Our Story Our Song Day 10 to 11

Saturday 18 Feb – Monday 20 Feb

2017-02-18 22.40.50Heading off from this quaint little town we wove our way along the Western Cape coast line to meet up with an old friend and his family. It’s amazing how a decade can pass and sweet friendships simply reunite and pick up again. Matt didn’t think we’d all fit into his house so he arranged for us to stay at a friend of his holiday house. Oh my what a treat this turned out to be. We have found ourselves on the bank of an estuary with a jetty, fishing, crabs, prawns, sea slugs and a myriad of birds 3 steps off our veranda. Not only this, the family staying on the property – not well off by any means – have taken us in ensuring our every need is met! They have fed us cake and vet koek and honey, they have seen the gas for the stove is full, they have done our washing and taught the children all about the tides and the myriad of creatures they have discovered.

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A true homeschool moment – Mom, we playing Bartholomew Dias! We collecting shells for the guinea women!

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The jetty from our veranda

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Doing some nature study on tides

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Identifying this slippery sea slug Kadin found in the estuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the close of today I quickly popped out the house to get some things from the trailer and a man popped his head over the wall and introduced himself to me by saying he’d been watching our children all day – his veranda also leads onto the estuary so they had been playing in front of his yard a fair amount- and he wanted to check if we did in fact have six children. He then continued to comment on how amazed he was at how they all looked after each other and helped each other. As we chatted further it turned out that they were wanting to find out about home schooling and Matt had told them we were coming so they had been waiting for us to arrive to talk about it. So there it was our story – our song! Weaving briefly into another’s life before each one going off on their own melody again. Yet for one short refrain we get to sing a stanza with a predestined appointment. What a mighty God we serve!

We were also able to spend sometime frolicking in the natural rock pools. What a delight to this mommy’s ears to hear my little people exclaim with glee at all they have found and discovered and then linking it back to stories we had read about tidal pools and their creatures last year!20170220_145940 20170220_083957 20170220_143752

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A Wintery day…

So the last month has been once of the craziest ever. About 5 weeks ago Kadin underwent a huge chest operation. It was far from home and the kids had to stay with my folks while I was at the hospital and Neil was back and forwards.

We were home for about 4 days before we had to start packing to move house. We had decided only the week before that to rent out our home and move to a farm a few kilometers away. So it wasn’t a major move to a new town – but enough to rock little people’s lives. With the move our business suddenly required me to go back to work 8 to 11am each day. So need one say it has been a rough month.

So on Saturday with the new kitchen flooring lying in the dining room waiting to be put down, boxes still calling to be unpacked we succumbed to the cold wintery day and just had a day out. I think some children even spent their day on their PJs. So amongst the clutter and chaos around us we were able to just doing what we each enjoy doing – be that playing on the computer or putting up a tent in the play room – it was amazing to have a day off to just be as a family.

Let the Children Be

In the great words of William Henry Davies “What is this life full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”

A hundred years ago or should I say as little as 30 years ago no one had a problem with a 7 year old being a 7 year old.  They spent their mornings at school and the occasional afternoon playing an hour of sport. After this they were free. Free from instruction, training and meeting another’s expectations. Free to simply be…. To dream, climb, think, run and simply play. No one thought anything of them spending hours on end in the sand pit or up a tree. A card board box became a car or sailing ship and an old sheet anything from a cape to a tent.

Looking about one today however we must admit that for these little ones we have created a life full of care! A life so stressful that 7 year olds are having panic attacks. One could understand this if they were living in a war raging era, concerned each day for their safety. Instead these panics are taking place in classrooms and homes throughout the country. Based not on a fear of death but rather in a fear of failure! Children simply lack the confidence to be themselves, as frankly presenting themselves for who they naturally are is seen as not being good enough! By simply arriving and just being themselves, we as a society, keep telling them that they not good enough.  They are too loud, too busy or too dreamy, they work too slowly or too fast. Try as they may to get it right, we doctor them with medication and counselling, in their little eyes they are not able to meet our expectations they as a person are a failure!

For parents the race is on.  From conception patents begin fretting about what classical music to play in utero and soon after birth – no matter what the disposition of the child will be in future years – the child is on a waiting list for the best day care, top preschool, most successful primary school and so it goes.  Their days determined, the course plotted and at all costs the child needs to make this thing work. Like a monkey upon a leash dancing before his music box we have these tiny tots dancing to a tune way beyond their years.

We bemoan the fact that children cannot entertain themselves and throw the blame at technology.  However from the day they could walk, or before, we have been entertaining them.  If not with some form of extra mural tutoring then with play dates and television.  These on their own are not a bad idea but a 3 year old spending each afternoon at swimming, music, ballet, karate, gymnastic or maths lessons does leave little time to “stand and stare.”

According to James Hall a survey conducted amongst 1500 children in Sainsbury between 5 and 11 years of age revealed that their favourite summer pass times were not computer games, going on trips or watching movies. Instead they included playing in the park or in the garden making mud pie-making, climbing trees and feeding the ducks.

It was upon a break from his studies, whilst relaxing under a tree in a contemplative mood, thinking on the notion of gravitation that Newton saw an apple fall and hence solidify his thoughts on the workings of gravity. At the age of 16, whilst Einstein was imagining catching a sunbeam that he laid the foundations for his study of special relativity. At the age of only 15, Louis Braille – whilst on school vacation – and fiddling with his father’s awl in his leather shop, he devised the braille system which is still used throughout the world today.

In our pursuit of educational excellence and perfection are we in fact depriving our children of the one pure ingredient that grows thinkers, dreamers, creative and ultimately great men and women of the future?

So I ask yet again, “what is this life full of care if we have no time to stand and stare…?”

Great Gifts

As we settle into a new year I thought I’d just take a few moments to re-look at some of the great gifts we either received, gave or made over the Christmas season. Many of these were inexpensive and easy to make and yet were so much fun and were loved by all.

We made our own tags and wrapping paper and then…..

Knight #1 made everyone calendars with personalized photos for each person. we then laminated these and they were so well received by every one.

Knight #2 made stress balls and these were a great hit.

The twins made Ginger bread flowers for the girls and gingerbread men for the boys.

Maiden#1 made an assortment of gifts. Including notebooks and a fantastic biscuit recipe book for me! Yum-yum!!!

Gifts that our children recieved that were a great hit were a hairdryer for Maiden #1 (and her own tube of toothpaste – so she doesn’t need to share with the other little people) The boys were over joyed with their FIFA computer game. Knight #1 was thrilled with a bird call CD whilst Knight #2 is enjoying a soccer activity book. The twins are loving their Sylvanian families toys.

But the best gift by far was from their aunt huge piece of plastic, some dish-washing liquid and the garden hose!

Homeschooling Rocks

Whenever anyone questions me on our decision to homeschool I find myself trapped between a rock and a hard place. I believe it is right for our family and could spend hours discussing the benefits homeschooling has poured into our lives. However, at the same time I realise others have different convictions and are in a different place, therefore they may choose to view our choice to homeschool as a criticism or judgement on them. For this reason I usually hold a fairly neutral ground regarding the benefits of homeschooling and stick to, “it’s what works for us.”

Last night however lifted my heart and soul to such a degree that I fell asleep with a deep conviction that home education is what God intended for our homes, lives, communities and families.

As 2011 drew to a close one of our homeschool families decided to host a barn dance to see in the New Year. Their garden was transformed with hay bales, a bonfire and strings of lights, apricots for snacks and barn dance music filling the air as the tables began to fill with the food brought by each family to share for dinner. Jeans, flare skirts, hats, plaits and boots were the order of the night. Hugs, laughter and joy filled the air. Heel, toe, heel, toe, woops, spin around – mind my toe – off to the left we go. Change your partner, now find your own – where did he go? Heel toe, heel toe…  Rain began to pour, laugh some more, shoes shed, mud galore – let’s go around more and more and more. So the evening was spent by 20 adults and 40 children ranging in age from 4 to 80 years.

Looking around I found my 4 year olds were being looked after by a 15 year old boy and my 9 year old had partnered himself in a dance with a 17 year old girl. My 5 year old son was discussing cricket with an 18 year old while my 14 year old was somewhere in the mix with her friends. None of the teens were coupled off instead they shared friends, dances and partners throughout the evening. No one was left on the side lines, no one rejected or excluded. Boys and girls were free to be themselves and not worry about appearance or expectation. Their feet covered in mud they could lean on one another and laugh and just simply be.

Age, race, status, background – nothing mattered. Ten year olds were leading dances. They had all ages arranged and listening to their clear instructions on how to find our places. And listen we did as we were instructed who to dance with and where to turn.

Shortly before midnight we broke into families and spoke about our dreams for 2012 then broke bread and prayed for each other.

What pure joy the evening was. Age groups mixing. Children and adults respecting each other. No arguing or fighting. Good healthy food. No pairing off. No cell phones in sight. Children involved only in friendships and not the complexity of relationships, seeing their parents dance and laugh and flirt with each other – seeing marriage is good.

Yes many others may have had similar evenings but there was something special about these kids. They could mix, be free, my little ones weren’t in the way. The adults could also be free to talk, dance, pray for each other and be real together. This is true family, community and life abundant about which God spoke when he said he’s given us freedom to be free.

So as we stand on the brink of 2012 I rejoice that we are free from systems, free from expectations and limitations, free from curriculums, free from social pressures, free to be and do all that God created for us to be and do.  I will shout from the roof tops, “Homeschooling Rocks!” I’m so glad that as a family we’ve embarked upon this path where our children are not only able to experience true, unadulterated socialisation but they are also free to stay children longer and enjoy  true, real friendships and become all that God created them to be whilst living life abundantly.

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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