Three ways to supervise your school going child

Our children spend the major part of their day in school under the supervision and guidance of educators. The general assumption we tend to make, is that they are being taught – but how, by whom and what are they being taught- is a question that few can answer honestly.

Being a teaching mom has some advantages and warrants my opinion on a personal and professional level. This is what I try to do on a daily basis with my children because of what I learned over the years. I have seen a vast array of parents from the overly involved to the least concerned. This is by no means an indictment on any parent, because we all have valid reasons for doing what we are doing or not!

The three things I do with my children on a daily basis.
1. Ask about their schoolday.
This is generally an opportunity to encourage communication and get valuable information. It gives them a chance to be heard. Classrooms can get very noisy and busy, and teachers don’t always have the time to give individual attention to each child. The possibility of playing by truant also gets dealt before rearing its head. You get insight into your child’s perception of what constitutes as the ‘best day of school’ other than the ‘last day of school’.

2. Unpack their school bags
Remove everything from their bags. Eliminate the element of surprise by being one step ahead. The purpose is to be vigilant about 3 things – unauthorised items; unreported homework assignments/official notifications and/or anything that raises the red flag. This is the surest method for being on the ball in terms of whether your kid is getting up to mischief or even  playing parents and teachers,up against each other.

3. Assist with homework.
This is a task often left to the child/tutor/aftercare teachers. Parental supervision or just regular checks keeps you  in the loop with regards to possible problem areas – difficulty with a subject; a strained relationship between the teacher and your child; a learning barrier; and any other challenge you pick up from your child’s understanding of the subject. Write letters to the teacher regarding your concerns and establish a parent-teacher relationship.

These three things could be the ones saving parents from unwanted trouble involving their children and their school time. It can all be done in 30+ minutes thrice a week –  but save you a lot of time in losing working hours to attend one-on-one meetings with teachers to discuss issues involving your child.

No parent is perfect, but a little effort can go a long way!


Yummy rusks

This has to be the easiest rusks to make. I am totally convinced that it is totally flop proof and can be made by any person, willing to try. The addition of coconut and pumpkin seeds gives it, a unique taste. They are as delicious, without the optional ingredients and slightly more economical.

Yummy Rusk Recipe

1 kg Nutty Wheat
500 ml buttermilk
500g margarine
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut (optional)
1/4 pumpkin seeds (optional)
2 cups brown sugar


1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

2. Place the margarine in a saucepan and let it melt.

3. Add the milk to the melted and whisk together.

4. Slowly add to the dry ingredients and stir till fully incorporated.

5. Pour into a prepared oven pan and level using a fork.

6. Use a knife to trace finger sized portions.

7. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius foe 30 minutes or use a knife to check if ready.

8. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. Use a knife to cut along finger sized portions.

9. Place on a baking tray and place in an oven for 4-5 hours at 80 degrees Celsius.

10. Delicious as is or dried.


Stolen Identity

The purpose of identity is generally so one knows and is reminded of where you’re coming from. The identity of an individual is then linked to a group and so forth. I have had my identity stolen a number of times.
How exactly have I lost my identity?

* My status has changed from single-and-too-busy ->single-and-looking->bride-to-be->MARRIED-> married-with-children-> wish-I-didn’t-get-married-> separated.
* My body transformed as much! I started out with a ‘bod to die for’->preggy bod 1-> preggy bod 2-> preggy bod 3-> I get jiggy with it, with minimum movement!
* My finances did not escape the melt down at all. My salary has always been enough with loads to spare, it migrated to -> debt orders-> bond repayments -> formula, nappies, toys, daycare & school fees->frugal -> and lately most frugal!
* Social life reduced to parent body meetings! Club scene (do they still have those!)-> party zone-> baptism preparation classes-> cyber chatting-> when last did I have coffee I didn’t brew!
* Dare I forget that I have had multiple operations in the same area for the purpose of procreation!
* My right to selfishness has been revoked entirely, with no hope of ever being restored!
* In the interim I have learned to perform despite being on the brink of  ‘total breakdown’- level unless fueled by coffee powered sanity!

That is the total transformation of a woman who, otherwise had a bright future in fabulosity!

Right now I am the woman in the car, because that’s where I am blogging from!

Abstract parenting

Abstract parenting is my personal recovery program, after a hectic week of homework; extra lessons, getting to school and work on time; and life in general.
The whole concept may seem strange, thus my best attempt at explaining the concept is found in Wikipedia; ‘I parent only in the abstract’- meaning I am unconnected from concrete reality.
Which reality? The fact that I choose to turn my back on routine. Saturday is my day for sleeping in and just vegetate, blog, catch up on emails, etc. 
The standard weekend procedure for my children is:
* Wash yourself
* Fix your breakfast
* Make your bed
* Do your chore – dishes/bathroom/sweeping
* Free play/ television
It doesn’t happen that way, ever! I have for the past year spent much time reminding, nagging, threatening and applying some form of punishment to get them doing at least one thing! It drove me insane and made my weekends miserable, until I decided to change my approach; with much difficulty. I have disengaged myself from all that should be done, and decided to focus on my recuperation from the fatigue of solo parenting . 
The result :
* They wash when they please
* Breakfast happens around brunch
* Beds are made the moment I start moving about
* Chores are left to the very last moment
* Free play & television takes precedence over all else
What am I hoping to achieve through this method?
* Retain my sanity
* Avoid jail time for the rest of my natural life
* Regain whatever graces I lost in the course of the week
* Let them realise that I do play some useful role in their lives
* Get some needed rest and sleep.
There are times when a glimmer of success shines through the cloud of unlimited mischief. The commander, my 12 year old, would send a foot soldier to spy on me. Or, ask if I am awake or need anything. Then, I feel somewhat accomplished but obviously that happens about as often as snow in Johannesburg. 
Original concepts seldom have research to back up its practicality or functionality, but I am willing to go out – on a wobbly limb – and say it works ( for me, at least!). I have some alone time and limited monitoring woes for at least 18 hours of every weekend. 
How well it will work in the long run, is yet to be discovered. In the mean time, we will do whatever it takes to keep mom sane, almost happy and out of prison!

Holiday food ideas

We tend to eat a lot more junk food over holidays as our sense of maintaining a balance during meal preparation tends to take a backseat. This holiday we had more homemade goodies than takeaway food.  I decided to prepare easy (the kids could pitch in and help) but nutritious meals. It wasn’t all bland boring stuff, it included a number of sweet treats as well.

Homemade pizza is always a winner and affords you an opportunity to clean-up the fridge.

Pizza a la bambine

Cinnamon buns easy and delicious, perfect for afternoon tea in the early autumn.

The easiest cinnamon buns ever!
Traditional South African chicken stew, prepared in a slow cooker,with ‘dombolo’ (steamed bread) and vegetables.

Dombolo’ (Steamed bread)
Chicken stew

Pancakes made by eldest, a definite favourite rolled with cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with golden syrup.

Pure decadence!

Oatmeal and banana biscuits, mixed with a handful of raisins and chunks of chocolate, prepared by my 5 year old.

Oatmeal biscuits
Decadent brownies, made by my son. He was too delighted to be finally baking all by himself.

Chocolate oozing from the brownies

Puff pastry wheels with bacon and cheese. Yummy!

‘Bollas’ a Cape Malay sweet delight. Deep fried, dipped in syrup and rolled in coconut.

Cape Malay sweet treat

Banana pancakes, easy delicious and healthy.

Banana goodness

I have to admit that the best quality time we spent, was during mealtime! Some of us are a few centimeters wider and others a bit more active, as a result of all the sugary goodness, but it was all worth it!

Share your favourite holiday treats!

I lost my heart, mind, sleep and ten other things

Parenting, like marriage, is one of the areas that many fantasize about and have unrealistic expectations of. I want to tender my confession as being one of those who expected to sail through both but realized that it is involves less of self, and more of others.

Clearly my expectations were not met, and shock is definitely not the adjective I’d use to describe my feelings when I realized this. The inspiration for this post came from a generally insignificant incident in the family bathroom. Yes! We have a single bathroom for my three kids and I, insanity IS the word! And, mine is highly at stake…

Nonetheless, I managed to drag myself off to the communal bathroom to brush my teeth and hopefully wake up thereafter, and found the cap of the toothpaste gone and the paste hardened and impenetrable! Now, this would have been written off, as one of ‘the joys of motherhood’ if it wasn’t something I have had to do on a daily basis for the past 5 years. It only dawned on me then, that the toothpaste might never have a lid again after being opened! My frugal alter ego must accept that the budget must always allow funds for more toothpaste!

This caused me to calculate most of the losses I am gonna have to ACCEPT and ACKNOWLEDGE about being a mother, this excludes the loss of my heart, mind and sleep!

My lost privileges:

  • Drinking and finishing my cup of coffee, without forgetting about it because I have to stop a fight; forgot where I left it or ran to wipe a face!
  • Eating and enjoying a meal without having to get up and help with one or the other.
  • Wearing make-up without having to explain, WHY!
  • Reading a book which no one has scribbled in!
  • Receiving guests without having to whirl through the house to remove toys, books,etc.
  • Having a conversation on the phone without SOMEONE asking whom I am talking to.
  • Take a long leisurely bath with no interruption.
  • My pre-baby figure
  • Finding out who pinched the gum from my bag!
  • Television remote control!

I might as well add that this list is but a drop in the bucket, it is infinitely endless, but without my musketeers my life would be dull and empty!

Disclaimer: Any grammatical or other errors are due to loss of sound mind and sleep!