29 February 2008

Emma-lee turns four!

On Sunday Emma will turn four years old. This afternoon we had a little party for her. She wanted a butterfly party. We don't really go wild over parties in this family, but I think it was special and that she enjoyed it.

My biggest concern is to limit the sweets. So I put water melon, grapes, chips and popcorn on the table first. Later I brought out some iced biscuits, the cake and a small bag for each child. In the bag was a biscuit, a toffee and a sucker. That seemed like plenty to me, considering the cake was plastered with Smarties too!

Some of the guests wore wings, and we stuck butterfly stickers on the windows. I made a butterfly cake. We played pass-the-parcel and the children hunted for Easter eggs in the garden. I hid those ones with marshmallow in them. I always use those at Em's party as an extra sweet.

Now I'm having a good old soak and early bed, I'm exhausted.

28 February 2008

Rainbow Nation

There is so much to tell you about South Africa, but I'll just jump right in.

In South Africa many, if not most African woman carry their babies on their backs, wrapped on tightly with a towel, or blanket. Emma demonstrates on the left. In some areas you very seldom see an African woman pushing a pram.

Standard transport for the majority of South Africans, is the taxi. This is not a yellow cab, this is a minibus, which is called a "kwela-kwela". These vehicles are oft criticized for being speed devils and road hogs, though this is not always true. Over loading and lack of maintenance to vehicles is a problem. People are not usually transported right to their front door, as you'd expect with this service. The taxi follows a route, like a bus, and has a spot where it always stops. This place is not marked, as a bus route is, and may be a corner, an empty lot, or simply in middle of the street! Folk often have to walk long distances to the nearest taxi pick up point. In towns/city centres many leave from a central point called a taxi rank.

This place is a hub of excitement. Each taxi driver usually has a helper who takes the money(no tickets given). There are usually fruit sellers and sometimes other vendors in and around the rank. The air is filled with beats of loud rhythmic music, and the shouts of the taxi drivers, asking for passengers.

Many pavements in streets in South Africa are lined with street vendors. This is especially in the urban areas, in the shopping areas. Vendors sell an array of goods. In our main street there are fruit vendors, folk selling hand bags, hats and sunglasses, and another stand selling clothing, face cloths, sweets, takkies, purses and beanies. Some areas have prohibited vending. Something I thankfully have not yet seen been vended is fresh meat. Now that really does not go down well with me! It does happen all over Africa, but I have not seen it.

Another unusual sight is the telephone table. A person can be seen, standing, making a call, on the pavement of a busy street. This is a portable telephone system, sold by leading cell phone companies here. People pay to make a call. By the way there are the normal public telephone booths available too. Cellular (mobile) telephones are seen everywhere, carried by rich and poor alike.

Some of the words I've just used may need some explaining: Sweets are candy, and takkies, or tekkies are sneakers. A beanie is a knitted cap, with a big fold turned up. They often have the South African flag, or some rugby teams emblem on them.

That's all I have time for now. I'm busy preparing for Emma's party. She's turning four years old on Sunday!

Has this been of interest to you?

19 February 2008

Cultural confusions

Through corresponding with other 'Weaverettes' across the globe, and browsing other blogs recently, I have realized how we do things differently down here.

For example, words like realize and organize, we spell with a s not a z. Yes, I "correct" all my words when I post anything here, for my American friends.
But when I post on South African loops, I use SA English.

Another thing that I have noticed is that we leave the word "that " out of sentences a great deal. For example, my last sentence would have been spoken as: "Another thing I've noticed is we leave the word "that" out of sentences a great deal."

I am very aware of adding my that now that I know that Americans use that correctly ;-)

I've found Google a rather useful tool. I had to look up the the meaning of 'mahalo' today. It means thank you in Hawaiian, by the way.

Other expressions and simple cultural differences that I've had trouble with are: sweaters, sneakers, binders, lolly-gagging and math to name a few.

One expression that I have not quite grasped is "you could shake a stick at it".
My mind conjures up an image of a fairy waving wand, but I'm probably miles away from the true meaning.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone would be interested in hearing about some more cultural differences?

Perhaps you'd like to know why most South Africans would turn up their nose to a plate of gravy and biscuits?

Would you like to read more of our varied land and bright culture? Post your comments, or e-mail me!

15 February 2008

Capturing the memories with photos

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the busy routine of life, that we forget to stop and just enjoy our children, as they are now. We are so busy with teaching our children, character training and thinking of what needs do be done next that we forget about NOW! With my first child, Joel, I was obsessed with milestone charts. Now I am cherishing every moment with my youngest, Shelley, almost wishing that she won't grow up too fast. At least we now have another baby in the house, Amy!

I was recently going through older photographs of my children. I was fascinated at seeing how they have changed and grown. I cannot help but thinking that, although they are still so young, it is passing all too quickly. Our Emma-lee Rose turns four years old at the beginning of March. I was particularly intrigued at how she has blossomed over the past two years.

So, I'll keep taking photographs of the children, so that I can remember how they looked. One day, all too soon I am told, I will miss the sweet slobbery kisses, the smell of peanut butter and the noise. I'll forget that "all-touched out" feeling, and long to hold them. They'll have moved away. But I'll have the photographs, and the memories.

06 February 2008

Playing dolls

I know I've already posted today, but when I saw this pic I had to put it up.

Emma-lee adores Amy. "Mom, I love God better than anyone in the whole world, except Amy of course", she said on Monday. Here Em is giving Amy her bottle of milk, under my watchful eye. It was too sweet, Amy was patting her face and really enjoying her cousin as she sipped her meal.
We love having her with us!

Our crazy weather

"Mom, how come it's freeeeeezing, when it's supposed to be Summer?"

Our little town (okay, it's actually a city... we have a Cathedral!) here in the Eastern Cape is known to have extremely strange, changeable weather.

Tis true. Take today, for example. A beautiful clear day, not a cloud in sight, a scorching hot day. Suddenly a bank of cloud comes rolling in from the south, over the mountains, and the temperature drops rapidly. Within 30 min the sky is overcast, and rain is threatening. On with the jerseys, change the menu and cover up that paddling pool.

I am told that our city is situated on the edge of four different biomes. A biome is "a climatic and geographically defined area of ecologically similar communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, often referred to as ecosystems" according to Wikipedia.

This certainly is evident. If you take the one road out my town, you are met with fantastic scenery. The landscape is semi arid. Shale koppies, (little hills) dotted with Cape aloes and other succulent plants abound.

The southerly road out of town takes you through a forested, mountainous area. Damp mist often hangs here, and plants grow rampant and green.

Visitors scoff and declare, "You have four seasons in one day, I can't bear your weather "

Yip, summer, winter, autumn, and spring are difficult concepts to teach to teach my children.
Biomes...they really wreak havoc with our weather, here in the valley.

04 February 2008

There is always room for one more

From tomorrow, we're going to have a new little looker-on whilst we do school, in the morning. My beautiful niece Amy, aged 6 months, will be joining us. I told the children about the new plan. I explained to them how special it is that Amy can come to us, and how she does not have to go to a Day Care Centre. I re-assured them that I would still be able to give them attention and love, and that I have plenty of love to go around to all of them. I expressed that it is also a privilege for us to look after her.

Speaking to them reminded me of how I'd felt when I was expecting Emma. I was afraid that I would never love another child as much as I loved Joel. Would I have enough love for both of them?

Now I know that love is just about the only thing that multiplies when you divide it. It seems no matter how much love I give, I still have some more to give, and that I am so much happier when I am giving. I realize now, that there is always space for one more person in my heart.

And it got me thinking.... are we teaching our children to be "takers" as we love and care for them, or are they learning to share the love that we give them, with others?