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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I Am Here . . .

Wow, it’s been ages since I last posted. Much to do with my laptop deciding after years of service it was time to pack up, nothing lasts forever after all.

So much to blog about yet I sit here really just catching up on the posts I’ve missed from my readers and followers. Life sure does go on and I love most to see the world and different places through your eyes.

It’s autumn here in Africa – Southern Africa to be exact. I adore autumn, why I never married in autumn I will never know. Such beautiful rich colours, plenty falling, messy yet fun leaves to kick up, sit on, roll in and toss in the air as I play with my little ones. Nothing like a good book as I laze in the gently sun warming up. Our winters in general never really get cold but cold enough for Africa that’s for sure, I always joke with family in the UK how their summer is no better than our winter. However, it did ‘snow’ here last year. Something of a phenomenon really for Johannesburg. I mean – the tiny speckles falling from the sky melted moments after touch down. It didn’t stop me dancing in the snow or the boys jumping on their trampoline in the snow. Happy moments.

So with autumn drawing to a close and winter fast on her heels, I say yet again a good bye to a season come and gone *sigh*.  What is it that once you reach 35 the years seem to fly. I really appreciate every moment of everyday as we should for to be here today – we are blessed to be and share something great.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Friday.

Yesterday while watching CNN and all the depressing news around the world, they ran a snippet on Black Friday.

I was blow away at how psycho people went for a $5 item on sale. To the point CNN reported of previous years where there had been shootings, pepper spray, violence and stampedes. Queues of people camping outside stores the night before for that bargain shopping craze.

My thoughts were: Would you actually sacrifice precious, valuable time with you family on a night such as Thanksgiving to go camp out in queues ?!? Apparently so.

I live in Africa and never in my life have I witnessed such a thing happen in my country. Even when Nelson Mandela was released and we had our first Democratic elections – the talk was of our country going into a civil war. The tin foods were flying off the shelves and immigration offices jam packed with applications.  Nope – still even so, I can’t say I saw the behaviour of  those on Black Friday.

I think the people on telly going absolutely crazy need to see themselves on that box. Maybe, just maybe they will feel a little shameful or embarrasses or disgusted at their lack of civil behaviour. Don’t get me wrong here – there were some shop owners who had set out plans as to how they were to handle the masses. Kudos to those who plan extra cautiously. Letting in small amounts of people at a time.

I packed up laughing at the women who noticed they were being filmed and quickly hid their faces shamefully. Who knows – the media shows what they want you to see and try sway your perception of things. Maybe Black Friday isn’t as hectic as they made out and the bits of footage were of random bad incidences over the years.

Either way, I mention this to a close friend in Prague. She tells me she went to a store last year on Christmas Eve and bought 4 of the remaining 5 trifle puddings knowing full well there were people wanting some too. We got into a debate about it cause I’m the kind of person who would take one under the circumstances. She laughed and voiced her point being – well I needed 4 and I got there first – lucky me. My dear friend emphasised how she would not hesitate to use her inner ninja warrior skills if need be to obtain her goods. Now as a joke on Black Friday I tell her to wear a board warning other shoppers of her black belt & to rather back off.

Hope Black Friday went off smoothly yesterday for all in America and plenty bargains were had.

 

 

I Met A Dying Man.

AIDS Awareness

AIDS Awareness

In July I ventured into a new industry, while out on course, I met and made friends with new faces. One person in particular I found to be so much like me, easy to laugh, talkative, funny and friendly. Needless to say, when we were given a practical we seemed naturally to group together. After the course we stayed in contact and have developed a friendship. Early August she called me up to say she was visiting her father who lived down the road from where I stayed. Quick arrangements and there I stood knocking on her door.

When I went in, I received such a warm welcome from all her family. In the kitchen were a group of young boys washing dishes, drying, packing away, laughing and chatting. After I introduced myself I joked about how I think my eldest son could learn from them as he refuses to was a single dish – ever !!

I then met her father along with all the other family. Her father was frail, weak and very thin. He was just back from yet another stay in the hospital. I asked her what was ‘wrong’ with her father. ‘He has AIDS‘ she replied. I got such a lump in my throat. He didn’t just have AIDS – he was dying.

It’s the second time in my life I have been in the presence of a dying person. When I say dying – I mean literally on their last days. I was familiar with Cancer and lost a handful of friends and family to that. I know AIDS is of huge concern here in Africa but this was only the second time I had met someone this close to the end.

I watched him in the corner of my eye while chatting away with my friend across the room. He was happy, every minute to him was a blessing and he knew it …. he just knew. He watched his grandchildren playing with a gently smile on his face and his thoughts drifting. Times like this you realise just how short, fragile, delicate and precious life really is. How we really do sweat so much of the small stuff. I’ve learnt far too young in my life just how unpredictable and short life can really be. 

I wondered yet again as I often do with regards to my own mother. Is knowing better than not knowing. I know enough to know that when you know you are dying – you seem to live your life differently. Appreciation for all things that surround us, takes on a whole new level.

I said good-bye and shook his hand. I knew in my heart I would probably never see him again. I cried driving home that night. I just wanted a cure. So many broken families, child parents and a nasty rejection stigma attached to people dying of AIDS among some cultures in our country.

My friend called me two weeks back – ‘My father is back in hospital, he is hallucinating’  she said while laughing and telling me about these spirits he claims to be visiting his room’. I listened and shared a reserved laughter with her. After which I said, ‘He is dying, treasure your hospital visits and maybe if you want, record his last conversations with you’ I explained my journey through losing my loved ones and every time this point was reached, within a couple of days – they were gone.

A few days later one mid-afternoon, she called, ‘my dad is gone, he died this morning’ I was so sad for her, for him – to die so young, to be robbed of his life and time with his children & grandchildren. It just isn’t fair.

Our govt claims TB is the number one killer in our country. Personally I say this is a blatant lie. The true stats I’m sure would probably scare one. Most, if not all AIDS sufferers die after contracting the likes of pneumonia or TB. It’s a symptom not the cause. Far too often then the death certificate will say TB being the cause and that is what the statistics will reflect. AIDS is a big taboo in most cultures. One day I will blog about the politics of it but for now – my heart is heavy. A family is mourning, they have lost their rock. I will never forget this man who left me reflecting on life, angry at how unfair it can be yet reflecting on my blessings. RIP, no more pain or suffering.

Janet Jackson wrote this song for her friends who had passed – It’s my song for my sister Debbie who past. Can never listen to it without breaking down. Beautiful words.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QTK-4C0UnI&feature=related

Remember yesterday, Live for today and ALWAYS hope for tomorrow.

xxx

That Hippo Chased Me!

Pod of Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) in Luan...

Pod of Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) in Luangwa Valley, Zambia Français

Ah, with spring in full swing early on in the game, I was thinking back to last year where our spring/summer took so long to make it devout. Hippos were dying due to the lack of rain and I remember ever so clearly being upset about this. Hippo is in the top three of my all time favourite wild animals.  October we usually see fantastic rains, most welcomed as they wash away all the dust, dirt and old oil on the roads away. But not last year – November saw our first rains. Sad as our wildlife really battled. This year, we have seen it all way early – now, September. Whoohoo  (as she danced in the rain)

As a teen enjoying the lush beauty of a game reserve in Bela Bela, I stumbled upon a mommy Hippo nibbling on the river bed. It’s not often Hippos will come out in full view to nibble but the summers air was cool enough. About 50m from the Hippo was the swimming pool which I had come down to enjoy.

Here’s where my blonde moment #101 comes in. I’m born and bred African. I know the dangers of the wildlife so why did I think walking over to the Hippo to ‘pat’ it was an ever slight possibility ?!?

For some reason I thought – well, if it’s over this side of the river and so close to the pool, it must be ‘tame’.  Hanging around the pool too where a gang of rangers. Watching me. Looking back at them, they knew what stupidity was about to happen.

I nudged a little closer, slowly . . .  until . . . .

HELP – RUN FOR YOUR LIFE !!!

I was being chased by the Hippo. Where, what, when – the pool. I ran and dived into the pool then swam straight to the deep end faster than any olympic swimmer I bet.

Now what! Oh heck, Hippos live in water. She was lingering around the shallow end of the pool. I’m guessing no slope in or out held her back. Those wildlife rangers were laughing so hard, I bet they had sore stomachs the next day.

I felt like such a fool, stupid and embarrassed. There it was – her baby. We all know, you never approach a wild animal let alone one with young.

I laugh easily at myself as is, so no point not to join in the laughter with the game rangers.

Why? I asked them for sitting back in the know of what was about to unfold! Their response was ‘we couldn’t resist’ They knew this Hippo well apparently. Still to this day, I laugh at that video stuck in my memory.

Love Africa.

Living In No Mans Land.

Currently we are in the early stages of our immigration process. It is not a quick simple fill out a form, submit and dash kinda process. It is however a lengthy and expensive one to say the least.

I love life in Africa, it runs in my blood and leaving I know was not an easy decision taken lightly. My life is here, my history, my family. So why then, is probably what you are thinking.

For many personal reasons but first and foremost, my sons. My husbands immediate family left some 7 or so years ago. The crime states were released this morning and I won’t deny, even though there is an apparent decrease, we have great concern for the level of violent crime in our country, House robbery, murder and rape were particularly worrying for hubby and I. Most house robberies include murder and rape so the link is pretty obvious as to these particular three being highest on the list.

Such figures are not a shock anymore. Sadly, it’s become the norm is a sordid way. Not a single family, including my own, have not been victims or affected by violent crime in our lives.

I’m not saying the grass is greener on the other side, but my in-laws have assured us it is far safer. My sons will have an equal opportunity in the work force too. Half my family have immigrated already too. Going over the pond, I too will have some family which is a huge deal when relocating your entire life as you know it. My husband has a really good bond with his father whom he hasn’t seen in 9 years. We since have 2 more sons ‘gramps’ has never met. Family is important. My father in law knows time is a given in life. Almost a decade lost already.  He prayers and dreams of the day he will finally be able to see his son, my hubby – in the flesh. I’m very sure it will be a very emotional day indeed.

So with all this being the process, our lives are on hold. I feel like we are living in no mans land. Until we know the outcome of our applications, we can’t move forward. Buying a house is on hold, a new car to accommodate our little big family is on hold, schools, retirement blah blah blah. We have our own home based business too, so do we continue to grow it or hold back for now. Like I said – pfft. I have continued with my swimming instructors course which is almost complete as I hope to go into that field in our possible new country.

My mother who immigrated with my brother to the UK has advised me that it will be very hard at first but to stick it out for the first 2 years as home sickness will kick in, along with many other ways of life missed. But to be open to change and acceptance of a new way of living and culture. My mom is terminal and I really miss her so so much. Skype sure is a blessing but never quiet the same.

With all that said, we continue our lifes journey, whatever may be. As I always say to my hubby – As long as you hold my hand, no matter where life takes us, we will be okay.

Growing Curves

 

Over the last months dew to plenty stress, bad eating habits and an occassional dose of depression, my butt decided it was time to let me know she existed and was growing on me fast. I took a long hard look in the mirror where honesty was the name of the game and there was no kidding myself.

Somehow, regardless of how many years rise to meet us – we tend to always presume ourselves to still be that 20 something year old with that same shape that was effortless to maintain, if at all.

There it was, the truth. Without hesitation I called my mom followed by my sister. The lies we want to hear are all there, laid on thick to appease who really ?!?
Then the big excuse – It’s your thyroid !! Okay, maybe. Off to the doc, blood tests and a few days wait. What do you mean my thyroid is fine ???

Thoughts going through my head – eat less, exercise more. And for crying out loud woman – DRINK WATER. I know deep down my cooking habits changes to accommodate the growing boys with very healthy appetites. Pasta, rice, potato, bread. Not that eating any of this is bad but big portions of the same thing …

I grew up in a house where fresh green salads and grilled chicken breasts or steaks with a helping of beetroot or such was a way of life. Reality check – living in the city is horrid. A simple thing like jogging on your own is not a safe or smart thing to do. After a trip to my dentist where we got chatting about womans health, she recommended a dietician in the same building. I had my appointment the next day. How raw can one be because who would you be lying to but yourself when it came to answering some of her questions. As I answered and heard my own words, I knew exactly where my problem areas were. I was taken back a little when seeing portion sizes too even though the rule of thumb was the palm of your hand. Well then – dinner will be served on a side plate for me. Just to help with the psychological aspect of it.

I’m loving my new eating plan, which I might add is taking some getting use to from a habit point of view. Hubby too has joined me which makes adjusting that much easier. Back to summer foods which I love – grilled steaks and fresh fusion salads, plenty BBQ‘s and activities in the lush sunshine. Ah, just love Africa.

I often joke with my friends when going out for a morning jog escorted by hubby. ‘I will wait till traffic dies down so I don’t get hooted at for a laugh as my butt is smacking me around ;)’

I’m having fun meeting new faces at Zumba and Pilates classes, especially choosing the back row – it’s a whole other picture.

Here’s to all the moms, wives and women out there, celebrating life in our 30’s and the ever changing curves we encounter as the double digits change. Having fun, living life and aging gracefully. As I said to Tumelo when wanting that last cupcake – life is too short, but even shorter if you’re fat.