Work and Play in the RSA

It is really amazing how we have been able to plug in to various programs going on in our neighbourhood! We are right around the corner from a Christian school which is supportive of homeschooling. They have a set fee for allowing homeschool kids to participate in extra-curricular activities. E has joined the sports program and gets swimming and tennis lessons 4 days a week.IMG_6184

On Tuesday we had the great pleasure of a fantastic tea and luncheon with dear friends that we met in Canada but  have since moved back here to SA. They were so hospitable and really rolled out the red carpet for us. It was so nice to sit and talk and talk and talk…! I hope C’s ears didn’t wear out as I think I did most of the talking! The boys have grown so much since the last time we saw them that the kids didn’t really recognize each other. They took a bit longer to reconnect but in the end they had a great time.IMG_6158IMG_6159With mixed feelings we participated in a “Hallelujah” party at the school. Mixed feelings because it is sort of sad to see how much American culture pervades the world and how Halloween is creeping in everywhere. We were glad to participate in the community aspect of the event and of course the kids are always happy when there is candy being handed out! As we didn’t expect to have Halloween here we didn’t have any costume stuff. The boys were happy to wear their new hooded towels though 🙂

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E wanted to be more creative and had the original idea of our family of 5 each wearing a mask and going as the “Big 5” the South African grouping of the top big African animals: Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and Cape Buffalo. Since the boys wanted to wear their towels she went ahead as the … can you guess? 🙂IMG_6192

S is a pirate of course!IMG_6200

E and her friend C posing for the camera

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Daddy got into the act dressing as … a tourist!IMG_6207

And I joined in with a very simple costume for my part of the big 5. My mom loves rhinos because they are a great example of persrverance in the face of opposition, so this one’s for you mom!IMG_6212

We bought a beautiful Alphabet book featuring African animals for each letter and a kid -friendly recipe.Photo on 2013-11-05 at 7.45 AM

The kids really enjoy reading this book and wanted to start in on the recipes this week so we made:IMG_6221 IMG_6222We also made Buffalo bruschetta and are planning some Giraffe giggles as well 🙂

E is really enjoying reading and writing and was so pleased to get a letter from a friend back home that she went straight to her room and spent an hour writing a long reply!Photo on 2013-11-05 at 8.27 AM

She is making good progress with her Singapore Math 2A book working on place value which we started this week. I had a bit of a panic working on 2 digit subtraction with her a couple of weeks ago and thought we needed to back way up in our learning to review place value. She spent some time doing Math iXL and seems to be up to speed again for the moment. Whew! It is also really helpful that the local currency, the Rand is converts approximately 10 rand to 1 Canadian dollar. I often ask Eva to convert when we are buying groceries and sundries then discuss if it is more or less than we pay at home. Imported items tend to be quite expensive here. For example to buy a box of Cheerios might cost R89 for a 400g box. At home the same box of Cheerios might be $4 or less on sale. It is a great jumping off point for understanding global commerce and learning to buy locally.

We bought an app on the recommendation of a friend called “dragon box” but although it’s supposed to be a great math app we can’t really figure it out. Anybody out there wanna clue us in?

In our spelling and grammar book she has been working on identifying proper and common nouns and using correct pronouns.

D is trying to learn to print the lower case letters as his nursery school is quite particular about the children learning lower case first. He is also working on his pencil grip and training his observational skills in sketching.

When the weekend arrives Daddy is free and so we get to explore! It is funny that when we put on our tourist hats we start discovering  things around the area that our friends who were born here have never seen. I think it is exactly the nature of being a tourist that makes us want to get out and see as much as we can. We have fewer social demands on our time so are more free to go out and do things with just our nuclear family. This weekend we went to a miniature Las  Vegas called Montecasino and enjoyed the feeling of an Italian village and the Bird Gardens. First stop, the Rainbow Lorikeets (from Australia).

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These are a couple of glossy starlings again, i think you can see their fantastic colouring much better here.IMG_6355

Inside the casino:IMG_6374 IMG_6379We had a fabulous supper at a restaurant chain called The Meat Company where J and I ordered Kudu steaks!  (below is a picture of a kudu taken in our first week here in the Limpopo province.)IMG_5321

On Sunday we attended a second time at a new church that is part of an organization called Church of the Nations. It was Orphan Sunday and we found out that the church is closely involved/ administrates? an orphanage on the same street. They always have scones and coffee after the service (the real reason we go 🙂  we sat down at a table full of kids and one adorable little boy sat on my lap for the whole time. We realized at the end of the coffee time that they were all children from the orphanage and were humbled by their simple joy and grace in living life without a family.

After church we rested then decided to go out for a hike at a new nature reserve. The animals at this reserve were a bit more exciting to us Canucks.

WIldebeest

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Zebra

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A Blesbok AntelopeIMG_6423This is an unhappy S with ants in his pants! He is always fascinated by the hordes of ants scurrying around their anthills and consequently usually gets a few running up his legs as well.IMG_6436

Then further along the trail we met this fellow rambler.IMG_6444 IMG_6452

Every hike should end with swinging on somebody else’s arms!IMG_6463

In total we walked about 5km. D is still working on his stamina and at the end of the day he was tired but happy with the outing. IMG_6471The weather is getting warmer as we move from spring to summer and we’re planning some bigger outings in December. Hope to get some beach pics before too long 🙂

The Adventures of a Canadian Family in South Africa…

We arrived in Jo’burg a week ago and after a day of adjusting to the new time zone and repacking our things we headed off to a bush lodge in the Limpopo province. It was  perfect introduction to Africa with a relaxing environment to reconnect with old friends and make new friends all at the same time! The kids have loved every second of our trip so far and despite my Canadian mama fears of Mozambique spitting cobras and Black Mambas lurking in each patch of tall grass, I managed to chill out and let them follow the lead of their African friends! I even managed to work up a bit of courage and do some things outside of my comfort zone too!

This is a lovely example of some of the Afrikaans architecture:

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And this is a pic of a shantytown we passed along the road, a sad reality in this land of contrasts.IMG_4988

To heighten the contrast we arrived at our lovely lodge in the bushveld with all the trimmings.IMG_5000

A full African moon rising over the mountain:

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A herd of Red-faced Hartebees:

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Zebra in the bush:

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Wildebeest:

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The camp we were at was full of hiking an mountain biking trails so off we went to explore a trail to a lookout.IMG_5046

Everybody had heir binos for spotting game!

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Sitting atop a cairn at the lookout

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A porcupine quill, quite a bit bigger than it’s Canadian counterpart!

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Our hosts made us a  traditional Afrikaans dish called Potjie, which is cooked over a low fire all day in a big 3 legged cast iron potIMG_5233 IMG_5284

E and her old and new friends

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A group of Impala bucks at sunset

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The only clear shot I could get of the baboons, even though at one point they were bedding down for the night near our supper picnic site!

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And the beautiful giraffe! They are so unusual looking; somehow awkward and graceful at the same time!IMG_5525

Finally the brave safari club driving round the bush and waiting for Mom to take the pictures!IMG_5573

Investigating and Invigorating; from the seashore to the park and all things inbetween

After co-op this week we drove to the beach to enjoy and beautiful day and explore our beautiful area!IMG_3110 IMG_3119 The next day we participated in our local homeschool association Sports Day event. E was worn out after all the running, hopping, obstacle course running and swimming at the end!IMG_3148 IMG_3149 IMG_3150As the end of the week approached we joined friends for a field trip to a local animal shelter. E saw the rooms where the animals were kept.IMG_3177The girls met a couple of volunteers who come to walk the dogs…IMG_3178And enjoyed some petting time with a friendly cat.IMG_3184She practised her interview skills by asking the receptionist some questions about the shelter and how it operates.IMG_3192  IMG_3203At the end of the day she wrote a detailed journal entry about her experience:Photo on 2013-06-20 at 23.06We finished off our day with a trip to a local berry farm and a walk through their beautiful sitting garden.IMG_3215As we explored the garden we saw these bees hard at work and discussed their important role in our farm ecology and their current threatened status. We talked about the possible outcomes if we don’t protect our bees and made sure to give them wide berth so they can continue their vital pollination work!IMG_3211

 

Bees, Butterflies and Caterpillars, oh my!

With a long weekend and warmer summer weather starting school is really winding down, however, we’re not really done yet so without further adieu here are the missing weeks since my last update in mid-may!

First, we went on a great impromptu field trip to the Honeybee Centre as we had run out of honey and wanted to source out some raw local honey to try. This turned out to be a very educational trip with hives to observe, books to look at and samples to try!

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E has been embracing Language Arts this term with reading more complex novels, and a new-found love of writing, Hallelujah!!!! She and her cousin are now engaging in a regular pen pal exchange, she has a diary that is extremely PRIVATE and our house is filling up with little signs and cards that she makes every day.

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In co-op this week we had a medieval market to teach the children a tiny bit about medieval Europe but also to prepare them for the Farmer’s Market sale they will be participating in shortly. We all dressed in prince, princess and pauper clothes and the kids started by reviewing Canadian money denominations by doing coin rubbings and working out some basic change calculations. (ie. “what are three different ways you can make $1?”)

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After practising the money we set up our wares and designated shoppers and sellers.

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Ms. M .made a great observation with the children that a sad or bored seller does not attract customers…

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But a happy, enthusiastic seller does! She demonstrated how you can call out to customers and promote the items you are selling to increase business!

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A few days later we had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for one of our co-op littles that was based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

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The moms in our group are always amazing but this party really stood out as a fantastic holistic, community learning adventure! From the decor, to the food and the great activities my children were engaged and enthusiastic throughout!

We made multi-media caterpillars with printed outlines and tissue paper strips and glue,

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butterflies with coffee filters, clothes pegs and food colouring,

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and tiny hungry caterpillar food sculptures with clay. Then Ms. J read the story to the kids.

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They loved every second of it!

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What is the best birthday party you’ve ever been to?

2012; A Room with a View and Visioneering into 2013

If hindsight is is 20/20 than this is the time of year when we have the picture window view on the past year! However, as the old adage goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes and so with our informed look at the past, we are turning our faces to the future and how we can become our best selves.

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1. Our faith is the centre of who we are and what we want to be. Looking back we have begun to show that in some of our daily activities but this is an area that we want to be at the heart of everything and so for the new year we are committed to deepening, broadening and running full-steam into the realm of belief. We have challenged ourselves to learn at least 33 bible verses by the end of the school year and want to implement a more consistent time of daily devotions. God has blessed E with a desire to know him and it warms my heart to see her poring over the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew or writing songs of praise on the piano. We are so grateful for this spark in her heart and pray that we will be instrumental in fanning it into a full flame that burns brightly and makes her a witness to others.IMG_1937

2. We are a family of unique and creative individuals. I am learning that in our family this means that we need space to figure out our own ideas, opportunities and materialsto explore and sometimes we even need some structure to turn those ideas into realities. In order to more fully develop this aspect of our family, we are significantly decreasing screen time and engaging in more creative time. This means boredom is not an option and free play with less toys and more found objects is now the gold standard in our house.

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3. We strive to be intentional about community. We have joined our learning paths with the wonderful families in our co-op group. This has been a fun-filled journey of discovery and collaboration. We also marked the 1st anniversary at our church home and are finding more connections there as we increase our involvement and profile. Through our neighbourhood we have begun to build relationships with neighbours and new friends from the community centre. Now at the beginning of this new year we are planning a 6 month sojourn in South Africa and are excited about what God will do in our lives there. This idea of community is especially important as we will just be briefly passing through the lives the people we will meet. We desire to be open and joyful in these relationships and hope that this will be a life-changing experience for our whole family.