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.

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.

 

 

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

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.

Snow . . . in Johannesburg !!

They last time Joburg had a little snow fall was back in 1981. This however is much debatable between hubby and I as I have a photo of my Gramps in the garden of his Joburg home having built a snow man. That photo I’m seem to think is from 1987. Needless to say – the scales are leaning towards hubbys year as I am yet to have a single friend agree with me on my date. Sigh (as she smiles)

The 7th of August 2012 it snowed for the first time since. No blizzards as we see in the UK or USA. In fact I had a little giggle at everyone’s over the top excitement when these tiny tiny little specks of ice fell from the sky, melting seconds after landing.

The boys were so excited at this wee event. As the day went by the snow fell more and more. Nope, still no blizzard. Reports on the news spread fast as the snow fell more and more in various areas. The photos began popping up, snow angels, snow men, snow ball throwing etc. Everyone was on a high for life. We had our share eventually where the boys ran outside and bounced barefoot on the trampoline catching the snow in their mouths.

The weirdest thing though – the sky would open, the sun would shine in between and the snow would stop. And so it carried on throughout the day.
For us here in South Africa – it really is a very rare occasion to have a little snow so yes, it was a big deal 🙂

How awesome is snow – we loved it.