Friday, September 30, 2011

Do you love him like this?

Oh yes, he needs it and he definitely wants it!

He wants to know that you love him, adore him and that your heart is overflowing.  Yes even if you have been married for 40 years and "he should know it by now". Yes it means more than words - love is an action word.  It demands an action from you.  Don't wait for him - be bold, and declare your love - TODAY!

Make an effort - we get so busy with life (school, work, ministry, gardening, homeschooling etc) that at the end of the day all we want to do is get into some casual clothes and just relax.  But you have a man who hasn't necessarily had the privilege of seeing you all day in your beautiful work clothes, make up and sweet fragrances.  If you are a stay at home mom - don't dress like no one is going to see you.  Dress as though someone special is going to walk through your door at any moment - your man! (even if he works from home, even more reason to take the extra effort)

Touch him - every time you come near him touch him. Touch his arm, kiss him on the cheek, touch his hand lightly.  Stand behind him on the couch and touch is hair.  Little reminders that you are aware of him as a person.

Do those things you don't feel like doing - "You want to take a walk now?  But I'm tired, I have to make dinner, I've had a long day."  Gather up the strength, take a deep breath and do it. You know you'll end up enjoying the experience!

Remember his interests and hobbies:  OK so fishing is not your thing, but it's his, so get him fish stuff! (Notice my lack of knowledge in this area) Now Sean is into gadgets (I think most men are), computers and technology.  So I buy him Popular Mechanics as a treat.  Or head off to one of those Technology Expo's (yawn) - but he loves it!

Date Nights: we often talk about them but don't often do.  Find another couple and arrange to have turns looking after each others children, so that you can go on a date night.  Date nights don't have to be expensive events.  Choose something simple if the budget is a bit tight - picnic on the beach, a walk followed by coffees at a little coffee shop, an art exhibition, a museum, even just a long drive.  Quality time alone together.  If you can't go out - have a picnic in your lounge.  The focus is not the "where" its "who" you are with.

Candles: I really think that these are truly unsung hero's.  I know that a lot of you probably buy the big fancy ones.  I get the cheap white ones (yep call me el' cheapo) but I put them into beautiful candlestick holders, glass jars and even on a pretty plate and it looks lovely! Put them in your room at bedtime - he'll get the message.  Climb in the bath, light some candles and then ask him to wash your back - he'll definitely get that message! 

Tell your children hero stories:Tell your children hero stories about their dad while he's listening.  Remember children are easily impressed, so this should be easy.  How daddy saved the day by finding the switch when everyone was so scared in the dark and he was so brave.  How he swept you off your feet.  Or "ask daddy because he is soooo clever/good with bikes/has the strongest muscles." 

*  Give him a night off: Forget the chores, forget helping to put the children to bed.  Let him sit down, fetch that lovely magazine that you bought in (4), make him a nice hot drink, a pillow and foot rest, put some soothing music on and close the door (so that he can't hear you ranting and raving at the kids or banging the pots as you do the dishes).  Now I know you are thinking - but what about me? Don't worry, it will come.  Do some sowing in this department and I know that he will return the favour!

*  Maintain the allure:  The saying familiarity breeds contempt can be so true in marriage- we so easily seem to forget that though we are married to our best friends and that our husbands probably know more about us than anyone else- maintain an element of allure.  Keep the eyebrow plucking, spare wheel pinching, shaving, waxing, squeezing, toilet habits PRIVATE.  He doesn't need to know what you do to make yourself look beautiful, he just wants to look at you.  Imagine that every time he looks into those big eyes of yours, he is reminded of how you used this peculiar contraption to curl them.  Takes away all the appeal doesn't it?

*  Smell Nice:  When he puts on that aftershave doesn't it just make you want to bury your face into his neck and sniff deeply?  I know I LOVE those kind of things.  I am very sensitive to smells.  Smell nice.  If you can't afford perfume, get some nice smelling soap, creams, body mists.  Don't blow the bank account but make it count.

And me? Oh yes, I am the queen of love - NOT! I have to remind myself all the time that love - and the action of loving is not something we stop doing after time, but something we need to work on all the time.

I would love to hear from you.  Why not leave a comment of the ways you express your love to your sweetheart.

Mother Matters

We had our second very successful webinar last night, with Linnie Lues as our guest speaker on the topic of Homeschooling Large Families.  Linnie has said she will post her notes on her blog for those that missed last night's session. We will also be making the audio of the session available soon.

So this week we are looking forward to our third  and fourth session and to you joining us for this event.

Wednesday 05 October 2011 8.30pm-9.30pm

Topic: War on Wheat Panelist:  Tammy Mayes
I am a homeschooling mamma. In our home, we have special needs, special diets, special love, special school, and special children...not to mention that crazy chocolate brown Labrador and Tabby cat who thinks he is king in our home. I am devoted to my caring husband and devoted to my home and my children

Some of the topics we will be discussing include:
1.  How to cope with allergies in the home
2.  Strategies in dealing with wheat allergies, how to start living wheat free
3.  How to cope with social situations without "depriving" your child.
4.  How to source information or recipes
5.  How to manage on a tight budget with the expenses of organic wheat free products.

To register:  Click here
(This webinar is free)
If you need assistance because you are not sure how to do all the "techno stuff"  - we will be online at the meeting 30 minutes before we start, to ensure that any of you need help you can call us, or skype us.

The contact details for Mother Matters are:
Landline:  +27 21 788 2809
Cell:  082 5777 340
Skype:  mother.mel
 This webinar is sponsored by Slingshot Joomla! CMS Specialist

We would love to have you join us at Mother Matters! See you all there!

To view our webinar schedule for the upcoming month click here

Monday, September 26, 2011

Learning Chinese Mandarin as a Second or Third Language

With our desire to have our children learn another language(other than English and Afrikaans), we opted for Mandarin.  Not a natural choice, as the only Chinese in our areas are the ones that own a few retails stores or the buses that bring in scores of tourists to our beach where they subsequently take numerous photos of us standing next to them.  In fact many would say - what is the relevance?  Well the answer would be....none - unless you are part of this family.  Sean and I would love to live in China and the east and so we thought, how better to prepare our children than to get them studying the language?  And we really noticed how difficult it was on our recent visit without this tool.  Unlike a lot of countries where English is a second language, many Chinese don't even understand the most basic English.  Not because they don't know English on paper but how we pronounce a word is not the way we pronounce a word.  You can understand this if you think of the word minute(60 seconds) and minute(tiny).

We approached learning Mandarin in a number of different ways:

1.  Online

There are so many online resources out there, you could just get lost in that Mandarin jungle.  However it is very possible to learn if you are motivated, without paying a cent.  The only down side is that its not really user friendly for children which means you need to have a very hands on approach.  And of course I am naturally a little suspicious of any sites with too much "action" on it, my overcautious brain worries about viruses.  And most of these sites are like that.  They also seem to be a little random in terms of what you learn.

2.  Tutor 

We tried a tutor in the beginning, a very sweet local Chinese man who came once a week and attempted to teach all of us at the same time -  but we felt almost like we needed to constantly be memorising words and within a week we had forgotten all of them.  Especially when we were lazy and didn't even bother. (that would pretty much be most of the time).  The children lost interest after 10 minutes and were frustrated that they had to do this on a Saturday. 

3. Rosetta Stone
So after we had researched a number of options, we considered all the online options - and there are a lot, but in the end we settled on Rosetta Stone.  

We love the way this system works.    What I have found with this computer program is that most of the lessons are 5 to 10 minutes long.  You learn words through pictures and drawing your own conclusions about what you are looking at.  (Which is the way we learn when we are children - we don't normally translate when teaching our children. )  

The one I bought is a the Homeschooling Edition which allows you to monitor how long each child spends on a lesson, what result they got and how far they have progressed.  In fact you  can print off a report for each child.  Which of course is ideal for those of you that need to keep records.  It allows up to 5 registered users at the same time, so both Sean and I are obviously learning too, but at a much slower pace:) 

We have included this as part of our school curriculum and the children enjoy it.  They love progressing through the system.  You can even tailor make your program based on where each child is at in terms of age, reading skills.  So for a child who cannot read you could start them just on the speech and pronunciation.  Its a year long program but you can reduce that to less if you want something more brief.  

As a South African this does not come cheap because though the program for Level 1 costs $159(though if you order a number of levels, there are specials on bulk buying), there is also postage which is $50 (though it does mean the program arrives 3 days later - literally on your doorstep) There is also an import tax which needs to be paid which is about R200.  But but dare I say that I still think its worth every cent!  For those of you based in the States, its definitely a lot less as there are no shipping fees and then they also allow you to pay with your credit card over 6 months - which is a real bonus.

I have heard that there are other programs out there, and I am sure that there are those that are better or worse.  But this is what our family is using and we are thrilled with the results.  

They do have an online demonstrations so you can get a sense of the way they present the material.  Of course if you are not interested in Mandarin they do offer a large variety of languages and once you get to the higher levels there are interactive live sessions.

Please note that this is not a recommendation because we get a cent from Rosetta Stone or that they even know who I am - but my kids love them, and so do I - So how's that for a bit of free advertising?

Mother Matters

We had our first very successful webinar last week, with Bronwyn Ansell as our guest speaker on the topic of Homeschooling with Cambridge.  Its was an interesting session with lots of questions.  It was an hour long session but there was so much to ask, it could easily have continued for another hour.

A few of you sms'ed and emailed to say that you were struggling to connect to the webinar.  If you need assistance because you are not sure how to do all the "techno stuff" - don't feel embarrassed.  My wonderful husband is on technical support and he's great.  He's very patient and is happy to chat you through the process.  We will be online at the meeting 30 minutes before we start, to ensure that any of you need help you can call us, or skype us.

The contact details for Mother Matters are:
Landline:  +27 21 788 2809
Cell:  082 5777 340
Skype:  mother.mel

So this week we are looking forward to our second session and to you joining us for this event.

Wednesday 28 September 2011 8.30pm-9.30pm

 Topic:  Homeschooling: Large Families
"I would like to share with you my experiences on my journey to become:  A submissive wife with a gentle and quiet spirit; An encouraging, loving mother who wants her children to become everything God intends them to be; A home schooling mother of eight, who uses the tool of education to grow godly character; develop life skills; discover their gifting, talents and godly calling; An excellent cook of healthy, nutritional and tasty meals to enable my family to live a long and productive life and fulfill their Godly calling."

Topics on the Agenda will include:
*  How to teach across the big age gap (multiple levels)
*  What to do with toddlers when their siblings are learning
*  Single salary and Budgeting
  *  Practical home management tips including:  snack times, meal prep, socialisation (so many children to take to so many sporting or music activities)
*  Chores and training up children to be part of the household
To register:  Click here
(This webinar is free)
This webinar is sponsored by Slingshot Joomla! CMS Specialist

We would love to have you join us at Mother Matters! See you all there!

To view our webinar schedule for the upcoming month click here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ode to My Best Friend

Yesterday morning my best friend turned 37, and we were all there to celebrate! Of course the children couldn't resist hiding and jumping out and shouting "surprise".
 It's only taken us about a year to finally make it to a rather famous hangout down the road, but this special occasion ensured we made the most of it.
We were all so excited about sitting right by the window looking out on the street, which we had seen many people doing.
And of course birthdays are not just for the birthday boy but everyone gets to benefit from the excursion, clearly they were enjoying the moment too!

And knowing that this special day was all about my best friend, there was time for lots of cuddles.
 I always feel so privileged to be married to this soul mate of mine.  He was chosen by God to be my husband.  We have walked a long road with many challenges and delights and the more I get to know him the more I love him.  He has allowed me to follow my dreams, supported me in every way, often sacrificing all he has for the sake of the kingdom, loves his children dearly and grown in stature and confidence over the years I have known him.  He is known amongst his friends as a patient, faithful, loving man, a father, a mentor and a friend.  I love you so much it hurts my darling husband.

And because I am a bit of a romantic and because it just seemed like a good idea, I found this lovely poem that probably says it far more eloquently than I ever could.

Another Birthday Together
Your birthday marks another year together;
Such happy times, I couldn’t ask for more,
Spending precious minutes, hours and days
With you, my love, whom I cherish and adore.
We’ve shared so much, we two, in love and friendship;
Each year our bond just seems to grow and grow.
I always want to be right next to you;
To be with you means more than you can know.
You’re always there for me with a loving smile;
I’m never happier than when I know you’re near.
I thought my love for you could not grow stronger;
And yet I love you even more this year.
By Karl and Joanna Fuchs

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Could I Be Failing at Homeschooling?

I have been challenged today in my homeschool view. Am I homeschooling my children - only to find that every value, every dream, every good thing I hope for them, might fall away.  In fact not even fall away, but chase them away?

Reb Bradley writes a very truthful reflection on some of his failures in homeschooling in the Virginia Home Educator's Magazine, and they have nothing to do with curriculum, art or whether you unschool or try the Charlotte Mason method. 

Its all about the heart.  

Why not get a coffee, pray and ask God to speak to you  and then read this article.  You may or may not homeschool, but it examines our motives in how we parent our children.

Friday, September 9, 2011

8 Things I love about the Rugby World Cup

With Rugby World Cup Fever in the air, how could you NOT get excited?  It seems that everyone is talking about Rugby, connecting their DSTV, putting up the match schedule next to the TV and preparing to hibernate for the next 6 weeks.  Or is that just us?

So I was reading the front page of the Cape Times this morning and super excited that there was a match schedule in there.  The thrill for me being, that I would actually know what match is being played and who is playing.  Up to this point, at the ripe ol' age of 38, my daddy phones me in the morning of the days that South Africa plays - otherwise I would miss the whole event.  Pathetic I know but honestly I have a whole bunch of other things that I need to remember on a daily basis - like getting up for a start! I mean honestly if my alarm didn't go off every morning I think I would forget to get out of bed - though with 4 children begging for breakfast (yep they do that sometimes), I doubt they would let me forget for too long.

So here my top 8 things I love about the Rugby World Cup:

1.  I can scream and shout without anyone accusing me of bad behaviour or poor communication skills.  Gooooooooooooooo Booooookkkkkkeee!

2.  Even though I don't know all the rules, I can still get behind my team.  I mean, who cares why a group of men will huddle together, stick their hands between each others legs, and go cheek to cheek over a ball.  As long as they think its important!

3. Waiting for Pieter de Villiers to say something that will most likely get him into trouble with someone.  I have never known anyone to have such an interesting perspective on the game of rugby before.

4.  I know I shouldn't say this, but I love a good fight on the field.  With so much testosterone, it's bound to happen - though with Bakkies Botha going out with an injury, not sure we'll see too much action.  Hopefully someone else steps up to fill those rather large shoes.

5.  Our team! I love the Bokke.  The green and gold.  I love that I feel like I know them and that I can cheer them on, fight with them, criticise them and just give them a good tongue lashing - all from the comfort of my couch.  After all I am the expert!

6. It gets personal.  Friends become enemies because they originate from a different nation and they dare to shout for another team. Facebook becomes a minefield of offense.  Who needs friends anyway?

7.  Having friends over and and having a braai.  I mean a barbeque sounds so frivilous doesn't it in comparison to a "braai"!!!  "Braaivleis" and "boerewors" - proudly South African!

8.  Victor Matfield at a line out, Morne Steyn at the poles, Bryan Habana on a try line, Schalk Burger in a tackle, Tendai Mtawarira as he gathers support as people shout "Beeeeaaaaaasssssttttt" - so many reasons to love these guys.

So there you have it.  I love this game.  I love the vibe.  I love the Rugby World Cup and I am so looking forward to this one and us coming home with the trophy.  So why not comment and tell me what you love about the Rugby World Cup?
*  Disclaimer: if any information, terminology or reference to the game is incorrect - what can I say?  I am no rugby expert just a loyal supporter in love with the game!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How To Get Those Kiddie Engines Running in the Morning

On any given day, my children will decide that school is just not for them, they don't feel like it, or they just dawdle and delay the start of their day.  I used to try nagging, threats of not finishing their work in time to play in the afternoon and all sorts of ineffective frustrating methods and then I changed.  The emphasis being on me.  Now I am NOT implying that we should pander to our children's wants and wills but with just a few shifts and changes, you can change the momentum and atmosphere of any homeschooling day.

1.  Change the order
I like to have a similar pattern on every day so that the children know what they are supposed to be doing.  Maths first, Mandarin next, English etc.  But just as much as we get bored doing the same ol' things every day, so do they.  As the saying goes, a change is as good as a holiday.  So I swing things around, do the fun stuff first like experiments, read alouds/ literature, computer/Internet research, cooking etc.  They love it, suddenly the classroom comes alive.  Though don't dress your boys up in flower aprons as you never know who might see them:)

2.  Get Out and About
We have a fairly busy program when it comes to sports and outdoor activities but its always at the end of the day.  If you are finding that they are not able to concentrate or sit still - why not go for a run on the beach, go to the gym (we belong to Virgin and they have wonderful facilities available for the children), do some gardening and teach them about planting, seeds, sun and insects and while you do this take a magnifying glass and let them just walk around looking and exploring.

3.  Schedule an unexpected excursion
This doesn't have to be for the whole day either.  Remember we are trying to change the learning atmosphere not give them a day off.  Go to somewhere local like a museum or even the library.  You can even just take out books on the subject you are currently working through and let them look at the pictures.  They will soon be asking questions and reading without any effort on your part.

4.  Read, read, read
Reading living books is learning.  So often we fall into the trap that learning has to be done in a specific way, usually with lots of writing, diagrams and theory.  Read to them, get them to read to each other, read to you.  All of these help to improve their comprehension and skill which will have an impact on every subject!

5.  Have rewards in your back pocket
Have a mini competition for the first person to finish something.  In our house, our children are VERY competitive and so this always works but be careful - this could also derail as we have had situations where there have been tears when someone has lost.  We have tried to create goals for specific children.  For example if the youngest finishes his Maths in 10 minutes - he gets rewarded, the eldest in 30 minutes etc. This way they are competing against themselves.  You can't do this too often as the thrill of the competition quickly wears off but can be used occasionally.

6.  Pray
I have found that this often settles the children.  God is good and faithful and when we come together as a family and ask Him to help - He does.  Ask for wisdom to know how to manage them.

7.  Take a Break
Maybe they just need a breather. Make them some rooibos tea, give them a snack.  They also have their moments where they need some extra attention.

8.  Try an Educational Video
Let me just clarify that an educational video is NOT teletubbies or the Gadget show on Discovery.  What I am talking about are videos that are rich in content and appeal.  We have watched a few of them like Wild China , National Geographic, David Attenborough (bearing in mind that I sit with them making sure that what is being taught is in line with our beliefs and value systems especially with regards to evolutionary references).  I don't plonk them in front of the telly and then leave them there while I get on with blogging or emails - this is a learning opportunity for all of us!

9.  Move them to a Different Environment
Sometimes my boys lie in bed and do work.  Yes! Can you imagine? Shocking isn't it? But when its cold and they are working - what's the problem?  Surely if they are learning you are not losing.  I don't let them hand in sloppy work but giving them a different space to work in also helps.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you. How do you get your children going when they really don't feel like learning?  I would love to hear your thoughts and hopefully pick up some more tips.

Don't forget to sign up for our Webinar on Saturday - we look forward to chatting to you!

Free Webinar and More on China

As mentioned in my previous article, I have managed to persuade Sean (that would be my husband for those of you that don't know) to run a free webinar on how to Launch Your Business Online.   He has been in the Web Coach and Online industry for a number of years, and is experienced in so many things its sometimes hard to keep track of.

Consider the following questions, when trying to decide whether you should attend this webinar or not.:

Are you a home based entrepreneur?
Are you currently unemployed / underemployed?
Do you want to earn money from the comfort and safety of your home?
Do you have a few hours each day to build your business?If you have answered YES to any of the questions above, join us on Saturday evenings, as we explain how you can setup an online business, or get your existing business online.

This will be a FREE five part series, covering;
- Strategy: How to get a great idea and work out your game plan.
- Platform: Blog or website, email or SMS, product or service?
- Social Media: Get visible on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google
- Billing: Charge clients in a professional and effective way
- Affiliates / Partners: Make money by referral and earn a residual income.

You will need a fast Internet connection and a computer with a mic headset or speakers, to fully interact with us and others via this exciting web technology called a Webinar.
Find out more by joining us for the first session, or call us on +27 21 788 2809 for more information.
Register Now 

Faces and Places of China Part 2 
Today's photos are all about people who we spent time with, while  helping and volunteering with China Heart International - our team !  Volunteers are invaluable to any organisation. Having set up and run a non profit for many years, I know how important volunteers are to the effectiveness of any organisation.  These are the faces of those that volunteered with me.  Special people who travelled from all over the globe to spend time with orphans and special needs children in China.The group was diverse - British, Australians, Chinese, South Africans (us:) and Americans- but what an amazing team!  
Here they are....
And here they are in action.....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gold Nuggets #3 Work from Home and More

A place to get seriously distracted!  Its all about saving the things you like and find on the web.  Lots of pretty things.  BE warned - this is a highly addictive activity! However a wonderful opportunity to showcase your products especially if you run a small business from home.  By "pinning" an image it showcases that image to a number of viewers or followers.

A real solution to be able to work from home.  There are so many opportunities to supplement your income.  There are so many moms who are really need to make a little extra money while still trying to home school and manage their homes.  This a goodie because you decide how much you want to work. You also can track employer records before deciding that you want to work for someone.  Please remember though to read the fine print!

Odyssey Daily Broadcasts
I don't know about your children, but mine love Odyssey.  They listen to it daily on the radio and in fact our school day finishes with them, and we have even downloaded and bought some from which they listen to every night as they drift off to sleep.  But if you don't want to buy them, why not let them listen to it on your computer.  Every day they offer a different episode. Why would I post this on "Work from Home?"  Sometimes we need to occupy our children without sticking them in front of the television, while we deal with our "work-from-home" issues.  These episodes are about 30 minutes long, they are highly entertaining and they teach good values and morals through the stories.  Of course also developing those under developed listening skill.  What a wonderful combination!

Special 150x150Just the right place to find discounted rates on restaurants, beauty, flights, hotels - and some of the discounts are as much as 70%.  I always keep my eye out for a good deal - chance to take my man on a romantic outing, no-cook-at-home-options (a firm favourite in this house)
You can earn extra cash by recommending Groupon! Recommend your favourite offers to friends, relatives and colleagues who haven’t heard of Groupon. If someone buys a deal which you’ve recommended to them then you receive R 25 Groupon credit which entitles you to an even greater discount on your next deal - or you could even have it for nothing!

Webinar on HOW to get YOUR business online?
My husband has been a Webcoach for a number of years - from training individuals, companies and universities in using a website content management system (Joomla!) - to hosting, website design and support and just about everything else that happens online. Well I have persuaded him to run a Webinar at no cost to you on How to get YOUR business online?  I will be posting details of the Webinar during the week about how to sign up and be part of the discussion .  For those of you that are interested in joining us, the Webinar will take place from 8pm to 9pm (UTC/GMT +2 hours)  so make sure you set that time aside.

For our next Gold Nuggets issue we will be linking up to good reads on Adoption, if your blog or website covers adoption why not submit your link to mel at mothers dot co dot za.  Please note that there are no guarantees that they will be published as I choose links based on content and suitability.