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 🙂

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Making Friends

Another week has flown by and I wonder if we’ll actually get to everything on our bucket list in the next 6 months! We started off the week with plenty of fun. We went to an American themed restaurant called The Spur, with ribs and hamburgers on the menu and a huge outdoor playground. It was funny to me that this “American” style place was unlike anything I’ve ever been to in the US or Canada! There was a distinct African flavour though in the birthday song that was sung many times through the afternoon, the staff would gather with a large drum, plenty of rhythmic clapping and a birthday song in Zulu!

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We did some science in the backyard with an interactive experiment in the states of matter. We had some fabulous powder that when mixed with warm water set into a very firm jelly mixture after only 5 mins. IMG_5635 IMG_5652

The kids loved the sensory play and we talked about liquids, solids and gasses as we played. They also hypothesized  how much water they could add to change the consistency then tested said hypothesis to find the perfect results!IMG_5665

This week we marked D’s first full week in a local nursery school. The system is a bit different here than in Canada. They don’t really have kindergarten in the primary schools but children attend nursery schools for 3 or 4 years before they enter primary school. D is really enjoying it, however we did find out that he seems a bit behind the other children in his fine motor skills. This was not surprising to me as he has always been more of a gross motor kid, however, the interesting thing in SA is that there is a much broader scope of early intervention in these things here than in Canada. It has been suggested that he might benefit from Occupational Therapy, something I would never consider at home given the stigma associated and the general practise of OT, PT and ST being allocated for children with more pronounced limitations. I had an interesting discussion with my friend on the cultural and political nature of these differences and how in a state-funded healthcare system these stigmas are useful to limit funding to profound need. SA has a private/ public system and these supportive health practises are generally paid privately so the onus is on the parents to take full advantage of the various professional services that may benefit their child. Consequently I am pondering an assessment for both E and D to see what improvements could be achieved.

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This week was also the week that homeschooling began in earnest and E is doing some review work in math and digging into a new spelling book with grammar and punctuation lessons. Her first unit came on the heels of our trip to the bushveld and is all about camping!

E and I were able to drop in on a home-school social gathering at an  ice-rink. It is somewhat ironic that as Canadians who live in the most moderate climate in Canada we rarely go skating. Now as visitors to South Africa, in spring no less, we are brushing up on our ice-skating technique! We made some lovely new friends and were invited to some other events next week that we’re looking forward to sharing with you then.  (apologies for the lousy phone pics!)IMG_2596IMG_2601

To wrap up our week we decided to be very Canadian and thank our SA hosts and their extended family by preparing them a traditional CA Thanksgiving dinner. I have to say that cooking a turkey on the braii and eating outside on the patio in the warm spring evening was a delightful change from the traditional Canadian experience!

IMG_5698 IMG_5686 IMG_5697These people have all opened their homes and hearts to us for our sojourn with them and we are so very  grateful to be part of their family circle!

Light a lantern and pour a cup of tea… learning about Chinese customs!

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This week at co-op we learned about China again and reviewed our memory verses in preparation for our recording session next week! Ms. K brought some beautiful items to display from her time in China.

IMG_2843Ms. K then demonstrated a proper Chinese tea ceremony in which the children were very happy to participate!IMG_2860They were great sports and even though the tea was stronger and more bitter than they were accustomed to they were enthusiastic to learn.IMG_2851They followed the tea ceremony with a lesson on Chinese New Year and created a lantern book full of facts about China.IMG_2870

IMG_2871Ms. K also had a great pictograph lesson using the Chinese Zodiac. She had each grade 2 student say the year they were born then come and place the appropriate symbol on the graph. IMG_2879The kids immediately saw the utility of a graphic organizer for it’s ability to show information.IMG_2885 IMG_2889After co-op we had our final day of sports camp. We were so thankful to finally have a sunny day!IMG_2920They played a version of capture the flag trying to capture soccer balls from the opposing team’s net and get them back to their own net. They loved it!IMG_2956 IMG_2981And at the end of the day there was a certificate and freezies for everybody!!IMG_3056We love our co-op group and look forward to each week’s adventures. What is the highlight of your week?

Feeding the world through a small Farmer’s Market!

Finally the Farmer’s Market is here and we are finishing up our products and labelling for the sale! From making and packaging our home-made granola,

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to creating labels for our custom felt creations! It was fully integrated learning this week.IMG_2497

Modelling their choices and planning for everyone to wear their headbands at the sale.IMG_2498

Finally the day arrived with some light rain and occasional downpours. Our spirits were not dampened by the weather though as we were so excited to see it all come together after months of planning and creating! Throughout the year we have focussed on global poverty issues with our children and in partnership with Food for the Hungry, we are planning to donate 100% of our  profits to support various  FH projects around the world.IMG_2591 IMG_2593 IMG_2595 IMG_2597

Almost as exciting as the market was the actual presentation of our funds at the FH office! We met the office staff and found out which countries FH is currently working in.

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We learned about their child sponsorship program and how little it takes to feed a child in the developing world.IMG_2736

The children were given prayer cards for the different projects so that they can continue to support FH in prayer and to be mindful of the work still to be done.IMG_2744

We watched a video of a welcome ceremony in Burundi and the graduation of a school project in Uganda!IMG_2756

We met Mr. H, the director of FH Canda…IMG_2759

… and E was a ready and confident spokesperson for our group in explaining to Mr. H why were were touring his office and what we had done to fundraise for their organization!IMG_2761

Ms. M had thoughtfuully created a shopping list with the kids using the FH gift catalogue and an interactive, sticker voting system. The children were able to present the funds we raised along with their choices of projects to support. Their top choices were building a school, and a surprising choice of latrines.(Perhaps not so surprising though if you look back at our lesson on the Ganges river in India, they were all appalled at the devastating health effects of poor sanitation!)IMG_2762

I am so proud of these kids and the way they have embraced their global community through learning and acts of service!

Madly off in All/ New Directions

After a hiatius that took us almost through the end of July, here I am on July 30th and expanding the scope of this blog. This started as a way to track our weekly homeschool activities and report to our teacher, however, as our learning journey is so much broader than school I want to cast our blog net a bit wider. It is a time of plenty in our temperate coastal region. We’re in the midst of summer and my garden is producing all kinds of bounty. Having lived in the urban core of a couple of major Canadian cities for the past decade, this life in the burbs is GOOD! I have a garden, I have fruit trees and I have a kitchen I can bake in! This week our neighbour’s plum tree is loaded with beautiful golden plums and luckily for us, there are several branches that extend waaaay over the fence 🙂 I don’t know what variety they are but they are almost like small soft and very juicy nectarines but more tart in flavour.

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After eating rather embarrassing numbers of plums fresh off the tree, the pertinent question has been “What shall we do with all these plums?” An on-line search revealed a few recipes and many recommendations for drying or canning them. Alas, we have no dehydrater or canning pot so I have decided to freeze some and bake like crazy. The first item on the list: Plum Upside Down Cake. I found the recipe here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/plum_upside_down_cake/

Step 1: Take pictures of the gorgeous plums!Image

Step 2: Cut up said gorgeous plumsImage

Step 3: Make a caramel sauce to put in the bottom of the cake panImage

Step 4: Lay plums artistically in sauce.Image

Step 5: Make cake batter and pour in on top of plums

Step 6: bake at 350F for 35-40 mins until cooked throughImage

Step 7: admire handiwork and enjoy!Image