Friday, July 30, 2010

Wonderful Winter

Usually winter in Cape Town means rain and howling gales, but this year it has been blissful. Beautiful still days, chilly mornings and evenings...but the odd almost summer's days. These are some photos of Belle from last week, I think she's going to be able to truly enjoy this coming summer!

The book and I ... we're still bonding! However I did come up with a brilliant business plan today for Braveheart's work, whilst in a spinning class! Seems that as long as my legs are turning my brain is churning!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Homeschool Freebie

Just wanted to share this wonderful free resource that I found. This site is host to a homeschool radio show and allows you to download loads of stories -  for free! Each week, they have a new story that remains on that site for that week - so you have a whole week to get round to downloading it.

I'm building up quite a library - I use them in the car, especially if I'm driving them a distance, or whilst I'm making dinner or if I'm needing to calm them down a bit after an exuberant playing session.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Bye to the Old, Hello to the New

This weekend just gone was a good one - I had an indulgent morning on Saturday, and chopped off all my hair - therapeutic! ( No, I didn't do it myself! I went to the hairdresser!) I was so refreshed and energized after a few hours to myself, that I decided to tackle Belle's room. Now, I'm very much an all or nothing kind of gal, so when i decided to do something,  I set my mind to it.

I took EVERYTHING out of her room - that included suitcases and trunks from under her bed and cot - yes, she had a bed and a cot in a very small room, and yes, there were two cases and two trunks (from my university days) filled with her own baby clothes and books (I'm obsessed with them - I need my own library!). Imagine it if you will! The chaos, the disorder! But no, wait, that's not all. What?! I hear you shriek? Yes, it's true - in her cupboard were two camping chairs, a cooler box, a massive tent, a gas braai and other odds and ends. Now see? I really HAD to do her room. I tell you, I feel like I have a nesting instinct kicking in! Or spring cleaning....or something!

So thankfully, Braveheart's parents now live here and have rooms to spare, so I moved all those things to their garage. Then we.....


Helping out comes so naturally to Aragorn - it's a real challenge because it's not something that King Arthur enjoys - tricky to praise one with a natural characteristic, or berate one for something he naturally isn't inclined to. My challenge is balancing both - teaching King Arthur the importance and necessity of helping, and giving Aragorn the credit he deserves.


Since Belle was born I have felt frustrated with the space I live in, and we have tried unsuccessfully for YEARS now, to find somewhere within our price range to spread our wings. I'm not sure why it matters so much to me, I think it has a lot to do with upbringing - being Zimbabweans we always had eons of space all around us, and I think I naturally expect the same. If  a British person lived in my house they would love it...but this is me we're talking about. Anyhow, I have felt a renewed portion of grace to be content with what God has given us for this season, and to trust him. The door to living somewhere else seems so firmly shut, there has to be a way to make this work more. 

Sorting Belle's room inspired Braveheart, and in his own way, he created a shelter for the bikes in the courtyard. 1 x adult bike, 2 x kids bikes, 1x scooter, 1x skateboard which had up till now lived in the entrance hall  - i know!!! Crazy huh? Oh for a garage!!!

We re-assembled Belle's bed, and she loved it! I didn't think a little girl could show so much delight, but my goodness she did! she jumped and giggled and told us it was bed time, and just enjoyed every moment of it. However, when we came to put her to bed, she wasn't as happy - she wasn't sure what this big bed thing really was, and so needless to say bedtime last night took a while! This morning though, she was ass bright as a berry though, and for the first time EVER had her own floor space to play on, and she spent a good hour juts playing on the carpet in her room - bliss!

Having two somewhat emptier areas in the house transformed me too - I had such a tangible sense of peace on Monday morning, it was odd! And it also made me think - as parents, we are so excited about the firsts - first, step, first laugh, first tooth...that we seldom stop to think about the lasts - I wasn't consciously aware that Saturday night would be Belle's last night in the cot that has held all my three children, and I find that quite heart stopping. We won't notice the last time they ask us to brush their teeth, or the last time they want that extra hug or kiss, or the last time they want us to walk them into school or hold our hand. This time? This time as parents of little precious children? It is fleeting my friend. Fleeting.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I have just figured out the beauty of Picasa! Imagine my delight at discovering how EASY and SIMPLE it really is (yes, even though some of you told me took a while!). So, with finally being able to download photos off my camera onto my laptop thanks to Picasa, I shall now regale you with wonderful photo posts for a few days! - Suits my rugby-full head!

As an aside - do you know I watched some of the game today, and I got it? I looked at the markings on the field and smiled smugly to myself- I now know what the 5m line is, the dead-ball line, the function of the 10m-in line! I rock! Let's hope the book will too!

Okay, but back to business. During the recent school holidays I took the boys to the Ice Station at the Grand West Casino. Every Wednesday of the holdidays from 1030-1230 they had snow! My kids were super psyched as they had never seen/touched snow before. And the best part was that it only cost R5 for as long as you wanted! So we arrived - and I must admit I wondered why people were arriving with bags of things, adn what looked like beach toys...but it soon fell into place.

Turns out there is a competition each week, and the winner of the best snowman walks away with vouchers and a few other goodies. These moms were prepared!!!!! And the beach toys...well it turns out snow is actually quite cold, and little peoples's hands get quite cold, and South African gloves/mittens aren't really made for snow!

So let me show you what these seasoned builders can do -

And then there was us... King Arthur, Aragorn and I had made it a special date (Granny had Belle for the morning), but we had come somewhat ill-prepared. So, we attempted to make the most of it, and used our cheddars, raising, a scarf and a beanie.

King Arthur with our mound of snow

thumping it into shape

our snow fellow!

two proud, but somewhat cold, brothers!

Next year, we will got prepared! And thanks to me, you will go prepared too!!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rugby Rules... head at the moment. It's true...not the Tour de France. Imagine! O Woe! I am having to put my passion on hold, watch short highlights after a stage not the live broadcasts all because I am trying my damnedest to finish a rugby annual I am writing! (it's SA Rugby's first annual starring the new mascot, Bokkie) Now truth be told, it is partly my fault....I took a break over the holidays to be with my kids, then they were sick, then the babysitters were ill...and now I am paying for all that time off! So, nose to the grindstone I must chip away at 64 pages of rugby facts, figures, trivia - all sorts!

My saving grace is that in spite of all my moaning I really do love what I do....and I am at least co-authoring it with a fantastic man at SARU who is really fun to work with. So....8 days to the deadline...things may get a little quiet around here!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Avoiding the College Trap"?

Years ago I remember someone telling me that they didn't think it was right to send a girl to university if you wanted to teach her that motherhood was a noble calling. That irked me. Then just last year I recall someone telling me that in one of the Scandinavian countries, university education was free, HOWEVER, if you decided to be a stay at home mom, you were then required to pay back all the money to the state.

Then a few weeks ago I came across this article, really I am left with more questions than answers now.

There was a time when having a college degree almost guaranteed you a “good job,” certainly one that pays better than those not requiring a bachelor’s degree. Parents then determined that the costs involved added up to an investment in their child’s future—an investment that would undoubtedly pay off. The general public soon grew so assured of the value of a degree that it grew acceptable and common to borrow toward that investment. Today, student loans are the rule.
This entire process assumes several things, all of which might have held true at one time or in limited circumstances, hardly any of which remain true today or in general. Yet a blind faith that includes all of these assumptions rules the day for decisions about higher education. The results are disastrous.
Joel McDurmon gives this example:

Example: meet Miss Courtney Munna. She is 26 years old and has proudly fulfilled her and her mother’s dream of graduating from NYU, a second-tier private school. She is now the proud owner of an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in religious and women’s studies. She also owns a $97,000 student debt.
Let’s evaluate the value of Miss Munna’s education: In the job market, a bachelor’s in either religion (from a liberal university) or women’s studies adds little to nothing to her marketability in the real world. An “interdisciplinary” degree—half one and half the other mixed together—actually reduces the value. A degree like this only has value in the academic world, and there it only holds value as a stepping stone to an academic teaching career. But this requires a Master’s degree (at least two more years and more debt) and almost always a Doctorate (three further years in the US, and more debt). For all practical purposes, Miss Munna’s degree has zero economic value.
But worse, $97k in debt has a value of, well, negative $97k; plus interest, part of which is at an adjustable rate (it will go higher). And this, not even for a marketable skill or knowledge, but merely a degree in religious and women’s studies. And what does such a degree provide?… Nothing more than a group of feminists’ assurances that all religions are equal and women should be in charge of all of them.
So Courtney has essentially paid over $100,000 in order to be propagandized with a message she could just as easily have gotten from a $1.25 bumper sticker.
Courtney’s mom helped finance this “education.” She herself now faces a tough time financially. She’s afraid she could lose her bed and breakfast business. And herein is the great joke. This woman owns a business. She should know something about finances. What on earth made her think a dead-end degree like women’s studies was worth selling her and her daughter’s soul? She should have known better.
She should have kept her daughter at home, trained her in the family business, marketed it, taught her how to keep it profitable, and lived a moderate middle-class life.
If after that she had a desire to learn “women’s studies,” she could easily have sated such a perversion without debt. She could have Googled “women’s studies reading list” and then selected one of several links from a major university, like this link: twenty-two pages of women-as-victim and women-as-equals screeds. Forget NYU, forget $97k. The New York Public Library is free. Free public libraries are all over the place. Even major universities will give full access and lending privileges for a small fee (for example, I just bought such at Emory University for $100/year—well worth it for projects I’m currently working on). For hardly any cost at all, Courtney could spend her free time indulging in all the feminism and gender diversity she could stand—and make money instead of borrowing it.

 And another excerpt....

 A college degree is certainly no guarantee of this ability, and in many respects is a great hindrance to it. It certainly won’t guarantee a job or even marketability.
So many young people fall for the illusion that a college degree has value. It’s an enormous deception, and parents will do well to insulate themselves and their children from it. This takes discipline and commitment to values, because the deception weighs powerfully on the ego and sense of destiny. It inflates hopes that may not materialize, and it caresses fond hopes of glory that lay in seed form in every depraved heart.

I would heartily encourage you to read the full article here . Really good food for thought.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adventures in Time...

Some friends of mine are planning a great adventure in 2012 – they're going to sail across the Atlantic as a family and make their way to the Caribbean. To say I am envious is an understatement! The more I was dwelling on this and how much I wanted their adventure to be mine, God stopped me dead in my tracks and spoke to me.

See, I've always believed that our lives are part of some large story (an epic tale if you will), that we all have a role to play and that when we do live out our lives the way we were created to, we bring glory to God and He delights in us. (echoes of Eldredge anyone?)

The things is, people probably look into my life and wish they were living my adventure – because what I am involved with is an adventure (and this was the great dawning realization!). Braveheart works with a dynamic team of people to create a kids animated TV series, Jungle Beat. This awesome and talented group of people are also birthing a brand from this TV series, and launching a mascot for SARU. Already, and we're only 5 years in, we have clothing and accessories and we are infiltrating the market in an unprecedented way for a local product. The road has not been easy, and we are not yet even at a pit stop!

But their vision doesn't just stop there. Their heart is to create wholesome media content for the world. Content that encourages and exhorts, that calls out the very best in us and leads us to be all we were created to be ... for stories to be so captivating, so solid and life changing, that people are drawn to God – because of the sheer brilliance of them. The greatest teacher of all taught so often using stories....

And so this is my adventure. This is bigger than me. It might be my husbands road … but there us a part for me in this as well. There are times we wonder if it will be our children that carry on the legacy, if our lives are just the years of plowing. Who are we to question eternity? Instead of looking at the lives other people get to live, I was just so reminded to look at this life He has chosen for me to live, and TO LIVE IT... with power and passion and energy....

What adventure are you living?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Bump and a Bruise

So yesterday I went for a ride around the peninsula - psyched because I had been spinning in the wet, cold weather, and was strongly convinced that I would surely be strong and fit and would just whip round the 52km route....aha!

Let the truth be known I did surely whip through Fish Hoek and along the coast at a very surprising speed. My I thought, this spinning training rocks! However, do not be fooled, for when I got to the 45 minute mark (the duration of a spinning class) I began to lose some steam, and I am afraid to say it went downhill from there - and I still had to get round the whole peninsula!

The highlight of the ride (apart from the beauty, which never fails to set me at peace - I forget too often how beautiful it is) was when I lost my balance in the process of unclipping my cleats. Picture this to amuse yourself - I had slowed down, I had unclipped my left foot, and then somehow (and this still eludes me) I fell onto my right knee and right wrist, and the bike fell right on top of me. All I could hear were oncoming cyclists murmuring about whether or not I was alright, and some alarm that there was also traffic approaching. Needless to say I was somewhat embarrassed, hurriedly yanked my foot out of the cleat, and stumbled to the side of the road!

I made it home... eventually, vowing never to leave it quite that long again before I cycle on the road, and then hobbled around for the rest of the day, nursing a VERY sore knee, which annoyingly enough doesn't look nearly black or blue enough to warrant my pain! And the TDF guys can ride with broken wrists and bruised collar bones - out of my league entirely!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A shock to the system

Belle had a febrile convulsion a few nights ago - that's a seizure caused by a rapid spike in temperature. It caused me to panic quite frankly (King Arthur had some a few years ago), and as neither my husband nor I could bring her round, we rushed her to our nearest hospital. Thankfully, she regained consciousness and quickly bounced back her her usual cheerful precious self after a few hours.

Whilst it was happening I was fascinated with my reaction - I want to immediately get her to a medical facility as I thought it would be safer...and yet when I got there I was reminded that they too are human and that only God sustains life. And I'm finding that quite a vulnerable position to be in...because he keeps reminding me of it every time my children are unwell. He, alone, is the maker and taker of life.

And I was struck by what an incredibly sheltered and privileged life I happen to lead. I was astonished at the hospital staff's apparent lack of interest or concern in my daughter's predicament - but after being there a while I understood. They are used to far worse scenarios - whilst waiting a little baby was brought in who had fallen into a pot of cooking oil; at another time men were brought in with stab wounds. Incredible what happens when your perspective changes, when you grasp understanding, how it can change your outlook, your grace for others, how it helps you to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Times Gone By...

So...I've spent a lot of time the last few days just thinking...which I tend to do a lot! I'm a thinker, a ponderer, a wonderer....and there is a lingering fascination within me for the things of the past, for days gone by, for the ancient paths and history. I'll just share a few of my ruminations!

Today I did a one and half hour spinning class (which i shall spare you the details of..let's leave it at grueling for now!), and whilst I was attempting to make my feet go round as fast as the instructor I was watching people at gym. And this thought struck me. Isn't it funny that now in today's world gyms exist because people need to be encouraged/coerced/manipulated into keeping fit? And that say 50 or 100 years ago gyms did not exist because men worked in fields, and woman did their own housework etc etc - and by and large people kept fit because of their daily lives required it. But now, with the advance of technology, that's all changed. 

[as an aside I'll share this with you...last year there was a season where I was feeling really bored as a mother - just wondering what on earth I was supposed to be doing  (I'm a doer, not so much a be-er...can you tell?!). God showed me that it was because everything he had given us to enjoy, to do had been taken away from us in the name of progress - I don't grow my own veggies, or make my own clothes, or cook from scratch, or teach my own children (at that point) etc... because it's been made so much easier for me to have someone else do that for was such an epiphany. And as a result, modern women search for other things to fill their days...]

Now listen here, I'm not for once suggesting we all become Amish (no offence meant), or that you need to adopt my weird and wonderful rambling thought patterns. Nor do I regret the incredible advancements that have come our way because of the time in which we now live. And perhaps these epiphanies and thoughts are God's way of preparing me to go to the sticks (Zimbabwean colloquial expression for rural areas)....but isn't it just interesting? Or is it just me? :)

My uncle, who is just over 70, can still remember buying milk and vegetables from men who used to come down the streets in Woodstock with their horse drawn carts. He had one pair of shoes growing up, which were kept for Sunday church services, and one jersey each winter. He commented to me a while ago that he was saddened to see parents of today striving to give their children what they didn't have growing up (the material things), that these parents are neglecting to given them what they did have (love, time, patience etc).

That ties in with something else I read on this blog - that so often we are caught up in sacrificing the eternal on the altar of the immediate - I loved the way she wrote that... and it's so true. Life as we know it has become so fast paced, so relentless in its hustle and bustle that we are often too busy to see what really counts. When King Arthur asks me to build Lego with him, it's about honoring his heart and taking a few moments to build something with him, rather than doing the dishes straight away; when Aragorn asks to do some craft - indulge him; if Belle wants me to read her and her dolls a story - to make the time. Too soon, they will no longer ask, they will no longer need me. The dishes, the housework, the errands, the groceries - all those things are still going to be waiting for me. But they won't. They will grow up. They will move on. 

And my last thought - I was recently reminded that the only thing that really matters in life is the relationships we develop with those around us - our spouse, our children, our parents, siblings, family, friends. Can you see that thread running through the Bible from beginning to end? It's God's heartbeat, his passion. His relationship with us, and our relationship with others. Everything else...fades. I know we've all heard it countless times, but i'll say it again for the one is going to wish they worked harder on their deathbed; no one is going to appreciate the overtime you do necessarily...sandcastles in time.

food for thought!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stadium Stroll

We did this outing a few weeks back on Father's Day. We took the boys' bikes and Belle's pram, and the ever present picnic!!!

We parked at the Mouille Point lighthouse and then walked through Green Point Park – it was lovely – I was very impressed with how well kept the park is, and the features along it. We circled the stadium. I fell in love with all the mosaic work along the tunnel to the buses.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another titbit!

I wanted to share this great day we had with such a simple idea - a perfect day for holidays or anytime you just need to feel like a kid again!

Tuesday rolled around and I made a point of staying at home to 'regroup' so to speak. I labelled it as a 'Topsy Turvy' Day from the moment Braveheart left for work, and we really got into the swing of things!

So...we had pudding (ice cream and meringues) for breakfast under the table, the boys wore their pyjamas the whole day (I tried and lasted until about 11!), traditional tea time at the usual fruit time (doughnuts replaced a fruit feast as a treat); they had breakfast for lunch (cereal), and lunch for dinner (tuna and sweetcorn burgers). We somehow skipped dinner! And when I gave them their meals I tried to remember to use different containers - like a cup for their doughnut and tea in a bowl etc.

 I tried to suggest bath time mid afternoon, but they were having none of it! and they also really struggled not having their usual tea time mid afternoon (they are comforted greatly by the routine of tea and a biscuit!)...but they loved wearing their day clothes after their bed time!

I think this will become a regular holiday feature in our home...will keep you posted as to how it evolves - ideas welcome!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Carefree Kirstenbosch

We met up with cousins at the Kirstenbosch Boatnical Gardens last week  - I had a complimentary ticket from the Argus this year (what a score!) and kids are free in the holidays.

with these photos, you'd never guess it was the middle of winter!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Kid on the Bok

So...Braveheart works for a company that produces animation, and is the creator of  Jungle Beat (read more here). One of the characters he conceptualized and created was a springbok, that has affectionately been called Bokkie. This character has been adopted by the South African Rugby Union as a mascot, aimed at bringing rugby to the people of South Africa. Here's a little short to show you what I mean:

Bokkie has exploded! And the response to him has been incredible - the clothing is flying off the shelves. To this end, last week, King Arthur and a few other boys had a film shoot with Brian Habana, (a local hero and Springbok rugby player) in preparation for the launch on SABC 3 (watch Top Billing tonight at 1930).

(see King Arthur in the yellow shirt?)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Titbits from this week

Well, sadly I might be writing posts without photos for a while, as it appears Braveheart's Mac has given up the ghost which is somewhat concerning for me, as all our photos are on it! (Don't ask why in all this time I haven't learnt to back them up, in spite of this happening to my computer a while back, but we'll just smile sweetly and hope those gifted men at data retrieval can work their magic!)

So, for this post, I ask you to use your imagination and picture what I'm going to describe!

On Monday, I ran a small craft morning for a couple of friends and their homeschooled children. I chose the letter 'P' (largely inspired by Jolanthe), and 

  • we made a parrot out of the letter 'p': we stuck feathers along the spine of the 'p', and a beak on the curve, complete with an eye.
  • I had asked each child to also bring their favourite puzzle, and the kids then all shared their puzzles
  • Then we had a break to eat some popcorn (sadly I could not come up with an appropriate juice, but as I write this - pineapple juice would have been brilliant!)
  • They then played
  • We used coloured paper clips to make a recurring pattern and then hooked them together to make a necklace (even the boys wore these!)
  • Lastly we sang a little rhyme to remember the sound the letter makes and then we walked to the nearby playground for good measure!
It went off quite well, although if I'm honest it began with less than stellar behavior from my tribe (mental note to self - don't take them to gym only to return home just when new guests are arriving!). However, that's behind us now - onwards!

p.s. the best phonics DVD I have come across is this Leap Frog one. Braveheart
is a talented animator, and he cannot fault the animation or concepts in this dvd
 - a worthy investment indeed!

LeapFrog - Letter Factory

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tour de France

I am passionate about cycling, and since I only discovered this a few years ago I find it refreshing that through it I can get a little of how men can watch endless golf/cricket/tennis/rugby matches! To date I have completed two Argus cycling tours – the first one whilst I was pregnant which took 7 ½ hours, and this years one which I did in 53/4 hours – so I'm getting there! I'd love to finish in the top 1000 women -so I've got something to work towards!

I am glued to the TV every night for the highlights, and am just fascinated by how these men can ride a good 5-6 hours each day, no matter what the weather and along roads crammed with people. I was shocked how many accidents occurred on the Stage One race – and how the spectators infringe on the cyclists path! And their average speed was 45km/h – gasp! I recently read Lance Armstrong's book, which I strongly recommend – an incredible journey in a fight against cancer.

Every time I cycle (or spin since I have recently taken that up) I have the same ongoing thought process in my head. Every time I cycle I realize how weak and pathetic my fitness levels are, and that if left to my own devices I would never actually get anywhere. But thanks to my riding partner (or spinning instructor) I am heartily encouraged to give it my best and to push myself...and because of their encouragement I get further in my riding/training.

Then it gets me thinking...isn't that what Christianity is like? Isn't it about how we just never can make it on our own? It's that scripture – physical training is of some value but godly training is of eternal benefit. What fascinates me is that I can chose not to respond to my partner, or to the instructor, and never push myself and never get fitter...but if I do, then I become stronger and am able to achieve so much more. See the parallel? Surely it's like that with the Spirit? And I'm not talking about hard work – I'm talking about just responding to the Spirit's prompting – call a friend, give some one a gift, play with your kids – if we respond to that surely we get fitter in Him?

Today when I was spinning I was fascinated by how much easier it was for me to spin, knowing that those cyclists (on the Tour de France) were doing a much harder day of cycling. I was actually quite comfortable in my spinning class – pleasant environement, pleasant company, all in all just dandy, because I was comparing myself to these legendary cyclists who will be riding 3,600km come rain or snow! And that made me think – we are also surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, and we can be encouraged so much especially in the western world because believing is allowed.

Food for thought huh?

Monday, July 5, 2010

World Cup Quarter Final

Wow what a day! We caught the train on Saturday from Fish Hoek to Cape Town to do the 'Fan Walk' which leads from the station up to the stadium – rather gung ho I might add, as some friends had told us how great it was with the atmosphere and all the stalls etc.

The train ride was reminiscent of our time in South Korea - the train being so packed even before we left Fish Hoek station – needing to stop at about 10 more stations to collect more passengers!

We arrived in Cape Town to a great atmosphere, vuvulezas blowing everywhere. Germany and Argentina were playing, so most fans were decked out in the respective colours. Thankfully we'd taken the pram for Aragorn, and the backpack for Belle.

It was an incredible experience and atmosphere, well worth the effort. Hundreds of thousands enthusiasts/supporters, many with painted faces & flags etc enjoyed the leisurely stroll past marching Cape Carnival bands, opera singers and much more. A photographers dream world!

(us having a picnic listening to opera!)
We got to the stadium to hear the roar of the kick off; then caught the free bus that runs every three minutes back to the station – EXHAUSTED I might add!