30 June 2014

Monday with a difference

Monday morning hasn't looked this good for some weeks. Firstly, no school and secondly, Russell is home this whole week! Awesome.

I left the crew to shower and ready themselves for the day - trust me - with this many girls in the house showering, doing the hair and getting dressed is an event of epic proportions. I truly was grateful to have a reason to exit the house.

I popped over to Constantia to meet Raine for coffee and a catch up. Plenty of time but somehow never long enough to really be able to relax and get caught up PROPERLY.

Sped home to fetch 4 eager mall-crawlers.

I forgot to mention I had called T earlier and asked if she could please send her boys over to hang with Levi as I am concerned that he may not survive the estrogen overload this week! Thankfully he could stay home with the Dreyer boys and do boy-stuff.

I spent 2 hours doing this.



Thankfully Faith had dance rehearsal otherwise I suspect we may have been there way longer. The upside is that Rach found a top that she loved. And so did I - we went 50/50 on it and both score. :-)

Came home and chilled; later T came to load all the kids and all the dogs for a beach walk. I was eternally grateful to remain on the couch while all kinds of happiness happened on the beach. 

Happy, sunny days before the cold front hits later this week

Tomorrow I am planning a good run, lots of quietness in the morning in preparation for yet another 'epic gathering' in the afternoon organized by my little extrovert…..

29 June 2014

Weekend In Pictures

Saturday mornings….. park run. Faith was the only sprog to join us. It was not a good day for her - she had a really bad run and for the first time she could relate to my grumpiness after a crappy run. ;-)

Thankfully it was an exquisite day so we simply walked/ran in the sun filled, crisp autumn morning - the dogs came along and were only to happy to explore and mingle with all the other runners and dogs.


The jeep track to nowhere
Later that morning I stole some time to go to the new Meeting Place in Kommetjie with my folks. The coffee was horrendous but hopefully that will be remedied very soon …. Baseline's details have been made available to the owner and he was very keen.  A quick walk on the beach rounded out our morning.


my lovely mom on long beach

That afternoon we shot through to town to drop Levi off for his birthday sleepover with D & S - much excitement at the thought of all-night movies and all your can eat pizza and all you can drink creme soda!!



We then went off to fetch the my little American nieces from Canal Walk. Their mom (Russells sister) is staying with a friend in the northern suburbs while the girls come hang out with us for about 10 days.

There was much catching up and 'elastic looming' happening until the wee hours. Eventually at midnight I became seriously grumpy and put an end to the celebrations!

Sunday morning Russ and I decided to forgo trying to get 4 exhausted girls dressed and up. I simply wanted to get out into the beautiful crisp sunshine and RUN! We had to fetch Levi in town anyway so we left the lazy gals at home and headed to Sea Point to run the promenade before fetching Levi. What a treat - my body did not respond well (bad body day) but my head loved being out and about in new surroundings.
sunday morning run on promenade

happy days at the park with Uncle Deon and Stacy
 We came home around 3pm and found the girls still in their pjs but happily looming away.
Eventually they found their way into clothes and began planning their (my!) itinerary for the week.


and the list gets longer

Rosslyn is dog mad!
 One shopping mall after the next punctuated with eating excursions at every eatery in the southern peninsula…..eish. (contributions welcome!)



27 June 2014

Winter Break is HERE


This last week has been spent focussing on refining the Ted talk delivery and finalising the visual presentations. Matt is Rachel's age and he was also at school with her last year. They share many common  friends and experiences from their school going days and seem to really enjoy working together. He is a great kid and I must add that Levi LOVES having him around as a soccer buddy!


doing kahn on their iPads 

each in their own space as sometimes distraction is too great!

TED talk rehearsals at my place on Tuesday

The girls both presented their Ted talks today and did a brilliant job. It could not have gone off any better, their delivery was smooth and their visuals went off seamlessly. I was very proud of them as it was not an easy task.


I was, in fact, blown away by all the kids doing talks today. Many of them had to push through significant fears to get up there and speak. All of them delivered thoughtful, provocative talks that left the adults, once again, astounded at the capacity within our children. This experience has once again affirmed many of my beliefs in the model I have chosen to walk with the girls. I took Levi along with me this morning and he has said he definitely wants to be involved in Ted if we ever do it again.


The kids all spent the rest of the day with my friend T and her boys. Such a wonderful easy friendship they all have with ages from 8-13 all hanging out together. Not often you see this and it is certainly one of the advantages of homeschooling - that kids develop the ability to communicate and engage socially across a broad spectrum of ages.

I came home and enjoyed a couple of hours of solitude in my home. A rare commodity these days.

I am so ready for this winter break - lazy reading, series watching and unhurried runs.
The only commitment to consider is dance rehearsals these holidays as Faith is doing both tap and modern eisteddford in August ….both Faith and her teacher will not thank me if ANY rehearsals are missed!

As I type  Russ is en-route home bearing sushi and kfc as is our Friday night tradition; I have The Wedding Singer queued for tonights entertainment. We have found the combination of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore to be a winner across the age ranges in our family.

Happy weekend peoples.



25 June 2014

On a lighter note….!



My post of yesterday did garner some response. I have to say I was not completely satisfied with my feeble attempt at laying out the fb dilemma as I see it. It is a complicated beast that is well underestimated.

I think I will close this chapter by saying that I believe there is a true psychology around Facebook. I think we treat it like a friendly pet but actually it may well be a rabid dog that could cause grave danger if not executed timeously. Perhaps one day I will have to do a thesis on The Facebook Effect.

In other news 

Today is 8 weeks since I decided to boycott wheat and lower my sugar intake. While I still occasionally indulge in the odd croissant or muffin I steer clear of wheat in my day-to-day life.

I decided to hop on the scale and pull out the tape measure and see how things stand. I have lost a full 5kgs and a whopping 6cm around my waist.  I finally feel like I have defeated my 'skinny-fat' status; I just generally feel much better and have loads more energy and I don't battle to get out of bed. Awesome.




I am attempting to run more consistently. Russell is only available on weekends to head into the mountain with me so I do all my training on the road during the week. Having Luke with me makes it bearable. I am trying to run 'unwired' more regularly so as to enjoy the experience without chasing a time but to be honest road running is ONLY fun for me when I chase my tail……! I can easily let go and 'meander-run' when I am in the mountains but not so much on the tar.






My sister-in-law and nieces (who live in the States) arrive on Saturday to stay with us for 10 days. It has been 2years since we last saw them and we are all excited to spend time together again. Russell will be home for most of their stay and we do hope to nip up to Mcgregor to share that special place with them.

Apparently the girls also want to do a spot of shopping so hoping to take them to Long Street and explore some of the more vintagey type stores that line this street.

Hooray for school holidays. :-)







24 June 2014

Unpacking Social Media




I have been putting off this post for ages. The whole topic has been bubbling at the surface of my mind and I have felt ill-equipped and simply too exhausted to go deeper, to poke around in the muddiness that is social media and more specifically Facebook.

I have one thing I know for sure. I have a severely complicated, possibly co-dependent relationship with Facebook.

It’s the big room you can’t leave. As Amanda Hess depressingly puts it
“Facebook is the living dead: the most popular, least relevant social network where teenagers and adults alike gather out of fear of missing out on things that don’t even make them happy.” 
It’s as vital as life, maybe, but also as irritating.

I now have to begin to untangle this thing before I allow Rachel her own profile. I have to know my own boundaries before I can set hers. Thankfully she has zero interest in Facebook but one of these days she may ask for her own account. I need to be ready.

The thing with Facebook is this  : no matter which way you play the game you will get it wrong. You share good times and photos = you are either grandstanding or playing your highlights reel. If you share bad times you are gently reminded that Facebook is not your diary and rather keep the messy bits out the public eye. I find the safest bet is humour, discretion and a very thick skin; none of which describe your average teenager! For this reason I feel a large Facebook profile is a disaster for a youngster still finding their way in this world.

About a month ago I began my own little experiment. I kept my Big Profile but also opened another one in my maiden name. On this, my Small Profile, I only have my family. I wanted to use this profile for day to day postings. I would keep my Big Profile as a hub, to be checked weekly, to keep up with friends and acquaintances I have established over the years.

The first thing I noticed is that I was able to post freely to my Small Profile. I didn't have to think about what I was posting. Was it too braggy? Was it an overshare? Would 'this person' be upset because I went to 'this party' ? I had not realized the mental gymnastics I put myself through before I posted a status or photograph.  The people in my Small Profile are 100% for me. They know me and there is no chance of grandstanding or busking my way around it!

 The next  thing I realized is that I missed my large (usually annoying and boring) newsfeed. I felt out of the loop. I also felt a strangely irresponsible - what happens if someone posts something 'really important' that  I should know and I miss it? What happens if the school posts? (I immediately went and added the school to my Small Profile!)

Bottom line is that I felt somewhat anxious. Not a good sign.

This did eventually pass though and I was free of that anxiety; I didn't check Facebook 10 times a day or first thing in the morning. I felt free. Even a little superior in some bizarre way - Facebook did NOT own me after all!

For this reason I felt justified to 'pop in' to my Big Profile once a day, just to check in. I told myself it was my downtime, my reward and and I deserved a little voyeurism. Guess what happened? Slowly I began to get sucked back down the hole and was checking my Big Profile up to 5/6 times a day.

Where does this leave me in my boundary issues with Facebook? I still have no idea but I am not giving up until I find the 'undo' button that leaves me in a guilt-free, inter-dependent relationship with Facebook.




22 June 2014

Sunday regroup

Sunday was the day I have been holding out for for a while. All the kids birthdays and parties behind me. Nothing to do, plan or think about. No commitments, no appointments, nada. Hallelujah

Lazy morning with coffee in bed and an episode of House Husbands.

House Husbands
I just LOVE and ADORE this Australian show. It is a drama series (not reality) that follows the lives for four families where the men are primary caregivers. It is so cleverly written and unpredictable; the characters engaging and believable. Am a sucker for a great story! Oh, and the kids can watch too as it is not overtly sexual and the language is passable.






Had a long, slow bath and headed to the mall with Russ. The mall, without kids and WITH Russell is a much happier place than I imagined. We did some bits n pieces, returned home and mellowed until he had to leave for the airport at 4pm.





It was such a beautiful day; the dogs were restless so I dragged myself down to the beach for a walk. Very glad I did as it was truly magnificent down there AND I found my parents enjoying the evening too.

Only thing missing was Russ….who was sitting at the airport waiting to catch a delayed flight. :-(


Monday is coming - last week of school ahead and then a much-deserved break for us all.

The Teen Party

The day finally dawned; Rachel has been looking forward to this for weeks. Originally the date was set for the 6 June but all her mates were writing exams so we had to postpone the party until 21st.

I made burgers, hotdogs, borrowed a chocolate fountain and had strawberries and marshmallows, plenty of chips and drinks and that was about it. A young friend of mine organized a scavenger hunt with clues and puzzles around the estate which kept them busy for almost an hour. The kids love the freedom of being out and about at night as a pack - there was much hilarity and silliness.

preparing all the clues for the scavenger hunt

Back at my place I had set up the outdoor furniture with candles and fairy lights and left them to their own devices.

It was a very easy party but definitely the LOUDEST I have ever been involved in in my entire parenting career.

the chocolate fountain hidden by sweet-frenzied teens.
 I took very few photos, kids this age detest the lurking parent with the camera in hand. I decided to let them be.


She received such lovely, thoughtful gifts from her mates - she was so touched. I really think this gathering came at the perfect time. Her friends have NOT forgotten her, in fact, they still consider her 'one of the gang' and this is obviously important at this age.

I have heard plenty of negative 'this is where it all starts' and 'now the fun begins' with regard to the imminent teens years. Thankfully I have heard (and witnessed) some far more positive aspects to these years. I am not naive - I have already begun to experience the roller-coaster but just because it is emotionally taxing doesn't mean it is all bad.



I am cautiously optimistic. On really bad days I tend to just lay low, choose my battles and wait it out. The emotion usually dies down as suddenly as it appeared.

Let this new adventure begin!

21 June 2014

8 Years Later





Happiest when outdoors. And moving. Fast.


Levis is 8! He has grown up seemingly overnight - even the girls look at him and say things like:

Mom, I can't believe how fast the time has gone.

or

Ah mom, remember what a beautiful baby he was?

Quite unusual for me to hear them being nostalgic, especially about their brother!

It was a real struggle for him to go to sleep the night before - his anticipation was off the hook. (do you remember feeling like that when you were young?) It was doubly difficult for him as Russ arrived home from Gabs just after midnight and Levi woke up all excited …. had to break the news it wasn't quite morning yet! 

He was very happy with his pressies that included a new black (plether) jacket, Stormers blanket and beanie, cap gun, wooden model car and a R50 Marcels yoghurt voucher. He went off to school happily to share the morning with his mates.

We all picked him up after school and headed off to see How To Train Your Dragon 2 in 3D. I have to confess I nodded off a couple of times ( I was THAT tired) but it was apparently a good movie although not as great as number 1. No surprises there.

We then went on to Marcels for the yoghurt and to Joe's Diner for dinner. Rushed home in time to drop Rach at a party for the evening.

Levi's celebrations continued at home with his choice of evening activities which included watching Miranda, Ray Mears and Grand Designs until he fell asleep on the couch!



A tired, happy, 8yr old boy was carried up to bed.

20 June 2014

Ted.ED

The girls have been doing a course in Ted.Ed around public speaking, sharing ideas and experiences and generally coming to grips with preparing a speech of sorts.

It has been STRESSFUL to say the least. They have each had to come up with an idea and flesh it out to present next week, 27 June. This is scary stuff for 99% of the population so I am being as supportive as possible whilst encouraging them along the way.

I am very impressed that both have decided to get up there and SPEAK. In the beginning Faith felt she may want to do a voice-over presentation however she is now confident enough to present in person. Huge. HUGE.

These are their talks. Right now they are busy preparing there visual presentations that will accompany their speech.

Faith:

CHASE DOWN YOUR DREAMS

HI, my name is Faith. My passions are fashion, designing and dancing.

Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a fashion designer. I have always had a love for clothing, textiles and creating different outfits out of ordinary clothing.

I wanted to talk to you about following your dreams and passions and not being deterred because you are young. I thought I would share with you how my journey into fashion is beginning and I am only 10!

My mom has been a blogger for 7 years and has developed frienships with people all over the world. These people have followed her blog and become virtual friends. One of these friends alerted my mom to a competition that Ackermans, a local clothing store, were running.

Ackermans were looking for a team of ‘style bloggers’ ranging in age from 9 to 13 years old. For the first round I had to post a photo of myself in my favourite look and write about why this outfit was my favourite.

I made it through this round and the next one was quite challenging.  It was exciting getting my package in the post – they sent us cardboard, stationery and magazines to help us get started. I remember going out in the rain to collect the big envelope.

Now I had to create a mood board that defined my personal style.  I did not even know what a mood board was! My mom googled and showed me many different types of boards and I slowly began to understand what was required.

I was very confident about the first board I created so imagine my distress when my mom tells me ON MY BIRTHDAY that my board was all wrong. We had to do the board landscape and I had done it portrait. I was devastated and very angry that my mom had not read the instructions properly!


I must say this round was quite stressful.  Sometimes I just felt angry and wanted to give up. The deadline loomed closer and I designed many boards but as my anxiety grew so my creativity died. My frustration levels were very high.

Finally my mom sat me down with various photographs of myself. She then sent me off to create a board completely on my own and I finally did something that I felt represented who I am.

 I felt happy that I had given of my best and win or lose I knew there was nothing more I could have done.

A week went by and I was just relieved that it was all over, just to wait and see if I made the cut! Then one evening my mom told me the exciting news that I had made the final cut – I was so excited because this is where my journey starts!

Not only have I won an ipad mini which is AWESOME but Ackermans will now design me my own website and logo. Every month they will give me R300 to spend at their store to create my favourite looks. This will then be uploaded to my very own website and all the Ackermans customers will get to see what I create.

I will do this for 12 months and then stand in line to win R15 000 . Winning the money would be great, I will spend a little but save the rest for my business one day; or maybe for college. 

Ultimately though my win is in the experience I will gain doing something I love every month!


So never give up on your dreams and share your passion with those around you because your opportunity may be just around the corner!

*****************************************************************


Rachel

HOMESCHOOL VS REGULAR SCHOOL.

Despite the title I am not going to get into a debate about whether homeschooling is better or worse than regular schooling. Instead I am going to share my honest experience in both mediums of education.

I was in a regular, private school until half way through Grade 6.  I thoroughly enjoyed school life and had many friends. I had always thought homeschoolers were kind of weird until my sister started school at home.  I then realized that maybe I had the wrong idea!

Many doors have opened for me in this year. I have been able to work at a local pre-school once a week. I have a love of working with children and this opportunity has enabled me to learn to work with regular kids and those with special needs. The class teacher has given me so much scope and has encouraged me to contribute to the class as I wish. One of the children has cerebral palsy and another a severe speech impediment – I get such satisfaction in helping them and seeing their progress.

I have also been offered the opportunity to assist in tutoring some younger children in Afrikaans. This would be my first paying job and it is really gratifying to earn my own money while doing something I enjoy.

But it is not ALL fun and games. There have been bumps in the road but nothing that I have not been able to overcome. I am definitely happier; so many things I hated have become easier and more enjoyable. Learning is definitely more fun the way we do things at home.


TIME has become my friend. I was always rushed and felt very pressured when I was at school. This caused me to be stressed and moody. I do have time limits and schedules for each week but I can use my own discretion as to how, when I get the work done as long as IT GETS DONE!

We have formed co-operational groups within our friendship circles and we enjoy learning content-based subjects together like history, geography and science as well as extras like art and cooking.

I realize many people think homeschoolers are weird and unsocialised. I was of this mind too until I became one of ‘them’.  I do still have all my regular schooled friends, I miss them, the class jokes, their news, the latest slang and often feel out of the loop but now it is up to me to make the effort to see them as I am not part of their world anymore.

While I am grateful for all the opportunities homeschooling is offering me I am still aware of what I am missing like school dances, socials and plays.  I do have to remind myself on difficult days that the education and opportunities I am receiving right now will outweigh these small things in the long run.

I am beginning to understand that great things do not come without sacrifice.

***********************************************************

19 June 2014

Currently I am….

Currently, I am…

Reading:  
nothing really. mainly research material on various subjects but I did pre-order the new Brian McLaren "We Make The Road By Walking", and that should hit my Kindle tomorrow. I need to up the ante with my reading but find it very difficult to get into books these days.

 "Each chapter is written to be read aloud in ten to twelve minutes, and is accompanied by a set of Scripture readings, reflection/discussion questions, and liturgical resources - so the book can be useful in a variety of ways for classes, small groups, new faith communities, and churches. And of course, it's an inspiring and formative read for individuals too."

Listening to:  
I don't listen to music. Heinous you say? Sanity I say. I am surrounded by sounds all day every day so when I can have silence it is ALWAYS my first choice. In the car I listen to pop music with the kids. I sometimes listen to Cape Talk if I am alone.

Laughing at:  
Levi is always a laugh. He says the funniest things. I just love his mind and the way he thinks. I also suck eggs because I am not writing them down anymore and my brain is fried so I can't remember them even a day later.
Swooning over:  
Am not much of a swooner but am really lusting after new bedding for my humungous king-size extra length bed. It is such a luxury and right now more of a swoon than actuality. I want that bouncy white puffy awesome duvet that you get in 5-star hotels. I have a special name for bedding like that which I won't share here. ;-)

Planning:  
A possible trip to see my sister. It is a LONG shot but I need this 'beacon of hope' . I am really trusting that a way will be made for me to see her in November this year or definitely next year.

Eating lots of:  
I don't eat a lot of anything really but if I had to say ….. eggs? Cheese? If the question was drinking it would be easy….! (the answer would be coffee people, coffee)

Feeling:  
Somewhat depleted but not in a debilitating way. The kids have worked well this term. I am really looking forward to the holidays in a way I have never before! To be able to just RELAX, not plan my weeks, mark work and be researching and thinking all the time…..ah bliss.  I am also looking forward to running more regularly and not always clock-watching.

Discovering:  
That cooking is fun if you have time. It is even more fun if you find someone else with time to do it for you. Enough said.

Looking at:  
Party ideas for Rachels party on Saturday.

Wearing:  
Black cords, turquoise knitted hoodie and black sox. See? I do not live in my onesie. 

Cooking:  
Rachel cooked for us tonight - she made tacos with guacamole and all the trimmings. The kids polished it off so I rustled up a roasted butternut rocket salad with goats cheese. 

Wondering:  
If my kids will ever stop provoking each other.

Trying out:  
Giving them lines to do when they tick me off. And I make the sentences REALLY long. Levi told me he needed physio because his wrist and arm were so sore. I told him to use the ornaments on the side of his head instead.


I don't like tagging people but if you read this YOU are tagged. And don't pretend you weren't here….if you are a Facebook follower I guess you are off the hook! 

18 June 2014

Weekend in Review

It has been one of those wonderful weekends where we didn't do much but yet it felt like a real holiday. I think with Russell working away all week our weekends are held much dearer and we tend to make full use of our time; appreciate it more.

Saturday was cold and rainy and I honestly cannot remember much about the day other than sleeping in  and watching movies and possibly eating/drinking more than usual!

Sunday being Fathers day we decided to head out and do something. Bizarrely we ended up seeing Maleficent and I was pretty impressed with the movie. I am not a Jolie fan but have to agree no-one could have played the part better and I really enjoyed it. There is a little Maleficent in us all and the story did provoke some interesting discussion.

This one is growing up daily, from early morning showers and getting the hair done
to requests for a bikini for summer. (from my hot pants and second skin girl?!)

While at the mall we picked out a new dishwasher (hallelujah!) and I also purchased some new duds from Mr Price Sports and Cotton On. One would be justified in thinking it was Mothers Day all over again. ;-)

She is growing in confidence - ambled over to Marcels to find out the options
and paid with her debit card. Her sibs followed not long after!
We popped in at Tribeca for a coffee then mosey-ed over to Simons Town for a late lunch at The Meeting Place deli.


On Monday (Youth Day) Russ and I headed out for a long road run. I had to seriously twist his arm as he is a trail junkie of note. I just wanted to get in the zone, not concentrate on every step, which is essential when trail running. He relented and agreed to accompany me and we had such a great run - easy on the whole with a little hill action toward the end. Loved it.

Slow, unimpressive trudge up Black Hill but I surprised myself and Got It Done.


We arrived home to find dogs and kids chomping at the bit so loaded the 6 of them up and went for a long beach/wetlands walk.

The afternoon found us huddling in the lounge, fire going and series on the box.

Grabbing puddles of sunshine at every opportunity.

What stays with me most this weekend is the lightheartedness that seemed to flow in and around us over these few days. We have not had an easy year (euphemism alert) and I was actually quite stunned to realize how tense we had all been. It really feels like I can breath again. This is always a good thing.