Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Karate Kids

We had to be in camps Bay early on Saturday for morning for a kata competition. The atmosphere was charged as the children waited with butterflies in their tummies for their turn to compete.I must say, I too find it nerve racking watching my children compete.

I just love watching the concentration on their faces as they go through their moves. K was up against 4 girls of her age with higher belts than her own. She did well, taking the third place and winning a bronze medal.

J on the other hand, was up against boys with not only higher belts, but the SA Champ and two others with Province colours!

Above, he and Logan compete. Logan has Province colours and is an upcoming SA Champ!

J did well, coming in third place with a bronze medal. The SA champ won and Logan came in second. I look forward to next Saturday when J goes for Western Province trials for Kata and Kumite!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Wrap Up

Well, it is the end of yet another busy week. What a week it has been! I am grateful for the weekend, despite the fact that it will be very busy....

J has been making progress with his new curriculum and seems to be enjoying the challenge. His long time friend is walking the same road as him and they enjoy doing a lot of their work together. This week has seen me taking on the role of Afrikaans teacher as well as teaching a lesson on Life Science today. What fun we have had! These boys have such a great sense of humour! Between the laughs we are managing to get some work done.

As you can see, neither of them wanted to be photographed....a good photo to show at their 21sts!
We needed a microscope for this lesson. It is something neither family owns at this stage. I recalled my sister had borrowed one from the doctor who delivered all my children and hers some years ago. One quick phone call was all it took, and he kindly agreed to allow us use of his microscope for as long as we need it. What a blessing!
The boys enjoyed the hands on experience with the microscope and it made such a difference to the lesson. I cannot imagine trying teach this lesson about the parts and their functions without the microscope being there. We need glass slides to examine specimens and they did not come with the microscope. I called the pharmacy to see if we could order some but apparently all the wholesalers are out of stock. I proceeded to call the local pathology lab and explained that we needed a couple of slides for our lessons. I was bowled over when the lady told me I could come in and collect some free of charge! She gave me a whole box full as well as the slip covers for wet specimens. We sure will have more fun when we get to use the microscope next week!

The younger two have been enjoying our Zoology studies. My little scientist thrives on the hands on and experiments. He so enjoyed this experiment that proved that cold water is heavier than hot water and therefore sinks.

This afternoon, before dashing off to K's drama class, we had a welcome break at the Barnyard. The children enjoyed the free open spaces and all the animals as well as delicious milkshakes.

This evening we had a fun evening out with hubby's parents and the daughter of one of his cousins from Holland. It was lovely to meet her. She is studying to be an actress and as K has been chosen for a fairly big role in the performance her drama school is going to put on, they had a lots to talk about!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today we were thrilled to get an email from Zelda Mycroft of the Chaeli Campaign, announcing that J and K have both been selected to be ambassadors for Pay-It-Forward! Below are their own motivations for wanting to become part of this exciting venture:

Recently I was challenged by a book that I read, to step out of my comfort zone, rise above the normal expectations of society for teens, and to do things too big to accomplish alone. The Pay-it-Forward program will help to get me started doing things this way. (J)

I have been challenged to do things out of my comfort zone and that are too big for me to do alone. For some time I have felt that God is calling me to make a difference in my community. This will give me the opportunity to do so. (K)

Below is an excerpt from the application form so you can understand better what it entails:
We are delighted to invite young people between the ages of 10 and 14 to apply to become our 2010 Pay-It-Forward Ambassadors. If selected for this programme, you will embark on an incredible journey as an individual and as a member of the Ambassador team. What we do through this programme is grow a relationship with a group of young people who would like to work with The Chaeli Campaign to implement social change and to promote inclusion and diversity by making a difference in the lives of differently-abled children. You would be required to promote some of our events in your schools and in your communities and will also have an opportunity to learn about social entrepreneurship and grow your own projects.The backbone of the project will be to:
attend a monthly workshop session (2 hours per month on a Saturday) where you will receive information / training and be able to brainstorm issues around how entrepreneurship can create positive change in people and communities. Our Founding Committee members and 2009 Ambassadors will be mentors and will also lead some of these discussions so it won't just be managed by old fogeys like me!
  • promote Chaeli Campaign events (e.g. Art & Poetry Competition, Grand Prix, Junior Chaeli Riders, etc.) at your school and in your community in order to raise a positive awareness of inclusion and diversity re: disability;
  • grow your own events or projects: we will provide guidance through brainstorming and support with logistics;

We would like each young person to commit to being a Pay -It-Forward Ambassador for one year-this is essential for each of you to have time to grow in knowledge, confidence and also to grow your own ideas of how you intend being agents of change in your own communities.

As their mom, I am so blessed that they have the opportunity to take part in something so exciting and challenging!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 fun

Today we had another keepers get together. It was perfectly timed for me as it meant a night off as the girls prepared dinner for their families.
I have been really tired over the last couple of days as we adjust to J's new curriculum. Last night I was up until midnight marking and checking his days work, after a full day and much time doing admin on the computer. ( I am organising the Pick n Pay cooking school classes for this year and a careers outing for the high school children.)
One of the moms instructed the girls on how to make spaghetti bollonaise and another mom taught the girls to make a lemon tart. Both were delicious!
The girls had some time to socialise and the moms had a great time of fellowship together. It really just gave me the boost that I needed and I treasure the support and encouragement that we experience together.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clebrating South Africa 2010

This morning a special friend and I went to a breakfast put on by our church. It was a wonderful time of celebrating South Africa 2010. The weather was more than good and the venue perfect!. The views out across the Constantia vineyards toward the back of our magnificent Table Mountain were spectacular.
The tent was filled with more than 300 women gathered to celebrate together. We were treated to a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit salad, muesli, yogurt, quiche, muffins and juice and coffee.We enjoyed a fashion show and dance by some of the Dizzy Feet Dance School students. It was lovely to watch.There were two guest speakers, Bertha Du Plessis/ Cronje and Louise Swart. Both were excellent. Bertha bravely shared her testimony about her life with Hansie Cronje and how she survived and coped with his tragic death. She truly loved this man and went through incredible highs and lows with him. She shared how God was her strength at the time of his death. She is a brave and humble woman. She is now happily married with two young sons. Louise spoke about the power we have as woman to change things around us. She spoke about the power of the tongue and the mind. It was a fantastic morning.

I was impressed to find Eric teaching J and his friend accountancy when I came home. I just love the way these boys have taken on their work with such determination and diligence. They aim to be ready to write their term tests by 22 March so there is some catching up to be done.

This afternoon I had the opportunity to visit the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the first time ever. I had complimentary tickets to the Go Natural and Organic Expo. T and I escaped the heat for an afternoon of fun! We enjoyed the delicious samples of the likes of organic olives prepared in more ways than one can think of, organic chocolates , dried fruit, organic wines, pestos , tapenades, name it, it was there! I could not resist some Aloe pickle and their newly launched choaloes ( aloe covered in dark chocolate!)
I was also pleased to find an organic solution to the snout nosed beetles that are chomping my veg garden , as well as a solution to the caterpillars.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baby Eric

Yesterday we had baby Eric for the day as his mum was working. My, he has grown since he last visited. The younger two so enjoyed him! (J was too busy with his new books) K had a good chance to play mommy with him and she did really well! He is going to be a year old next month and is such a cute little thing. He has enormous , brown eyes and the cutest little smile! He looked so handsome in his little jeans and trendy t shirt.

He couldn't resist sucking and trying to chew on K's apple. He had his own thin slivers of apple but hers was far more interesting!

He is not walking yet, but cruising as he holds onto the furniture. He is rather vocal and loves to screech which made the children laugh and in turn made him screech more! He loved Z's antics and cried when Z left the room.
I did feel rather sorry for him though, as he is at that age where he has formed strong bonds with his family and we were like strangers to him. He was fairly miserable in the afternoon and very happy when his auntie came to fetch him!


Hooray! J's school books arrived yesterday. We have been waiting patiently for them to arrive and it was with great excitement that I woke him yesterday so we could go and fetch the parcel at the post office. (I knew that once they arrived, he would be incredibly busy, so I have let him sleep in a bit recently.)
He was eager to get stuck in with his books and over the last two days, has managed to start his English, Physical Science, Life Science, Geography and Business Studies. Among the 9 subjects, he will also be doing Accounting.....a subject I have no knowledge of. Thankfully that is a subject Hubby excelled in and so he is taking the role of Accountancy teacher. Today he came home with the necessary journal, cash book and ledger.
It will be quite a change from the way J has been schooled until now but he is so eager to excel that I don't think the adjustment will be too much of a challenge for him.
I have made a number of calls to the subject advisers and to the curriculum provider with queries and I am pleased to say, they have all been very supportive and helpful. The subject advisers are available on the phone or email for any queries or problems that may arise.This is just what we need for this phase of J's education.
He will be writing term tests towards the end of March and in the third term, then exams in July and November. There are open book tests regularly and portfolio assignments which get sent in for marking. Today we received a newsletter from the curriculum providers that was full of necessary information including a year planner and dates for a congress in our area later in the year. We are excited to embark on this new journey together!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doing Hard Things

I have recently started reading an incredible book to the children called "Do Hard Things", it is written by a set of home educated twins. It is a teenage rebellion against low expectations that society places on teenagers.
Did you know that there were no "teens" until around 1900 when a number of labour and school reform laws were passed to protect children from the harsh conditions in factories?

These laws had some far reaching consequences as teens were removed from the workforce and had to attend school. They were no longer key producers and contributors. They became consumers. The teen years between childhood and adulthood became something new and distinctive. The teenager remade the world as we know it. Entire industries revolve around the consumer habits of teens - movies, music, fashion, fast food....

We have so enjoyed reading this book together and discussing the concept of rebelling against low expectations. There are five basic ideas of doing hard things in the book. They are:
1)doing things outside of our comfort zone
2)doing things that go beyond what is expected or required
3)doing things that are too big to accomplish alone
4) doing things that don't earn an immediate payoff
5)doing things that challenge the cultural norm

J out of his comfort zone!

We have decided that they will all learn to do more around the home and gain some necessary life skills in the process. So today J and K learned how to operate the washing machine. J also did some baking for the family, which is usually K's job (not really a job to her as she loves baking!). I was amazed at his enthusiasm once he got round the idea. He made the most delicious cheese and bacon muffins and even caramelised the onion that he added to the mix!

K made us a fantastic seed loaf too!

We had also found an article in the weekend paper about kids making a difference.The Chaeli Campaign recently launched a Pay It Forward Programme. They help kids to make a difference in their communities by mentoring them for a year. The kids act as an ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign and at the end of the year, they will have a chance to organise their own fundraising for an issue that is close to their hearts. J sent them an email and we have already had a response , together with application forms! I am so excited for the children and we will have to see if they get accepted as ambassadors!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend fun

The week went by with the usual school and we have been enjoying our books on Egypt and the game that our friends lent us. I was also happy to get back into Tae Bo after being sick. I managed 3 classes this week and my body is still telling me that I have been exercising again but it feels good!

Saturday morning saw J back at training for karate in Camps Bay. Eric took the opportunity take K out on a daddy & daughter date. He and K walked on the beach and went for smoothies on the beach front. I am so pleased that they had this time together. In the afternoon, he had a game of cricket and I organised an impromptu get together for the children and their friends at our house.

One of Ks friends was here a bit early and the girls spent their time on the wall (their favourite place to climb up to) chatting and enjoying some lunch.
I want our home to be a place where the children enjoy entertaining their friends and where they can have good clean fun. The kids, all ten of them from 7 to 16 years of age, had lots of fun. They swam, rode their j boards and made their own pizzas.

Today, Valentine's day, was special. K was up early and set the table outside for breakfast. She had baked some scones yesterday and we enjoyed them with my homemade apricot jam, and a cherry berry jam from Ladybrand, and cream....a rather rich breakfast! We enjoyed a fresh pot of coffee and there were chocolates at everyones place. Hubby spoiled me with red and white roses, a chocolate and a magazine to enjoy!

After church, we came home for a quick lunch and then took the kids down to the flea market. They each found something they wanted to buy with their pocket money. We went for a walk on the beach and came home to relax. This evening I cooked a gammon and we enjoyed that with salads and baked potatoes. A lovely day....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Something's happening!

Every morning I delight in going to check n my garden as you know. The past couple of days have been very exciting in the garden!

On the weekend, that strange looking "venus flytrap" plant had burst forth with the most beautiful, fragrant flowers. I now know what it is! It is none other than the Amaryllis! We had planted the bulbs a couple of years ago and every year, all we got from the bulbs, were some green leaves....a rather boring plant I had thought! The leaves die down after a while and then the flower is supposed to appear. Its other name is the "naked lady" as there are no leaves now, just the beautiful flowers.

The tomatoes are bearing fruit and I was delighted to see a few beans and courgettes appearing. The corn is full of male flowers that are releasing their pollen already. The chili is flowering too!
Today the younger children helped me to make an organic insecticide as there are some pesky bugs eating holes in the leaves of many of the plants. "Jane's Delicious Garden" came to the rescue with a remedy. We peeled a whole garlic bulb, grated 4 onions and added a chopped red chili. That will stand overnight and then we will add oil and dish washing liquid. I will only need 1 tablespoon to a litre of water and hopefully it will solve the problem! J thought it smelled rather delicious and wanted to eat some with his lunch! Z asked if we were going to kill vampires or bugs! I must say the smell of garlic is still lingering!

Kids Lit Quiz

The team.
The Kids Lit Quiz is an annual quiz for students aged 11 to 13. K was thrilled to make the Cape Home Ed team this year. Teams of four students are asked to answer 100 questions on children's literature, divided into 10 categories. The teams work together to answer the questions by quiz master Wayne Mills of New Zealand.
They were competing against the likes of Bishops, Rustenburg, Springfield, SACS and Hershel to name a few. The hall was packed to capacity with excited kids and spectators. Wayne Mills did an excellent job of keeping the evening up beat and fun. There were many spot cash prizes for the kids and parents who answered questions correctly. Her team came in 18th and the other home ed team came in 16th.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Keepers - Swimming

Today we had our turn to host the Keepers meeting. It was a glorious day and the topic for our meeting was swimming.
Shirley chatted to the girls about being modest when they go swimming and went on to talk about safety around the pool and in water. She demonstrated how to support someone who needs to be rescued.They had so much fun rescuing one another.

The girls had to tread water for five minutes and there was much laughter and fun had by all!

They also had to float for five minutes.

Children are always hungry after swimming and my resident bakers, K and Z, had thankfully baked a big batch of delicious seed cookies for tea time.
It was a lovely afternoon and the children happily splashed away while the mums opted to lie on a blanket in the shade and catch up with one another. We so enjoy these times together.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wine making

Today K, Z and I had some of the best fun we have ever had! We were invited to join Tess and Z at at Moreson Wine Farm, in the magnificent Franschoek Valley, for the blessing of the harvest which happens once a year.
We made wine the old fashioned way! We hand picked the grapes and then pressed them using the oldest tools in the business - our feet! Grape juice making is a fun but tiring job! It was a day long affair including a delectable lunch at Bread & Wine Restaurant.
The views were magnificent and the weather just perfect!

Picking grapes is not as easy as one thinks! It requires some strength to cut them from the vines.

The pressing was loads of fun. Two or three people to a wine barrel, music pumped up and the timer set - one minute to tramp the grapes !

We had grape juice everywhere!

The aim was go get as much juice out in one minute....

The next minute was spent emptying as many buckets of juice as possible into a larger container. The winning teams won cases of wine.

A sticky business!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Week that was

This week went by so fast again! I am glad that the weekend is here even though it is set to be a busy one. This afternoon K had a last meeting for the kids literature club and was thrilled to make it into the team for the competition on Monday. She also went to drama and J had extra karate training.
We enjoyed a relaxed Friday evening with extended family and were supposed to have burgers...I was too busy chatting and they got burnt. Thankfully, to save the day, pizzas were ordered and enjoyed by everyone.

For school this week,the children and I have been doing a lap book on Egypt. We were lent some fantastic books to go along with our study by some kind friends. We also borrowed a board game on Egypt and we look forward to playing that next week as well as getting some DVDs from the library to compliment our Egypt studies.

In the garden, I have been doing the usual watering every morning as well inspection for any damage. Thankfully there has been none this week. I was given some sage and cabbages, so those were planted. My corn are doing well and there are tomatoes on the vines. Lunch time has been a treat with fresh basil added to the sandwiches!
Pictured below is this mysterious plant that has just sprung up in one of my beds....I wish my veg would grow that fast! We are not sure what it is. I first noticed the stem sticking out of the ground about 2 weeks ago. Since then it has continued to grow rapidly and looks like some weird Venus fly trap! I am sure the bud will open soon and I hope we will have some idea of what it is then!

Jake's Gift

I have been meaning to type up this story to share with you for a couple of weeks. Things have been a little crazy round here with trying to get through the school days and coping with my on going sinus headaches and a little boy who simply has not been his best for weeks now. Poor Z is at the end of a 10 day antibiotic course and I cant say he is better. Still coughing, bunged up and having headaches. It is not easy to cope with school when one feels so awful.

Anyway, I have digressed. The story I want to share has touched us in an unbelievable way. K is reading a book called "Stories for the Extreme Teens Heart". It is a book that I think each and every teen ( and adult) should read. Here goes!

Jake's Gift

Author Unknown

Bill was a big, awkward, homely guy. He dressed oddly with ill fitting clothes.
There were several fellows who thought it smart to make fun of him. One day, one fellow noticed a small tear in his shirt and gave it a small rip. Another worker in the factory added his bit, and before long there was quite a ribbon dangling.
Bill went about his work, and as he passed too near a moving belt the shirt strip was sucked into the machinery.In a split second, the sleeve and Bill were in trouble.
Alarms were sounded , switches pulled ,and trouble was avoided. The foreman, however, aware of what had happened, summoned the men and related this story:

In my younger days I worked in a small factory. That's when I first met Mike. He was big and witty, was always making jokes and playing little pranks. Mike was a leader. Then there was Pete who was a follower. He always went along with Mike. And then there was a man named Jake.
He was a little older than the rest of us -quiet, harmless, apart. He always ate his lunch by himself. He wore the same patched trousers for three years straight. He never entered into the games we played at noon, wrestling, horseshoes and such. He appeared to be indifferent, always sitting quietly alone under a tree instead. Jake was a natural target for practical jokes. He might find a live frog in his dinner pail or a dead rodent in his hat.
But he always took it in good humour.Then one fall, when things were slack, Mike took off a few days to go hunting. Pete went along, of course. And they promised all of us that if they got anything they'd bring us each a piece.
So we were all quite excited when we heard that they'd returned and that Mike had gotten a really big buck. We heard more than that. Pete could never keep anything to himself, and it leaked out that they had a real real whopper to play on Jake. Mike had cut up the critter and had made a nice package for each of us, and for the laugh, for the joke of it, he had saved the ears, the tail, the hoofs. It would be so funny when Jake unwrapped them. Mike distributed the packages during the noon hour. The biggest package of all he saved until last. It was for Jake.
Pete was all but bursting, and Mike looked very smug.
Like always, Jake sat by himself; he was on the far side of the big table.
Mike pushed the package over to where he could reach it, and we all sat and waited. Jake was never one to say much. You might never know that he was around for all the talking he did. In three years he'd never said a hundred words. So we were all quite astounded at what happened next.
He took took the package firmly in his grip and rose slowly to his feet. He smiled broadly at Mike- and it was then we noticed that his eyes were glistening. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down for a moment , and then he got control of himself.
" I knew you wouldn't forget me," he said gratefully. "I knew you'd come through! You re big and you're playful, but I knew all along that you had a good heart." He swallowed again and then took in the rest of us. "I know I haven't seemed to chummy with you men, but I never meant to be rude. You see, Ive got nine kids at home - and a wife that's been an invalid - bed fast for four years now. She ain't going to get any better. And sometimes when shes real bad off, I have to sit up all night to take care of her. And most of my wages have had to go for doctors and medicine.The kids do all they can to help out, but at times its been hard to keep food in their mouths. Maybe you think its funny that I go off by myself to eat dinner. Well, I guess Ive been a little ashamed, because I don't always have anything between my sandwich. Or like today - maybe there's only a raw turnip in y pail. But I want you to know that this meat really means a lot to me. Maybe more than to anybody here because tonight my kids...." he wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand, " tonight my kids will have a really...."
He tugged at the string. We'd been watching Jake so intently we hadn't paid much notice to Mike and Pete. But we all noticed them now, because they both dove at once to grab the package. But they were too late. Jake had broken the wrapper and was already surveying his present. He examined each hoof, each ear, and then he held up the tail. It wiggled limply. It should ave been so funny but nobody laughed - nobody at all. But the hardest part was when Jake got up and said, "Thank you," while trying to smile.
Silently each man moved forward carrying his package and quietly placed it in front of Jake for they had suddenly realised how little their own gift had really meant to them.....until now.
This was where the foreman left the story and the men.
He didn't need to say anymore; but it was gratifying to notice that as each man ate his lunch that day, they shared part with Bill and one fellow even took off his shirt and gave it to him.

All of you should be of one mind , full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. 1 Peter 3:8

Monday, February 1, 2010

Special friends

My sweet K came home from a two night sleep out at her friend.These girls had had an amazing weekend together and a time of real bonding in their special friendship. They have known each other since birth.They are blessed to have each other as friends.

K had spent time last week writing a poem and finding a special picture of the two of them to give to her friend. On the weekend they decided to make friendship memory boxes to store all sorts of bits and bobs to remind them of their friendship and the fun they have together. It is so important for our children to have meaningful friendships and I feel so blessed when I see these girls having such a great time together.