One day when I’m big…

Mia: Mom (said in quiet hesitant voice) do you think that when I’m big, very big, like a girl, maybe when I’m 17…(voice becomes more cautious) do you think you could buy me a cellphone for that birthday?
Mom: so for your birthday when you turn 17 you want me to buy you a cellphone?
Mia: yes please mommy
Me: ok angel I’ll remember (thinking to myself of course I’ll remember. I’ll remember when you’re 7 and ask for one and 8 and ask for one etc etc)
Mia: ok mom I’ll remind you. (in such a ‘I just sealed the deal’ voice

And in my head: Oh Mia Crowe if you only knew where I worked or what I did…what would happen then?
My poor innocent, who will look back and think dark thoughts about her parents.

Memories are the best gifts of all

The funny thing about packing up is that everyone around you is so excited about the adventure you’re about to embark on…and me…well I’m going marshmallow I’m afraid. I keep being flooded with memories, beautiful, wonderful memories of almost 12 incredible years in this city of gold.

Tonight I got given a birthday present which my dear friend made for us – pictured below and it sums up a little bit of our history together and her dreams for us as we move on and it suddenly made me excited to find a home to hang it up in.

It really is that time of year for gifts – I get birthday gifts, end of year business gifts and soon it will be christmas and it can really all be overwhelmingly materialistic. But the thing is my love language is gifts so gifts really mean a lot to me and I put an inordinate amount of time and effort into gifts for the people I love and care about. Only I am not a maker, so I was not given the talent of being able to create with my hands like Bron did with my gift featured above. I am more a hunter and a buyer : ) Murray would describe it as a spender, I see it as investing in relationships.

My very favourite present from an agency this week was not the overwhelmingly amazing Jo Malone gift box which of course I will also treasure and enjoy but rather it was the totally creative gift focused on ensuring that Murray and I spend time together as a couple after a hard years work. So this is the wording in the card together with some pics of the gift:

Movie & Adventure golf tickets together with the Woolies voucher for the cheese & biscuits

Champagne for 2

So this gift will create more memories. Right now we haven’t exactly secured a removal company for Tuesday but let’s not dwell on that detail. Let’s imagine that by Wed night we are sitting in an empty house on the floor with a bottle of champagne, cheese and biscuits and toasting all the adventures we’ve had in the home we built together as couple.

This is the same little home Mia was welcomed into when we nervously carried her 2.9kg body back from the hospital. This is where we’ve had everything from normal braais to stunning sushi evenings – we’ve done hectic sing star parties and chilled dvd fridays. Most of all this has been our refuge and our sanctuary and our home and now it is time for new memories. A new couple who are due to give birth in February will move in on the 1st of January and bring their world of adventures and new life into this special space.

So we will take our memories of movies, adventure golf, cheese and champagne and as we sit one night unpacking into a new home in Dubai we will only be able to dream of the world of experiences and joy that will unfold in the new spaces and opportunities that await us there. We will not remember so much the things we thought we loved but more the people we love. Isn’t life all about the experiences and not the things? I really am forced to realise this as I choose what to keep, what to sell, what to give to others. The things that are important are safe in my heart always, and that is the end of the marshmallow for tonight.

Hello Hurricane

So one of the most important areas of my life is my relationships, my family and friends have always been and continue to be a priority. People are my energy, they renew me, restore me, I think by talking (not always a good thing), and my life is weaved in various ways by and through these relationships and how they challenge, grow, nurture and inspire me.

So one has to understand how tough the last few weeks have been for me, when one of the most significant things ever has happened/ is happening and its all happening so fast that I have not had a chance to even process it – never mind tell you guys, the people who are close to me.

All I can say is that in a completely out of the blue move, my company as offered me a role in a diff location and that we signed a contract in the 3rd week of November to move to Dubai starting 1 Jan 2012. We then immediately applied for visas to go look for a school for Mia and left the very next Mon and got back Sat 26th.

The visit to Dubai happened so fast that we didn’t have a chance to let our families know we were going. They knew we planned to go – none of us knew when. When we sent the application forms in on the Friday, we were told they would only be sumitted in Dubai on the Sunday and required 3 working days to process. We knew we had a wedding here on the 26th, and so depending on when the visa came back we thought we may only fly out on the 27th.

Well the visa arrived promptly at 9am on Mon morning after less than a day of processing and Murray and I both had jam packed Mondays planned which were too late to cancel. So we just booked the flights for that evening, ran around doing the meetings etc, got back to the house and packed, grabbed our monkey and rushed off to the Gautrain. We got through customs etc, and into the international departures duty free terminal area about 55 minutes before our flight was due to leave.

And so began the hecticness, which will be the next few weeks. So all I can say is that we are on a rollercoaster and it is crazy, but somehow it will work out. We got back yesterday morning, landing at 11am. Hopped onto the train, dropped the monkey off at a friends and dashed past our house to freshen up and get dressed for the wedding.

The day after we got back, Sun 27th was a day of admin and lists, and Monday kicked off our last 3 weeks in Joburg before we go down to KZN for time with our 2 families. We have this coming week-end in Joburg (3/4 Dec), and the following week-end (10/11 Dec) we travel to a friends wedding which is perfectly timed to add to the craziness but also help with very important goodbyes, and then we plan to leave Joburg on the 16th.

We still need to get movers to come give us a quote, but the target would be that they pack up the house on the 14/15th probably. Before then we don’t think we even know or understand all the admin we need to get done, so if anyone who has moved country before has an excel spreadsheet or tips for us – we are move than open!

So in the reality check that will be the hurricane of my life I think I should probably look to go to bed around about now, but I know that some friends at church have started organising a church farewell for anyone who has been a part of that book in our lives for this coming Sat and as a result comments are popping out on FB etc, and I am just feeling dreadful that I have not yet had the chance to phone/call/sms.

Please understand, and hopefully we can chat soon

lots of love

S + M + mini M

Cradle of memories

When we first got engaged one of dearest couple friends The Smiths rushed us out to the Cradle to the Restaurant for sun-downer cocktails to wish us well, and what a setting it was. If I remember correctly I think we ended up staying for supper and just making a whole evening of it, and since then The Cradle Restaurant has always held a special place in my heart.

When it comes to living in Joburg, we can be sentimental but that does not mean we will rush back to a restaurant that does not excel in areas of food quality, service and ambience/decor. Somehow it has been that over the years we have come to return to this particular venue, for reasons varying from work events, meals with friends and again yesterday for another very special wedding.

What an amazing wedding it was. The ceremony setting was completely unique, with all of us escorted on land rovers deep into the bush for the simplest of backdrops to the most meaningful of vows. The decor was beautiful and Elben&Anri did the most outstanding job of all the design elements from their savethedate to the individualised Josh&Meegs facts at each place related to the theme of the table.

Personally I loved the lampshades

Personalised lampshades

but the energy of Josh and Meegs was in everything in every way, and Josh said it so beautifully when he said “it means so much that in the busyness you have chosen to be here tonight with us, and so just for tonight we are yours and you are ours” and the party just got started from there. Ok I think I might be lying perhaps feet started tapping when Josh and the groomsmen first went down the aisle…I missed the first part because I was arbitrarily taking photos not realising what was coming our way!

So as you can imagine with all this going on, who would be concentrating on the food – oh but how wrong you are.  Whilst waiting for our transport back up to the Restaurant we enjoyed a delightful pimms with a selection of snacks which were just the thing to tide us over.  Looking back the food just seemed to go on and on through the evening and we could not help ourselves but to dive in with gusto at every opportunity – although Chantal did bemoan the 4 pieces of homemade bread she had indulged in when we first arrived ahead of the bridal couple and were unsure how long the wait would be.

We were soon served beautifully plated gorgonzola and toasted walnuts on bruschetta with blue gum honey, really the pudding of the starters if I could say so, it was too divine. We then enjoyed the somewhat startling speeches – who knew we would hear the details of the bride’s fathers swimmers and all that went into her entry into this world? The various speeches duration allowed for some much needed space creation before we were served mains, which were a choice of fillet or pan-seared yellowtail which had most couples eagerly sharing in order to enjoy the best of both.

Josh’s speech will long be remembered as the definitive in groom’s speeches, he really knows how to bring a room to tears, and so we were more than ready for the nutty phyllo with strawberries & mascarpone to give us the energy we needed for the dance floor. Of course I need to improve my skillset in these things because at this point I had been both so engrossed in conversation and yummy food that I stopped capturing anything on my phone, so no visuals for you, sorry.

I think though in summary the point of this story, is that sometimes we have special times with the ones we love and sometimes we have wonderful foodie experiences which are worth  raving about for days and weeks to come, but there is nothing better, than when the two come together to complement and enhance the serendipity of such occasions. Thank you Josh&Meegs for what could be our last visit to a very special place, you have sealed a world of memories in the best possible way.

Murray, after an all night flight back from Dubai with little to no sleep

Which moment of truth is defining your journey today?

So one of my biggest passions in life is marketing. I don’t know when it started or why, but for the longest possible time I have been consumed with a fascination for understanding what drives consumer behaviour and why they choose the products they do.

So for me there are these ‘moments of truth’ which are generally accepted in the world of consumer marketing speak as defining steps in the consumer journey. I have always been familiar with the first and second moment of truth, being the point of purchase and the actual use of product. Recently someone introduced me to the zero moment of truth referring to the fact that for many consumers today, decisions and influence points are happening before the instore environment and if we do not utilise these opportunities appropriately, we may have lost the consumer before they even enter the door.

So for me this section is about my passion for consumer marketing… for a long time this has been an area I have been hesitant to speak up about because so often in a globally driven corporate brand team I do not always get to drive consumer communication work the way I would do it if it were all up to me, but how true is this for so many of us…so now I am slowly going to start speaking up because I’d rather join the conversation from a platform of clear imperfection than never learn and grow with everyone around me.

I think now more than ever it is up to us to understand where in the journey the consumer has drifted away from our conversation and why?

Mia AKA Rapunzel

So one day in Dec 2010 whilst her second mother was babysitting her, my cunning and deceptive daughter gave herself a hair cut. Lets say she went from just over shoulder length to Mohawk – it was very impactful and had to be rapidly rescued by our friends at Chop It.

So began a period of mourning in her life, a time when she truly had to acknowledge the role she had played i.e. central, pivotal, instrumental – there really was no one else to blame – in cutting off her precious locks, and so the year of Rapunzel worship entered our domain.

So the theme of her party was set Rapunzel it would be. And oh what a party it was.  There are so many things I could say, should say, but won’t because they always say once it is written down, you can never take it back and everyone has heard versions of what led up to the fateful day of my husband discovering the biggest children’s party imaginable.

The amazing Rapunzel Activity updating board for the kids

One could almost say he discovered it when he arrived there. Except that he made the cake and so he had to have a clue that there were 50+ kids coming. So let’s agree that he began to pick up that maybe things had slipped out of control the night before.

You know how sometimes in life you go out to be deliberately deceptive, and hide things from someone because you know if you tell them the full truth, they will say no and you are so determined to have your own way that you proceed knowing full well what their reaction will be but hiding your decision and actions long enough so that once they discover what is happening, there is no way for them to stop you from proceeding. Well this situation could not have been farther from that example than you could ever have imagined.

There I was having been travelling for weeks on end, sick as a dog with a sinus infection which had actively drained my brain and all I did was innocently send out invites to those I thought we should invite. All I forgot to do was write a list first and count it. The only guest list I wrote with that party was the RSVPs as they came in and let me tell you by the time I realised what was happening, things were so out of control that I knew this was a beast even I could not control.

Of course like he does every year, because he is the best father in the world, Murray went on to make her the princess castle cake she had been describing since January and oh what an act of love it was. One day when we are alone, ask me about those roof tiles, and about Zizi and the number of candles…but of course what does she notice and love most of all – the purple flag ribbons!

Famous castle cake with the happiest Princess of them all

But then the beautiful and amazing Bronwyn and Meagan stepped in and saved me, taking over the entire decor, party pack, games and so many pieces of the plan that just transformed the monster into a mistress of beauty. People like Lara and Juliet and Charleen all helped with pieces of the party and without them I could not have done it.

All the moms who helped with the treasure hunt, and Steve who let down the biggest basket of treasure I have ever seen… all these amazing friends helped my daughter feel like the absolute princess she is, and even though the reality that hair takes time to grow has now sunk in….so too has the feeling that she is loved.

She told me afterwards “you know mom, I have lots of friends and cousins who love me” and that after all is so much more important than how long her hair is. But I do think the wig helped!

Rapunzel on her jumping castle

The story so far…

I find that over the last few years I have become less and less of a communicator in general, just running from one thing to another, pushing out little tweety bird updates as and when I can but struggling to participate in conversations or respond timeously.

So now begins my next experiment in the world of reaching out to the world around me.   We all know the truth. I am sometimes chatty, sometimes quiet. I have my phases, but hopefully what this will do, is capture it all in one place, so that no matter where I am or where you are, you can track the story so far as it hopefully builds and develops.

They say you should have a theme blog – so I thought that was really funny, since when did I ever restrict my chatter to one theme? So I am going to slowly try and build up the little pieces of framework which I think will make my blog work and then we will take it from there.

All I ask is that you be patient and give me feedback and I’ll make sure that I keep going with



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