May 3, 2012 - Being a mom, Family    4 Comments

Cabhán’s 1st Birthday (2011)

Last year, for Cabhán’s birthday, I wanted to have a fun get together for all our friends and family. Since it was his first birthday he wasn’t going to remember much, but I thought I would have a theme on something he liked anyway. I chose cars for the theme (not Cars as in the Disney movie, just a plain little car) as he absolutely loves cars and had enjoyed watching them go past on the road since he could see further than his nose. I decided to go for blue and orange as the main colours too, as those seemed to be his favourites at the time, but had balloons of all colours just to make it more fun.

We had the party at Rietvlei farm, a lovely nature reserve park very close to our house, with a farmyard full of animals to feed, soft grass to stretch out on, ample space to run around and play, and a braai for later. I rented one of the little lapa venues just in case there was rain, and because it had a plug point for the jumping castle – because every party really ought to have a jumping castle.

It was a bit of a walk from the entrance to the party area, so I put up some signs and balloons for people to follow:

The guests were greeted by a lovely banner that my mom had made:

and a table full of sweets and snacks. Since the guests’ ages ranged from less than 1 all the way up to 76 I didn’t have a “party table” where the kids all sat – rather, I let everyone help themselves from the food table, and find a spot on a picnic blanket or chair or something.

There were popcorn cones

little car sandwiches

great big bunches of balloons,

And, of course, the cake!

As is tradition in our family, for his first birthday Cabhán got a cake all to himself, which I made in the shape of a little orange car. I used a chocolate cake which I then moulded, used white chocolate ganache to form the shape of the car nicely and keep it all together, and then iced it with a nice, bright orange buttercream frosting. Cabhán obviously knew it was a car because he tried to drive it around!

And of course, every child got a party pack!

Basically, the party was just a fun, unstructured get-together with friends and family. I bought each child a little pack of veggies with which to feed the farm animals, and people ran around and played and explored as much as they liked.

At the end we opened pressies, and my mom had made a gorgeous card and written Cabhán a lovely alphabet poem about all his favourite things.

Cabhán’s Birthday ABC

A’s for gran’s Apples, a nibble or two;

B is for Benji, my doggy so blue.

C is for ME, Cabhán is my name;

D is for Dance, a nursery rhyme game.


E is for Elephant, Nellie is cool;

F is for Fishies in grampa Greg’s pool.

G is for Ginger, I love him to bits;

H is for Hoo, the owl who just sits.


I is for Ice cream, it melts in the sun;

J is for Joao, and Joey, and John.

K is for Karen who reads me fun books,

L is for Love, hugs, kisses, and looks.


M is for Mel, my auntie – and Me!

N is for new day, new places to see.

O is for Oatmeal, gramp’s biscuits so yum;

P is for Paulie, my cousin, best chum.


Q is for Quick! That’s me near a plug!

R is for Rope which I pull with a tug.

S is for Slide, what fun to go wheeeeeeee!

T is for Trumpets that toot-toot for me.


U is for Under, where I like to go;

V is for Venus, the night’s pretty show.

W is for Walkies, in my pram we go,

X is my xylophone, ting ting, yo ho ho.


Y is for Yellow, the colour of sun;

Z is for Zebras, who hide and then run.

This poem’s for YOU – you’re ONE and so tall!

You’re loved and you’re cherished, and dear to us all.


(Thank you to my brother Iuan for his awesome pictures that I’ve used here. The crappier ones on this page I took with my blackberry, and they’re not nearly as nice as Iuan’s ones.)

May 3, 2012 - Daily life, Ginger    No Comments

The Ginger Magic

Cabhán loves magic! It all started back in November when we were out at a restaurant in France with my cousin who had come to visit. Cabhán had fallen asleep en route, but woke up as we were having dessert. To entertain him while we finished our meal, Chris came up with a game of disappearing Ginger.

Ginger was on the table. I held Cabhán’s blanket up in front of him and we told him to touch his nose to do the magic. Cabhán touched his nose, and Chris snuck Ginger off the table to where he couldn’t see him. I lowered the blanket and Cabhán gasped in amazement when he saw Ginger had disappeared! He had this wonderful look of wonder on his face, which started to turn to a little bit of worry as it dawned on him that his beloved Ginger was gone. So we quickly put the blanket back, Cabhán touched his nose again, and Ginger magically reappeared to a little boy laughing “Ginger!”

Chris has always been into magic, and is really good with sleight-of-hand tricks. A couple months ago Cabhán got hold of a credit card, and Chris sat on the floor with him making the card disappear and then reappear inside Cabhán’s shirt, much to Cabhán’s delight. And last night we even made daddy disappear from behind the sofa! (He crawled through to the kitchen behind a blanket held up by me while Cabhán touched his nose.) Cabhán ran around to look for him, and was amazed that he was gone! He didn’t even think to look in the kitchen, but just ran back to the other side of the sofa to touch his nose so daddy could come back, which he was most happy to see he did.

I managed to catch a game of the Ginger Magic on video while we were on holiday in Torgon in December… Cabhán just loves his magical cat!

I can’t think of a title for this post

Every day I have all these awesome ideas and great motivation to blog in the evening after Cabhán has gone to bed. Unfortunately by the time I get there my brain seems to have forgotten everything, and I battle to string a coherent sentence together, let alone write a proper post. (By 11pm, just about the only lines I am capable of are written in c++ and end in a semicolon rather than a full stop… and even then it’s dicey).

Apart from the billion things on my work to-do list, I have an equal billion on my “personal life-home-crafty crafts-blog-and other misc” to-do list, and clearly I am not exactly owning ticking those things off at any reasonable rate. I did, however, do a pretty good spring clean of the apartment this Sunday, so I’m feeling somewhat less chaotic, symbolically as it were*.

But – oh my it’s time to get myself into gear, because Cabhán turns two years old next week! His party is set for the 5th, and since he is all sorts of Thomas-obsessed right now, it will be a choo choo-themed party. The only reason that I am not entirely panicking about it is because my aunt and cousin have bought just about every imaginable Thomas party paraphernalia (paraphernalium?) one can find in London-town, and are bringing it over next weekend! Cabhán, if you ever read this one day and can remember your awesome Thomas party with choo-choos everywhere you turn your eyes… well, that had nothing to do with me, my boy. I just made the invitations.

However! As I am writing this my parents are on a plane, right now, flying somewhere over Africa, coming to visit us Cabhán for his birthday! I am excited for a number of reasons: Cabhán will really enjoy having his granny and bampa around to play with; I’m hoping to sneak in some extra nap time somehow while they babysit; and finally because I’m not entirely uncertain the party will not pull itself together unless I actually have a proper, real-life, face-to-face conversation with someone and go and do some missioning about it, and my mom is great for that. Motivation- and ideas-wise. I plan to drag her to a party shop this weekend. Look at me being all organised and stuff!

baking with cabhán

On the Cabhán side of things, well, he just makes me laugh every single day. His language has improved exponentially in the past 4 months, and not only is he learning new English words every day, he is learning new French words every day. He speaks his own mixture of English and French at home, and the hardest thing is keeping up with him – often I have absolutely no idea what he is saying, but clearly is is something really obvious (albeit French). He speaks in sentences, and every day, too, comes up with new ways of putting words and sentences together.

Today he said the word “mine” for the first time. I know I will come to regret this milestone, but I thought it was pretty cool in the moment (yes yes, laugh at me in 2 weeks time).

He really enjoys cooking, too, and loves to sit with me and help when I am making dinner. I can’t help but chuckle when he’s in the kitchen though, as he calls a spoon a “poeN”, with extra emphasis on the N. And last night I made couscous, which inevitably became “poes poes”. You try congratulate a 2 year old with a straight face for learning a new word when that is what is coming out of his mouth!

But he’s started a naughty phase just recently, of tipping out his food and throwing it on the floor, even at school, which is something we have to deal with. We also started to get a bit worried as he seemingly went on a bit of a vegetarian streak, he would eat all his fruit and veg, but not touch any of the “meatie” as he calls is (unless it was in ravioli, of course).

(We started being a little concerned after a week or so of barely touching anything except veg and carbs in his lunches and dinners. Even more concerning was when he wanted chocolate but wouldn’t eat his gigantic chocolate Easter bunny, opting for cuddling it instead. But then, this weekend I bought him some little animal-shaped beads that I thought he would enjoy threading onto pipe cleaners and stuff. Instead, he put them all in his toy pot and pretended to cook them. And it’s not that he thinks they’re something else – I picked up one giraffe bead and asked him what it was, and he squealed ” ‘raffe!” in delight, put in back in his pot and ran off happily saying “cook cook cook!” That was a particularly proud moment for Chris and I.)

Anyway, I think it’s a bit of an aversion to something he does not know – if it looks rather different, for some reason he sometimes just will not even taste it. Which is a pity, cause I reckon he would have liked it otherwise. We had a bit of an episode this weekend where he flat-out refused, and threw his food on the floor, and instead of getting him some other food just so he would have something in his tummy (as I’ve mostly been doing until now), we decided to send him to bed without supper. (I did, however, add some cereal to his evening milk, so he had some sustenance.) But it seems to be working though… the next night he refused to eat and threw food on the floor, so I put him back in his room for a timeout. He very sheepishly came out a few minutes later and asked to get back into his high chair, and sat and ate well for the remainder of dinner. I’ve also this week started making us all dinner together, the same food too, so that we can sit with Cabhán and he can see from us how to act. Plus, I think he likes the one-on-one time. I think it’s working though, he is behaving himself much better, at home and at school, and tonight, after being initially skeptical, he really enjoyed his lamb chop I made for dinner. So all is well with the universe once more. At least for tonight.

I don’t really have a proper ending to this post so here is a video of Chris making a Cabhán pancake on Easter.



* When I was in grade 1 and full of school enthusiasm and impressionability, my headmistress used to tell us at the start of every school holiday to go home and tidy our cupboards, because “a tidy cupboard is a tidy mind”. For some reason this really stuck with me, and my sphere of influence has grown as I have, so that a few times every year (usually around school holiday time, now that I think about it) I have to do a massive spring clean/chuck out in order to stay sane. I’m happy with that.


Cabhán has, in the past month or so, really started to understand the power of knowing someone’s name. I first noticed it back in South Africa, where he learnt my mom’s maid’s name while they were baking scones together, and he was SO chuffed with himself being able to say hello to “gogo Dudu”. Once back, he learnt our friend Yann’s name, whom he absolutely loves, and the other day when I dropped him off at his creche he said hello to his other friends by name too.

On Friday when I went to collect Cabhán from creche it was a lovely sunny afternoon and all the kids were playing outside. They had their normal, “outside” shoes on, as opposed to the soft leather slippers that they all wear inside the classroom. One of the teachers brought Cabhán inside and we had the usual chat about how he was that day, and she pointed me to the table where 4 little pairs of “inside shoes” were sitting. I went over to get Cabhán’s pair, and Cabhán pointed at the first pair of shoes and said “Amber”.

I looked, confused, over at the teacher and she confirmed that yes, those were Amber’s shoes. He then did the same for the other two pairs, telling me they were Lea’s and Nils’. I was really impressed – how many of you would know your friends just by their shoes?

Apr 16, 2012 - Daily life, Family    2 Comments

An update-by-points

I realised I haven’t blogged in a while, and I have a whole bunch of pictures and stories, so while I compile them here is a short update of what has been happening in the Lee household over the past two months:

We had some friends come and visit, and we all went on a tour underground to visit ATLAS before the LHC started up again for this year. Ben and Chris also fixed Cabhán’s truck, which had stopped working. Ben checked the circuitry with his tongue (as one does) while Chris and I stood on in amusement. Yesterday, Cabhán watched the video of Ben’s troubleshooting, and decided he wanted to give it a go too.

We popped back to SA last month for a little over a week to get some adminy things done (like getting my drivers license renewed) and to see as many of our friends and family as possible. It was an extremely good visit, albeit short, and though we didn’t see absolutely everyone, it did us a world of good to get back there, even for just a little while. (We did miss the internet while we were there though. The real internet, you know, like or 50 meg line we have here at home).

When we got back from SA, we found that spring has come to Geneva! Everything is beautiful, with blossoms and budding green shoots popping out everywhere. The municipalities have planted gorgeous spring flowers in all the planters around the city, and it looks stunning. There is still some snow on the Jura mountains though, which makes for an awesome contrast.

A couple of Sundays ago, Chris had loads of work to do, so I took Cabhán for a walk down at the lake, to eat ice cream and feed the ducks (and go for a ride on a choo choo). That was a really lovely afternoon.

We had a nice Easter alone at home. It was a little bit sad as I missed everyone from SA, but we went Easter egg hunting in a real forest in France on Easter Sunday, and then we went to Chillon Castle on the Monday with friends, which was a brilliant afternoon.

Except that for the past week and a half it has been raining almost non-stop. Which is good for the plants, but the days are a bit dreary, so weekends aren’t that much fun. We even got lots of snow on the Jura this past weekend! It looks really pretty though, too bad I’m a bit nervous about snowboarding again.

I took some shadow shifts in the ATLAS Control room, so now I am a qualified super shifter, which means I will be on shift soon. The super shifts are for a week at a time (Monday to Monday). I don’t have to be in the control room the whole time, but I do have to be over there a couple of times each day to check that things are going ok, attending the daily run meetings, checking the shift logs, and in general being available for questions if the normal shifters have any.

The rest of work is crazy  - Crazy I tell you! There is never enough time to do everything, sometimes let alone even a small fraction of what I need to do. Also, I now have meetings every day, sometimes they take up more than half the day.

Chris has been inundated with work lately too, he is doing stuff for both our parents right now. Also, there is an amazing opportunity that  might be on the cards for him in the near future, so he is working his butt off to get everything done, as well as train up as a linux sysadmin in preparation. I’m so proud of him right now.

We have all been sick, which sucked tremendously. And last night Cabhán started with a fever again. Changing season, pollen, all these things just suck. Hopefully the rain will let up soon, or at least on the weekends.

Finally, Cabhán is so funny right now. His language has improved so quickly over the past 3 months – and even since SA he is talking in multi-word sentences, sometimes English, sometimes French (and sometimes I just have no clue what he is saying). His imagination has come out in leaps and bounds too – yesterday we sat for 15-20 minutes going “choo choo! ch ch ch ch” on the couch, pretending we were on a train (because our couch is a sleeper couch, there is a pull out piece that has wheels. So it’s a choo choo. Obviously).

Mar 1, 2012 - Daily life, Random, Sucks    No Comments

Happy New Year, me

I’ve decided that today is the first day of 2012. Yup. The first two months were pretty horrid – new year itself wasn’t that great, then my mom and dad left to go back to SA, and then I just felt down for a while. Also, I was busy recovering from being hit in the face by a ski lift just before Christmas. I was just getting my mojo back when we went to Italy for a weekend for a friend’s birthday/skiing trip, and I had a bad fall while snowboarding and dislocated my shoulder. On top of that, a week later, I started having really terrible stomach pains, and spent more than a week in bed. The doctor reckons it was a bout of hepatitis.

So. My shoulder is feeling a lot better though still a little sore and weak, and I’m still tired from the hepatitis, but instead of hating 2012 as a whole, I’ve decided to give January and February the finger and say “Happy New Year, me” today.

Please, universe, let that be the end of it?

Feb 24, 2012 - Daily life    No Comments

Some of my favourite things right now

(in no order…)

Hazelnut yoghurt and crunchy red apples

Having a piping hot shower with the window open, looking out at the snow on the Jura mountains

My Lush face wash (all the goodies I got from Lush actually) and my face cream from Cat that I got for my birthday

My husband emailing me at lunchtime and asking if I want to come home for a braai for lunch

Baking with Cabhán on the weekends

My bed

Feb 23, 2012 - Family, Food, Meyrin    1 Comment

Some weekend fun

Cabhán has started a new thing where he often most days wakes up at 5:30 am and doesn’t want to go back to sleep. Since he used to sleep till after 7am, this is not such a fun game for me, but what can you do. This Saturday was one of those days (and Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… you see how it goes).

Anyway, Cabhán and I were up early and played and watched cartoons for a while, and then since it was a lovely, sunny day I decided to take him out to get some stickers, and then have a nice morning walk. It really was a beautiful day, and warm: after the past few weeks of it being -15 or so, the weekend’s +2 was positively balmy.

We went to Jumbo, and then went to the schoolgrounds of the public school that’s opposite Meyrin-Village on the top of the hill, and just before the water park (though the water things have been taken away for obvious reasons until warmer days). I love that the grounds are open so people can walk through them on the weekends if they want to.

Cabhán really enjoyed the freedom on being able to run around outside again, something we haven’t really done in a long while since it’s been so cold. I’ve taken him out a couple of times but after about half an hour he’s cold and crying because his hands – even inside gloves – are stinging with cold, which is not so much fun after all. So this was quite a treat.

He ran around all over the place, along the paths. He found a little pinecone that he brought home, and went to see the school clock which rang timeously for him at 11am.

Cabhán then decided to explore the biggest tree he could find,

and found a really nice stick,

so he imitated his “bampa”.

On the way back, we stopped at his favourite stone place opposite the Meyrin church clock so he could do a bit of granular redistribution,

and then it was home for lunch. Chris went snowboarding with some friends, and Cabhán and I just had a relaxing afternoon playing with stickers and such.

On Sunday it was a bit overcast, but still “warm” so we invited our friend , Y, and his girlfriend over for a braai. Cabhán was thrilled to be let outside on the balcony – we haven’t been out there since the end of summer! We took his little cooking set outside so he could cook, too, just like daddy, and helping me through the kitchen window.

mmm ribs and steak!

Halfway through the afternoon Y – who lives downstairs from us – brought his cat up to “visit” so that Cabhán could play with her. Cabhán loves cats, and he was so good, just stroking her gently and not pulling her tail or hurting her in any way. We were mightily impressed, and Cabhán just loved having the kitty around as a friend. He thought it was especially great when I put some milk in one of his plastic bowls and told him to give it to the kitty to drink. He put it down in front of her and watched in fascination as she drank, and then brought her the rest later so she could finish it. It was really sweet. (I unfortunately didn’t get any nice pictures though).

All in all it was a great weekend.

Feb 21, 2012 - Family, Food, France, Suisse    No Comments

Fat Tuesday!

(For now, I am going to skim over the fact that I haven’t written in ages, and I will get to what has happened in the past couple of months shortly. It’s been pretty interesting, what with me turning 29, then getting smashed in the face by a ski lift, then dislocating my collarbone, and by “interesting” I sort of mean that 2012 has quite a lot of begging to do to get back into my good graces. But for now, I am happily sitting on the couch with an extremely full tummy, because today is Shrove Tuesday and that means – pancakes!)

We’ve always had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday for as long as I can remember – my mom has her secret crepe recipe (which isn’t really a secret, and she has passed on to me) and she would make stacks of cinnamon-sugar pancakes for dinner, and put them in the oven to keep warm until the sugar melted and went all gooey, and my brother and I would fight for what we thought were the sugariest, gooeyist pancakes and we would all eat until we were stuffed.

In France, Shrove Tuesday (or, pancake day) is called Mardi Gras, which directly translated means “Fat Tuesday”, a rather apt description. It’s also the carnival festival (I hadn’t ever linked the two together before, Mardi gras and Shrove Tuesday) and the only reason we were alerted to it was because Cabhán’s school put a notice up on their door saying that the kids should dress up for the day today. Cabhán has a whole set of baseball gear that Katharine bought him in the States, including a little mitt, bat, and ball, so he dressed up as a little Yankee. Everyone at school thought he was deliciously cute. Unfortunately, standing still while he had a bat and a ball to play with was completely out of the question, so these were  about the best photos I could get.


When we got home this evening I made a huge pile of pancakes a la my mom’s recipe. As is (my?) tradition, the first pancake out the pan gets to be eaten right away, and since I was feeling generous and altruistic, I gave it to Chris and Cabhán to share instead of scoffing it myself. I’m nice like that. We all ate until we were stuffed anyway, yum!


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