me Life and Times of the Fireflies: January 2017

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

What to expect from Grade 1

We are soundly into the second week of school, and thankfully, it's been an easy transition; most notably with my youngest, who has just entered grade 2! But things weren't always this smooth sailing last year. I wouldn't say it was challenging, but it didn't come without it's challenges, and although I've already seen two kids through Primary School, my experience third time was very different. I'm not sure if it's because things have changed tremendously in 6 years, or quite simply because I have changed and evolved as a parent...or perhaps it was a bit of both; but it was quite a switch from my previous 2 experiences. I've spoken to several first time moms who are finding the prospect of Big School more daunting than their little one's, so I thought I'd do a quick post to guide them on what to expect and how to tackle it. 
Go easy on the little one''s a year of big change! Uniforms, an earlier start to the day, longer days, more structure, less play. It's all very daunting at first and some kids deal with it better than others. Proper morning and evening routines makes it much easier for the children to adjust to their new schedules. I know that sometimes it's near impossible to fall asleep to the sounds of Mozart or snuggling up under the covers reading a book and sipping hot chocolate. And sometimes we snooze that alarm clock one too many times which snowballs into a morning of epic disaster in epic proportions; but a calming down routine at night, and some positive affirmations in the mornings certainly helps towards having a calm and confident child.
You'll either land up with a teacher who LOVES homework or one with a gentler approach. Either way, it's best to set aside a fixed time each day to get it done. This obviously cultivates good habits as the child progresses into higher grades, and is a good habit to have once they enter High School and beyond. I personally don't like tons of homework, but I love knowing what my child is doing in school and where they are at academically. It also gives us an indication of what they are struggling with or don't understand. 15-20  minutes is a fair amount of time that won't rob your child of their childhood, while still cultivating good work ethic.
I'm so on the fence about assessments, but it's a decision we make when sending our kids the mainstream route! I think it's important to keep an open mind here, especially in the first year of school; and even more specifically in the first term. Assessing children's abilities when you barely know them and when they are still shell shocked from entering this new environment sometimes seems counter productive, but you know the saying "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger"...well, it is a good attitude to induce into your child. Motivate them to do their best, while also strengthening their faith in themselves and teach them that their self-worth is not reliant on a number/symbol on a report card. Also, to the moms (and dads)...we all think our kids are little geniuses, and sometimes we get a bit shocked at how they perform in the classroom. Cut your kids some slack as they adjust to this new world and be objective. The report card doesn't only reflect intelligence. Sometimes it can enlighten you to an underlying problem you never knew your child had, in my case, it was a terrible case of anxiety!


They seem to be starting younger and younger! I was shocked to find out that kids do actual, real orals in English AND Afrikaans!!! I also didn't know that it carries such a big portion towards the overall language mark, and I stand to be corrected here, weighs heavier than their written assessment! I remember how much we practiced at home with my son, and how it did nothing to prevent my kid from having dreadful stage fright. At the time I thought it was too much for the little kids and complained and lamented with the other moms about how flawed the system was...but after term 2, and a pep talk from Naani, my little guy conquered his fears. Although still nervous, he has thankfully made progress.  
Afrikaans is much more detailed in grade 1 than what my older kids did. They learn proper vocabulary and I even spotted a begripstoets. I'm partially thankful for this because the older two struggle a lot with Afrikaans. I'm hoping the new system makes it easier to grasp.
The school my son is at has embraced the Singapore Math system (if that's even what you call it). I actually quite love this way of teaching Maths and, having the advantage of having older kids in High School, I can totally see how this method helps train their brain to help them understand and cope with Math better at a later stage! I sometimes felt a bit lost with reiterating concepts because they do things differently, but gosh...some really higher grade thinking patterns being nurtured with this system. Love it!
As a mother, it's natural to get defensive when the system goes against your energy flow, but there's always a lesson to learn. We thrust our young, innocent  kids into this big, new world and expect them to be able to swim with the tide. Mainstream is a fast paced system and it takes time for them to adjust to it. It's also important not get too caught up in the competitiveness of it all, to nurture them holistically as well as scholastically, and always create a balance between the two.
 Though Zee started the year academically strong thanks to his Montessori grounding, there was so much that was very new to him. There were times during the year that I doubted my decision and choices for my child. I felt sorry for him and the undue pressure, but I soon realised that there are no perfect scenarios in life. Making excuses does not solve problems, and obstacles are encountered everywhere. I had to toughen up and own up to my child's weakness, and only then was I able to truly help him! It's this pairing of teaching and parenting that contributes to our children's growth.
 As the year drew to a close, my timid little six year old had grown, blossomed, evolved and strengthened in ways I did not expect. By the last 2 terms he was thriving and this year he has entered Grade 2 so much more confident than I ever imagined he would. It just goes to show that Grade 1 is so much more than ABC...but we have to be willing to see beyond the chalkboard and the report card to reach it!

Thanks for reading!!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Party in the Park

The new year signals so many things for so many people. It's the metaphorical new beginning and fresh start that makes one feel better about the days ahead. It's the start of a new academic year for the kids, and even they are excited about the clean slates and endless possibilities. It signifies another year older (and more grey hairs) for us adults...and also our kids, who seem to throw us with a multitude of ideas for themed parties as the year progresses, which only seems to increase in enthusiasm and vigour as their birthday approaches.

 If you're like me, then you probably throw together a couple of ideas the week before said birthdays and wing the whole thing while keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best...But if you're like Moon, then you're probably fervently browsing Pinterest and planning the next birthday party the minute the last one has finished and the exhaustion begins to fade and the memory of the crazy dash to get things done is barely forgotten ;-) But one thing we both have in common though, is the need to do things ourselves, whether it's the cake or the décor, we lovingly create memories for our children to remember much as our mother has done for us.

So it was hardly surprising that for Aryana's first birthday, Moon was bouncing off ideas as soon as the shock of early motherhood had eased up; or that she was DIY'ing everything, from the party packs, invites, cake toppers...right through to the décor; you name it, she did it herself; and even sifted through a gazillion pictures for the absolutely adorable number 1 picture collage! Bar the cake, which I had the privilege of creating and bringing her vision to life :-)

There were a few things she was able to do on her computer with minimal effort. There's numerous websites with free templates you can use to personalise your invitations, cake toppers and even bottle labels to suit your theme and specific requirements. For the Hot Air Balloon prop she used one of her pretty storage baskets and only needed to add helium balloons to match her colour scheme, which resulted in the most beautiful pictures of her baby girl!

Even though hiring a party planner would probably be less stressful, the thing about DIY birthday parties (besides being more cost effective) is that every aspect is curated with the utmost of love! It's one of those memories that stand out, not because it was perfect, but because it was one of the most loving gestures a child has of their mother. It's the things we hold on to even as adults...and clearly, it's the things we also continue to do for our kids, just as Moon has done here for Aryana on her first birthday. Also, when you come from a big family like us, everyone is delegated a task to and contributes in some small way to make sure everything goes well.

Overall, I think Moon did a fantastic job in channelling her creative side! Although slightly stressed towards the end, she should be pretty chuffed with herself with the outcome. I totally think Moonbug Events can become an actual thing! And as Aryana gets older, it will be really special to include her in the whole process and create lasting memories with her mom <3
I think Aryana's Hot Air Balloon themed party in the park turned out quite fabulous in the end...despite the wind causing havoc with the balloons on the party boxes! It was a celebration with family and close friends, and in years to come, I hope she can look back at this post and these pics and know, that from the very beginning; she was surrounded by people who loved her dearly, and celebrated her presence from day 1!
Chilling in her DIY Hot Air Balloon

Time consuming, but very sentimental!

Mom & Dad setting up props

A party fit for Pinterest

Hot Air Balloons dangling from a tree...DIY'ed  by Moon


I was quite chuffed with how my cake turned out

Triple layer vanilla sponge in pastel shades

Incorporated her current favourite into the theme
Adding the final touches

More baking by me (Toppers by Moon)

How adorable are these! Not made by me...I'm not that talented

LOVE these themed Cake Pops!

Personalised Bottle Labels

 Attention to Detail

Perfect Summer Drink...The ever popular Cherries and Berries by my sister Ayesha

HIP HIP HOORAY!! The Happiest One Year Old I've Ever Seen!!

 Time to blow out the Candle

Proud Grandparents <3

Birthday Selfie


Up, Up and Away

Hot Air Balloon Party Favour:  The Lone Survivor HAHA!
(You win some, you lose some,  this time Mother Nature Won)
 Is that really me??


Location : Keurboom Park

DIY & Décor : by Moon

Cake Pops & themed cookies: Sweet Toof Patisserie

Cake and Cupcakes : Made by me

Savouries:  Shana's Delights

Photographs by : 2Cherries Photography

If you would like to know more about how Moon created some of the DIY stuff for the party, you can read about it on Cherry Mommy here

Thanks for reading!