Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pretoria has her best purple dress on

Every year I share a few photos of our city in her most famous Jacaranda attire. This year, I am sharing only one:

Monday, 29 October 2012


 You are in Big five country, only you and your beloved alone. All that separates you from the animals out there is a structure(boma) made of split poles and electric fencing that generally houses new animals brought into the reserve for quarantine purposes . A small corrugated iron roof provides very basic protection from the elements.

Imagine....Sitting in a bird hide way after most tourists are gone, watching night fall and seeing nature playing out the dusk routine. Seeing a lone black rhino coming to the dam for a drink right beside a crocodile. Seeing little weavers calling their mates to the nest and kingfishers catching their dinner. Hearing the sound of the hippos calling their mates.

Imagine... sitting outside the boma next to your beloved, staring at the sky with the stars so close you can almost touch them. Seeing the sky turn from light blue to dark in the west and the lightening flashing over the hilltops in the east. Hearing the far off thunder dispersed with only the sound of crickets and a far off lion calling. Marveling at how small we are in this big universe. A spiritual journey in nature.

Imagine... eating a basic dinner together under the stars, falling asleep holding hands and listening to Gods wonderful creation around you. Waking up around ten to the sound of huge elephant bull in musk, literally pushing over trees and yanking off branches. So close that you can hear his tummy grumble. A bit of fear mixed with a whole lot of wonder.

Imagine... waking up when the alarm on your phone goes off at 2 am to the wonder of the stars and the silence, quickly breaking up your basic little camp and heading off to do your practical bit for the plight of our rhinos.

Just imagine ...and know that this was our reality - our very special date last Friday. I will always cherish times like these with Hunter, experiencing nature and God's creation on a level that very few have the opportunity to do. To know that we made a difference that night towards the protection of those that need it most.
The future - white rhino cow and suckling calf

It's for that spectacular horn that he might die - just see the comparison below with the horn size of his friend.

 PS. Every day "ordinary" people like us contribute to the plight of the rhinos, some of us in a practical way. This is not the first time that I went with Hunter to do this, but it's the first time I could find some words to describe the wonder of the experience to share it with you. If you want to contribute financially, please support "stoprhinopoaching.com" . Hunter belongs to an orginization that are part of patrols like these which are done under the protection and to the assistance of the anti poaching units in our National and Provincial Parks. Feel free to drop me an email if you want to know more. If you want an experience similar to this they do offer guided wildness trails in big five country ( only persons older than 16)

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Secret santa list

 I participated in the Bloggers Secret Santa last year and totally loved the gift I got. Stiletto mom is running it this year and I have signed up. So herewith my little list for whoever will be my good Santa:

  • First of all, my current addiction - Washi tape or bakers twine -any will be great - refer to Paper peony for a great choice . I will specifically be very delighted with WT/B58, WT/B37, WT/B33 or WT/B12. For a bit more WT/B16, WT/B23, WT/B22, WT/B36  or WT/B28 will be absolutely fabulous.And any bakers twine. With or without postage you should just hit the mark.
  • Anything you made by hand for me - I love hand made stuff
  • Crochet flowers on a broach or hairband or the just flowers - love those.
  • Funky broaches, earrings, necklaces or beads - I especially love the crochet flower ones. But not bangles. I can not really wear them - sensory issues and all.
  • Bath stuff , body butter of cream- totally love anything that smells great - especially Beauty Factory or Sorbet will hit the spot any time.
  • Sally Williams nougat - the plain with almonds or the plain coated in chocolate. I am seriously addicted to it. 
  • Colourful flip flops - those with flowers or whatever on - Pick n Pay have heaps. I wear a size 7
So are you participating yet? Have your list up yet?

Friday, 26 October 2012

The little boy that could

The Princess somewhere in between 4 and 5 learned to write her name. Very much the usual run of things. Mr C is a very visually orientated little man and he has the great plus of having a big sister to copy and learn from - hence somewhere before his 5th birthday he was writing down the whole family's names - faultlessly. Mr L often asks to write his name, but just scratches a bundle of stripes and circle. Nothing that makes sense. Another reason to worry about him. But I was pretty sure that he at least knows what his name looks like and can identify it, and maybe even more.

We have a whole lot of alphabet letters on our fridge - A use them to learn her spelling, every now and again names get "written" by C. L was casually just playing around with them when two Saturdays ago. I casually asked him to "write his name". Which to me and Hunter's joy he did, immediately and faultlessly. He also on request attempted his brothers (got the first 4 letters correct) and mine (the first 3 correct). I knew he could!
More and more so, almost every day, I get the feeling that he knows and learns so much more than we take note of. That the barriers of communicating what he knows leads to us underestimating his potential. I hope that with the help of his OT and teachers we can unlock all that hidden potential. Develop more ways to get him to show us what he can in fact do.

I know that Hunter and I will do our very best to fight for him, to develop him to his best. As we will do for all 3 our kids.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

It's ballet mom again.

Twice a year I take on another role - that of ballet mom. Once a year with the annual concert and the other at exam time. This year, as Murphy would have it, the exam was slap bang at exactly the same time as the mall I showed you yesterday was about to open. But my kind staff covered for me so that I could be there for the Princess' big morning. Taking into account that she was so sick yesterday morning that I had her at the doctor (UTI but she was nauseous and very sick) she looked stellar this morning. Apparently it went well according to the girls, and all they actually talked about was the examiner's  "funny" (British) accent.

The ballet takes a lot of hard work and dedication from the girls (and the parents) but mostly from their very brilliant teachers.

By popular request, the mall today. Yes, functioning but not 100% there. Miracles do happen

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Shot nerves!

Today it looks like this - tomorrow it has to be a functioning mall. So please pardon me while I have a little nervous breakdown.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

What's happening

Well, quite a lot actually. Silly season is in full swing and I have realized this weekend that up untill the end of the school year we do not have a single Saturday where nothing is already planned. I also know that next year with 3 kids in 3 grades things are going to be even worse because up until now the boys have generally had most of their activities and parties together - now it will be no more.But alas, I am sure we will also get used to that. But in summation - here's what's happening:

  • The Princess had one of her art works chosen for the school's yearly art exhibition. We are very proud of all she has done and achieved this year.
  • She has a very busy week this week with her grade 1 RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) ballet exam on Thursday morning and unprepared drama Eisteddfod on Friday afternoon.
  • The boys have photo day today - dressed as per usual but in shirts they chose last night (Spiderman for both). We roll like that for school photos - not anything different than the usual school day clothes.
  • The boys will both have special days to visit their new schools in November. I know in what class C is and I think the teacher is a very good match for him. Still waiting to find out where L will be.
  • I have nothing planned yet for Christmas, we are re thinking our holiday plans and I have not booked a photo shoot this year. Very disorganized but for once it is not stressing me much. Work is so hectic this year that I am quite ok to go with the flow.
  • We had a lovely weekend - a visit to granny and watching the rugby together (The Princess and my Blue bulls is out of the final but Hunter and the Boys's Western Province is in - we girls will thus support Province on Saturday too).
  • The Princess has a wonderful adventure party again (her 3rd visit to the same venue this year) with another planned this Saturday . I love it that the kids enjoy the down to earth goodness of adventure courses, getting dirty and braaing their own sausages over things like pamper parties. The time for that will come, but for now I love this idea.
  • Hunter and I had a most special "date" on Friday night - it was truly fantastic. But more about that in a separate post. Here's a teaser though.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The long weekend long ago

Almost a month has came and went since we had our lovely long weekend break in the bush. Imagine this - the beauty and quietness of the bushveld, a great camp with cycling space a plenty, 7 friends and 10 kids (3 extra the last night when Hunter joined us from his weekend in the bush plus two other friends). What was great wa that we just relaxed and that parentling duties were spread over for the bigger kids(including all 3 mine). You fed all the kids around you, we mass managed them dishing out juice to all that want and needed. It worked like a charm. But let's rather tell the rest of the story in pictures.
Unexpected little vignettes
A ninth birthday fruit feast party
With a water balloon fight after
Bushveld sunsets

Big old trees waiting for Spring leaves and the first rains, which fell on the Friday night we arrived.

Some Krone Borealis
And even more bushveld sunsets.
Campfires at night

 But it will be best remembered as the weekend when the boys really got into their bikes. Between the nicely even paved walkways and the big gravel road they really got enough of a chance to find the joy in biking. I think Mr L possibly spent 60% of the wekend on his.

The two big girls even opened their own "biking school" for the weekend and showed the younger ones the ropes. We took the Princess' small bike as she is was not really comfortable on the new big one and they had heaps of fun

 It was really just the best weekend and we all enjoyed it so much.

The lovely camp.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

So the school thing.

As many of you may remember the school requested to evaluate Mr L at the school for submission next year in grade R. I was extremely stressed about this but the evaluation day went very well. It seems like my dream of all 3 kids in the same main stream school will come true. The school came back with an acceptance to grade R but with a proposal for us. They propose that we start him in grade RR to gain confidence in being the one that knows most in the class and to give him the chance to lay the foundation a bit better. He will then be moved to grade R when they feel he is ready for it. Hunter and I discussed it and really for him it was an easy decision to take them up on the offer. I feel very happy that the school and the headmaster and headmistress from the pre primary took the time to look at him and make an unique plan for him. Happy that they looked at him as an individual. Our OT agrees it is a good plan providing that they do not keep him in grade RR for long as she feels he might get bored. His current teacher feels the same

 However it almost implies that he will eventually go to grade 1 a year later than he is suppose to. Taking into account that he is a boy and a late baby for his year it is not the worst of it. The fact that he has apart from the SID/SPD issues also a physical disability with his eye and that the third that is blind most certainly will interfere with the crossing of the median and reading it seems a good decision never the less. They also proposed to evaluate Mr C at the end of next year to establish if he will be ready for grade 1 in his age appropriate year as often boys late in the year are not. At this stage his current teacher mentioned that she doubt he will not be ready.

So it seems as if our twins will not be in the same grade. I know that if Mr L was not part of a set of twins this would have been way less of an issue to me. I may not even have thought twice about it. But is makes me very sad. It breaks my heart to feel that he got the short end of the draw int he twin set. The kids watched the Princess' grade R graduation and concert the night before last and my only thought was that next year this time Mr C will be there - and Mr L not. Will he blame us some day? Will he be teased as he has been before because he wears glasses? Now he will wear glasses and have to do sport with the grade older than him. I guess we will have to cross those bridges when we come to it. And deal with it in a way that will keep his self image as high as possible.What this will do is force us to see them as the individuals they are - which have in any event been our mindset all along.

I have prayed a lot about this and I know that I have to push aside what I feel and concentrate on doing what will be best for him.I want to be excited for him, see him bloom the way the other two do. It may be a year later than his brother, but bloom he will. In a main stream school that we love, just one year later.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Yes, I am addicted.

To washi tape, that is. When I got my first few rolls form Marcia, I was interested, but the bug did not really bite until I discovered Paper Peony, where I could order in South Africa and had it delivered the very next day or the day after. So after my first bunch of rolls, I really got going and have subsequently ordered a second batch and some butchers twine as well. BTW I can totally recommend Cathy at Paper Peony -excellent friendly service.

I have used it for so many things - just wrapping presents in plain brown paper bags with washi tape makes them special. We have decorated countelss little plain note books for birthday "cards" I have even stuck two tapes of equal sides back to back for a simple book mark. But let me show you some of the crafts we have done:

For the arts weeks at school the kids had to make a drum out of a coffee tin and then were taught basic drumming on it. We decorated the Princess' with washi tape. It was quick and easy and looked really great.

 I also made a little holder for my spare change in the office that I keep if I need a bit of cash for a snack or so. Below the before and after.

For the same arts week at school the kids had to decorate cupcakes in class. We made these small flags with washi tape on tooth pics for her cupcake.

Even the Princess' first formal school project got the washi tape treatment by her. Not sure if that gave to edge but she got a merit for one of the best projects in the class and it was on the class wall for a while.

I love to give the teachers a small acknowledgement at the end of each term with something a bit bigger at the end of the year. We always make something for them and at the end of last term I made little gift tags for them to use. I packaged them in small cellophane bags in a group of 15.

The one I loved most of all though, is the bookmarks I made for the girls of the bookclub. I bought rough printed ribbon at the florist and then finished the edges with washi tape.

So have you done any exiting washi tape crafts? BTW  my favorite roll of tape is the little birds on a wire one ( used on the gift tages).

Monday, 15 October 2012

Weekend stuff

So how's your weekend been? Ours was full, but good, although at first I did not think so this morning and last nigh, thinking back actually makes me realize it was a good one.

  • Friday night saw me and the hubby out to dinner on our own at our old favorite Tutti Pasta. The food was great - truly the pesto linguine is to dream of. We had such a great evening, talking, having good wine, eating nice food. Lovely stuff
  • Saturday was mostly filled with H doing chores for the house and me minding the kidlets. The Princess had a friend over and they played so nicely together but the weather being rainy caused a few tiffs between the girls and particularly Mr C. 
  • I also baked the kids pancakes (crepes to the US girls) - first time ever I struggled with my dough and the kept breaking. After wasting half the batch of dough I realized what was wrong and at least everybody had a tummy full of pancake yummyness.
  • I went for coffee in the late afternoon with my friend/cousin A - we just sat at a street cafe, chatted and watched the people and cars go by. And had very delicious lemon meringue pie.
  • Saturday night was spent quietly at home watching the rugby. The boys fell asleep in our arms - L in mine and C in Hunter's - it was so special. Does not happen much any more.
  • After church on Sunday we went to visit Hunter's step gran and his uncle that she is visiting with. Family I have not met yet. It was a delightful afternoon with a great very traditional Sunday lunch. The kids got to meet and play with a "new" cousin that's just 2 years older than the Princess.
  • I was dog tired last night and slept like a log.
  • The silkworms are huge and eating us out of our house and mulberry tree. I was so happy to discover a few spinning yesterday morning.
  • Over the weekend I did manage to finish "Me and my sisters" by Sinead Moriarty. A good read - well worth the effort. I really enjoyed it. I have a whole post in my head about discipline and tired moms but am wondering if any of you apart from Marcia have read the book or am planning to?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Bandanas galore

Today is national bandana day in support of the Sunflower fund. The kid's pre school always ask them to wear them and does a bit of an educational. We had a bit of fun last night and this morning with the bandanas.

I love that the theme is "Hope" - my word for the year

 So are you wearing yours? If not, I am sure Pick n Pay still has some for sale right now! At R20 a great cause to support.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The things kids say and do

Mine has me in stitches laughing every now and again, just as they have me close to tears once in a while. But the laughs and the precious moments are always way more than the tears, especially these days being well out of the throws of the toddler years and straight into pre school and school years.

Last night as I put Mr C to bed he asked me what my favorite colour is (periwinkle if you did not know), so I just said blue as I was tired and wanted to get bedtime out of the way. Then he proceeded to tell me that his favorite colour is green (which I know), and then went on to say, but not light green, because it's not really my colour and not dark green because it is too close to black. Medium green is just perfect. This kid is one for details, that's for sure. He is also a very keen observer - not only does he pick up on peoples little gestures and quirks, but also on patterns etc. Standing int he dining room the other day he pointed to the floor tiles and said - Mommy do you see 4 diamonds make one big diamond?

Mr L is not the most verbal of children - and I often think we miss a lot of what he knows because his verbal abilities are behind age. Therefore he often surprises me with little bits and pieces, if I really listen up. On Friday I stopped at the petrol station - the windows were all open as it was hot, but a cool breeze was blowing and I had the climate control off. He promptly informed the petrol attendant the following (in English even!): " Fill up unleaded, auto stop is fine. Tires 2,2 bars all round" Never mind that the petrol part is for my car which we were in at the moment and the tyre specs are for the bakkie. The petrol attendant just said "Yes Captain" and looked at me to confirm with a huge smile.

The Princess is big on praying - she has always been. She has that almost standard list of thank yous and requests that most children have - food, clothes, their family and home, sick and hungry people etc. What I do love however is that she is very specific about adding things to that list. For instance, anybody sick that she knows off will be prayed for, a friend that struggles at school will be prayed for. As will be anything close to her heart at that moment. Hunter was away in the bush the weekend and told us on Sunday afternoon that they were blessed to see a huge amount of rhinos. Hence, on Sunday night she dedicated a very detailed prayer for the saving of the rhinos, the environment in general and our parks and wild animals. Later Hunter remarked that yes, we all try to work to save our rhinos, we collect funds, we as a family even contribute in a practical way (more about that at a later stage) but we have not made it a matter of prayer. Once again, God has shown us through a child how to pray. Simple, to the point about anything that matters to us. So we will continue to pray for the rhinos, and many more.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

On schools, and such.

So the Princess (and the boys next year) goes to what used to be referred to as a Model C school - these days apparently our school and some others are what is referred to as governing body driven schools. What this means is that the government syllabus is followed, and added to by the school. For instance, we have chess as a subject from grade R to grade 3, full computer education right through and a real teacher child ratio of not more than 25 kids in a class (by real it is the number of kids at any time in front of a teacher and not the total number of kids divided by the total number of teachers). In reality it boils down to about 22 kids in any grade 1 class. The fees are way more than the usual government schools as half the teachers are funded by the parents and paid through the governing body. But it is also about half of private school fees, depending on the school. It is a good median.

Once a year the education department assess the schools to ensure that the standards are up to scratch - if I am correct they choose 2 subjects per year to evaluate. This year the Princess' school was evaluated for Afrikaans first language and Maths. She got 100% for both on the government evaluation. Although her school report card is great, it is nowhere near to 100%, even for those two subjects. But that's not the point. The point is that the school average for the grade is 88%. 88% people! Way above what average should be and I refuse to think that in a grade of 90 grade 1 kids they are mostly above the average child. Sadly, we are not given the Education department average and that's the part that scares me. What would the average be for your standard child in your standard government school? What should these averages reflect? I would guess average should be about 60% or what do you think? In other words, what I am saying, is that the standard applied by the education department is so low, it is a disgrace. And that I am totally thankful we have the option of being able to have our kids in a school that has an average of 88%.

Anybody else had these evaluations back for their kids and what has your school's average? We all know that the standards are being dropped all the time but is it really this bad?

BTW I had some mails and tweets following on my last post about the colouring in table cloths and possibly selling them. I want to get an idea if this is a marketable option. Would anyone be interested in buying something like that, themed for  your child's party, or just one as a gift, or treat - maybe as a stocking filler? They will sell for about R50 each and covers about 1 and a half of those plastic kiddy tables.

Monday, 8 October 2012

There's no place like space for a great party.

Imagine having twin boys with very different passions and having to organize a party that both of them will love? Up to this year I think anything would have been fine for them and they did love their Lion and Crocodile party last year, but by 5 they very much have their own opinions and I wanted a theme that would thrill both of them. Mr C is at the moment totally obsessed with space - he knows all the planets, how many moons and rings they have and all sorts of facts that I do not even know at all.Mr L is still obsessed with everything with engines be it with wheels, wings or whatever. His ideal party would have possibly been excavators etc, but the promise of many rocket ship items the week that space was the theme for the week at school did it. And a space party was born.

We had the party at their pre-school - a brilliant idea. You can rent the school for a Saturday for a fee - it is cheaper than a party venue, has all that you need in terms of playground, tables and chairs etc and theirs even have a braai area as it is connected to a church. The school gets extra money for maintenance of equipment etc and you get a great party venue where the kids totally feel at home.

On to the decor/theme stuff:
The party packs were plain silver paper bags with each child's name on their rocket ship. Inside were some stickers, and "alien" to grow and bangles and rings for the girls and a slinky for the boys.

Silver paper plates and cellophane bags to take left over sweeties home in the party packs
A few balloons with silver stars on and CD/dvd's with silver pipe cleaners hung on the gazebo edge.

Mr C's Uranus cake. I swear I am the first mom in history to make a Uranus cake (yes, I did Google and found one bakery one). I was so stressed that he would not like it but he counted the moons, confirmed that 9 was indeed correct and gave his blessing. He loved it! (Chocolate oil cake with butter frosting)
Mr L's rocket ship cake. My, was that boy crazy about his cake! He totally loved it. (Vanilla hot milk sponge cake with butter cream frosting.)
I made some of my now (almost) famous colouring in table cloths for the tables. But due to the sunny weather not much colouring happened.
 For the first time ever I did a sweetie buffet in stead of sweets pre packed in party packs. The little aluminium containers on the left had names on and was used to dish sweeties in. Every sweet type was named something to do with space like "Space cadet vitamins" and "Alien faces". What was left at the end of the day was taken home (plus some just because). Amazingly the kids ate very little sweets, chose only what they liked so the waste was minimal and I totally loved that so many parents had some sweets and took party packs home for themselves.

Below you can see why a pre-school is the perfect party venue - lots of equipment, dressing up, sandboxes and yes, the ever popular jumping castle.

The kids just played and played until we gave them all a nice Boerewors roll to eat (Prego steaks for the parents.).

We then let them loose on the sweetie buffet. The only item that was totally finished by the end of the party was the sherbet. A total hit with all!

 Then we went on to make each kid's own little bit of space by making little mini space globes (snow globes). I used little plastic containers bought at the packaging shop, beads for planets, big stars and smaller stars and glitter for the final stardust touch. I then added water and sealed the lids with bostik. Most kids loved it, even the smaller ones.

 After a lot more playing and chatting we all dispersed just in time for us to tidy up and be back home just as the Springboks took the Aussies on.

I loved that the party had a relaxed atmosphere, I loved that it was relatively low intensity - I made everything before hand - to set it up took us about and hour, to tidy up less. Above all I loved that the boys declared it the very best party ever.

(BTW - I did not take many pictures - thanks to teacher Wendy for the ones marked "Captured by Cat" and Marcia for the rest - you two did a great job.)

Friday, 5 October 2012

That's life I guess...

The last few weeks have been hectic - work is incredibly busy which means it spills into my home time. There was the party in between and a glorious weekend with friends, all good and well. But yes, being so busy and stressed really tends to cause your little balancing act to tilt here and there, preventing you from getting to everything you may want to do. Adding to that I was woman down yesterday with a tummy bug - the third one on the project for this week so it is definitely doing the rounds. Thus, some bullets, just to catch up a bit.
  • The boys have not opened all their birthday present as yet. We seem to be averaging one or two presents a day only. They open one, and then keep busy with it for long. Actually, I think it's great.But tonight it's over - everything open and done.
  • They love all the wonderful books they got, puzzles, space man swimming hoodies, new duvet covers and their very own special Lion and Bear mugs , but somehow the hit of the year was so simple - a caddy with pencils, kokis, scissors etc to work in their books. It is also the one present the Princess very much wants too - not that she doesn't have all these, but the caddy is super funky. When asked about presents for them this year, I simply said, "anything but toys apart from Lego which is always welcome". It worked remarkably well - they are in book heaven - and me too.
  • I have not done a single thank you yet, but this weekend it is thank you note time.
  • I was really so sick yesterday that I did not even blog, read blogposts or anything. I slept, and read a bit of "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo - he has be entranced. ( I have also read "The Leopard" but you should read "The snowman" before you read "The Leopard".
  • I finished "Me before you" by Jojo Moyes on Monday. It is one of the most beautiful sensitive books I have ever read. I cried buckets, I laughed often. Do give it a read or get it for your bookclub. In our bookclub we refer to it as "The book of the cycle" There is always one that stands out and that every single member reads - last year it was " The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. If you have not read it yet, do so!
  • I am so missing my Princess! She has spent Monday, Tuesday and last night at my mom's. They are having much much fun but I think it was one night too much - I miss her and she sounded a bit teary last night. 
  • One of the street chickens has made a little nest with 8 eggs in our driveway. We are feeding her there but I am not sure what we are going to do when the little chicks come out. We have our dogs and two others to contend with. but I am sure hubby will make some plan.
  • I am planning to have a quiet weekend - yes, I want to do some de cluttering, but I need to rest so not much of a weekend goals list today.
And with that, I am off to try and catch up on some work. Enjoy your weekend! Any plans?