Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall....

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So today was a great day, children went to the local gym for their holiday club activities which meant me running around like a maniac doing all the things I cannot normally do which was simply divine!  Followed by a Park Day (what - you ask? ).  A colourful group of mom's who get together on a paddock in Noordhoek and enjoy each other's company while their children run around enjoying the open spaces, the mud (yes Helen and Michelle - the MUD!) and much laughter.  OK so I am drifting a bit but the remains of mud in my shower and the washing load full of dirty clothes reminds me that I need to remember to take extra clothes on our next Park Day and definitely no newly-granny-knitted-cardigans - sorry Mom:(

So here I was enjoying the diversity of the group, the laughter, the stories -when one of the mothers started sharing about all these great exciting things she was doing - play dates and learning ballet.  The details of her adventures are not as significant as the sudden comparison I made.  I started to feel almost insecure (yes I definitely have moments like this) and unimportant , even slightly envious.  The temptation to run to the closest dance instructor who would be crazy enough to sign me up for a class was so strong, it was ridiculous.  I love dancing but have never really felt the urge to go for lessons but here in the shadow of this significant other - I was comparing myself to her and falling so short.  Short according to whose standards though?

There is an insightful scripture that my children recently had to memorise "and they in comparing themselves, among themselves, are not wise" 2 Corinthians 10:12 and if you take the scripture to the opposite basically it says that if you make comparisons - you're not wise - mmmmh lets see if I look up the opposite of wise in my web search I come up with:   foolish , ignorant, stupid, unintelligent, unreasonable, unwise. Not a nice thing to consider but so true!  I am being foolish in comparing myself because when I do I am looking for a winner or a loser.  If I win it makes me feel good, but who is the loser?  The person I am judging or measuring?  And if I 'lose' in the comparison I feel rotten, unworthy and of no value.

Its so easy to slip into this way of thinking - we compare ourselves with others in so many ways - clothing, children, popularity, finances, lifestyle and yet God  individually wrapped and made us.  If he had wanted to, he could have cloned me and made 1000's of Mel's (oh how that would not work!) but He chose one Mel and one you.  Recently my sister visited and I sat there marvelling at how different we are but doesn't that make her all the more special and more unique! What a divinely unique individual each one of us has been created to be. 

He has made you so uniquely different from anyone else because He wanted YOU, not someone else.

So here I am celebrating my rather unusual dress sense, bumps, moles, freckles, love handles and heart for orphans, desire to go places and do things off the map and crazy stubbornness that has me holding onto the promises of God.   Because the whole package is what he gave me and what makes me Mel.

And to finish, here is a song that was playing on iTunes as I was writing this, why not listen to this song.

Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted

When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again


Who lived and died to give new life

To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough


By a perfect God

Be changed by a perfect God

Be changed

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How many homeschoolers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just this morning I received this email through one of our homeschooling e-loops, so after asking permission from Dr Frank Muller, here is a real funny for you to enjoy!

How many homeschoolers does it take to change a light bulb?

Before commencing, mom contacts the Pestalozzi Trust to see if it is legal to change a light bulb without registering with the provincial department of education.

She then contacts the Homeschooling Yahoo group to see if there is enough interest to have a field day to watch the changing of the light bulb.

The Forum then debates whether this is a homeschooling or an unschooling type of activity.

Then, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a
biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life.

Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles.
Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they´ll get if they buy two bulbs for R10.95 and pay with a R50 bill.

On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also conservation, as there is a lion picture on the R50 bill.

Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

And there is light.

So the answer is: Not less than 5.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are you a leader or a follower?

The things that haven't been done before,
Those are the things to try;
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.

The many will follow the beaten track
With guideposts on the way,
They live and have lived for ages back
With a chart for every day.
Someone has told them it's safe to go
On the road he has traveled o'er.
And all that they ever strive to know
Are the things that were known before.

A few strike out, without map or chart,
Where never a man has been,
From the beaten paths they draw apart
To see what no man has seen.
There are deeds they hunger alone to do;
Though battered and bruised and sore,
They blaze the path for the many, who
Do nothing not done before.

The things that haven't been done before,
Are the tasks worth while to-day;
Are you one of the flock that follows, or
Are you one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whether you win or fail,
Strike out for a goal that's new?
Author Unknown

Pioneers are not the loudest, the youngest or the most popular.  Courage is all we need to be the pioneers, the leaders, the Joshua's and Calebs.
When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, "You are old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over"  Prov 13:1

In fact pioneers only lead the way amongst people but they follow God faithfully and when they do the reward is great.

"The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. Joshua 14:9"

Can you hear the voice of the Lord who calls you to walk in a way you never gone before?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blogging: Decorating your blog

I love playing with backgrounds on my blog. It's the non-graphic-designer-wishing-she-was, that gives me such a thrill to change the way my blog looks. I really don't like having the generic backgrounds that Blogger offer. They are fine for a start, but the more I read blogs (and I read a lot) the more I want it to look more professional or appealing.

To help you along, I found a number of blogger backgrounds which are free.  Its not difficult to do, all you have to do is go to the backend of your blog, add a gadget - the html one - and normally you just have to copy and paste some "web language" into there and it transforms your blog. Why not give it a try. If it doesn't work and you don't like it, then you can remove it afterwards.

Most of them offer plenty of blog backgrounds for free and then there are also some that you pay for, or parts you pay for like blinkies or buttons. The free ones are lovely and are more than sufficient to make your blog look elegant and charming.

Have fun!!
WARNING: Changing blog backgrounds can be a very addictive activity, proceed with care.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Out and About: Charly's Bakery

    Our Friday excursion was meant to all be about the District Six Museum in Buitenkant Street Cape Town but we came across the most unusual sighting on the way home that deserves special mention - Charly's Bakery.

    The little girl in me could not resist.  And the inside was even more beautiful than the outside.  I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland.
    Chandeliers with the most beautiful trinkets hanging in every room. The place was buzzing.And if you take your cakes away they are packed in beautiful white and pink boxes.
    After the initial ooh's and aah's - we saw them. Row upon row of the most exquisitely decorated biscuits.
    And layers of unusually decorated cupcakes full of enticing colours.

     And then this one which looked unbelievably real.  Yes that is a cake.
    I know I shouldn't have, all those colourants - sugars .... but like most things forbidden, who could resist? So I ordered these little critters for the boys

    And I had the most delicious chocolate cake smothered in a toffee choc sauce with a cherry on top:)
    AND THEY LOVED IT! I was the number one mom! They could barely contain themselves. 

    With blue teeth and tongues they smiled their way all the way to the station.

    I'll post about the Museum tomorrow.....

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Never Quit

    I am married to an amazing man.  He was God's perfect choice for me.  God spoke clearly and directly to me and said "This is the one." But just because God says he's the one doesn't mean that marriage is any easier.  We face the same trials as everyone else and then some.  Knowing is not the same as being.

    People often look at our family and our relationship and think that we have everything sorted, that we are such a "lovely" family.  (Not sure if the number of children that we have is the reason for them drawing that type of conclusion).  However it hasn't been always the way we have perceived it.  We have had huge arguments and I have packed my bags more than once (I know its awful isn't it?!) as we have had some real marital issues which have often felt insurmountable. 

    Dear friends of mine at Connections recently shared on removing the quit option.  The absolute conviction to never give up no matter what happens.  I know that I said my vows and they meant a lot to me then, but I was also repeating words that we were expected to repeat and its so easy to make promises to your spouse-to-be when things are still rosy and you haven't had to deal with any issues yet.
    Of course when the paw paw hits the fan, those promises can so easily be forgotten and after all in a society of fast food, instant gratification and media - divorce seems like a real quick and easy option when things get a little difficult.

    But when you remove the quit option you are vowing to stand firm ,to never give up, to keep hoping, keep loving and keep holding on (even if its through gritted teeth).
    And so I decided that it was time ..... time to get ride of that alternative forever.  I promised Sean that I had removed the quit option from our marriage and that no matter what I would never give up.  What a frightfully sweet moment that was.  Even as I made this promise to him, all my insides went crazy and I thought "but what if".... but I knew it was the right thing to do.  He responded by making a promise never to quit on us, to never quit on me. 

    And interesting enough we have noticed a new tenderness in our relationship, a new commitment and consideration.  Its definitely changed something in us and I know that God honours a commitment like this.  We are not naive to think that life will now be perfect and our marriage will never falter but there is a new level of depth to our relationship as we make that purposeful decision to allow God to strengthen us as a three stranded cord.

    I love this man who has been brave enough to risk it with me...... forever.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Out and About: Josephine Mill in Newlands

    My GPS on my phone stopped working a while ago so this was a bit of a stretch for me, venturing into Newlands - unknown territory for the newbie in town.  Pathetic I know but I am such a scaredy cat when I have a car full of children, a map book whose pages look like a bowl of spagetti with intersections, highways and hard to find places.  I like a GPS: it says left and you turn left - you don't have to think, you just do! But nonetheless I put my name down for the excursioin to Josephine Mill like any good home-educating mother would.

    Of course when I looked out the door and saw the grey skies and downpour I simply thought - "Oh great, no GPS AND this! But never to be defeated by some rain (after all with warriors in my house they would think I was "wimping out") we headed off to Newlands.

    What a lovely learning opportunity! Of course it takes some courage handing over your mapbook because you never know where your children might direct you to (mine would probably direct me to the closest Toys R Us) but we got there AND (insert trumpet blast)  FIRST! Those of you that know me, know this is close to a miracle - in fact I would even go as far as to suggest the rapture is on the way based on this amazing performance:)
    Mmh getting distracted ....Let me say that on arrival at the Josephine Mill, you wonder how your children will manage more than 20 minutes of walking around because it really doesn't look like much at first glance.  But then Millton starts.  What a compelling story teller he is!  His gift in story telling has the children enthralled as he tells tales of crookery, romance, land ownership, conflict, princesses and jewels all of which have played a part in the establishment of this mill in 1822 (oh boy - hope I got the date right).  After all the stories, it was time for touching. YAY! And they had been so good and so patient. You know what its like - the pep talk in the car about not touching with threat of all sorts of punishment if they don't listen ( or is that just me?)

    They were shown traditional farming equipment and they all got a turn - thinking I might have some new chores for the boys to do...

    Grinding with stones gave me a new respect for some of our more traditional folk who still practise some of these methods.  No such thing as a quick loaf.

    The BIG machine was put on and could we could watch how the wheat went in on the one side and the flour came out on the other after being stone ground with huge churning wheels and lots of noise with all of us peering inside of course.

    And we were able to see a water wheel up close.  Unfortunately he had to start it manually due to the weather but apparently its normally automatic.

    Some real mindblowing facts for me was
    *cake flour is not real flour but wheat dust i.e. the dust thats produced during the grinding process
    *flour is flamable!!! Who thought baking could be so dangerous and considering that I don't get danger pay I might need to invest in an appropriate outfit to wear on the occassions that I do, or maybe I should just insist that Sean do all the baking from now as danger is a man's calling isn't it?

    The whole experience was about an hour and a half but even with children ranging 3 to 10 years, it was great! And of course what a lovely time to just chat and meet some new homeschooling moms and dads.

    We're off to the District Six Museum on Friday so looking forward to the next learning experience.  They always remember a lot more than if you teach out of books.  And mom gets to learn a whole lot too.

    Don't forget to enter our Reader's Reward Giveaway for your chance to win some fabulous organic Free and Fresh Roll On Deodrant. 

    Remember you can enter a number of times by doing any of the following:
    • Like Free and Fresh on Facebook.and tell me which fragrances you would prefer if you win
    • Blog about the giveaway ( post a comment on this blog with a link to your post)
    • Buy a Free and Fresh Roll On Deodorant (win another to share), to place an order click here
    • Follow my blog  through Networked Blogs on Facebook, Google Connect or follow by email.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Reader's Reward Giveaway: Free and Fresh - All Natural & Eco Friendly Roll-on Deodorants

    So I have wanted to a giveaway for sometime because I know how fun they are and I know how cool it is to win something!

    As some of you may know I have now started selling a product called Free and Fresh Roll on Deodorant.  I didn't start out selling it - I was a user (sounds dramatic doesn't it) In fact I called Petra (the remarkable creator behind this product) to find out how to get hold of more and that was when the opportunity presented itself to sell and market this organic product.

    There is a growing body of concern and evidence that one of the contributing factors to breast cancer is linked to certain harmful and toxic chemicals found in underarm products, namely aluminium, parabens and petrochemicals.

    Aluminium is not only known as a carcinogenic substance that causes cancer, but is also linked to numerous neurotoxic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Parabens and petrochemicals are known to cause disruptions to our endocrine (hormonal) system. Young girls and boys entering puberty are especially vulnerable to hormonal changes in their body, so it is important to get them started on a natural underarm product as soon as possible.

    With this product I don't have to worry about all of these and on top of that I smell great no matter what time of the month or whether I am exercising or not.  Both Sean and I use it and since we switched, all the shop alternative roll ons (which are especially easy to buy when the budget is tight) are just not good enough anymore.  Of course there are lots of things that I put into and on my body that I shouldn't but I am working on improving one thing at a time. Each small change makes a difference.
    The different fragrances are:
    Rosewood & Rose
    Geranium, Clary Sage & Cedarwood
    Ylang-Ylang & Lime
    Rosewood & Pettigrain
    Spearmint & Patchhouli
    Grapefruit, Rosewood & Lime

     So here's how you stand a chance of having a chance to win 2 roll ons (valued at R45 each)

    • Like Free and Fresh on Facebook.and tell me which fragrances you would prefer if you win
    • Blog about the giveaway ( post a comment on this blog with a link to your post)
    • Buy a Free and Fresh Roll On Deodorant (win another to share), to place an order click here
    • Follow my blog  through Networked Blogs on Facebook, Google Connect or follow by email.
    Each thing you do above is one entry each. So lots of ways you can win.  I will be announcing the winner on 24th June ( next Friday)  For those of you who see me regularly I do have some samples worth taking a whiff of.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Out and About: Cape Point Ostrich Farm and a Secret Paradise

    With the glorious weather there was no way I could justify staying indoors, though I was tempted.  Sean has been away for about a week and a half and carrying the load myself has been exhausting.  We headed off to the Cape Point Ostrich Farm via a slow steady drive along the coast.  Those of you that have taken this meander, know how pretty it is.  Of course the fact that I was driving about 50km/h the whole way so that I could get a chance to enjoy the beauty didn't make me any friends on the road.  In fact every time there were about 10 cars behind me I would pull over so that they could go past:) But who wants to rush down that stretch anyway?

    Now this sign was enough to make this rather conservative mother turn around for fear of the child swallowing ostriches but after a deep breath while gripping the children's hands tightly, we ventured forth.  Pathetic I know but I could envision one of those rather large birds swallowing Ruthie whole!

    So many beautiful things to see, a place of beauty and tranquility.  I loved the open spaces, the indigenous vegetation and of course the children could not resist a green pond with all sorts of tales of crocodiles lurking below the water.

    We were introduced to Pierre our guide.  His patience, gentleness and humour had them all enthralled and of course there was so much to learn and see.  
    We discovered all about skeletons and Ruthie couldn't resist swinging the bones back and forth.  I had to stop myself from giggling as you can only imagine how strange that looked.  
    After all the "hard work" of listening and everyone trying very hard to be on their bestest behaviour but just itching to get out and about we headed out to see the "real thing". We started with the chicks... need I say more.

    After the rather gentle introduction we were introduced to adult birds.  We were all given a chance to feed them.  The guide had to distract the female because apparently she's a little testy (had to laugh at this) , while we were able to feed the male.  Ethan and Declan were fairly brave but Chad and I did it together because we were both pretty scared and Ruthie refused point blank to go anywhere near that huge beak.   
    The male challenge!

    Ethan had just fed the ostrich for the first time and he was so relieved to see all 5 fingers still attached after the guide pretty much told them that if they hold the food incorrectly the ostrich would eat one of his fingers. 
    After all the emotional highs, everyone was ready just to run around and enjoy this wonderful place.

    Some just sat and stared.

    Time for a family portrait

     And lots and lots of running around.  Thank goodness for open spaces!

    There's a lovely Afrikaans phrase I am reminded of "fluit fluit my storie is uit" (roughly translated - my story is finished).  Well that's what I thought but as we were driving home we caught a glimpse of this....
    You can't see this place unless you look over the side of a cliff.  As you can see there are no garages, no roads, no cars.  We drove up and down to see if we could find a road going down and then we noticed about 10 cars parked next to the road on the opposite side and there was a young couple loading bags into the car.  After asking half a dozen questions we discovered that the only way down was to walk down.  So with some time on our hands and children with lots of energy we started the long walk down. 

    And so we started with mom in the rear puffing and panting and slipping and sliding with the wet ground.

    It took us a good 20 to 30 minutes to get there, it really was a long way down.  I could just imagine lugging Pick 'n Pay bags of groceries down this path and then on top of that forgetting something in the car.  I got so lost in this thought that I started to think of all the ways I was going to persuade Sean to go up the mountain:)  Not a pleasant thought for anyone.
    But of course they all loved it.  Who wouldn't enjoy an adventure like this one?
    Once we got to the bottom  we were rewarded for all our efforts, there were some beautiful holiday homes

    Don't they just look idyllic, all facing the ocean, nestled in the indigenous vegetation?
    A deserted beach

    Some boulders to climb

    And a beautiful ocean to wade in. I just sat on the rocks while I watched my children have the time of their life.  Sitting reflecting on the joys of motherhood and being so grateful for having ventured out the door(rather than staying at home), courageously facing the biggest bird in the world unscathed and taking that first step down the mountain side to discover this hidden paradise.

     And now I can honestly say "fluit fluit my storie is uit"