Home School: 8 months later

#hopscotch on the #beach at #sunset 🌄 #homeschooling

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A child cannot learn if he/she feels threatened. Someone said this to me a few months ago and I can’t forget it. Especially when I doubt my decision to home school.

A bullied child is riding the fight or flight wave. If this child is thinking about what the other kids will do to them when they are outside, they take nothing in. No medication will have any effect.

Home School: 8 months later

I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, when I started home schooling my kids this year. I had done my research, of course but that’s like reading books while you’re pregnant, to prepare for the baby. You have a false sense of security and you really don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.

My first mistake, after my 12 years in school, was trying to replicate school at home. I may not have set up desks and ring the bell for break time, but I did try and squeeze 6 work book heavy subjects, into every day. But this was while the kids were adjusting to a fairly big change.

They had moved out of the only house they had ever known, the left mainstream school and they moved to an unfamiliar side of the city.  We were also making plans to road trip around South Africa, so you have kids who were overwhelmed and simply needed time.

I wish I could say it take 2 months for us to find our feet, but I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. As I look back on the last 8 months, it looks like the only thing that we’ve accomplished is that both my kids can read. They also actually understand the maths they are working through.

Zac is 11 years old, and it is only after the last 8 months that he can actually read out loud. Winning! This is a child who believed that he couldn’t do anything who is now happy to complete his reading, maths and Afrikaans. So, we can confidently say, we’re getting there.

What I have learned

It has been anything but easy, but I’m learning. The hardest thing about home schooling is wrapping your mind around how your kids learn. Then customizing how you want to teach according to their needs and talents. After listening to Martie de Beer from Dynamis at the Home School Expo yesterday, I realized that if you focus on the head, heart and hand of the child, you will succeed.

At the end of the day, the world is not going to benefit from a mindless automaton who can sprout back meaningless facts. It will benefit from a mindful human being who can think for themselves. They can then use their ingenuity to create and invent. In the current economy, there is no point raising a child to be a job seeker one day. Rather raise a well rounded, sensible human being who can recognize what is needed and can work out how to fulfill that need.

I can see how my children are growing now that they are learning in a safe, (mostly) happy environment, despite all my failings and doubts. That has to be enough for now.

Frazzled

This was never part of the plan. Yes, I knew that there would be a strong chance of failure, but to end up like this?

As much as I hated working in a job that destroyed my soul everyday, it granted me some independence. While I hated the house I lived it, at least it was mine. Even though I had anxiety attacks every time I tried to make ends meet, I could depend on a consistent income every month.

I miss everything I left behind. My friends, my church, my life.

You know what I don’t miss though? My son coming home from school everyday, with no self esteem whatsoever. I don’t miss the daily emails from his teacher, single sentences, about Zac playing with his stationery. I don’t miss sitting down with him and trying to work out how to teach him enough, so that he could complete his homework. So that I didn’t receive another note the next day telling me that my son is failing at school, because I’m failing him as a parent.

Instead, I get to watch how he catalogs his extra Super Animals cards, by himself, after I showed him how to set up a tabulated list. He completed the task without any grown up input and, he did it well. THAT makes me proud. That makes me realize that, despite everything I miss, THIS, is worth it.

My hair may be gray and my eyebrows may be taking over my face, but my children are growing up. And I only have a limited time to make sure they are ready for the responsibilities of being an open minded, free thinking human being who, may or may not understand long division.

If you ask me whether I regret taking this chance, I would, depending on the day of the week, say yes. Yes, I do miss having a soul destroying job that pays the bills. I knew that trying to make ends meet by doing what I love was going to be harder, and take longer than I could ever plan for. But home schooling sets the scale right.

As much as I hate being a burden to my family, I feel like I can make this work. Maybe I just need a bit more time. I cannot go back to the way things were, but I can find a way of making a life for us.

I want to write for a living. No, not a novel…not yet anyway. If I can write for a living, I can still home school my kids. I can have the best of both worlds.

Empowerment: Woman’s Day 1956

 I was thinking about the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 and wondering who they were. But details don’t matter, do they? It doesn’t matter what kind of job they had or how rich or poor they were. They were women just like you and me.

Empowerment: Woman’s Day 1956

Many of them probably had jobs and children and households to look after, yet they made a plan to come together en masse to stand up for what they believed in. The 10-20 000 women, some from as far as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, met Pretoria before flocking to the Union Buildings, some with babies strapped to their backs. Information source

So what’s our excuse? Instead of standing together and supporting one another, we indulge in some back biting and gossip, when we get the chance. We make assumptions about the lives of other people, based on what they portray on social media.

We all have different ways of running a house, raising a child or making our choices but there are many ways to skin a cat. What gives us the right to judge our fellow woman?

No matter how well you know someone, you don’t know everything. There will always be a part of ourselves that we keep hidden and you will never know what someone else is going through. So, be kind. Always.

So, let’s stand together. We can choose to support and uplift one another.

Disclaimer: The post does not refer to specific event and there is no sub tweeting going on here. Any similarities to persons, living or dead are purely coincidental. 😉

Introvert Life

Thanks for reaching out to me after my last post. I didn’t post it to concern anyone, but I felt like hiding my feelings wasn’t helping anyone. Do I make more sense to you now? Great!

Introvert Life

I came across this image on Facebook a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe how much I related to the column on the right. This is ME! So, let’s talk about my introvert life.

If you’ve ever been offended by me rejecting an invitation or my inability to make small talk, this is why. This is exactly how I feel, all the time.

introvert vs extrovert, introvert, extrovert, personal, this is me, small talk struggle, #CTmeetup, love, learn, live, be yourself

I am the one on the right. From https://www.facebook.com/TheMindOfAnIntrovert/

I have a visual represention of how I feel, at last. When I see everyone else chatting to each other, I feel like an alien. How do they do it?

As hard as I try to fake it and pretend to be the opposite I fail, because of my desire to not be a burden, or be caught in an awkward situation where I run out of things to say.

I am genuinely concerned about you, but I feel like any thing I say or do, will be prying. The column on the left is so unfamiliar to me that I can’t imagine ever being that person.

Does this post make me easier to understand and maybe, relate to? Any day of the week I would rather have my nose stuck in a book, than be out and about engaging with people face to face.

My head knows that I will have fun if I push myself to attend events and say yes to parties, but my heart is full of fear. In the light of the Cape Town meet up (#CTmeetUp) on Saturday, please make sure you connect with me. I’ll be the one looking awkward in the corner.

Darkness almost won

This is why we #travel #southafrica 🚗

A photo posted by Tami (@rumtumtiggs) on

I had a bad day today. We have been exploring Empangeni over the last few days and we tried to be better prepared than we were the last time. We made contact with someone who said to us, “anytime you’re in KZN, let me know and I will hook you up”. So, we hit the road in good faith only to find this person is now refusing to answer our messages. GREAT! I really LOVE flaky people *sarcasm*.

So what is there to do in Empangeni? Well, I will tell you more on our family travel blog shortly, but we headed to the beach yesterday because it’s so balmy here. I don’t think Kwazulu Natal knows what winter is. Or maybe it thinks its a tropical island. Anyway, before we left, I kitted the boys (Anton and Zac) out with new shoes. Expensive shoes. This was the most expensive shoe purchase I have made for Zac to date because he loses his shoes…ALL THE TIME!

Yes, I know I should be the one to check that he has his shoes before we head to the next destination but the back seat of the car is a tip and he promised that his shoes were in the car. (The kids spend 6-8 hours in the car every 3 days, so it pretty much looks like a kids bedroom). I should have made him unearth the shoes but honestly, I am so over it already.

Darkness almost won

We were on our way out this morning when we finally decided to find the shoes (and clean out the back seat at the same time). Guess what? No shoes! “Where are the shoes, Zac?” “I don’t know” says Zac. Don’t you just love it!? After a gentle (*snort) interrogation, it was established that he left his brand new, expensive shoes on the beach in Richard’s Bay…YESTERDAY! And he tells me now. Really!? Seriously!?

I mean, what are the chances that we would ever see those shoes again? Pretty much, nada! So we continued on our journey (because what would be the point of going back to the beach, right?) and headed to Shakaland for a Zulu cultural village experience.

Until we pulled up and found out that they want R510 per person. Say what now!? So no. Thanks though!

Memories of the #kids at the M.O.T.H memorial in #Kimberley #homeschool

A photo posted by Tami (@rumtumtiggs) on

Well, now we had nothing better to do but double back and head to the beach. The shoes were THAT expensive. We had to try! (Of course, while I’m driving, the ranting and tears continue (mine mostly, sometimes Zac too).

And guess what!? An angel of a security guard saw the shoes next to the palm tree, picked them up and locked them in a locker. I could have kissed the woman. There is no way in hell that would happen in Cape Town. Those shoes would have grown feet, 5 minutes after we left the beach!

Hooray for happy endings! So I lost the fight against depression for a few hours today though. I really need to stop internalizing my stress. It just makes the vicious voices in my head, shout louder. After all the stress I’ve been under, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But after crying so much, I think balance has been restored. Now I’m ready to sleep. After I’ve consumed enough water to quench this thirst.

Does crying make you thirsty too? And yes, I did apologise to Zac for ranting. We’re cool now.

Nomad Life: South Africa

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowNomad Life: South Africa

We tried the South African nomad life for 9 weeks and managed to learn a lot about ourselves, how much we take for granted in day to day life and how important family is.

Applying for a new drivers license

I managed to lose my drivers license card on Knoetzie Beach in Knysna and I got to experience how small town police and traffic departments work. All things considered, I was quite impressed. Maybe it’s because I can be very persuasive when I need something but I managed to complete an affidavit at the police station, get new photos taken and filed the paperwork at the traffic department, just before 4pm on the day I lost it.

Of course, it still hasn’t arrived in Cape Town so I will have to follow up in Knysna when we head to Durban next week. Fortunately my temporary drivers license is valid for 6 months so it’s not urgent.

Laundry

Obviously not having access to a washing machine will be an issue while you are road tripping through South Africa. You know that you will have to embrace the hand washing way of life but, when you move on every 3 days, things inevitably add up and you spend the first day in your new location, freezing your elbows off as you get through a mountain of washing.

In theory, if you wash what you wear every night,  you won’t have the backlog but after getting lost in Kruger National Park, the last thing you want to still tackle is washing. You won’t be able to hang it out until the next morning anyway so, you end up with a huge pile of washing.

Our secret weapon was our Spindel. This little gem was incredibly useful. No matter how much you wring your washing out by hand, it is still soaking wet. But when you can give your clean laundry a few minutes in the Spindel, your delicates can dry overnight, hung over a towel rail in the bathroom. Bigger items dry within a few hours in the sunshine the next morning.

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowHomeschool

If I had known how much the road trip would have taught our kids, I wouldn’t have bothered to lug all their books around the country with us. We visited lots of museums, monuments and animal sanctuaries while on the road so, not only wasn’t there a lot of time to “teach” but the unsettled nature of nomad life, meant that I was dealing with more emotional issues with my home sick kids.

Family

You don’t realize how important pets and family are to kids until you hit the road. We thought we could live off the excitement but the kids didn’t manage well. Most days they tried to hide it but by the end of the 9 weeks, I had children crying to go “home home” because they missed their aunt and their grandparents.

As a result, I don’t think doing long trips will work for our family anymore. We will happily explore for a few weeks at a time but we will set a date when we plan to go home for a bit. It will be better for the kids emotional well being.

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowThat’s all from me for now. If you would like to know more about our South African roadtrip, have a look at our family, travel blog TazzDiscovers. I update it a lot more often than this one and I’m thinking about merging the two in the near future.

Why self catering accommodation is working for us

Since we’ve been on the road, I have been trying to compare and contrast prices in local supermarkets and note how they differ from big city supermarkets. When we were in Montagu, Spar was the closest grocery store and, while their grocery items were more or less the same, their fresh produce seemed a bit more expensive.

We have very limited space in the car so I don’t have access to my “normal” pantry where buying larger quantities means that I can save a little bit. I started the road trip with oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, flour, yeast, butter, cheese, coffee and rooibos tea. This is a life line when you arrive in Oudtshroon after 2pm on a Sunday afternoon with nothing for supper, the shops are closed and, because the accommodation you booked is actually bed and breakfast, you were supposed to book for supper, but no one told you! The above ingredients mean that you grab the offer of a braai with both hands and make braai bread topped with cheese and enjoyed with tea for supper.


In terms on bed and breakfast vs self catering, you will be shocked how quickly costs add up, when you’re at the mercy of the accommodation to supply the meals. I can buy a tray of 18 free range eggs for R45 and 2 packs of bacon got R60 and have breakfasts sorted for 3 days, for the price of 2x R65/head breakfasts. I tested that theory and had breakfast in De Rust as an experiment. The kids had yogurt and muesli parfaits with tinned fruit cocktail for R35 each. I had eggs Benedict that came on toast with processed cheese, bacon and mushrooms for R45 and Anton had a 3 egg, cheese omlette for the same price. With coffee, the bill came to R250.

So, even if small town grocery stores are slightly more expensive, going the self catering route makes so much sense. And let me not even get started on the price of dinners at a restaurant. I have yet to find a restaurant that can offer something I can’t make myself for under R500 for 2 adults and 2 kids.

TazzDiscovers South Africa

Do you ever feel like you’re too full of words? That’s how I have been feeling lately. There are so many words in my head and I have so much to say, but my thoughts are in turmoil and I can’t find a way of putting them down on paper in some sort of order to make sense.

One of the reoccurring themes has been, “what the friggen hell are you doing? Are you crazy!?” It’s has pretty much formed the soundtrack to my life, since we started planning our tour around South Africa and, this particular song loves waking me up in the middle of the night. I mean, who would sell their house, take their kids out of school, pack up everything to go and explore this crime infested, government corrupted country? What if, what if, what if? #danger #crime #violence

TazzDiscovers South Africa

The thing is, in my heart I feel like there is more. There is more to this country than what gets reported in the news. There are amazing people, more beauty than you can ever imagine and so much potential around every corner. All you have to do is to take a moment, and look.

I know that time seems like a luxury these days. Not everyone can do what we are doing and I’m not suggesting that we all take a year off, but we feel the need to do this. I honestly feel like, if I don’t so something different from just the usual daily grind for a little while, I will go crazy.

There is no huge budget set aside for this crazy adventure. Pretty much all we have left is a small amount, after all our debts have been paid. If I had to choose to rather go overseas and try to backpack through Europe on what I have left, I would probably manage the air fare for all of us and then have enough for a cup of coffee before I’d have to turn around and come home. Yip, exactly!

Sometimes #obstacles (like #waves🌊) can be fun. All you have to do is #jump 🙌. Embrace #childhood 👪

A photo posted by Tami, Anton and the Zs (@tazzdiscovers) on

So, here we go. Tomorrow we head for Ashton, then to Oudtshroon and then onto the Garden Route. Along the way we will take a gazillion pictures and I will try and capture the beauty and awesomeness I see, feel and experience, not only on social media, but also on our family travel blog.

I hope you will come along and let us in on your favourite places in and around South Africa. The hashtag is #TazzDiscovers and I invite you to keep an eye on our blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Good Housekeeping Family Day at Backberg Wine Estate in Paarl

Come and play. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Come and play. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

I don’t know about you, but Winter caught me completely unawares this year. It felt like we had Autumn for a day and then plunged straight into cold and rain. Not that I’m complaining because I love Winter, and our drought stricken country desperately needs the rain.

The only thing about Winter, when you’re a parent however, is the fact that bickering can reach unbearable levels, if you happen to have more than one child, and the cries of “I’m bored” tend to get louder and louder. There is, of course, nothing better to look forward to than an outing.

Good Housekeeping Family Day at Backberg Wine Estate in Paarl

Paint and enjoy the outdoors. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Paint and enjoy the outdoors. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

The Good Housekeeping Family Day on the 10th of April 2016, comes at the ideal time in the year when you’ve put the first school term behind you and, while the days may be starting to turn cold and windy, brings about the perfect time to test driving those new winter coats and enjoying the last few sunny days outdoors.

Remember sack races? Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Remember sack races? Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

So why not pop over here for more information about the day and buy a few tickets for yourself and your family? Tickets for kids aged 2-16 cost just R20 and the great thing about that is, once you’re inside, all of the over 30 activities, from petting zoo to old fashioned games, are free. Children under the age of two and pensioners can enjoy the day free of charge. Adult tickets are R120 which includes a free 3 month print or 4 month digital subscription to Good Housekeeping AND R10 of the ticket price is donated to the Save the Children charity.

South African band Goodluck. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

South African band Goodluck. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

What else can you look forward to? How about live music by the fab South African bands Goodluck and Touchwood? Backsberg Estate, which happens to be the first carbon neutral wine estate, will be selling their wines at cellar door prices and while the kids are entertained, you are invited to taste what the estate has to offer.

Will I see you there? Festivities start at 11am and end at 4pm. Remember to share your experience using the #GHFun and #brightFutureSA on social media. There’s nothing left for you to do but to click here to buy your tickets HERE.

Easy Easter Brioche

easy easter brioche, easy brioche, recipe, brioche, easter, baking, fruit loaves, hot cross buns, fruit buns, dried fruitIt has been 6 weeks since we moved out of our house and into Kirstenhof with Anton’s parents, while we wait for the transfer to be registered, so we can tour South Africa as a family. Despite the initial itchy feet and frustration, we have found this to be an ideal transitory rest stop. We had no idea how much we would need to still give or throw away before we hit the road, and the kids have benefited from having a place to call their own as they settle into a home school environment.

The thing about not having a source of income, is that you have to make the tiny amount of money that does come in, STTTTTRREEEETTTTCCCHHHH as far as possible. The same, I guess is true of all of us though, given the state of the economic climate. Kids definitely seem to eat more when they’re home as opposed to taking a lunch box to school. By the sounds of things, home school kids who are permanently hungry is completely normal, if the Facebook forums are to be believed.

Easy Easter Brioche

As I have found it to be cheaper to buy a bag of bread flour and some yeast than buying a loaf of bread everyday, I have made countless loaves of bread over the last few weeks. Since home made bread seems to be a lot more filling, it makes it even more economically viable. For the sake of variety, I have been interspersing loaves of kitke loaf with this delicious brioche recipe, originally found on my friend Alida’s Simply Delicious Food blog, and I have heard no complaints whatsoever. Not only does this bread make the absolute best French toast but I have added cinnamon and mixed spice to it and turned out the most glorious Hot Cross Buns.

While I was just going to share the plain old recipe, as delicious as it may be, it makes more sense to include my Easter themed tweaks instead. Feel free to turn these into Hot Cross Buns or leave them as loaves, and then turn them into Easter French toast on Sunday. I will not be held responsible for any weight gain incurred.

Please remember that this brioche will have to rise for about 2 hours before you refrigerate it overnight so remember to factor enough time in. I usually mix up a batch of dough just before supper, let it rise and then pop it into the fridge. The minute I wake up, I take it out of the fridge and leave it for about an hour to reach room temperature. Then I knock it down and place it into 2 greased bread tins.

You can also shape them into twenty, 60 gram balls to make buns if you prefer. Wrap the baking pans in plastic wrap and leave to rise for a further 2 hours before preheating the oven, brush the loaves with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes (for buns) or 40 minutes (for loaves). It is absolutely worth waiting for.

Easy Easter Brioche (makes 2 loaves or 20 buns)

125ml warm milk

45ml sugar

10g instant yeast

4 large eggs, at room temperature

500g flour, sifted

5ml salt

10ml mixed spice

250ml fruit cake mix (replace with dark chocolate chunks if raisins aren’t your thing)

175g butter, at room temperature

Place warm milk, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together by hand using a balloon whisk. Beat in eggs, one at a time before you sift flour, salt and spices over the top then stir to combine. Attach the K-beater or paddle attachment to your stand mixer and turn the machine on it’s lowest setting. After a minute or so, add the dried fruit (if using) and mix. Allow dough to mix together for a further minute before slowly adding bits of butter. Keep mixing until all the butter has been incorporated and the dough is soft and sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure that none of the mixture has been left behind unmixed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the dough into a buttered bowl and top with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for 2 hours before placing in the fridge overnight.

Remove bowl from the fridge and let the dough come to room temperature for about an hour. Punch dough down and shape into 2 equal logs or 20 buns. Place dough in 2 greased bread tins and cover with plastic again to rise for a further 2 hours. Preheat oven to its hottest setting. Brush loaves with an egg wash made with the yolk of an egg mixed with a tablespoon of water. You will turn the oven down to 190 degrees celcius just before you place the loaves into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and the loaves/buns sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Cross recipe

If you want to add crosses, rub 20g butter into 80g flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add just enough hot water (15-30ml) to make a piping consistency. Place slack dough into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle or simply transfer into a thick plastic bag and cut off one corner. Pipe crosses over buns just after you have added the egg wash and just before you place them in the oven.

Top loaves with orange glaze immediately after you have removed them from the oven. Cool in bread pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely before slicing (if you can wait that long).

Glaze

250ml freshly squeezed orange juice

125ml sugar

Boil ingredients together over low heat on the stove until thickened and reduced. Brush over hot loaves once they have been removed from the oven. Serve warm with butter.