Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Phonetically speaking

Phonetically speaking
29 January 2013

I am telling you now, that you have not lived until you’ve had a small child going on the journey towards literacy.  Few things are sweeter than the phonetic way they have of writing.  For some, those phonetic skills last for years.  For others, the whole spelling thing comes easier.

My darling little Amber-Berry was THE BEST at writing phonetically.  And added to that, she just loved writing in general and hence there are lots and lots and lots of little letters and stories, penned by her.  But by far, my very favourite examples of Amber’s exemplary writing skills came to the fore when she was in Grade 2.

My kids have all been blessed in having the same Grade 2 teacher.  The most amazing and creative lady, called Carol Viljoen.  And every year, she gives her Grade 2 class a project.  For the duration of the June/July holiday period, they have to keep a journal.  She builds a lot of hype and excitement around it.  And it starts off with her instruction to the kids, to make their own journal.  To take a notepad, cover it, own it and take pride in it.  A deadline is set, about a week before the start of the holidays, when everyone has to bring their brand new journal to class.  A journal that is just begging to be filled with awesome tales and grand adventures of wonderful fun, had in the holidays.

Naturally, some kids enjoy projects of this kind more than others.  Boys often are way less keen.  But she gets them at just the right age, when they’re still ripe and eager to please their teachers, so even the boys partake.  They have to after all.  And with great gusto, most kids simply get stuck in and love it.  Luke’s journal was covered in army camouflage print material, with military type badges and stuff glued to the front.  He just loved it!  His first entry was long and very detailed – predictably.  But as is often the case, his attention dwindled a bit.  And while he still did fairly regular entries at my prompting, no story ever matched his very first.  We stuck lots of photo’s in, movie ticket stubs, bits of the wool from his French knitting project, etc.  He loved it and I will cherish his journal forever.  It was just so sweet.

Cole’s journal was a challenge.  Holy smokes!!!  Though he loved it, his handwriting is very hard to read.  First he writes big, then he writes small, then he presses so hard, he nearly gouges the paper and quite often does and then his writing is so faint and light, it can barely be seen.  He also doodles and scribbles all of the time.  So his journal is interspersed with many little drawings of magical creatures.  In fact, his journal is probably an accurate reflection of his very, very busy mind.  To look at his journal is to see how he gets side tracked and loses focus.  He also stuck in many, many photo’s, some stamps as we had been enjoying stamp collecting at the time, as well as a fishing hook.  I know – a fishing hook!  And some nylon fishing line too.  We had been at Kleinbaai at the time, and he was just absolutely loving the daily fishing on the rocks.  Also odd little things, like a piece of the box from his McDonalds Happy Meal, etc.  Very, very, very busy journal, with lots of extra add-ons.  Very much like Cole himself.

But by far, the queen of the journal is Amber.  My delightfully spelling challenged child.  It is just so sweet, and it has provided us with much entertainment.  An added bonus to Amber’s journal is her refreshing and blunt honesty.  Even now, when I look back at it, it makes me laugh.  She maintained interest and kept up with regular entries, long after the project was officially done.  Her journal is jam packed with writing, photo’s, drawings, stickers, scribbles, doodles, pieces of ribbon and material, ticket stubs and who knows what else.  All her own work.  No prompting was ever required.  Everything was done on her own.  My sole contribution, was in taking her to the fabric shop, to let her choose the material to cover her journal – she did not want paper.  I then covered her journal for her and lastly I had pictures printed for her that she wanted to include.  All cutting, pasting and writing -  all her own.

And if you don’t have kids, your kids are still small or they’ve left home already, you might find it hard to understand her writing.  But luckily I’m fluent in Amber and understand her scribbles and therefore I will translate and transcribe where necessary.  Enjoy!

Purple fluffy material covered journal, complete with pen attached.  And a picture of the journal queen on the front, sitting in a tree in our garden, writing in her journal.  So sweet!
First two pages, jam packed with some of her favourite pics - page one bottom right - Amber and Mrs Viljoen
"On Saturday morning my familly an I went to a marct. We boyrt a South Africain flag" - pretty self explanatory I think.
"On Sunday my familly and I went to my granny and grampor my grannys riyil name is granny lin and my grampors riyil name is oper stephen. My brother cole was so funny I almost blue up" - clearly Cole was being extremely funny
"In the wiyild there are all cinds of animils. Like tirtels and monkeys" - perhaps a career at National Geographic or the Discovery Channel is a possibility
We went to look at the snow and Amber's little drawing shows the snowmen we built
Amber's journal happened to co-incide with the 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament held right on our doorstep.  A friend and I took our kids on a trip to Cape Town by train and then we did the Fan Walk.  Even though we didn't have tickets to see the game, we took in the whole experience and made a day of it. What a fabulous atmosphere!  We sat in one of the fan parks and watched Portugal play North Korea (I think) on the big screen TV.
"On the holliaday me and my family went to the fan-wallk my friends ungkil gave me his sta-de-yim ticit we all went by train it was so fun we watched porchgel play porchgel won 7-0 I like Roneldow"
Fun at Kleinbaai, but if Amber is to be believed we actually went to "clamebiye"
One day in the holidays, in an attempt to keep the kids busy and occupied, I set up a Survivor game for them in our garden.  They had to come up with a name for themselves, paint a tribal flag, put war paint on their faces, camp under our trampoline for the night, traverse many obstacles and even do an eating challenge - the saltiest liquorice drop you can ever imagine.  And the pic in the bottom right shows them trying to eat donuts which I hung up in a tree with string - no hands allowed.  They absolutely loved it.  Such fun!
"Me and my brothers player saviver we painted our faces and billed a tent under our champlin"
Fan Walk fun
On one other occasion, Grant and I and a few of our friends did the Fan Walk too.  Adults only this time.  And who else should be in the same carriage as us on the train?  Mr and Mrs Viljoen - I simply had to take a pic for Amber.  And the pic on the right is of Amber and her beloved little dog, Riley.
Amber's dancing school, was due to put a two week dancing show on the stage shortly after the holidays.  And thus Amber had rehearsals even during the holidays.  The boys went to my Mom for a few days, and Amber had the run of the house to herself.  She loved it!
"On the weekend my brothers went to my granny.  I coodnot go becaus I had to do consists on the weekend.  When my brothers got in the car and went off to my granny I selabrated and bort a chocklat and some billtong and a movie to watch.  Its nice haveing a brack from my brothers"
And then it was Luke's turn for a concert.  The Beaumont school concert - The Lion King.  Luke was one of about 150 Wildebees.
"Luke did a consit The Lion King I Loved it its about time Luke got of his lacey bum and do some thing"
A family braai - we tried a delicacy - little tortoise shaped parcels containing chicken, wrapped in bacon and vienna sausages used for arms and legs - the kids loved it!
We are delighted with the arrival of the latest baby to the family.  A new little cousin called Frankie.
"We finely got to see our baby cozen Frankie she is so tiny.  Mommy says that when she picks up she amost throse her over her sholder"
Cole dressing up - too funny.  In the top pic he is sporting Amber's Build-A-Bear's Hawaiian Hula outfit.  Just had to include this one.
Amber did a beautiful mosaic stone and dressing up is always a firm favourite.
"I was doing moazace.  I was dresing funny like good looking indeain"


  1. Looooved reading this! !! Sge us just the most incredible gallas and you the best most fun mommy they didn't even know they wished for ;-) xxx So funny. I'm enjoying Honeypot's writing so much - my favourite treat! X

  2. What a giggle. Katrine is right - you are a fantastic inspirational mom - and so is Katrine. Thrilled that both of you enjoy your kids, let them have fun, and have fun with them too. They are very fortunate!

  3. This is too funny!! Precious gems to keep forever! And you are an awsome Mom! I am inspired by your excellent Mom'ness to try to be a better Granny one day, as my blessings are big now! I do have some real gems in my scrap books from them, and the gems just never get old!! Love them and laugh every time!

  4. Helene, with so much love and time for your children you should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, respect ! Rob

  5. Thank you for sharing your blog with me. Luke, Amber and Cole - you will read your mother's words with a giggle, a good laugh and a tear as you go through your lives. The Lord has blessed you with a wonderful mother. She is building a legacy of love for us all.
    What a treat to have taught all three of your children, Helene. They have made my life richer. I will always remember the fishing equipment in Cole's journal. Amber's purple fluff was SO inspired and Luke had such a boy's journal of army stuff and camping.The door stop that Amber made for me is doing it's job at my kitchen door. I have kept the Christmas cards I get from them every year.
    Sometimes a teacher is sent a blessing in three's - I have mine!