Table manner game

All children should start to learn table manners early in life.

Below is a simple game to help install good manners in children. 

Give each child points for remembering their table manners and reward them with desert after their meal.

A minimum of 60 points must be earned to gain your desert .


A farm visit

I’m lucky to have been able to bring most of the older bears up in a farm environment.

Fresh air ,dirt and animals are always a fabulous combination for kids.

So, I was in my element when we popped over to a friend’s farm this weekend.

A long drive to Atlantas led us to their stunning farm. As you stepped outside of the aircon interior of the car, you could taste the dirt and smell the rich aroma of farm life.
Bear was quite happy to mingle with his fellow red haired friend and they shared a lovely afternoon swimming and running about barefoot.
The highlight of bears farm trip were the horses and we’ve discovered he loves animals.
He took a trip around the farm with monkey and met the other farm animals, before trying to “love ” the shaggy farm dog.
I believe all children need to experience nature so it was a delight for me to watch bear toddle barefoot after his new found friends.


What makes a house a home ? 

Often I’ll sit and the urge to write a poem compels me … this is a short poem I wrote last year.

What makes a house a home 

By judy Dooley
No matter the size ,the place or the style 

A home is a place to linger a while,

Memories of love and parents who care, a changing of styles and decorating with flare. 

The pitter patter of little feet that far too quickly turn into teenagers needing no sleep.

A smell of hot soup on a cold winters day , a place of comfort and joy when the days look too grey.

Of celebrations and traditions where memories are passed,

A place where you know love will last.

A home is a place where your heart longs to be 

A quiet in the storm, your anchored serenity. ♥


How i planned a socially conscious wedding

The realism behind wedding planning is that it’s costly, time consuming and a lot of hard work.

I spent months trying to plan my perfect day. Hours on Pinterest. Weeks chosing and changing themes and far too many days worrying over silly details that were inconsequential in the end.

The truth is we all have a different idea of what perfection is , so no two weddings are the same.
Here’s how I planned my wedding to be socially conscious.

Mission statement

It’s so easy to get caught up in the wedding fever that hits you shortly after your flashy engagement ring is placed on your finger.

I chose to place a mission statement to my event long before I chose a theme. 

It was important to me that I:

  • Supported local traders as much as I could.
  • Support homemade small businesses, and thereby uplifting families.
  • Chose items of clothing and decor we could repurpose.
  • Find a ceremony venue that the money we paid would go back to the community. 
  • Custom make as much as possible to  create a unique reflection of who we are as a couple and individuals.


The total budget for our wedding did not exceed R40 000 for 100 guests and this included clothing , decor, cake, venue, drinks, food and vendors.

I would never, as a mom with children, be able to justify using more than that for a days event. 

A beach ceremony

We chose a beach venue, which believe me is not as easy as it sounds. Aside from checking that your designated beach is actually able to accommodate you , You also need to apply and pay for a permit. These vary in price depending on what you want to do on the beach.

The good side to this is that all money’s paid for your permits go back into the South African parks group for maintaining our beaches.

Eco conscious

Knowing that we would be borrowing nature’s  environment for our big day, I felt the need to respect Mother Nature by not polluting the beach with petals and confetti …we chose birdseed. Our guests were asked to please remember to throw their packets in a bin and our scrolls were redeemable for a welcome drink.

A clean up crew ( my kids 🤣) ensured no litter.

Our beach decor was simplistic, blending with the environment around us and I chose to forgo huge loud speakers to minimise noise pollution and savour the oceans tranquility.

A little coloured sand

To symbolise our union we used coloured beach sand from the beach we married on in a sand ceremony. I made this myself by hunting down the correct jugs and bottles in a charity store and using non toxic food colourant to colour my sand.

A walk to our reception

We held our minimalistic reception a few steps away from the beach. This meant that we didn’t expect our guests to drive to a separate venue , nor were we creating extra traffic or adding to our carbon footprint.


We wanted a simple ,casual ,comfortable reception, so opted for a pizza buffet. This meant no major decorating to the tables. We also ditched the seating plan so that our guests could comfortably chose where to sit.

Our welcome drinks were craft beers for the men to support our local breweries and blue champagne with cherries for the ladies.

Instead of champagne toasts we served our signature shots in take home shot glasses.


All my decor signage  was printed by a friend. Each sign would later be reused.  Several in my home as decor and those I couldn’t repurpose,sent to bears school to be painted on for the school Christmas concert.

My table decor was small printed lighthouses with beach rules, these were sent home as keepsakes with our guests who had traveled far to attend our wedding.

Each table had custom handmade lighthouse lanterns made by a mommy supporting her family.

The wooden flowers I had scattered around were custom made from a handmade group of crafters on Facebook.

My backdrop of macrame dream catchers was made by a friend of mine who has a small business making macrame products.

I had ordered a wooden arch for our ceremony and that now proudly stands in a friends garden.

Thank you gifts

Our thank you gifts were intended as sentimental.  Most of the groom’s friends enjoy a beer and so a bottle opener was a good choice. We ordered these and our mini shot glasses from the same small start up company.

The ladies were given a piece of our wedding. I filled small bottles with sand and sea water from the beach we were on.

A few stickers printed to say thank you and all it took was an hour of my time to stick one if each onto the gifts.

Guest book alternative 

For a guest book I asked each person to sign a beach stone we had collected. These are proudly displayed in a container in our home.


For flowers  I kept with the simplistic theme and grabbed two bunches of daisy and a handful of lavender. These became small bouquets for the ladies.

I carried an orb with a succulent that I now have growing in my kitchen.

Wedding attire

Our wedding party wore white shirts and blue jeans, this way no one had to specifically buy a new outfit they would never wear.

We wore barefoot sandles gifted to me as a wedding gift by a friend and there was no requirements with make up and hair as I wanted everyone to look natural.

I had boho inspired jewellery made for everyone and the blue of the leather of set beautifully with the white.

My dress

My dress was repurposed from a friends dress and as a wedding gift from one of my bridesmaids we altered it to show my personality… something old and something new 😉

The cake 

I won my cake and was delighted at how simplistic it was. In order not to be eating caramel wedding cake for a week , we chose to use the cake as desert.

A box of weddings

The few items I can’t reuse , like my cake knife set, buntings,ect have been boxed to give to my daughter for her wedding in two years.

Amazing people

I was amazed at how giving our circle of friends were and we were able to enlist the help of so many wonderful friends who assisted with music to transport to help make our day amazing. 

All in all , my day was perfect. If I had my day to do over again … I wouldn’t change a thing!


Dealing with uninvolved grandparents

I grew up on my grandmothers lap and consider myself most fortunate. There is no love that compares to the unwavering ,unconditional love of a grandparent. 

Over the years , it was my grandmother’s wisdom I turned to . Her advice and counsel I saught .  I knew no matter what she would fiercely protect me and love me through  my bad moods, trials and tears.

Not all granparents are loving

When my eldest child was born , I was estatic to share this bond with her and to watch my own mother become a special star in my daughters life.

It was also round about this time that I discovered not all grandparents are cut from the same cloth.

A few examples

My mother,  was an alcoholic who viewed her grandchildren as a nuisance and reminder of her age.   Up until her death she was completely disinterested in bonding with my beautiful children. 

My father , had left the country. In the beginning he exchanged a gift or two but  he last saw any of my children 17 years ago. Not once since has he directly enquired about them. 

My ex husband’s father, who was absent through his sons life, was even less interested. After a few months of sending updates with our first child,  he firmly asked my why I didn’t have an abortion and save his teenage son the embarrassment of ‘my‘ predicament. It was right there that his involvement stopped completely.

As for his mother, she had little time for the children. She was always too busy and I would run after her trying to involve her in birthdays and the children’s other events. She always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. She lived with us at one stage , and was intolerant and rude to the children around her who just wanted to spend time with  her.

Gran to the rescue

Once again I was blessed to have my grandmother fill this imensely important role in both mine and my children’s lives. Unfortunately she passed away when most of my children were still too young to remember how special she was.

Each week she would phone to find out how they were. Each weekend she baked treats and hand made toys for them. At night , when she lived with us, she’d gather my 5 older children onto her bed singing with them and telling them wild tales ;taking them on imaginary adventures. 

The times that we lived far apart from each other she would write to the children, post small parcels and phone them. 

Always she made an effort to find out about their lives, milestones and interests.

So how do you deal with a disinterested grandparent ?

Grandparents hold such a special role in their grandchildren lives and it’s both frustrating and hurtful to know your child will not have an actively involved grandparent in their lives.

 How do you cope with this?

Make an effort 

Always make the effort.  Contrary to what you may feel or believe, you never want your children to feel you isolated an important person from their lives.

Send the photos,  text the milestones,  share the certificates. Invite your parents to birthdays and school functions. If the children are older, let them phone and draw pictures. 

Make an effort to visit them and encourage visits to your home,especially if they stay far away.

You will all remember our road trip to get Bear dedicated in his grandmothers church in order to include her in his special day.

Remind them that they are special in their grandchildren eyes

Send them quotes that your children have said about them. Make a big deal of grandparents day, their birthdays, etc.  

Shortly after my divorce , i took a photo of my youngest two children’s handmade cards for my mother in law and shared them on her Facebook wall. I wanted her to see I divorced her son but she was still special to her grandchildren.

Advise them on how to bond with your child

Some grandparents are just clueless. It’s been a while since they had children and parenting has changed. They may not know your child well enough to bond with them. Suggest a shared hobby.

I remember asking my mother in law to teach my children to build puzzles as she spent hours building puzzles of her own.

Know when to give up

As much as it is important to foster a relationship between your child and their grandparent , it is equally as important to know when to stop trying.

If you have put the effort in and receive no result , you will eventually be setting yourself and your child up for failure.

Protecting their emotions is just as important, if not more so , as encouraging bonds with family. 

If the grandparent makes no effort after your attempts , it is most likely the healthier option to stop trying and wait for them to want a relationship with your child.

My father in law, now in his late seventies , wants to connect with his adult grandsons. I have left this choice up to them. They need to decide if they actually want a relationship with someone who wasn’t involved in their lives.

Moving on

Whilst it may be difficult and hurtful to step aside from disinterested grandparents know that you can break the cycle by one day being the type of grandparent you invisioned in your children’s lives.


Where is your heart mama ?

Friday I read a post that cut me to my core.

I’ve been trying to find the right words to express just how I felt.

Facebook groups

As a mommy blogger I follow hundreds of child related Facebook groups . The posts often fly past me , and I must admit there very few posts that catch my attention long enough to follow the thread.

But this one did …..

Broken heart

A mom, let’s call her Sue, posted into a breastfeeding support group . Her words were factual .

 She started with “my baby died this morning” 

Omw! Mamas can you imagine her pain.  

How hard must it be to know you will never hold your precious angel in your arms again. How your heart must break, knowing the life you’ve guarded and treasured will never grow up into the future you on invisioned. 

She didn’t state how old her angel baby was.

She continued to state how full and sore her breasts were, asking how she could stop the flow.

Being a breastfeeding support group , this was the right platform to turn to.

Mama after mama answered her sending the love, advice and thoughts. Each one, I’m sure, wishing this mamas pain away.


But there is always one ….

Let’s call her Betty! 

Betty took it upon herself to tell Sue that she shouldn’t be worrying about her breasts if her baby died.

I read her callous words with shock and shame that a mama could so carelessly judge a heartbroken mama as she reached out in pain.

Empty arms

For just a moment imagine empty arms where your baby lay a few hours before.

Imagine full breasts waiting to nurture and give life to a baby no longer ready to eat.

Imagine the hours of tears that will follow the silent grieving of a mother left behind .

 If someone reached out , try not to judge, until  you’ve walked those shoes.