Brothers in arms. At long last.

For so, SO long, I thought that my boys would never be friends. Fighting would start from the moment they opened their eyes. “That’s MY blankie//plate/chair/mommy!” The whining was incessant. The tears flowed and bath time was a daily nightmare. They were NOT friends.

Spongebob & Patrick Fighting

This weekend, things seemed to change. They set my mind at ease. Sure, they had their moments [I've discovered that bath time should probably be alone time for now, maybe a good time for Dave and I to spend one-on-one time with each of them] when they were tired and a little irritable, but for the most part, Luca & Mika were attached at the hip for two solid days, without incident.

This, people, is a record.

They climbed up and explored a treehouse fort, together. They flew an army aeroplane into unchartered airspace and weathered stormy seas in a little sailboat, together. They ate cake, drank juice, road in trains and snuggled on the couch together.

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Long may this last.

Do your kids fight? How do you deal with it? And how long until they just realise that they’re gonna be around and together for a LONG time, so instead of battling it out, its easier to just join forces?

Come dine with the Dadics

Forget having three mystery guests popping over for dinner, two of whom won’t eat chicken or any pasta-based dishes or who one who is allergic to salt, anything cooked in water and human-beings … in our house, we have four different sets of dietary requirements.

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I eat everything. Yip. Everything. I mean I don’t eat everything all the time, but I’ve yet to find anything that I really dislike. Dave is lactose intolerant but eats pretty much anything and everything I put in front of him. Mika is willing to try almost anything at least once and on a good day will motor through a bowl of peas, on top of whatever else he’s already eaten. And then Luca. Luca. Luca only eats things he can personally identify and, and at 4 years and 9 months old, that’s only really a handful of things.

While I understand it’s important for the kids to get used to eating what we eat and that they won’t starve etc, I like seeing them eat and I like seeing them enjoy what they eat. We’ve had Luca get so worked up over a pea in his macaroni cheese. He vomited and I ended up in a pool of tears and guilt. And puke. I really dislike drama and drama around food in particular.

So, I do the unthinkable and I cater for each of our individual tastes and requirements. Some may say I’m stupid for wasting time, but to those naysayers I say, “Pah! Have you fools not heard of Woolies Food? Savers of time and sanity? Producers of food items with clear instructions on how to prepare said item, without the use of a cookbook, scales or a degree in molecular biology? Obviously not!”

And to those who say I’m spoiling my kids? Shut up. They’re my kids and I’ll spoil them if I want to.

Last night, after sitting in an hour of Sandton-Greenside traffic, I opened up the fridge to have a look at what I could offer my little family. Main deciding factor for me? What would be the simplest, most wholesome option, that also wouldn’t have us eating anything more than 25 minutes later.

For the boys, I boiled some macaroni noodles in salted and buttered water. I diced a bit of ham and mozzarella cheese and boiled some petit pois. For Mika, obviously. I sprinkled the ham and cheese over the warm noodles and served.

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For Dave and I, I steamed 4 gemsquash halves (I LOVE gemsquash) and popped 6 Woolies salmon fish cakes into the oven for 20 minutes. Dave had a Grain & Lentil salad and a little portion of peas with his fish cakes, while I skipped the salad and just had loads of the peas with my squash.

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Simple, relatively healthy, really tasty and everyone was happy. In my world, it’s about what makes us happy, not what the books say we should be doing. Hell, I know for a fact that as a child I was HORRIFIED at the idea of eating courgettes, onions, livers, pumpkin and a whole lot of other really healthy things that I now consume by the truckload, and Dave only started eating (and enjoying) vegetables when we met 12 years ago. And we’re both happy, healthy individuals now. For the most part.

How do you handle dinner time? Are you a people-pleaser, like me? I’m honestly happy to give my kids a toasted cheese on brown bread most some nights. Or are you a gourmet guru, whipping up well-balanced meals that contain 4 of the 5 daily recommended fruit/veggies? And, if so, HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT?

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How many posts could a blogger post, if a blogger could post posts?

After a couple of months worth of a blogging hiatus, I’ve returned. Not regularly, mind you, but thanks to a kick in the bum by a couple of cool brands, I’m feeling inspired. I like writing, for myself. I also like knowing that you LIKE what I write.

You do, don’t you?

They love me! they really love me!

I’m not your average mommy-blogger. I’m also useless at Pinterest and not exactly in a position to be dishing out advice about parenting, beauty tips or the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner. So I’d like to ask you (yes, all 225 of you who visited this site yesterday!):

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO WRITE ABOUT? 

Recently I’ve blogged about eyebrows, moths, Woolworths, school and my friend Melinda’s amazing party planning and decor business, Pretty Things for You. Sometimes I think that my own stories aren’t exciting and that the things I think about won’t entertain you enough. Would they?

What would YOU like to read about on One of The Boys?

Do you even shape, gurl?

A couple of months ago I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I was working TOO hard and not looking after myself. My skin was taking a beating and I was miserable. As girls do, I sent a very self-pitying Whatsapp message to my friend Natasha to show her how AWFUL my skin was and to get some sympathy. Natasha’s response to the close up of my watery eyes and spotty forehead? “PLUCK YOUR EYEBROWS, NICKI!”

Mortified. Thanks Natasha ;)

Fast-forward to a week ago. I received a DM from a Twitter account called @browXpress that read,

“Hi Nicki! We’d love to do your eyebrows for the whole of 2014. Would you love that?”

One quick look in the mirror and I replied, faster that you can whip off a wax strip, “Um, I’d LOVE that!” and an appointment was set up with Gillian for the very next day.

The truth is, I’ve been more lax with my eyebrows than anything else. I guess as a mom you choose your battles, and my eyebrows has been at the bottom of the list for some time. I mean, I pluck the stray hairs that, left unattended, have the potential to allow my childhood monobrow back into existence. But I don’t and haven’t ever really focused on the shape of my brows. I have never liked how thin they are towards the ends, where I’ve been ever-so-slightly pluck-happy. Turns out my enthusiastic plucking habits aren’t only my own. According to an article entitled Brows Through the Ages on Women24.com, “With the 90s came an obsession with plucking, waxing and grooming eyebrows, creating a trend that lasted through the early 2000s. Many women are still fighting the aftermath of this process today, as thicker brows are back on trend.”

Exhibit A: 90s Eyebrowsce4e57e0183e4c48a23882622cd21b52

What’s more “in” and more natural, are the looks sported by beauties, Camilla Belle, Emmy Rossum and Lily Collins, for example:

belle1mj1809 Emmy Rossum at W Magazine's Golden Globe Awards Lily-collinsSo, with these beautiful brows in mind, I headed off to the Birdhaven Centre to pay a visit to (world-famous eyebrow specialist to the stars, including Zan Posen models, Pavarotti, various Miss World contestants and SO many more) Gillian Lentin.

More than just a waxing salon, browXpress is an experience. From the Venetian chandelier hanging over the antique reception desk, to the exquisite artwork on the ceiling, it was more than what I’d expected and from that moment, having my eyebrows waxed would never be the same.

Gillian Lentin, the owner and founder of Joburg’s only eyebrow boutique, saw me for my first appointment. She could immediately tell, from my massacred left eyebrow, that I was right-handed and she reassured me that, although I had been (very) heavy-handed when it came to my plucking technique, she could sort me out. We spoke about the ideal eyebrow shape, which is measured using the nose to position where the brow should start and end. BrowPageImage1-resized-600

Combing my eyebrows in the the correct direction (who knew?!), Gillian began by tinting my eyebrows, followed by a trim and finally, waxing. Without saying too much, here is my before and after:

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I honestly didn’t think it was possible to make over-plucked eyebrows fuller after an appointment where my eyebrows were trimmed and waxed. HOW? I’m excited to see how my brows transform over the next 12 months … and also to get better at taking more attractive before and after pics ;)

My recommendation? Book an appointment NOW. Don’t even think about it. At R200-R300 per appointment, this is not your average eyebrow was, but it’s worth every cent. Gillian’s diary is booked for anything up to a year in advance (yes, really) so Lungi, Gillian’s protege, is taking on new clients and you can contact them on 082 584 2348.

You can also like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and get brow-spiration at their Instagram profile too.

You love, who you love, who you love … #declareyourlove

(This is not a sponsored post, but it is about Woolworths and I am a BIG fan of theirs! If you’re not, I’d suggest you stop reading now. Unless you’re a fan of winning stuff, then keep reading!)

I’m the kind of girl who wears red on Valentine’s Day. Green on St Patrick’s day. Reindeer antlers at Christmas time. I am the opposite of the cynical people who HATE and form of PDA, cutesy photo challenges and generally sharing happy stuff.

Stuff like this:

This:

100HappyDays

These:

wooliesiloveyoumug  wooliesiloveyouduvet  wooliesiloveyoucushion

Also, this:

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And cute cute campaigns like this:

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My family and I also LOVE Woolies and, it would appear, Woolies loves me!

This morning (after waking almost 45 minutes earlier than my alarm, to the sound of Mika SCREAMING, cleaning up cat poop, washing poop off Mika’s neck (don’t ask) and forgetting to give Luca pizza money) my door bell rang and a box was delivered. Inside it was a collection of incredible goodies including Woolies pampering bath stuff, a heart-shaped box of their signature chocolate treats, Chuckles, a Clarins Rebalancing Fragrance and a GORGEOUS Woolies throw (which I will be selfishly keeping OFF the couch and in my cupboard for the cold wintery days when I’ll be holed up in my office).

Thank you Woolworths – to say you made my morning (day, week!) is an understatement!

The best part is that YOU can win something sweet from Woolies before 14 February, by simply sharing a picture or a couple of words about the ones you love. To find out more, click here!

Wishing you all a wonderful month of love xxx

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You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals ― Paul McCartney

I love taking pictures of my children. It allows me to be able to go back and watch them grow, all over again.

Elena Shumilova, a Russian mom of two boys, doesn’t want to miss a moment and takes these gorgeous pictures … completely breathtaking. 
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View the full and original post here.

School: terrific or torture?

Update: After reading Jenny and Georgina’s comments (thanks gals!) I had a little think. I called the school and said that instead of picking him up at 12:30, I was going to pop over now (an hour earlier) to drop off a bottie for Mika and that I would, instead, fetch him at 2:30. I think that starting this routine from day 1 (um, 2) is better than “waiting until he’s settled” because by then, he would have settled into the routine of me fetching him earlier. So, that’s it. I ripped off the bandaid. Dave asked if I would be strong enough and my answer was, “Well, I won’t be there to see if he’s miserable” – ignorance is bliss? Nah, they’ll call me if there’s a problem. *deep breaths*

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Luca has always loved school. When we did that very first drop-off he was 18 months old and couldn’t string together a clear sentence. But he LOVED school. Sure, there were 2, maybe 3 days where I had to sneak quietly out, but for the most part (read as: ALWAYS) he has always loved going to and being at school.

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Mika, not so much. He started at the same play school that Luca had spent two years at, in March 2013. He was 16 months old, so slightly younger than Luca was when he started, but as a second child he was just (or so I thought) ready to go a little earlier. The fact is, the days where he went willingly to school were rare. I would call to find out how he was doing and he would always be fine just a couple of minutes after I had left, but the actual drop-off has always been a complete nightmare, with screaming, tears and outstretched arms sending my guilt levels into the gazillions.

I have signed both of the boys up for aftercare this year so that I have more time at home to get through my work … dropping them off at 8 and fetching them at 12:30 is just not enough time. But I need to know that Mika loves being where he is before I can leave him there for an extra two hours a day.

I’d love to know how other moms deal with this and how fast or slow your little ones have settled into school, especially new school? I feel like Mika is confident and happy but I just don’t understand why this is SUCH a big deal for him?

Just another example of how having two kids doesn’t make you an expert, huh?

So long 2013! May 2014 be as great, if not better, than you!

First things first: I’m sorry for neglecting you, blog. It’s not you, it’s me.

And now on to the next one.

2013 was a FANTASTIC year. I left the confines of the corporate world and took the leap into freelance. Well, I can’t really say that I took a leap … the work was there, waiting for me and I made the right decision. A decision that I still think back to, 11 months ago, and get butterflies about. In 2013, One of the Boys grew up from just a blog … now it’s a company, paying invoices, salaries and really just making me PROUD!

2013 has allowed me to spend more time with my family and also spend more time working late into the night and into the early hours of many mornings. That decision allowed me to be more financially independent (yes, really!) and to be able to contribute to things like bond payments, salaries, holidays and more. It’s been a year of growing up and learning more about who I am, without someone giving me instruction. I have learnt that I am more than capable of managing my own time (sometimes) and schedule.

2013 saw me become involved in Luca’s school activities. This may not sound like anything of any great significance, but it’s a BIG deal for me. My mom worked hard, really hard. I loved (love) her with all of my heart but I don’t ever remember her being one of the moms who was there, when it came to school stuff. So for me, this is a BIG deal. What I am SUPER excited about (nerd alert) is that I have been appointed the class mom for Luca’s class for 2014! I’m not 100% sure what I’m in for, but I do know that the class mom for 2013, Lauren, was fantastic and if I can do as good a job as she did, I’ll be very proud of myself.

2013 brought our 5th wedding anniversary in. Wow! MARRIED FOR FIVE YEARS! I say that like it’s a surprise, but the fact is that it couldn’t have been easier or more amazing. Dave and I are in a great place, finally having found our DREAM home and running our own thriving businesses. Long may it all last. I love you, Babe.

2013 was the year that Mika Alex started school and turned 2. I can honestly say that two years ago, when Mika was around 8/9 weeks old, I couldn’t imagine being here today: happy, healthy and (relatively) sane. His first December holiday was a nightmare, with VERY little sleep, LOTS of crying and frustrations which all lead up to the diagnosis of my post-natal depression. But, we made it. In fact, we WON! Mika is a gorgeous child, with the most infectious nature … wherever we go, people quite literally stop and stare. I love you little noodle!

In 2013, Luca overcame his little speech impediment. “Luta” became “Luca”. “Tar” became “car”. “Titty” became “kitty” :) Luca has always been a confident, independent and thoughtful little boy, but this year saw him grow up more than I could ever have imagined. Next year he starts in the Blue Group at his amazing nursery school and I am beyond excited for all that is to come in 2014 for my big boy.

My wish for 2014 is that my family loves, my business grows and my friends keep popping over unannounced for bubbles, braais and fun, all year round x

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

xoxo

How to plan THE PERFECT PARTY

I LOVE throwing parties. I’m not the best at arranging the details though, and THAT’S what makes a party – the little things that people notice and say “Wow!”

I am lucky enough, however, to call a very special, creative and naturally talented person, a very good friend and this dear friend of mine decided to make her passion for creating the perfect party, her full-time bread and butter.

So, without further adieu, allow me to introduce Melinda Connor and her venture, Pretty Things For You (and you!) Taken from her website,

Pretty Things For You…and you and you is inspired by my love for all things pretty and pretty darn awesome.

Since becoming a mom I’ve realized just how much I enjoy putting my kiddies’ birthday parties together, from choosing a theme to the decor and the party favours.

I’m hoping Pretty Things becomes your one-stop destination for all things, well, pretty.

From bunting and garlands to cupcake holders and party packs to special gifts for the birthday boy or girl.

Consider me your personal shopper inside the computer. If you’re looking for something and can’t find it, I’ll do my darndest to source it. Because if you’re anything like me you don’t want what you’re looking for, you NEED it!

There’s even a hiring section! Over the last three years I’ve bought apothecary jars, cake stands, glass jars and bottles, chalkboard hearts, chalkboards and a whole lot more, so if you’re in the Joburg area, you’re more than welcome to hire instead of buying.

Melinda creates party perfection, from intricately placed strings of pearls at a High Tea Party, to hessian sack-covered forts created especially for a little boy’s dream Pirate Party. Melinda can take your simple idea and turn it into a theme that would make the most seasoned Pinterest-er envious. Face-painters. Jumping castles. Magicians. Candy tables. Entertainment. Cakes. Mouth-watering food. Melinda either creates or arranges it all herself, leaving the host of the party free to entertain her (or his) guests, armed with a glass of bubbly and the assurance that everything will fall perfectly into place, in the capable hands of the delightfully quirky and always lovable Melinda.

Take a look through these images, for just a taste of what Melinda has done and could do for you for your next party, bridal shower, baby shower or anything other event that needs the magical touch of someone who puts love and heart into your vision, and then drop Melinda an email, follow her on Twitter or visit the Pretty Things For You Facebook page and book her to take care (and control) of your next function!

 Cath Scott7 Cath Scott5 Cath Scott4 Cath Scott3 Cath Scott2 Cath Scott1Pretty Things5 Pretty Things2 Pretty Things4 Pretty Things3 Pretty Things1 Pretty Things6Cath ScottPretty Things7Cilla Bloom17 Cilla Bloom15Cilla Bloom14Cilla Bloom16Cilla Bloom12 Cilla Bloom13 Cilla Bloom11 Cilla Bloom10 Cilla Bloom8 Cilla Bloom7 Cilla Bloom6 Cilla Bloom5 Cilla Bloom4 Cilla Bloom3 Cilla Bloom2 971651_10152952466735478_1404931098_n1013511_10152952477480478_426430800_n1005979_10152952472655478_1953196991_n

I’ve linked most of the pictures above to either Cilla Bloom or Catherine Scott Photography, who are two of the photographers that Melinda uses. Cakes, cupcakes and catering has come from Moemas, the Pastry Angel and more.