Friday, September 30, 2011

Home School-The Adventure Continues

I think we are now about 8 or 9 weeks into this home schooling adventure. It is getting better and better, but is still not something that comes naturally to me, Darin or the kids. This week, Jori has decided to take her backpack to school and she has been calling me “teacher”. When we are done with school, she goes “home” and calls me “mom” and tells me all about her day at school, even though I am the one who just taught her : ) If she finishes before her brother, she’ll say “Mom, when will Tyson be home from school?” and Tyson, who is sitting right at the table says “I AM home right now”, but she just ignores him, because in her mind, he is at school still. 

Today, Friday, we are having a home school holiday. We all needed a break, especially since we are all a bit behind on our sleep, which leads to a lot more tantrums and fussing about the school work that I want the kids to do. I am so thankful that Darin is still working one on one with Tyson! This seems to be working out for all of us! Last week Tyson wrote his report on his boat. This week he started one on snakes, a topic he is very interested in. He still needs to write a bit more and then type it up and add some pictures, but be looking for it early next week. He has also been doing a lot of handwriting practice this week, and we’ve seen improvements in his handwriting already. Tyson tends to hurry through his work, so we’ve been trying to help him slow down and catch his mistakes early. Right now he is reading a “Judy Moody” book that we found at the Oktoberfest book sale. He is also doing a lot of story problems in math. I am especially glad that Darin is around to teach Tyson math as it is one of my worst subjects! Tyson is also memorizing the books of the Old Testament. I think he is up to Esther now. His brain is like a sponge. He takes information in and it sticks. He has also been teaching Jori the books of the Bible, which I love.

Jori finished the first half of her math curriculum! It was a lot of number writing and other repetitive things. We started her new book on Monday and she was so proud of herself. She had to write the numbers 1-100 two times already, and that did not make her very happy. Jori has also been working on her handwriting. Her little mind works faster than her hand and I also need to remind her to slow down. This tends to make her crabby as she just wants to get the work done! She is still having a hard time with those pesky letter b’s and d’s. We’ve been working on site words and reading this week and I can see big improvements in both areas. She is almost finished with her “Explode the Code” phonics book, so I need to work on finding more things to keep her little mind busy. We’ve been memorizing weekly Bible verses and have 8 that we are working on right now. We hope to put on a little program for Papa and Gram when they come, and according to our paper chain, their arrival is a mere 19 days away!

On Tuesday, we took a field trip to the local library. The kids were thrilled to be able to check out some new books. Tyson found a whole section of non-fiction books about doctors and dentists, two of his favorite things to read about! He also brought home some crime and detective books. Jori found 2 Barbie books, a Cinderella book and we also found 3 easy reader books for her to use during school. This is what the kids had to say about their library experience:

Tyson: I got 6 books. The library is cool. I got my own library card. I got cool books like a crime buster book and all cool books.
Jori: I got 2 Barbie books and one princess book. I got 3 other books for home school. The gingerbread man and Sniff. The library was cool and it had a park outside.

Darin and I also checked out a book each and some magazines. I’d like to go back again and look through the shelves more carefully to see what kind of books they have for me and the kids. I really miss the Gary Byker Library and its huge section of Christian fiction, my favorite genre  : ) I also miss the kids section with so many new books and series. I am thankful that there is a library here with books in English, but the books are old and worn and have pages missing and it just isn’t the same. So all of you with access to a good library, GO and be thankful!

Right now the kids are running around outside in their undies chasing a lizard. They ran through the sprinklers for a while and are both filthy dirty, but laughing and having a great time. I think we are all glad we took the day off. Next week we’ll start up again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DMV - South Africa style

Last week Monday, Tyson and I(Darin), headed out at about 10:00 to go down to the local car registration and licensing facility in Temba.  We had picked up our car on the 7th and we had 3 weeks from the purchase date to get it registered into our name.  I had previously driven past the “DMV” office a couple of times and had seen lines of 100-150 outside, so I wasn’t looking forward to this.  I was pleasantly surprised this morning when we pulled up that there were no lines outside the building.  We got inside and it took a little while for me to figure out where to go as there seemed to be multiple lines with no clear direction.  I finally figured out who I needed to see to get the correct forms.  The lady behind the glass was friendly enough; different from most Secretary of State employees I’ve had the privilege of dealing with in Michigan.  After I filled out the form, she told me that she would need a copy of my passport before informing me that their copy machine was broken.  So I was thinking that meant I’d need to come back later with the copy and do this all over again.  But when I asked if there was a place close by to make a copy, she told me that one of the guys in the tin shacks at the entrance to the facility could make a copy for me.  So we headed outside and found the copy shack and R5 later, we headed back in.  As I came in the door, maybe 3 minutes later, I saw the same lady take another guy’s ID book to the back room and she reappeared 10 seconds later with a photo copy of it.  Extremely fast service technicians?  I doubt it, but I didn’t say anything.    

I gave her my copy and then she pointed to the next line, about 20 people long.  No big deal I thought, it can’t take that long to process 20 people.  Around 12:15, about 2 hours later, I finally got my turn.  During our wait, Tyson basically entertained the whole office.  Two security guards that seemed to guarding a door to a back room(that wasn’t even locked and didn’t shut all the way) had a good time talking to him and they tried convincing him that there was a jail behind the door.  They even caught him at one point and dragged him back there before he “escaped”.  There were a few times where I’d lose sight of him for a couple minutes at a time, but he’d always show up again.  Good parenting, huh?  There was no way I was going to lose my place in line though!  Did I mention it is 90ยบ outside at this point and there was no AC in this place?  There were also a couple of instances where people tried to cut in line and there was some shouting and a security guard did have to come and restore order once, only to be yelled at by one of the ladies behind the glass because the guard wasn’t setting up the line in the right way.  When I did get up to the window, the guy behind the glass typed in a few things from my form.  He then informed me that I needed to go back to the form lady to get an additional form cause he couldn’t use my US passport # to process the registration.  We headed back to the nice lady, but apparently she was now on a break.  Her replacement seemed to not be in as good of a mood.  I asked for the correct form and instead of giving it to me, she asked to see my passport.  After looking at it, she informed me that I needed to go to the Department of Home Affairs (in Pretoria) to have them confirm that my passport is authentic and then come back with 2 forms of picture ID and proof of residence.  Really?  I couldn’t have been told this 2.5 hours ago before waiting in line?  Maybe the nice lady is still nice because she doesn’t spread bad news and she leaves that up to her colleague who then has to deal with the wrath of those who just wasted a bunch of their day in line.  I’m not really one to get upset in public, especially with a room full of people that can hear everything I say.  The lady behind the glass also didn’t seem to have a complete grasp of English so I didn’t see how arguing would get me anywhere.  So I smiled, said thank you, and we walked out the door.  I’m already picturing a similar situation taking place at the DHA.  Oh well, TIA(This is Africa)!

Random news of the week

It’s that time again! For starters, I am writing this post on Tuesday and am hoping it goes on line soon, but am not sure if that will happen. The internet that we “borrow” across the street has been down since before the weekend, so we are a bit out of touch. We are so thankful we have a little modem (also borrowed) so we can at least check and send emails! If anyone has posted any big news on facebook, please fill us in as we have totally missed all facebook news!

Last night Darin and I went on our first date since arriving here in South Africa. While we were out, we realized it was the first time we’d been out ANYWHERE without the kids in over 15 weeks! That includes trips to the grocery store, going to Mama Cathrine’s, running any sort of errand, or being in the car. Individually we have had time alone, but if Darin and I have been together, the kids have also been present! We went to the Carousel, which is an entertainment venue with a hotel, restaurants and a casino, just a bit north of us. We both ate steak and enjoyed filling up on protein and having a few moments of peace! It really was a wonderful night out and we are thankful to the volunteers from across the road that were willing to come and watch Tyson and Jori for a couple hours. Tyson and Jori were also SO excited to have babysitters again. If you are reading this, Elisabeth, they were reliving all sorts of memories from when you babysat them and were wishing we were back in Michigan so you could watch them again!

This weekend we discovered that snakes like our house. This is a discovery that I would have been happy to do without, but knowledge is power, right?? On Saturday we had friends over for a braai and the kids discovered a snake “slivering” on the side of the house and then it decided to try and enter our bathroom through the hot water heater pipe. Thankfully there were many hands on deck and the snake was quickly caught and after we found out it wasn’t poisonous(spotted bush snake), it was released. On Sunday the kids were playing upstairs and they started yelling that they had found more snakes. Sure enough, two snakes were twisted all up in a romantic embrace in our upstairs playroom. EW!! One vanished and we watched the other one slink off into the thatch roof. Great. Later, Darin heard a noise and discovered that one of the pair (it WAS one of the pair and not a 3rd snake!!!) had entered our bathroom through the water heater (geyser) pipe and was on our bathroom floor by the time he ran inside. EW, EW, EW!!!!! These two experiences have taught us that our kids do not quite understand what we mean when we say “If you ever see a snake, back away quickly and quietly and come and tell us.” On both snake sighting occasions, the kids have stood rooted to the spot, yelling “We found a snake” at the top of their lungs.

That is all the random news so far this week, and it is only Tuesday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My boat - by Tyson

Last satarday I went to a science fair at an Oktober fest.   I saw a boat at the science fair.  To make the boat I need wood, a bag, wire, some Lego guys, and bottles.  We’re going to test it on our watering hole.

I don’t know if it is going to float or not, but I think it is going to float on our watering hole.  I built it using the wood from behind our shed and some wire from the same spot, not exactly the same spot.  We used lots of things, wood, wire, so much stuff.  All the materials were there and today we might finish the boat.  We drilled 7 holes in all.  Three on one piece and two on both of the other 2 pieces.  A guy named Hans, he’s the one that let us use the drill.  He’s a very nice guy. 

Finally it floated when it was completed.  The first day we sailed it was wensday.  It floated on the water.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, it is a great boat.  We used some sticky toffee stuff to put 2 Lego guys from Star Wars, 2 dinosaurs, a Lego laser gun, and R2D2 and a ninja guy on the boat.  I tried it again with the guys and it floated with them.  One guy fell in the water but we rescued him.  We played a game with my boat.  I think the other dinosaur is lost. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oktoberfest by Jori Fey

On Saturday, I went to Oktoberfest with my friend, Aliya. We watched a show. It was a magic one and silly. Then we played games. First we got a bag. We had to climb a pole, but I couldn’t do it, but my daddy helped me. There were sweeties in the bag. We played another game to win a water bottle. It was a spinning wheel game. I did a throwing bean bag game with all cans that you had to knock down. Then I went to another show and I ate my huge hot dog and drank my own pop. The hot dog wasn’t very yummy, but the bun was delicious.

After lunch we went to look at some books. I got to buy a Barbie coloring book and it was fun. Aliya’s family went to the market then.

Then I went in a big ball that was in the water. I kept on trying to stand and run, but I kept falling down. My friend Aliya couldn’t stand up either. We kept trying to run to each other, but we couldn’t. Then my brother came in and he was trying to bonk into my ball. Then they pulled us out.

Next me and Aliya went on another ride with Noah and Nellie. It was a shell one and it was very spinny. Then we got cotton candy and it was yummy, but I didn’t finish it. Then I played on some slides. Then we went home, but first we got some pop and a potato chip thing and then went home.

I want to go again to Oktoberfest since it was so, so, so, so, so, so, so, SO fun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Darin!

Tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd, is Darin's 34th birthday. I just wanted to take a moment while he is not around to peak over my shoulder, to wish him a very happy birthday and invite you to do the same! Feel free to send him a little email at or leave a message here on the blog.

Happy Birthday Darin. Thank you for being such a wonderful husband and father. We love you so much and are all so much better because you are in our lives. Without you and your ambitious, daring plans to reach out and try new things, I know that I would never have made the move to South Africa. Even though things aren't always easy, it is exciting to be on this journey with you!

Jonna, Tyson and Jori

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random news of the week

The lions are here! The first 4 lions arrived in Dinokeng today and are staying in an enclosed area about 3 miles from us. They will be there for the next 30 days and then they will be released. A few days after their release (and the release of 4 other lions) the elephants will be arriving! We plan to get out and walk around as much as we can before the big release, because once that happens, we will be remaining inside our fenced in yard, unless we are in a car! We are excited about these new animals coming, but it also means we’ll be kind of “trapped” in our yard, which is a bummer. We all love to get out and go for walks and I love being able to walk across the road to go to TYB. Once Darin starts working (we still have no clue when this will happen) the kids and I will be here without a car a lot of the time. I have a feeling that at that point I might not be such a fan of the lions and elephants!

It was cold today. Not “winter” cold, but definitely not warm! I wore jeans for the first time in weeks. The forecast shows rain for this weekend : ( We are supposed to be having our cell group out here for a braai on Saturday, so we are really hoping the rain holds off. It has been quite windy as well and our electricity has flickered on and off a few times over the past couple days. I think I had better just get used to it!

Today when we were outside, Jori said “This is a Michigan day. It feels like Michigan.” And do you know what, it did! It was sunny out, but the air just felt and smelled crisp. It just kind of made my heart happy to hear her say that. I am really missing Michigan right now as I love fall and all the fun things that happen during the autumn months. Art Prize, Post Family Farm, pumpkin donuts, crunchy leaves on the ground…

Home schooling is going great this week. I don’t know what it is, but the past 2 days have just been smooth. I am hoping this is a trend that continues. I have not been able to look online at any home school curriculum online because every time I go across the road to use the internet, I haven’t had a connection. However, whenever Darin goes over there to watch the Vikings, he does not seem to have the same problem…

We went to an Oktoberfest on Saturday at the local (local meaning Pretoria, not Hammanskraal) German school with some friends from church. It was wonderful. I kept telling Mirjam that other than the people walking around with mugs of beer in their hands ALL DAY it reminded me of the Hudsonville Fair! If only they had livestock barns and tractors and other farm implements for the kids to climb on. Jori dictated a report on the Oktoberfest during school today, so look for that soon.

Last night while we were reading the Bible and the kids were goofing off, Darin told Tyson to be more mature. Tyson said “Dad, I can’t. Only girls are mature.” He’s only 7 and he already gets it!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Question and Answer time with Jori

Here are some questions that I asked Jori during home schooling this morning:

What are you learning in home schooling? Number partners in math, th and ch and sh. I am reading very good.

What does Charity (her doll) do when you are in school? She just lies there and talks and she’s silly too. She plays and does all stuff.

How do you help your parents in South Africa? I help my mom to do the laundry by hanging some socks and undies. I hang them with clothespins, but we call them pegs here.

Do you have any friends in South Africa? I have Haley and Aliya as my friends and Ilona. I play with them.

Where do you sleep? I sleep in a house with my whole family in a room with Tyson.

What is your favorite animal in South Africa? Giraffes because their necks are so long.

Is your mom a good driver? My mom is not a good driver. She’s learning how to do it thought. She’s getting good at It, but not gooder than daddy.

What does your daddy do in South Africa? My daddy does, um, huh. You answer this one.

Do you like having daddy at home with us? I like having daddy home cause he is fun and nice. He gives us treats like sweeties.

Do you like it here? I don’t really like it in Africa cause I miss my friends.

Tyson’s report about lizards

There is a big lizard in our shed  it’s maybey 20 cm long.  It keeps moving around in the shed in 2 corneres ,left and right.

There are small lizards that live behind the shed.  The small lizards crawl behind the shed and me and my friend Caden were trying to catch them after lunch, but they were too fast.  We made a trap to catch them and we used a tube, aluminum foil, a chair to set the tube on, and a red thing.  We pushed the aluminum into the tube and we also used a mountain dew bottle with a frie in it.  We thout that lizards liked bread so that’s why we put the frie in but we didn’t catch any. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home school, Fey style

We have our own little way of homeschooling out here in Hammanskraal. I will be the first to admit that there are probably a lot of things we could be doing better and many areas we need to improve on, but for a family that never had homeschooling in mind, at 6 weeks in we are doing just fine. 

I would give you a glimpse into a typical day of homeschooling, but we really don’t have a typical day yet. That is probably one of the things we need to improve on : ) Instead I will just tell you how today looked.
Our kids continue to rise and shine bright and early, just like they always have. I continue to long for sleep and hang out in bed as long as I can, just like I always have. Darin, who used to get up before all of us to get to work now falls somewhere in between the two extremes. This morning, I rolled out of bed around 7:30. The kids had already been awake for over an hour. I came into the living/dining room and the kids were busy watching a movie. Darin was typing up some emails. I made myself some instant coffee and read the new emails that had come in since we last checked before bed. 

Then, while the kids continued to watch their movie, Darin went across the road to do some more internet stuff and I got ready for the day. Darin came back and we gave the kids 5 more minutes of movie watching time. Home schooling officially began a little before 9 this morning. We started by reading from our devotional book. Each week there is a new Bible verse for the kids (and us) to learn, and so far, they are doing just great. They know Genesis 1:1, Psalm 89:28, Proverbs 3:1, Proverbs 3:5, 1 Timothy 4:12 and this week they are learning John 3:16. You will have to look them up as I am too tired to type them all out. 

After our Bible time, Darin took Tyson to the dining room table to do some work and Jori and I stayed in the home school room. Today Tyson worked on finding the perimeter of triangles, squares and rectangles in math. Then he read some interesting facts in one of his books and wrote a little report on what he read. Later on he came and read his report to all of us. Here it is:

“An Assassin bug strikes with its beak. Its main prey is small creatures like spiders and other things. Some kind of beetle can spray a liquid at predators.”

I wish you all could have heard him read the report! He did a great job. Tyson also worked on two pages of handwriting, small "a" and small "d", in his Handwriting Without Tears workbook. He finished off his day by working on his weekly photo report, which you will have to wait to read later in the week! He did have a small recess in there as well.

Jori and I started out our day working on number partners. I cut up some small squares of paper and we used these to make equations. Then we talked about all the different number partners that a number can have. Like 3 can have 0, 3 and 1,2 and you can switch these around as well. We went up to the number 5 and then moved on to the next thing, which was reading. We read in her short “I” book for a bit, and then we went over some sight words that I had made for her this morning. 

Later on, we worked on her “Explode the Code” book, which is a phonics workbook. Today we started the short “u” section. She has to read words, do some writing, matching and more. After recess, we worked on some opposites in another book that we brought from home. Then we did a little more reading and that was it.

Today was actually a pretty long day for us, and I think we were busy for about an hour and a half. I need to get out and find some more stuff for the kids to do and maybe start having them do some science as well. As of right now, we are pretty sure that we will continue homeschooling through the next school year, which would start in January and end in December. This is partly due to a lack of funds and partly due to our current location and us not knowing where we’ll be living as of next August. 

We do need to have something a bit more substantial if we are going to keep up with home schooling, and I would love to have some help in this area. So please, either email me at or leave a comment and let me know what you are using and if you like it. If we were in the states, Jori would just be starting kindergarten and Tyson would be in second grade. Right now we are working through workbooks at those grade levels, so I am not really sure where they will be in January. Do I just start over with kindergarten and second grade or bump them both up a year? See, I am totally not cut out for this!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jubilee Mall - as typed by Tyson Fey

We go shoping there sometimes and even we go to KFC and get ice cream  and then we g
go shoping in the mall and we go to spar, game, pick in pay, KFC and then we go home. 

1 week there was a fair and we went there and we rode on 2 rides foreweelers and little mini jets. The foreweelers were the funest of all. The jets were boring cause they go up and down and then we went shoping i think and then we went home.                                                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things I miss - by Jori Fey

I miss Lucky Charms cause they have cool cereal and marshmallows in them. I want to buy them when we go back to Michigan. I miss Honey Nut Cheerios. Now I eat Oatees. Plain, Chocolate and Custard Oatees are good. Strawberry Oatees are bad. 

I miss having a basement, a upstairs and my own room. There was an extra bed in the basement so if one more person comes, they can sleep. I miss having a closet and a bed that’s on the floor and my own dresser in my own room. 

I miss climbing up Tyson’s ladder on his bed to see what he is doing. And under his bed I miss building forts with the big blue blanket.

I miss little Reidy. I can’t wait to get back to I can kiss him and hug him. And I miss Jenna and JJ. I liked to play with them in their basement.

Tshepo Ya Bana by Jori Fey

Tshepo Ya Bana is fun cause there’s a little cute girl there who’s the only baby girl there named Orabile. She is cute and when my dad first saw her she just came running over to him. She is very, very cute. She lives at a orphanage. I like to play with her when I go over there. I like to say “Don’t make me come over there” and then she falls.

I like to go on the tramp and play a game with Fetsi. He lives at Tshepo Ya Bana too. He’s the lion and I’m a person and he tries to get me. I won the game. He got tired.

And it is fun at Tshepo Ya Bana.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random News of the Week

The time has come for more random news. Last night I made chicken legs for the first time ever. Yes, the first time ever. I prefer my chicken to be boneless and skinless when I buy it, so I have never bought chicken legs before. Thanks to my mom for her cooking tips and my friend Michelle for the gift of poultry seasoning, our dinner last night was a success. I will say that poultry seasoning did not give the chicken the exact taste I was hoping for, but all 4 of us ate our meal with NO complaints. That is a huge deal. In addition to the chicken legs, we also had crunch top potatoes and corn. I love the canned corn in South Africa. It is crunchy and sweet. Yum. To make crunch top potatoes, thinly slice some potatoes, as many as can fit on a baking pan (with sides) in one layer (we used 2 pans). Melt some butter (enough to coat the slices), then spread the slices evenly in the pan. Sprinkle with lots of salt, paprika and some crushed rice krispies or corn flakes (we had corn flakes on ours for the first time last night and I think it was better than the rice krispies.) Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F, then sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 more minutes. Actually, you might need to bake them longer. We now have a convection oven, which seems to bake most things at super speed. 

We are in our 5th week of home schooling! Yes, we have survived our first month of home schooling. Go us. I still have not been able to help Jori learn the difference between the lower case “b” and “d”, so if anyone has some helpful hints, I’d love to hear them. I am sure there are going to be some gaps in our kids education, as far as social studies, geography and science, but I am sure with their smart little minds they will be able to overcome any deficits they might have after leaving my teaching! I will write more about home schooling soon.
Tomorrow we are getting our “new” car! We are so excited to be done with the rental car. It is so tiny, it sometimes seems as if our kids are sitting on top of each other in the back seat. We are looking forward to having a little more leg room and just the freedom to know that if one of us spills something in the car, it does not mean we will be getting fined for it at a later date! Having a rental car for 3 months with kids is kind of stressful!

My parents are coming NEXT month. It is fun to be able to think about their visit in terms of “next” month. It just makes it seem so much closer to right now : ) We have too fun excursions planned for when they are here and are just so excited to spend time sitting and visiting with them and reintroducing them to the people they met in 2008. 

We are going to a church camp this weekend. Our friends Jared and Michelle will be staying at our house and keeping an eye on things here, and we will be getting to know more people at Eastside. Darin is even in charge of the movie night on Saturday. I have promised him I will not take over his little project. 

And here are two funny things the kids have said recently:
Jori – “To infinity, house begun!” (Toy  Story-To infinity, and beyond!”)
Tyson – “Don’t leave me hungry for lunch” (This is from the song “Lead me”, which says “don’t leave me, hungry for LOVE, chasing dreams, but what about us?”)

That is all for now. Tune in again soon for more random news.

Build Them a Home Progress Report #3

Wow, wow, wow!!! We are only $50 away from reaching our goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave over the past week. The house is really taki...