Monday, 30 March 2015

A weekend of recovering



As much as I thought the previous time that Home Affairs was a breeze when we applied for our passports, as much my mind has been changed completely!

We were there on Saturday at half past seven, and the queue was a queue ... was A QUEUE!.
It took ages to get in there as they do not let everybody go into the building all at once. (Which makes sense!)

We had to be there with Little Miss as her thumb print is required again when picking up the passports. She was hungry (of course!) for three whining hours long. The breakfast bars only went as far as breakfast bars could go.

We finally got our passports, but it was an epic!

We did not do anything much the rest of the weekend!

Earth Hour 2015
We switched off the lights on Saturday at 20:30, and got very sleepy with the dark of the dark hour! Earth Hour is always something we enjoy doing with the children.

In final news: Little Miss pulled her seventh teeth yesterday. It is the first one that she managed to dislodge herself, and she was very proud.



The Tooth Mouse was also very eager, and she got R15 (a note and a R5 coin, nogals), while she was in the bath. The note stated that he was very impressed with the quality of her teeth!

----

Little Miss is attending Vacation School during the holidays. She is still eager to go to school while they are keeping them busy. With an extra payment from the parents (of course!), but it helps as we are busy saving leave for the longer vacations coming up!


What are you doing with the kids during the school holidays?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Mamma Mia! - Great show


 I was lucky enough to win two tickets to the opening night of Mamma Mia! at Montecasino on Tuesday. It is a bit difficult in the middle of the week to attend shows, especially when it is two and half hours... (we only got to bed after midnight). But it was extremely enjoyable!

The international cast is very professional. They have been to 77 cities in 36 countries and have been seen by over 4.5 million people.

The highlight was the three "older" ladies in the roles of the mother and friends of hers!  Also of course 22 of ABBA's songs. The audience really loved singing along, especially when they performed some of the songs again at the encore at the end! The ladies in the audience also got a lot of eye-candy from the male dancers/singers in the show! An all-round feel good entertainment!


We were sitting in the middle, but had no problem with the view or sound. There was a short break in the beginning, when they announced a technical glitch, but it was quickly sorted. I wish I could have taken photos during the show, because the lighting and characters are very colourful!

The obligatory selfie, me with a red nose because of a cold
Radio 2000, M-Net and Fairlady presented the show here in South Africa. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Fairlady celebrated it's 50th birthday. Every second seat had a Fairlady magazine.

Fairlady has been one of my choice magazines since I was a young girl. My mother used to buy one every week. Then I bought them when I went to university. We had a standing movie day on a Wednesday where we went to Johannesburg to watch a movie, but also to buy our magazines to read them in the afternoons... (*sigh* - those were the days!) 

I still buy a Fairlady when I have something left on the budget (or Not!...).


I highly recommend Mamma Mia!
I don't even like musicals, but with the music and the great performances it makes it worth seeing!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Disabilities becomes abilities with the iPad's Accessibility features


I attended the iPad feedback session from the Apple Accessibility Conference in Berlin, presented by Karen Hart at the iStore on Sandton Drive yesterday. I am struck that the word "disability" is not the choice word when discussing special needs . It is now only about "accessibility".

With three clicks the iPad changes into an accessible tool that changes learning for special needs' kids completely. The software has been built-in from the start and developed for 25 years.

It addresses vision, hearing, physical and motor skills, as well as learning and literacy.

The following quotes comes from a video about the use of iPads in special needs education: The link is here, and if you have seven minutes, it is really worth seeing: http://t.co/dVs54lRpmb
  • iPad makes learning so much easier!
  • When learning is fun, it has a bigger impact on the child!
  • The focus is on the abilities rather than disabilities!
  • The use of iPads open up new ways of looking at the world!
  • Independence is very important to learning, and the iPad makes it possible.
  • It motivates teaching!

A breakdown of the Accessibility features can be found here:
iOS. A wide range of features for a wide range of use 


The in-built features on the iOS devices:

I am only going to name them, because it can all be Googled to learn how to make use of it!

Vision

- VoiceOver
- Speak Screen
- Siri
- Dictation
- Zoom
- Font Adjustments
- Invert colours and grayscale
- Braille displays are also available

Hearing

- FaceTime video calling
- Unlimited texting
- Closed Captions to watch movies, television, and podcasts
- Mono Audio helps with adjusting stereo to mono, or diverting sound to one ear.
-Visibility and vibrating alerts
- Works with hearing aids

Karen Hart demonstrating her Picster Book apps that specifically addresses South African sign language for English and Afrikaans users. She also demonstrated this at the Berlin Conference. The Picsterbook apps are all available for free download on the iTunes Store.

Karen Heart with her Picster Books 


Physical and motor challenges

- Assistive Touch - the screen can be adapted to unique physical needs, such as not having functional arms.
- Siri
- Switch Control
- Dictation
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Predictive text
- Support for Third Party Keyboards

Karen Hart demonstration of using only head movements to
operate the iPad

Attention, Cognitive and Learning challenges (including autism)

- Guided access
- Speak Screen
- Dictionary
- Safari

Karen hart discussed a few presentations that caught her eye during the Conference, including the story of Srini Swaminathan who uses the iPad as teaching tool in the slums of India.

Responses on the Instagram photo:




I was inspired as always, and wish we can have this technology in every child's hand!


Related posts:

- iPad learning for special needs - Autism #iPadlearningZA

iPad in Education at Sacred Heart College #iPadLearningZA

Sunday, 22 March 2015

What little girls want when camping


This past weekend made me realize that you don't need much to go camping with the little ones. 

Hubby managed to fit all our camping gear into our car. (He's the Master Camper, for sure!) We had to make do with the small tent, but it was more than enough for Little Miss. She was extremely happy to share our two camping mattresses. (We have the sore backs, but luckily it was only for two nights!)

We went camping with her Voortrekker team of little girls with their parents. It was the best of times for them.


What little girls want while camping:

- Friends to play with.


- A bicycle. 


- A fishing rod. 



- A swimming pool.



- Sharing food and drinks. 
Note to self: food is not high priority on their lists! They are happy with a sip cool drink here and there and a bite of negotiated anything before running of again!


- AN OPTIONAL BONUS: a water slide!


A Bush-veld storm could not even dampen the spirits. The little girls just went on swimming in the undercover warm swimming pool.



AND: Mom got her sunsets and a sunrise!




Photos taken at Bosveld Oase near Brits.

I am also sure that little boys want the same as well, because the little brothers camping with us, had just as much fun! 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

We really do some stuff on a weekend - for future reference!


Little Miss has to do a weekend report picture after each weekend of the stuff we did. We have only seen her books from school on two occasions when it got sent home. Both times her pictures of the weekend reports came back very dull.

Week after week it is only a picture of herself with sometimes a tree, and sometimes with a small dog.
Her answer is that she forgets when I try to recount of all the things we did!

Why do we even bother to go out of the house?
And most of the things we do for her!

This past weekend had a birthday focus (mine), but she could have reported the following:

Weekend report:

- Her Big Sister was home for the weekend. She loves having her around, and spending time with her!

- Big Sister made her a t-shirt headband and bracelet, and she also could help her with it.

-  We had a breakfast outing at Urban Angel Cafe (love the place!) on Saturday with friends of mine and she could choose anything from the stand. (She loves that more than ordering from the menu.) She had a pie and a cake!

- Dad took her to the gymnastics which she loves!

- She played "tennis in our garage" with Mom and Dad in the afternoon while waiting for Mom's friends to arrive.

- She also got to ride her scooter, which she loves more than her bicycle. Dad had to tag along, of course!

- She could watch a children's movie while we were having a braai.

- Her grandmother and grandfather visited on Sunday, with aunt Deb and uncle Leon. She always loves seeing them.

- Her uncle Leon played some ball with her.

- The neighbour's kids came to jump with her on her trampoline.(Big Plus for the Sunday!)

- She scored a R10 from the family, and she immediately had to spend it at the petrol garage when we dropped the Student off on Sunday afternoon!


She could not remember to include any of this in her report?
Next Monday we will be reminding her of all  the highlights of the weekend, especially since we are going camping with her.

(For future reference, Little Miss!!)


Photo: I tried to get the rainbow on the photo in the background. Not that successful!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

48 is not so bad!

Birthday flowers
It's a scary number, and of course I don't feel I am this age!

I love where I am in life now, and I am contented with who I am!
(Maybe that's why the extra weight is not shifting?)

This is a great age to be!
No more hang-ups, and wannabe's! 

I love where I am, and if I don't like it, I know that I can make a change!
It's all up to me!

I love my family. I have a great husband, and great daughters. They make living so much fun!

We are still dreaming about adventures together!

And in the meantime we are juggling the rat race (mostly the traffic) here in suburbia, and looking forward to each weekend with braais and family and friends! (And wine!)

--------------------

And as soon as I am beginning to feel a bit of blue, I remind myself that a 50-year old is playing the next Bond girl... (Is that not super fantastic??)


Thanks to all for my birthday wishes, and all the lovely presents.
(I would have definitely missed out if I skipped my birthday this year!)

Card from Little Miss (she spent a huge amount of time curling the ribbons
last night)
Cotton Road handbag.
And I got two vintage Cotton Road handbags which I had been eyeing for quite a while! They are super lovely! Thanks Hubby!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Grade 1 - we did the right thing!



As parents we are always second-guessing ourselves, and hoping we make the right decisions for our children.

But we also know our children, and know them at their best!

I am so glad we decided to send Little Miss to Grade 1 this year. The school readiness results last year indicated that she was not emotionally ready, and we were sent for occupational therapy as well as visual therapy. We have completed a series of visits to the OT as well as visual therapy. Both therapists have given her the "go-ahead" for Grade 1. The last of the visual therapy was on Saturday and Little Miss drew a heart picture to give to Penny (see picture above). I am amazed at how well she can now control her eyes. She can bring pictures together by only moving her eyes around. (I don't think I can do it, and I am too afraid to even try...)

The first week of school has also been a bit hectic with Little Miss being very tired at the end of the day, and clingy to start with! She also got quite confused with the extra-murals, and we are still searching for lost clothes that gets lost on an almost daily basis.

But, by the third week she started very good with Little Miss saying goodbye at the gate. There are less "Not a lekker day"-remarks that we have to hear at the end of each day! We are still walking her to the class, but she is happy to go off and play. Especially if she has a coin or two to spend at the Tuck Shop... (Which we try not to give in to, but yesterday I was weak again when I had to drop her off!...parenting fail much!)

She has been loving her teacher and her class. We decided not to say anything to her teacher about the extra OT and visual therapy, and to see how it goes! There has not been any complaint or negative feedback from school. Her school work also looks very good when it gets sent home!

She loves learning to read, and she is trying to spell all words she comes across. Out of her own free will, and without any push from us! (She is actually irritating us with trying to spell everything, and of course asking us to help her with it! Sorry, Little Miss! I will try harder at the end of my working day when asked to spell something/e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g for you!!)

She is also doing very well with the maths, and that we can definitely link back to her doing CMaths since last year! It has given her the edge that I have been hoping for! She is not a CMaths whizz-kid, but she has a better grasp of maths than her peer group. That's all we want!

There is a large amount of homework. It keeps her busy for at least an hour to two hours each day which I think is a bit much! But the after-care helps in doing most of it with the children, and we only have to quickly retrace some of it in the evenings. Luckily it is Hubby and I who are there to follow though! We can focus on her alone, which makes it easier on all of us!

I was talking to another mom the other day about her daughter that she kept back for another year, and I realised that I could say that we also did the right thing! Just as her daughter is still not ready for the huge leap into Grade 1, our daughter are now enjoying her Grade 1 year to the max!!

"Phew!"

Wordless Wednesday #260 - Tuk-Tuk ride




Friday, 6 March 2015

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Wordless Wednesday #259 - Superhero poses #graduation







She got the Superhero Cape!


We attended the graduation ceremony of The Student yesterday! She finally got the graduation cape and the hat, and she got her few seconds to shine on the stage!

It was a proud mom-moment, because it feels like we have achieved something as well!

I know I did not do any of the hard work, or worked through the nights, or helped her with any of the studies. (Only a little bit of research some times from my side...)

But we made it possible for her to study. (Cha-ching!! and I am only starting to work back the bursary...) There were times that we said we did not know how we are going to do it, but our focus will be on the completion of the studies. She also knew there was no do-over available! This was it!

And she did it!

I am very proud of her, and so glad that she has something to show for her hard work.
The speaker spoke about the importance of time yesterday: "The importance of a year is so much more appreciated by a student who has to re-do that one year!..."

The wonderful time at university she is having now, is coming to an end at the end of the year. I hope and I know that she is making the best of it! (So glad she is enjoying it!)

It was only the other day I complained about the initiation practices, and in the meantime they have abolished most of it!
We had some pep talks along the way to keep her going, and she also learnt valuable life lessons while studying.

But here we are! She is busy with a post-graduate diploma, and busy thinking about the next stages of life already!

And we are left with the question: "How did it get here so quickly!"



Well done, my girl!
Love you!

More superhero poses can be found here: Wordless Wednesday #259 - Superhero poses #graduation