My little first grader attends an american education based school here in sunny South Africa. Run very differently to the government schools (thanks goodness) using the Rocket-ship syllabus. I’m not 100% how american schools are run for first graders but here our little ones attend school from 7h45 – 16h00. A very long day for a 6/7 year old, in fact – a longer day than University students. Arriving home with homework too. Every hour is structured learning so there is no ‘waste’ on sports which I strongly feel is a very important part of a childs development. Of course they have daily active ed in a lesson period. Being a new school having only opened in January of 2013, perhaps a little down the line they will introduce sports as we are very much a sports mad nation. 

I began my volunteer canteen duty yesterday with a bunch of excited kids chatting to their friends mom! Going against all the canteen rules of put your hand up if you want to ask or say something when talking to an adult. I love children and enjoy working with them but talking with food in your mouth is a no go zone for me. Spit food flying from open mouths. I eventually said, ‘we can’t talk and eat because it’s bad manners firstly and how about eating everyone’s spit food’ Instant silence followed by a big EEEEWWWWWW and lemon faces. It was amusing to say the least but the thought got the children to willingly practice this particular table manner.

After canteen duty I popped down to the office to assist with a few things the teachers leave there on their parent help list. I was chatting to the schools owner who asked if I survived canteen duty, I said: When I was a teacher to a class of 30 2/3 year olds, we had 30 minutes to get them all through snack and lunch times. Slow eaters and picky eaters is where most your time was spent and that’s fine. Children are just that – children. Can’t say I miss those days though, long hours and disgusting pay. Let’s not mention just how much hard work goes into a class of 30 potty training, tantrum throwing age little people. I still enjoy working with children and still do but now as a qualified swimming instructor, different ball game altogether yet just as rewarding.

I will be back every Monday reporting for canteen duty and Thursdays for class help. I think every parent should be involved in some way or another with their child’s school. To a certain degree though, I know of some mothers who are just busy bodies with their nose in everything. 

To all the hard working moms out there raising families, bringing in an income and still managing a little volunteer time – Kudos to us for we are phenomenal woman.

Have a fantastic day.

 

 

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The Dirty Word – Chores.

I grew up labouring away at my bit when it came to household chores. Having three sisters though made the work load that much lighter. I was never paid so to speak for doing chores, however , if ever we needed or wanted something within reason – we didn’t go without. Movies, ice-skating, drive-in, tuck money and so it goes.

My wonderful young teenager recently dug his heels in when it came to a short list of chores I felt were standard for any teenager all of 14 years old. I contacted a few friends and family who too have a child of the same age to compare what is considered a reasonable list, as well as the reward be it financial or other.

I came up with ten chores a week. TEN. I really didn’t feel that was child labour although my son differs. My list was something along these lines.

  • Clean your own room. Inspection is once a week.
  • Unpack the dishwasher after dinner.
  • Mow the lawn once a week – all of a 15 min job. 
  • Take out the trash when need be.
  • Feed the dogs daily and ensure fresh water mornings.
  • Pick up your own dog poop.
  • During school holidays, to help hang the laundry.
  • Make your own bed weekends.
  • Help dad bath the dogs on sundays.

 

Oh wait – that is all of 9 chores. One would think this to be child labour for that is what my child seems to think. Banging heads about this list has left me with migraines. I believe all children should be raised having to do chores. Heck I did. Chores teach children far more than responsibility and the value of a dime.

Then we had the debated issue of what was considered a satisfactory financial reward. Boy, the kid should join the debate team as he sure threw some at me. Yet again I turn to family and friends and what would you know – we seem to pay our teen a little above the considered ‘average’. My sister suggested I start a monthly spreadsheet for him. On which I write down every cent spent on his luxuries –

  • A new clutch cable for his off road motorbike,
  • weekly petrol to run both his bikes – this is recreational,
  • bike parts when he crashes, lately that’s often
  • constant new clothes and shoes as he seems to think they are best used while working on his bikes.
  • The maintenance of his tarantulas,
  • mobile contract
  • Blah blah etc –  

This list can go on and on but it hit me – My sister hit the nail on the head with her advice. Sometimes when kids see things on paper, the reality hits them a little more and they can digest it properly. I’m not talking a childs living luxuries or expenses. I’m referring to his hobbies. 

There you have it. I sat down with my son and asked him what he felt was acceptable and reasonable to be on his chores list. We negotiated the list so not all was selective. What teen is readily going to volunteer a pick up his dog poop before mowing the lawn? Having his participation gave him a sense of having a voice and choices. He is now responsible for his chores list. As for his rewards, they come in many forms and he is slowly realising this. Thank goodness as being the eldest, he sets the example for his two much younger brothers. 

Keep Calm and Parent on.

So what would you feel is an acceptable list or pocket money amount for a 14 year old teen?

 

 

Santa’s Mischievous Little Helper Or Is That A Manipulating Spy?

 

I love Pinterest. I have been inspired by so much on this little pin-board site in the last year. Over the Christmas period I went the ‘home-make’ gift route for a handful of friends and neighbours. Some, with a dash of humour adding that little sprinkle of ‘me’ to the finishing touches.

It was through Pinterest that I came to know of the Elf On The Shelf ‘new’ Christmas tradition. After a little research on Google I read the pros and cons from various parents and non-parents as to their views regarding the concept of this little Elf that visits your house daily only to report back to Santa evenings. Some parents get a little inventive as to the mischief your little Elf got to over night. I little contradiction since it is the Elf reporting on your childs behaviour through the day and taking any messages back for Santa ala Elf of mouth.

Needless to say, I for one, really liked the idea of the Elf On The Shelf for my two little ones who believe so much in the magic of Christmas. Hubby wasn’t impressed as he felt it was ‘demonic’ to bring such things into our house. Then again my hubby is a little grinch around this time too. But closer to the time, he snaps out of it. Thank-goodness quiet frankly. I joke and make him a packet of Grinch Pills aka red and green jelly beans. Take one a day to keep the grinch at bay 😉   is the note I attach. Boy do I love this man.

Of course Elf On The Shelf hasn’t hit South Africa yet – why would it since its launch in 2008. We get the dvds and books but not the actual elf doll. Thanks to my sister Kerry who has ordered our little Elf from a toy store in the USA. Pretty cool. Our Elf will only be able to join our family for next years Christmas though as he didn’t make the long shipment in time. 

Take a look at this families creative ideas for their Elf, Jingles – http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=related&v=V83q4nZMOXM

Thanks Pinterest – every year I like to add a little something special to our family Christmas traditions.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrated.

 

Siblings – A Bond Like No Other.

It’s the season about many celebrations, joy, giving, sharing and so it goes.
I was browsing through photos as I often do when such seasons come and go. So often, without fail – every photos tells a story, holds a memory and shares a joy. Here, in this photo are my siblings and our hubbies. There are a few children that have since joined our family – growing together as we journey through life. I miss them all so so very much especially on such occasions as Christmas. Love them all to the moon and back. . . And some.

Compliments of the season to all my readers and followers. May the season fill your hearts with warmth, love, laughter and so much happiness that you feel warm and fuzzy inside always.

SunshineMac

Christmas Beetles

Christmas beetle jan 2007

Christmas beetle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time of year where the Christmas season has come around. Never quiet got why the malls feel the need to put up their Christmas decor 3 or 4 months before the time. I always think the last quarter is always rushed. So with that, the lights are up, trees out, music playing and special or sales everywhere.

In South Africa we have a little beetle simply known as the Christmas beetle. A small little brown thing that visits every evening. Should it fly in your hair or onto your shoulder, you suddenly become a ninja pro with yikes and sequels as their tiny little claw on the tip of their legs grips onto you while still buzzing.

But, sure enough – when the Christmas beetle arrives late October, you sure know the season has begun. Whip out the Christmas crafts, cookie cutters and recipes. Blasting music from good ‘ol Bonny M, Maria Carey and Celine Dion. Let the seasons joy inspire memories for the treasure chest.

 

Happy First Birthday To You, My Boy.

 

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The garden, the best playground for a little boy.

 

 

On October the 24th we celebrated our baby boys first birthday. A whole 365 days young. This little man of ours has brought so much love into our home, we are truly blessed to have welcomed him in our lifes journey. He wakes up smiling, laughs so easily at all and sundry, happy after a long adventurous day to cuddle with good night hugs and prayers before he lay in his cot ready to slip into his pleasant dream land.

 

 

 

 

Mr and I were up till the wee hours of the night baking his chocolate cake, we decided on a construction party theme. Not only is his grand-pops a Diesel Mechanic working on machines such as Diggers but it was a boy theme we hadn’t done yet after 14 years of ‘boy party’ planning. It was a fun filled day with water slides, braai and good friends (seeing as of the 14 million people living in Gauteng – not a single one is family !!) Happy Birthday our little man – we love you to the moon and back, always.

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Digger Cake – Icing a fresh chocolate cake was no childs play.

 

Trick Or Treat ?!?

We are not big fans of Halloween and for many years we did not even contemplate the slightest involvement. My hubby felt it was very ‘un-Christian’ of us. My sister however always went all out with her girls, dressed up, made up and all geared for a good night of fun trick or treating with all the other little monsters.

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Moms little vampire monster

A few years back I took the decision to join my sister on their next halloween adventure. We went down to the local commons where all the shop owners spoil the children with treats, the management cater with horror tunnels and decor throughout. Best dressed contests, live music and picnics see the littlest children through a fun filled evening. We then dinned and got our little people back home before the big, scary monsters came out to play. To me there was no harm in a little dress-up and fun. Hubby even joined in with all the other daddies with a little fake scar make-up etc. As I see it – where there is good, there is always a little bad too. Like-wise with bad, there will always be a little good too. Yin-yang. No harm in teaching our children as we can’t bubble wrap them all their lives.

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Such a joy to see all the little one out and about too.

Monsters come in many disguises in the real word, not so. We like going to the commons as it’s a ‘safe’ environment set up for the children where I doubt we will come across sweets laced with drugs of sorts, though I am on guard for those dodgy sick Uncle types who prey on children in such an environment. It leaves me thinking – We teach our children never to take candy from a stranger yet we take them trick or treating. How’s that for a contradiction. Frankly to me, this is the perfect time to teach children exactly that. We frequent these particular shops and often chat to the staff. We ‘know’ them to a certain degree and we tag along sampling the candy now and again – just for good measure. ‘Yip – those ones are safe, mom  is still standing’

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Mom’s Halloween Cake

So that was our halloween 2012, we didn’t go all out with the dress up as we were leaving that same night for our mid-week vacation. My little one was spoilt with plenty treats and silly tricks from his folks, like fake dog poop etc. I was so pleased to see him scoop cups full of candy and share with the children in our street who couldn’t make it to the commons. And that pretty much sums up an adventure that we don’t need to read too much into.