Reaching Out

This morning began with a flurry of baking at 6am – just because this Mama ain’t so organised to have her cookies baked before 😉 By 9am we were dashing up the highway and by 11:30 we were heading home with hearts full not only with having blessed others but knowing our gifts had been used to bless others.

Today our group of homeschoolers got together to partake in our annual “reaching out” to the elderly day. It is such a simple concept that as one old lady said to me as we walked out, it allowed her “to live again today!”

We simply make a time to go to an old age home and each child performs a simple item. It maybe a poem, song, dance, musical piece or anything they’d like to do. We then hand out little packets of biscuits that we bring along for each resident. So simple and yet so life giving to these people.

I was so proud of my little people for all they did:

Kadin played his violin 20141003_095811

Nate recited “Ozymandias”

Joy-Summer recited “Shall I Compare thee to a summers day”

Lily-Grace sang “Joyful Joyful” 20141003_100334 (please click on this link was just too sweet!!)

and all 5 of them sang “Little boxes”

No it was not perfect, yes they forgot words and went out of tune BUT that was just it! Today was NOT about us and how well we could pull off a show it was simply about blessing someone else by stepping out and sharing a little bit of what makes us who we are with those around us! The result being that not only were they blessed but every child came home feeling that bit more confident, proud that they were able to share a bit of themselves with someone else!

Let’s Vote

Today was a special day here in South Africa – it was time to once again vote for the people we see fit to lead our nation.

20 years ago we stood before a land mark decision for South Africa to become a nation in which all are recognised, acknowledged and valued. The past 20 years have faced many challenges. There have been many amazing advances forward but still many disappointments and disillusionment have filled many, many lives. So today as we look upon yet once again a restless nation we all fell hopefully empowered to yet once again help make a difference in this beautiful land.

Our children have not missed the hype and excitement building up around them. Time spent in the car, at breakfast and dinner have been bristling with discussions about different parties, what makes a good president, how one votes and how having a seat in parliament works. Today we were able to take our children with us to vote, they were allowed to stand in the hall and watch how it all came together. Their excitement has been so tangible all day. So yes this vote of ours today may mark a change in South Africa’s history or it may not. It did however begin a shift my children’s minds and hearts toward their love for our land, their future right to vote, their voice in the country, their place as adult citizens and how they too have a responsibility to make a difference in the future of this amazing country.

This could not have been summed better than just after we voted Nate comes to us and says, “When I”m an adult I won’t be voting – because people will be voting for me!”

Nate’s own political party’s badge – Rainbow Nation Freedom

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A Walk By Faith

The last few months have been a time of deep,inward reflection. A time of re-evaluating our dreams, desires, wants and life path.

Some History: Having taught in remedial classes until our son was born 10 yrs ago I was not ready to leave my career for anything. Yet when our son turned 3 months old and I had to return to work my heart was broken. Something deep inside me snapped – something I didn’t know was even there, was now directing every step of our lives… With that I resigned and the real adventure was about to begin. As a stay at home mom of one baby I was busy – but also craved company and “brain food.” With these desires firmly intact I happened to stumble upon homeschooling, Sonlight and Wendy Young – co-author of the South African curriculum Footprints. As I delved further into this new realm of understanding blinkers began to fall from my eyes a whole new world of thought and understanding of education and child rearing was being revealed. As I befriended Charlotte Mason – 19th Century Educationist – my entire world view began to heave and shift. My reality sat upon very unstable ground. The next ten years were spent busy readjusting my thought patterns, soaking up this new understanding and realigning my life to a life of child led education, filled with living books, project based education that drew from a child’s desire to want to know.

To the present:

I have stood in awe as my one son’s love for birds taught him to read and recognise all the countries of the world whilst our second son’s love to sport has taught him the exact same information. This was not regulated to lessons or a curriculum it just poured naturally from them. Calculations of birds distance flown or the number of goals scored in this match or that and the average speed of a bird or the average number of goals scored by a player see numerous sums being calculated daily. Yes living books and a curriculum such as Sonlight fuels the fire and helps drive the boat – but that in itself – opposed to a teacher driven model of marks, punishment and rewards was all new to me.

So here we sit 10 years on…. Very comfortable in our daily routine, life could quite happily continue in this vein for another 18 years. But Mom’s becoming restless, a silent whisper settles upon her heart. “I didn’t train you for nothing… now’s your time.” A whisper that will not be stilled or leave…. The nudge begins, the ideas grow, the pull in epic, it will leave no peace until it’s faced. Finally the time arrives. The time to choose to listen or choose to run. But where will one run too? Is Tarshish far enough? Would the voice not follow there too? Maybe it’s time to simply stop and listen – so we did… After months of prayer and deliberation we feel a deep calling within the heart of our family to start a learning centre – a place for children to be assisted within their homeschool journey. For each family this may look different. Some may come for a few hours a week, others every morning, whilst others may just be to guide the folks. Our deepest heart cry is for the many children literally dying in the system and owning to parents commitments they simply have no alternative. It’s our hope that this learning centre will provide them with time to complete their maths and language whilst giving them opportunities to follow their interests, passions, and learn from their heart – whether it be birds or rugby…. So today we take a the first steps into this unknown territory as we embark upon this crazy walk by faith…. Only God knows what it’ll look like and who He’ll bring but for now all we can say is: We are willing – let the adventure begin!

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Unexpected Christmas Eve Magic

After a full month of Christmas preparations it was finally time to sit down and begin our annual Christmas Eve traditions. As we had indulged in a huge braai over lunch time we had decided to forfeit out traditional Christmas dinner for snacks instead. The evening was to run that we’d begin by lighting our Hanukkah candles and reciting the blessings; this would be followed by acting out the Christmas story. We would then have our snacks before having a time of Christmas carols. Knight#1 had spent the past 3 weeks typing out carols to make us each a carol book and he’d spent every spare minute practicing them on his violin so we were all looking forward to this part of the evening. We were then to have pudding before trying to herd 5 very excited little people into bed.

Well that was the plan….

Just as we lit our first candle and begun reciting the first blessing the house was filled with the most awful, painful cry. On jumping up Lord Dad and Grandpa discovered our Labrador puppy had fallen into a full convulsion. As they tried to help it onto a softer surface it began foaming at the mouth and then turned on them. At that moment Lady Mom arrived to witness our adorable pup turn into a ferocious animal that wanted to only attack. The puppy then took off running around the garden barking hysterically.

Having worked in a rabies laboratory Lord Dad had seen movies of rabid animals and Christmas Eve or not he’d take no chances. As we had all played with and been nipped and scratched by Molly in the past week he insisted we were all to be inoculated against rabies. Knowing all the vets were closed we managed to coax the puppy into an outside room. We then quickly made brown bread and peanut butter sandwiches and herded the entire family into the car to try find some rabies inoculations for the family.

Prior to leaving we’d called various hospitals to only discover each private hospital only kept one or two vaccines and we’d need to pay at least R800 per person to walk into the emergency room and then R500 per injection. The rabies course also runs over 4 injections so we were looking at about R2800 per person! With this all in mind we headed off to our local government hospital.

What a joke.

Our adventure began with a clerk who could not spell and kept mixing our names up. I offered to help fill in the basic details but he said he had to fill it all in. An hour later we had our files and now had to speak to a nurse – before we saw a doctor who would do the injections – she was not amused with the situation and simply told us, “Do you realise how busy I am and how many forms I’m going to have to fill in?” She then disappeared and arrived 15 minutes later with another sister. She explained to us that as it was Christmas Eve and they would deal with the stabbed, wounded, accident cases and dying first we would not be seen to for at least another 6 hours or so! Having already been there for 3 hours we sat in the car park in desperation and phoned anyone and everyone we thought could help. We eventually discovered another small government clinic open 24/7, which were referring all their patients to the hospital and were therefore pretty much empty. We quickly rushed across to them. An hour later we had all had our injections and were heading home.

During all this time the children had dozed in and out of sleep. As we headed home now the clock struck midnight and it was officially Christmas morning. Amazingly enough no one was upset or moaning instead as the clock struck the older children burst into song – rocking the neighbourhood with Joy to the World. As we negotiated the thickest mist I’ve ever driven in we crept home to our Christmas Eve – now forever changed.

Not sure whether we should have more peanut butter sarmies or tuck kids straight into bed we gingerly opened the door and put on the kettle. Then the most amazing evening began to take place. The children headed to the supper table and began eating the Christmas treats, another began to play the piano and while others collapsed on the couch and began to nibble on some chips. The next hour was spent in a surreal dream of laughter, song, jokes and ice-cream. The children then drifted off to bed whilst we finished wrapping gifts and ensuring everything was ready for when they woke.

Yes, Christmas day was quite a blur but no one fought or moaned. Something special and magical had happened the night before and in the words of Knight#1, “Our adventure last night made this my best Christmas ever.” Well let me add, “It was my best too, my boy, mine too!”

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Postscript – Looks like the puppy may have simply had a convulsion and is still in isolation and under observation to determine if it is rabies though it is looking more like it was fit.

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