Sunday, September 30, 2012

Live for today, not tomorrow

Learn to appreciate the things you have before time forces you appreciate the things you once had.

This was a particularly meaningful quote for me today.  On Friday, I heard about a school classmate who had died at the age of 39.  I am 39.  I keep thinking that I have the rest of life ahead of me, years and years to enjoy.  Time to enjoy my husband, time to enjoy the sunshine, the sea - time with my children- but right now I am busy.  Busy with so many things, maybe tomorrow.

And yet life can come to an abrupt halt .... 

Jesus and Jeff

I love bloggers, because they are people like me, who find their creative outlet in words.  Imperfect beings but putting it out there for others to enjoy, learn from or chat to.  Here's a new blogger, in fact someone I know personally - a man who wants to share his passion about Jesus and some of the insights he has gained through life.  Why not pop over there today and show him some blogger lovin'  - make a comment, even if you don't agree.  We bloggers are sensitive souls and love to know that someone out there in the big world wide web is reading what we write and that it's meaningful.

I especially found his article on An Attitude of Thankfulness thought provoking and touching.  Here's a small excerpt

Today I was reminded of that time again when one of the women in my church had to move her home in one of the townships.  So a group of us men and women showed up and literally took apart her house and attempted to put back together what I would call a few pieces of scrap wood and metal to call a 'home'.  Once again I had that overwhelming feeling of wanting to take as many of those people living there (especially the children) and settle them in Canada to give them a better hope of a future. Once again I was  overwhelmed also with thankfulness for everything that God has given to me.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

40 things I want my children to know

Recently I read a lovely post about what a mom wanted to leave with her children - life lessons, insights and wisdom.  It hit a chord in my belly and I wondered what my list would be, what would be important?  What legacy would I want to leave with them that had lasting value?  There are so many things that I could teach them, so many insignificant things, busy things, work things- but there are values and lessons in life that I think are important for them to carry forward into adulthood and every day living. Here's my list.  Seems like 40 is on my mind.  It must be because my birthday is coming up soon. In fact in 15 days 23 hours and 20 minutes.  Whose counting? 
1.  Enjoy the rain - it brings life.
2.  Go outside when the sun shines, you never know when it will rain.
3.  Don't plan too much for the next moment but enjoy the one you're in.
4.  Treasure your siblings - they are your best friends and know you as you are.
 5.  Love the Lord first and foremost.
6.  The biggest decision you make for life is to serve the Lord
7.  The second biggest decision you make will be who your spouse will be - choose carefully.
8.  The less clothes a girl has on, the less likely she's the one for you.
9.  Choose your battles - don't fight for the small things but fight for the things that count.
10. Listen to your conscience - it's normally right.
11.  When one of your siblings says - Mom and Dad won't find out - don't believe a word, parents have special radars that pick up all sorts of behaviour, even when you're an adult.
12.  Don't choose a career until you have spent some time getting some life experience, then choose.  Some of those experiences will show you what to do and what you don't want to do.
 13.  Travel everywhere, even when you have children - always go on trips of discovery in a new town, a new country, or a new street.
14.  Delight yourself in the small pleasures - a chocolate milkshake, the sight of a whale breaching, running on a beach - don't only wait for big events otherwise you might wait forever.
15.  Treasure memory moments more than things.
16.  Live debt free, offers of credit are just ways of trying to persuade you to be enslaved.
17.  Look for a car with boot space, if you don't you will have to buy a trailer or sit with your luggage on your lap.
18.  Don't be afraid to try new things, meet new people, see new places - life is an adventure
 19.  Don't swim in the sea if you have a cut - there is always a shark out there looking for it's next meal. (OK might be a bit extreme but living in False Bay which has the largest prevalence of great white sharks in the world, this is a very relevant one)
20.  There are people who will try and bully you, even when you are an adult - walk away.  Don't even entertain them, just walk away.  They are not worth doing business with (even if they have lots of money) and they are definitely not people you want to be friends with.
21.  Ask lots of questions before you sign anything - especially the small print.  And have someone else check just in case you missed something - preferably your grandfather who is a lawyer and has your best interests at heart.
22. Don't believe everything you read, see or hear - listen with discernment and always ask lots of questions.
 23.  You are precious.
24.  I love you and I will always love you and I will never stop loving you.
25.  The day you were born was a day I will never forget and Ruthie, the day you landed in my arms, I knew you were the one!
26.  Things don't change until you are prepared to change.
27.  Always consider carefully what your spouse has to say - they will give you a perspective which could make a difference to your destiny.
28.  Don't break the rules just because everybody else is, let that be a reflection of their character not yours.
29. Nothing is as it appears, always take the time to get to know someone before you decide on who they are.
30.  Children are a blessing from the Lord, enjoy every moment of it, they are special moments.

31.  Holding hands with a girl can lead to trouble, put your hands in your pockets and talk instead.
32.  Take time every day to see the good things around you otherwise you will forget and become bitter and twisted.
33. Don't allow television, computers, smart phones or any technology to take over your life, remember people are more important than even the most exciting technology
34.  Drink water all day, don't replace it with tea or coffee, juice or hot chocolate - your body needs it more than you think.
35.  Don't watch any movies with an S or N rating - they will ensnare you, choose carefully what you watch and what you read.
36.  Don't give up, try again, try from a different angle - ask someone for perspective - some of the greatest inventions have been because people found the solution to a problem and it didn't happen the first time.
 37.  Sleep on any big decision, conversation or conflict.  Off the cuff responses can be fatal.
38.  Build good relationships with your neighbours where ever you are.
39.  Stay close to God and his people. Don't be drawn away from the church.  They might offend you, let you down or just irritate you but they are family.
40.  Love people of every culture, language and tribe - they all belong to God and are precious in his sight, even if others would tell you otherwise.

What would you add to your list?  I would love to know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Get Naked Club

I know you've having a peek at this article kind of wondering what on earth this could possibly be, and wondering whether you will possibly need to unsubscribe from this blog.  But never fear, I haven't quite lost the plot.... yet.

You may remember my post about 100 things I have learnt in my almost 40 years, especially numbers 47, 86, 87, 88.  Yep da man thing, the I want intimacy thing - often! Some of you ladies are already getting a knot in your stomach just at the mention of this and are wondering where you put those headache tablets.

But I believe this is an area that many women struggle with.  I struggle with .  Who would have thought that so many women could have this one thing in common?

We are wired so differently.  Time and time again I shake my head and think, Lord?  And this intimacy thing is like soooooo much effort.  And then we read about how "our bodies don't belong to us, they belong to our husbands" and then I think to myself "Over my dead body, there is NO way!"  Because of course it might mean more - you know what!

After cleaning toilets, washing dishes, ironing clothes, cooking food, running children around, taking the cat to the vet, phoning the municipality for the 5th time today - who can possibly think of doing anything but sleep?  Aaaah but there is this strange breed who still does!  They could be dead tired, but start getting dressed for bed, and suddenly there is this rather uncomfortable interest in what you are doing as though you had planned a special show for them!

Girls, you know what I mean.  But I have learnt something - when I spend time in intimacy, there is a joy and there is a different level to my relationship with my husband.  When I give him the loving he needs, he gives me the loving I need. Yes I know we have a 20 step sequence of things we want them to do before they touch us - which might include a trip to Paris, or a new lingerie wardrobe - because how dare they even expect anything from us, when they have barely paid attention to us the whole week.  

But when I change it around and say - I'm going to give my man all the loving he needs without expecting him to jump through hoops, it's amazing how much loving I get back.  I get coffee in bed, suddenly he volunteers to take the kids out to give me some space, he pays attention (though sometimes with a silly smug grin on his face as he remembers the previous nights shenanigans) - but it's there.  All the things I need.  So if I want more attention, care, romance, flowers, time, service - which are more my needs - then I need to give him what he needs - intimate one on one love!

It's a challenge because we are selfish and our love can be very conditional.  He must give me this, and then I will give him that (love with a hook).  But when we give this part of ourselves without attaching conditions and making it so hard to get close, we start loving him with an agape love - unconditional love, which is Christlike.

My prayer for you today (and me):

God would you meet every women who reads this post today and relight and rekindle passion for her husband.  Would you remove every insecurity that would tell her that her body is not good enough.  Give her a boldness to initiate intimate moments out of her desire to love her husband in the way that he needs to be loved and that he in turn would love her in a way that she needs.  I pray Lord that the demands of life, the worries of finances, day to day chores would not control the level of intimacy in her marriage.   Help her make a decision to get naked frequently.

[What about the Get Naked Club?  There is no such club of course but a couple of my friends and I laugh and joke about it, saying that we should start an accountability group of how many times a week we get naked with our husbands, because we all struggle in this area.  I don't think you have to start a club, but it would be worthwhile to share your struggles with someone you trust. They probably are going through a very similar thing and you may not feel so alone - and pray for each other.  It's not a time to dishonour your husband or to gossip about him, but to be accountable to one another, and to grow in this area.]

Feel free to share or comment, but if you want to ask questions or say something of a more personal nature, feel free to pop off an email to me and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Linking up with Wise Woman Linkup, Raising HomemakersTitus 2sdayGrowing Home Blog, Unveiled Wife, Women Living Well

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recipe: Butternut Soup

It might be headed for Spring but this morning I woke up to rain.  Our homeschool excursion was cancelled and the temperature was down to the teens again.  Not that I am complaining.  I love Cape Town, I love that no day is the same.  Every day I wake up to the sea painted a different colour and the artist in me just loves the unpredictability of it all. Isn't life exciting when you don't know what's the day holds?

Butternut soup is a firm favourite in this house. The mention of me making it for supper brings the kids running and whooping with joy!  Yes, my children whoop for joy over food.  They love it, they finish the whole pot every time I make it.  I can never make too much.  In fact if I made it for 3 days in a row, they would not complain as long as there were lots of yummy breads to go with it.

I started with a sink full of butternut - no that's not how many I use but I always wash my butternut after buying it, especially after we discover an overripe one has exploded all over all the others. OK moving on.
Instant Oxtail Soup. 

Then we get these beauties ready for the oven.  Big butternut for a big family.  Now the reason I am doing this in the oven is because it is so much easier.  I use to do it on the stove and would have to peel and de-seed it all first before I boiled the butternut.  This makes preparing the butternut easy peasy and I like easy peasy.
While I wait for the butternut, I take about 250ml of water and just mix in the instant soup and leave it to stand.  This way you don't get those nasty funny bits of concentrated soup in your soup because it hasn't dissolved properly.
Yeah baby, doesn't this look good.  OK so maybe they don't look beautiful but those of you who have smelt and tasted roasted butternut before will know how nice this is.  It might ooze a bit, don't worry you are not doing anything wrong, it's just those delicious juices - they sizzle, they pop - YUM!
Cook the butternut for about an hour..... or less...... or more.  Not quite sure.  You need to poke a sharp object into the butternut and see if they are all soft before taking them out.  If you have an oven like mine, you need to check them all because in our oven what happens in the back of the oven never quite happens in the front.  I could probably think of some life analogy at this point but it's now Saturday morning, I'm still in my puffy pink gown and only had one cup of coffee for the day - so I'll leave it up to you.

The best way to do this is to wait until they cool down, because the skin actually separates from the butternut flesh and then it really is a breeze. Once it's cooled down take the skin off and remove the seeds.
Put all that butternut into a big pot, I just love the colour of this vegetable. 
I missed a couple of steps here because I got so busy cooking that I forgot to take photographs.  Add your soup mixture and 250ml of cream to the butternut with 250ml of water.  Now this is where the fun comes in. Blend it until it is really smooth.  I didn't always own a blender and so if you don't, you can push it through a sieve which works as well but takes a longer.  Once its smooth, I normally add another 250ml to 500ml of water and then pop it onto the stove.  I heat it up until the soup has thickened.  How thick you like your butternut soup really depends on you. I wouldn't add too much water as it is inclined to taste watery if you do, rather use milk if you want it much thinner. Add salt, pepper and a dash of cinnamon which gives it a lovely flavour.  I leave it to simmer on the stove for about 10 to 15 minutes and then you're ready to go!

Of course some good crusty bread to go with the soup.
And with all the orange in the pot, a couple of beautiful flowers to go on the table is definitely fitting!
Dinner in our house is an event.  It's where all our big family discussions happen and the one time of the day that we all sit together and talk about the day.  It's about fellowship, friendship and fun times!(And a view of the washing)   Enjoy! 
Enjoy making this soup and if any of this is a bit vague or confusing, feel free to ask any questions in the comment sections below.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Only 38 !

Yesterday we celebrated Sean's birthday - and what a day it was.  Breakfast in bed, walks on the beach, ice creams, tea and cake with friends and family, loads of phone calls, emails and birthday wishes.  Everything to make him feel special.  

In celebration of his birthday, here are some of my favourite pictures:

May God’s awesome blessings
Be upon you this day
And for the future years ahead
May His blessings never fade
In every area of your life,
May God abound much more,
So you may be a fruitful vine
With the abundance of the Lord.

 By M.S.Lowndes.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with this man and may we grow old together

Press Release: Cape Town's premier dance festival at the Baxter this October

As you know, we frequent the theatre often - on dates, family excursions or mother-son times.  And this is the next one we are headed to.  This looks likes a fantastical ensemble of talent.  Keep an eye out for our review and maybe we will see some of you there. 

Cape Town's premier dance festival at the Baxter this October

Dance lovers are in for a treat this year when the annual Baxter Dance Festival kicks off with a jam-packed line-up of the mother city's top dance talents and guest performers from Gauteng and Namaqualand at the Baxter Theatre from 4 to 13 October.

Now in its eighth year the popular festival is widely regarded as Cape Town's premier dance platform with over 300 dancers taking to the stage and nearly 50 choreographers showcasing their work. The festival has grown exponentially and has become one of the must-see activities on Cape Towns events calendar.  

Nicolette Moses, Associate Producer and Planning Manager responsible for the festival, says Its the perfect environment for dance enthusiasts to experience and see work by established professionals, as well as up-and-coming dance practitioners. The festival is here to showcase and celebrate the Western Capes rich and prolific dance history, the people who have influenced it and those who are making their mark for the future.

Highlights this year include the new commissioned work by Ananda Fuchs', guest choreographers Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya with the Vuyani Dance Company, as well as performances by former Alvin Ailey dancer Bradley Shelver.  One of the much-anticipated performances in the Main Programme category this year is Ananda Fuchs' Fragile Falling which will be performed daily at Main Programme performances from 8 Oct. Fragile Falling is a dance piece that explores the meaning of hair and in particular how its strands hold our personal, cultural, social, emotional, psychological and inherited histories.

Award-winning choreographers Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya will make their Cape Town debuts with their acclaimed Joburg-based Vuyani Dance Company. Maqoma's Mayhem and Sidiyas Umnikelo, The Offering were both performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July.

This year over 50 entries will be seen, ranging in style from contemporary to neo-classical, flamenco, fusion, physical theatre, modern, African, jazz, hip hop, belly and Indian dancing.  Some of these include Vuyani Dance Theatre, Underground Dance Theatre, Amalgamated Artists, Dance, Wilvan School of Dance, Jazzart Dance Theatre, La Rosa Spanish Dance Company, Cape Dance Company and Brigitte Reeve Dance Company to name just a few. 

 Previous choreographers of the commissioned work were Ebrahim Medell (2005), Marlin Zoutman (2006), collaborators Yarisha Singh and Celeste Botha (2007), Levern Botha (2008), Mamela Nyamza (2009), Carolyn Holden from La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre in 2010 and Grant van Ster (2011). All these choreographers have continued to make their mark in the world of dance, both locally and abroad.

The Main Programme runs every night at 20:00 from 4 to 13 October and is made up of various works of different lengths and features work by established professional companies, the newly commissioned choreographers piece and that of invited choreographers or companies.

The Off Main Programme, which takes place on Saturday, 6 October, at 17:00, will showcase young emerging choreographers and student work.

The Fringe Programme at 14h00 on Saturday, 13 October will include work by youth groups, dance studios, school groups, traditional African dance groups and choreographers who have requested that their work run on this programme for practical reasons. It usually features great options for younger dancers and kids, offering variety for the whole family.

For further information contact Alethea Patterson on 021 680 3974 or email

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Cafe Budan: Coffee at its best

I tell you no lies, if you could have had a chat with my rather coffee calloused taste buds - you would have known about the day that I discovered this new coffee.
Slow roasted, delicious coffee delight!  I am sure that my taste buds are tingling just remembering.  And with flavours like Hazelnut, Irish Cream (my personal favourite), Mexican Fudge and Chocolate Raspberry - how can you not find this coffee delightful?

Now you all know that I don't recommend things that I don't love!  And many of you know that coffee is my first second love (got to keep up appearances, after all what will Sean say ?).  There have been times where my husband has been so close to a near death experience when he hasn't made my morning coffee before he did ANYTHING else.  What could possibly be more important?  After all, if you can hold it in the whole night, why MUST you go to the toilet first?  I might be verging on being classified as "obsessive" but we all have our thing and coffee is mine.  Tea! - for the birds .... or tree huggers..... or people who eat all those sprouty things and if the tea is green its even worse.  Of course that doesn't include any of my special friends and family reading this because that would just be downright rude and judgemental - but those other people out there, no one you know.
Anyway before I get into any more trouble, let's leave the tea leaves there and focus on the good stuff.

SO this great coffee is locally produced by an expert.  Kevin Baker, has written coffee shop reviews for Sunday Tribune Independent and their annual Cafe Society publication in Durban.  He also has an extensive history with coffee as a barista championship judge and food critic.He does all the roasting himself and uses the traditional slow-roasting method with a rotating drum roaster. More modern methods halve the roasting time, but compromise on the more delicate flavours in the coffee.
For only R50 you can buy a 250g bag of the most awesome coffee, and if you live in South Africa it can be posted to you.

His contact details are:  Cell 081-2706225 or email him and place your order.

Coffee! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Local South African talent - Jeremy Olivier

You may remember the interview I did with Jeremy Olivier, a very talented South African singer.  If you have been listening to the radio recently, you will hear that his music is taking the music industry by storm. 

This family man, talented performer, singer, musician, husband is all about making music that is meaningful, fun and relevant.  What you may not know is that Nicole (his wife) and Jeremy make a remarkable team. She helps to write the lyrics, assists with his public relations and marketing, they homeschool their children and they manage their family life around his music schedule. People who have vision - and have grabbed hold of this opportunity and made it work.

Here are some of his most recent hits:



Why not support this great artist by downloading any one or all of his songs.  And even better, why not share his songs on social media like facebook and twitter and help this music reach the rest of the world!

And if you want to stay up to date with what he is doing ?
The website has a gig guide which is updated monthly, but even better is his Facebook fan page which we update regularly and post all sorts of news/links and events information.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Be Careful of Dream Snuffers

"I have a dream...." 

such powerful words


Vision is powerful in that is the seed of greatness
It's the start of a journey
It's personal 
Vision is governed by your own convictions and passions.

When you have a dream...

beware of the one who would snuff it out!

Whether you have vision for a new business, a ministry that God has laid on your heart, your educational philosophy, or lifestyle choices - be careful of who you open up to, who you are vulnerable with.

There are friends, family members or strangers who have the ability to cast every criticism or doubt that could rob you of the things you dream of.  They might not do it intentionally but these criticisms and doubts are based on their own worldview, life's experiences or disappointments.

Choose who you talk to carefully.  Often when we share these dreams they are still in infancy - we can be sensitive and a little unsure of the how, when, why and what.  Shared with the wrong person - we might never take another step, but shared with right person, we will be

Believe in what seems impossible

Today I want to say to you:
Dream big!  Dream in God!  Believe in Yourself! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

100 Lessons I've learnt in my nearly 40 years

1.  Never turn your back on a toddler with glue, scissors, pens or paint - just don't turn your back on a toddler- ever!
2.  Mothers are not paranoid, or suspicious - trust your instincts.
3.  Doctors would do well to listen to moms, they know things that no university can teach
4.  A balanced meal can include peanut butter sandwiches or cereal or both.
5.  No one is perfect, not them and especially not me.
6.  There is no such thing as too much chocolate, or coffee, or chocolate, or coffee.
7.  Grown men are really overgrown boys with responsibility.
8.  When a man says he wants a computer adapter for his birthday, don't try and give him a CD, or socks, or ties - he wants the adapter!
9.  One kernel of corn can cause a fire if left unattended on a stove in some oil.
10.  Popcorn will eventually catch alight if you don't take it off the stove.
11.  When husbands are away - children are bound to get sick, break a bone, or break something important like a dishwasher, the car will stop working and the house alarm will go off - and it will all happen after hours.
12.  Boys + water = wet, trying to keep them dry is just a waste of time and energy.
13.  Quiet doesn't exist in a world full of children.
14.  Children will say all the embarrassing things they have seen and heard in their homes to all the wrong people
15.  Birds like clean washing
16.  So do hairy caterpillars.
17.  "It won't hurt" is just a tag line for a big fat lie.
18.  If you don't check, you might leave the house without your underwear.
19.  Opinionated people should be avoided, as they are often easily offended too.
20.  Avoid perfectionists, you will never live up to their standards.

21.  The last apple is normally the most bruised one.
22.  Always check the toilet seat before sitting down - especially with a house full of boys.
23.  If you don't store your toothbrush on a hidden shelf you might find someone using it to clean their toenails.
24.  Be careful of who you call friend - consider what they have to say about someone else and know that they could be saying it about you too.
25.  Facebook is no replacement for real face to face time.
26.  Just when you are about to have an intimate moment with your husband, one of the children will wake up with nightmares/ fever/ complaints that they cannot sleep.
27.  The day you plan all your online activities for your homeschooling day, the Internet stops working
28.  It's possible to still not know when it's that time of the month and be taken by surprise after nearly 30 years.
29.  The night a child develops a fever will be the night that you realise that you have no paracetamol at home.
30.  Toilet paper is one of the most easily forgotten items on a grocery list.
31.  And toothpaste.
32.  Children are guaranteed to behave badly on the day you most want them to impress others.
 33.  Children don't mind wearing clothes with holes, even if they are sometimes in embarrassing places.
34.  Just when you find the perfect lipstick, blush or mascara - they stop production and not one of the new products looks remotely the same.
35.  An ATM doesn't let you borrow money, not even a couple of cents and it always keeps some even though it belongs to you.
36.  All soapies are addictive, even the ones you don't like if you watch enough episodes.
37.  Don't believe all advice online - speak to a professional, there are some dodgy people out there.
38.  When you try to avoid a phone call, your children will answer the phone and tell the caller that "yes, you are at home" and "no she's not doing anything important".
39.  Cat wee really stinks
40.  And if there are two cats, its even worse.
41.  Things can get worse, even when they are terrible already.
42.  Things under pressure explode, including people.
43.  Children are the best mirrors of your strengths and weaknesses.
44.  Snails love vegetables, especially new ones.

45.  Procrastination will not make it go away.
46.  Music makes everything easier - chores, driving, cooking.
47. You don't need to lose weight, buy new clothes or go to gym - just get naked and your husband will love you.
48.  The day you haven't brushed your teeth, combed your hair and are wearing the most mismatched or broken clothes you own - you will bump into more people you know in one hour than you have done for the entire month.
49.  Women are as competitive as men, just in a different way - the best clean sink, the most neatly dressed children, the best cucumber sandwiches, the most organised - you name it and there's some mom out there trying to outdo everyone else.
50.  Appliances break a week after their guarantee/warranty expired - they are specially programmed to do that.
 51.  When you offer someone help and they say "don't worry", what they are really saying is "I don't trust you to do it like I would like it done".
52.  If food has fallen on the ground and been there for 3 seconds or less, then its good to go.
53.  Just when you have finished a huge batch of washing, it's will rain.
54.  Gym instructors can sense straight away that you are attending a high impact class for the first time and will up their game, just to embarrass you and make sure you never come back again.
55.  Salad sandwiches are not food items to be eaten in front of others.
56.  Or hamburgers.
57.  Or anything that involves layers of food in a bun or slices of bread.
58.  The trolley that you chose at the shop will suddenly start to demonstrate deviant behaviour only after you have half filled it, making squeaking noises so that everyone can turn and look at you.
59. Shopping trolleys are weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a toddler.
60. A child who promises to be good for the rest of the day will never be true to their word.
61. 61 is an unlucky number:)
62. Always and I mean ALWAYS be suspicious - when you ask you child what they are doing and they answer "Nothing".
63.  Or if you ask them who did it and they say "I don't know".
64.  Never wear white when you go out - you will either mess food on your clothes or your children will.
65.  You will never look like you did when you were 18 and thank goodness for that, you probably look better now than you did then.
66.  Shop mirrors don't lie, instead they offer objective perspective - with no subtlety.
67.  Getting your sister to taste something because you know it smells dodgy - and then to discover it is dodgy, could have a serious impact on your relationship with her.  She may never forgive or forget the incident and remind you every time you see her.
68.  Telling your children what pranks you got up to as a child - can give them all sorts of ideas.
69.  When your children are 7, 8 and 9 - watching the Home Alone movie is not a good idea.
70.  To watch it just before the babysitter arrives - could prove detrimental.
71.  Sugar really does make children lose all restraint.
72.  Never drink milk until you have checked the expiry date.
73.  And smell it just in case someone left it out the fridge on the counter for the night.
74.  And in fact, just have a quick peek inside the bottle just in case one of the children have stuck an unidentified object into the bottle.
75. Always be suspicious of a half eaten biscuit on the counter.
76.  Everyone around you is going through something - not your something - but something.
77.  No one understands me - not my husband, or my children, or me for that matter.
78.  A hug can make all your worries and fears disappear.
79.  Butter tastes much nicer than margarine.
80.  And is much healthier.
81.  Homemade is best.
82.  Take aways are even better.
83.  I can weigh myself three times during the day and every time I weigh a different amount.
84.  Whenever I need to go the toilet, my children suddenly have the need to ask me lots of totally senseless questions, followed by "how much longer are you going to be?"
85.  Never shower after the children have bathed, there won't be any hot water.
86.  Never leave the door unlocked when you want to shower, husbands see an unlocked door as an invitation.
87.  Husbands think shaved legs are an invitation.
88.  In fact, anything could be seen as an invitation - from their perspective.
89.  No ones breath smells fresh in the morning, and some- if inhaled too deeply- could probably cause a state of shock.
90.  Don't try and make a list of 100 things to write, because you're bound to run out of things to say about now.
91.  High school means very little in the bigger scope of things.
92.  Being able to afford someone to help in the kitchen might be impossible but getting the best equipment for cleaning and cooking will certainly make up for it.
93.  When a bread machine says it can only make one batch of pizza dough at a time, it's probably because when you attempt to put 2 or more batches, the machine starts to make a dreadful noise and works extra slow.
94.  A watched pot may not cook fast but a stove or oven left unattended will ensure lots of burnt food.
95.  Hairdressers don't understand the word "trim" - it's not in their hairdressing dictionary or it comes with a different meaning like "hack it all off", "don't listen to the client", or "do whatever you're in the mood to do".
96.  Keeping to the food budget with 3 boys is expecting a miracle every day
97.  True friends love you, it's not conditional or based on performance.
98.  Honesty is offensive, people would rather hear what they want to hear - seldom the truth.
99.  Make sure you leave the back door open when you go out the front,especially when you are home alone - otherwise the door might slam shut and leave you waiting outside for a few hours before someone comes with a key.
100.  If you really put your mind to it, you can achieve more than you ever thought you could - even a list of 100 things:)

Oh the list is endless, I would love to hear some of your lessons - serious or funny:)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Using Chinese News Channel for studying Chinese Mandarin

We are currently learning Mandarin as our second language in homeschooling. We started with Afrikaans, as we are based in South Africa, but with our intention of relocating to China in the future, we decided that it would be better to prepare ourselves.  Especially as Chinese Mandarin is a complex language and takes a long time to master.

*  We started with Mandarin Rosetta Stone for Homeschoolers (and I reviewed it in a very positive light initially - as we were still very new at using it) but I have found that our children needed something else because it became a little monotonous after a while.  It's also a fairly expensive option for us, as we had to pay import costs and packaging, which isn't a problem if you live in North America.  We still use it but it's no longer our primary resource.  Though to be fair, I also know that children go through seasons of learning and sometimes they just need a change.
*  We are using Memrise and we are all still enjoying this.  Learning Chinese characters is fascinating and engaging and we are daily adding words to our vocabulary.  The fun part for the children is to stay ahead of mom:) (why do children always love this?)
Chinese movies and programs has added some fun to their learning and now that we are learning to read and write Chinese characters, we try and see how many characters we can recognise at the bottom of each page.

Our latest discovery though, has been CCTV News - Chinese Television.   (We have it on our DSTV package in South Africa, and though we are only connected to DSTV for the SABC and etv channels, it's one of those channels which are included because they are free.)

They also have their own website and this is where we found some resources to use.

This is a series of lessons for the beginner (100 lessons).  There are also lessons for the intermediate learner as well as the more advanced learner.  The videso takes you through a lesson which includes some basic vocabulary, sentences as well as the associated cultural norms. It includes a transcript of the lesson so that you can practice your Pinyin, Character writing and Mandarin conversation.  I let my children re-enact the same conversation in their own way which has often had us laughing so much, we could barely speak at times.

As part of our studies and curriculum outline, it is important to include Chinese cultural studies. We found a lovely resource on the the same website.

The website seems to archive the programs screened on the telly.  We watch this program at 8.30am every day Tuesday to Saturday and so far we have covered topics like micro-art, secrets of agar wood(which is more valuable than gold), goldfish breeding and filigree inlay. It's only 30 minutes long but offers a wealth of enriching and inspiring content.

Having a variety of approaches definitely seems to be beneficial to learning the language and to stay motivated.

There are so many good Chinese Mandarin resources online.  It has taken me some time to find some of them, but when I do, I like sharing them as it will hopefully save you some time and energy.

Have fun learning Mandarin!

Friday, September 7, 2012

What happens when you are in a hole?

Having read my Plan B post, many of you have encouraged me, some have prayed, some have been so relieved that I am being honest because they have felt like they are not alone in this struggle called life.
But there is another question that follows - now what?  

What do you do when you fall into this hole?  A hole so deep that you can barely make out the sunshine (which has nothing to do with the fact that I live in Cape Town for those of you that have been wondering).  The answer for me is nothing but....

Put the next foot forward. 
Sometimes that's all I can do, is just push through to the next step.  I might have to grit my teeth, hold on with with everything I've got and dig deep - but just the next step.  

I have realised that if I try to over analyse my situation that I can end up digging a deeper hole, a hole created out of self pity and just wallow there.  I can ask people to pray and I know that they will, as faithful friends but sometimes I need to spend time struggling with the Lord and just keep walking forward. 

Just one step at a time.  Nothing else.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do you have a Plan B?

It's been a terrible couple of days (keeping it real).  Yes I know some of you don't like to hear it because you come to this blog to be encouraged, to be mentored and to have happy thoughts.  I have struggled to write this week because I am being challenged on every front in my life at the moment.  Marriage, finances, home school pressures, housekeeping - you name it my buttons are being pushed and in fact if this were the movies we would be on the red zone before some gasket was about to blow.

Yes I have prayed, yes I have sought out the Lord, yes I have regrettably argued and complained about my lot in life - but nothing has changed.  Sometimes we can do everything we know how to do and everything we tell everyone to do and still nothing changes.  

This situation reminds me of my trip to China.  We arrived in Hong Kong and after catching trains and buses we crossed over through no man's land - not China and not Hong Kong. We were caught between two places.  And we needed to cross no man's land to get to our destination.  Well that's where we are! In the middle.  Nothing is clear, its like looking through the fog and even if you put on your lights and turn them on bright - you still can't see properly.

Yesterday I was able to sit with a dear friend and we prayed together.  We shared similar feelings and struggles and it felt good to get some things off my chest.  Again, though we prayed together, it didn't change anything but at least I didn't feel like I was alone. There was someone who understood where I was at.  Someone who didn't minimise my feelings or give me scripture to memorise telling me that I lacked faith or perseverance or that I should be happy because I am going through these things (I mean really, can anyone honestly be happy with hardship - inner joy - maybe - happy, definitely not!).

So here I am sharing this with you, but there's a few reasons.  I am not perfect.  Reading people's blogs might give you the feeling they have it all together.  We don't.  Also this same friend shared a very special post by another blogger (of course) which was a real encouragement for me.  So I thought I would share it with you.  Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already written a beautiful post about this?

 Last month, my husband Lee and I celebrated the ten year anniversary of the first day we met. I had driven from Dallas, Texas to Wake Forest, NC to start seminary and teach English at a Christian school. The administrator of the school had given Lee my new address and asked told him to show up and help the new teacher unload her U-Haul. He showed up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But I would not say everything in our lives from that day ten years ago until now has been perfect. It hasn’t all been easy. We’ve had many “plan B” situations—times when our plan and God’s plan didn’t match. We have a child with autism. We have been in the long process of adoption for over two years now. Our house only has one bathroom. (Just keeping it real. Wouldn’t everyone’s “Plan A” include a house with more than one bathroom?) And even though I wouldn’t have chosen each delay, diagnosis, or drawback, I can honestly say God’s plan for our lives is perfect.
When God’s plan interrupts my life and my plans, I have to turn to Scripture to remember who is really in charge. I need encouragement to face Plan B. Thankfully, His Word is full of Plan B situations, and reassurance for those of us going down different roads than we had planned.

   Whatever Plan B situation you find yourself in today (or tomorrow), know that it’s still God’s Plan A for your life. Trust in that and praise Him for the encouragement you find in His Word.

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Written by Sandra Peoples on Do Not Depart