A long overdue post …


3 Days old

They say that in the newborn phase, the first six weeks or so fly past while you merrily wallow in the punch-drunk baby love haze.  That is also clearly true when one turns five! Happy 5th (and six weeks) birthday Carrie-bear!

6 Weeks Old

6 Weeks Old

Baby girl,

Now you are five! A full hand, a whole school-week, five little monkeys jumping on the bed!

It’s crazy how fast the time has gone, and to quote a line from one of my favourite songs: “The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between.” Tragically, the mind starts to file away the little memories, the fleeting moments, like the newborn smell, or the sound of that delicious first laugh, but thankfully, we make new memories every day. And every now and then, prompted by a familiar smell or sound, a first moment surfaces from the archives of my mind, and I am graced with memories of sweet little you. You have become a big girl, almost overnight, with hardly a trace of your babyhood left in your face or body.

You love to sing the A,B,C song, so here is an alphabetical list of things for your fifth birthday:

A – Apples: You love to eat apples, and will often help yourself to one out of the bottom of the fridge. You don’t like them cut up into pieces, but you do require the stalk to be removed!

B – Bears and bunnies: Your collection of bears and bunnies could rival the local Hamleys! Your bed is literally covered in fluffy creatures. Your favourites include Cuddle-bear (which was actually your first bear ever), Curly-bear, Bon-bon, Bunny, Big-bunny and Claire-bear, to name a few. You take turns to cuddle with each bear and / or bunny every night, and make sure that no-one ever gets left out.

C – Caris: You already know how to write your name, and take great pride in showing me your latest artworks with your name written in the corner. You also like to tell me, whenever you see a “C”, that C is for Caris, and Chloe (Your best friend).

D – Dance: You love to dance! This year you started Hip-hop classes for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. You love to wiggle and twirl, preferably in a full circle skirt!


Dancing Queen

E – Elephant: You made a beautiful picture of elephant at school, with big grey floppy ears and you were apparently the only child in the class that made a crinkly trunk, clever girl!

F – Flowers: You love to pick flowers, especially the pink camellia’s in the drive-way.

G – Gary: You love your Daddy very much! One of your favourite games to play is The Teacher Game, in which Daddy gets to be a student, and you call him GARY! in a bossy tone.

H – Holiday: You absolutely loved our holiday in Mauritius this year, and tried everything from archery, to tennis, to the trapeze. You even participated in the mini-club show (twice) and performed like a superstar!

Mini Club Show

Mini Club Show



I – Ice-cream: Your love of ice-cream continues, especially chocolate in a pink cone.

J – Jekyll and Hyde: Ok, you do have a few Jekyll and Hyde moments, where you go from perfectly happy to absolutely miserable in the blink of an eye, but I guess mood-swings go hand-in-hand with being 5. Thankfully the happier moods are more frequent…

K – Kitty Cat: You love to pretend to be a kitten, and crawl around on all fours meowing and rubbing your head on us! K is also for Kokino, the Greek word for red, your favourite word. We were playing with some flash cards the other day, and the red card came up to which you said “Kokino!” followed by lots of giggles.

L – Love: We love you more than all the stars in the sky!

M – Make-up: You love to do make-up. Time-hop delivered a classic this morning from 3 years ago, not much has changed since then. I have, however, bought you your own set of brushes since you gave my Mac blusher brush a little haircut with some nail-scissors at round about the same time.



N – Naughty: Yes, you can be somewhat naughty, but its always of the mischievous kind, and never malicious. Some days you test my patience with your strong will, but you always manage to make me laugh and smile.

O – Oranges: You love oranges, orange juice and other orange foods such as carrots.

P – Puppy: You love our puppy Saxon, and he listens to you so nicely, mainly because you always have a stash of Beenos in your pocket!



Q – Quiet: Quiet is not a word that we would use to describe you. You love to horse around with Alex, the louder the better!

R – Rainin’ : You have this peculiar habit of clipping the ends of words that end in “ing”, so “it’s raining today” becomes “it’s rainin’ today”. We have no idea where you got this from.

S – Sing: You love to sing, especially songs that you have made up by yourself. Maybe you will be a famous song-writer one day. I know that whatever it is you choose to do, you will be great!

T – Temper: my mother often tells me that I had a terrible temper as a child, well, I guess the apple never fell far from the tree in this respect. But as you get older, you are learning to keep it in check! (Sometimes)

U – Upside down: You love to be upside down at the moment, and often climb the tree in the driveway to show me how you hang from your knees. In Mauritius recently, you were brave enough to try the trapeze (until you decided, after the 3rd try, that it was too high, but you were happy to do it indoors a little closer to the ground).

upside down

V – Very Cute: That you are my girlie, don’t ever change.

W – Wings: You love to draw creatures with wings, such as butterflies, and usually with a number of cats nearby. W is also for Wedding. Your cousin Stacey got married recently, and it was one of the highlights of your year. You absolutely loved dressing up in a puffy dress and having your hair and make-up done. You loved it so much that you have been planning your own wedding ever since! And you will be marrying Daddy of course.



X – ‘x’s: There are always lots of ‘x’s for kisses in your drawings too. I recently taught you how to do a European kiss, one on each cheek, which you think is absolutely hilarious.

Y – Yam: You’ve never actually tried a yam, but I am sure you would if I knew where to buy one. You have always had adventurous tastes, and are willing to eat most things, even tomatoes, much to your brother’s disgust.

Z – ZZZs: You love to fake sleep, especially in the car, and when I ask you if you are sleeping you respond with plenty of giggles. You really do love to laugh!

My Big girl, don’t ever change, we love you just the way you are. XXX

Me and my girl

Me and my girl


My Dear Caris
It seems like just the other day you were a thumpety-thump sound accompanying a grainy blob on a black and white screen. My surprise pregnancy. My “Oh my God, how am I going to tell your father” baby. I can still feel the tears stinging in the corners of my eyes when Professor Nicolaou said, “It’s definitely a girl”. A rose amongst the gang of boys we already had at home. Our very own girl-child, a little princess, a pink one!

If I cast my mind back to those first few weeks after you arrived, I sometimes struggle to find clarity in the memories, as it all seems like a life-time ago. There is definitely some truth in the saying “time flies when you are having fun” as the last three years are all but a blur! But I do remember the softness of your skin, your hair: soft like a puppy’s ears and your tiny fingers (with their teeny, tiny nails) grasping mine. And how much I already loved you when I saw your squashed little nose for the first time as the doctor put you on my chest, only seconds old. I remember how you loved to sleep, and how I used to wonder if we would ever know what colour your eyes were because they were always closed.

And now you are three!

caris 2 days

When I look at you now, it’s hard to imagine a helpless tiny baby, because what I see before me now is a proper little girl. A Big Girl who likes to do everthing “MYSELF!” A confident little lady who loves her dollies and the new Wendy-house. A sweetheart who loves to laugh (an infectious belly-laugh!) and occasionally irritate her big brother Alex (on purpose!)  A chatterbox who loves to talk on the phone, and who has hour long conversations with imaginary friends on the other end.  (Some who are called Salvador and Barcelona!) A little sister who loves her big brothers to the moon and back! A little miss bossy-boots who loves to dish out orders to everyone, including mommy and daddy. A little madam who loves to dress up like a princess (and iron?!?) A little social butterfly who loves to sing and dance and ask endless questions. A little koukla who loves the Greek word “ko-ki-no” and likes to announce it everytime you see anything red.  The sweetest little thing who makes us smile and laugh!

Wendy House

ironing princess

It breaks my heart that you are growing up so fast, and that soon my little Big-Girl will be all grown up, talking on the phone for real and thinking about boys and make-up, instead of baby dolls and lego. So I am savouring the moments of your littleness; of your sweet smiles and requests to “Pick me up!” and ” I wanna sit with you”.

I love you to the moon and back my baby girl. Don’t grow up too fast!

Caris 3rd Birthday

hello kitty princess

I speak for the trees!

The Lorax quickly became one of Alex’s favourite movies, and I can’t say I blame him, that little orange guy is super cute, and the music in the movie is great. I also love the overall message that the movie conveys about conservation and the repercussions of not looking after our planet. Another plus is that the movie is based on one of my favourite Dr Seuss books.

So the natural choice for his birthday party this year was, you guessed it, The Lorax! And it also coincided with the recycling theme that is being covered at school at the moment.

I am just grateful that Alex is not into Ben 10 or Spiderman, as those party themes are really over done. (I think we have been to at least 10 Spiderman parties this year.)

I had a lot of fun with this theme, from the Lorax cupcakes and yellow chocolate moustache lollipops for school, to the brown paper bag “please recycle” party packs and my piece-de-resistance Lorax inspired cake topped with sugar figurines and Truffula trees. And the more I make these fancy cakes, the more I love doing them!

We had the party at Canned Olive happy land which is a great outdoor venue with a huge jungle gym and plenty of space to run around. As luck would have it, the wind was blowing at gale force on the afternoon of his party, and when I picked up Alex from school he had a 39 degree temperature and was feeling pretty grim. But we couldn’t exactly cancel the party half an hour before it was about to start, so like in showbiz, the party must go on, and after a call to Daddy to bring some Neurofen syrup, he was feeling ok enough to play about an hour later.

By four o’clock, the wind settled down, and everyone had an absolute ball.






happy birthday Alex

cake 2

Belated Birthday Bash(es)

So, as it turned out, Caris ended up having three birthday parties to celebrate her first two years of life! My husband called it the “never-ending birthday”, but it was all to do with timing really.

Party number one – Marvelous Mauritius – 17 May 2013
We were away in Maritius over her birthday (which also proved to be an interesting conundrum for the airline issuing our tickets … she was not two when we left, but would be two when we returned: facilitating the need to have to pay full fare for the return flight. But they couldn’t do a split ticket, so we ended up having to pay full fare for both flights!)

Her official birthday was celebrated Island Style with the most delicious chocolate mousse cake I have ever tasted, courtesy of Club Med. We brought along a small gift for her to open on the day, and bought her an island dolly too!

Island Girl

Delicious cake

Candle time

Daddy's girl

Party number two – Family tea – 26 May 2013
As soon as we got home, we had the family round for tea and cake and present opening. Caris was so delighted with so many packages to open!

home 1




Party number three – Rio Carnival – 20 June 2013

Caris’s favourite movie at the moment is “RIO” – she loves the blue macaws, the bright colours and the music from the movie, so it made perfect sense to have a Rio birthday party. So I had this crazy idea that I would make a cake with Blu, the main macaw from the movie, perched on top of it. She absolutely LOVED the cake. (I was heartbroken when Blu was eaten!)

Rio Cake




Under the sea … Party time!

The brief, from my outspoken four-year old, for his fourth birthday this year was an Ocean Motion party with an Aquarium cake. My initial thought was “Holy cow, how the hell am I going to make an Aquarium cake, yet alone host an under the sea party!” Living in land-locked Jozi, means there aren’t any aquariums readily available, and my budget didn’t exactly extend to flying a whole lot of kids and their parents to Durban for the day!

I did not have the energy to do the party at home this year, so with the help of Google, I found a great venue in Linbro park called  kiddy-up , which provides jungle gyms, playhouses, a jumping castle, trampolines and plenty of space for the kids to run around. As an added bonus each child got to go for a ride on a horse. (Not exactly sea-creature related, but dolphin rides were proving a little tough to organise, of course! And besides, all kids seem to love riding horses) 🙂 They set up and provided the draping, chair tie backs and balloons for the kids table in my under the sea colours, and also provided on-site catering which made my life easier. All I had to do was arrive with drinks, sweets, the cake and party packs!

Which brings me to the cake. I frantically googled for some ideas, and after purchasing a few icing moulds of various sea creatures, my mom and I set about making a menagerie of tropical fish, crabs, sea horses, lobsters, octopi and dolphins, which were then painted with food colouring. I made a large chocolate cake, which was slathered in blue butter icing, and then adorned with our swimming creatures. The piece de resistance, alongside the pod of dolphins, was a breaching orca (made out of rice-krispie-treat, and covered in plastic icing). Alex was super chuffed with his cake, and his friends were all very impressed judging from the oohs and aahs when I brought in the cake! (and the fact that the cake and creatures were devoured hungrily!)

The weather on the day of the party was just perfect, flawless blue sky and not a breath of wind. (Despite the weather being rainy, cold and miserable for the two days prior). Girls arrived in their best party dresses, and the boys came dressed as, well, boys. Much cake was consumed (especially by my young daughter) and much fun was had. Everyone had a whale of a time!

{a few images from the party}

Related posts: Four, The evolution of the birthday cake


This time, four years ago, I was running around getting myself organised for the arrival of my baby boy. I had bought most of Woolies’ and Pick ‘n Pay’s online stock so that I wouldn’t need to leave the house for a few months while I tended to my new little bundle. I was storming around the house, cleaning and tidying everything in sight, and making sure that the tiny clothes and blankets were washed and ironed and ready to wrap up and protect my little tiny one. I had a manicure, pedicure, blow-dry and wax booked for the following morning. I was day-dreaming about spending two more child-free days, relaxing and having me-time.

Alex, however, had other plans for me.

At 9.30PM on Sunday the 21st of September 2008, my waters broke, and I was in labour, despite having a planned C-section booked for Tuesday the 23rd. My little guy arrived at 5 to midnight!

I simply cannot imagine my life without Alex in it, and although he has only been around for four short years, I feel like I have known him forever, that he has always been a part of me. This little person has taught me how to really love, and be loved, unconditionally.

I still remember holding him for the first time so clearly. How his eyes gazed into mine, as if he had been reunited with a long lost friend. How good his little damp body felt on my skin, and how his eyes bore into my soul, and how I loved him so deeply from the minute I saw him. It was the most precious moment of my life, but also the scariest. He was mine, and I had to look after him and nurture him, and make sure that no harm ever came to him, for the rest of my life. A momentous task by anyone’s standards… I so clearly remember the feelings of trepidation that something or someone would harm him. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! When I look back to that day now, I cannot believe that four years have past, and that my sweet newborn is already a big-boy. (And how much he has grown and learned, and what a great little boy he has become.)

In the past four years, he has made me softer; more tolerant and more patient. I have cried happy tears in celebration of his first milestones: my heart swelled with pride as he took his first steps, as he uttered his first words, and as he said “I love you so much Mommy” for the first time.  I have been heart-broken when he has been sick, hurt or upset. I have been in awe of how quickly he grasps things, and how clever he seems to be! I have laughed till my sides have ached and tears are streaming down my cheeks. I have endured temper tantrums and meltdowns, whilst exercising self restraint and patience as he has pushed me to my limits.

But most of all, I have loved like I have never loved in all my life.

Happy birthday my little guy, I love you more than you will ever know.

<Birthday Ring at School with his swimming dolphin cupcakes>


Dear Caris

Wow. I cannot believe that a year has passed since you came into our lives (well, a year and 9 months or so, if you count the in-tummy time!) We celebrated your first birthday with family on Sunday, and you were the epitome of cuteness while opening your presents, eating cake and nik-naks (only because it was your birthday!) and just generallly being the most adorable one-year-old ever.

The year since you made your entrance, seems to have flown by, and I can hardly believe that my little squishy new-born is already a crawling, clapping, waving, chattering away endlessly toddler! And I have managed to get through a whole year of being a mom-of-two.

You are truly the happiest baby I have ever met, and nothing seems to faze you. You eat just about anything, you sleep like a champ, and you have the most happy and playful disposition I have ever witnessed. You go with the flow, and just fit in with everything we do. Even if that means being stuck in a pram or car chair.  You are happy to sit and play with your toys, or examine objects that you encounter very closely! You love being read to and will happily sit and look at picture books for ages  (before trying to eat them of course!) You love music, and love being sung to, and you do the cutest little bop when any music comes on. You love to lie in your cot and examine the embroidered bees on your cot bumper, and will happily do so for ages after you have woken up from a nap. You really are such a joy to all of us, and we love you to infinity and beyond.

I look forward to watching you grow, as each year passes, and I hope that you will always be my baby, even when you have babies of your own one day. I hope that we will always be friends, and that you will share your hopes and dreams with me. I wish you happiness in your life always, and that you will have the courage and strength to deal with anything that life throws at you. I hope that most of your days will be happy ones, and that heartbreaking moments will be very few. I just know that you will grow up to be beautiful, inside and out, and that you will be loving and wise. I hope that you will always follow your dreams, and that you will become whatever it is that you set out to become, whether that be a brain surgeon or a stay at home mom. Know that I will always be there for you my sweet baby girl. I love you always. Mom x

Happy birthday my little precious one. I love you so, so much!


edited: 6 June 2012 – check out “show me the party” on rattle and mum:

The evolution of the birthday cake


I have great memories of magical birthday cakes from my childhood that my mother used to bake for my brother and I. Pumpkin carriages pulled by marzipan mice, humpty dumpty sitting on his wall before he met his scrambled fate, a dolly with a cake dress and a menagerie of animals… When I had Alex, my mom passed her “birthday cakes for children” recipe book onto me saying I was going to need this more than she did right now! I was quite excited at the prospect of baking a special cake for my little guy. I have always loved to cook, and during my school years I baked many cupcakes and cakes for afternoon teas with the family. Over the years I have become known amongst my circle of friends for making yummy deserts. My swansong is definitely my “summer berry pavlova”, which is always a win with everyone!

When Alex turned one, I decided to make him a Tiger cake, courtesy of the “birthday cakes for children” book that I will perhaps, one day, hand down to my daughter (provided it hasn’t fallen apart by then!)

So, this was my first attempt at making a “fancy” birthday cake. I scoured the shops for ages to find liquorice shoe-laces to make the whiskers, and eventually had to cut liquorice straps into thin strips as I couldn’t find any anywhere. (And now I see them in the Dischem queue, of all places, all the time, go figure!). Considering I had only ever baked cakes in normal shaped tins, and iced them, cutting out a tiger from a few square and rectangular cakes wasn’t too difficult, but icing the crumbly cakes however, was quite, umm, interesting. Can you say “crumb-coating”?!?

By birthday number two, Alex had an “old Macdonald” obsession, and loved listening to and singing along to the nursery rhyme, over and over and over … So with the help of trusted old google, I found a barn cake, surrounded by animal cupcakes to complete the farmyard scene.  This one was fun to make, especially finding all the different toppings to complete the animals (such as guava roll for the pigs’ ears and tiny marshmallows for the sheep’s woolly coats!) Lesson learnt: 2 bottles of red food colouring later, the barn was still not as red as I would have liked, but it was too late to go and buy another bottle. I have since discovered gel food-colouring which is much more concentrated.

His third birthday, was accompanied by a love affair with “Lightning McQueen”. A few weeks before Caris was born, my mom (who looked after Alex for me) got ill with pneumonia, and ended up in hospital. So I had to work from home to take care of Alex, who was not at school yet. We all know it is just about impossible to get any work done with a toddler around, and I was desperately trying to wrap up work stuff before going on maternity leave. So the one day, at my wits end, I told him to come and watch a movie. He had never watched a movie at this point, only CBeebies in small doses, so I wasn’t even sure he would watch it. Queue “CARS” … wow, it was love at first sight. And Lightning McQueen become his best friend and hero. (We have probably watched it about a thousand times since then, well it feels like that anyway, thank goodness the second one was released on DVD for a bit of variety!)

It is amazing what you can find on the internet, so after googling “how to make a Lightning McQueen 3D birthday cake” and reading a few “how-to’s”, I attempted to make a Lightning McQueen 3D birthday cake. I was expecting it to be a disaster, as I had never attempted plastic icing before. My mom gave me some pointers (she also used to make wedding cakes as a hobby many moons ago). And perhaps I should mention that I watched quite a few episodes of “CAKE-BOSS” while on maternity leave!!!

First I had to carve a car out of a few rectangular cakes stuck together and “dirty ice” or crumb-coat it. Then came the task of draping it in the very red plastic icing. I was not brave enough to make the plastic icing myself, so I bought some at a great baking supplies shop called “Kadies” in fourways.

So once it looked sort of like a racing car, I set about adding all the details: logos, headlamps, exhaust pipes, windows, etc. I had baked the cakes the night before (I found an absolutely awesome chocolate cake recipe during my “Lightning McQueen” search!) so that I would have the whole day to decorate. Alex was at school in the morning, and my mom popped in to help, and give me a hand with the baby. I started at about 9AM, and finally finished it at about 9PM. (I had to hide it in the pantry when Alex came home from school, and add details with the door closed). A whole day to make a cake! My back was broken from standing, but I was really pleased by the way it turned out.

<<<< 3 May 2012 – Post edited – check out my party on the Rattle and Mum blog …    >>>>

The next morning, we showed Alex his cake, just before all his friends arrived for the party. His eyes nearly popped out of his head, “wow, it’s Lightning McQueen”. I had tears in my eyes. He kept telling everyone to come and see his Lightning McQueen cake! His friends were so impressed! He still talks about it now, so even though it wasn’t perfect, I know that my little guy loved it and thought it was super cool. Priceless!