Jan 7, 2012

The day so far

My early morning routine was slightly different today. Instead of making my coffee and reading my book I went Blog hopping and found some really great stuff for school. Before I knew it, it was time for me to get ready to go and meet my friend Les for coffee. We used to work together until she left and went to teach in a private school. We still get together regularly for coffee and a catch up session, though not as often as we would like. Anyway 2 cappuccino's and a lot of talking later we had managed to get up to date.

We met at La Lucia Mall at this coffee shop that you can see in the background with the green umbrellas.

On the way home I stopped at the top of the road that leads down to the street where we live. I wanted to get a shot of the view leading down towards The Promenade. It looks stunning out there today - perfect beach weather but a bit too hot for me.

From the top of the hill. Our road is on the left just before the lampost.

A bit further down.

This is our road looking towards the village. We are on the right a bit further down past the cars.

  First stop after unpacking was the pool. It was so hot outside that the soles of my feet were burning as I came up the stairs. Whilst sitting on the veranda having lunch Ciaran told me to look behind. There was a monkey perched on the dividing wall staring down at me. I ran inside and grabbed my camera - 'blog photo' was my first thought! We often get monkeys in our complex. Each troop sticks to a specific area and this cheeky fella was one of the the ones from 'our troop'. They come and go. Sometimes you don't see them for ages, then they're back again with babies clinging to their mothers. The babies look very cute and I love watching them as they play on the roof in front of us. You have to make sure there is no food around because quick as a flash it will be gone. We have spent many hours watching their antics. Some even venture inside your house. Caelen was confronted with one coming down the stairs one day. I don't know who got the bigger fright! These monkeys are quite brazen and not at all scared of humans. I must confess I don't mind watching them from a distance but am still quite nervous of them getting too close.

Here he is - cheeky chap! I'm not sure what it was that he was eating.

Making his escape down the neighbour's wall before heading towards the complex next door.

.........and along comes another one following his partner in crime

After leaving our place they go into this mango tree on the property next door
 Yesterday I mentioned that my sons were not keen on letting me take their photos. Well, look who we have here - my youngest son Caelen. I was delighted to get this photo of him. I actually took three but in the last one his hand was covering his face.

  Next is Ciaran, my middle son in his favourite place - the couch! He went out last night and was suffering a bit today  he is just 'chilling' .

Ciaran assuming the position!

Jan 6, 2012

Last day of the holidays - weekends don't count!

It is now 8:36pm on Friday 6th January. It has been really hot today. I woke up at just after 5am and came downstairs for my coffee and read but first I washed the dishes from last night because I was too tired/lazy to wash them then. Ciaran got up soon after so not much "me" time today - no worries though because I realise how blessed I am that I get on so well with my boys. They may beg to differ but I know that's not really true! - Love you my precious boys xx :) . I want to post a photo of them but that could be tricky as they are not very co-operative when it comes to me taking photos of them. I will see what I can do at a later stage - it may require some stealth and cunning but I always rise to a challenge! Watch this space.......

Next up I vacuumed two of our 3 levels - where does the dirt come from? I swear somebody sneaks into our house at night and sprinkles dust, dirt and hair on the floors just to make sure that I am kept busy! That's not to mention the washing (clothes) that accumulates on a daily basis. That's my side of the housekeeping - Chez cooks the majority of the meals for which I am truly grateful. I am so over cooking. I'm quite happy to go without - not that my body would make you think that!!!! I blame it on that "M" thing that happens when you reach a certain age!  By this time I had to go for a swim. Last night's storm meant the water was a bit cooler today so it was actually refreshing. The rest of the morning was used up doing school "stuff" on my laptop. I had good intentions of going in but decided to do the work at home instead. We had a management meeting scheduled for 2pm so I thought I'd go in about an hour before and do a few things in the classroom. This did work according to plan and I  managed to cart a whole load of stuff I had been working on at home to school.

After our Management Meeting I went back to school and stuck up labels inside and out. There always seems to be so much to do for Grade 1! It's funny because the week before we are due to go back I always start doing little bits and pieces to get me back into "school mode". I had one full week of total relaxation which was bliss. I read and lay on my lounger upstairs on our balcony with dips into the pool inbetween to cool off. Very relaxing and just what I needed to recharge my run down batteries. If you are a teacher you will understand.

Yesterday I said I would post some photos of my classroom. I have not totally finished yet but it is nearly there. I still can't make up my mind whether to group my desks or keep them in rows. In rows the children are all facing the board from the face on which is good from an OT point of view.In groups some children are at an angle which means some have to sit sideways.They also tend to be far more chatty in groups - not that they need any encouraging! For now the desks are in rows but I may change it. I am always open to change and new ideas but if it works why change it?
OK - some photos if you are interested.

Yesterday I unpacked the stationery and put into each child's " pencil tidy". This is a plastic cutlery holder which we use to store the basic items needed on a daily basis. I also labelled the pencil tidies.

This is the bookcase containing "Fun Books" which I had to totally reorganise. The books were all mixed up.
One of 3 cupboards which I unpacked and reorganised, putting books from the same series together. The titles were all mixed up.

I have added this tent in the middle of my second classroom. I thought that the children might enjoy using it as a reading area. I mentioned before that I had made new cushion covers to match the bunting. The 3 on the right are not new. They have appliqued pictures on them. Will show some closeups at another time. I hope the tent will be considered a fun place to ' hang out'. There will be some rules which have to be obeyed so that no one gets out of hand.

A section of the bunting on one side of the classroom. I made 35metres. Originally I bought 5 metres of bias binding but my firnd Janine told me it was not nearly enough and she advised that I buy a whole roll. I did and it was just enough! Looking out of the window I overlook the Aftercare area and the building site. We are in the process of adding another 4 classrooms on top of an exising wing. Our school has grown so much and has become very popular which means we have to turn children away every year because we are full. Now we will be able to accommodate another class and relocate classes which are currently having to use temporary premises, which is why I am where I am. Hope you can make sense of that!
Looking at these photos I have just realised that some of the other photos I took were deleted when I took my camera in to see why it was not autofocussing.The man in the shop deleted photos and reformatted my SDHC card to see if that would help. Oh well, I'll need to take some more later. That's all for now as I am having trouble publishing this post. Our internet keeps going off - very frustrating.

Jan 5, 2012

I'm back with post #2

Well, here I am again with my next post. Yesterday I said how pretty the ships look at night so I tried taking a photo to show you what I mean. It's not great but it will give you an idea. Our complex looks directly out to sea between two blocks of flats. We can also see the sea on either side of said flats.
The bright lights belong to The Rustbucket. I actually feel quite connected to this ship - it's been there for so long I'll miss it when it goes. The next photo is of the swimming pool. All I have to do is walk out our garden gate, descend a few stairs and enter the pool. In summer the water actually gets too warm. It's like taking a warm bath - not very refreshing when all you want to do is cool off. Thinking about it now, I haven'y had my daily swim yet but there is a hectic storm with thunder andd lightening so I think I'll postpone it till the storm clears. Today has been cloudy with rain. The rain is much needed but it is still humid so not too much relief there!
The pool in our complex where I go to cool off. The best part is that we don't have to look after it. There is a caretaker who sees to all that. Our complex is called Paula's Place and there are 9 units on the top level and four at the bottom. We live in a triplex with 2 bedrooms sand bathrooms on the 3rd floor, a lounge, dining room and kitchen in the middle and a bedroom, bathroom and entrance to the garage on the bottom level. We have a small garden in front and a veranda leading off the lounge where we often eat our meals or sit and chill just looking at the view. My best is having a glass of wine at the end of the day, chatting with Chez about the day. Life is tough in Africa!!!

This morning I went in to school to continue getting my classroom organised ready for the start of the new year. I had a stint of admin duty for 3 terms last year which was much needed. 18 years on a trot teaching Grade 1's with no break plus being head of department can leave you feeling a bit shell-shocked after a while. Now I am looking forward to meeting my new class and opening up a whole new world of learning, fun and opportunity for these special little people. I am the kind of person who is always looking for ways to improve my teaching and find new ideas that are exciting and fun. Here are some photos of the school where I teach. I strted there in 1986 and had a year's break in 1989 when I had my youngest son, Caelen, now 22! The second year's break was in 1982 when we lived in the UK for almost a year. Since then I have worked at Northway Junior Primary, now Chelsea Preparatory ( we amalgamated with the Senior Primary School down the road) as a grade 1 teacher and Head of Department. I am so lucky to teach at such an awesome school.
Looking at the entrance from the entry gate.

The field where the children play at break looking towards the play area and Grade R classrooms.
A section of the teachers'staff room.
The pirate ship named Imbizo which means meeting place in Zulu.The children love playing here.
The front veranda - the boys toilts are to the left of the car and the girls to the right,
I did a detour on the way home to pick up some things I needed for my classroom only to find myself caught in a traffic jam. I ended up changing my route and going the long way home to avoid the chaos.It was much less stressful. This may not be what some people consider a traffic jam  but it gets worse further on up the road as you approach the traffic circle.

Look! No cars. My alternative route home.

I'm home! This is the entrance to our complex - Paula's Place, 24 Chartwell Drive, Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Tomorrow I'll post some pics of what I was doing at school today. I have a management meeting in the afternoon but still need to do some stuff in my classroom.Teachers start school (officially) on Monday and the children come back on Tuesday. How time flies!

Jan 4, 2012

My first post of 2012

Early morning view from the veranda leading off our bedroom - top floor

I am a morning person. I love the early mornings, especially when I am on holiday. I get up early and come downstairs, make myself a cup of coffee and read my book of choice. Chez and the boys are still sleeping and the house is quiet and so peaceful before the day begins. I look out at the sea, sometimes the sun is already up, sometimes it is still just beginning to peep behind the horizon. If it is still dark I can judge by the birds if it is close to sunrise.

Ships passing - taken from our upstairs veranda

This morning when I woke up just before 5 a.m it was already light. The sea was flat and calm and the ships still had their lights on. We have a lot of ships anchored in front of us. Sometimes it is as many as twelve or more , sometimes just two or three. I always feel sorry for the crew on board these ships. It must be very boring sitting out there with the port so close. Recently it has been quite full. There is one in particular that is right in front of us that we have nicknamed 'The Rustbucket'. I think the name gives you a clue as to the state it is in. The picture below shows part of the ship that is visible sticking out from the building to our right. The view varies depending on the tide, wind etc. In the background you can just see a tanker on the horizon.

Part of  'The Rustbucket'.      Looking out from the lounge you can see 'The Rustbucket' in the background.

This is the last week of our school holidays. It was supposed to be our annual long summer holiday but this time we only got 3 weeks and 3 days. I know as a teacher we are lucky to have so many holidays but believe you me, we need them and so do the children. I went in to school yesterday to sort out a few things in my classroom. I told Chez I wouldn't be long - just over 3 hours later I got home. The teacher who took over my class for part of last year left the reading books in a real mess. I honestly don't know what she did. The books were all mixed up, not put back in the right places and totally mixed up. I took me nearly all of that time to sort them out. I shall have to have a word with her when we go back because that is so not how you leave someone else's classroom.

On a positive note, my books are all neatly packed and organised! I also set up the tent I bought to use as a reading area and added the cushions with the new cushion covers I made to match the bunting I have also made. I have a double classroom so there is space - it won't be for long because it is eventually going to be knocked down to make way for a new sports field but until that happens I will enjoy using the extra space. I will post a photo once I have the bunting up. Right now I have to stop and get started with the day. Ciaran has gone to work and Chez is now up too. Let the day begin.