Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winner of the Tin Town Giveaway

And the time has arrived to find out who the winner is of the Tin Town Giveaway.  I use an online program which is great because it randomly selects a winner for me.  And these were the beautiful treasures up for grabs, valued at R450.

And the winner is......
Comment No 11:  
 "Lythann I liked. I liked it alot luv Lythann"

Well done Lythann, I am sure it will look amazing in your new home! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 10 Things I can't live without in my homeschooling day

There are a few things that I need to make homeschooling work.  Things that optimize homeschooling (sounds educational doesn't it?).  Optimize.  Good word. But I need certain things to be in place for learning to take place in our house. Some of these things I need daily and others weekly.  I can live without some of them (maybe not coffee) but they definitely make life easier.

1.  Internet/ Computer
We do lots of activities online including: Reading Eggs, Chess, Mandarin, and all sorts of research.We watch the series Drive thru History on TBN, and Chinese Television online. 

2.  Library cards - I could say the library but even the library is inaccessible without these.  Believe me I  know - after heading to the library, spending 2 hours choosing books, DVDs and music and heading to the counter with almost 50 items only to discover you have left your library cards at home, Library cards are like gold!

3.  Art supplies - we do this almost every day - and art supplies can include cereal boxes, toilet rolls, coloured rice, scraps of material, magazines - anything with which we can create - and then sometimes we buy supplies too.  In fact the most important items on this list would be glue and scissors. 

4.  At least one read aloud- we love reading and living books are an inspiration.  The day seems incredibly empty when we don't have at least one read aloud.

5.  Stationary - lots of pencils, erasers, crayons, click pencils for extra neat work

6.  Coffee - an endless supply.  Whether roasted, instant or frothed - local, Jamaican or Brazilian - any flavour, any time.

7.  Snacks - homeschooling would be incomplete without it, never mind concentration levels
8.  Television - yep, not for telly sake but for our Maths Programs, Educational DVDs and Screen time on a Friday (for children AND parents)

9.  Open windows- smells and bells, we have a lot of those.  Winter, summer, rain or shine - fresh air is a necessity especially with my boys who like to leave little fragrances around the room

10.  Activities or Sports - we have very active children - Nippers Lifesaving, J-boarding, skateboarding, ramping, tennis, trampoline, bike riding, surfing, running, hiking.  School is by far a lot more manageable when there are activities that get their bodies moving and their hearts racing.

11.  Coffee - I know I already said that but by the time I got to number 11 from number 6, I realised I needed another cup of coffee already and so thought it only a true reflection of the real life drama of a coffee addict. (or to be politically correct caffeine challenged)

12.  A plan - not necessarily on paper but definitely in my head.  I spend at least 15 to 20 minutes every morning planning the days activities, or the focus of the day.  Thinking about what was left incomplete the day before, what topics I would like to cover today and also any specific interests the children have shown that are worth further investigation or study.

13.  Bible and Prayer - I am lost without it.  I come undone without it.  I need my own time in the morning -not with the children but just the Lord and I.  They also do their own individual study time every morning and then we do a family devotion.

14.  Sleep - oh yeah baby, this is my number one priority for all of us.  This is a must.  None of us function on a little sleep and I get cranky when I have been up too late.  This will often set the platform for the day.  If we get to bed too late, then we start late and we spend the rest of the day catching up.

15.  The Principal - you bet we have one and a good looking one at that!  In fact this principle likes a cuddle and a kiss between lessons.  (OK maybe a little bit too much info for sensitive readers - that's marriage!)  Fortunately my husband works from home, so we have a 24/7 husband and principal in the house.  Discipline issues are sent through to him.  It takes the pressure off me and it also ensures my peace of mind and heart are in the right place for the rest of the day.  Discipline issues can often be draining, taking all the joy out of the day.  This is a strategy that I have found works for me, but I know that there are many of you that don't have that privilege and so you will have your own way of working through this!

So there's my list. Yes I know there are more than 10 things, but I couldn't resist adding a few more.  I'm talkative in that way and you always get more than you bargained for with me.

Now it's your turn.  What's on your list?  What are your absolute must haves in your homeschool?  Leave a comment!

And finally: One more day
Yes only one before the Tin Town giveaway winner is announced.  Go on, why not enter?   Even if you don't have little one's. they would make great gifts for friends or family.

1000 Gifts: It's all about Perspective

You may remember that my children started their own 1000 gifts list which is a list of all the things they are grateful for, which was an enlightening activity for them.  A reminder of God's goodness all the time.  I also have had to do a lot of adjusting in my perspective about what I focus on. This year has not been an easy one, as some of you may that have been following my blog for some time, my know.

For those of you that haven't, here are some of the challenges and struggles that we have had to face during this season.  It's been a journey that has tested my faith, tested my emotions and has challenged me on almost every front.

Is your fridge empty
This too shall pass
Desperate and Hungry
Everything you could possibly need
Today I missed it ... by a mile
How to have a clean house and a good attitude
Why me Lord?

And it's all about perspective, not allowing our circumstances to dictate our emotions, our relationship with God  and our relationship with others.  But there's a problem, if your eyes, ears, mind, heart and thoughts are focused on what is going on - it is impossible to see anything else.  But when you make the effort to look for, search for, think on and listen to the good things that God has done, it changes our perspective.

And I want to change my perspective!  So I will continue to focus on the goodness of God and what I have and am grateful for, rather than the rest!  (at least try)

So here are some of the things I am truly grateful for at the moment..

1. friends who have stepped in to help us with lifts and others who have lent us a car here and there, with our car being out of action.
2. a church who gives us the freedom to be ....
3.  early mornings when I actually get up when the alarm goes off
4.  unexpected blooms

5.  pink fluffy gowns and PJ's
6.  puppy breath kisses
7.  fragrant coffee first thing in the morning
 8.  audio bibles that allow me to listen to God's word before I have to open my eyes
9. powerful rain clouds over the ocean
10. organised people who plan excursions so that I don't have to worry about logistics or have to do too much thinking
 11. moments of sharing thoughts, struggles and feelings with a stranger
12.  my diary that reminds me all the time of all the things I didn't see written in it
13.  the pile of clothes that need to be ironed hidden in the cupboard, a great hiding place for when visitors are here
14.  the new iron, complements of my husband :))

15.  little girls who follow me around
16.  children who help me around the house
17.  being Sean's helpmeet

18.  the children of China
19.  a legacy left                                                             
20.  mothers who intuitively know just the right moment to phone or help

What are you feeling grateful for today?  What has God done for you?  Why not leave a comment and let us share in His goodness today.

Linking up today with
And then don't forget
our Tin Town giveaway, you only have one more day left before we announce the winner

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why Me Lord?

 As another week goes by without our car, the second time its gone in to be fixed in the last month - and another large sum of money that needs to be paid over to the fixer-of-our-car, I think WHY?  Again?  As if we don't have enough challenges at the moment.  And as usual when life gets tough and things are difficult I ask the timeless question, that we all do at some point in our lives:

Why Me Lord?

And this is what He said;

" Do you doubt my love for you?"
No Lord
" Do you think that it is not in my capacity and ability to do all things?"
No Lord
" Have I not shown you time and time again my incredible love for you,  my dying love for you, my eternal love for you ... again and again"
"My precious love, there is nothing that I would not do for you because I love you, NOTHING.  And I held nothing back, I gave everything.  I gave Him for you."
Then why Lord?  Why?  Why not someone else?  Why?  Isn't it enough that we worship you?  Isn't it enough that we have given our lives, our children, our finances, our hearts, our tears, our brokenness to you?  I read your word, I pray, I love, I serve and yet I still don't see that it makes any difference?
" So you love me because you want me to fix your car...? Give you money...? Make life easier...? You want shoes...? What about me?  Do you just want me?  Do you only want me?  Am I enough for you?  Do you still care who I am even if I don't give you everything you lay your eyes on?  Do you still love me without ever receiving another blessing from me again? Am I enough?  Do you love me for just me?  Your heart is fickle.  Your heart loves only when it gets.  And then only when it gets what it wants.  Not the unseen blessings every day that I pour out onto your life.  Where is my love?  Where are you my love?  Every day I wait - but you are busy.... so busy. 
 And then there is nothing.....because I cannot say anything in my defense.  I know that all those noble things I think I have done, are empty.  Noble works - empty works - without Him.  Without Him it all means nothing.  And I know that like a child, I have strayed - strayed from His side, refusing to listen to His voice.  Whining, moaning, dissatisfied and ungrateful. All for THINGS, meaningless THINGS.

And so I stand before Him humbled, repentant and realising the truth of my selfishness.  And so grateful that even in all of this - He still loves me.  So undeserving and yet He does.  And I am grateful once again that my precious Father is more interested in the condition of my heart than the condition of my car, wallet or cupboard.

Does it mean that life is any easier?  No.  Do I struggle?  All the time.  But as Psalm 84:10 says "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

Today Lord, for you Lord, all my heart, all of me - just for You, because of You. 
Dear friend, are you facing one crisis after another? 
 An unfaithful husband?
Financial pressures that are crippling you? 
Friends who have turned their back on you or is it your son who seems to be drifting and no longer respects your opinion? 
Have you lost someone dear to you or are your still hurting from your past? 
He cares, He cares about you.  He gave everything for you.  He has not left you, He has not abandoned you.  His love for you is everlasting.  Don't let what you are going through, cast doubt on His love.  But remember all He has given for you.  Remember every day, what has gone before and let that cast light on the future.

Friday, May 25, 2012

South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs for May

Today you can head over to Karen's Clan  who is hosting our monthly South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs where there are so many lovely articles for you to be encouraged,  during those low and high seasons of homeschooling. 

I have shared some of my successes and failures, questioning the heart of homeschooling, chatting about the day when you just don't feel like it, as well as issues of discipline.  And to help you on those less than perfect days I have some ideas on how to keep a clean house and a good attitude, and how to have less stressful school days.

And I am not the only one who has these struggles - every homeschooling mother has struggles and challenges.  This carnival is all about how they cope and how they feel through financial struggles, health issues, skewed perceptions, teenagers who are going through transitions and the seasons we go through as mothers.  So head over there now and see how South African homeschooling mothers manage the every day challenges of motherhood and homeschooling.

Be encouraged today and don't forget...

To enter our Tin Town giveaway for some seriously gorgeous home decor!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mel's Must Have #2 Tin Town and a super duper giveaway

Now I know in my previous Mel's Must Have post on Le Creuset,  I was all about cooking and the kitchen, but today its all about pretty things, decor things, hand crafted things.  In fact when I went onto Tin Town's online store - it took a while for me to extract myself from the products page.  I think I sighed audibly a few times on every page.  A sigh of longing, of wishful thinking - you know the kind!  And so to give you a glimpse of what I found.  Let me show you some of the beautiful beautiful beautiful (was that enough times to get my point across?) decor art, art decor? (not sure which is more politically correct or is that decoratively correct?) - never mind! Confusing myself - and that could be dangerous.

So  let me just breath and sigh and long with you, as you have a look at some of these photographs.  Look at this bed, doesn't it just make you feel like you are living in a fairy land fantasy?  I love headboards, but this one has the makings of greatness.  I might wake up and feel like a fairy princess, though I may need to lose some pounds to not look like an overstuffed tutu.  Wonder if the headboard has magical powers too? 

These bookends are delightful don't you think?
OK so I couldn't resist putting a pink frame around this one but this is for all of us who are dying to host high tea, a whimsical tea party or just any tea party would have me bringing this little number out.  In fact forget the tea, just bring out the cake.  I can definitely see my fairy status being reduced to ground control with all the cake decor circulating on this blog.
 I love the vase on the wall, with this kind of backdrop.  I think any flower would look like a piece of art.
Some more cake, on a stand that just begs to be noticed.  These neutral tones would complement any baked delight - yes it would probably even work for one of those 5 minute whicky wacky cakes.  You would have your guests thinking you had worked on a cake for hours with a cake stand like this.

Now why didn't I know about this store over Christmas time?  Christmas tree decorations are always a big deal in our house and we are always on the lookout for some new ideas.  What I love about these is that they are glitzy and strong - a serious added benefit with a house full of children.  This is just the bling I need  and I won't need to replace them every year.

 Wall art - true inspiration.  Little birds on these letters just look so sweet and homey- a real sense of serenity.
 I could have a room full of these.  Trees on every wall, and the detail with the little butterflies makes it a perfect inspiration for a little girl's room. 

 And for those of you that are only interested in decorating your gardens, there are these little creatures just waiting to fill your garden with life.

Isn't this a magnificent piece of art.  What creativity and what a beautiful room divider!  This really is one of my favourites.

I love their simplicity, their whimsical designs and I could find a place for everyone of these items in my house.  Please Note:  I have not been asked to write about this product. I get nothing from doing this - these are some of those things that I would simply love to own.

Because I love ya- yeah I do. I love all of you,  because you are what motivates me to spend far too many hours on my computer to bring you post after post.  Encourage you, make you laugh or even just to roll your eyes and say to yourself "you see - I am not so bad, look what she's like".
So back to that loving feeling - I phoned up Tin Town and told them how great you all were and how much you would all love an opportunity to win one of their amazing products.  And they came back with a resounding yes!  And this is what is up for grabs in this giveaway.

Tin Town are giving away six gorgeous animal hooks worth R450  to one lucky reader.  And here they are: 
How to enter:  
Like their facebook page and come back here and leave a comment to say you have.
 For additional entries:
* Visit their site, and leave a comment here telling me what your favourite item is, in their online store.  
* Share this giveaway on Facebook AND/OR Twitter and leave a comment separately for each one to let me know you have.

(Remember that if you don't have a blog, leave your email address when you comment, so that I can contact you, otherwise you might not get your prize and you don't want to lose out on this one!)

Anyone can enter our Giveaway AND you can enter even if you have won one of the Giveaways before.  Because of shipping fees, this competition is only open to South African readers.
The Winner will be announced on Wednesday 30 May 2012.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What do you smell like?

The smell I am talking about is not that smell that you get just after a gym session, or the end of the day I-am-too-afraid-to-check-under-my-armpits kind of smell.  The smell I am talking about are those lovely fragrances you buy for that special someone or as a treat, or hopefully someone else buys it for you.

Fragrances are a luxury.  More than just the regular soap and deodorant combination.  It's expensive and delightful. It's something you leave behind in a room after you have left.  And sometimes it even goes ahead of you.  What you choose as a fragrance reflects, to some degree, who you are.

Sweet, sporty, musky, spicy, floral, bouquet (I love this description which refers to a number of flowers scents combined together), green (mmmh, not sure about that one),oriental, woody, fruity or citrus.  So many to choose from.

I love trying out new fragrances but always end up overdoing it and just about giving myself a full blown headache as I make my presence known in the fragrance department.  And then I find one that I really like and when I get home I can't remember which of the "fragrant spots" it is.  I know there is supposed to be the correct way to do this, but who knows what that is - and anyway I like smelling like perfume.

In fact its like wine tasting.  Apparently when you taste wine you are supposed to take a sip - AND NOT SWALLOW! Then you swirl it around and jiggle it in your cheeks like a mouthwash and then horror of horrors - SPIT IT OUT! Who ever came up with such a silly notion.  After all the best part of wine is actually swallowing it.  If I want mouthwash I would simply go to the local grocery store.  But that's another matter completely.

So back to perfume - yes there probably is a right way of doing it but I haven't researched perfume etiquette yet.  So here I am covered in the most beautiful fragrances and the question that always pops up in my mind is.....(thanks to my dear friend Debbie who was the first person to ask me that question)

What fragrance am I?

I am "Beyond Paradise" by Estee Lauder.

I am a traveller by heart, I remember dreaming of travelling to the corners of the earth and seeing and experiencing new adventures.  I love going and doing things that I have never done before, going the extra mile, going the extra distance.  Exploring, pioneering and experiencing. It's a motto I live by - I would rather have memory moments than things.  If you were to ask me what I would do if I had 3 wishes from a genie in a bottle, or a million dollars, or a wish from my fairy godmother - my answer would be to TRAVEL.  I wish I had thought to do a travel blog - who knows maybe by now I would have seen the world and then some.

I am an emotional being as depicted by the beautiful colours of this special bottle.  I experience a diverse range of emotions  every day - and thankfully I have a husband who is very even keeled and doesn't allow too much to influence his day.  He understands that I am a passionate person and somehow has the wisdom of Solomon when it comes to his wife and her emotions. 

It's sweet and I love sweet! I wish I were more sweet - but my sweetness stems from the sugary kind and in fact I suspect my body is starting to resemble the shape of that perfume bottle if truth be told.  I love sweet fragrances, sweet flowers, sweet children, sweets, sweets - I said that twice didn't I?

The fragrance bottle is heavy and solid and fits really nicely in my hand.  It's not finicky or fragile and the glass is even a little thick.  That's me.  I'm solid.  Down to earth, not too fragile (sometimes I think I am not fragile enough).  I am independent, strong-willed, confident and outspoken. But just like the perfume, I'm all soft and liquid inside.  My heart is easily broken on things that matter - like orphans and abandoned babies.

So now it's your turn - maybe you have have never given this any thought.

So my question to you is ...... out of all the perfumes or fragrances in a store, which one would best describe you and why?

This is a question that doesn't belong to me but my dear friend Debbie who ministered to many women, and now watches from heaven as we continue the race of life.  Thinking of you my dear friend today - you have left a deposit in my heart that will stay for a lifetime.

Linking up with : Wise Woman Link UpRaising Homemakers

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ruthie and she's ONLY fwar!

My dearest daughter is 4 and what an adventure this has been!  Every year I love to look back and remember with each of my children those special moments captured that bring a smile to my face and my heart pump custard!
A lover of hats and bling!
She joined our family when she was a wee little thing of only 6 months and full of smiles.
 With a fascination with the world
And a love for action even if she didn't always know what was going on
Colourful, vibrant and full of life is this little princess
And those big brown eyes with long lashes.
 She immediately got into the rhythm of things - sleep being one of her favourite past times.
 Which is definitely a family trait!
 Partners in crime, my two water lovers, if there's a tap running - its got to be the two of them.
  My little angel
 Isn't she just nunu?
 My beach lover, shell collector, stone collector, junk collector - anything from the beach.
Mommy's little girl
 A girly girl who loves ribbons and bows and make up. (yep she may be 4 but she loves make up)
 Ruthie with her favourite friend Nick.  She loves Nick.  And Nick loves Ruthie, these two are inseparable when they are together.
 Her number one hero, of course - her dad!

 Her first doll!  Thanks to Nandi dolls and this one smells of vanilla and goes to bed with her every night.
 Lover of hot drinks, cool drinks, soda - anything except water
 Always full of smiles and ready for an adventure in the garden.

 Loves her brothers passionately and hates being apart from them.

 My daughter, my friend, my angel, my princess
Happy Birthday!