A glimpse into life a world away

Driving in SA is always a bit of an adventure. First of all there is wrapping your head around driving on the “other” side of the road, then there are the taxis and lorries, predictably unpredictable, and once you get sort of used to all that you have the constant parade of “bakkies” full of people in the box and people everywhere selling, or trying to sell you something.IMG_2664 IMG_2665

The adjustments of coming from Canada to Africa are not unpleasant though. As we arrived here at the beginning of spring we have been humbled by the abundant beauty of this place.IMG_2678Jacaranda trees in bloom – a stunning sight!IMG_2679Inexpensive and tasty cappuccino in the morning sun with my sweeties.IMG_2682And the blessing of homeschooling throughout it all! We’ve  been doing lots of art as we lost power for 3 days and had a wicked virus going through everybody. Art was a quiet activity to pass the days and find ways to keep moving ahead with school without electronic support.IMG_6649IMG_6651IMG_6648E has become the resident story time gal when the moms and dads are preoccupied with other tasks. They love to curl up in different corners of the house with a pile of books.IMG_6653 IMG_6654 IMG_6655D has been challenged at school to work on his puzzle skills. He is taking it quite seriously and is continually trying to do more complex puzzles than previously mastered.IMG_6656And as we got into our art vibe we decided to start planning ahead towards advent. I went to my favourite source of inspiration, pinterest, and combined a few different ideas to come up with this cheap and cheerful advent calendar:

Step one: Take a 24 egg flat egg carton. IMG_66862) Number the depressions 1-25IMG_6687 3) measure corresponding squares on an 11×14 piece of and plan a design.IMG_66904) We worked on a couple of art objectives such as using and creating shades of a colour and staying in a cool or warm palette. Silhouette style figures and then pastel technique; rubbing pastels to get a solid coverage and blending for effect. Finally, we sealed the picture with a fabric paint sealer but you could use modge podge or even white glue.IMG_66915) Last you can decide what to put in your calendar. Fill up your slots and then glue, or tape the whole thing closed. I used a cereal box to edge mine and tidy it all up.IMG_6693In and out of arting we have been working away at spelling, reading, math and science. As the children here are preparing for the end of the school year we are prepping for the end of term 1. It will be our first report card meeting by Skype/ Facetime and will require some good planning to accommodate everyone’s schedules and the 10 hour time difference. We are enjoying our life here and feeling so blessed to be in this adventure!

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

Birthdayz and Lazy Summer Dayz…

This is the time of year that I feel thoroughly blessed to be a SAHM! We have had an unusually amazing run of good weather. The west coast is known for it’s rainy weather and with 4+ weeks of sun under our belts we’re all sitting on pins and needles wondering how much longer this can possibly last!

As a SAHM I get to spend my summer hanging out with my kids and just drink in the beautiful scenery of this place. Image

June and July are birthday months for our family. Last year E was supposed to have a big picnic at the park with 10 of her friends and their families. It poured rain and we hurriedly came up with plan B and used a multipurpose room at the church across the street. Unfortunately the change in plans meant we had an indoor party with 40 people and E ended up being a bit overwhelmed. In an effort to find new strategies to help Miss E enjoy her birthday to the fullest, we decided to try and have mini-party/ playdates with each of her friends this year rather than one large party. And so without further adieu here is the run-down: Party 1 – Princess tea partyImageImageParty 2: Horseback riding and cowgirl campoutImageImageParty 3: Diva Dance partyImage

Party 4: Beach BumsImageParty 5: Pollock Painting Splatter PartyImageParty 6: Space SurpriseImageImageParty 7: Fairy garden party – somehow I can’t find the pictures for this one 😦

Another joy of lazy summer days are visits with loved ones who live far away. We are so blessed to have young enough great-grandparents that we can spend time with. Here is little S cuddling with Great-grandboy 🙂 (Our nickname for him as my kids have two living and healthy sets of greats so we have to distinguish between them. Hence Great-grandboy is a real deal cowboy and his title of Great grandad the cowboy was naturally shortened to our cute nickname by our 2 year old.)Image

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Random Acts of Kindness

In our part of the world we have a long weekend in May to celebrate the birthday of England’s Queen Victoria. This is always a holiday that kicks off summer but due to the unpredictable climate in our region summer sometimes looks pretty grey and overcast! Not to be deterred we headed off to do some local exploring along the coast, however, to our surprise, the water was warm and the rain was more of a gentle mist and our kids decided that it qualified as swimming weather! IMG_2274IMG_2304 It turned out to be a beautiful day with outdoor adventure, cultural exploration (their first Korean barbeque) and family connecting! Bring on summer!

IMG_2338 The next day we attended a parade in a nearby historic community and enjoyed seeing the tangible development of modes of transportation. From the pioneer days of covered wagons and horses,

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IMG_2358 The marching bands were in good supply as well and we talked about the different instruments and how important it is for the band to keep the correct tempo in order to march and play in unison.

IMG_2372 Following the parade we joined some friends to participate in another nearby community celebration of kindness. 10 years ago a local church started doing small renovation projects for families in need. Over the years this has developed into an Extreme Home Makeover program that is supported by the local churches and community to help one family in need each year improve their home and by extension their lives.

IMG_2397  This single mom and her two boys were living in a mould-infested bungalow with no way of dealing with the problems. The A-OK team completely stripped their house down to the studs and rebuilt it from the inside out! What a thrill to watch this family see their new home for the first time and to join with this community in showing support and love to one another!

IMG_2396 For the kids there were hot-dogs, cake, fire trucks to clamber about in…

IMG_2416 and most importantly, friends to share it with.

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The greatest commandment is this, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. – Matthew 22:38-39

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