Category Archives: Steven and Sam

A South African Peter and the Wolf

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to delight you with our very own South African version of the classical children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf. My 4 and 5 year olds at preschool practiced very hard to perform it for you. My own little Samuel, 4 yrs, wanted to be a cat, and Steven, 7, helped out with light effects. Enjoy and comment if you like.

 

Christmas baking with the kids

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My baby turned 3 and had a fun clown themed party! Although we had power cuts all day we had a lot of fun with the little friends.

Yippeh,

in between moving classes and preparing for next year’s new students and publishing a new book we managed to get some Christmas activities going.

Although it’s very very hot and humid right now in South Africa and we constantly had power cuts we had fun baking German Christmas cookies and making fudge. I never made fudge before and just loved it! I simply followed the instructions of a great blogger at http://www.wineandglue.com/2014/02/mint-chocolate-fudge.html that someone had posted on facebook and voila, here is my own home made mint and chocolate fudge:

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With my cell phone I quickly snapped and edited some pics of what we made and printed them as handy gift tags for our confectionery.

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I changed the recipe slightly and crushed some dinner mints (those that moms have hand bags full of) in a plastic bag and slightly melted them then added them to the white chocolate mix. Yumm!

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ready to go cookie and fudge parcels for friends and relatives
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our Christmas kitchen!
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our Christmas kitchen!

End of Year Fun, Stress and Success

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German mommy in South Africa!
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My sons love going fishing with their daddy.

South Africa is so different from Germany in many aspects. In Germany, just like in the US or Canada, our school year ends in July. You graduate in July and you start school again in September. In August you generally rest. Then, when you start school and work again in September, you get to rest at the end of year during Christmas and New Years, before starting the year again in January.

In South Africa, the year lasts from January to December without any major interruptions. In November all the reports need to be written, and what ever needs to be done has to be finished by the end of November because December is the big summer holiday. I find it to be a very long stretch of hard work culminating into a high pressure November. I tried to to find some resting points in between like going fishing with my boys but boy, am I tired right now!

My husband and my oldest son opening the concert: A trip to the bushveld
My husband and my oldest son opening the concert: A trip to the bushveld
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
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Little Sam had so much fun praising the Lord that this shot by reporter Isabel Venter made it to picture of the week in the local Zoutpansberger newspaper!

I was so happy to be able to do a big preschool graduation concert with our school. Every child received a detailed report on their development and the milestones they reached. Since I am trained in child development (MA) this was quite a thorough report and many hours were spent accessing each learner. We are so proud of the fact that all our preschool graduates have been accepted into good schools after doing really well in the  application interviews.

Here are some impressions from the concert for you to enjoy.

We will miss our children that leave to the "big school"! I have done a lot of training recently to fully understand the SA Department of Educations approach to early learning and we are happy to say that we live up the the highest standards.
We will miss our children that leave to the “big school”! I have done a lot of training recently to fully understand the SA Department of Educations approach to early learning and we are happy to say that we live up the the highest standards.
Proud students, proud parents. The kids got many certificates!
Proud students, proud parents. The kids got many certificates!
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One of our young graduates.
Showing of strength! I love to build confidence in young kids.
Showing of strength! I love to build confidence in young kids.

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I let each child of the oldest class perform a little speech on their own.
I let each child of the oldest class perform a little speech on their own.
the mighty Lions class performing
the mighty Lions class performing
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
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courtesy of Isabel Venter, Zoutpansberger regional newspaper
Baby Kateko, our youngest student, had a ball being on stage.
Baby Kateko, our youngest student, had a ball being on stage.
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Young performer

Show me how God feels about me

Just a little post on a sunday morning while my kids are chomping down their breakfast…

 

As a Christian family, we try to raise our kids in touch with the spiritual realm and have to answer many, many questions.

 

The other day, our son asked about God’s love. And about my husband’s occupation being a pastor. My husband took this blanket and hung it around like a mantel, similar to a Jewish prayer shawl. This mantle represents the weight of responsibility we carry as God’s children, as well as the protection and comfort of God’s love towards us.

My son enjoyed this demonstration of fatherly care thoroughly and I just thought this cellphone snapshot would be nice to share with you on a sunday. The picture says more than I can explain in words.

 

 

La Le Lu or the importance of Lullabys!

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In their young lives, our kids have traveled a lot. Steven, 4, has done over 300.000 km (flights included) and slept in many many different beds!

Any child needs the comforts of love and a safe place.

Expat and third Culture Kids are no exception – they even need more assurance that their life is alright. Recently I have been discussing the topic of Third Culture Kids with several fellow bloggers.

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Third Culture Kids have a lot of first hand adventures early in life!

To create a home that is both open to the exciting things the host culture has to offer and also provides the stability of a culture a child can call his very own, is a task of love. I find that having certain non-discussable routines in place helps a lot so that a child can settle everywhere just fine, no matter the circumstances.

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Being a ministry family means getting a lot of invitations to many different places. Our routines help the kids to feel welcome and confident almost every where.

Bed time routines are sacred! In South Africa a lot of kids bathe before dinner and fall asleep in the living room to be carried into their beds late.

We personally have a much more “German” routine although millions of parents world wide probably do the same. My husband works almost every night as his job includes lecturing and house visits. He tries to make sure to be home for dinner and bedtime.

After supper, whether out and about traveling to far away places or snug at home, we would bathe the kids. In their cuddly pajamas they get to choose a book or two or three that we read with the,

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Home is where we as a family do what we do.

Then its lights out, and we light a candle and sing together. After a good night prayer the kids will settle for the night. This works everywhere so nice as it creates such a loving atmosphere. Then dad is off again on his assignments. Several nights a week I am doing the bathing alone since dad is out, but almost every night he manages to sneak in at around 8pm just to kiss them good night. How sweet is that!

 

 

 

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Unwinding the same way every night gives sooo much closeness and peace.
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Steven and Sam are so cool at making new friends wherever they are, easy as pie. English, German or Afrikaans – the appropriate language gets figured out in seconds.

Here is a scene from a much-loved German classic featuring a loving bed time scene between a dad and his son, including a cute little Lullaby.

When did Mob justice become normal? Do tribal customs triumph over legislation?

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On the road from Vivo to Louis Trichardt.

So today after work I went with my 4 year old to town to quickly get some gifts for a baby shower tomorrow morning. I love to teach my son the value of giving generously.

Normally going into town would be a happy event. Today, as soon as we reached downtown, one block away from the main street drama unfolded right before our eyes. A man was being pushed to the ground by an angry person. Soon several men where kicking him everywhere. Ribs, legs, head. Before I knew what was happening, a mob started forming, screaming angrily. The men started to kick the guy in his head, he was bleeding and I saw him loosing his consciousness.

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In this street, an angry mob of about 100 people formed within seconds right in front of me.

Suddenly more than a hundred of angry people shouted all around us. It all had happened so quickly, my heart felt like melting wax. All I could think about was how to get my son out of there as quick as possible.

A few moments later I was trying to calm down at the store I went to in order to buy baby garments for my friend.

My son luckily hadn’t really noticed too much of the scene. He just asked why the people where behaving badly. I promised him to find out what was going on.  If you think action movies are fast paced, try real life. It happened so quickly there was nothing one could have done. The same morning an African student who is in our church’s youth had posted a video on facebook where people in some village where apparently burned to dead alive. I didn’t watch it, I was just horrified of the kids posting this, the thought of somebody recording it with the cellphone, the barbaric terror of it all.

“Last week my village necklaced a thief”

Now there I stand, still shaking, at the queue to pay. I do what any woman probably does, I talk about it. I am the only white person in the store that afternoon. The guy behind me laughs at my report and says with a calm, assuring voice: “He probably stole something”. The till lady nods. “Yes he must have stolen something. Last week in my village they necklaced someone.

They put a tire around his neck and set it on fire for him to die. He had taken R 2000 (about 170 Dollars) ” She smiles kindly.

Imagine my feelings standing there. Hello. If you don’t know South Africa – it is a beautiful, intelligent, civilized (I thought so) nation with all the 1st world comforts and 3rd world challenged mixed into one big potjie (hot pot).

First world country.

I am not standing in the bush. I am at a till with make up displays and advertisements for elegant dresses and funeral policies.

Oh that’s why. The guy behind me is amused by my questioning looks. “Listen that’s how WE do this. It’s the law of blood. You steal, you pay with blood.”

I turn to my son: “Steven put that lipstick back. Don’t steal stuff darling.”

I am stopping at our school on my way back. Our handy men are still working on some gates. I mention the incident in town. They aren’t worried. “He probably stole something” is their answer.

My Zimbabwean coworker is preparing next weeks class. When I ask her if its normal, she smiles patiently. “He must have stolen something”.

Okay. I get it. After almost 8 years here in the country of freedom and reconciliation I still didn’t know that this is how we deal with thieves.

The legal system – too western?

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At the odds and ends store around the corner you can buy this little rich feller who wills squeak when you squeeze him.

Today #guptagate trended on twitter. A super-uber rich Indian family had a ridiculously fancy wedding party and since they have close links with the ruling party, the ANC, they got some special treatment…

Twenty flying squad members, 10 high-powered flying squad cars, as many as 40 members of the police counter-assault team and VIP protection unit and several armoured and specialised surveillance vehicles.

This is what taxpayers coughed up to protect more than 200 guests of a very rich Indian families wedding party.

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We are connecting local farmers who are willing to help with needy people and fetch the food and prepare it on site, like here for hungry Zimbabean refugees in Musina.

There is also controversy about the arrival at Waterkloof Air Force base of a passenger jet carrying wedding guests.

The civilian guests, who arrived at the air force base without being screened by customs officials, were whisked away in a convoy of white Range Rovers, protected by the large police detail, who clocked in at 5am.

A police officer who was involved in the operation and its planning said yesterday the security detail had been finalised last week already.

As many as 40 policemen from the counter-assault team and the VIP protection unit were ordered to escort five trucks from OR Tambo Airport to Sun City. Two of these apparently contained gifts for the wedding couple and dignitaries.

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In the end South Africa can not go on being wobbly about values anymore if we all want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Cooking the mielie pap (maize porridge)

“The CAT members used their armoured Humvees and specialised surveillance vehicles for the operation,” said the officer.

So our president is once more stealing from the taxpayers. After building a mansion the German politicians can only dream of (in my home country you get fired when you allow your aunt Anna to go on holiday in a government jet, in south Africa it’s commonplace) while it’s May and many kids still have NO schoolbooks (government has no money ?), what’s next … ?

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My husband Andries assessing the individual needs.

In our municipality, according to Afri-forum in the Soutpansberger newspaper, new, job-providing businesses can not be allowed to register because we do not have the infrastructure for it. Power cuts, no clean water, etc. No money for that. But boy oh boy, you should see the villas sprouting like mushrooms on top of the mountains.

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Choose the wise path, South Africa.

When confronted about this, the answer was: This is Africa. We do not do things the western way anymore.

I am sure there comes a day when president Zuma must decide: Does he want Western justice with a legal court, commission, hearing, investigations where all the tax money went, or should we rather deal with it the African way?

Youth killed in mob justice in limpopo

“Witch” set alight in Limpopo

Why this is not a Mommy Blog nor a Foodie Blog

moviestevensam   steven3Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. And my kids are ultra special. Whose aren’t. I could really blog exclusively just about them, about how they both started talking before their first birthday, how Steven struggled for survival when he was born prematurely and how he is fluent in 3 languages (English, German and Afrikaans) at only three years old. They both do and say the funniest things every day. That deserves being blogged. So maybe from time to time I dedicate a post to them.

But I am not a “I-know-which-potion-takes-out-that-stain” kinda mom, at least I do not feel I need to shout it out into all the world. There are super duper moms who do that and have real helpful “how to make the perfect birthday cake” blogs. Stunning images inclusive. I love producing something stunning, once in a blue moon, and leave it at that 🙂

sam6I guess I am rather average, really, at being a mom. Or a chef.  I survive the daily rut of cooking (used to love it before it became a married life duty…) , nappy changes, dressing kids (my favorite part, my boys are so cute I love dressing them up) but I am sure I do not deserve a “brilliant housewife” trophy. To be honest, I wing it a lot. With much laughter and some tears along the way, mind you.

I feel, if I am just “average” at something I do not need to shower the whole world with my enlightenment. I leave the mommy and foodie blogging the the pro’s. In return I hope when I tune in to their blogs to find something that totally wow’s me. (Whenever I feel I am just gonna be mediocre at stuff, I love dropping it totally. Like tennis. Or piano playing. But secretly, I still love trying it out. To say in a public blog “Don’t tell anyone” would be a total oxymoron, right)

What well might be above average in my house is the exposure of my kids to totally contrasting cultures from a very young age. Even before we had them, I discussed the language in which we’d raise them with my husband. Initially a lot of Afrikaans folks were worried I would raise them estranged to their Afrikaans heritage. Now seeing my boys blossom, being fluent in 3 language, everybody I meet agrees they are actually quite privileged. A trilingual childhood does need some extra consideration by mom and dad. Having a background in speech therapy I felt confident enough to tackle the challenging task of giving my kids not one, but three mother tongues!

Since that’s quite an adventure I feel that today I will open a new category called Steven and Sam. If anything remarkable happens (does every day, but I guess it’s not that mind-blowing to YOU! 🙂 I will post it there.

mamasamFood wise – before kids I produced lovely cakes, chocolates, desserts etc. As a pastor’s wife I have endless baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, birthdays etc to organize. But with two little kids I must say that’s a joy I gladly sacrifice. As I said: wing it. Panacotta cream with red berry mousse looks amazing and is easy to make. Enough said. Leave the 5 hour preparation dishes to the pro’s. My kitchen heroes are Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay, of course. Although I wouldn’t want to be married to any of them. Nigella: I would probably gain a pound a day. Gordon: constantly under productive steam, who can keep up with the guy! Love to watch him say on TV what I can not say in real life, love to watch him turn around kitchen nightmares and hotel hells. But I wonder how you survive with a guy like that. Probably need to totally ban him from the kitchen at home.

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French Strawberry Frasier, one of my favorite cakes to make, on a church buffet

In the meantime, there is so much that needs to be done, addressed, talked about, changed. If anywhere in the world people are brutally murdered for their faith, little girls are being raped and forced into marriage, people die from hunger while others spend thousands on diets, I wonder how we can sit around idly doing nothing. But even talking about trivial things as recipes and favorite children’s books might be a way of preserving humanity in the midst of all this raging chaos around us.

So this is all about bridges, from one world to the other. If fusion food and trilingual kitchen fit in, be it so. But no, it’s not a mommy blog. Love you all, see ya around.