stunning ideas include:

The stationary

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As traditionally expected, I introduced the wedding theme and colors in the ‘save the date’ and invitation – Mint, silver and woodlands animals (which I sketched myself). I even designed an email signature to use for all wedding related emails as a cute touch.  The invitation was sent out as a website, but for the wedding party and parents I made a keepsake version – a white tin, a private letter, fridge magnets of little owls, and the invite that pulls out from a ribbon tag.

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This woodlandsy minty silvery theme then continued throughout this booklet which were handed out to guests arriving at the wedding.

Cover

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back cover

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My dress

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I designed my dress based on bits and pieces I liked from various different dresses. The kind lady who made my dress adjusted it slightly to the more realistically flattering version. (Dress makers see all styles of dresses on all sorts of shapes and sizes, trust their instincts!) This lovely garment was made for me by Estique Wedding Wear in George.dressIMG-20141004-WA0001

If you live in a big city like I do, consider avoiding over priced boutiques, mass produced dresses, or shoddy handmade cheap dresses by finding a decent boutique in a small nearby town.  Whether you buy a ready made dress or ask them to make you one, you will most likely be able to buy a very well made dress from them for cheaper than renting one in the city… and then you have an actual dress to sell or keep.

My Hair, Make-up and Accessories

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With the help of some stunningly skilled friends, my hair (with extensions) (by Ferrigno Hair Design) and make-up (by Natural Living) was super affordable/free and enchantingly beautiful.  These lovely looks were adorned by an incredible gift from my MOH of a diamond necklace, and the extremely sentimental and made especially for my wedding day earcuff (by Forever Love).

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The Bridesmaids

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A very sweet and generous family friend offered to make my best girls some simple but smart dresses in the length they chose.  We then added a bit of glint by sewing costume jewelry bracelets onto ribbons to tie around their waist. Their hair was all done in various braids as suited each best, and they could wear any silver jewelry they chose, though they all lovingly chose to wear the necklace I gave them in the bridesmaid brunch.

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The Flower Girls

I bought many many meters of tulle and ribbon in white and various shades of mint which the flower girls’ mom generously turned into the most adorable tutus.  Skipping through the trees and walking down the aisle, ribbons in hand, in their tutus, white t’s, glittery sneakers and bunny pins (made as a gift by a wonderfully talented friend of mine), they were the cutest picture of woodlands whimsy.

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The Groom & Groomsmen 

I went for smart casual, with Collin’s best men in grey shirts, charcoal skinny ties, and black chinos. I originally planned on all stars, but the boys weren’t too keen on sneakers, so we found some form of foot apparel middle ground. As boutonnieres (lolwat at that word, that spelling should not be allowed anymore 0o), they had ferns pinned on by little fox badges (also made for us by the same talented friend). (For the grooms party photos, credit and appreciation to Adri Viljoen)

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We searched long and hard for Collin to look so dapper in his non traditional jacket.  We chose to categorically avoid a suit jacket, as Collin wanted to feel more sentiment and less formality.  The jacket we did find, along with white shirt, textured grey skinny tie, black chinos and the fancier side of sneakers kept him looking smart whilst fitting snuggly into the grey/woodlands/folksy theme.

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Looking back at the photos, I am in love with the picturesque combination of textures and colours.

The Ceremony

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We were wed amongst the trees, under the sky at a hidden away forest venue called Pampoenkraal on a farm in Durbanville (Western Cape, South Africa).

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It will always mean so much to me that we were married by the same officiant that married my parents 30 years ago.

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My own father (who is also an officiant/pastor) said a few very special words,Wedding-143

 

and we were swept away in the moment by friends of ours who also happen to be members of a Hillsong worship team.  {friends who sing at weddings are special, professionals who sing at weddings are breathtaking, friends who are professionals who sing at your wedding are breathtakingly special.}

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We then planted a tree for many poetic reasons, but also because now we can go back once a year and take a photo under it as it and our family grows. {awwwww}

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Woodlands decor came naturally at this beautiful outdoors venue among the trees.  I adorned an awkward tree stump with photos pegged to twine, scattered rice lights (china town battery operated!) and chalk boards all over the trees, tied mint and silver ribbons to all the backs of all the plastic chairs, and edged the aisle with ivy. (When I say ‘I’, what I actually mean is my amazing mom spending hours watching soapies tying ribbons together, and my awesome wedding party who all jumped when I hinted ‘bounce’) One of my bridesmaids made bunting from book pages, silver colored brown paper and hessian stapled to twine.  Fyi, typo sells copper (and other colored) staples for a neater finish.

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The main attraction (until I arrived) was the aisle runner – Our timeline, from meeting to that moment.  A family friend cut the vinyl stickers for me as a gift, and I stuck them onto good ol’ cheap white fabric lining.  We then pegged (literally with tent pegs) the lining into the ground and hid the pegs under the ivy.  Clever hey!  This is the BEST solution I could find (make up actually) for an on grass aisle runner, after ages of sourcing and hunting and pricing.  To keep it white until I arrived, we used ivy as a ‘no entrance’ chain and the groomsmen instructed guests to find their seats from the outside aisles.

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Our confetti moment came to life after months of punching tissue paper (which by the way is one of the most biodegradable materials), and if you still don’t trust it, you can buy ‘biodegradable tissue paper’ on ebay (but I think that’s just a marketing ploy tbh).  Besides being not-so-bad for the nature, it was so pretty as it floated slowly to the ground.

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The Photoshoot

Giant credit to Nina Claasen Photography who blessed us with these stunning memories of our wedding day.
I asked Nina to capture happy, natural moments rather than ‘smile’-click ones.  She did exactly that, and so beautifully.  I really am in love with our wedding album.  Here are some of my favorites.

Wedding-192Wedding-200Wedding-208Wedding-211Wedding-214Wedding-226Wedding-236Wedding-245Wedding-259Wedding-263Wedding-260Wedding-273Wedding-296Wedding-297The ‘interlude’

I’m not actually sure what the part where the guests have welcome drinks and eats is called, but that’s what they did.  And they did this in a lovely lapa area between the ceremony and reception areas.

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I made an easy recipe of mint lemonade (this recipe + the tiniest bit of berry carioca for color).  For presentation, I got some crates of bashews bottles from my (now) mother in law, and bought a few more on the road side (about 90x cheaper than hunting them down in antique stores).

This was served with platters of cheese.  Collin was very upset that cheese would be eaten without him, so I arranged a platter and drinks to be brought to the photo shoot (helped with the casual, natural vibes at the shoot too).

All of these wonderful eats and drinks (I assume, what bride has time to eat), were enjoyed by our guests to the folk (at our request) sounds of the talented Dirkie & Talisa. Music during the interlude, even if not live, makes a big difference to the vibe.  It is after all that awkward time when all the people you know but don’t know each other mingle for the first time.

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The reception

We celebrated our nuptials directly after the photo shoot/interlude in an earthy, rondavel type hall at the same venue. a I would totally recommend enjoying your whole wedding at the same venue in one big easy flow.  It makes setting up SO much easier, and the guests don’t feel like they’re dedicating n entire day driving and finding venues at your beck and call.  Also it helps keep all the guests around (none of those slip aways between venues).

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In line with the woodlands theme, there were animals rather than table numbers.  I had them laser cut from cheap wood, glued book pages to them, and tea stained them.  These correlated to the woodlands animals sketched (by me ^^,) on the seating charts, which were pegged to twine in keeping with that woodlandsy look.

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IMG_7537172423999Once at their table, guests could find their seat by their name tags attached to the brownies (which we – the bridal party – baked till 2am the previous morning). The brownies were our very affordable, yet yummy favors.  I designed, printed and cut the tags myself which worked out a lot cheaper and easier than buying pre-cut tags.

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The guitarist and violinist from the interlude were kind enough to move their equipment a few meters and continue playing at the start of the ceremony.  Their festive music was our ambiance till dessert, when the DJ took over.

Speeches were split up between each course, starting with our best man and maid of honor before starters were served. Between starters and the main course (amazing buffet with meat braaied on a fire in the middle of the lapa) each of our fathers said a few words, and just before dessert Collin and I each said a short thank you speech.  We found that keeping the speeches short and sweet, and splitting them up throughout the evening allowed each speaker the guests’ full and non-bored attention.

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The cake…that cake… drool. We have committed ourselves to buying that same cheesecake every single year just once a year.  It is as special as anniversaries, birthdays and mothersdays, it needs to be celebrated, but only once a year.  And yes, I did say cheesecake.  It was a MISSION to find a bakery that were willing to make us cheesecake for our wedding.  Finally we did find the wonderful Frostings in Durbanville who made us a stunningly beautiful and delicious 4 tier cheesecake covered in chocolate slabs.  The bakery also arranged these meeple toppers for us and we asked them to paint the hearts in our wedding color.


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Let me take you through it slowly – that’s 1 tier of blueberry cheesecake covered in dark chocolate slabs; 1 tier of strawberry cheesecake covered in milk chocolate slabs; 1 tier of caramel cheesecake covered in caramel chocolate slabs; topped with 1 tier of lemon cheesecake covered in white chocolate slabs.  Oh my goodness I’ll have the whole wedding over just for that cake.

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The Dance Domain company helped us (in about 6x1hour lessons) learn a choreographed boogie dance for half of the song Timber (yes, actually the one by Pitbull and Kesha… yes that actual one).  Right where the song builds up half way through we (pre arranged with some so there’s no awkwardness) had our friends all join on the dance floor.  The perfect trigger to partying the night away. (And yes I changed dresses, to a R150 factory white summery dress and danced happily in my cute silver sneakers ^^,)

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The Video

The best videographer I’ve ever seen captured our stunning day, and at a phenomenally affordable price (even before he blessed us with a discount).  Nick Waring is astounding at what he does:

All in all, I’m loving married life, and I love the day it started ❤

Pink bows and a baby bump

A not boring Baby Shower

If you’re looking for some great co-ed baby shower games click here }

It might be the time of the year, or my age, or my ovaries crying for attention, but there are pregnancy announcements, baby bumps, and newborns everywhere I look lately.  There won’t be any little hardcore gamers or artistic geniuses for a couple more years, but in the meantime my broodiness is subdued by the soon to arrive, little miss Karlah.

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My beautiful cousin, Cassandra, is excitedly {and frustratingly} anticipating the arrival of her baby girl {hang in there! 9 months is your last hurdle before Karlah’s no longer conveniently packaged to go everywhere with you without diaper bags, prams and crying ;}

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The exciting part for Collin and I is, we have the honor of being god parents.  We’re pretty sure that means we spoil and sugar up baba and hand her back to mommy at the end of the day :D.  Right?  We’re also super keen to help out, be supportive to brave, young mommy-to-be, and be a part of Karlah’s close community growing up.  Mostly though, I’m excited to finally have a friend to watch disney movies with… who has never seen them before!!! 😀 😀 😀

My first ‘god-motherly duty’ (though it was more a favor for my lovely cousin and niece-sort of) was to help with the baby shower.

The baby shower was adorable, pretty standard baby shower adjective, but gran-, grandpa- and aunt-[Caitlin]-to-be went all out with the sweetest decor, masses of delicious eats, and arranged a friend to make the, baby shower essential, baby bump cake.

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I was in charge of the games… hie hie ^^,

Before listing the [incredibly successfully enjoyable] games [even if i do say so myself… also thank you pinterest.. a little :P], here’s a couple of things to consider next time you’re in charge of planning baby shower games:

  • If it’s co-ed, get the guys to do most of the nasty/funny/uncomfortable games. They’ll generally be better sports about it, and always get a good laugh out of the ladies.
  • Have some games planned that everyone can easily take part in without leaving their seats
  • Mix the present unwrapping, nasty/funny games, and group games up.  It keeps people entertained and eliminates that awkward disinterest by a couple of guests in the games, and by other guests in the hour or more long process of gift unwrapping.  We did one or two funny games, a group game, and then a couple of presents, rinse repeat.  Worked perfectly.

As for the shower games, here’s what we did for funny/uncomfortable/entertaining at the cost of others-games:

  • Setup – Mommy-to-be got adorned with a sash, tiara, pretty pink scepter with which to judge the winner of each game, and a bunch of pretty pink girly stickers to stick on the foreheads of these winners.  As for the contestants, Daddy-to-be was (of course) dressed in an adult diaper and giant dummie, and joining him were the rest of the [volunteering] guys who all split themselves into teams of two.  Each team had to decide who was going to be fighting for the ‘world’s best mommy’ title, and who would be fighting for the ‘world’s cutest baby’ title – and each was given the appropriate badge.

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  • The Birth Experience – All the men labelled ‘mommy’ were given a nice big blown up balloon to tuck under their shirts [already a riot of laughter and we’ve just begun], after which they had a race to see who could get their balloon out from under their shirts first. Catch = without using their hands. Funny stuff this, I promise.
  • Baby bottle downer – We used sippy cups full of milk, but many sites suggest baby bottles full of beer (assess your crowd), which the ‘baby’ men had to down in the typical-race to the finish-bottoms up-drinking game.
  • Feeding Time – Here ‘mommy’ guys had to feed chocolate pudding to their teammate ‘baby’ men.  This one’s catch = ‘mommies’ were blindfolded (I got some cheap cloth diapers to stay to theme) and ‘babies’ hands were tied up. The winner was decided by the Mommy-to-be based on the most eaten and the least mess. This was no easy decision, the guys were all pretty eager to eat the pudding, but none of them actually got much of it in their mouths.
  • It’s a girl! – Since little miss Karlah, will (most likely) be a girl, we had the men practice their girly make up and hair styling.  ‘Mommies’ had 1 min and a box of cheap china town make up {I found the brightest pinks and purples} and hair clips {butterflies and bows} to make-over their ‘baby’ in hopes of impressing Cassy (mom to be) for another sticker.

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  • What baby wants – This game went along the thematic idea that babies cannot outright ask for exactly what they want.  It’s effectively [actually exactly] a game of 30 seconds.  ‘Babies’ were given cards with a list of baby related items that they had to ask their ‘mommies’ for without saying the actual words.  This turned out especially funny because, naturally, these young men hardly knew what any of the items actually were, and least of all how to describe them.  A great way to wind down the entertainment with a laugh.
  • Prizes – I had intended to make spray painted trophies out of cheap baby bottles, filled with sweets.  When I ran out of time though, I resorted to just the baby bottles filled with sweets.  To be honest, I don’t think the men really cared :P.  These were awarded to the first and second place teams, ie. the ones with the most stickers collected.  In a touch of irony, I awarded the booby prize of [easter] eggs to the losing team ^_-.

In between all these little contests, I had all the guests join in a few-crowd friendly, easy to manage, quick to setup, stay in your seats-games:

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  • Guess who – Mommy or Daddy? – While Cassy opened a few gifts, I handed out little pieces of paper and pens to each guest.  I then sent around two baby photos numbered 1 and 2 and guests had to write down their guesses of which was a baby pic of the daddy-to-be and which was once the mommy-to-be.  I had some milk bottle marshmallows as prizes for those who guessed correctly.
  • A portrait of Baby – I handed out a paper plate to each guest and told them to make their best effort of drawing what they guessed baby Karlah would look like, whilst holding the paper plate on top of their heads.  It worked well to instruct them how to draw, eg.”Draw a circle and add eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Now draw a pretty bow… etc”  The ever judging Mommy-to-be chose the best pic and the artist won more sweets.
  • Baby songs – I gave guests 1 min to try remember as many songs with the word ‘baby’ in it as they could and write their list down on the other side of the piece of paper I had already handed out earlier.  Since most of humanity doesn’t actually know the titles of songs, lyrics were sufficient.
  • Guess her belly size – As Cassy opened the last of her gifts (which were still quite a pile, lucky baba), I sent around some pink ribbon and a pair of scissors.  Guests had to cut off what they thought would be the size of Cassy’s baby bump (measuring around her waist).  I kept this one till last, so I only had to make Cass stand up right at the end.  I also kept it simple by only measuring once around her with the first person’s ribbon (which was way too big) and then disqualifying anyone who’s ribbon was bigger than that one.  Then measuring the next smallest, and so on.

The games and presents wound down perfectly into eats, tea and chatter amongst the now relaxed guests.

All in all a pretty fun baby shower – and not just for daddy- and mommy-to-be 🙂

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Baby Karlah, we look so forward to you joining our crazy, fun lives ❤

 

Being a kid in your 20’s is way more fun

Side note:  Don’t hate on him for gaming

For weeks now Collin has been eagerly anticipating the release of Dark Souls 2.  By eagerly, I mean setting aside an entire day in both our [INSANE] schedules and purposefully pre-ordering the PS3 version of the game so that I could spend the day snuggling next to him on the couch following the game with him and googling queries when needed.  As fun as it is to watch Collin game, I’m usually more keen for story line games like Bioshock Infinite or the soon to be released Child of Light (tOtally amped for that!) which is in fact coop and perfect for us (and like minded couples) to venture through together snuggled on the couch.

He was so keen on this Dark Souls 2 day, the last thing I was going to do was give him a free pass to cancel on that next thing I’d have to nag him to do.  So I got popcorn, drinks, snacks, some decent android games {check out the room} and decided to make it a day to wind down, chill out and support my very excited boyfriend fiance.  That was the plan, until this morning Toy Kingdom did the most bron-pleasing thing imaginable.  Over 50% off the Lord of the Rings Lego sets!!wat!?!

dark souls 2 & LOTR lego

Collin & Bron escape from reality for a day

I set up my Orc Forge building blocks on the coffee table in front of the TV and ahead of us was a day full of “Bron, check out this insane boss!” and “Oooh! Collin, look what I made.”

lego

Granted, within about 2 hours (including many pauses for frantic DS2 googling and supportively watching and rewatching and rerewatching intense boss fights) I had ended up with

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complete with moving parts and a light up lego brick furnace (for the iron smelting)

… and he was still dying… and dying… and dying… dying

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But by this time, I felt the day was fulfilling enough, and snuggled satisfied next to him all supportive and googling and useful (tea, coffee, snacks and supper don’t make themselves).

At the end of this day, I am so excited about my new LOTR lego set to accompany the few I’ve collected so far:

Bilbo & Frodo

Bilbo & Gollum

Elves, dwarves & Spiders

I’ve come to realize (though I had the same realization at Disney Land) that being a kid is way more fun in your 20’s {and most likely older, will let you know from experience later}.  When you have your own money to (sometimes when Toy Kingdom has an insane special) support your own interests, and a lot more appreciation and respect for that money spent. And memories are more concrete, and fun comes between work and life in short intense doses.

          As for Collin,dd5

So, on a final, moral, and relationship saving note, when you’re with a gamer, before hating on him/her for gaming, consider:

  • that list of things you used to have time for when you were single that you regret dropping ~ here’s your time
  • those times you’re needing him to be willing to do your thing, especially when he just reeeeeally does not want to ><
  • doing different things together in the same room
  • how great he’s going to relate to his kids one day
  • how gaming and technology are worth having a fair amount of general knowledge on in today’s society – ask, watch, learn!
  • finding games he’s willing to play and you’re willing to watch {Bioshock, Final Fantasy, Fable}
  • finding fun coop games you can play together with minimum tension {Portal, Little Big Planet, Child of Light}
  • not needing to have every single thing in common
  • loving him for who he is

~ Happy dying, Dark Souls 2 players ^^,

Brunch and Bridesmaids

A special request for 4 special ladies

So yesterday marked 2 months of being engaged to my Collin man person.  We had decided on the night that we’d wait 2 months to get through his wow raiding [a new patch] and my exam studies before taking on any wedding planning-ness.  It wasn’t so much that I was counting down the seconds (which was probably as much a distraction as wedding planning itself would’ve been) but also a happy coincidence that my sister and her boyfriend were visiting this weekend.  So I had to take up the opportunity to start the nuptial planning process by asking my best girls to be my bridesmaids.

The weather played along, and Saturday was a beautiful sun-shining, bright day.  I set up a table outside complete with bunny, bunting and brunchables.

brunch table

brunch table

For each of my lady people I had a gift box which on the lid read “he popped the question, now it’s my turn…” and opened to read:

giftExcept for my longest girl friend person Kelly’s which read, “Will you be my Maid of Honor?”

Inside each box was:

gift

  • a personal letter
  • a magnetic photo of the two of us saying “team bride”
  • a ring of shocking value and astounding quality
  • a flash with mind maps of my wedding dreams
  • and a pretty necklace for the pretty ladies ❤

 

I cannot wait to start all the fun wedding planning, and to share this time with my amazing girls.  I know full well that the wedding is about the marriage, and I’m so excited to spend my life in matrimony with my Collin man through the good and bad and all.  I look forward to my whole life with him with all my heart.  But considering that my plans are life long, this is my one time to be a bride, and I’m planning to enjoy it thoroughly and embrace it completely.

Now I have a team of the most awesome ladies to share the whole crazy, cheesy, exciting experience with ^^,.  Love you girls lots, Kelly, Amy, Cailtin & Jamie.

Engaged – The Story

[Spoiler] He proposed! I said yes! We’re engaged!

The rest of this blog post is for the close friends, family and  romantics who love the details.

For a month or two now, Collin’s been planning quite a romantic scheme of a proposal. Flowers, and friends and champagne, going down on one knee and the perfectly planned speech.  The entire proposal was magical, except it wasn’t any thing like that at all.

Collin got home last night from the gym (yes gym, I did not misspell dota, or wow, or game – gym), tired, sore and sweaty, to find me sitting on my bed with my hoodie over my head and my face red and my hair matted in tears – pretty!  What lead up to this point was a horrible weekend of stress, anxiety, arguing and a total of about 4 hours sleep the entire weekend – one of those times in life when it feels like every direction you look there’s a problem and every problem feels unsolvable.  I promise this is the same story that ends in a magical proposal.

As Collin walked in and found me in this mess of a state, I was about to unleash my self pitying rant on him when he took one look at me and said, “just one second, I promise I’ll be right back, I just Have to go pee first.”  I hadn’t noticed at all that he was only gone for a total of about 10 seconds before he was back in my room and sat down in front of me.  So there we sat cross legged on the bed, sweaty and sore, sobbing and a mess, and both utterly exhausted. I poured out my entire soul to him in wines and sobs and he just sat listening and looking at me.  When I finally paused to take in whatever soothing, sympathetic response I expected him to give me, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the box.

ringbox

Instantly my sobs of panic and anxiety changed to sobs of complete surprise and elation – note I was still sobbing, possibly even worse.  I only wish I could remember the exact words and everything he said, wow proposal would’ve had logs ><. But I do remember him starting to say how this was the right moment because this was us, not that we’re two sad self pitying humans who never sleep and cry and gym all the time, but that we’re messy, and emotional, and care sooooo much for each other – that’s us. Well he started to say this, when the stove started beeeeeping, to be followed by my phone which suddenly decided to make every noise it knew all in a row. By this point my sobbing has turned to giggling and Collin is soldiering on in his speech.  Of what I can remember, he went on to talk about how imperfect our lives have been for the past 5 years, and how much we love each other through everything and how sorry he is, but he will not be going down on one knee because gymming sucked. Haha I’m smiling so much just recalling all this. Putting in a disclaimer that this was the part of the speech he’d been practicing, he went on to remind me about how he asked me out by saying “I have a business proposal for you” and continued, “Our business has been mutually beneficial and I want to extend the arrangement.”

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It got to the moment, and Collin started with, “Bronwyn Marion Flanigan”, and then shared the words, “Will you marry me?” with a duck crash landing on the roof with a bang. I handed him my hand to put the ring on, and my ring finger (of all fingers) had sauce on it from the food I’d been cooking.  After cleaning off the bbq, he slipped on the ring – too big. But sparkly!! SO sparkly. I sparkle now.  One of my favorite things about the entire proposal is that I’ve known for a while now that he’s had the ring, and I’ve been anticipating the moment and assumed I’d know exactly what was happening when it finally did happen.  Could NOT have been more wrong, could not have expected it less at that very messy moment when he pulled the box out of his pocket.

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Magical. Utterly and splendidly imperfect.  I said yes.

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We enjoyed the rest of the evening together at the Durbanville Cattle Baron – where we went on our first anniversary we weren’t apart (long distance sucked). Happy now 🙂

Jesus & Bron’s Joint Birthday Party

My Christmas Themed 25th Party

Bron Bday Invite

Presents for everyone!!

 My birthday is on the 8th of December, and for the entire of my comprehensible life I’ve had a rule in my family to keep Christmas decor in the cupboard until the 9th of December, Jesus can wait his turn, He has after all had a good 2000 more birthdays than me.

Last year, however, I gave in and decided to deck the halls early and combine the festivities.

Should’ve done that years ago, what a jolly, festive, merry event!  Decor was a breeze and a blast.  Cheapest event decor ever, considering it was all already in our cupboards.  So besides the tree, string lights, baubles, stars and tinsel, I spent the extra money and effort on:

  • Cookies & chocolate milk of course374396_10151530123718066_688523060_n
  • Gingerbread house birthday cake – that lights up (well that had cheap battery operated LED christmas lights crammed inside, but still how cool right!!) Best birthday cake EVER! I’m so good at this ><Screen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.31.43 AMScreen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.31.15 AMScreen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.32.01 AM
  • Brown paper christmas stockings filled with m&m’sScreen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.38.39 AM
  • A christmas roast buffet – which looked and tasted a lot fancier than the effort that went into it.  If you’re catering a christmas dinner for 20+ people from one little oven, and it’s also your birthday (so why should you do all the work), use creative initiative and buy 3 pre roasted chickens, a tray full of roasted lamb and a tray full of roasted beef from a Spar deli.  But do bake a tray full of potatoes and a tray full of carrots and onions and have a pot of rice on the stove, both to save some money and to (appear to) totally be slaving away in the kitchen when you dish out the feast.Screen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.38.12 AM
  • Ice cream & star shaped watermelon for dessert. ❤ cookie cutters.  Also because it’s so cute and christmassy, you can get away with styrofoam cups – after party dishes? pfft what dishes.60804_10151530158628066_1808241245_n
  • Hand made christmas crackers filled with mini chocolates, christmas jokes (picked by me) and the random number for the:
  • Present game – where each person brings a present worth R20; piles them all up under the tree; and starting with person #1, s/he picks any present and opens it; then person #2 gets to either steal person #1’s gift (in which case #1 repicks from the pile) or pick a new one to open; so person #3 gets to choose between #1, #2 and the piles gifts and so on.  And so everyone got a present at my party – I didn’t mind, spirit of Christmas and all68613_10151530143983066_1694205676_n
  • And of course a christmas soundtrack – no thanks to Justin Bieber

This was one of my favorite parties so far.  I was tempted to ignore the birthday completely and it’s insinuations of a gradual decline to 30 (not that 30’s old, but just so grown up sounding ><), but I’m terribly glad I didn’t.  It’s the most fun I’ve ever had planning an event, and it was the easiest party to enjoy, for everyone.  Who’s gonna complain when there’s presents for everyone and a cake with more sweets than cake.  And if there wasn’t enough entertainment already, Collin had to oblige.