Thursday, August 27, 2009

My wish list...

A thing you have to love about the American folk, is their ability to make life easier. In every way imaginable. And the one thing I'm referring to today is housework.

It's one thing everyone has to do, like it or not. Oh, I suppose you could just ignore it, and hope it will go away...but that's just gross!!

Anyway, as I was is every cleaning product and tool that you could want or need here. Gadgets that eliminate the need to bend over, or stretch up in order to clean! A vast array of products promising to make things cleaner, whiter, brighter, sanitary, and above all easier. It's wonderful! Never before have I enjoyed shopping for household cleaning products than I do here now! (sad....I know!)

So I got to making up a wish list of household items I would most definitely invest in, if they were out there. Dream items that would make my cleaning regimen even easier!
  1. A washing detergent that cleans, removes stains, softens and folds the laundry!
  2. A duster that eliminates dust on contact, instead of just pushing it onto the floor that was swept a few minutes ago.
  3. Dish washing liquid that cleans the sink after the dirty water has been let out!
  4. A self-cleaning oven...that actually self-cleans!
  5. A gadget that finds the lost sock in the laundry basket (my sister calls them 'rogue socks')
  6. A window cleaner wipe that cleans both the inside and outside of the window at the same time!! (hey, I don't know how they'll get it to do that....I'm just doing the wishing okay?)
  7. Another duster, that not only dusts away the cobwebs but gets rid of the spiders too, so I don't have to hit them with my shoe!!
  8. Self-cleaning mop-heads.
  9. Lime-scale remover that doesn't require vigorous scrubbing with XX Heavy Duty gloves on. I'm thinking an aerosol spray....that doesn't require any rinsing off!
  10. A vacuum cleaner attachment that lifts up and untangles all those irritating wires behind the TV cabinet, before vacuuming.

Well...that's my wish list. Maybe you can think of a few more. In the meantime, excuse me while I go put in another load of laundry!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More school talk...

Okay, so I am really impressed with the school my kids started attending 3 days ago. I know it's still early days, but I really can't see it deteriorating any time soon!

Of course the only school systems I have to compare it too, are the ones in South Africa (both my kids school, and my own) and way....way....way back, when I was in school in Zimbabwe and the UK. Back in S.A. my kids were in government schools. My oldest was in Grade 1 with 37 other children, a few of them battled with English, and one couldn't understand English AT ALL!! The children who were doing 'well' had to help those who weren't coping, and became like 'little teachers' themselves, because the teacher just couldn't cope with 37 children all on her own. ( I am not surprised!!) The first grade teacher actually admitted that she had so many "difficult" children, that she spent a lot of her time trying to help them keep up, and was forced to leave the more "advanced" kids to their own devices (so to speak). It is very sad, to see how these teachers battled along. I often used to pass the classrooms and hear them screaming at the kids, I am sure it was often out of pure frustration! Once a term we would have parents day, where we would queue up outside the classroom, and get to spend about 5 minutes chatting to the teacher, to try and make sure all was in order with our little ones.

Since Monday (when the school year officially began), I have had ten emails from the school. That's right.....TEN!! Three from the principle, and the rest from the teachers my kids are going to. I have been to two separate grade orientations, met the teachers personally twice, and met the chairman of the PTO twice. It's actually hard to get used to! I'm not used to having so much interaction with the teachers. The one teacher even said she doesn't mind us phoning her in the evening, just as long as it's not too late!! (can you believe it??)

The classes are not allowed to have more than 20 children in them, and Kellan (my second grader) has 2 teachers. One takes the class for Maths, Social Studies & Science. Whilst the other takes him for language and arts. And they are SO organised! Every parent gets Internet access to their kids school records, I could go and look at everything my child has done at school, his grades, homework, syllabus and textbooks.....EVERYTHING!

So as you can tell, I'm pretty excited about the school here. And what is so wonderful is seeing how excited the kids are about going to school. It makes my life as 'Minister of Home Affairs' a whole easier!!
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chapter 2: Off to School

Yesterday was the first day of school, and mother dearest has to admit to being the one who was nervous! Both kids were pretty excited about starting school here, especially due to the fact that they don't have to wear school uniforms (yay!)

New back packs, lunch bags, hair-cuts, school supplies...check!

We decided to drive the kids to school the first day (mainly for the benefit of mother dearest again!). And there were kids everywhere!! Due to the heat here, we hadn't seen many around, as like us, they were all hiding away under the air-conditioning. But, yesterday they all came crawling out from the undergrowth. Did I mention there were kids EVERYWHERE??

I was very proud of my two boys (yeah, I'm going to brag...I'm the mother!!), they marched into their classes, and settled right down to business. And there I left them for 7 hours.......7 HOURS!!!!
As you can tell, I am used to the South African school hours. 4 hours and 5 & half hours. So sending them to school for 7 hours seemed like cruelty to me. Anyhow.....I've just got to deal with it hey!

I picked them up at 3pm and was very relieved to find them still smiling, and

happy - although tired. And they had both made a friend, which is music to any mother's ears. (The thought of my kids sitting and eating lunch alone, with no-one to play with, just kills me.)

So that was Day One, in a nutshell. Kids were in bed nice and early (woohoo!). This morning, the kids were looking forward to catching the bus, and it was really too cute seeing them climb in the yellow and black school bus, and wave goodbye.
Thus begins Chapter 2 of our American Tale!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's the MOST wonderful time of the year....

Since my kids have basically been on holiday since March this year........NO OTHER WORDS ARE NECESSARY.........................

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My confession.......

Okay, I'll admit it!!

I AM A REALITY SHOW JUNKIE! YES I AM!! (don't judge me!)

Now, I must stress that I am only referring to talent reality shows. I'm not into all the other rubbish out there. But give me 'American Idol', 'So You Think You Can Dance' and even.....wait for it.....'America's Got Talent', and I just have to watch! It's in my genes or something. I even have my family watching right along with me, bless their hearts!

There's nothing more satisfying than voting for the underdog, and seeing them rise to the occasion. Pulls at my old heart strings, yes it does! Seeing raw talent and passion pushing people to do more and more, and get better and better.

And I always seem to get my fill here in the US. It's like talent show paradise. Once 'American Idols' finished, then 'So You Think You Can Dance' began. And now that is finished (sob!) and I'm watching 'America's Got Talent'. And in a month or two, SYTYCD will be back on the box (aahh, the joys).

In South Africa there was quite the wait between shows, and going cold turkey like that was just not right! Now all that has changed. And I am a happy camper!

So it's not intellectually stimulating viewing. It's not educational, illuminating or informative. But I love's fun......that's all.....somer net! (Afrikaans language for "just because")

This clip from 'Britain's Got Talent' must be one of my favourites....bear with me if you've seen it already. But I had to add it to this post! Enjoy!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

District 9 success!!

DISTRICT 9Image by 666isMONEY <3 via Flickr

I was just over reading the latest post on one of the blogs I've started following. And some good news for South African entertainment is the success of the latest film 'District 9', which is a truly South African production! I'm not a Sci-Fi fan, but will have to check this one out.

Please go on over to SA Expats blog to read more about it and see the trailer, if you haven't already.

Could there be another Oscar for South Africa on the horizon?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Man Drawer

This post is dedicated to all women out there with a husband....and a 'man drawer'.

Let me elaborate.

My husband has the unique ability to take possession of one of our kitchen drawers. It doesn't matter which drawer, how big or how small. It has happened in every house we've lived in since we have been married.
That's 13 years. 13 years of living with a 'man drawer'.

Now, it's not the fact that my husband has his own drawer that bothers me, it's the contents of said drawer that boggles my mind.

The spare set of car keys from his first car (that's 5 cars ago). 3 old alkaline batteries. Some odd looking screws and bolts from who knows where? 2 cupboard door keys from 2 houses ago. Pens that have run out of ink, a tube of super-glue that has now stuck to the bottom of the drawer, a few paper clips, and a digital watch.....that no longer works. There has been occasional instruction manuals to appliances we no longer have....actually I can't ever remember having! And that's just a few examples.

Now come on know you have one.....if not in the kitchen, then somewhere in the house. I'm convinced it's inherent in all men......the ability to create......THE MAN DRAWER!!

I'm convinced too, that when challenged as to the reason why this strange assortment of objects was being kept, the answer will always be the same........." never know when you might need it!"

Are you kidding me??????

Now, we left South Africa 5 months ago. We sold alot of stuff. We threw stuff away. We gave it away. We were pretty ruthless. So there's wasn't much left to bring over. Just some big pieces of furniture and sentimental things.

So try if you will, to picture my expression in this next scene. I'm opening a box we brought over and haven't had a chance to unpack yet. I thought there were some of our winter jackets in it, so I was preparing to wash them before packing them in the closet. Then I find lurking at the bottom, an old shoe box. So wondering what it could be, I opened it up, in case it was something we had been looking for. Inside, I find.....yep, you guessed it, the contents of the 'man drawer' !!

He actually packed and shipped (all the way across the Atlantic ocean) the spare key from a car he had years ago! YEARS AGO!!!!

I waited till that evening to tell dear hubby about my discovery. Just to see what he would say.
He didn't fail to disappoint me........."Well dear, you never know when you might need it!"

You gotta love him!!!

The 'man drawer' we bought to the USA!!

Note the film's empty!!!...........

An aeroplane toothbrush...pen cartridges..... car keys from 3 cars ago......

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Expat life

I have been doing alot of reading about expat women, and expat blogs in general. And spent alot of my time this morning reading other expat experiences and tips for others walking this same path, and embarking on their own "Great Adventure".
I'd never really thought how important this subject was, until I too, left all behind and began the sometimes exhausting task of rebuilding in a place totally unknown to me and my family. I see now, how wonderful it is to be in contact with others going through the same emotions and experiences as I am. Sometimes sitting here, feelings of isolation and even self-pity threaten to overwhelm me, but knowing that there are others out there (even on the other side of the world) who understand my feelings, just seems to help. And reading their stories encourage me, that things will get better, and this stage is only a temporary one!

Of course, my faith has also provided me with a safe haven.

I can vividly recall our (exhausting) 30 hour trip over here in March. And stepping out into the Dubai airport, at midnight, and wandering around looking for a place to let the kids rest for the next 8 hours. At one point I just slumped down on a step in the airport, looked around me at all the foreign faces, cultures and languages, and just felt overwhelmed. Thoughts of doubt started to bombard ....What have we done?.........We are so far away from home.........Have we made a terrible mistake?........... I just wanna go home..............WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE DOING HERE?

And then God spoke.

I just felt his presence there with me, amongst all the chaos and confusion, amongst all the doubt and fear. He simply told me he was there. Right there, with us. And the comfort I felt at hearing that, was amazing. It gave me the courage to carry on, get back on my feet, and know and understand that no matter where on this earth I go, He is right there with me.

I have drawn on that experience alot since moving here. And I know that I needed to go through that, to get me through the months ahead. It is never easy to sell almost everything you own, leave everything you know, everyone you love, and go somewhere totally new and foreign. Where you know no-one, and have no idea what you are in for. But I DO know, that it will get better, and roots will be put down. And friendships made.

In the meantime, I will keep writing down my emotions and experiences. Sharing with anyone willing to read them. I'll make the most of every situation, and enjoy every place I visit. After all, as my hubby and I often remind each other, how many people do we know who would love to be in our shoes right now. It's an opportunity we have been given, and we are determined to make the best of it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Late night update..........

The end of the day......the house is quiet, and ............ALL THE IKEA BOXES ARE GONE!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that's right folks. After 13 boxes, and 2 weeks, they are finished, assembled and utilised! I was just in the process of finishing off the last item, when Hubby dearest said to me, "We should really make another trip to IKEA soon."
(I wonder if IKEA has flat-pack boxes of spare fingers, and finger-nails??)

DO understand that it is 11:48pm and not wanting to bore y'all with ramblings and sweet nothings, I will keep this post short.

So, aside from sharing my sheer excitement at the disappearance of the IKEA boxes, I also wanted to pass this little video on to y'all. It had the kids and I in giggles.

It's priceless............

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boxes anyone?

Boy....another week ahead! Am I the only one who is convinced the fast-forward button has been pressed on life? The weekend gets here, and before you can say "TGIF", Monday rears it's head!

So far we have been in the house for three weeks now, and there are still two IKEA boxes staring at me from the hall, waiting to be assembled. Some other boxes in the bedroom that are crying out to be unpacked, and just things in general that need to be moved and put where they belong....and I just don't seem to be getting around to it.

I do have at least one room in the house that looks beautiful however. The Guest Loo!!! That's right!! Looks great, smells fantastic and is just lovely!
So much so, I have considered moving in there, eating, sleeping etc, etc. But that just wouldn't be right!
Okay, so I am making it sound a tad worse than it is. There is a reasonable semblance of order in our home, and every day I get to accomplish another task or two. Just not as fast as I would like.

Oh, but the joy I feel, every morning, when I get up, and the kids are still in bed, and I sit in the breakfast nook with my cup of coffee, and soak up the morning light pouring through the windows. With the peace and quiet all around (alright...we do live in a cul-de-sac!) and I thank God for this wonderful house that He has blessed us with. I am so grateful!

And I'll get round to those boxes....eventually!!

10/29: But he still hadn\'t unpacked all these boxes, which I basically spent the whole summer packing! Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, August 7, 2009

Minnesota Wedding

Don't you just love weddings?

I have been privileged to attend many weddings in my life, all in South Africa of course. I have seen the casual and formal, the early morning, and late afternoon weddings. The sunny weddings , and rain-drenched weddings too. I hope to attend one here someday too.

In the meantime, however, I have discovered this gem of a wedding video on YouTube, that has already made the news here. So to all of the American folk who read my blog, my apologies, as I'm sure you've heard about this video numerous times already.

To the others, I do hope you enjoy this , as much as I did. In my time here in the States, I have found people to be fun-loving, and spontaneous. And this video confirms that.

It is a wedding that takes place in Minnesota on June 20th.

Credit for the idea of dancing down the aisle goes to the bride , Jill. Who say they only had 90 minutes to prepare for the wedding procession. They only had one rehearsal right before the wedding. The bride's father asked for the video to be posted online, in order for some of his other family members to see it. Up to now, it has received 17,6 million views.

I enjoyed watching some of the guests faces as the dancing starts, it seems they aren't sure what's happening.....and then when they realise it's all part of the service, they start smiling and clapping along to the music.......PRICELESS!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chapter One......

Well, we are officially moved in! Our new home is wonderful, although some of the rooms are still in abit of array.

Overall, the move went very well. We received the keys for the house on the Saturday morning, and because we didn't have our bed yet, we only moved in early Monday morning. And then finally, our container arrived about 10am. It had been sealed and stored and over the seas, and was now safely in our driveway!!

After about an hour of moving and carrying boxes into their correct rooms, the wonderful removal guys waved goodbye, and left us with a whole whack of boxes to unpack! Amazingly there were only a couple of things broken, and the kids acted like they were in the toy store after finding all their old toys again that they had forgotten about. That certainly kept them busy for hours!!

We started trying to make some sense of all the chaos, and soon had some semblance of order. At the end of the day, we fell into bed, and spent our first night in our new home.

Unfortunately, Andrew had to be back at work the very next day, and as exhausted as he was, he got up and went off for the day, while I carried on sorting things out. That's pretty much how things went for the whole week. And come Saturday, we merrily drove off to IKEA, to get some furniture, and odds and ends that we needed.

FIVE HOURS later......we left IKEA, and thus began the wonderful job of assembling all of our purchases. I'm STILL busy.....................

Overall, it has been a great, productive week and a half. We now have a home phone, cable TV and Internet (oh, the joy!!!) and I can now get back to the serious business of blogging. I will also be posting some photos of our new home shortly.

Another wonderful thing we did today, was go out to the kids soon-to-be-new-elementary-school. We went to find out about enrolling them, and also to see what grades they would be put into. So we met the counsellor (wonderful lady) who assured us that they have a lot of kids from all over the world, which made me feel a whole lot better, yes it did!! Now we just have to fill in the forms, and school here we come.......yippee!! I'm not sure who's more nervous, me or the kids? Just can't wait for them to start making friends.

Oh, and by the way.....I had my first telemarketer phone call's starting to feel like home already!!!!