Monday, May 7, 2018

Fall in South Africa

So, hello there. It is May and obviously, I've been back from Kenya for a long while. In fact, an entire season has almost passed since I last wrote!

Kenya was amazing. I love going to a new country and getting glimpses of different cultures. It was great to travel with my mother-in-law and 3 other ladies from the Edgerton area. It's funny how spending time in close quarters can turn strangers into friends!

We started our trip visiting Margaret Njuguna in her home and also seeing the En-Gedi Children's Home, a place of safety for children with disabilities that Margaret founded in 2013. It was a privilege to see the work that Margaret and her staff do on a daily basis and to serve along side them for a few mornings. Our group also did a bit of sightseeing, heading out to Masai Mara for a safari and also visiting a Masai village. You can see photos of the safari and Masai village below, but please visit En-Gedi's website to see photos of the children and the work being done there!

After a week in Kenya, the Edgerton group stayed with us in Hammanskraal for a while. It was so fun showing them the different projects we are involved with and our kids loved having their grandma Karen here as well as 3 other grandma's to dote on them and praise their dancing skills :) Grandma Karen stayed on for a couple weeks after the other ladies left. We LOVED having her here. She did so much with the kids and she taught me to sew!! 

As with all of you, life has a way of just never slowing down! Darin took off to Cape Town for a few days in February and then 11 days in Ethiopia and Rwanda in April. March and April were super hectic, with Amo getting sick and ending up in hospital for a couple days. We also took the kids to Johannesburg overnight to see the Illusionists. It was a great show and the kids loved having a pool to swim around in! There was coffee with friends, painting at a day care, Spur night where Jori got to be a server, a day out at Bounce and so much more!!!

There are often times where life feels a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to do and so many other things we could do and perhaps even some things we should do that we never get around to. The image below sums up how I often feel:

Yet we celebrate the good, even when the busy leaves us feeling worn out. It was two years ago at the end of this month that Darin was in the hospital with bleeding on the brain. Looking at him now, wouldn't know how seriously ill he was at that time. We are so thankful for God's hand that sustained us then and that continues to hold us fast now. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Leaving on a jet plane...but first:

Tomorrow I fly to Kenya. I am mostly packed, and starting to get excited. I know that Darin and the kids will be just fine, but the whole process of leaving takes a bit out of me.

Jori started school last week Friday. So far, her year is off to a good start. She is in Grade 7, top of the school! She has already had homework, but so far there hasn't been too much griping. 

Tyson started his new school on Wednesday. His opinion is that it is better than sitting home with nothing to do...I guess that is a good thing. Being back in school has been an adjustment for sure, and having him at a new school means that Darin and I have a bit of a learning curve to go through as well. I remember how different I found the South African school system when our kids started at Jabulane, and that was a school run by Americans! Now I again finding myself trying to understand a new school, that has just opened a high school, after a year of having Tyson out of school.

We had a night without power recently. It definitely reminds me to be thankful that we live in a place that has more good days than bad days as far as the availability and reliability of power and water! It also made me happy that my hubby is not only a water guy, but a solar guy as well and with the help of our lovely Forty2, we were able to plug in fans to keep the mozzies away!

I have been busy making site visits to a number of day care centres in preparation for being in Kenya for a week. To start off the new year, we are having our partner centres fill in a questionnaire to see how the different things they received from Take Action (training, infrastructure, food and more) have benefited their centre and the children they care for. I have found myself so encouraged by the responses so far! What we are doing is making a difference to a lot of different people. Our help ensures that children are fed, staff members are paid and can care for their own families, teachers are being trained and Jesus is being made known to young and old! For those of you who support us to live and serve here in South Africa, thank you!!! Many of you have also given to special projects that directly benefit our partner centres. Your giving makes a difference! 

Thank you for praying for our family; For Tyson and Jori as they face things both common and uncommon to the average teenager/preteen; for Darin and I as we balance work and family; for our family as we live in a country that is not our own and face challenges related to this; for Take Action Ministry and the lives that impacted through this outreach. Your prayers carry us through more often than you know! 

Is there anything you would like to hear (or see) more about? Life in South Africa, our work with Take Action, what life is like for our kids, more crazy rants from me? Please ask!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Our January so far

Tomorrow our baby girl is starting Grade 7!!!! How is that even possible? Jori and I had plans to get pedicures over the school holidays, and today we finally made that plan a reality.

After our pedicures, we joined up with Tyson and Darin and finished up our back to school shopping. I guess we are kind of a last minute family.

Tonight we watched a couple shows together and played charades. We took turns giving each other phrases to act out. Jori wanted Darin to act out "Ceramic Owl" and let's just say, while Tyson and I figured out owl pretty fast, ceramic was not a word that is easily acted out.

Tyson decided he wanted to sleep in a tent tonight. We don't have a tent, so he rigged this baby up this afternoon. Darin got him all situated tonight and he lasted 30 minutes, which was actually a lot longer than we thought he'd make it! The mosquitoes are terrible right now, but it was the sound of crickets that drove him inside.

Sister Sue is in bed, hopefully falling peacefully asleep. She is a bit nervous for her first day back to school, so we will see how the morning goes. It will be a big change for all of us, ok for ME, to wake up before 7!!

A week from Sunday (the 21st), I will be flying to Kenya to meet Darin's mom and 3 other ladies from the Edgerton area. I am excited, but also a bit nervous. I will be the most experienced traveler of the bunch, but I am used to Darin taking the lead on our adventures. We will be visiting En-gedi  Children's Home outside of Nairobi and also going to the Masai Mara for a safari! We will leave Sunday the 28th and the group will all come to South Africa for just under a week. We will show them what our family does here in South Africa with Take Action Ministry and what life is like for the Fey Family in South Africa. Darin's mom will then be staying an additional 2 weeks!!

Tyson starts school Wednesday the 17th, which is when most of the local schools start up. He is excited about the new school he will be attending, but also a bit nervous. It will be a big change for him after a year at home.

Darin will be busy getting kids to and from their respective schools, doing his work with Take Action, Busetsa, and Business Connect and also handling all things on the home front, including cleaning the house before I arrive home. : )

I find that change and transition continue to be things I really struggle with. I have LOVED having Jori around and spending time with my girl as she is becoming a young lady. I am going to miss her spunk and all the conversations we have had over the last 5 weeks. Tyson going back to school is both very welcome (seriously, we are ready), but also really strange. I have grown used to him being around and I like knowing where he is and that no one is messing with him (my mama bear side is strong with this one!). Going to Kenya is exciting, but anything new kind of makes me feel like throwing up. The new year starting means that our work with Take Action is also re-starting. Making the change back to work and visiting centres and jumping from being really family oriented to having us all spread out with different responsibilities is hard!!

Do you struggle with change? What have you found makes it easier?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Wrap Up

2017 has been a different sort of year for us. In all of our years here in South Africa, we have either moved house or changed position in our work, but this year we stayed put. Having roots is a good thing and our family has benefited from having a place of our own. The lack of movement and change has made our life here in South Africa feel almost normal, similar to the lives of our peers back in the US. This isn't a bad thing, but it is different.

One of the biggest changes for us this year was having Tyson home. He wrapped up his school years at Jabulane Christian Academy in December 2016 and we made the decision to home school him. It was a challenging year for us, but also a beautiful year. Darin and I both feel like we know Tyson more and have a better understanding of who he is and what he struggles with. Our plan for the 2017 school year is for Tyson to attend Batho Pele High School at Vastfontein Community Transformation. Please be praying for him as he makes this transition!

Tyson (13) is a giver and a server. He will wash dishes without being asked, makes my coffee, and makes homemade gifts for everyone he knows. He still loves to play and is very much a kid, yet he is also growing up, asking deeper questions, and turning into a fine young man.

Jori (11) will be starting Grade 7 in January. Our girl definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. She knows what she likes and where she is comfortable. She leans on her brother in new situations and he always takes care of her, which I remind her of when she is telling me how annoying he is! Jori makes us all laugh daily. She is fun and funny and we are thankful for the joy she brings. There has also been a bit more eye-rolling and pouting from our girl this year, but we are thankful that we haven't felt the full onslaught of teenage drama yet. 

Darin has been busier than ever. Whether it is work for Take Action Ministry, Busetsa Wood or Business Connect, he is always doing something; phone calls, emails, deliveries, painting, traveling and more. We are so thankful that God has opened doors for Darin to use his gifts and provide for our family. We are also thankful that a year and a half after experiencing a brain bleed, Darin suffers no ill-effects. 

I have also been staying busy. My work with Take Action focuses mostly on working with day care centres. I am known as "ma'am Joan", "mama Joanna", and "legowa", which means white person. I will answer to all names, except for legowa :) Thankfully children are fast learners. I also handle much of the social media and communications, which I continue to enjoy. 

Our family enjoyed a 6 week trip to the US this summer. Seeing family and friends was such a blessing. Tyson and Jori bring up memories from this trip almost daily. While living away from familiar faces and places is a challenge, we are thankful that most days South Africa feels like home. We have carved out a life here, much different from the life we envisioned when we moved here in 2011, but God has been faithful and has given us more than we ever thought possible. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


** I recently came across this post that I had written for someone else's blog quite some time ago. I thought I would share it now. Enjoy!**

In June 2011, my family moved from West Michigan to South Africa. Our children both had birthdays the week we arrived, our son turning 7 and our daughter 5. We moved overseas with 7 black Rubbermaid containers, 7 suitcases and several pieces of hand luggage, after months of weeding out the must haves from the must leave behinds.

One item that made its way to South Africa was a small bag, shaped like an owl that some friends had lovingly snuck into our luggage with the help of my husband. When I was unpacking, I came across this bag, read the note sticking out of the front pocket, and wept. My beloved Bible study group had collected letters, encouraging notes, Bible verses and more from friends and family and had packed the bag full to bursting with words of love that would carry me through what would be a very difficult transition period.

The people represented by the letters in this bag had been my community for over 5 years; some had been part of my life for much longer. They were friends from church, college roommates, friends who were like family and family who were also my friends. I savored these notes and tried to limit myself to opening one envelope in the morning and one at night those first few months, but there were days were I would tear open letter after letter, craving a connection as I struggled with depression, loneliness and despair as we watched our initial plans for our new life in South Africa crumble and as I watched my husband drive out the gate every day to try and pick up the pieces, while the kids were left home with me, a mother who was hardly functioning most days.

After 18 months of living on our own, our life took a drastic change when we joined a children’s home as house parents. The demands of 9 children ages 0-3 plus our school-aged two turned me from hardly functioning into a mothering machine. As my daily life transformed, I began opening up to acquaintances from our new church in SA and two of these women in particular became my confidantes and cheerleaders. More than that, they became my friends.

Athena and Debbie would drive an hour north to bring us cookies, dinner for our family and the children in our care and the volunteers we worked with, they gave of themselves in so many ways and often I had nothing to give in return. They would let me talk about impetigo outbreaks, tummy bugs, the sleepless nights and the stressful days. They listened and loved and let me go on and on and on. Athena and Debbie built me up, held me up and reminded me to look up. They not only loved me, but they loved my family. They bought my children Christmas gifts and Birthday presents, asked them about their school days, and sought them out at church to give a hug and a word of encouragement. As couples, we went on date nights and they made sure that the night was filled with laughter and adult conversation. They gave me back something I had been missing for so long; community.

I recently came across the owl shaped backpack that made its way to South Africa with us so long ago. When I opened up the drawstring, I was surprised at how many envelopes were still sealed. I remembered the times when this bag was a lifeline for me and I will always be grateful for the community back in the states who supported our move to South Africa and continues to support our work with Take Action Ministry today. I am so blessed to be part of a large, thriving community here in South Africa, made up of women who have different cultures, speak different languages and live different lifestyles from my own.

Debbie and Athena have also remained a part of my community, although Athena has now left South Africa and moved back to the states. They both entered in when I had nothing to give. They pursued relationship with me at a time when I was not always able to reciprocate. It had been so long since I had “made friends” and I really wasn’t that great at it, but they didn’t let that stop them from reaching out and entering in. I am thankful for their example to me and forever grateful for their gift of community.

Question: Have you ever been invited into community by the persistent love of a caring individual? Have you ever thanked that person for their impact on your life?

Challenge: When I was feeling the most alone, I started volunteering at the children’s home where we would later become house parents. These moments of reaching out are what reopened my heart to letting other people in, which needed to happen for community building to begin. If you struggle with depression and loneliness, try doing something small for someone else. Drop a note of encouragement to a fellow mom, even one who seems to have it all together; make up a few extra plates of holiday goodies and bring your children to a nursing home to distribute them (the goodies, not your children); look for another mom who might be in a situation similar to yours and invite her to meet up with you and your kids at a local park or play area. Start small, but start somewhere!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bible Drive

 I try not to do too many "asks" on our family blog, but I did want to share about what Take Action is doing this year for Christmas.

Christmas is the time when we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. This year, instead of hosting Christmas parties and handing out goodie bags, Take Action has a goal of putting the Word into the hands of all 1,250 children who attend our partner centres by giving them an age appropriate Bible.

The average cost of the different books is R60/$6 for a total goal of R75,000/$7,500. We hope to raise these funds by November 15 so that we can distribute the Bibles before our partner centres close for the December holidays. 

Below are the details for giving in South Africa. 

To give in the US or Internationally, you can donate through the Take Action Pure Charity fundraising page, just making sure you write "Bible Drive" in the notes!

If you are in the US and don't feel comfortable giving your credit card details via the Pure Charity website, you can send a check that will go through our personal bank account. Drop me an email at for more details!

Friday, October 20, 2017

New Day, New Mercies

It is Friday afternoon, a very hot Friday afternoon. I am sitting in the living room with a fan pointed at me. That helps take the edge off the heat, but not by much. The sky looks heavy with rain, but looks can be deceiving.

It has been just over two weeks since I last wrote. There have been good days and bad days during that time, but I have gotten through each one, so hooray!

We registered Tyson for school next year, back into Grade 8 he will go, which is fine as it will set him just half a year behind his peers in the states rather than being half a year ahead of them. He is a bit nervous, but also excited to try something new. He had to take placement test last week and he came home so tired. Sitting at a desk will be a big adjustment for our boy, but we believe it is the right choice for us all.

While something can be the right choice, it can also be a difficult choice to make. Other than missing some time alone, I really like having Tyson around. He is funny and gentle and kind and smart. He creates new things almost every day. Right now he is busy making Christmas presents for people out of things he finds in his room and in the garage. I think it will be easier for Jori to have her brother back in school as there has been quite a bit of jealousy from her towards him being home. He gets extra treats, sometimes watches movies during the day (but not often!), goes out with us to see and do things, and of course it seems more fun than sitting in a class all day.

I started Zoloft this week- the little blue pill. I can't tell you if it is working or not as it needs some time to get all in my system. I am glad I went and saw the doctor though and even more glad they had a generic option available at the pharmacy. Yay. I have been on Celexa for anxiety for a while, which I can no longer take as it counteracts with the Zoloft. So hopefully the blue pill is the right one for me.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking, and writing, and reading. There are still some things I am angry about. I've discovered that there are also things I am sad about and grieving over. There are also things I am worried about and frustrated with and tired of. There is quite a lot of happiness and thankfulness in the mix as well. I am trying to sort through the different things that I am struggling with and letting myself "feel all the feels". Being angry in itself isn't a bad thing, but what am I going to do about it? Grieving is also not a bad thing, but being stuck in grief isn't healthy. Happiness is a good thing, although I often tend to grab on to the happiness ride and not deal with the other stuff, which is called denial. That ends up having negative consequences as I usually end up falling back into anger and sadness and a whole lot of other ick that has just been sitting there waiting for me to deal with it.

So overall I am good, better at least than I was. I am trying to be better to myself. To close the computer before supper time and leave it closed until the next day; to take time to hang out with my friends; to not feel like I always have to be on the go; to give myself permission to say 'no'.

I know I am a beloved child of God, but I am still not feeling it. I am trying to spend more time in His presence though as I know that sometimes feelings can take a bit of practice. Tonight Darin and I are going on a date. A date where we plan to talk and share about ourselves. You'd think after being married for 15 years we'd know it all, but isn't it strange how sometimes, the longer you are with somebody, the less you really know them? So I am looking to reconnecting with my main man tonight and as we go forward together.

Thank you to the many who have been praying for me and for my family as well. Your support means so much to us.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Good days and bad

Yesterday was a good day. I took the kids to Pretoria for a "fun day". We didn't make any travel plans for this holiday week, so other than a few sleepovers we didn't have a lot going on. The kids and I hit up a couple thrift stores, which they were not impressed with (Jori said they smelled weird, not like the thrift shops in America), and then we went to Menlyn Mall.

First we hit up the toy store. Of course, my big spender, Tyson found multiple things to spend his money on. Jori, my money hoarder (not the same as a saver!) was much more hesitant. We left the toy store with nothing and headed to a few book stores instead. Tyson was close to buying many times, Jori was not. We took a break for lunch- Subway and fountain pop from Burger King (free refills!). Then it was back to the toy store. Tyson headed right to the Lego section, while Jori picked up and set down several items. I strongly encouraged her to buy something, as that was the point of our little outing (each kid had received some spending money that morning), and she finally picked out a little stuffed bird that chirps when squeezed. She loves stuffed animals, much to my chagrin.

We made one more stop for some frozen yogurt. Then after a brief struggle to get out of the mall parking lot, we were on our way home. It was a good day.

Today, however, has not been a good day. It just started out with a heaviness, which was strange since I even had my little Amo-pants in my house to love and squeeze on. I was angry with the kids this morning, which is nothing new, but usually when there are other people in the house, I keep it together. I just wanted to not deal with anything. Darin left and more kids arrived. I mostly tried to just keep myself separate from everyone, other than Amo.

I sent all the big kids to the tuck shop to buy lunch as I didn't want to deal with all that mess. When they finished with that, I hauled Amo to my room and shut the door while the kids watched a movie. That is where I more or less remained until Darin came home. We now have one extra kid, Tyson's friend, and they will have dinner and start a movie soon.

I decided to pick up "The Broken Way" again today. In chapter 4 it talks about how God's heart breaks for us when we are brokenhearted. That wasn't what caught me though, it was the next sentence:

And still- your brokenness can feel like a tomb you can't quite claw yourself out of.

Those words stopped me. They were so spot on to how I was feeling today and how I have been feeling. In a tomb. Dead. 

You can feel the corners and edges of you withering with the weight of the scar tissue on your own soul. 

Scar tissue, from things long buried, hurts I've stuffed down, anger and grief and sadness built up. Walls I've built tall.

A withering soul. A tomb I can't claw my way out of. This is the truth of where I am, and these words just resonated. But, thinking of a tomb, a small, hidden away space also made me think of something I had read earlier this week in Psalms.

He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.  Psalm 18:19

I am down, but I am not out. I have a rescuer who delights in me, who desires to bring me out of the tomb and into a spacious place of life and abundance. 

I will hold on to this hope and the hope of more good days to come.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where I'm At

Do you ever find yourself struggling to define what you are feeling? There is something holding you back, holding you down, and you just can't quite put your finger on it and then BAM, something cracks open and you know the name of this thing that has been your constant, yet somewhat obscure companion?

I have been wanting to come back here and write a bit more about what I have been *unsuccessfully* working through these last months, but it was like when you have a word at the tip of your tongue and it just keeps slipping away. I would sit down and think "Now I will write", but it was like the words I'd put down and the stuff jammed deep inside of me weren't matching up. Last night, my feelings found a name. We went out to dinner with my dad and for the first time there was some kid free space where we could talk more openly about adult only issues. Once I started talking, the words just kept tumbling out and along with them something I hadn't been able to put my finger on---

I am angry.

Really angry.

I have been trying to figure out why I am angry, because how will I work through my anger unless I identify the causes.

There have been things from our life here in South Africa that have been hard. I don't share it all, because not all of the parts of the different stories are mine to share. But there are things from our life here that I am angry about and that have caused me a lot of hurt.

We have had to deal with issues of trust being broken with people we care about. A lot. We've had to look at relationships and ask ourselves if we are causing harm to people or truly helping them. Introspection is hard and painful. Having trust broken is maddening.

We have experienced a lot of hard stuff with the people on our team. I think a common misconception is that when Christians work together, everything is easy peasy. Interpersonal issues with coworkers are nothing new, but when you all say you love Jesus and are doing God's kingdom building work it seems like interpersonal issues would pop up and be taken care of with love and hugs and wishes for peace.

I should know better. After all, I'm a Pastor's Kid and I've had a front row seat to the ugliness inside of Christian circles more often than I'd like to remember.

I am a mom who has not once but twice had to talk to my sweet boy and assure him that he is safe and secure in Christ after a Christian authority figure (not once but twice) told him that he maybe wasn't really saved. Twice.

I am a human who often feels taken advantage of and walked over by some of the people that I am trying to help and this gets old. Really old.

It isn't only things from this Southern Hemisphere that have turned me into a ticking time bomb. Being back in the states was amazing, truly, but it is hard to go back to a place that was home and realize that you aren't the same anymore and you can't quite seem to fit.

Even when I was with people I dearly love, there was an internal conversation happening inside my mind. I was constantly trying to sort things out and figure out what my thoughts were on certain things people said and did. This was tiring and took away some of the fun of being with family and friends.

Parenting kids when you are away from home is hard. Parenting kids who see all the fun stuff their friends and cousins get to do and wonder why they can't just stay living in America is really hard. Bring on the guilt and stress and anxiety.

Seeing loved ones is awesome. Catching up with loved ones is big fun. Hearing about the hard stuff that your loved ones have been facing while you are living on the other side of the ocean is hard. It makes you feel disconnected and a bit left out and also a lot of anger towards all the crappy stuff your people have had to deal with. Mountains of anger from 3 years worth of crap.

Being a frequent Facebook user, I see the ugliness all around from those who claim to follow Christ. This makes me angry. And it hurts my heart. Especially when people I love are engaging in the ugliness and throwing out careless words or "likes" without really considering what those things say to the world around them. Because there is a bigger world around you. A really big world. 

I feel like something in me has shut down. A lot of the things I am angry about involve people of faith, and at some point, I started to not want to identify with people who claimed to be following Christ, and this in turn led me to disengage with a lot of other God related stuff. Like reading my Bible, praying, seeking His will, claiming His peace and strength and love.

It didn't really take a lot to disengage as I have been struggling for a while and things have slowly been falling away. I think I have only recently become more aware of what is going on inside of me.

I have built up walls to protect myself from further hurt and to keep myself from losing it so that I can keep doing what I need to do. Yet, I have been working from a place of anger, and this can spill out, even when I try to keep it in check.

My anger spills out on my children. It spills out on my husband. 

It spills out in my work and how I view people in South Africa. It really spilled out at one of our board meetings and even at our operational meetings.

It spills out when I am in church. I try to sing, but think "I am not living out these words and based on my experiences, I am guessing other people are also just singing lies".

I am the official writer of newsletters, reports, difficult emails and when you have to write things that sound nice and full of God and His love when you are feeling hurt and angry, it all begins to feel very fake.

I have started reading "The Broken Way", but I have struggled to get beyond the first chapter as I don't feel broken. I just feel a kind of nothingness. And nothingness and brokenness are not the same.

I thought when I was in the states I would have some time to be still and sort out my mind, but it didn't work that way. Instead I drank in the good and loveliness of the people we were with. The time with them was a salve to some of the hurt I have felt, but being back in the states had its own set of difficulties. I could tell that if I started to examine my heart and my feelings too much, I would be overwhelmed and unable to deal with anything else, including grocery stores and long drives and my kids wishing they could stay forever in America.

Building walls takes time, and breaking walls down also takes time. I have a feeling a "quick fix" isn't going to fix things for the long term and that I need to do some work, which right now I am finding difficult.

I want to hear God again and not the noise of everything around me. Yet I can't just tune out life and family and ministry. I think this keeps me from doing the work as I have already seen that when small cracks appear, the tears start to seep out and I don't feel like I have time or space to really just let it all go. God I want space.

So I am trying to not completely shut down and shut out and self destruct, but it is hard. This is the truth. It is hard to deal with all of the emotions and the reasons behind them.

And right now, if you back me into a corner, you will get the angry me. I need to work on this. But at this point, I know angry me and what she can and cannot handle. I am a little afraid of sad me and tired me and broken me. I don't know how to live with them. While the walls I have built do hurt me, they also make me feel safe. And yes, I know that God can break any wall, that He is bigger than any wall, that His love goes around walls, but I don't even know where to begin with God. I have only recently come to know my anger and I am not ready to just let her go.

But I will have to do this at some point so I can start the work of breaking. Who knows what will be made from the pieces.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My trip to Washington by Jorin Fey

First of all, let me tell you how long I was crammed in a 8 seater car with lots of bags.  We were driving for 22 hours.  We stopped about 4-6 times and slept over at a hotel.  Two of my cousins, Makenna and Nevaeh, were in the car with me, my dad, my grandpa and grandma, Tyson, and my uncle Israel.  Most of the time we would sleep or watch a movie.  We ate sandwiches for lunch and had snacks and drank pop.  And when we got to the lodge after driving for 22 hours we were tired .Some of the people we first saw were Maddie, Carter,auntie Leah,Avery and other relatives.There was a swimming pool,mini golf course,a river ,you could rent a bike and lots of other fun things.
Tyson and my dad shared a room me, my cousins,Maddie and grandpa and grandma shared a room and Israel slept with Carter. After a while us girls went in the swimming pool.It was cold but not really cold.For supper we ate we went down by the river and ate under a tent. We then went and swam again. After swimming we showered and went to the beds to look at pictures .

After about 30 minutes we went to find the grown ups. And we found them in the lounge.They told us we were going to play games.I think first we played Mafia,I was the Mafia with Nevaeh and some one else.After about 2 round they found out who one of the Mafia was .So that person died.Then we all went to sleep and me and Nevaeh chose who to kill and the game went on until towards the end Nevaeh got caught.So on went the game until I died and everyone who was still alive heard the word there are no more Mafia.We then played the game 4 on the couch,and since it was a small lounge there was no couch so instead we played 4 on the chairs.It was very fun and I can’t even remember who won.We then went back to our room and talked to each other then we went to bed.Me and Nevaeh shared the top bunk,Makenna and Maddie shared the bottom and my grandparents shared the big bed.

The next morning we woke up around 8 and got ready and went to the lounge and ate breakfast.For breakfast there was yoghurt,peaches ,oats,toast ,waffles and cereal.After breakfast we went back to our room and brushed our teeth and went to look around for a while.Then when we came back we went swimming.We felt the water then decided to jump in.Once you got in it warmed up.We would play games and have races .Me and Neveah even made up a dance routine.We stayed in for about 45 minutes then got out.Next to the swimming pool there was a shelf with towels in it.So we took 1 and went back to our room.We then went in the shower in our swim suits and washed each others hair.After we dried off and got dressed we went to the lounge and looked at their movies.We rented about 5 movies and then went back to watch some of them.

First we watched Sharpays fabulous adventures then Hair spray.After watching we went and swam and played we were mermaids.Maddie didn’t swim with us so we 3 played  .When we got out the 3 of us went to shower .Then grandma came in when we were reaching in the cooler to get a can of pop.She told us we were aloud to have 2 cans of pop a day.So we got our first can and we watched hair spray,since Nevaeh like it a lot.We probably swam 2 more times that day and showered about 2 more times.After eating super again we probably swam .Then later we went to the lounge and played the same games ,the Mafias and 4 on the couch.Then we wet back to our room at about 10:30 and talked again while drinking our second can of pop.

When I woke up the next morning no one else was awake,only grandma.So I layed in the bed waiting for someone else to wake up.I waited for about 5 minutes then got up to go to the bathroom.When I got back some of them were awake.So we then got ready and went to eat breakfast.There was the same thing for breakfast that day and every day we were there .So we got our breakfast and went back to the room and finished getting ready.I am sure me and Nevaeh then swam ,and Makenna and Maddie didn’t. We swam for about 20-30 minutes then got out and went to shower.Me and Nevaeh showered together in our suits ,we were in the shower for 10 minutes.

 Once we got dressed we watched a movie.Then we swam before lunch ,once we showered and got dressed we ate lunch.For lunch there was tuna or Peanut butter and jelly.I had tuna the others had the other stuff.We drank a can of pop with our lunch.After a while we went and swam all together.We played mermaids and chicken.In chicken first me and Makenna  were on a team and we won ,then we swapped and me and Maddie were on a team and we won again.

Then me and Nevaeh taught Makenna our dance routine.When we got out we went and showered.We swam about 2 more times that day when we were walking down to the river for supper and people were walking up they were more family.So after we introduced our selves we went down to the tent.After supper we went back up to the rooms and probably changed to swim .Later in the night we went to the lounge for games.We played the same games every night.So we first played Mafia and I was a sheriff .I don’t think I died until the end.Or we won.After we played we went back and played a game and watched a movie then went to bed at around 11 : 30.

The next day we pretty much did the same things. After we swam we got our first can of pop and laid out in the that point we were so used to Mountain Dew and there was none left so we drank Pepsi. And it tasted funny. And I think that was the day we went tubing. We had to drive about 5 minutes. We all had to wear a life jacket. We waited for more of our people to come. When they came, we lined up in rows of three. Then we got I our tubes and left. The water was cold at first. Me, Makenna, Nevaeh and Maddie held on to each other. The rocks would look like fish moving. After about ten minutes of floating we had to get out and walk up. But by then the current was strong and it was difficult to get ashore. We could go around a second time, but Nevaeh didn’t want to so grandma stayed with her. When we arrived we got out and left. When we got to the end we were cold. So we went and swam in the swimming pool. At night, we played games. When we went to bed me and Nevaeh were tickling each other.

The next morning, we ate and swam and we watched movies. And when we had to go I was sad, because I had to leave the best family and friends. So, we said good bye and rode off.

( Some of the days might be wrong but none of the memories are)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In which I confess to giving my 13 year old a gap year

So my original title of this post had the subtitle "and he repays me by acting like an over-indulged little sh**", but I didn't think that was very kind.

For the past several years, our kids have attended a small private school near our house. Unfortunately, this school does not include a high school, which starts in Grade 8 here. So after wrapping up Grade 7 in December 2016, Tyson joined the ranks of those who learn at home.

Here's the bottom line on how this year has gone: I am not home enough to home school my kid. The end.

My life is not scheduled. Meetings pop up that I do not have control over; there are some things that you cannot deal with over the phone, so you must physically drive 40 minutes round trip for a 5 minute conversation; when I did try to have a set schedule of days I would go out and days I would stay home, something always popped up that screwed up all of my planning. You get the picture.

We started out the year with science, math, on-line typing, on-line grammar and that was it. Today only math remains and Tyson just informed me he has 3 lessons left and he will be finished with the whole book.

I have a sullen, sulky teenager who sees the world in black and white and trying to add new things to his "program" usually ends up with a lot of talking back on his part and yelling on mine.

me: Tyson, I want you to write a report today on ______________.
Tyson: What??? I have already done 20 minutes of school. You are so mean.
me: Tyson, a normal school day is 6 hours so QUIT BEING SUCH A BABY.

The end.

I have a few friends who "unschool" and do you know what? It totally works for them. You know what else? They are really present and invested in what their kids are learning and doing and interested in. The hard truth for me is I am not in a place where I can be that present for Tyson. This has been a hard year for me and no amount of self-blame or self-shame has motivated me to up my game and be a better resource for my kid.

Yet, for all of its frustrations, and there have been many, the year has not been a total loss. My sweet boy had a few pretty bad years at school with a whole lot of bullying, name calling, being cussed-out and torn down. It was not nice and my boy needed a break. I have seen how the time away from daily encounters with ugliness has allowed my boy to heal and hold his head up high again.

He has had more time to spend with friends who understand him and love him just the way he is. He has been building things out of wood, learning some sweet dance moves, helping Darin with projects around the house and joining me as I visit day care centres. He is greeted by cheerful 3 and 4 year olds yelling " Abuti Tyson, Abuti Tyson", which means brother Tyson..

One of the best parts about home schooling is that there isn't any homework. Can I just say, I HATE homework. I detest it. Teach the kids at school and let them play and relax at home. When Tyson was in regular school, I dreaded afternoons. Sure, it was great having kid free mornings to get done what I needed to do, but the afternoon battles with homework were the worst. Come home from school, get into screaming matches with your kid about doing homework that seems A: pointless and B:confusing, take a break for supper, yell some more, send kid to bed, go into bedroom 30 minutes later to apologize for yelling, repeat for a whole school year.

The truth is, I love having Tyson around. I even told Darin I kind of want to home school Jori too because it has been so much fun getting to know Tyson in a different way. However, I am not disciplined enough to home school my kids and I am not present enough to home school my kids. So the obvious answer seems to be "find a school and get your kid in there ASAP", but I am hesitant because of the bullying and the totally crappy afternoons filled with homework.

So, there is a new school possibility starting in January. Darin and I are going to a parents meeting on Sunday. I want to know about policies on bullying and policies on homework. These are the make it or break it issues for me. If we don't decide on this school, I told Tyson he will be doing a formal home school program next year, either on line (because we finally have awesome Internet!!) or an offline program. We will then hire someone to come in at least 2 days a week to do some cleaning and keep an eye on Tyson and I will just have to become better at scheduling my life.

So ends my confession.

Fall in South Africa

So, hello there. It is May and obviously, I've been back from Kenya for a long while. In fact, an entire season has almost passed since ...