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.

 

 

Is There A Prankster In The House!

Without fail every morning my hubby brings me a cup of coffee in bed. Married 14 years has it’s perks. Now and again my mischievous teen offers to make a cuppa. On Saturday was such a ‘now and again’. 

‘Mom, did you drink your coffee? All of it’ he asked later in the day. Now the fact that he was so curious and had a smirk of sorts on his face, got me thinking something is up.

‘Nope’ I answered, ‘It got cold before I had the time to take a sip’.  He walked off to the kitchen where I heard him telling his father of his disappointment that ‘it didn’t work, mom never drank the coffee’ Plenty laughter happening in the kitchen. I went through to investigate.

Yip, that would be me who almost got pranked with a cup of coffee containing laxatives. I felt rather chuffed with myself that I was spared the loo for the day.

I am the ONLY female in the house – with four boys, Mr being a right real Peter Pan, I can either sulk and cry or wise up on the games. I chose to wise up and play them at their own games. As the saying goes, When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That sums it up.

Watch your back boys, mom is the chef in this house. 

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?

 

 

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.

Our Baby, The Great Explorer.

Time sure flys ever so fast in the first year of a baby’s developments and reaching milestones. I’m still so much in awe at this little blessing roaming our home, leaving little footprints behind as I mop the kitchen floor everyday. My baby is less than a month away from that awesome #1. He is such a joy, always smiling and laughs ever so easily. As my hubby says while holding him, ‘God sure knew what he was doing when he blessed us with you’

We spoke of the possibility of hubby going over the pond alone for the first three months. Mainly as I would like the time with my sister in Knysna, our bond is a unique, special and strong one. Hubby was quick to tell me ‘NO WAY, I can’t be away from this little guy and big boys’ As a typical woman I replied with a fake pout, ‘Oh, and me ;)’ – ‘Of course you too’ he said with a comforting loving smile.

Personally, I love my hubby but I sure could do with some time in an all girl house, being all girly, doing all the things my sister and I use to do together when we lived in the same province. Home pamper parties, enjoying the whine with the wine, the laughter with the history, the musicals and cheesy dance moves with so much more.

Sigh, I have a silly, wonderland smile on my face thinking of those precious times.

Back to my littlest of sons – this age is the great explorer age. Everything goes into the mouth these days too and by everything – I seriously mean EVERYTHING. Our house has been childproofed except the pots and pans draw and the Tupperware cupboard, for these are the best ‘toys‘ any inquisitive little mind requires to satisfy more than any noisy, bright and colourful toy in the toy box has to offer. Oh and a cardboard box – the best thing since sliced bread for a boy toy. Below is the link for his recent munching down on the tyre of our car while out visiting friends. Nothing poisonous or detrimental to the health of an exploring baby. Keep in mind – he will do it once, know it’s yukky with the lesson learnt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_dGQwEcbDU&feature=plcp

Have a fantastic weekend 🙂

My Mom, I Pray.

I’m not sure if knowing when a loved one is going to die sooner than presumed is a blessing or a curse. We seem to have this presumption that we will all live to grow old and die peacefully in our sleep.  It’s a given that your parents will reach their golden years, enjoy their grand children and even possibly treasured years with great grandchildren.  So when I learnt that it is my mom that will not reach these years and see my children grow up long enough to finish their school years and maybe, just maybe even marry – this news to me felt like someone stuck their hand in my chest and ripped out my heart. I can’t imagine my life without my mom. My mother has been so much more than a mom in being a single parent. It’s far more reaching knowing what I know especially since my mom is also the last remaining adult left in my life. All these amazing family members that I grew up with, who guided me and moulded me – have since died. How so in the last ten years. It’s so surreal to me. My aunties, my uncles, my grandparents, my great gran, they are all gone.

Now, in time – my mom. To make this even harder, she immigrated. Her health deteriorated to the point one of us had to look after her. That someone is my little brother. We have such a tight bond and skype as often as possible. It’s not the same but it’s comforting and better than nothing. Video skype enables my mom to see her grandchildren and maintain the bond she has with them. I still can’t wait for her to be able to travel and come home and meet her newest grandson. I get angry at times that she is in the northern hemisphere while we are down here in SA. I know she is better off and needs to be where she is but it leaves me feeling so robbed of time, very precious time and events. I haven’t seen her now for 2 years, I always think in the back of my head – Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Birthdays etc . . .  is this the last! I’m always hoping and praying for the next.

Not seeing her with all her medicines, pumps, oxygen machines and not having to witness a ‘shut down’  etc, at times makes me forget – just forget that there is a time limit. For now, I treasure every moment I can with her, taking it all in. It’s the most difficult conversation to ever have with your parent – their dying wishes. I know she was being subtle before she immigrated in finalising a few things. I chose to act ignorant because I didn’t and still don’t want to accept and acknowledge fully the ‘issue’ at hand.

I never knew what COPD was or that it even existed until it hit home. Advanced stages already they say. I will always pray for a miracle and everyday is just that.

Hug your mom today and appreciate any family you have, for you are blessed.

Innovation !?!

I received this from my ever so humourous hubby today. Yip – he pretty much sums up that “it’s a guy thing” pretty well and I really can imagine him pulling this off. Knowing my Mr, he would want a turn on the swing too … eventually … After that beer I’d say 🙂

SunshineMac xxx