Another day in Paradise….

How did your morning begin this morning? Did you rush to get the kids ready for school, get dressed for work and jump in the car to face the traffic of the school run and then head off to the office? Just like millions of other people across the globe, right?
Let tell you how my morning started.  I did wake up early to the clock radio at 6 am, got up and dressed and fetched my domestic worker from the gate of my estate. A 10 minute drive through the bush there and back. Then I went through to the children’s wing of the house and encouraged them to start moving and getting ready for the day, I made us all a cup of tea and then headed out the door for a walk with my 2 dogs, Benji and Tinker.
The dogs were very anxious to walk since we hadn’t been able to do our daily morning walks the previous 2 mornings as it had been raining.

Today was a beaut! The air was so crisp and fresh, the light was incredible, a bit chilly but the smell of the damp earth was gorgeous.
As we rounded a bend in the road we saw a giraffe standing right in the middle of the road. The giraffe took one look at us and ran off into the bush.  Tinker, a black labrador, thought that this looked like something she wanted to investigate further and promptly started growling and pulling on her leash. Benji, my little fluffy Maltese poodle cross Jack Russell, was also keen for a little giraffe leg for breakfast. After managing to reign the dogs in, I carried on walking, seeing more giraffe in the bush further ahead. We walked past the spot that just a few days ago there had been an impala killed by a leopard. The carcass had disappeared so I presumed that the leopard or some other scavengers moved it further into the bush.
Why am I telling you this? Because my day did not begin with me arguing with my kids about getting out of bed on a cold winter morning, packing lunch boxes, trying to get out the door with every bit of sports equipment required for whatever sport was being played today. Signing homework books, looking for lost readers.

Driving into the school parking just in time for the drum to sound, yes I did say drum. The school my children used to attend is a bush school, small and nature-based but still run along very traditional lines.
I, however, am not a traditional education type of person, for 2 years I struggled everyday with the system, hoping that I could reconcile myself to the fact that my children were enjoying the bush environment of the school and the amazing surroundings. Maybe the traditional, mainstream curriculum and methodology used at the school wasn’t so bad after all. Having owned and run my own Montessori school in Johannesburg and being so passionate about alternative education I was constantly trying to encourage the management of the school to look at better ways of engaging the children. After about 6 months, I realized that my children were at school for 2 reasons, socialization and the bush-lore classes that were offered once a week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they weren’t learning, but it was the way they were learning. Exams and cycle tests, homework and last-minute projects, not to mention compulsory sport, matches, plays, school events. I felt as though I lived at the school, it dictated what time I woke up in the mornings, when I could go on holiday, what time we ate lunch.

Since my childrIMG_7178en started homeschooling I have a peaceful home, my children are engaged and eager to learn. My daughter is self motivated and is getting results that she never received at school, her motivation is that she gets to spend every Wednesday at her beloved stables, learning everything she can about horses and riding from Traci Thompson, the owner of the yard where her horse is kept. She has even worked out a timetable around “Stable Day”to make sure that she gets through her syllabus as she is required to do.

My son is obsessed with nature, facts and science. he has a propensity for memorizing facts that boggles the mind. How he learns is through his passion, projects and subjects that interest him and  keep him engaged.  He does have a tutor once a week who covers the basics with him, and he is happy to focus for that morning on maths and english, subjects he knows he has to know. He then practices the concepts covered during the week but not ad nauseam, once a concept is grasped he gets to move on.

Taking the step to move away from traditional education wasn’t easy or without criticism but so far it working for our family and that is what is important to me.



Even more adventures in Amsterdam 

On Saturday my family and I went for a walk through Vondelpark and caught a boat ride on the canals, we got off at  the Centraal station and walked into central Amsterdam. We visited a toy shop and my brother got a Playmobile set and then we went to get some more frites to eat while we walked. After a few hours of walking we went to the Jewish museum and my brother and I made kitke  in the Children’s  Museum and then took the boat back home.

On Sunday while my dad was at work we visited the Anne Frank museum. We learnt about her and how she was a young Jewish girl who was in hiding for 2 years during the Nazi occupation of Holland.We waited 40 minutes to get in. Apparently that was a good day as sometimes the wait in the queue can be up to 3 hours long. We then caught the boat and went all the way round the on the canals to our stop.  We took a short walk around Vondelpark and we went home to cook a Rosh Hashana dinner and wait for my Dad to come home. 


More adventures in Amsterdam

On Friday 11 my mom, brother and I went looking for bikes to ride around town and Vondelpark!

Sadly we didn’t find any and just got lost. Eventually we found our way back to the park and went in. We saw a lot of people riding bikes and walking there dogs, we also found a jungle gym which my brother and I had lots of fun on. After about an hour of running up and down it we had to move on. We went over bridges and on windey paths and found a very pretty place with roses everywhere, then we found a fenced play area for little kids and saw lots of them swimming and running wild.

We were all getting very hungry by thetime we got out of the park so we went looking for chips with mayonnaise  called “frites” that everyone  here loves. My brother was so hungry he couldn’t go on anymore so we had to go to one of the hot dog stands  so he could get one and STOP moaning! We decided to go to the flower market and on the way my mom and I got some fruit.

We saw so many tulips, clogs, windmills and cheese shops. We walked for a while and eventually found frites and they were so delicious! We walked in a circle and found our way back to the park. When we got there it was so full! There were people everywhere and some were suntanning! There are not many sunny days in Holland that the Dutch take advantage of every ray of sunshine they get. After a long day we made our way back to our accommodation.



Strolling the streets of Amsterdam

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On Wednesday 9 of September at 11:15 p.m we boarded our flight to Amsterdam, and our journey  began!

After 10 hours of a sleepless night we finally arrived at Schipol airport at 10:00 a.m. We all got off the plane  tired and with stiff necks and made our way to the baggage collection area. After a long wait and old ladies offering us biscuits we got our bags and went to look for a train into central Amsterdam.

After a short walk and some directions we found the address for the accommodation we had booked and paid for online. As we were walking down the street we saw some interesting characters and eventually arrived at number 163. We were a bit surprised to find an old abandoned looking building with no door bell. My mom went to ask at the jewellery store next door and an old man came out saying ” They are CRIMINALS!” Our hearts sank when we realized we had been scammed and had NO accommodation!

We found our way to a cafe round the corner and had something to eat and drink while we seached for new accommodation. We found a place on the internet for the week that suited us and after a delicious lunch of bacon and eggs we looked like lost tourists and got a taxi to our new accommodation.

After a short drive and lots of hiccuping (on my part) we arrived at The President apartment. The apartment is on the third floor and when we saw the steepest staircase you’ve ever seen, we nearly cried! We had to carry our heavy suitcases and back packs up three VERY steep flights of stairs!

The apartment was actually very nice and comfortable, light, bright and modern.