Monday, February 27, 2012

February's Gifts Week 4

This week I have strayed somewhat from what Ann has suggested and come up with my own list of thanks.

Day 21
(my own)
154) my sweet nephew coming for the morning,
155) watching my daughter learn to create something new with paper
156) seeing the kids find joy in raising funds to bless a differently abled child.

Day 22 wed
(3 gifts that changed today)
157) a visit from my dad,
158) my sweet , kind neighbour giving me a quick destress massage on my neck to ease the tension
159) an invitation from a dear friend to "get away from it all" ..... joining her on a trip out into the countryside to visit her mum and dad for two nights while my dear hubby holds the fort here

Day 23
(my own )
160) a safe journey into the country,
161) a wonderful meal ....shared with my friend, her family, and some of their friends that I just met today,
162) hearing their voices and knowing all's well at home while I am away.

Day 24
(my own)
163) exploring the little town with my dear friend and her daughters,
164) finding just picked farm fresh fruit and veg at good prices to take home to the family,
165) wonderful hospitality shown to me by my friend's parents

Day 25
(my own)
166) a safe pleasant journey home to my loved ones,
167) sharing the joy of my two eldest getting bronze medals in their competition this morning,
168) happy ,successful, fun fundraising evening organised by our Home's Cool Co-op.

Day 26
(my own)
169) gift of a bag filled with ripe granadillas/passion fruit....then using some in a salsa for our evening braai
 (1 chopped pineapple, a handful of chopped chives and two chillies from the garden,
 and pulp of three granadillas! Spicy and delicious!)
170) 6 happy children, playing all day between 3 houses and then an impromptu evening braai...
kids swimming and laughing till late
171) phone calls from my brother and mum today

Day 27
(my own)
172) talking to my mum and two sisters today,
173) heart to heart with my daughter
174) a sweet friend dropping off a ready cooked chicken.

Introducing Wendy


This post is written for the February "South Africa Carnival of Homeschooling" carnival, the topic being 
"Introducing you".

I am Wendy, wife to Eric of 20 years ( next month).
 We have three kids who make our lives very interesting! Josh age 16, Keren age 14 and  Zak age 11.
We have home educated forever really.
At age 3, Josh had a brief stint of just over a term in a nursery school, until we brought him home.
 Zak spent a couple of mornings in play school and attended a school for his grade R year. 
Besides that, we have enjoyed learning together at home "forever"!
We live in our beautiful, diverse City of Cape Town....
we have sea and mountains on our doorstep....
 and we love it.

We began home educating when Josh was unhappy at his nursery school, stamping his little three year old feet saying, "I am never ever going back there again!" I began to wonder why he seemed unhappy, and after two days of the same little determined statement, questioned the teacher. She informed me that he had not taken part in any activities at all the previous week!
This did not go down well with us as his parents. We believed that if this was the case, the teacher should have notified us and asked us if there were issues at home, causing him to be unhappy at school.
It was hubby's decision right then and there to fore go the terms fees and bring him home. 

We had however been to a meeting long before this incident, and had learned about home education. At that stage it was very new in South Africa and we had never heard of it before. It was not something we had decided we should , could or would do at the time. Just another option that we had been exposed to.
At the time we took Josh out of school, we thankfully had a number of friends who were choosing to educate their children at home. We dived into the deep end, without much major planning or preparation and began having fun learning at home alongside the other little friends who were also being home educated. We have not looked back on our decision.

Here are some of my favourite things:

1) I love seeing: 

the beautiful and majestic mountains surrounding our city
the waves as they crash into the harbour at Kalk Bay or roll gently onto the beach
my kids smiling faces
my two oldest practising their karate with bold and strong movements
or watching them do ballroom dancing 
my daughters art and crafts that are produced almost daily in some form or another
my youngest playing with our crazy dog
my children growing into young adults, each unique and interesting
my sweet 10 month old nephew whether he is awake, asleep or exploring something new
my kids interacting with their littlest cousin
my husband filling out again after loosing too much weight last year
growth in my veggie garden
and above all God's faithfulness.....

2) I love hearing:

the sound of waves or a river rushing by
birds as they call or chirp
rain bucketing down
my eldest playing his electric guitar
my husbands humming...all the time, no matter what
chatter between my husband and his "princess" (he has always called our daughter that)
hearty laughter of my kids
the kids chatting with one another
my daughter and her girl friends having a good laugh together
my nephew babbling in his own sweet baby language
the voices of my mum or sisters when they call from far

3) I love smelling:

the Cape Fynbos
Jasmine on a summer evening
a wood fire in winter
vanilla, lemons,lavender
 coffee or spicy chai tea
meat on the braai
hubby's aftershave
fresh linen

4) I love the tastes of:

that first cup of coffee
icy cold water with a slice of lemon
hubby's homemade burgers, piled high with onions in balsamic vinegar and basil from the garden
anything that grew in our little veg garden
just about anything my dear sister prepares
tart apricots or passion fruit
lemon meringue pie or lemon cheesecake
aromatic and spicy curries
sour sweets

5) I love the feeling of:

a hug from my hubby and kids
cold water on my feet and wet sand between my toes
muscles that have been worked hard
freedom in wide open spaces
a gentle breeze on a hot day
a warm fire on a cold winters day
fresh linen on our bed
a de-stress massage
a facial or pedicure

This year I hope to:
See my hubby working again.
Be more organised and find the balance in schooling three very unique children, each at very different levels.
Make more time available for my daughter and I to have girly time, just connecting.
Strengthen the bonds with my boys.
Read more with the children and for my own leisure.
Spend more time in the Word.
Get back into a good exercise routine.
Be more relaxed and "don't sweat the small stuff!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Six weeks in...

Thought I should fill you in on our school days....

We have completed and enjoyed our Dolphin Tale Unit study,
and learned much about jellyfish, sharks, fish, dolphins and dolphin training.

The best parts were the experiments.
 We explored electric currents that occur when fish move .These currents travel from the brain to the muscles, creating a magnetic field that sharks can sense. At first we used a battery that was a bit flat and nothing much happened...
second time around the battery went flying when it burned my fingers...
We explored the bio-luminescence of deep sea fish, with glow sticks and had fun exploring echolocation and salinity too.

Z is making good progress with his readers for SA History. 
He enjoys the hands on activities and particularly enjoyed making and eating his own butter. We used the buttermilk in baking.

We had the amazing privilege of going on an outing to the Presidential Estate.
Under the watchful eye of the police, we toured Groote Schuur, once Cecil John Rhodes home, which was bequeathed to the nation on his death.

Cecil John Rhodes bedroom window on the upper floor.

Our guide kept our attention as she took us through the enormous house, 
entertaining us with amazing stories of his long ago life,
 and stories of others who have lived there for a time too.
The vast mansion is almost as it was in his day....
interesting pieces of furniture and artifacts from all over the world....
Delft tiles
an Egyptian travelling writing table
imported silver and glassware
Zimbabwean soapstone fire places
enormous, rare 17th century Flemish tapestries...... depicting America, Europe, Africa and Asia
a vast library.... books on travel and exploration as well as classics
an enormous bath....carved from a single piece of granite from Paarl Rock
and so much more!
The house was the official residence of South African Presidents for a time
 but is now a museum which is only open to the public by appointment.
After a walk by the current Presidential Residence, the police hurriedly escorted us off the property in an orderly fashion.
A most pleasant and interesting morning!

K too is making progress with her SA History studies and has enjoyed a few rounds of monopoly with her siblings as she is busy with the unit on finance. She has been reading "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki.

We enjoyed an outing to the South African National Gallery for the special celebratory exhibition of the life and work of the local artist Peter Clarke: "Listening to Distant Thunder"
Born here in the Western Cape, in 1929, his work as an artist and poet has spanned six decades.

His work is a deep reflection of the times he lived through : the apartheid and post apartheid eras.
He is best known for his work as a print maker, using lino cut and colour wood block techniques. He is a talented painter, using many different mediums for his art.

In 2005 he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (silver) by President Thabo Mbeki, and in 2010, a Lifetime Achievement award.

We enjoyed the somewhat different art of renowned British conceptual and land artist, Richard Long.
The exhibition showcased his works, done in South Africa over the last 50 years, using rocks recovered from the cradle of humankind in Gauteng.

The kids enjoyed creating some rock art of their own in the discovery room.
They also had a quick look at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 Exhibition. Sadly it was brief as we had to get back home for afternoon activities.

Afternoons are busy, J coaching karate four afternoons a week, black belt training and competition training every second Friday.
 K has art, looking glass group, karate twice a week as well as competition training, and is assisting in teaching karate too where her busy life allows.
Recently K joined a group of kids planning to put on a Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night, for the annual Shakespeare Festival  at Artscape towards the end of the year.
The Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa (SSF SA) is a non-competitive, supportive and celebratory opportunity for young people to perform half-hour Shakespeare plays in a local professional theatre. It can be life-changing for students; and gives schools a novel way to raise their profile within the community. 
A young home educated girl has taken the initiative to get the group together and is" running" with the project.
Who says home schooled kids miss out !

We have added a touch typing programme to our curriculum and the kids have been having fun practising their skills online, on Dance Mat typing.

Another resource we are enjoying are the online Bible lessons for teens with Youth World. These Bible based lessons are designed to build spiritual maturity and enable young people to be all that God has designed them to be.They are designed with teens in mind,dealing with the real life challenges they face in today's crazy world. It has been great to explore truths of the Word together, and has led to some meaningful discussions.

The younger two have enjoyed two hikes/walks recently, one with hubby and a few other home schooled kids, to Elephants Eye. I stayed home as my knee has been giving me trouble. It also gave me the opportunity to spend some time helping J with preparing for his up and coming English exams.
The other hike took place on Friday with the Nature Club.They met at the east fort on Chapman s Peak and did an easy walk up to some ruins with a stunning view of Hout Bay. 

So six weeks in, we are busy as bees....
  days and weeks seem to run into one another....
I am already looking forward to the holidays at the end of next month!

Monday, February 20, 2012

February's Gifts Week 3

Here are my reasons to smile....

Day 14

(3 ways I feel Gods love)
133) His unfailing concern and care in every area of my life,

134) Knowing He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow
135) The peace He brings... peace that passes all understanding

Day 15
(a gift in losing something, in finding something, in making something)
136) losing track of time....... 
lost in conversation with a new friend,
137) finding ways to be thankful every day...... 
finding blessing in doing just that
138) making the trip to the National Art Museum this morning with my two youngest.....
making memories of fun times learning together.  

Day 16
(3 gifts in shadows....a little difficult for me to think of so I found others)
139) the blessing by a dear friend who treated me and hubby to dinner out on Valentines ,  
140)  a brief lunchtime chat with my cheery sister on the far away farm

141) harvesting a butternut from my veggie garden today!

Day 17
(3 gifts found in giving/serving)

142) their smiles when I bake them delicious, wholesome treats for those in between meal times,
143)  seeing "the light bulbs go on",
 after giving dedicated time to my eldest son's English lessons


144) happy smile of my daughter when I did her dish-washing chore for her this morning.

Day 18
(my own gifts for today)
145) spending a morning with my precious daughter just the two of us... 
catching up
 and doing things she wanted to do,

146) witnessing the love and blessings showered onto a dear friends daughter for her 13th birthday
147) hugs from my teen son and his beautiful smile when he gave me a gift today.

Day 19
(2 gifts that were plan B's...and one of my own)

148) plan B: hubby taking the kids on a hike instead of me...they loved that time with their dad! 
149) Plan A: a curriculum we thought would get our son to grade 12 that was disappointing and distressing....
plan B: a curriculum that is working out just fine! 
150) seeing a lone bird, carefree and sitting quietly in the tree...knowing that is my sign from above that all will be ok 
Matthew 6:25-34
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 
........Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Day 20
(a gift at breakfast, lunch and dinner)

151) chores done without me having to ask,
152) a productive school morning: 
bible time, 
maths, English,
hand crafts and reading all done
153) a beautiful luxury hamper filled with delicious treats of all kinds, donated by an ever generous friend, to help the kiddies raise funds for Walk4Wheels

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I was tagged and got Blog Awards...

What a surprise to be tagged twice and get two blog awards in one week!
 So lets get to the awards first and then the tags....

Thank you Shirley for your nominations!
I always enjoy hearing of your news in far away England!

The original rules to accepting this award are optional as follows:
1) Add a picture of the award to your post
2) Say "Thank You" to the wonderful person who nominated you
3)Share 7 random facts about yourself
4) Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know ( I am glad that this is optional!)

And the rules for this one are:
1) share 7 things about yourself 
2) nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know

And then ....
I was tagged by Wendy and my sweet daughter...
here are the rules:

1) Post these rules.
2) You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3) Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
4) Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5)Go to their blog and tell them they’ve been tagged.

So here are some random facts about me:

1) I love sleep...
I can nap any time and even if it is for 20 minutes, I feel better unless I have had a crazy dream which happens from time to time. Then I wake up feeling more exhausted than before ...
I once dreamed I was swimming across a dam during a nap and I woke up feeling totally exhausted!

2) I love reading...
 but find little time to read what I want to read. We do however always have a book on the go that I am reading aloud to the children, that is besides any other reading we may be doing together. Recently we have read some Shakespeare together, the life story of David Livingstone and we are done with Beatrix Potter and cant wait to begin a book my dear sister sent for us to read. "Wild Honey" is set in the Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe and we have just been learning about Zimbabwe.

3) I love cooking....
I love trying out new recipes and enjoy coming up with something delicious to feed the family, even when there is not much in the grocery cupboard. I usually adapt recipes and add a bit of this or that , never really being strict about following them exactly. It gives me the greatest pleasure when anything from the garden has been added to a meal!

4) I love being outdoors or in the countryside....
I would go away more often if circumstance allowed. I like to stop along the way and really take things in. For me, the journey is just as important as getting there.

5) I enjoy knitting...
I may not be very good at it, but churn out beanies, scarves, snoods and mittens in the cooler months. Yesterday I was asked to knit some jerseys for new born babes at a local clinic. I look forward to that and my neighbour will stitch them up as that is the part I don't enjoy! I cant get around to learning how to crochet , but perhaps I will try again. Sewing is something I wish I had learned to do well.

6) I enjoy a good movie...
I love a good comedy but don't like the action movies or science fiction too much. Oh and don't ask me who played in which movie as I will have no idea! I may not even remember the name of the movie, but so long as I enjoyed it, those details are not important to me.

7) My kids think I am crazy....
At times I do silly things just to get a laugh from them, like the time I was reading one of the little house on the prairie books and I made up that Ma asked the children if they wanted KFC or pizza for dinner!The children could not believe it and roared with laughter... I was really checking to see if they were paying attention.
 But at times I do those silly things just because I am exhausted and my brain feels fried!

8) I love exercise...
I love the feeling of muscles that have worked hard, it is a good sore! I find it gives me a "lift" when life feels too pressurised. I have not been getting enough lately...this time last year I was training 4 to 5 hours a week!

9) I don't enjoy Maths...
Thankfully I don't have to know everything our eldest son needs to know for maths at his level.
 Hubby is mathematically minded and both boys seem that way. Our daughter on the other hand is more like me..we get the basics but are not wired for the rest (and that's ok!)

10) I enjoy arts and crafts...
Making cards with my daughter or learning to mosaic, I love the feeling of having created something. I need to make more time to do those things.

11) Next month hubby and I will have been married for 20 years...
It seems to have gone far too fast.
 We met at the age of 21, married at 24 and had our first 27, second at 29 and third at 32!

Here are the questions set for me by my daughter:

1 Have you ever jumped in the pool with your clothes on?

2 What's the coolest thing in your room?
My Bed..I get to sleep in it!

3 What is you favourite item of clothing?
Not sure I have a favourite, but I do have a favourite pair of comfy jeans.

4 What do you like best about yourself?
The fact that I am not on this journey alone, I have a loving family and some wonderful friends!

5 What do people like about you?
You would need to ask them...

6 Can you talk to strangers easily?
I think so...

7 Are you happy?

8 What do you love?
That was taken care of in the facts above.

9 How did your pets get their names?
I think my daughter chose the dog's name and I am not sure about the cat..

10 Who got you to start a blog?
Mmm, don't really remember but I started so that my mum and sisters (who live far away) could enjoy having a peek into what the kids get up to.

11 Do you read and enjoy my blogs?
Yes, my sweet child, I enjoy your blog

I will bow out gracefully from setting new questions and tagging others but I would love to pass on the
 "You Bless Me" award to all those who read my blog!
Thank you....

Monday, February 13, 2012

February's Gifts ... week 2

Thank you changes it all....
Thank you compels me to keep looking for and finding those 3 or more things daily......
.....even when I don't feel like it.
Thanking Him even when it is sometimes hard.....

Day 7
(3 gifts red)
112) red paper bag, decorated with hearts, filled with beautiful craft goodies for my craft crazy daughter,
113) making beautiful new friends today- they were dressed in red
114) a handful of red tomatoes just ripe for picking in the garden this morning

Day 8
(a gift broken, a gift fixed and a gift thrifted)
115) my bible, the cover has fallen off and it needs fixing, it is the one I have had since a child,
116) a fixed lift arrangement to get our boy to black belt training
 ( meaning we don't have to make the weekly trip out to Camps Bay)
117) plenty of good clothes in my cupboard given to me by my kind cousin and even better...
 my daughter and I share them!

Day 9
(3 gifts that were surprises, unexpected grace)
118) 2 days paid work for hubby,
119) an email notifying me that I will receive 12 bottles of Omo and 12 bottles of Comfort to share with my friends, yippee!
120) an anonymous "blessing transfer" into my bank account that came right on time...

Day 10
(3 times you heard laughter today)
121) daddy and daughter sharing a laugh,
122) laughter as my 3 played a board game together
123) laughter as the neighbourhood gathered to play board games tonight.

Day 11
(3 gifts found in working)
124) the gift of being the SA agent for Hands On Homeschooling ...
it sure helps to pay a couple of things around here!
125) doing admin today that needed to be done - feeling good that it is done until next time....
126) the calmness that washes over me as I work in my veg garden, no matter what.

Day 12
(3 hard eukaristos)
The word comes from the Greek "eukaristos," which means "grateful" and is now usually translated as "thanksgiving." 
127) thankful that He knows when we don't...thankful I did not know what the future held 14 months back,
128) humble thanks for blessings and grace extended in ways too numerous to count over the last 14 months
129)even through hard trials.... thankful for strengthening of relationships with my hubby and the children,

Day 13
(3 gifts found behind a door today....ok just 2 behind a door and then one of my own)
130) the sounds of girls laughing behind my daughters closed bedroom door...sweet friends enjoying each others company,
131) rest behind my door.... closed to the world as I napped while trying to restore my energy as I seem to be fighting something off

132) a beautiful fruit basket given in thanks by a very special lady who was grateful....fruit so beautiful and delicious! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wonderful weekend...

A few weeks back my cousin invited us on a weekend camp...
something we had said we should do together for a long time! 
A date was set and bookings made.

It truly was an eventful weekend and happy and somewhat crazy memories were made....

Having left the sweltering heat of the suburbs and heading south, we welcomed the cool ocean breeze 
the closer we got to our destination....
the harder and stronger the wind blew....
It blew so hard that after almost 2 hours of battling with our tent, we had to give it up and pack it away...
two of the poles were so badly damaged, it was rendered useless!
Our hopes of a relaxing weekend away seemed doomed 

thankfully my cousins tent was just big enough for all 8 of us to squeeze into for the night! 
Happy children and parents unwound round the camp fire as the evening braai was prepared.

Saturday morning brought clear skies and less wind...

a glorious beach day!

Beautiful views across the bay.
Sandcastles and rock climbing.

Hot enough for me 
(yes me who has not been more than knee deep in the ocean in a long time)
to venture in and do some boogy boarding with my delighted daughter!

Icy cold but ever so refreshing!

A lunch time picnic was enjoyed under the shade of a tree
in just the right spot...

until we got some not so welcome visitors who chased us seaward with our picnic,
 packed up in record time!

Once unwelcome guests moved on in search of richer pickings,
 shade and  views were enjoyed from our perfect spot once again!

Girls enjoyed a long walk and talk,
  cousin and I lay catching up in the shade 
guys had to burn off some energy with a game of cricket.

A beautiful heart shaped rock was found 
but accidently left behind.

Thankfully another tent was borrowed from our kind neighbour 
when hubby fetched our eldest later in the day.
So good to have our boy with us again...
 (work and training had kept him away)
A hearty South African braai was enjoyed by all as the sun went down..
 the evening spent playing 30 seconds.

Happy, sunkissed, tired kids fell into their tents for a good nights sleep
only to be greeted by another glorious day ....
windless, calm and hot!
Cooked breakfast was the order of the day...
I could not resist another swim in the ocean before packing up and heading home!

The children were somewhat anxious 
as there was a pesky unwelcome guest who insisted upon raiding the campers..
The day before he managed to open our cooler box and remove something
as well as break a caravan window!
On Sunday morning he saw fit to grab a handbag from an unsuspecting camper as well as anything else he could get his hands on!
So if you are not afraid of baboons...
Millers point is one of the most beautiful places to pitch a tent for the weekend!

February's Gifts

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Day 31 (January)
(a gift found on paper, in a person, in a picture)
91) The story of Beatrix Potter's life that I am reading aloud to my makes us laugh!
92) My daughter's hearty laughter at bedtime
93) A beautiful smiling picture of my Mom that is on my computer
 (I look at it often as she lives in another part of the country and I miss her )

Day 1
a gift found at 11h30 am, at 2.30pm and 6.30pm
94) fresh compost from our heap, put onto the veg beds by my kind husband,
95) a little before 2.30pm but still a gift: a visit from my sisters husband on his whirlwind trip from the farm to C.T.
& at 6.30
96) hubby giving me a helping hand to plant those seedlings that needed planting into the veg beds.

Day 2
(3 things overheard today, all gifts....ok just two and then one of my own!)
97) happy chatter of two friends,
98) encouraging words from father to son
99) a wonderful evening spent with a friend (and learning how to cook Asian food!)

Day 3
(3 gifts found in writing)
100) "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" Job 8:21
101) Beautiful encouraging words from a dear old friend sent to me daily on bbm
102)"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:19

Day 4
(3 gifts found when bent down)
103) warm soft beach sand between my toes,
104) icy, refreshing waves splashing over me as I bent down into the waves
105) a perfectly created shell

Day 5
(1 gift stitched, 1 hammered, 1 woven)

106) a "stitched" image of where we camped this weekend
(I love that function on my camera even though I don't always get it right!)
107) pegs of a borrowed tent, hammered securely into the ground, and thankfully holding up against the strong winds that had wrecked our tent the night before
108) friendships woven into our lives.

Day 6
(3 gifts found outside)
109) an early morning cup of coffee brought to me by daughter as I pottered in the garden,
110)  a wonderful refreshing swim after running around doing errands this afternoon.
111) dinner shared with my family at dusk the garden, laughing happily and then going for a swim together!