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 The NRA Entirely To Blame.

It was mid evening here in South Africa when I picked up my cellphone and began reading the status updates on facebook. My condolences go out to the parents in Connecticut – read one. What did this person mean by my condolences. I switched over to twitter – the world that never sleeps and type in a word search for #connecticut.  OMG – my heart began pounding as I read more and more. My hubby came through to the living room having just put our baby to bed. Turn on CNN quick, something really terrible has happened at an elementary school in America.

We both sat glued to the telly. Utter disbelief. This is just surreal. Say it isn’t so. I just broke down in tears. We have a 6-year-old. 2006 babies, like our son. As the reports came in, you watched the parents arriving knowing not all were going to leave with their children.  The death toll rising, hero teachers and so the reports trickled in. My hubby sat on his twitter while in front of the telly. Twitter if far more informative and accurate compared to the news broadcasters in my opinion.

I couldn’t sleep. It was late at this stage in South Africa. President Obama came on to address the media and I cried even more as he spoke or tried to. I had so many thoughts running through my head – the talk turned to the NRA and their silence. Focus not only on Sandy Hook but previous school shootings, malls, cinemas and the list continues. I thought quietly to myself, Americans are  not only targets outside of America (Benghazi and more) but they are also targets among themselves. I don’t know much about the gun laws there but I can say this much: It is a mind-blow at how easy it is to walk into a store and purchase a glock, semi-automatic weapon and much more. The reports of gun sales increased after the Sandy Hook tragedy Shocking !!! The mentality to go out and purchase a weapon for ‘protection’. The comments good guns can stop bad guns. I still ask myself why the heck did a school teacher feel the need to house so many weapons to begin with (the gun mans mother). The NRA’s lack to scrutinise the characteristics and competency of a potential gun owner.

Part of me thinks – YOU, the American public empower the NRA by giving them the sales. What process, if any, is followed when purchasing such weapons. In my so called ‘third world’ country – obtaining a legal weapon of such calibre is not an easy task. Psychological tests, competency tests, written test and more are required before you are even considered for such a purchase – and a very strong record kept as to what weapon you own.

We have never experienced such shootings as America within schools, cinemas etc. I’m not saying gun violence doesn’t exist here – I’m saying, not by most registered gun owners and never in such a manner to my knowledge. I count my blessings – for now. I was dumbfounded by the NRA’s comment to put armed officers outside of every school in America. I mean – would that apply to every cinema, corporate, public or tourist building throughout the US too? I don’t understand that logic! They say in South Africa – you are more lightly to be hurt or murdered with your own gun, if you have one – than not.

My brother has a few guns. Having grown up in Zimbabwe during a civil war – learning to respect and be responsible with a glock or shotgun came standard under the circumstances. Personally I fear guns. I have been to the shooting range with my brother. I have pulled the trigger a few times on a 9mm and a shot gun and know all too well just how powerful such weapons are. Imagine a semi- automatic weapon or fully automatic weapon. It doesn’t take a genius to know to remove the pin on such guns. I have never returned to the shooting range, I just didn’t like it. I left with a better understanding and respect for guns though.  The movies make pulling a trigger look all ‘cool’ , easy and quiet frankly – glamorous. Well it’s not. Ten days later I read on twitter how firemen in a town close to New York were lured to a house on fire as a trap where they were met by a gunman killing two of them. Sad. I know the gun sales make huge revenue and changing things like laws, mentality and perceptions won’t be easy. But something needs to be changed for a safer america.

Words fail me as I think so often of the lives lost at Sandy Hook. The grief and pain of those parents is inconceivable. No words can comfort them so I pray daily.  The beautiful teachers left an imprint on my heart, they loved those little ones and their self-sacrificing actions spoke volumes.  Rest in peace beautiful souls. I will remember you. This is my song for all americans who feel strongly about gun law change. . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkOZTSvrHs – You are the voice.

May God Bless America.

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.

 

National Braai Day.

Monday the 24th of September was our countries National Braai Day. A public holiday at that. What is a ‘braai‘ you ask?, well in other countries such as the USA, England, Australia to name but a few – you may know of a braai as a BBQ 🙂

A good old original braai would consist of spiced marinated tender meat of all sorts grilled to perfection over hot, smoking coals or briquettes. Be it chicken, fish, prawns, tender steak, borewors (our traditional braai sausage) veggie skewers, grilled corn on the cob, garlic loaf and maybe a few potatoes wrapped in foil, spiced and left tendered to while baking amongst the hot coals.  Beetroot, coleslaw, fresh buns and a delish fusion green salad – and whalla. Excellent company, gorgeous wine, brilliant music and you’re set to go.  Summer time, the smell of braai smothers the air, enough to make you start your own – fast. Freshly cut green lawn and a swimming pool is much of the life of a South African during summer time.

I heard in some countries, one may not braai over coals, wood or briquettes as we do here for fear of triggering a forest fire such as the ones experienced in California USA this year (which I have followed on Instagram) and Australia over the last years.  

Note to self – don’t buy a wooden house on the backdrop of a forest in a country where such fires are a serious and real threat. 

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Every weekend is a braai weekend. As the battle of the tongs begins between father and son.

Have a blessed weekend

xxx

My Dream House.

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This picture has been on my laptop for some time now. It’s my dream house. Knowing myself, I would probably change the outside wall colours to something more natural and neutral.

I so miss living out in the country-side. I grew up living mostly on the most beautiful plots as we call them here in South Africa.  When my hubby and I broke the news to my family that we will be living out in the country again, we had many emails and phone calls advising us otherwise due to safety.  I have never felt as safe as I do, living out in the country. In all our years living on plots, we were only ever robbed once. My sons quad motorbike was stolen but hear this – it was lifted over our cars and taken out of our garage without setting any alarms off. We woke to our concrete wall knocked out. My son noticed footprints in the sand that my husband followed. To our luck, we found it, hidden in the bushes of the near by veld (open field of long grass). My husband was watched by two men sitting near by as he threw the branches off the bike and pushed it back home.  There were a few attempts on the thieving of the quad. To the point, I joked about just leaving it out on the driveway with a huge ribbon. It was after-all insured and I felt our lives were worth far more than this quad bike.  Needless to say – after the third attempt, they gave up trying.

Below I have included photos of the garden of our country side home. I sure miss it so much.

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ImageSpot our house peeping out the top right there 🙂

Our back yard, so to speak, was a private golf course. What’s the point of rolling lawn without a real purpose. We had plenty ‘golf days’ with family and friends. It’s here and because of this, that my now 6 year old took to golfing. By age two, he put most people we knew to shame with his accurate swing. For his second Christmas, we invested in a real, proper child size golf set. Sadly in November of last year – it ‘vanished’ off the removal truck while relocating.  He was devastated.

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Plenty memories flowing through my pretty little head while looking at these. Copious amounts of picnics, crab fishing, frog searching at night, treasure hunts, Easter egg hunts, sunset strolls, snakes visiting  etc took place here.

As for our dream house, hubby and I love thatch, country cottage style living. We both agree my dream house is something suitable to our characters, style and family. Who knows what the future holds 🙂

Beautiful, isn’t it?

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.

It’s Criminal For Sure.

I popped out later yesterday afternoon at our local Pick ‘n Pay store to grab a few odds and ends I needed for last nights dinner. Here in South Africa we have what’s called ‘car-guards’. A car guard is a person who hangs about the parking lot ‘watching’ your car while you shop. Upon your return one is expected to ‘tip’ the car guard. To me personally – this is a fake & utter nonsense of a so called job.

For one, our car insurance is pretty high in our country. Should my car be hi-jacked, stolen or involved in an accident, it is more than covered.  I have often watch women in particular being intimidated, obligated and pretty much harassed into not only ‘paying’ a tip but one the car guard deems acceptable. When out with my sister on a particular day – she had tipped the car guard a R5 where an average tip is R2, before we knew what was happening, he threw the tip back at her and demanded more as he forced half his body through her window yelling. To tip a car guard is something done out of kindness. Needless to say, we drove off rather fast and reeling in shock. This is not always the case but I can definitely say that when I am with my husband, the car guards don’t attempt such nonsense. More often than not, a car guard will see you approaching your car with your trolly and meet up with you to push it and unpack your shopping into your boot, then assist you in reversing. To me, this service is worthy of a tip. The stages of the month generally determine the amount tipped as well as how long I was away. Month end/pay day hubby would tip R10 or R20. Keep in mind R5 for every stop you make adds up. I’m sure we spend on average R400 plus on car guard tips alone in a month.

Back to my point of yesterday – while reversing after my shop, it was rather odd that the car guard hadn’t come harassing me for his tip before I even got my key in the ignition. After reversing extra slowing as I knew he would appear sooner than later. BAAM, he came running but seemed hesitant t leave the car he was at and hasty approached me. I asked him what was wrong. SHOCK, HORROR – he explained to me how he was scared to leave the car further up as there was a baby in it !! The mother decided to just leave her baby to sleep while she went on shopping. This is a criminal offence in our country and if the media got hold of it – trust me, her baby would have been taken away and herself arrested.

Lets not even mention the possible child kidnapping or a stolen car scenario of this.  I had my own baby in my car with the babysitter waiting for me back home with my other two as it was her home time.  So in my rush I sadly did nothing. In hindsight, I should have taken photos and called the police. This is probably the second time at this particular mall that I have witnessed such an incident this year. A third incident made it all over the news & social media. The mother was arrested and the baby placed in the husbands care pending the outcome of her court appearance. Sadly, she really didn’t fathom what the fuss was about.

I tossed and turned the whole night last night questioning myself as to why on earth I just drove off !! That is just so not like me. I’ve had a go at people in traffic driving with their toddlers or babies unstrapped, standing on the front passenger seat.  Or worse – yes, I have seen babies being breast fed while the mother is driving during peek traffic hour.

This morning I sent an email to the managing office at the mall, emphasising how car guards need to  report such cases to security so that action may be taken in future. I haven’t had a reply as yet but I do take comfort in having voiced my concerns and bringing such an incident to their attention.

What would you have done?