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Family Celebration Year End Dinner 2012

A few years ago, we started a bit of a year-end tradition – an idea swiped from friends and tweaked to become a special part of our annual goings-on.  It’s a special meal, a mini ceremony with certificates and year summary, plus a gift for a year well done.  Each year, the kids are full of giggles and great excitement.  There is a certain level of importance attached to the celebration that always seems to have them hyped up to the point of no return.  Even saying grace is a difficult affair for little ones usually end up in fits of giggles.  This night was no different.  We did manage to get through the grace and attack our food with gusto…

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A speedy supper over (complete with yummy Grapetiser), Craig presented the kids with their certificates, hand shakes and hugs:

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Look at that face!  Full of glee!

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Looks like he is about to cry, but in actual fact, Sam was desperately trying not to laugh and giggle and chortle and roll about laughing out every inch of his excitement!

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The best, however, was Micah.  I couldn’t resist adding just about every photo in the sequence.  He really did laugh and giggle and chortle and just about roll about laughing with every inch of his excitement!

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Kiera was the only one who waded through the Great Big Over Kill of a Year Long Summary.  Although, Katie declared that hers was to be bedtime reading! 

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After dessert, it was time for pressies.  Here the kids are waiting on the couch, comparing notes:

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All with closed eyes and gifts on their laps.  They were remarkably restrained given that they had to wait, eyes closed, knowing that their gift was right there all so that mom could grab a photo!

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Tearing it open!  New beach towels and a book each!  Kiera scored a book by Andrew Peterson – I’m hoping she loves it, as it’ll give her a whole new world of books that aren’t Harry Potter!  Andrew Peterson seems to be one talented guy using his gifts for the gospel – not only is he an author of Christy-Award winning books, but he is also an award-winning singer-songwriter.  Go check him out!

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And so ends the school year of 2012.  Here’s looking to 2013!  But not before a lovely long holiday….  School books crack open again February 2013.

Holiday in Oudtshoorn Day 2

A morning walk and an afternoon gymnastics contest…

We expected the holiday to be freezing – it is the middle of winter in the Klein Karoo after all.  But with the rain and the cloud cover, temperatures were similar to Cape Town and walking in the mornings was a pleasure.

This is us – setting off on our first morning together.  You’d think it was super cold the way we were bundled up!  It was cold.  But not below 10.

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The cold cloudy morning meant less exciting photographic conditions.  But with great scenery, it’s hard to mess it up.  Even the girls, who recently were gifted with my old point-and-shoot digital camera, got some beautiful shots…

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We visited cows nearby…

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And a nursery selling granny Sally’s bush …

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In case you can’t read the label in the photo above, here is the zoomed in version…

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For all my non-Safrican friends, “Deurmekaarbos” is “Deurmekaar” bush.  And “deurmekaar” is one of those beautiful Afrikaans words that is just about untranslatable.  Literally it translates as “through together” but it means confused.  A good English equivalent is “discombobulated”.

We enjoyed the beautiful photo opps of farm life …

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I love this photo – so typical of so many farms – the rusting castaway machinery of yesteryear and yesterday.

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The sensible shoe wear…

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Home again, home again…

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to have some tea and biscuits – and a bit of schoolwork. We’ve been working on some fun books that we will complete next week – the reveal will have to wait until then!  Biscuits and tea was accompanied with a change of clothes and some fire-side warming up….

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Granny Sally kept us well fed with yummy bits and pieces to eat…

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Including a delicious pea and bacon soup for lunch.  Yum yum!

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And then – it was time for a gym contest.  Level 1 girls under 10s was due to begin at 3pm.  So, we dutifully arrived, in the pouring rain, at 2:30pm.  And then everyone, besides Kiera and I, dutifully left, in the pouring rain, at about 2:40pm and returned home.  The hall was packed and the competition was running late by two hours.  Kiera’s portion of the contest would begin by 4:30pm only and she would have to stay and wait, in case they were called earlier.  Ah!  Fantastic.

So, Kiera and I chatted away with Rachel and her parents, while the others returned home for some TV time on the coach and an early supper.

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Eventually, the judges were ready and it was time for the Brawns U10 girls – all two of them, Kiera and Rachel – to do their thing.

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Every rotation starts with a practise round on the apparatus.  Here Rachel shows her stuff – she’s really good, especially since she’s only been doing gym for a year, according to Kiera.

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The lighting in the hall was really bad and no flash photography is allowed – hence the below average photos.  But, at least we caught some of the moments.  Like this pensive moment just before her vault performance.  She scored an 8.65 – the same as her previous contest.  Some extra work needed, but not a bad score.

getting ready with assistant coach Shannon

Grandpa Peter and the rest of the family missed her first exercise – the floor routine.  But I did manage to capture almost all her performances on video.  While Grandpa caught most of the photo moments – like these great practice shots on the beam.  She was as steady as a rock and did herself and us proud.  A 9.05 on the beam, up from 8.5 last contest.

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Look at that joyful face when she heard her score!

such delight on hearing her 9.05 score (no flash photography allowed hence the blur!)

Her strongest apparatus is bar.  It was also her last one for this contest.  But the poor girl had a false start, losing her point 8 (0.8) off her total score.  She would have scored a high score of 9.2 had she not fluffed it up in the beginning and probably would’ve placed in the top three as a result.  But, we live and learn.  She will probably slow down now!

second attempt on bar after a false start lost her .8 points.  She still scored a 8.5.  Without the false start she probably would've placed in the top three.

Such concentration!

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Despite her bar bomb, she kept positive and was really excited to hear her name being called for Beam – second place!

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Congratulations Kiera!

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Rachel came third for her beautiful floor routine.  Great work, girls!  Here Ashley, co-owner and coach at Brawns, congratulates the girls.

Ashley, their coach, congratulating Kiera and Rachel

Grandpa, mom, dad and sister take lots of photos of our girl and her medal…

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showing her grandparents how it's done!

We headed home for a supper of sausage hot pot and an early night.  I was doubly grateful that mom and I had precooked all our supper meals, for supper was ready in a jiffy and tired young bodies headed to bed, ready for another day of fun!

For the family and anyone interested – here’s a short 2 minute video of some of Kiera’s gymnastics…

Links to all posts in our Oudtshoorn Holiday series Smile

Hayes Homeschool Celebration 2011

Last year, we started a special little tradition at home that we’ve called our Celebration Supper.  Since the kids work so hard in the year, and since I’m a sucker for ceremonies and celebrations, I thought it would be nice to have a special supper recognising the kids’ hard work during the year.  I also want to have a comprehensive record of the things they’ve done in the year, concepts learned, awards received, photos of their fun and activities and so on.  These things are compiled into a special report/record file that they are awarded with at the end of the year.   

It’s really just a normal sit-down dinner with a special dessert, a congratulatory pressie and their awards to end the evening.  But the kids look forward to it so much that even a dinner out in place of our Celebration Supper is frowned upon (ah-hem – as was the case this year when I had to postpone the dinner to the next night as I was a bit behind my own deadline.  We went and grabbed a pizza at a restaurant nearby, thinking that that would be a great compensation, but my eldest was NOT impressed!)

Our little bunch of Hayeslets were very excited about their special evening and we all enjoyed our tuna salad (it’s hot here and, believe it or not, tuna salad is a huge hit for the family) and mint-choc icecream.  And then it was time for the awards.  Starting with Micah who received a certificate for "loving learning" – aka "being a funny monkey who wants to do everything his big siblings do"!

He was full of excitement and self-importance listening to daddy hand over his certificate.  Such a big swollen heart of pride and happiness from that little munchkin!  I love the series of photos, despite the blurry bits!  Such a sweet little expression!

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Sam next! Such a big boy!

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Then Katie – one little girl who was relieved school was over for the year!

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Finally Kiera, who read over Dad’s shoulder…

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These two – I tell you – the humour is almost identical and those faces too!

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Finally it was time to open their year-end pressies.  Much MUCH needed summer PJs and a book from the awesome Book People sale just a few days earlier..

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And I scored a big thank you from the family, which included this delicious bar of nougat.  Yum!

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Well done, my little family!  I pray that 2012 will see us all working hard at our weaknesses and remembering to glorify God in all we do!  Let’s keep our family motto in the forefront of our minds: God Guide Us!

Love you all!             

Hayes Homeschool Celebration 2010

Tuesday 21st December saw the Hayes family have our very first Celebration Dinner.  What were we celebrating?  A successful completion of our home school year.  It’s an idea that we unashamedly stole from our home schooling friends and adapted to suit our family.  You can read all about the details of the certificates, reports etc at the end of this post, but to start off here is what we did on the evening itself.

The kids planned their special celebration dinner menu.  The requests were easy to handle – cottage pie; the forbidden coke and special yummy chocolate-filled ice-cream.  That I could do. 

Dad came home early for a swim with the kids.  Then it was a quick change into something smartish for they were to present dad with their mini-year end "concert".  They had prepared a little sample of some of the things they had learnt in the year, including a few scripture verses, a poem and some Xhosa songs.  My perfectionist self would have loved to have practised this with them until they had it "performance perfect".  Certainly, an edited version would create a more polished looking product.  But, why?  This little video of their performance for dad is all them in all their childishness and all their sinfulness and all their strengths and all their weaknesses.  The performance perfect version may serve to stroke my ego now, but this performance serves to remind us all that we’re human and I will most definitely look back on it in years to come with nostalgia and, most likely, a few tears of hilarious laughter too!

I hope you enjoy their little unpolished and unedited  performance for dad here:

Supper followed their performance, but first – gift opening time!  The girls each got a lovely baking book and Sam a book on pirates!  (Here’s an aside – the Book People in Diepriver sell excellent books for really great prices normally.  But, in December they have a HUGE sale of all their overruns and shop soiled books.  No book is more than R50.  I got these normally R120 books, which would sell for R200 at Exclusive Books, for R50 each.  I got loads of other excellent books from as little as R10 each!  Definitely worth sharing!)

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The excitement was bubbling over as quickly as the Coke! 

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Micah was especially delighted with his forbidden fare:

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After dinner came the special awards.  Sam first up – Dad talked about how proud he was of his little boy.  The delight on his face brought tears to my eyes!

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Then Katie next.  More words and congratulations.  She received her Sonlight certificates for completing Core 1 and Science 1 and the first three books of her I Can Read It series from me.  Craig, as dad and principal, gave her her official year end certificate.  These little smiles are so full of happiness and joy! 

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And then – Kiera.  Mom first presented her Sonlight certificates – for Core 1, Science 1 and Language Arts 2 intermediate.  And then, the big certificate….  Such seriousness in that first photo as she listens to her dad read to her from her certificate.  Then a handshake of such happiness!

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After our yummy icecream dessert (chopped up chocolate, smarties, jellybeans, mint aero etc in vanilla ice-cream – a la Sally style) we gave them their last gift.  They’re all into cowboy things lately, thanks to Kiera’s craze.  We spotted these cowboy hats in our local Chinese shop, Yu Tom, a while back.  At R25 each, they were dirt cheap, so we got one each for our budding scholars to enjoy during their holidays! 

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Report and Portfolio Summary: An inside look…

IMG_1219There are certain things that I love about formal schooling.  I love uniforms.  Yes.  I do.  I love formal functions like prizegiving, school plays, galas and athletics events.  I even love report cards and certificates.  I know that many home schoolers are glad to be free of these things, and in some ways I am.  But, while I am convinced that home schooling is a really fantastic schooling option and I am thrilled that my kids get to experience this path, I admit that I am sad that they don’t get to experience some of the things that formal schools do – at least, not experience them to the same degree.

But, not all is lost.  We have our own homeschooling athletics days, get involved in other activities and even have the opportunities to attend our own homeschooling prize giving and eisteddfod events thanks to the organisation skills of the Cape Home Educators committee.  And, as far as reports and certificates go – we can create our own.

Some friends of mine in the homeschooling world have made the year-end a special time for their kids by giving them a celebration dinner, complete with reports/certificates and even a little gift.  We’ve not done anything like that yet, but this year I really wanted to recognise my kiddoes’ hard work throughout the year.  And, it doesn’t hurt to have a few things on record.

Well, the idea started out as a simple dinner with certificates and then turned into yet another mammoth task as the planning took on a life of its own.  Deciding to combine their reports with their portfolio for the year (portfolio – sample of their work, activities and achievements) meant that a lot of time and effort went into the final product.  Eventually, I put all their certificates; a summary report of their work, activities and achievements; samples of their written work; photographs of their artwork and photographs highlighting their activities and homeschooling moments from the year into a special folder for themselves.  Then I duplicated all that information into a bigger folder for their Foundation Phase portfolio, with the aim to include everything they do from Grade R – Grade 3 for future reference.  I included things like their attitude and attendance charts and their self-assessments in that folder.

In planning their special certificates, I ended up designing a special badge/coat of arms for our little homeschool.  It’s completely corny, I know.  But as I mentioned in a previous post on the subject … I love it, cheesy or not!  The symbols are as follows:

  • Lion: Courage and Strength,
  • Cross: Faith and Trust;
  • Flower: Hope and Joy;
  • Eagle: Justice and Mercy. 
  • "Dieu me conduise" is a variant of the original Hayes motto which means "God guide me!" 

I think that the idea of God guiding us and giving us courage and strength to keep trusting Him, growing in our faith with hope and joy and exhibiting justice and mercy is a pretty cool way to approach our lives!

Here is a little peek into some of the pages from Kiera’s portfolio:

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