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Home Education South Africa Style

We are grateful to have more space to spread out our home learning area here in South Africa. Much of my week between Christmas and New Year was spent organising education materials while Dave helped occupy the children.

We now have a large open plan living area where we can have more distinct areas for our learning materials, play and our sitting area. There is lots of wall space for displays. Below is my desk with an education materials shelf next to it, then some lovely new daily and monthly calendars, and a little blackboard. We also have our music spot with the piano and our music players. Mercy has begun to take an interest in learning the piano and I am attempting to include lessons.

These pictures were taken after our domestic worker comes on Tuesdays, things are not normally quite so neat. God has been good to us in blessing us with a good helper. It has also been a huge step forward to finally purchase my lockable toy and puzzle cupboard! You can see it here next to the play mat. This really helps to keep the craziness under control. Despite years of attempting to teach them, our children are not the best at packing up happily. So controlling how much mess they are able to make is important. This cupboard was purchased second hand and has four levels and even smells nice inside . . . all in all it is a great blessing and help (yes, almost as good as having another adult in the house, as I once read).

Near the door to the garage there is a sweet little nook that we are shaping into an art and craft and science area. We are keeping some materials out all the time and Nate spends a lot of time there. I put up some drying lines on the wall for paintings. I found a bucket caddy for pencils, sticky tape, watercolour paints, and glue that can be used on a daily basis. This has the added bonus of temporarily housing the random pieces of paper with possibly precious creations that are always around this table. God is good to give us the space to have a little table like this that can stay a mess. Later on I hope to get a small lockable cupboard to house craft materials and paint that become unmanageable if the children are allowed to access them at any time.

We are keeping some nature finds on the top shelf. I read the idea of a nature discovery table but realised this would not work in our house if kept out at all times . . . think pieces of coral in beds. So I decided to display the items out of reach and bring them down for specific nature discovery times. The other day Nate painted a watercolour of some of his finds.

Opposite the wall with the piano, bookshelf, etc. is this green wall. We hope to put up a big display board there when we find the right one to finally use some of our posters and create craft displays. Meanwhile the easel is getting more use as there is space to keep it out.

In the garden we had the delightful surprise of being given a chicken house. Eventually we hope to turn this corner into a chicken run. We are not quite ready to resume having hens yet though.

Finally we went to a birthday party with new friends on Sunday. We joked that the children were having "sensory play" in the mud at the Helderberg Nature Reserve. 

 Who needs sensory tables when you can have the joy of painting red clay on banks and trees in nature's playground?

All this can look quite idyllic online but it looks a lot crazier in real life. I have found it harder than my classroom teaching experiences and been much more tested and broken than I was through them. There are the lovely moments reading stories and making discoveries and seeing progress. There is a lot of joy in persevering through tears to teach a child a skill and then seeing him/her do it naturally after all that effort. Then there are the days where children's emotions or unwillingness, teaching multiple levels, and other demands on our time make it seem impossible to hold it all together as the teacher/parent. Home education is a more relaxed lifestyle for the children but not necessarily the adults. My goal is to face the impossibility of reaching all our ideals without  blaming myself or anyone else. My prayer is that we will instead depend on God to show us the way through our weakness to his strength and grace.


Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

We loved visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town back in September. The children played for a long time in this little stream which conveniently had a seat near it where we could watch them.

Mercy loved the "teddy bear" peak.

September is a great time to delight in the spring flowers.

View down to Cape Town.

Bill really doesn't need a pram anymore but its useful for carrying bags on the handles!

Since then we've been on several more outings, tamed some of the chaos of moving house, completed many weeks of our curriculum, navigated our new suburb, found places to love in our new garden, shared the news that we are expecting our fourth baby in April, and seen Dave complete his first semester of lecturing. I can hardly believe it is November already. These are productive, busy, exhausting days.


iSonto #70

This is our last Sunday living here in the town of Stellenbosch in furnished accommodation. We found it too expensive to buy here so we are moving to a home in a nearby town a bit less than 18 km from Dave's work at the University of Stellenbosch. Our moving day is this Tuesday! It is going to be great to have our own yard and space again with our furniture and possessions. The town we are moving to is also lovely. It is called Somerset West and is close to both the beaches and the mountains. 

Here are some pictures we have taken on a few recent weekend outings. 

Here we are in Franschhoek, a sweet town about 37 km from Stellenbosch. We had a delightful afternoon here looking at the river, having a picnic, walking around the museums, and learning more about the Huguenot Christians who fled persecution and founded the town.

We loved the Huguenot memorial which expresses the trinity in the three arches and the sun and cross emblem of the Huguenots on the top.

Another week we went to the beautiful Paarl Mountain Reserve. We happened upon this by accident and it quickly became a favourite. One little boy loved paddling in the stream . . .

It is free and has spectacular views.

The children were very excited to learn that this mountain once had a lava flow coming from it. Dave told them it was now an extinct volcano. Nate responded to this with disbelief because he wanted there to be a chance it was dormant and would erupt! Mercy also responded with disbelief but for the opposite reason. She thought it was dormant and was terrified that it would erupt! Mercy wanted to go home after hearing that it used to be a volcano.

Another fun outing (on a colder and windier day) was to the Giraffe House. We saw lots of fun animals. My favourites were the cats. Mercy loved the flamingos.

This is the serval cat in the background, a truly spectacular animal with both spots and stripes. There were also caracals.

Mercy loved feeding the goats and spent a lot of time doing that.

This trip was for our "family celebration" where we celebrate our wedding anniversary with the children. Here we are opening small gifts on that morning. We celebrated with them on the 15th of August.

Dave and I also went out alone on the 18th, our anniversary, for a lovely dinner.

Moving overseas with a family is in some ways easier than alone because you have some of your best friends moving with you!


iSonto #69

In life we meet times where things remain the same for weeks on end, and other times where life is in tumult of newness. Four weeks into our adventure of living in South Africa, we are definitely in a tumult stage! The children are loving the dog, Amber, where we are staying in central Stellenbosch. We are upstairs in a furnished flat and need to open two gates to get to the yard pictured above. Amber is the sweetest and most child-friendly dog you can imagine.

We're also very grateful for the parks within walking distance of our "home".

We have had some incredibly summery weather as well as some cold days.

All three children like to climb trees at the river park . . .

Ride choo choo . . .

Watch the river . . .

For the first three weeks I was solely walking with them during the day, going for two trips a day to local parks. We were grateful that when Dave was home on evenings and weekends we could travel in the hire car his work provided. Now we have bought the great car pictured above. It was great that it cost less than we had planned to spend, because the house we've bought is going to cost more than we were planning to spend :)! Our new car has room for grandparents or other children, with seven seats. It is a nine year old Volvo. I am taking the children to homeschool activities in it now term has started, and we are currently within walking distance of Dave's work. When we buy our house and move further away, Dave will car pool some days so I can use it.

Dr David Drew is pictured here outside his giant office. Its a good thing he has some space to be quiet there, because it sure is busy when he gets home! Work is also very busy though as he tries to get used to lecturing students as well as continuing research.

Education continues apace and we had a week of child-led volcano obession. It culminated in buying a volcano making kit at the homeschool entrepeneur day. The river park was the location of the explosion, made up of food colouring, bicarb soda and spirit vinegar.

We've seen so many blessings in these first weeks, but also a lot of strain as we've had to get over jet lag, parent disorientated children, navigate new places & shops & laws, deal with homesickness, and make huge decisions, all at the same time. Dave was working on scientific projects up until the week we left, and started his new work only a few days after we arrived.

We've found plugging into church life immediately invaluable. Besides being a child of God, nothing beats being part or the family of God and having that familiar shared focus with Christians all over the world. Going to church even when we felt dreadful has had big benefits for us. Its also been great to meet up with relatives here, and have dinner with work collegues.

As always, being thankful helps so here's a little thank you list from our day today:

  • Still awake when Mercy had a night terror so didn't get wrenched out of bed
  • Mercy loving to throw a ball to Max, Dave's uncle's dog.
  • A big green space with children's climbing frame within walking distance of the house we are buying
  • Tumble drier keeps our few clothes rotating nicely! 
  • Meeting a lady at church who had great faith in the face her child being born ill and passing away at the age of one
  • Mercy throwing a ball with some people we met at church
  • William laughing at the dogs
  • Nate getting dressed without being asked
  • William saying "thank you Jesus" when he picked up a piece of apple
Thanks for all those who are keeping in touch with us and my goal is to reply to every one of you! It may just take some time as we still have lots of papers to sort out and more. God bless. 


iSonto #68

 Way back in late April we went on a wonderful autumn ramble to the Salmon Ponds! Here are the pictures. We had a rare take away lunch of pies from "The Cheeky Little Place" in New Norfolk which has lovely quality food.

A huge highlight of our visit to the Salmon Ponds was the appearance of a platypus who delighted in swimming up and down by the side of one of the ponds. Incredible! My best ever platypus sighting and we stood and looked at him/her for a long time.

This was the day before negotiations finished on Dave's job offer at the University of Stellenbosch. This was a challenging time for us with lots of decisions to make, so it was a great time to take a few hours off and get some perspective.

 Dave emded up getting an appropriate offer so we are now off to Stellenbosch in South Africa next week, only nine weeks after accepting the offer! Its been a super quick move to organise. This will be my last iSonto from our little house in Southern Tasmania. Our removals occur this week and then we fly out the following week. Interspersed with the following photos are thanksgivings I've jotted down over the past month and more. We have heaps to praise God for as we've already overcome so many hurdles, including visas, air flights, removals date, the sale of our car, and home maintenace.

Pausing longer to look at insects due to my fascinated company!
Lying in sun on our bed
Autumn sunny house bliss
Mercy curled up listening to Curious George on headphones
Perfect way to remember our Kingston home
Weeding sunny garden beds
Raised garden beds
Ability to read
Picking fresh lettuce
Nate compliance with school work today
60 percent of our family have South African citizenship therefore no immigration issues for them!
Dave vacuums for me
Walking the beach at sunrise
A beach driving distance of where we are moving
Relaxing "date" evening with Dave and no interruptions

Mercy and Nate making their own friends
Able to read a long story without sore throat
Old silicon removed from bath tub
Time to do this
Driving amongst autumn colour in sandy bay
Shopping in quiet on my own
Children behaved while I got moving quotes plus helped someone catch our chickens
Happy new home for chickens

Nate adjusting well to gym
Good physio session despite being in lots of pain beforehand
Watching sunrise
Have medical certificates
Money for Canberra flight
iPod to listen to Anne of the island
Gym sooooo much easier than last year!
Mercy playing confidently a whole gym distance away

Moments to calm down
Waves crashing on shore
Positive party for Nate
Managed to shop, prepare cake, wrap pass the parcel, make pin tail on dog game, tidy house 
Dave helped prepare food
Cherished last cousin party before we go
Mercy said children aren't trouble they are a joy they give cuddles and they play, when told robbers didn't want children as they thought they would be trouble!

Greek salad to see me through paper work
Warm restaurant to work in
Slept all night 9/05
Home made muesli
Friends and family  to celebrate with and who carefully select gifts
Nate delighted with remote control car
Broom to clean floor!

Dave cooked beautiful curry dinner 
New perfectly working lock on front door
Warm car to drive in
Early morning cuddles in front of heat pump. 
Mercy recounting our faith stories: You cried out to God for a husband and children and he gave them, I will pray for children when I am a lady
Mild day for party
Hot bath

Children played happily outside for hours!
Sunshine on washing
Nate learning addition from iPod game
Made lunch peacefully
Did washing peacefully
Played balloon ball with both m and e
Seeing war memorial from taxi at least!
Packed my own delicious lunch
Cloakrooms for back pack
Being on parliament roof and seeing Canberra layout
Privilege of exploring old and new Parliament House 
Looking at books, shops and exhibits in my own time!
Wandering to my own pace!
Found Perfect picture books for children as we move
Stack of certified documents and finance documents for visa applications equals incredible privilege
Able to share nibbles for after church
Dave made hommus
Children played well with others after church


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