Edukits Learning Centre – Grand Opening

Remember the info I shared a little while back about the awesome Edukits email that I got about Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls? Well, Edukits have an exciting new project launching. They are opening a learning centre in Randpark. “What’s that?” you ask…

Edukits learning centre offers kids access to learn all the things they are curious about.  Our weekly classes include Art, Zulu, Science, Jewellery Making, LEGO and LEGO Robotics, Entrepreneurial skills and a whole lot more!  Run by people who are passionate about their subjects and passionate about kids too – Edukits is your ideal partner to help learning come alive!”

LEGO ROBOTICS! I’m sold! I’m going to drag the kids to that if they’re interested or not!

 

Want to see what it is all about? Why not join them for the grand opening on 5 July 2014. All you have to do is RSVP by clicking here.

I’m quite keen to see what they have to say about homeschooling.

 

8 Things Not To Say To Lesbian Couples Who Have Kids

A funny (funny peculiar not funny ha-ha) thing happens when you aren’t a typical cisgendered heterosexual person; people feel that they have the right to ask deeply personal questions. Furthermore they also assume that you are obligated to provide them with an education on the object of their curiosity. This happens to me a lot and I know many people have the same experience whether it is because of their sexuality or because of having had fertility treatments. This post may be a bit ranty, proceed with caution.

So here are a couple things that you should really not say to a lesbian couple who have kids:

  1. Oh did you adopt?

    In South Africa, adoption is not an easy process. Caucasian babies up for adoption are rarer than hens teeth and those that do come up for adoption are usually placed through a Christian organisation, which means the likelihood of the child/ren being placed with a gay couple is almost 0. The number of children needing adoptive homes is astronomical but the system to put those children into homes is a bureaucratic nightmare. Go read up a bit about adoption, educate yourself. Ignorance is not a valid excuse for being insensitive. (Often this question comes with a story of a friend/cousin/colleague/friend-of-a-friend/Angelina Jolie who adopted)

  2. So how did you have kids?

    I am really not interested in discussing the details of our reproductive interventions with anyone that asks. Sometimes another lesbian couple or infertile couple will ask because they are in the family planning phase too and in that case I will discuss every detail of reproductive options and what we did, but as a general rule my answer tends to be “we had help from a doctor” and I leave it at that.

  3. Oh so did you do IVF?

    IVF is not the stock standard method of Artificial Reproductive Technology for lesbian couples. Usually people would try artificial insemination (AI) first. IVF is very expensive and requires a lot more medical intervention.

  4. Wasn’t it expensive?

    Again, none of your business.

  5. Who’s the father?

    This is without a doubt my biggest bugbear question. By asking this you are completely erasing the validity of our family structure. There isn’t a father. There are two moms. There is no, never was, and never will be a father (unless one of us decided to transition but that is a completely different can of none of your business). We did have a donor who supplied a genetic contribution to help us create our kids.

  6. So did you use an anonymous donor, so what you picked them out of a book or something?

    Good heavens! Really? How many times must I repeat… it’s none of your business! Donor sperm can be either anonymous or from a known donor. Families can choose to have any spectrum of involvement with the donor from absolutely none to have them actively involved in the kids’ lives. This is entirely based on what works for that specific family and they have absolutely no obligation to explain their family structure to anyone.

  7. So who is the mom?

    Uhm… two moms.

  8. I mean who’s the real mom?

    Me: Looks at wife…touches her. Looks at self…prods self. “I’m quite sure we’re both real, thanks.”

    Getting caught up in the thought process that genetics = real family is very short sighted. There are many families who don’t share genetics. It doesn’t mean they are any less real. Think about it for a moment…

     

Thanks for bearing with me being a ranty-pants.

So… if you are a gay/lesbian couple who are looking to start a family there are a lot of resources with info about how to go about it. A good place would be to contact your gynaecologist or a fertility clinic. You can also speak to Medfem, Vitalab and BioART (all of whom are gay friendly) in Johannesburg. For gay couples looking for surrogacy options try Nurture.

Infertile couples looking for information and support can try the Fertilicare forum. It was a source of endless support for me through our TTC (trying to conceive) journey. There is also a Rainbow Room for LGBT couples, although I found the entire community supportive and have made some awesome IRL friends through the forum.

There are very few specific resources on South African options for gay/lesbian couples wanting to start families. Luckily we do live in a country where same-sex couples have full parental rights, however it is a good idea to be married beforehand to prevent complications with registering births etc. As much as we live in a country where our families are legally protected by the constitution there are a couple stupid bureaucratic hiccups in the system such as two ID numbers of the same sex can only be added to a birth certificate of a child at the Home Affairs Head Office in Pretoria which means there will be a delay in getting the birth certificates.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask… ha ha ha!

 

Fathers day for families without fathers.

With Mothers day and Fathers day having been celebrated recently there have been a lot of conversations happening in our household about what a family is. Living as a lesbian same-sex headed family has a couple interesting challenges when it comes to the topic of fathers. The greatest influence that triggers these conversations often comes from outside of the home, more specifically from the kids’ school.

Our twins go to an open-minded, child centered, Christianity based school. My wife is Christian and feels very strongly about including religion and spirituality in our kids’ lives. So before we sent the kids to school we interviewed a couple of schools with specific focus on how our unique family situation would be handled. The school we chose is very accepting and accommodating.

Part of the kids’ daily routine includes saying a prayer which includes giving thanks for having a mama and a papa. Monkey boy was the first to ask where his papa was. I was a little surprised to be having this conversation with two year olds, but with a bit of repetition the concept of a mama and a mommy has sunk in. We have used lots of discussion with the boys, pointing out various family types; the typical heterosexual couples we know who have a mama and a papa, single parent families, friends who are also same sex couples who have kids. The boys are starting to grasp rather big concepts about what a family is and that not all families are the same or are comprised of a stereotypical mom, dad and kids.

I don’t think that they have quite yet come to the boys and girls are different point yet (and hence mamas and papas are different) but gender is a whole other can of worms for a later stage. We have spent time with them naked and they have realised the mommy and mama have different bodies to them but they haven’t asked any whys or hows yet. I’m sure that time is coming sooner rather than later.

But back to fathers and Fathers day. Our kids’ teacher sent us a message and asked how we would like to deal with Fathers day. We didn’t want the boys to feel left out of the various craft fun and activities that were planned for the class so we asked the teacher to let them make cards for Oupa (DW’s dad) and Zaide (my dad). Both grandfathers loved being included in the boys Fathers day celebrations and the boys enjoyed giving their little gifts to their granddads. It was really quite sweet.

When it comes to Fathers day in a family who doesn’t have a father, it really works well if you use the holiday to celebrate the influential male presences in your kids’ lives. It doesn’t matter if it is an uncle, a grandparent, a close family friend… by refocusing on the love that the kids’ do have it turns an event that could feel exclusionary and makes it something that fosters strong bonds in the family that the kids do have. Hopefully these are the people that the boys will feel comfortable enough with to go to if they have issues that they would otherwise feel embarrassed to talk to us about. As the idiom goes, it takes a village to raise a child.

Groves & Vineyards 2014 – Casalinga

This past Sunday we went to an absolutely delightful olive and wine festival called Groves and Vineyards at the picturesque Casalinga Ristorante Italiano in Muldersdrift.

I am a foodie through and through, it was an absolute delight being able to immerse myself in wine tasting and delicious food. Having young kids has somewhat curtailed the number of events I have been able to attend but we are finding our groove with managing naps, getting out and about, and having the kids enjoy it too. DW was a superstar and played with the kids while I did tastings and got into passionate discussions on the making of chèvre.

My first stop was at the stand of my all time favourite vineyard, Creation Wines.

I have a long standing love affair with their wines which began in 2009 when we went to visit a friend who had moved to Hermanus. We knew nothing of the various wine farms in the area other the names of some of the famous ones like Bouchard Finlayson & Hermanuspietersfontein. On the spur of the moment, we decided to go for a wine tasting and drove into the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley until we found a place that caught our eye. As we drove past Bouchard Finlayson, we were a bit intimidated by the austere look of the farm. Other farms looked too commercial and garish. Finally we saw the turn off to a beautiful farm that looks more like a little bit of heaven fell to earth than a wine farm. We had an amazing experience. The people were warm and inviting and the wine absolutely sublime! We bought an entire box of their 2008 Syrah Grenache (of which one lone bottle remains) which is hands down the best wine ever to cross my palate.

At the festival I tried their 2012 Syrah Grenache. It is as rich and smooth as I remember with all the spice and berries that I love, like an explosion of Christmas in your mouth. It has a slight hint of sweetness in the finish that makes it an incredibly easy wine to drink, and while it is full bodied and satisfying as a red it certainly isn’t an overwhelmingly heavy wine. My love affair is reignited!

Creation Syrah Grenache 2012

The other find of the festival was Spice Route Chakalaka 2011. Named after the quintessential South African spice mix, it is an unusual blend of cultivars (Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Tannat) which, together, make a wine that is a delight to drink. I love the unapologetic spiciness of this wine, beautifully balanced and rich with hints of cinnamon and clove. I have not drank enough of it to give a full description yet, but further comment will come when we open the wine and chocolate.

I ended up chatting to the marketing manager Jean-Baptiste Cristini, (who has the most delicious smelling business cards) and found out that not only do Spice Route make amazing wine, but also the produce my favourite craft beers Jack Black lager and CBC Amber Weiss, as well as make their own chocolate and roast coffee at their tasting room/farm in Paarl. He is also involved at the Fairview Farm which is next door to the Spice Route.

The wine farms are in Malmesbury and Darling, while the tasting room is in Paarl. I could wax lyrical about their farming techniques but I think it may bore you, dear reader, to tears.

I am already planning a weekend of wine and food in Paarl, come January.

I bought the paired chocolate to go with the wine; it is a spicy dark 70% cocoa.

Tonight I am off to the Fine Brandy Fusion event. Expect lots of excited blogging as soon at the hangover has worn off!

Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls – Edukits

I just love it when a toy company gets it right!

I got an email in my inbox this week and I thought I should share it. (see the bottom of this blog post)

Not only do Edukits make really awesome toys and various kits to stimulate imaginative play but also they have an ethos I can really get behind. Basically they say that there are no “girl” toys and “boy” toys and all kids should be given a wide variety of toys to play trucks in the dirt and clean the house regardless of the gender stereotypes enforced by society and toy companies.

 

Try telling him that dolls are for girls, Lion-cub is taking the dollies to go slide.

Here are a couple of their products that I really like:

 

They have a wide variety of awesome toys and kits which are very reasonably priced. I especially like the Dr Seuss book bundles for R300 (for 5 books) and the Duplo community people showing characters of mixed races and genders in various jobs.

Then for people who couldn’t be bothered with being Pintrest Parent Of The Year (While Making My Kids’ Edible Play Dough and Paint)… they even have edible finger paint and edible play dough kits ready made and ready to be played with.

Then they also have a very novel Monthly Kit Club that comes with a variety of 4 – 5 kits so that you have an array of activities to do with your kids whether you are looking for stuff to keep them occupied over the weekend or are homeschooling your kids.

Lovely hey?

 

Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls

I often get queries on recommended activity kits, books and toys for either girls or boys.  But if you look at my website you will notice that I don’t divide anything between genders.  Many people ask why it’s such a big deal and it certainly seems to be that in different ways all over the world at the moment, parents, schools and even kids themselves are generating a lot of noise about gender differences, equality and so forth. 

Perhaps the real question should be – how can we raise our children to view each other and themselves with respect, courtesy and kindness?  And sadly, it really does come back down (on some level) to the toys we provide our little ones with.  Traditionally, dolls are for girls, trucks are for boys.  Pink is for girls and blue is for boys.  Construction toys are for boys and household toys are for girls.  On the surface that seems benign.  But consider for a moment the messages this divisive attitude sends to our little ones. 

Did you know that 70% of girls toys are to do with playing house? And that 80% of girl’s toys are only in Pink and Red? 

Although it is becoming more acceptable to give our daughters LEGO and cars and trucks, it is still not quite acceptable to a large part of society to ensure our sons have dolls and toy brooms or that our daughters have access to science experiments and equipment.  The message silently being sent is that there are still specific fields we want to shut off to each of the genders.  By extension we are teaching our kids that they will have very specific roles to play in their own homes one day as well as in society and the work place.

We need to consider the impact that we have on our children’s views of the world and this is started within our own homes.  Let your sons play with toy brooms, let your daughters extend their scientific wonderings.  Encourage your son to play at being a dad with his own doll and let your daughter have her own tool kit.

And how does this carry into learning?  Most pre-teen and teenage girls when asked believe that they are bad at maths and the sciences.  Likewise most boys believe that languages, art, and creative subjects are things that girls should do.  Of course, this sort of gender stereotyping not only narrows each child’s career possibilities, it may also lead to them forgoing their own innate talents and abilities!  Encourage your daughter to enjoy science and numeracy along with her other interests and encourage your son to write stories, create artistically and enjoy learning languages and reading.

As parents, we also need to be aware of the language we are using to describe the activities and toys on offer.  Avoid using gender or colour to describe things – rather use their names or purposes.  Encouraging sharing of toys and activities between siblings and visitors is also a great way to show the benefits for both genders, and getting mom and dad to play with activities traditionally designed for opposite genders will go a long way to breaking through this invisible barrier.  Moms can enjoy LEGO and construction as much as dads can enjoy baking and playing house!

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving girls pink dolls and ensuring your boy has a big truck to play with – just ensure there is a balance, a variety of items on offer to create an inspirational and accessible learning environment for your child – whatever their interests.

If you are unsure how to create an environment that is balanced across subjects, abilities, gender and interests please drop me an e-mail, let’s discuss it.

Kind regards,

Lauryan

Edukits: Build, Mould, Play, Explore!
www.edukits.co.za
082 331 5273
lauryan@edukits.co.za