Today is....

Today is Freedom Day here in South Africa.  This is to commemorate the first national post-apartheid democratic elections.  The Constitution went into effect on 27th of April 1994.  With Nelson Mandela being elected their first president.   This was the first time people of all races were free to vote in South Africa.

Read more about it on Freedom day.

And it's also Morse Code Day!!


Are you active in the Wars?

I've read just about a hundred blogs on the subject of the "mommy wars".  Many of those before the ill fated comment Hilary Rosen made about Mrs. Romney.  I've about read it to death.  I wish the subject would die.  I'm tired.  Can women not agree that no matter where you "work" the home job is still "work"?
Women without children, and men who don't partake of the home job or the child rearing don't have a dog in this fight.  So don't even pretend to think you do.  We know YOU DON'T KNOW what's it's like to "work" at home.  (I'm here only talking to the mothers and fathers).
I believe Hilary wanted to say something along the lines that Mrs. Romney didn't have the same experience nor the internal conflict that the majority of SAHM's and WOHM's do.  Because she had the choice to stay home and take care of her family rather than take a job outside the home.  I doubt Hilary had meant to imply that she didn't "work" as in take care of the home/family, but rather that since she was loaded she didn't have to do all the dull work associated with being a SAHM, what with the housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, etc. 
I would then have to debate whether the actual "raising of the children" (emotionally, mentally, morally) is considered "work" or not.  I don't consider it work, though it is important, it's just not physical labor (which is really my definition of work).  I think the kid errands, housework, and the like, are the "work".  This then would be more Hilary's argument.  That because she didn't do the physical work of house and home (because she could hire someone else to do it) she didn't really "work". Whether that's a fair statement or not, it was still a slap in the face to another mom.  And I do love how all the men jumped on the bandwagon so they didn't look like chumps to champion the SAHM cause.
To be honest, I agree with Rosen, I don't think wealthy politicians have a clue about what it takes for a single mother who works outside the home to raise her kids.  They ARE out of touch with most mother's and father's on the "work" portion of the job description.  And if this is what the debate is about I feel they need to find a different banner to fly, the job is hard and should be supported no matter.  If you are fortunate enough to have a choice, you do what's best for your family.  If you don't get a choice you again do what's best for your family.
Honestly ladies we really shouldn't be taking sides against each other, we should be helping each other with the job laid before us.


Spare Time

I know you are all wondering what I do with my spare time.  I tend to have a lot of that right now, as you know.  One of the fun things I do is teach the dog commands and other fun tricks.  Here are a sampling of the tricks Poppy will agree to perform.  Like most young creatures, she does have a "default" trick she uses when she just can't figure out what I mean, or if she just wants to play the cute card to get her way.  See if you can figure out which trick she uses as her default.  Currently we are working on "inside voice" to mean a soft woof.  She sometimes confuses that with a sneeze, but I'm not real picky there.  She does try though, I'm just not that great at conveying my message I guess.

I'll also be uploading a "Cooking with Chris" episode as soon as I'm done editing out all the pot watching dead spots.  Watch this space.

Today is...

Today is    Jelly Bean Day!
oh, and it's also Earth Day.
So celebrate people! Celebrate!


Word of the Week

I am once again trying to overcome the Mom-nesia.  Play along with me.

Word of the week is   abstruse-difficult to understand, obscure, profound.
Use it three times in a sentence today. 

Today is......

Today, Friday 20th of April, 2012 is DNA day!

Read more about this day.
DNA day
more DNA day


Gimme 5!

Today is High Five Day!  Thursday the 19th of April 2012.

     (that's Poppy giving everyone a high 5.)

"High Five Day aims to promote awareness of cancer, and the effects that it has on all of us."  quote.

Predatory Felines

We have two cats.  They are as cats should be, independent.  They were both "indoor" cats.  Until we moved to South Africa.  They became indoor/outdoor cats sorta by default. 
Let me explain.  We have no screens on our windows and the house here opens up to two courtyards.  South Africa is the ultimate in indoor/outdoor living almost all year round.  I don't think we've had a day where most or all of the windows weren't open.  
Now, to you  mid-westerners I can imagine and understand the confused, nay shocked looks on your faces as I type this.  This is unheard of at home.  Due to the flies and mosquitoes and other flying nasties, you would never be without screens on your windows.  That is, if you dare to open them in lieu of the AC at all.  The open window season is incredibly short in KC, I know.  We usually jump right from popsicle to fried egg in a matter of days come June.  So you can imagine my doubt when I was told it was pretty much standard procedure to leave the house open all the time to catch the breeze, since they don't have central air here.  This posed a problem, as you can imagine, with two house cats who have no front claws, nor street smarts.
After trying unsuccessfully to limit their outside exposure we just let it go.  We decided to let them come and go as they pleased, with the hope they wouldn't get lost or attacked by something larger.  (Like I said they had no skillz, except for what little instinct they carried) The garden has a wall all the way around it and plenty of cover for their stalking. And lo and behold, they love it.  They roam and rest, hide and hunt to their hearts content.  With plenty of naps in between.  Who knew our pampered cats had that need in them?
I also didn't know that they still have a pretty good prey drive.  It was funny to see Stella, who came to us from a vet as a stray try to pounce on a hadeda. 

These birds are bigger than most house cats and certainly bigger than Stella who is very slight.  She failed and had to rethink her tactics.
Lola has proved to be the better hunter.  She is always catching moths and bugs, and the little lizards we have everywhere around here.  They visit us in the house occasionally and Lola is quick to spot and dispose of them.

When my parents were visiting Lola even caught and presented a couple of lizards as gifts to my mom.  On their bed.  They were still mostly alive and after thanking Lola profusely for her bravery and cunning we took them outside, where they hopefully survived.  Lola looked a little disappointed that her hard earned prize was being released, but she was clearly satisfied with herself. 
She has caught lizards before (which I think is pretty amazing since, as I mentioned before, she doesn't have any front claws (probably why they were still alive)), and I've released them back outside, but this presentation was different in that she meowed and fussed like I've never heard before.  She is a pretty vocal cat in general.  She'll talk to you about food, and while you are in the bathroom she'll have a conversation, but she doesn't usually meow for much else.  So the first time she came in with the prize I didn't know why she was carrying on so loudly, come to find out she was telling us about her "kill".  The second time I heard her meowing loudly about something, I looked at Chris and said she must have caught another one, and sure enough, she had.  She hasn't done it since my parents left for home.  I think that they could count themselves special that she wanted to give them something.

I think they actually even spend more time in our company now in the evenings.  And they are far less restless in the house now that they can burn that energy outside.


Weather Channel

Your South African weather report for Wednesday, 18th of April 2012.
The weather here:  cool evenings, warm afternoons.  Seriously dry.

It was Inevitable UPDATE

Folks, I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later.  You can't have a male child and not have major limb injuries at some point before they move out of the nest.  I honestly thought our first would be as a result of little sister finally taking out her aggression because of being endlessly needled by the boy.  Little did I know it would be at the hands of a classmate who decided to do a seated senton across Quinn's forearm during P.E.  Might I mention they were learning baseball at the time.  Specifically the parts of the baseball diamond.
I guess the kid took it in stride and the school nurse wrapped his arm up and he went on his way.  It's still sore even 2 days later, when he twists his forearm, but he's pretty tough.
I fully expect this is only the first of many such injuries, but hopefully he can steer clear of the kids who can't control their physical aggression.  I understand accidents, but intentional butt drops onto an unsuspecting classmate are a sign of something else.

I personally think he likes the attention he gets when people ask about what happened to his arm. :)

So we took him to the doctor this morning to have it looked at and x-rayed.  Turns out he has a fracture/break in his ulna.  And his radius has been bent.  Did you know kid bones can bend?  I sure didn't.  Just like a chicken bone.  He has got to have to highest pain tolerance of any kid I know.  Unless he twists his forearm he doesn't even act like he feels it.

So he gets to go in later this afternoon and have it set and a cast put on.  Fun times.


Camera Caution

Does anyone else have a child who refuses to smile for the camera?  I know I'm not the worst parent for the camera exhaustion effect.  I seldom take photos unless there is an event or they are being super cute, and usually by the time I can grab the camera they have ceased to be cute and then I get the "grimace".  You know the grimace, that face they make when you ask them to smile and they 1) don't want to, and 2) they are trying too hard.
Quinn has ceased to smile naturally unless you catch him unawares.   I have umpteen photos of him looking like he needs to use the bathroom and is trying to hide the fact.  Maddie just flat out refuses to look like she enjoys anything.  One might even believe she has no joy.  Not so, her smile is just elusive.  Most often seen while shoveling food in her mouth.


Food Anguish

I have heard rumors that there are decent restaurants around.  I have had mediocre experiences so far.  Maybe I'm just not going to the right places.  I don't ask for much, just flavorful food. Could be we are limited to the places that the kids can eat.  I've heard the four star restaurants are something to experience, but alas I doubt Chris and I would have that good a time, no matter how wonderful the food, when the kids are whingeing about them not having viennas. The mid-range bar and grill, cafe, and fast food are our speed.  I'm less than impressed.  I mentioned to Chris the other day that the dinner he made, which was stuffed chicken by the way, was better than the lunch we had eaten earlier that afternoon for twice the price.  While we were eating out a few weeks ago, I despaired that the fettuccine alfredo with stuffed chicken rolls I had ordered was nearly tasteless.  Seriously, it tasted like wet flour.  Y'all know I like some salt, but no amount of salt and pepper were going to help this dish taste like anything but paste.  Once again, Chris' alfredo sauce was heaps better, and that's without all the salt.
Which reminds me, I need to post another episode of Cooking with Chris soon.

Party all Day

The boy turned 7. 

I can hardly believe it.
The decorations I mentioned way back turned out good.  Remind me next time to forget the metallic confetti.  Baad idea.  I'm still finding it in the lawn.  Worse than glitter. 
I think everyone had a good time. There were far too many snacks and cake left over.  Why is it that you always expect the kids to chow down on the cake and half of them don't even eat it.  I had 20+ kids plus half the parents and still had half the cake.  I don't need half a cake left over,  I can't eat it. 
The magician was fun, even if he was a little loud (really loud).  Isn't it just old people who say that the music being played is too loud?  I forget.  Isn't it just old people who forget things?  Oh yeah, when you have a 7 year old, YOU are old.

Next time, with that many kids I might just pick a destination party so I can sit back and let someone else do all the work.  I don't think I got to talk to half the people who came.  I couldn't even tell you where my own kids were half the time. 

I think they behaved, I couldn't for sure say because I think I saw them a couple times across the patio.  I know they both ran themselves ragged, because they were exhausted by dinnertime.  That's a good birthday for sure.

Wherein I'm not MIA and the kids are alright.

No folks, I'm not missing.  There has simply been a lack of useful life experience to adequately entertain y'all.  And I've been busy lately.  Well, maybe that's a lie.  Since I last left you hangin', we've had a birthday party (which I'll blog about separately) and we've (both kids) have learned to ride two wheelers.  The bike came as a birthday present for Quinn's 7th aforementioned birthday.  And yes, in this case we are they kind of parents who will purchase the second sibling a "gift" so that they aren't left out.  I don't normally go for that philosophy but I believe they both need to learn how to ride, so Maddie also got her bike, at the same time, so she could work on her skillz.  Quinn picked it up faster than I ever thought he could, so he was ready.  I was so proud. 

Even Maddie got the idea, though she needs to work on leg strength to pedal up hills.  I'm confident she'll get it with practice, and boy is she determined.
It's been a good months practice and they are both much improved.  The roads within our estate are not terribly hilly, but enough so that they have to go up some slight inclines.  Since there isn't much traffic they can pretty much ride in the middle of the road to work on it.  I also don't know if it's just our estate but they don't asphalt the roads in the compound, they are actually paved with pavers, like cobblestones, which is a little bumpier a ride than concrete or asphalt for the young rider.
Next up, driving lessons.


Party Planning

For the past several weeks I've been planning Quinn's birthday party.  I've thought about what kind of party I wanted to give him.  Did I want to go with a traditional theme party, or perhaps a destination party?  Quinn's 6th birthday I copped out and just went to Chuck E Cheese.  Which was just fine with him apparently.  He had a good time and I didn't have to try too hard.  I think I always make a bigger deal out of the parties than even they do.  I mean they enjoy the day and the activities, and the attention, but I think I groove on the decorating and details maybe too much to my own frustration and stress.
This year is no different.  After looking for something to sort of focus the party around I decided on hiring a magician and face painter. 
This decision then led me to figure out how to decorate based on the MAGIC theme.  I found that if you are looking for party decorations that are anything other than licensed cartoon characters you are out of luck here.  OUT OF LUCK!
What I have found here are a lot of companies who are willing to host/decorate/plan the party for you.  For a pricey fee.  I tend to like my parties cheap, but I like to make it look special.
What does that mean?  That means I'm making the majority of my decorations because I can't find what I want.  If I was home I wouldn't have a bit of problem finding oversized playing cards, bunting, top hats, bunny ears, or scarves.  Here?  Nada.  At least I don't have to worry about the venue being large enough, because this house was made for entertaining.
I have been making bunting and huge oversize playing cards.  I'm even making a huge house of cards for the table.  (no congratulations are necessary :))  And of course I'm making the cake.  I don't know what fear I have of store bought cakes.  Could it be that I'm always just slightly disappointed in the way they taste? look? cost?  Could be.  But rather than try to decorate the cake per my usual experiments, and also since I don't have any piping bags, or tips or fondant or anything like that with me (remember I had to bring 13 suitcases with us, and those were the essentials, i.e. toys) so I don't exactly have the proper tools to do it any justice.  Therefore, I decided to enlist the help of a lady who makes cake toppers.   Should be cute, and all I have to do is provide the cake itself.
As for the rest, I'm hoping it goes well.

Shopping Reality

Has anyone else watched the show extreme couponing on TLC?  I'm not sure if the season is still running in the States or not.  I know it was on, at least in rerun, before we left.  Reason I ask is that they have started running the show here in SA on TLC.  I've seen most of the episodes from before, and while I love me some coupons, this show is ridiculous.  I've done some great deals at the grocery store.  But what I notice about the majority of what these folks are buying "for free" are things that aren't really food.  Not to say that I don't appreciate a cheap protein bar or even 500 tubes of toothpaste, but I'm not seeing anything to EAT in those carts.  I have seen carts full of frozen pizzas, and hot sauce, but I never see these people buy produce.  Maybe I'm a food snob, but cases of powerade, and tic tacs do not make anything resembling a meal.
The other thing I have issue with is that at least at home, there are very few grocery stores who double coupons which is one of the important tools to getting some of these awesome hauls on the show.  And surprisingly there are no hateful looks coming at these shoppers when they roll up with 8 carts and monopolize one aisle for 4 hours.  Or that the store smiles approvingly on one customer making 10 transactions just to buck the system and get all their coupons in.
The trick to getting such great deals is that most of these featured couponers have to match a sale item with a coupon that doubles.  Most stores will not double over a certain amount or quantity.  And most manufacturers will not value a coupon for more than a portion of the retail value of the item featured.  So all the "free" items these people pick up are first of all on sale and their store doubles.
There is also the problem of what is known as overage.  This is when the item is less than the value of the coupon.  Stores seldom allow overage.  They will give the value of the coupon but no more.  So in most cases you cannot make money.  The show shows many of the couponers  using this tactic to pay for tax to bring their total down, and pay for items not on sale.  I've not found a store yet who allows this.
So is this show real? Or are they fudging the rules a little to make some of this "reality" a better score?  I'm guessing it's staged.  Like most reality shows.
I was watching an episode today and there was a lady who thought she was doing everyone such an awesome favor by being the "coupon fairy" and leaving coupons next to the products for other customers to take advantage of.  Well that was all well and good until you notice that she completely cleaned out the shelves of the item, and left the coupons where the product was suppose to be.  So yes, thanks for the coupon, but you didn't leave any for anyone else to buy.  Most rainchecks are a pain in the butt to get, so if this gal is using that as an excuse for clearing the shelves, I don't subscribe.
Like I said, I love a good deal just as much as the next guy, but I don't need to empty the shelves so I can hoard everything myself.  Someone else might like to take advantage of the good deal too.
Funny they would show a program in a country that doesn't even know what a "coupon" is.  They just don't have them here.


STAR show, not Star Search

Quinn had an open house today at school.  They call them Star Shows.  Each child hosts their families for an hour during class and is the "star" of their own presentation.  We played a classroom game, Quinn read several books to us, and he even entertained us with his own fictional story.

Now, go back and zoom in on pic #3.  Look at the face on that dinosaur.  Is that not priceless?  By the way, the dinosaur has a sore tooth because he bit into a rib bone, and he has to go to the dentist and that's his owie face.  Brilliant.
And did you notice the sweaty head on the child?  That's because is was like a volcano in the classroom (I know volcanoes are hot because Quinn also taught us about volcanoes while we were there :)) and we were all sweating like we were in Africa or something (hahaha).
It was nice to see him in one of his favorite elements.  He was so proud to show us around, and tell us about what he was studying. 

One of the items on his list of things to cover during the presentation was show us the class fish and explain what he knew about fish and their care.  And the fish took the unfortunate opportunity to begin his death float during the open house while some of the other kids were showing him to their families.  The fish went to the "infirmary" under the sink. Just one more lesson for them to learn about the life cycle of fish, yes?
It's nice that he likes school so much.  I'm glad that he likes this school so much.  Next week he starts swimming in P.E.  Do schools in the US even teach swimming anymore?  I like this school more all the time.

Ancient History

As I've mentioned several times, television or rather satellite service over here isn't bad.  It's not great, but it's not horrible.  I think we find enough to watch to occupy our tv watching time. Yes, I do believe we could watch less, but we don't have a stimulating social life to attend to so we go with what we have available.
Back to the point, there are about 5 channels available that cater to the kids.  There are 3 disney, nick, and a BBC channel that show kid related tv all the time.  One of the channels shows old Tom & Jerry, Pink Panther, and Hanna Barbera cartoons.  I'm chuffed to say that of all the cartoons on those channels, my kids tend to like these shows and will select them above the more modern cartoons.  I think they see what I liked in them, the slapstick.  Which brings me to my point in a roundabout way.  Do kids today recognize the humor references in those cartoons or are the references of comedians long gone by too archaic?
I was watching an episode of Tom & Jerry the other day with Maddie, yes, I was enjoying it, and I saw a flash of a silhouette of Jimmy Durante in the scene.  I thought to myself, "my kids don't know who Jimmy Durante is".  What a shame.
Do kids today know who Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, the Little Rascals, or the Three Stooges (the REAL ones, not the movie) were?  I'm sure there are parents who indoctrinate their offspring into decent comedy, but overall have we lost comedy history to the generation of Simpsons, South Park and tween crap like Suite Life and Hanna Montana?  They give a nod to the oldies, but then they slap you in the face with their agendas.
I think kids need to know where we came from before the horrible dosh they currently pass as comedy.  I don't think much of it is funny, truly funny.  I've seen many of the tween shows and even with their irritatingly canned laughter they are cheap knock offs of earlier comedy brilliance. Not that the slapstick of the Stooges was intelligent comedy, but they were what they were and they were original.

Not good enough

This just chaps my ass.  Seriously.  I know this is not new news, but after having read that the FDA has confirmed it, I question why, if the fungicide is not allowed to be used on our own produce, how companies that produce juice in quantity are allowed to import oranges from companies that do?  Doesn't that just negate the whole point of regulations?  I don't really care if the levels are below safe, that's not the point really.  Why does no one look at these imports and test against our regulations to hold them to the same "stringent" rules we require of ourselves.  Don't allow the companies here to use foodstuffs from countries who don't follow the same rules, simply because it's cheaper to import or because our own supply isn't sufficient.  Someone is not doing their job correctly.  The same could be said of most of our imported goods.  Toys from China, contaminated foodstuffs from mexico.  No one bothers to check for these "illegal" substances or any multitude of disease until someone either gets sick and they are forced to check them against regulations or someone squeals on another company that their ingredients are less than standard.  A little like closing the barn door after the horse has run off.
Do you as a consumer just turn a blind eye, or do you put a little too much faith in our USDA, or is it the food companies who are sliding it under the door and hope no one notices?
Is it really that hard to buy a bag of oranges (locally, or at least within country) and squeeze them yourself?  Doesn't take that long, and you can avoid all the "additives".
I would guess that there are far more things going into your foods that anyone cares to admit, or put on that nutrition label.  That goes for whole foods as well.  Where were they grown?  What were they grown with?  Food companies don't want you to ask too many questions. They probably have a whole department devoted to evasive measures.
Here in South Africa it is a common sight to have ready made foods available in the grocery.  Half of one of the bigger chains is devoted to pre-prepared meals.  That whole end of the store is food counter and food kiosks.  I'm all for "fast food" but how can I be sure what's actually IN those dishes?  How were they prepared?  Is there some department here who oversees food prep and safety?  I don't know.  I'm sure they are fine, food regulation can be much different than those watching over restaurants here.  I hate being paranoid, but...I just stay away.  Better to be safe and prepare it myself.  I'm far from "crunchy" (no offense to those of you who dislike the term) myself, but don't all the e coli outbreaks, and contamination worry you?  Is it happening more frequently, or are we just finally taking more notice?
I'm afraid our lives of convenience are going to make us ill in more ways than one.
I'll hop off my soapbox now.


Foto Friday

I'm pleased to see that we have our very own partial life cycle multiple times over outside our door.

 We had several of these just emerging on the house this morning.

Word of the Week

Confute: verb. To prove a person or argument to be wrong.

I can't say I've ever used this word in a sentence.  Not that I would ever need to point out the fact that I'm always right.  Right?

Progress takes time

I've been back to pilates for a few weeks now and hitting the free weights a couple times a week, so I'm getting back in the groove.  I feel better overall even if a little sore the day after a particularly tough class. Some of these muscles haven't been worked hard in some years so it's not entirely unpleasant to know they still function. 

I've decided to add another cog to the machine that IS my overhaul.  This week Chris and I have been doing a detox regimen.  So far so good.  It has an added benefit in that I'm also 4 days clean from my second biggest vice, Coke.   Yes, that's coca cola, not crack.  Of course it could be crack for all that, I'm addicted to it.   I haven't been too crazy so far, and I've avoided the caffeine withdrawal so far with black coffee and tea.  And lots and lots of water.
People, if you want to change your life, first step is ditching the pop.  Even the diet stuff, it's horrible trying to get off it.
Next week I'm going back to calorie shifting and I'm bringing Chris with me this time.  We will see how it goes.  I think the calorie shifting is far easier than this detoxing.  And I'm proud of Chris for sticking to it, because it ain't easy for him I know.  He has no willpower when it comes to food.   So hopefully this next phase will be somewhat more satisfying as you get to eat (a lot) and the pounds just melt off. 



Saturday we went to one of the local racetracks for a track event.  The 11th International Zwartkops "Passion for Speed".  I would call this an exhibition race.  I personally wasn't sure how they classed each of the races, but there were cars from all over the world here racing in several categories.  The two races we watched from the pit entrance both looked to be older racecars.  I am not up on the lingo, but Chris called the cars from the first race we watched formula cars from the 50's and 60's .  The number one car below was the same model as used in the 1966 movie "Grand Prix".  (Chris thought you all might like to know.)  That particular car was blowing most of the others away, just sayin!

I picked the number 6 car as my favorite since he looked like an underdog.  And sure enough he petered out mid race smoking from underneath and had to bail out on the sidelines.  Glad I didn't bet any money on him :)  I think I enjoyed the first race we watched a little more than the second one which looked to be more "muscle cars" from the 60's - 80's.

I think 9 and 6 stayed with each other pretty much the whole race.  I think it was ten laps.  I have no idea who won.  Chris got some good shots of the cars as they went around our corner.  They were fast, but like I said, I liked seeing the oldies racing a bit more.
When we first arrived we walked around a little bit in the pits and the (for lack of a better word) staging area where you could see the different cars displayed and where their owners camped out.

It was really nice to be up close so you could see the cars, and all the bondo holding some of them together for just "one.more.race".  You would never get to be that close to those cars in the pits in the States.  We did get to see a couple cars cough their last on the track, and evidently one car lost his tire and we went crashing into the tire barrier close to the beginning of his race.  (We missed that, but saw the aftermath).  The kids had a good time I think, patiently waiting for their ice cream at the end.  Chris would have liked to stay a little bit longer to see some of the other races, but the kids (especially Maddie) were ready to go.  I too was a little tired of the endless revving of engines.  That many gearheads all together in one place leads to a LOT of noise.

Artistic temperament

I think temperament can tell you a lot about a person, I also think that there are some people who are born to do something and their temperament can confirm that.  Artistic people can be a very focused group.  So much so that sometimes they can seem self centered, impatient, and certainly emotional.  Also creative and controlling.

Quinn could be a poster child for the artistic temperament.  The other day his teacher emailed and mentioned that Quinn was having a hard time controlling his emotions when he didn't get picked for the "evens" team during PE.  Why the "odds" team was unsatisfactory I still don't understand except to say that he has it in his head that odd isn't as good as even ??  I don't know, but the issue was that he had a meltdown in class.  He felt slighted and out of control and didn't get what he thought was the better team so he had a tantrum about it.  We talked to him later and tried to understand where he was coming from and to try some meditation techniques with him to give him some tools to deal with the disappointment better next time it comes around.  Because we all know disappointment will come around again, don't we?
See, I can't really fault the kid, he just doesn't have the ability yet to control his emotions well.  Chris and I both have issues with needing to be in control and having things done our way.  We clash all the time during home improvement projects.  This is why we work together, separately, on things nowadays because we recognize the similarity in our personalities.  We are first born children, as is Quinn, and I can see him in both of us.  I can't speak for Chris, but I know it was disappointing to me when I didn't get my way.  I still have trouble with that.
Quinn is incredibly sensitive and thoughtful, empathetic and creative, but also energetic and competitive.  He throws himself in with mucho gusto when it's a project he's devoted to.  Not so much when he isn't interested in it.  I think he just needs to grow some and learn what works best for himself to deal with the frustration and the resulting flash of temper or emotion when he can't change or control the situation. 
I think the boy may have some talent if he chooses to work on his skills.  Certainly at this point he has a real interest in cars and racing.  He is just like Chris in that regard.   Witness his drawing and the photo he drew it from just yesterday.  I think he puts an incredible amount of detail into some of these drawings and at only 7 years old I think he could become very proficient.  Not that I'm not biased or anything you know :)

Foto Friday

Yes folks! That is a thorn tree.  A variety of acacia also known as locust trees.  The country is lousy with them.  What particular variety this is I have no idea, but the thorns are at least 3 inches long.
Quinn was pricked by one through his sock at school one day and he didn't really think anything of it until later on that night when his ankle swelled up to look like he had cankles.  And it was really sore.  Luckily it went down after a day or two.  But god help the guy who falls into one of those spiny buggers.

In other News...

The boy has learned to tie his shoes.  He's so chuffed.  Hooray!

Cradle of the World

The family had an outing weekend before last.  Normally our weekends consist of  hitting the grocery store for the weeks provisions and maybe scouting out the mall.  This weekend we needed something more exciting.  So we traveled to the Maropeng/Cradle of Humankind which is just a little southwest of where we live, about an hours drive away.
We didn't quite know what we would find as the site is really a collection of several attractions including a museum, caves, and archeological sites all under the cap of the "cradle" in a national park kind of arrangement.  We had previously visited the Lion and Rhino Park when we first arrived, which is inside the boundaries of the park, but we didn't really explore much beyond the preserve and the wondercave.
This time we were going to check out the museum.  When we got there it doesn't really look like much, kind of a big hill with a doorway leading into it.  Once inside you can go down a ramp to the museum entrance or up to one of the restaurants, the Tumulus.  It was close to lunch when we arrived so we were going to get something to eat before we hit the museum (nothing like trying to tour a museum when the kids are nagging you about being hungry) so we went looking for the cafe the map claimed they had.  We went up to the first floor where the restaurant was thinking it was the cafe and we could just get a couple burgers or something but once inside (with no way back) we realized this was a sit down Sunday lunch with full spread, or carvery as they like to call them.  Once in we didn't really have much choice but to stay and take a table as it would have been very embarrassing to leave at this point.  Turns out the meal was pretty good.  All you can eat and you know how I hate to pay 'all you can eat' prices when I'm just not that hungry.

Anyway, after we ate we went down to the museum and had a look around.  The actual entrance to the museum goes down a spiral ramp into the "hill" I mentioned and you take an underground boat ride into the belly of the earth (Seriously they made it up like a funhouse ride to demonstrate the creation of the planet and life on it.  With volcanic eruptions and ice ages.  The kids actually seemed a little nervous like they were expecting a skeleton to hop out.)
We looked at a lot of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from the origins of life to evolution to biodiversity, and the highlight of the exhibits were the Australopithecus fossils for which the region is famous.  The first and majority of these fossils were found here.
The kids enjoyed the hands on stuff and as it wasn't very crowded on the day, we cruised through the displays as fast or as slow as we liked.  We went through it pretty fast so the kids didn't get too bored, but still took in a lot of information.

We exited on a lookout platform that had a spectacular view of the park and we walked around the grounds back to the entrance.   It even had some of the nicest smelling public toilets I've come across.  Walking into this ladies was like walking into an A & F store.

The kids enjoyed the outside as much as the inside I think.

All in all a good day trip.