Why I Can’t Have Nice Things (And other motherhood realisations)

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I had big plans yesterday. I went to gym and hit the grocery shops straight after – which meant I would have a solid 2 hour break when I got home as Carter would go down for a nap. Two hours guys, clearly the peeps who built Rome weren’t moms, ‘cos if they were it would have been done in 90 minutes with time left over for (hot) coffee. Sadly for me, in an effort to get Carter to sit still in the trolley long enough for me to buy toilet paper and dog food, I bribed him with a strawberry milkshake.

A milkshake which, 10 minutes later, ended up all over him, his car seat, my car interior, me and the groceries. So instead of the blissful 2 hours off that I had anticipated, I spent it scrubbing my son, hosing down the car chair, vacuuming my car seats and trying to calm a screaming toddler with heartburn. Once he was sleeping passed out, I was already up to my ears in vomit and reflux juices so I decided I may as well take advantage of my dirty state and wash the dogs, do the dishes and clean the house.

Yesterday, a friend and fellow mommy-blogger Sheena posted on Facebook about reprimanding her son for standing in his spaghetti bolognaise. I read it, barely blinked (because naturally that’s what kids do with pasta) and moved on. But it led me to realise one very important thing. We took so much for granted before we spewed forth a human.

I will never again take for granted things like being clean and wearing white (I know, because I wore a white shirt yesterday. To a 3-year-olds birthday party. 14 seconds later it was covered in blue sucker spit and mud. 144 seconds later it was also then covered in more vomit and water, as my son had decided to throw up in the kiddies plunge pool.

I will never take again for granted the luxury of a completed conversation. Chats with other adults last no more than 4 seconds before you’re dashing off to rescue your kid from getting stuck in a trampoline spring/wrestle 2 mops and a dog leash from their hands/run off to stop them from falling in a pool/grab a knife out of their fingers/pluck a small stone from their mouth/stop them from shoving 3 pork sausages into your handbag*

I will never again take for granted shiny gadgets that once belonged to me. My iPad met an untimely death yesterday when (mid Paw Patrol) it was flung off the couch and on to the tiled floor and my computer mouse – now Carters favourite toy – got thrown in the bath.

I will never again take for granted the smell of a clean car. Somewhere, in the last 16 months something has died in my motor vehicle. I suspect a half chewed piece of biltong that will forever remain mysteriously hidden between two seats. Also, it now smells like strawberry vomit.

I will never again take for granted a solid nights sleep, eating food off a plate that’s not being grabbed at my grubby paws, shouting ‘don’t pull the dogs nose/ear/tails’, not having to padlock the grocery cupboard and having a disposable income

I will also never take for granted having my son, because the mess, exhaustion and poverty is all so worth it. Except, maybe not the poverty. Momma really likes nice things.

*All actual things that happened on Saturday.

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{Interview} An Inspiring Weightloss Story. 41 Kilograms Down, And Still Going.

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Meet Beverly. My sister in law. When I first met Bev it was when I started dating my now husband. I remember going to their house for takeaway pizzas and a ‘meet and greet’ with her and her hubby, Craig. Bev was pregnant at the time with her son Daniel, now 5. I remember leaving their house a few hours later and saying to Barry “I’m not sure we can be together, your family just does not talk to me'” I’m glad I persevered, because even though it took what felt a lifetime to get Bev – and my in-laws – to open up to me, it was worth the wait. Also, Bev is no longer pregnant, and non pregnant Bev loves wine. And Wine fuelled Bev is an absolute hoot.

In December last year we had the family come round for an early Christmas lunch, and as Bev walked through the door I said to her ‘you look fantastic!’ and she did. She hadn’t told us but she had recently started a weight loss and exercise program, and even though at that stage she had only lost a few kilograms, she was absolutely radiant. Fast forward to 10 moths later, and Bev has lost 41 kilograms, and still going strong.

41 kilograms. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Because Bev is Bev and very quiet, she hasn’t (as I would have done) made a big deal about this absolutely massive achievement. So I’m going to do that on her behalf, because I am utterly inspired by this weight loss and lifestyle journey she has embarked on, and I think her progress and results deserves a medal.

I’ll let her tell you her story in her own words below, but I wanted to tell her just how proud I am of her. Well done sis, you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your remarkable story. 

{RA}Tell me a bit about yourself

{BN} My name is Bev and I am a wife, a mom of two amazing little ones and a career woman. My two greatest loves are reading and drinking wine and if I get a moment to do both at the same time – HEAVEN! I have always been a bit on the chubby side, and at varsity I gained a lot of weight, and then came the pregnancy weight, and then came the “I feel sorry for myself” weight. It got to the point that I was unhealthy and unhappy and needed to do something about it. I am currently on the best journey of my life – I am losing weight and I am happy and I am healthy.

{RA} What was the trigger for you that made you want to lose weight

{BN} I started a new job in September 2015 in a company full of young vibrant people. I loved the environment from day 1 but I felt that I didn’t quite fit in, not because the people around me treated me differently, but because I was fat and I felt like I didn’t belong. This played on my mind for a few weeks and I was starting to become unhappy, wandering if I had made the right job choice, wandering if I shouldn’t have stayed in my previous company where it had become accepted. At no point in all these commiserations did I think “maybe I should try lose weight” until the evening of 14 November 2015 when sitting in the lounge playing with my children, Daniel looked up at me mid-way through our game and said “mommy why are you so FAT?” My heart broke, I cried all night! I was not angry with him, he didn’t understand the hurt his words would cause, I was angry with myself. For the first time in all my fat years – I was able to admit to myself that I was fat and that I wanted that to change. The next morning I gave him the biggest hug ever and thanked him  – I had made up my mind – his words were going to change my life!

{RA} Have you started a weightloss program in the past or was this your first attempt?

{BN} Weight loss program – No! Fad diet – I have tried them all,  from taking close to 20 pills a day to eating only green foods for two weeks. You name it, I have tried it. I was always looking for the quick fix and I would lose some weight (5 – 7kg) . Then I would get bored of the dry chicken breasts and green veg, fall back into old habits (Carbs! Carbs! Carbs!) and gain it back together with a couple extra kilo’s.

{RA} How was it different this time do you think? What has made you stick to it?

{BN} Those innocent words out of my sweet child’s mouth (mommy why are you so fat). It wasn’t someone judging me (which has happened so much in the past), it wasn’t someone telling me that I needed to diet or exercise, it wasn’t someone being nasty or mean. It was my sweet child asking a question, an innocent question, a question that he didn’t know would cause so much anguish, a question that made me accept that I was fat. Before that, in my heart I knew it but in my head I could justify it. In that moment, all the justifications fell away – I was fat! Admitting it to myself was what made it different, I was making a change because I wanted to not because that is what people expected me to do.

{RA} How much weight have you lost?

{BN} I have lost a total of 41kg’s so far and 5 pant sizes.

{RA} When did you start on this journey? Tell me a bit about how it all began and whats happened in the x months since you’ve been on it

{BN} The journey started the morning after Daniel asked me why I was fat. I woke my husband up in the early hours of the morning and asked him if he could play “mom” for the next 6 months. I told him that I needed to take some time to get myself sorted out and asked him if he could help a bit more with the children. Now don’t get me wrong – he did his fair share of kiddie duty and is the most amazing father, but I needed him to pick up some more so that I could get out and exercise. He agreed with no questions asked.

That morning I joined the gym. And somehow the planets were aligned that day, because that night one of my very close friends asked me if I wanted to join her out running two mornings a week. So with all the exercise happening, it was time to start the diet. I found a lady close to work who specialised in weight loss and for the next 10 weeks she guided me through the lifestyle change. I was losing weight and I was happy! December came and December went and I still lost weight (I mean who loses weight in December right). I was exercising 6 times a week and was starting to feel more human.

One Sunday afternoon in January at lunch with the family, my dad challenged me to do 70.3 Ironman in Durban on the 20th of June. Now, I can’t blame the wine for this one since I was having a booze free January but, after a chat with the husband (because this was going to mean more time away from home), I accepted, it was on. I got myself an amazing coach (who also happens to be my brother), bought myself a bicycle and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with triathlon training and started the most gruelling training program ever. I was training 9, sometimes 10 times a week – and when I wasn’t training, I was sleeping. It was exhausting! I wasn’t eating right for someone training so much and although the weight loss lady I was seeing was amazing, I needed someone who was able to get me through all the training and still help me lose weight. I found myself a sports nutritionist (a rather fierce women) who developed a nutrition plan for me, and since the beginning of March I have seen her once a week – it keeps me accountable!

Over the last few months, my entire perception of food has changed. I no longer eat because I enjoy it, I eat because I need energy to get myself through the day. I no longer crave carbs and can quite happily go through the day without thinking about eating anything I shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong – I do cheat, but the cheat days are far fewer than the good days!

{RA} What was your starting weight and what is your goal weight? 

{BN} This one is hard for me to admit! Starting weight was 118kg – goal weight is 64kg.

{RA} What has been the hardest part of the journey?

{BN} Since I had my little boy in 2011, I devoted every minute I wasn’t working to spending time with him and then with him and his sister. My life was my children. When I started this journey I had to be selfish with my time, getting up early in the mornings and leaving the house before they even woke up, getting home late 2 evenings a week when they were already in bed and handing them over to my mom weekend in and weekend out when I went cycling and running. It was hard – at times I felt like “the worst mom in the world”.

In saying that though, I learnt that quality time with my children was far more important than quantity. As the months went on, I was able to play and run around with them and that was far more important to them than me just being there all the time.

{RA} Whats been the best part of your journey?

{BN} The confidence that comes along with losing the weight. I am not the same person I was 9 and a half months ago and I love the new me. Although there is still a way to go before I will be happy with my body.

{RA} Do you think its possible for someone to do this on their own, or would you suggest going through a professional?

{BN} If there is one thing I have learnt through this journey, it’s that nothing is impossible. So yes it is possible to do it on your own. Would I suggest that you go at it alone – no! The support I have received from my nutritionist has been wonderful. There are times where she has pushed me to breaking point and times where she has told me to go eat a donut. She has encouraged me every step of the way and she has kept me accountable.

{RA} What do you make of weightloss clinics who give injections and pills? Would you consider it?

{BN} Weight loss is a lifestyle change. There is no quick fix. If you want to lose weight you need to do it through blood, sweat and tears. Would I consider going to a weight loss clinic who gives you pills for 6 weeks, you lose 6kgs and then go on your merry way – no! Would I consider pills prescribed by a professional in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and lots of exercise  – definitely. I am currently taking pills to stabilise my bloods, and this together with the eating plan and lots of exercise is a win for me.

{RA} What exercise/training have you been doing in conjunction with your eating plan?

Once I had accepted the challenge of 70.3 Ironman Durban, I started training 9 to 10 times a week – swimming, running and cycling. I was going to do it – or die trying! With the guidance of my coach – I did it, I finished and I loved it. In the run up to 70.3, I learnt to ride a bicycle, did my first sprint distance triathlon and my first half marathon. Since then I have done an olympic distance triathlon and I am now training for my first marathon in November. I have cut back on the training a bit and am now training 6 to 7 times a week, which is much more manageable over the long term and I have a little bit of extra time with my children.

{RA} Take me through an average meal

{BN} An average meal consists of 1 portion of protein (200g fish or chicken / 4 egg whites) and two soup spoons of salad / vegetables. Sounds like a normal diet right – accept I am allowed to use salt and sauces! This makes the world of difference.

(Kate side note: I’m on the same eating plan. Im so hangry I could die. i have no idea how she does it)

{RA} Don’t you miss pizza? I would always miss pizza. 

{BN} Oh my word – YES! Pizza is probably the one thing that I really do miss, all that melted cheese.

{RA} How do you juggle it all what with being a mom of 2, a wife and a career women

{BN} Wine :)! Seriously though – with the never ending support from my husband. My husband has been my biggest supporter though out this entire journey and has helped me with everything, from packing my gym bags the night before an early morning swim / gym session, to scrambling my egg whites at 5am in the morning before I head off to gym. He took over a lot of the household chores so that when I was home, I was able to spend that quality time with the children. Without him being the GREAT man that he is – I would never have been able to juggle it all.

{RA} Have you encountered any negativity on your journey?

{BN} No, everyone around me has supported me every step of the way, from my family to my colleagues at work, everyone has encouraged me and cheered for me!

{RA} If I were you I would have been shouting my achievements from the rooftops, and telling anyone who met me about how well I had done. You are really modest and haven’t really made a big deal about it – why is that?

{BN} I let my appearance do the talking. Everyone I have seen since has seen the difference, I never felt like I needed to shout it out. I love to share my story with anyone who is willing to listen – but at the same time I am conscious that some people don’t want to hear all the gory details.

{RA} What are some of the best compliments/comments you’ve received?

{BN} Nothing beats hearing your dad say “I’m proud of you”. That is definitely something I am going to carry close to my heart for a very long time. And a bunch of my colleagues no longer refer to me by name, but refer to me as Slender.

{RA} How do you ‘reward’ yourself? Is it a cheat meal, clothes, holiday etc?

{BN} I haven’t yet! I avoid rewarding myself with food – since food is what made me fat in the first place. I have had to purchase myself new clothes a few times already (I can fit both my legs into one leg in my fat jeans), but I haven’t yet splurged on clothes I love. Once I reach goal weight – I am definitely going to reward myself with a shopping spree.

{RA} Speaking of, what is your favourite cheat food?

{BN} Pizza of course

{RA} Whats been the best ‘surprise’ for you on this journey – i.e buying smaller clothes, feeling healthier, feeling happier etc?

{BN} The confidence.

{RA} Has your husband become more healthy in the process – do you think your new good habits have rubbed off on him and the kids?

{BN} The kids and husband still do eat normal everyday family meals like spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese, but there are a lot more vegetables on everyone’s plates and there is very little junk food in the house.

{RA} How do you cope on weekends or at parties? That’s when most people tend to fall off the wagon. Do you pack Tupperware’s of celery sticks and much on those instead of the chip and dip?

{BN} My nutritionist told me at my very first appointment that if I go to a dinner party and the host serves lasagne, I should eat it. Life happens! I do however try to have a snack before I go anywhere so that I am not hungry and won’t pick at the chip and dip and I do try to eat only protein and veg when out and about, but when the lasagne lands on the plate I eat it and I enjoy it. Then I make sure that I jump straight back onto the wagon.

So many nutritionists and dieticians say it’s not about the number on the scale (to throw the scale away!) that muscle weighs more than fat, blah blah blah. Do you feel the same? Is body fat and muscle mass more important to you than actual numbers on a scale?

For me, at first the actual weight loss was important and I would weigh myself weekly. But once I started seeing the changes and having to buy smaller clothes, the weight itself became less important. I am determined to get to goal weight, but more importantly for me, I am determined to get into a size 10. And if the two can happen at the same time – that would be great!

{RA} What sort of advice would you give to someone looking to start on a weightloss journey?

{BN} Do it for yourself! Take some time and be selfish with it, make it about yourself and make sure that you have someone strong to support you.

{RA} Lastly, when this is all up and you have hit your goal. Whats next in line for you?

{BN} To be honest, I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I guess I will find another crazy event to take part in because exercise has become a big part of my life.

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Bev and Craig back in the day

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Bev, just after the birth of their daughter, Emma

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Bev and Craig on their wedding day

 

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The beginning of the journey… One of Bevs first training rides for Iron Man 70.3
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The day before Durban Half Iron Man… Bev had already gone through a few wetsuits before this as they were all too bog for her!
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Bev and Emma, July 2016

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A picture speaks a thousand words

 

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Kate Rankin Photography

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A year ago today I went back to work after maternity leave. It was a big deal – and anyone who has ever been wrenched from a warm womb of maternity bliss and chucked back into open plan offices, deadlines and tuna salads named ‘Kevin’ understands just what a tricky transition it can be.

I went back to work with a renewed sense of purpose and my feelings on working moms, flexi time and balancing it all are not hidden. When I went back to work I wanted to do really really well at my job, but also be a great mom. And I did, but something was missing. I wanted to find my passion project. Wine drinking aside, I never really knew what it was that drove me. They say the things you do when you’re not consciously thinking about it, is what you really love. So if I think back on my life it’s actually pretty glaringly obvious that photography has always been my thing. I am never without camera, and my favourite present of all time was a 1.2 megapixel digital camera that came free with a double mattress from Dial A Bed. Oh, bless you, growth of technology.

Taking photos for me means capturing and preserving a memory forever. I view life through the eye of a lens and to me, everything is a picture waiting to happen. When Carter was born it was the perfect opportunity to take this interest of mine, and turn it in to something more. During my maternity leave I studied and passed with a distinction a diploma in photography, and finally felt comfortable using my camera on that terrifying ‘M’ mode. Sadly, work, motherhood and the aim for the perfect-mom-bod all got in the way and I let my camera gather dust for several months. Then, a few months ago, as if the heavens were aligning, I got asked by a mutual acquaintance – Jen –  to come and do their family/newborn photo shoot. I was flattered but said no. Then she asked me again. I explained that as much as I would love to, I didn’t ‘know enough’, ‘wouldn’t be able to do it justice’, ‘was too scared’. She insisted, and I’m so glad she did, because that was what it took from me taking this from a fun hobby to something more serious.

What followed was an intensive 2 week self taught crash course in ‘how to make nice picture for dummies’ and picking the brain of photographer friends. I dosed my arse on Clair from Fraser Photography’s couch for the better part of a morning and picked her brain on newborn swaddling and ISO and drank wine with Devin from Devin Lester Photography and tried to understand the ins and outs of Lightroom. I posed teddy bears on window sills to try backlit window shots and used my sweet (not so) obliging 1 year old as a model. A friend helped me design a watermark and YouTube became my best friend. The more I learnt the more confident I l felt. I also used this time as an excuse to sign up to more diplomas and buy a lens. Any excuse for a shop. Also, I now need to start making money off this fast-becoming-expensive hobby.

When I tell people I want to go into photography I’m often met with a lot of bashing and negativity. It’s pushed me more, and I’ve had some really great people help and support me and make me believe that maybe, actually, I can.

About two hours ago I shared the newborn pics with Jen and then posted them to social media. I was shaking like a leaf. Putting it all out there meant that I was out there, that people could now actually see, crit and comment on my work.

They say your first 10,000 photos are the worst. I’m pretty certain I’ll look back on my first few shoots in years to come, and cringe, but for now I’m so proud, and happy, and my heart feels so fulfilled.

Say hello to Kate Rankin Photography.

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Shield It’s Your Move – It’s A Wrap!

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At the beginning of August I wrote about a blogger/lifestyle challenge I was taking part in with Shield. The challenge was all about seeing how people – from different industries kept moving – and stayed fresh while doing it. The idea was simple – a bunch of bloggers and influencers from around SA were given a fitness tracker and a supply of Shield and told to go about their normal lives. Shield then tracked our movement for the month, and an event was held on the 27th of August to celebrate the month of moving and announce the winner.

The event itself was amazing – the Shield SA ambassadors Unathi and Janez Vermeiren hosted us as we all took part in an intensive movement filled morning of Boxing, Dancing and Yoga. Sorry, Most people took part in boxing, dancing and yoga. I have 3 left feet so pretended to admire the view while everyone got rhythmic with the music.

They also announced who had done the most steps for the month, and that person was…well…me. Blush. You guys! Apparently my competitive streak is an actual thing, and that, combined with gym, running, dogs, a 15-month-old and my accountability towards my activity tracker meant that I won the overall event. And I walked away with a snazzy new Apple watch (that I won’t be paying off monthly like my husband a lot of people I know…)

I absolutely loved this event – keeping active and moving is a huge part of my life’s mantra, plus I’ve been wearying a fitness device for ages now, and it really does keep me accountable. I’m also a massive Shield fan – it was the only deodorant to see me through my sweatiest of days – my wedding.

A massive thanks for the Shield and Tribeca PR team for one of the most fun campaigns I’ve been a part of!

Check out more from the campaign here:

Interview with Pete from The Sports Eagle

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The Media Update

Spice4Life

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Catch my interview with Peter Stemmet from The Sports Eagle about winning the competition: http://thesportseagle.co.za/tse-live-episode-2/

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Proud.

I don’t have a Facebook account or an email address for my son. I have this blog, and from time to time I write only things about my son. This is one of those times.

You always think that you will remember every single second of your child’s development and life. But honestly, you don’t, and even though he’s only 15 months I’ve already forgotten the exact age he was when he walked, talked or hit a milestone. I don’t know what his first words were – everything in the early vocabulary stages sounded like ‘mom’ and suddenly, before I knew it, he was learning so much that it was hard to keep up and make notes of everything new he was doing.

What I do know for certain is that he is awesome, and my physical love for him is so large I feel it might suffocate me. He is funny, like really funny. He mimics and jokes and goofs around that sometimes I wonder how I made this great little kid. He eats non-stop – from sandwiches to snoek and kefir milk. He has this way of walking, while carrying a handbag that makes you snort laugh and he is interested in absolutely everything. He watches birds and ants and when not trying to eat miniscule grains of god-knows-what off the floor he is wobble-running and exploring and marveling at his surrounds.

Fiercely independent, he often drives me mad with his insistence of doing everything himself – from manually eating rice, to (badly) brushing his teeth and washing his face. He tells me what he wants and how, and lord help us if we don’t agree.

I enjoy spending time with him so much, but bedtime is still my favourite occasion. He’s become my number one photography subject and I fear I may need a million terabyte hard-drive to save every memory I’ve every captured.

I still walk in his room every night before I go to bed to kiss his little face, untangle arms and legs and cover him with a duvet that he never keeps on.

He’s my reason for wanting to better myself.

It’s not his birthday, or a special age, but it’s been a week – where big changes are happening as I’m leaving my job after three and a half years – where I’ve had a lot of time to think and count my blessings, and Carter James is by far my biggest.

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#ShieldItsYourMove

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Ok, so I am pretty damn excited about this campaign that I’m taking part in, starting today, and running until the end of August. Firstly, because I’m revoltingly competitive, and secondly because its something I do everyday, and now theres a competition associated with that something I do every day – keeping active.

Shield have challenged me, and a bunch of other bloggers to a #ShieldItsYourMove campaign. The basic idea is to ‘just keep moving’. There are mommy and lifestyle bloggers (me), sports bloggers, food bloggers, fashion and beauty. You name it.

We all have the month of August to move as much as we can, and track our daily steps on our jawbone Up2 devices. We all move for different reasons – for me it’s training once a day and working off that office stress, as well as chasing a busy toddler round the house. Im not sure how the other bloggers spend their movement time, but all will be revealed during the coming weeks when we post our updates using the #ShieldItsYourMove hashtag across various social media platforms.

Moving and keeping busy is easy when you feel confident – which is where Shields new MotionSense technology comes in. It’s the words first anti perspirant with unique micro capsules activated by movement. So, the more you move, the more it keeps you dry, and the more you move the more Shield MotionSense releases fresh bursts of fragrance. And I’m not just saying that. I have been a Shield user ever since my wedding in 2013, when I trialled several antiperspirants in the build up to the big day and Shield came out top. Let me tell you, there is no sweat like wedding sweat!

So, follow my journey here, on Instagram, Twitter and on Facebook as I try to out move the other bloggers for the month of August.

Why don’t you join me?

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{Interview} Devin Lester. Dad, Photographer and Capturer of Magic.

I am so excited to have my very first interview from my still-un-named interview series up today. Also, it would seem I need a name for this series if it’s going to become ‘a thing’. I was thinking ‘The Finger” (because I’m gonna probe you real deep) but that’ pretty disgusting, right?

Any name ideas?

Anyways, my first interview is a really cool one. Its with career-man turned professional-photographer Devin Lester. I have know Devin for many many years and can honestly say he is one of life’s nicest and most genuine guys. He even photographed Carters newborn shoot (under much stress from his side I’m sure, because I kept telling him to ‘make me look thin’ and ‘hide my double chin’!) Poor guy.

This interview was also slightly selfishly motivated. I have always wanted to get in to photography, and watching Devins success and beautiful images over the last two years has really re-ignited my passion – so for me this was also the perfect opportunity to pick his brain a bit.

{RA} Tell me a bit about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, and what makes you tick?

{DL} My name is Devin and I have a beautiful family…my wife, Megan and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary early next year and we have two beautiful children, Paige and Matthew.
I have a few too many weaknesses including wine, whisky, coffee and gadgets! Getting to ride my bike everyday & skip the crazy Joburg traffic is a definite plus!
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The lesser spotted man behind the lens, Devin

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{RA} What made you want to get into photography?
{DL} I’ve enjoyed taking pictures since I was really young. In those days it was a terrible point-and-shoot film camera – the kind where you’d snap a photo of the lion you spotted in the Kruger Park but then have to convince friends that there really was a lion there when you couldn’t actually see anything on the film you developed.
When I got my first digital camera (a compact little Sony point-and-shoot) I started learning about all the cool new features and practicing various techniques. This habit continued as I kept upgrading my kit to a Panasonic superzoom and then to an entry level Canon DSLR. With each new gadget I’d be really keen to learn about what it was capable of and what I could do with it. I practiced A.L.O.T.
I’d pretty much always be carrying a camera around and enjoyed being able to look back at the good times captured (especially since in those days you pretty much had to print photos because your Nokia 3210 screen wasn’t exactly a spectrum of vibrant colours).
My initial move to take my hobby more seriously came about so that I could justify spending more money on fancier gear. Not particularly romantic but I didn’t really expect it to take off in the way it has either.
I enjoy being able to create beautiful images for people! Taking these images requires some know how, some decent gear and also time and while people would really love to take these themselves they aren’t always able to invest the time (or money) into it.
I’ve also realized that photography gives me an opportunity to meet interesting new people and go to places I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
DLP Maternity couple
DLP Maternity 3
{RA} What is your main day job and how do you fit in photography while working an 8 to 5?
{DL} I work as an associate actuary at a reinsurer in Johannesburg. I’m responsible for the capital modeling for their life insurance treaties. Definition of a desk job! The company is great and was flexible enough to accept my request earlier this year to move to a 4-day work week so I could dedicate more time to my photography and try catch up on some family time.
I spend many evenings working late into the night to do my editing and admin. It’s not conducive to getting up early to get to the gym!
{RA} How do you juggle being a family man and all the weekend and after-hours work that photography brings on?
{DL}I think when I started out 2 years ago it was pretty manageable. I’d have a couple of shoots a month so it was easy to keep on top of things.
Now with the number of bookings coming in it’s proving much more difficult. I have a very understanding and patient wife! I’ve recently brought in an accountant as well as an editor to help spread the workload and regain some balance.
{RA}You started off as mainly a newborn photographer. Recently you’ve moved into lifestyle, portraiture and now weddings. Why the move?
{DL} Actually, initially I was too scared to take on newborn shoots J I figured newborn shoots were second-only to weddings in terms of “Don’t f&^* this up”. So I’d started with maternity shoots, parties and families.
Only once I felt I could a newborn shoot justice (watching & reading many tutorials) and had a client who was willing to take me on did I start down the newborn route. Most importantly there are safety precautions that need to be followed and also some special Photoshop skills can come in handy too. Even though newborn shoots can seem quite chaotic I enjoy the challenges they present and nailing a tricky pose makes it all worth it!
Similarly with weddings there was no way I wanted to take a wedding booking without being confident I could deliver a polished product. I first attended a workshop run by the brilliant Ett Venter, put together a styled shoot with another photographer and have assisted / second shot a few weddings now. I’m really looking forward to my first ‘solo’ weddings in October and December.
DLP Wedding 1
DLP Wedding 2
DLP Wedding 3
{RA} Take me through one of your worst shoots
{DL} Well I once arrived at a shoot with no memory cards whatsoever. I’d taken the card out of the camera and my extra cards were sitting on my desk too. And this shoot was 40km from home. Luckily my clients were running rather late so I rushed down the road to an electronics store and was able to pick up a spare at the last moment. Needless to say, I double check these things now!
{RA} Let’s talk newborn shoots – who are the hardest to photograph, the baby or the parents?
{DL} Haha, I guess the baby since they aren’t really interested in following instructions…and there’s the ever present dangers involved once the nappy comes off (although I have been quite lucky in this regard)  😉
DLP Newborn Kate 3
DLP Newborn 4
DLP Newborn 3
DLP My first newborn shoot
 
{RA} What advice do you have for someone wanting to start out in the industry?
{DL} Just keep learning – there are so many great resources out there from Youtube videos, online tutorials, helpful Facebook groups and workshops run by talented local and international photographers. And carry your camera with you on weekend outings – knowing what settings to use and being able to change them quickly needs to become second nature.

{RA} Have you ever lost anyone’s images after a shoot? And if so, what happened?

{DL} No! Thank goodness. Immediately following a shoot I backup the images. I have, however, had to re-deliver images to a client who had lost hers but since I never delete old shoots this wasn’t an issue.
{RA} How would you describe your style / what do you hope to capture?
{DL} I try to produce the kind of images that my clients want to print and frame on their wall. And, of course, capturing emotion is something most photographers strive for. Grabbing that special moment between a couple or a shared laugh between a parent and child is priceless! Natural light can be used to great effect but I also love bringing in extra lighting for a subtle effect or sometimes not so subtle WOW factor!
DLP Family 3
DLP Maternity 1
DLP Maternity 2
DLP Family 2

{RA} Who or what would be your dream subject to shoot?

{DL} I love photographing my own kids (yes, cheesy) but the pressure is off, I can try things out and they’re surprisingly patient for a 3 year old and 6 year old.
Then I hope to be able to shoot some amazing and beautiful weddings for my clients…and have fun doing it!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew... I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
Devin with wife Megan and children Paige and Matthew… I can understand why they are his favourite subjects!
and lastly…
{RA} What would be the first thing you’d buy if you won the lottery, for:
 Yourself: {DL} A new car, mine has just done 100,000km
 Your business: {DL} Hmmm, a studio would be nice
 Your family: {DL} An overseas holiday and house by the sea wouldn’t hurt!
 A charity: {DL} Something sustainable like a bursary scheme
DLP Family 1 (my first newborn client 1 yr later)
DLP Newborn 1
DLP Newborn 2
Im really please I decided to ask Devin about photography, rather than his day-job. I still have zero idea what ‘capital modeling’ is. Sounds like something you make with plasticine. Good thing we have other interests in common, like photography and wine…and coffee…and gadgets.
Thanks again, Devin, for agreeing to be my first interviewee! If you would like to find out more about Devin Lester Photography you can find him on his website, on Facebook or on Instagram. Tell him I sent you!
If you would like to be interview on Rupert Approves, or know of someone who you think would be great – leave a comment or pop me a mail.
Photo 2016-07-20, 22 42 22
Photo credit: Alon Cohen
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On This Sickness Thing.

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Everyone is a perfect parent when they don’t have kids. Then you have kids, and everything you thought and said pre-spawn files right out the window and hits some poor unsuspecting low flying duck in the face.

When I was a non-mom, one of the biggest ‘my child will never be like that’ thoughts I had was around sickly, snotty kids. Everywhere I looked there were babies and toddlers with runny noses, unwell children, coughing children and people bailing on social events due to said snotty coughing unwell children.

When Carter was born I handed him around to everyone within sight like a bad scene from the Lion King. “Touch him” I would screech, “hold him” I proclaimed “let him be exposed to all the germs” I yelled. And he did, and he was, and he was fine.

Even when I sent him to crèche at the tender age of 119 days I was met with disgust from most people, people horrified at just how many germs he would be exposed to. Steadfast in my belief that my child was a Kearney, and therefore healthier than a pot of organic yoghurt, I insisted that crèche would be the best thing for him. “immunity building” I think is what I said. And for the next three months it was great. I had a healthy, happy contented kid. Until one day – when he was seven months old – school phoned. Carter had a temperature. I was more panicked than Trump on a windy day, I raced to the crèche, fetched my utterly miserable child and spent the rest of the day wondering how he could have gone from farting and happy to 40-degreed and miserable in the space of a few hours. A few days later he was A-Okay, back at crèche and everything was just dandy. Except his immune system seemed to have been activated – like breaking that wee seal at a night club – and suddenly the crèche calls were more frequent. Not to say he was always sick (in-fact, he’s more healthy than not) but if there was a bug or virus doing the rounds, then my kid was bound to catch it.

We had our fair share of colds, eye infections and UFBD (Unidentified Filthy Baby Disease). In June he got gastro turned dysentery and in the past week he’s been off school with sinus infections and semi-bronchitis. Yes, that’s a thing.

He’s not alone, kids are foul creatures, and all the spitting, drooling, toy swopping and face touching means that germs will spread faster than a gossip session at ladies night. So, is my child more healthy or sickly than his peers? Absolutely not. Around 98.7% of my phone data is used up on mommy chats discussing our small humans bloody stools, projectile vomit and gunky eyes.

I already have game plans for illnesses that don’t exist. His medicine box is stocked for everything from a sore toe to a tsunami, Life hospital will be my destination of choice should he ever need to be admitted (they have beds and food for parents!) and bedtime vitamin administration is a mini assembly line.

Not that any of this will work, because they’re kids, man. And their small little bodies mean that they have much weaker immune systems. What might make us sneeze four times could cause them to need an antibiotic drip and a 5 hour nap. We have to remember that essentially they need to get exposed to everything at least once – so whereas you and I are revolting tainted grownups, our pink footed little munchkins still have a long way to go.

So, whilst Winter may be a hell pit of sickness and snot, at least I know his immune system is getting an excellent workout, and slowly building itself up to Kearney standards.

PS – If you are looking for a list of medications to stock up on for your little one, for those ‘just in case’ moments, may I suggest using this handy list I’ve complied, below.

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A Family Photo Shoot

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A few months ago I was lucky enough to win a shoot with Robyn Davie photography, through the Rattle and Mum blog. As most of our weekends then were spent training for Half Iron Man, we decided to push the shoot out to July when we had a bit more free time. And I’m so glad we did – even though it was rather chilly – the light, the grass, the crisp air and the gold leaves were all perfect for the relaxed shoot in Delta Park.

Robyn is awesome – she is all about capturing the lesser spotted family in their natural habitat – relaxed, un-posed and roaming free. I adore how our photos have turned out, and am so glad she captured Carter’s cheeky grin and toothy smile.

You can find Robyn on her website, Facebook or Instagram.

Tell her I sent you!

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The Interesting Interview Series.

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I was driving to work this morning and scrolling through Facebook (naughty, I know). Apart from the usual rubbish that fills my newsfeed – cat videos, food videos, videos of videos – there were also a couple of really awesome posts. Someone I know is going back to gym after a 6-month hiatus (been there!), someone else was posting their professional photos of their latest shoot, and someone was commenting on how much they love Mondays ever since deciding to quit the corporate world and start their own business. Basically, there are rad, interesting, inspiring people all over who are doing amazing things with their life.

With that in mind, and because I recently had my very own Oprah ‘aha’moment, where I realised what I wanted to do with my life (well part time atleast), I’ve decided to start a weekly series where I interview and chat to inspiring people.

So, if you know of anyone – or think you could fit the profile – please let me know. It could be someone who quit the 8-5 and became a professional dog walker, someone who lost a lot of weight and started a new health journey, someone who ran their first race after leading a sedentary life, someone who took up a hobby and made money off of it, someone who has left the country and is trying to make a new life for themselves, a single mom rocking it or someone who has a fascinating career. It could be anyone!

Please pop me a comment below and let me know who you think I should chat to, and why.

PS – You may or may not have noticed, but I recently migrated (and almost broke) my blog in the process. What this means is that for several months there wasn’t a ‘Follow’ option on the new site. I’ve kinda, sort of maybe managed to fix it, so please do me a favour and re-follow Rupert Approves. You will need to do this even if you were a previous subscriber. Following means you never miss a post, posts are delivered fresh to your inbox, plus you’ll give me a bit of street cred in the process. You’ll see the ‘Follow‘ box on the home page and next to all posts.

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