27 August 2013

Taking the Good with the Bad

It has been a mixed blessing kind of homeschool day.

This morning was rather horrendous as we tackled two Conquesta papers (English and Maths). The English was a breeze but while we have tackled multiplication, area and perimeter the Conquesta paper focused on division and fractions.

No matter how I tried to explain to Lulu that ultimately we would cover EVERYTHING in maths and that the sequence differs from school/country/curriculum she was just distraught and felt dumb. Anyway, disaster was averted after tea and toast; we persevered and she completed the test to the best of her ability. I glanced at it before handing it in and she did brilliantly - not sure why our kids underestimate themselves?

The one thing I am trying desparately to teach her is that getting stuff wrong DOES NOT equal failure. She is still so afraid to try answer things unless she is sure it will be the correct answer. School does this; of this I am convinced.

Slowly she is beginning to understand that through trial and error we grow and learn.

On the flipside we had some giggles today while studying Subject and Predictate - Mr Morton had us entertained! Even my Grade 6 daughter (who studied this early this year) thoroughly enjoy it and now says she understands the concept better than ever. Such a catchy tune I find myself humming ol' Mr Morton while folding the laundry!

19 August 2013

Catching my breath

The last week has been but a blur.

Levi had a severe croup attack last week at about 1am on Wednesday morning. He has had croup on a couple of occasions in his 7yrs but this was the worst I have ever seen. We had the emergency services come out and I honestly have never been so afraid in all my 40+ years.

Thank God all is well, he bounced back super fast and by morning he was rebuking me for calling the ambulance! Suffice to say we kept him home the rest of the week even though he insisted he was TOTALLY OKAY and he was but that doesnt mean that I have slept much (at all) in the last week.

His room is just too cold so he has been bunking with us and as any mother knows you hear every scratchy, raspy and uneven breath. I is very very very tired.

He went back to school today but is still nursing a wee cough which will see him avoiding sport for the next few days, much to his horror. He did buy himself some rope this weekend and has been quietly busying himself learning how to tie different knots - thank goodness for apps that show you how because this mama knows NIKS about knot tying!

Rach is now coughing and feeling grotty, yesterday she had no voice so spent the day at home today. *sigh* I think she will head to school in the morning as she seems to be well able to stir the pot; lots of hijinx at dinner tonight. While I am utterly exhausted and really short tempered I could not help smiling on the inside - seeing everyone on the upswing, laughing and chirpy - albeit annoyingly energetic for dinnertime.

I hit the gym for my first  crossfit workout in a long time today. I poured the stress of the past week into my efforts and the lower extremities are protesting this evening but it felt so damn good to be pushing the envelope again; this type of training will also do wonders for my running.

With that I leave you all as i pour these achey bones into bed.

12 August 2013

Playing Around with English

 English is one of my favourite subjects to teach Lulu - there are so many options.  Spending time on grammar, parts of speech and the like is essential but thankfully so many other activities can keep it fresh and current; actually this can be said of all subjects if you take the time to brainstorm new ideas.

Some of the things we like to do include:

  • writing blog posts
  • book reviews 
  • word searches
  • writing letters
  • summarising articles of interest 
  • writing stories
  • crossword puzzles
  • reading a variety of books
  • listening to stories or documentaries
  • narration
  • comprehension
  • discussion

Comprehension exercise
I get such a kick out of some of her writing. This book review made me chuckle - see her response to  "What do you like least about the book?"  (I can see I was rather ambitious giving my poor kid unlined paper to write her answers!)

Every day continues to be an adventure - today she only did rote math, piano and art - the rest takes a backseat as she prepares mentally for her first tap Eisteddford this evening. The nerves are frayed and emotions sitting close to the surface.

11 August 2013

Breaking 15

I havent run long in some time as some of you know. The whole plantar fascitiis thing kind of messed me up for a few months but it seems to be under control. *she says while rolling her foot over an iced bottle*

Seriously though, I have received ' professional' treatment and am happy to say that I had my first long run in some time today.

Breaking the 15km barrier for me is mentally crucial as I have a race at the end of the month and prior to today I had not logged more than 10kms on a single run. The race is 16km and it is 'multi-surfaced' in that it is a combination of road/beach/mountain so it is going to be killer.

While I am happy to have run long today I am still well aware that my fitness is nowhere near what I would like as those 15k were run ON THE ROAD and as all runners know....that is a doddle compared to trail.

Now that Faith is more settled and we have a strong routine in place I am going to take 90mins a week and head into Silvermine to get trail-fit again. It would be very easy to convert to being a 'roadie' but I so miss my mountains and the serenity of being in nature as oppose to fighting the traffic. No contest really.

10 August 2013

Smiles all round

This weekend saw some heaviness as we said goodbye to Luke. I do not want to talk about it right now - it is a post on it's own. Suffice to say he is living large on a stud farm in Stellenbosch with a young couple who are trail runners and obsessed with my (former) dog.

Faith and I were particularly distraught. My first inclination was to try take her mind off it and go do something fun - shopping or running or painting or anything to ease the pain for her. Common sense took over and I just left her to sob and allowed her to feel the pain. She poured herself into her journal (i had nothing to do with it - instinctively she knew it would help) and appeared at my bedside an hour later saying she was ready to face the world.

My girls and I headed to the mall to do some necessary shopping. Faith had to get hair /makeup supplies for her tap eisteddford tomorrow; she and Rachel spent many minutes perusing Ralo and deciding on what would be best. I love watching them hang out and be girls together.

I wanted to get my hands on the Matthew Mole cd (which is flipping brilliant) and the kids agree it's the best cd purchase thus far for 2013.

In other earth-shattering news... Rachel bought a skirt!!! wth? Funniest thing ever is that I have the same one (bought in London 2 yrs ago) which she is yet to realize. She is raiding my wardrobe on a regular basis and I am beginning to see big changes happening fast.

While we were out shopping the boys indulged in a game of squash and cycled around the estate. Later in the day we all ended up in our cul-de-sac playing cricket with the neigbourhood kids.

Good times. Everyone was happy and as we all know that makes The Mom happy too!

09 August 2013

Getting off the Couch (a post not about running)

I think you all know that I do love people and going out but sometimes I just hide away. I am one of those people that get really excited planning a night out....then that night arrives and I can barely muster the enthusiasm to take a shower.....I go reluctantly and TA-DA I have the best time. Usually.

Amazing women, all of them.

My friend was celebrating her birthday at a local pub. Her husband is a muso and had a gig at said pub; it sounded like it was going to be awesome and FOMO* was a definite motivator. Two problems though ...Friday nights find me shatterooned and Russell was away which meant I had to go on my own.

An interesting capture but tells a story. Big smiles.
 Anyyyyyyway, long story short. Ta-Da! I had the best time. I missed Russell but the other couples graciously included me and I didn't feel like a spare part at all - no dirty dancing or PDA's! ;-)

Only one of these guys is a real muso....but the other had fun anyway!

Lucky for us we can follow Linton from gig to gig (his own stash of aging groupies) and we dont even have to leave the valley! ;-)

Funny story from the evening : I went to the bar to order a drink (passion fruit and soda) and go to pay for it when the barman asks if he can add a shot of vodka for me. I politely decline and he looks utterly confused and really is speechless. He then declines payment as how on earth can I be forced to pay for 'juice'. I ain't complaining.....!

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

07 August 2013

Learning to Draw

oi vey. what can i say?

I cannot draw. Not the way I would like to draw. Unfortunately most of my family and my closest friends have raw natural ability which leaves me feeling both completely inadequate and awed in equal measures.

Two of these friends are now instrumental in helping to prove (to me) that I can actually draw (paint, execute) images that don't make me want to rage and spit.

Michelle, she also teaches Faith home ec and is the art teacher at the school, is giving drawing lessons every tuesday morn. As she says it is a 'Learn to See' course and not an actual 'learn to draw' course. There is much talk about left and right brain....needless to say I am extremely LEFT brained but have learnt so much in just 3 lessons. She has given me a 'money-back guarantee' so am guessing she really does have the magic bullet! ;-)

This is wrong on so many levels but I still love my little  'Avatar' girl

 Flowrs (formerly my trailrunning buddy of 2012 and now turned 'almost full-time selling artist') is spending time with me teaching me to paint using acrylics and other mediums. Both these women are phenomenal artists with extremely different styles and points of view. I am so fortunate to have them sharing their knowledge with me.

my first acrylic/neocolours creation

I also have artists in my family....my mom AND my stepmom are both artists. I have grown up with it in my space but it is not a raw talent - it is a skill I am going to have to LEARN and work HARD to develop.

I am also taking an acrylics course online which requires daily time and practice - YouTube is a beautiful thing and so many talented people share freely with the world.

Here is the thing : there are many, many things I want to learn to do. It may sound hardcore but I have decided to spend only 3 months pouring my time and energy into drawing/painting and seeing if I can produce ANYTHING that satisfies the restlessness in me. I do NOT want to be a selling artist - I simply want to see if I can find joy in executing images in my head. I do not want to go through life saying I CANT until I have really tried.

If my frustration is still peaking at the end of my 'trial' I will move on to other lurking passions and go from there. It sounds clinical but there you go - Left Brain Mel is in the house!

TEaching Afrikaans

I have found it a bit of a challenge - this whole Afrikaans thing. In fact I have not addressed it all since Lulu came home 2 months ago.

I grew up in a dual-medium home; I went to an Afrikaans primary school for 4 years and I have always just understood the language. I do not speak it very often anymore but am completely competent in the language in terms of teaching it to a primary school level.

It is almost laughable to me that I have managed to raise three complete and utter 'rooinekkies' - they are clueless! My Grade 6 (formally educated) child can change a sentence from present tense to future or past tense but cannot tell you what the sentence actually means. Crazy.

Anyyyyyway, the point of my little rant is that I am scouring the net for afrikaans television programs from the 70's, 80's and 90's. It is generally well accepted that children learn best by engaging in a language regularly and what better way than to get them hooked on some fun programming.

They may well baulk at watching Liewe Heksie, Orkney Snork NieNommer Asseblief and Trompie as it will be completely foreign but I am hoping that it will begin to instill in them a love for this quirky, descriptive language.

06 August 2013


Our term is going well but we both miss Anne Frank. ;-)

Here is some of the work Lulu did around her life last term.

She loved learning about each person in the story

Understanding the key players in the story

We learnt about mind-maps - love her colourful rendition!

This term we have found that bouncing between the life of Mandela and doing Story of the World messed with the flow so we are finishing Book 1 SOTW this term and will do Mandela next term instead.

We are cruising through Math-U-See (MUS) Gamma and will probably finish up with this by the middle of the fourth term if not earlier. I am not pushing too hard as this curriculum is at Gr 4 level so she is well able to take her time and do plenty of consolidation. We will only begin our Gr 5 curriculum in the new year.

Life of Fred math continues to be our 'fun filler' when the drills of MUS get too much - Fred provides great humour and also shows her (us!) how maths is useful in EVERYDAY life.

With winter beginning to show itself we are enjoying knuckling down and working hard in our comfortable workspace - the kettle and toaster well at hand. Days like today I do wish I had all my sprogs home with me but for right now the other two are right where they need to be.

05 August 2013

Happy Spaces

I have, over the years, spent time showing my kids the benefits to living an active life and eating in a way that promotes energy and vitality. It has been a soft, slow and gentle process as I do not want to breed Health Nazi's. We all know that I can veg on the couch all day and put away pizza without too much trouble and I like it that way!

Lately, however,  I have watched my kids  begin to self-regulate in a way that makes me realise that my labours have not been in vain.

 I have been teaching the girls how to cook our mealtime vegetables - we have tried to be creative as veggies can be very boring but have kept it simple. Steamed brocolli tossed lightly in hummus or drizzled with a lemon/balsamic vinaigrette. Cauliflower blended to a rice-like texture and tossed lightly in coconut oil. Raw carrots and peppers dipped in various dips. All these sides are now easily prepared by the girls and are eaten and enjoyed.

For dessert (on the rare occasion!) we have fruit with homemade ice-cream made purely from frozen bananas.

As I mentioned in a previous post I do have a goal of getting our family to all run together. I see it as such an easy, inexpensive way to adventure together.

Sunday late arvie with a difference - off the couch and onto the road

Rachel is not a naturally sporty person so I have agreed to let her swerve school sports (she has tried them all over the years) as long as she agrees to run a minimum of three times a week.

I have been so impressed by her commitment - she diligently laces up and runs 1.5km 3x a week and is now committing to run a 5k with me over the weekends.

Tackling the hill up to our house - we took it slow....didnt want to freak them out!

She and Faith ran 5.5km with me yesterday evening - what an experience! Teaching me to slow down and enjoy running more as I hear "Look at that cat mom! Look at this dead bird Mom! Mom - my lace is undone! Mom I have a stitch! Mom the car fumes are making my nose itchy!" Despite many little interruptions I was overjoyed to have my girls with me and I do think I may well light the running spark in them....I have agreed with Rachel that if she doesn't LOVE running by 18 she can stop. ;-)

Never have they been so happy to see home!
For now we aim at The Colour Run in October - this seems to be providing great motivation for ongoing training.

Levi needs zero motivation. He is running from pillar to post at every available opportunity playing squash, soccer, rugby and hockey each week....and lamenting because they don't play cricket in winter.

We are in a happy space right now - I want to breath it in, soak it up and remember that my life is good.

( I am taking extreme care not to DRILL my kids and have done plenty of research - I found this article particulary useful on preteen exercising)

03 August 2013

News from The Hood

The only way to keep up with my blog (and jog my memory!) is to use photos to tell the stories of the past week or so.

This week has seen a spring-teaser hit Cape Town; beautiful balmy days have lulled us into false hopes of a mild August. Sadly I know better. Having lived here for a good 35 years I know too well that August will kick our asses in good time....it was this time last year that our house flooded with a violent storm so you can well imagine my trepidation!

Still gives me ants when he does this!

Faith has learnt the gentle art of waiting. Being with me 24/7 means she sometimes has to wait (dentist, hair appt, waxes, gym, coffee dates etc) and she does it with poise and grace. I am challenged to begin to take a leaf out of her book - many of you know just how 'gracious' I can be when forced to wait...

Fridays are 'fun-days' at my school. We work hard all week but on Fridays we play even harder. Every second week we join with Cape Explorers to go and explore our beautiful city. The other Fridays we play by ear and this week we were thrilled to spend a day in the studio with my friend and artist FlowrsinherHair. She prepared such a stunning morning teaching us about different papers,  mediums and techniques. She even did a 20minute painting while we watched her  showing us so many tips and tricks using acrylics and the fabulous Caran D'Ache Neocolours.

Flowrs and Faith - a special morning sure to be repeated.

Watching Flowrs at work

This morning dawned a little differently....no Saturday lie-in.... the whole family (and Gran and Oupa) were at the sports fields to watch Levi play his first tag rugby match. What an experience! I have to say he plays with huge guts and really plays hard. He was muddy from head to toe and pretty cut up. And this is NON-CONTACT!  He hurls himself to reach the tags and at one point got a heel to the mouth and needed some 'off the field' attention. *swoon*
A little support from Dad when things got a bit tough.

Games all over and everyone in one piece. #happymom

This afternoon saw us taking Faith through to Sea Point to rehearse for her first Eisteddford performance on 12 August. She is super excited and they are doing a wonderful tap piece to a Frank Sinatra song.

While she was busy we beetled off to Green Point Park to enjoy the most incredible sunshine and wind-free day!

Silliness taking pics of each other!

Not long and Rach will be as tall as me!

Enjoying the childlike moments while they last.

The park really brought out the little kid in her - was delightful

I loved watching their interaction

It is easy to see the beginning of the separation in our family. The girls hanging out more and more with me while the guys go off and do their thing. It is a natural process but I would like to find opportunities to encourage us all to enjoy similar activities - this park is one such place.....and of course I have not let go of my dream to have us all running together.  

To this end I have entered us ALL into Cape Town's first Colour Run - The Happiest 5k on Earth. It is going to be such fun - the perfect introduction to a low-key, non- competitive, crowd-pleasing run along the Sea Point promenade in October!

Book your tickets!