The ever-evolving guide on how to work with your spouse!

So as a couple, we are new to the game of working together, although not so new to the game of spending an unusual amount of time together. Since our London days, we have always been in the position of not having restrictive working hours or jobs so we have always spent the maximum amount of time together. Sometimes to our detriment as we do rather get on each others nerves sometimes.

However when it comes to working together, developing business and making a living for our family we still figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
So far here is what we have learnt so far:
1. It helps if you both have the same vision and goals, and communicate these frequently. Overall in the bigger picture we both see the same thing, which is great, but the path we take to get there sometimes, more often than not, brings some form of conflict.
2. Thinking something along the lines of “my way is not the only way” may help in this instance.
3. By giving eachother creative space, backing down on your opinion and supporting eachothers ideas you also can bring more harmony to the journey.
4. Having definitive roles and responsibilities helps too, although sometimes if you are a control freak like me, letting someone else do it their way takes much tongue biting to stop the suggestion of how I would do it.
5. By choosing the jobs that are best suited to your individual skills, you can avoid micro-management.
6. Don’t forget praise where it is due and go easy on eachother for the mistakes, you have to share the bed tonight afterall.
7. When it doubt, get out. Take breaks from the office, to reassess things. We regularly sit in the sunny lounge for our morning brainstorming sessions, away from the kids, chaos and confusion. Or we drive around on content generation missions.
8. And last but not least, do the little things for eachother. I am the chief coffee maker, but when I get pleasantly suprised with a cup, or the kids get attended to whilst I am in the middle of particular piece of work, it alleviates the pressure and is a welcome relief.

IMG_4451We know the challenges will always be there and the pressure will always be on, but hopefully with the right focus and efforts we can make it successful and rewarding. If you are a couple who works together or know of any that do it really well we would be interested to hear your thoughts…

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Routine resumes!

So back to school for my two babies today.  This is their second term of pre-school and they both seemed quite happy to be dropped off there this morning, probably delighted to be doing something interesting for the first time in 6 weeks.  I lie a little, they have done a lot of interesting things in the last 6 weeks – animal parks, boat trips, adventurous family days out and of course attending their mom and dads wedding.

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Today we also started the ‘big school’ applications for Keira, next year will be Rocco’s turn.  Time is flying by and although I call them my babies, they are not really little babies any more.

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Keira is two and 8 months and a typical little girl, who likes to play dress up and have her hair done.  Rocco on the other hand, even at 20 months much prefers getting muddy from head to toe whilst obsessing over ‘big trucks’.  They both love to sing all the nursery rhymes together and recite verses from other random songs too.  The house is definitely quieter without all the singing, shouting, tears, tantrums and bikes riding up and down the driveway, but I miss the chaos in some small way.

So back to work, routine and structure in 2013…for a moment.

Looking back on 2012…

It’s already the 30th December and 2012 is nearly over.  We started our own family tradition of looking back on the years photos and video clips on the eve of New years eve, so as I get all the albums and files ready I have been reflecting back on 2012.

Here are some of the highlights  for me:

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Shan and I got married on 12.12.12, the day I turned 31 and spent the best day with our closest family and friends at Alo Alo restaurant.  We had amazing photos taken by Lesanne from Lesanne Photography, at the Quarry and a little animal park, and although it drizzled throughout the entire shoot, we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.

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The food was outstanding, the drinks flowed and we danced a lot. We also didn’t stop when the restaurant closed, we all came back to our house and carried the party on, a two day celebration no doubt!

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Rocco turned one and Keira turned two this year and it still astounds me daily that they are both now small walking, talking people who make me laugh everyday.  The things they say and do!  Being a mom to these two is the most amazing part of my life, little cheeky mini-me’s that have the most tender and valuable hearts, they are definitely my biggest pride and joy.

This was them at the beginning of the year….and then this is them later on in the year in the car off to their first day at school.

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They started Playgroup / Nursery School and are benefiting from the Montessori programme and are making friends with the American children who also attend the school.  I started helping with swimming lessons there twice a week and have watched some of the kids go from afraid to eager.

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We moved into a beautiful new home early in the year, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, gym and staff quarters which meant finally our maid could live on the property and the kids have lots of space to play and run.  Despite no borehole and good old electricity cuts we love it here and were even originally planning on having the wedding here under a marquee.

The wedding was a highlight as I have already mentioned, but planning the wedding should also be noted as everything was arranged in 7 weeks.  No small feat but when we figured out what we really wanted, the rest miraculously fell into place.  We had considered everything from eloping, to having a ceremony only and no reception to a huge marquee in the garden to every possible venue in Harare.  Luckily we choose an unusual date, which fell on a Wednesday so nothing clashed with other people’s weddings on a Saturday in December and we could organise it at short notice.  My dress nearly didn’t arrive on time, we had issues with the suits, arrival of the flower girl dress and a guest list of nearly 200 to originally consider but like I say, it all fell into place beautifully because we got the most important thing right – each other!

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We got our cat, Diego, at three weeks old and we had to feed it out of an eye drop bottle when it was still a tiny kitten.  He quickly became a firm favourite toy of the babies and is a very loving and tolerant cat to date.

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Keira also started potty training and has made excellent progress with this.  She is still wearing nappies at night and when we go out but is fine wearing her little pants in the day.

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Rocco started talking and was speaking fluent sentences long before he turned 18 months.

I watched Shan get his first tattoo, done by Brad Conradie at Instinckt Tattoos and a visiting American artist added colour and detail to mine.

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We hosted a fun Mexican themed night complete with vast amounts of tequila, maracas, décor and amazing food. I had some help from a professional chef and we put on a delicious feast of tacos, burritos and chile con carne with all the trimmings.

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I organised and hosted a surprise baby shower for one of my close friends Tracey, that I have known since school and we watched her and Wayne walk down the aisle too.  Several months later little Luke was born.

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My two bridesmaids, Crystal and Leandra organised the best hen party ever for me and the three of us ended the night swimming at sunrise, after lots of cocktails, flaming zambuca’s, quizzes, games and Tezza, the most horrendous blow up doll complete with stubble.

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I started this crazycarlysworld blog to document some of the fun, crazy and demanding jobs I do and to try develop my writing skills again.  I enjoy the learning curve blogging sends me on too, I learn something new about myself and life often.

I enjoyed helping Shan realise his career potential in refrigeration again and felt proud watching him pursue this as it gave him a new found confidence and motivation.

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I launched a brand new business, Cosmetic Sculpt Studio, which is a non-surgical body sculpting and facial rejuvenation clinic.  I had no idea how intense starting a new business would be, but from securing a loan, to importing equipment, décor, marketing, company registration and a launch event I did it all myself and it was very rewarding.  I have personally carried out treatments to a number of clients and achieved some great results in inch loss and wrinkle removal.

I developed and managed my own social media campaigns for Wedding Wise, Cosmetic Sculpt Studio and Zimbabwe Plumbing & Maintenance, a combination of family owned businesses and personal ventures.  This lead to me falling into a new job within social media management and I now manage some large clients including Delta Beverages and Swift.

I started modelling again, after two years off and have been involved in runway shows modelling for a variety of designers including Intisaar Mukadam, Jo Burger Swimwear and Marija’s.  I did magazine shoots for my favourite Zimbabwean magazine Out Of Africa, and did some fun promotions for Bulldog energy drink, Barcardi and Cape Camisa including attending a charity golf day for Car Guard.

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We visited some fun local destinations including Leopard Rock in the Vumba, Troutbeck in Nyanga and Pamuzinda Safari Lodge.  Day trips to Mbizi Game park, Darwendale Dam, Lake Chivero and the Lion and Cheetah park were also highly enjoyable.

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We bought a professional pool table and I learnt to play properly, despite much frustration in the beginning, the goal of becoming a hustler spurred me on.  I can now hit the ball, which is a bonus and have been known to sink a few one after the other on the odd occasion.

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We enjoyed visiting kids friendly restaurant St Elmo’s on a number of occasions and loved the fact the kids are not only entertained but also supervised.  So we can sit back and enjoy the rest of the wine and pizza knowing they are having a ball on the indoor jungle gym.

We have met some interesting, crazy and cool new people this year too, and I have loved working with Judith Williams, Jackie Mgido and all the models at Model Management.

So an interesting, fun and full on year behind us, we move forward into 2013 and I am looking forward to the challenges, celebrations and successes ahead.  Here’s to a great 2013!

Our Colourful Capital City!

Gone now are the dry, dull days of winter.  Summer has sprung back into action and this evidence is not only apparent in the warmth, but also the blossoming foliage around us.  Our capital City is truly a vibrant, colourful place to live.  I just took it all in for a little longer than usual the other day on the school run and was amazed to notice some of the beautiful colours and dynamics of this city, which we wouldn’t see if we lived in a different capital city of the world.

Take the Jacaranda tree-lined Avenues as the first example.  Most people are in awe of the lilac canopy that covers some of the roads right here in town, especially when you notice the stunning range of purple hues, both above and below you where a sprinkling of lilac also meets the dusty earth.  Other dramatic red and hot pink bougainvillea’s and poinsettias are also dotted around the town, adding their piece to the overall scene.  The once boring and dull brown and grey branches of all other trees are now bursting with vivid greens as they form full new leaves.

Then you may notice some of the colourful characters around too.  Most shopping areas have more than their fair share of vendors selling anything and everything from boxes of fresh fruit, to bright pink feather dusters, loud patterned maids uniforms, or big bunches of bright colourful flowers.  The men selling the wire frame beaded animals always stock an interesting display of dazzling crafts.  Both my kids love playing with these, we have everything from a funky red crocodile to pink flamingo, guinea fowl, zebra, and red elephant.  I think it’s pretty amazing that these are all made out of colourful little beads, by someone right here living and earning a living through this colourful little enterprise.

Even the fruit and veggie stalls, or should I say vehicles parked on the roadside piled high with fruit and veg, are abundant with colour as they stack their potatoes, onions, watermelons and squashes sky high.  It’s almost contradictory to the faded tones of the old pick up trucks, complete with their dents, scratches and odd rusty patches.

If you live in Harare, then you are probably familiar with the guys at the intersection of Churchill and Borrowdale Rd.  You can’t miss them as they all stand there with their loud, bright inflatable poolside toys, balls and flags.  It’s a wonder how they don’t float away as they honestly have a ridiculous number of things to show you.  I guess when you can hold everything by string, and there is no weight to it, it makes it easier to have so many.  Although my partner and I have a theory about these guys, that makes them a little combination of bold and shady at the same time.  But this is a whole new blog one day so if you are interested in our silly conspiracy theory let me know and I will definitely write about it soon.  However as many shady character there are out there, there are also the seemingly angelic too.

Maybe your mind doesn’t automatically conjure up images of bright colours when I speak of the next lady, but she is a colourful character so despite the all white attire she adds plenty of colour to our city.  From what I have seen, heard and experienced first hand she is as one lady put it “wired to the moon”.  These days you can see her positioned at the Chisipite roundabout, although she always used to catch me by Borrowdale School.  She always wears white clothing, sometimes it’s a transparent nightie, sometimes it’s something that wouldn’t look out of place at one of the famous all white parties in Ibiza, but my guess is she is a couple of decades too old for this scene anyway.  With ivy and pearls wrapped into her hair she is the epitome of odd.  She has been known to diagnose issues, like children that have radiation damage, meanwhile they have just been collected from sports, or she tries to sell strange little cakes and goodies at ludicrous prices.  Just another inhabitant of our colourful city, or a colourful inhabitant in our city?

If you venture further into town, you will really get a feel for this vibrant burst of colour I am talking about, it’s always going on right in Mbare.  One of the first things that greets you and makes you take notice are the collection of murals that Dutch graffiti artists Roy Valk and Oilivier Schimmel have painted on the side of buildings and blocks of flats.  Even the residents of one of the city’s poorest communities can enjoy art and colour as they go about their day.

You will also find rows of baskets filled with lemons, nuts, sweet potatoes, and virtually everything and anything else in Mbare food market in itself.  Big warm smiles also greet you from most of the vendors or stall owners and all are quick to try get your attention and start offering you the best deals.

So if you truly want to appreciate where you live and all that is around you, maybe sometimes you do have to look through the world through some rose or other colour tinted glasses and take it all in.  Sure there are a lot of things you can view with a critical eye around any capital city too, especially ours, but it’s enlightening and interesting to just see the beauty of it all once in a while.

With special thanks to Lesanne Photography for her beautiful images of Mbare. To more more of Lesanne’s amazing work have a look at http://www.lesannephotography.com

And also thanks to Melany Caruthers for the very cool Jacaranda pics.