Friday, 28 October 2016

How To: apply for a PDP

Before we even get into the How To of things, I guess it would be good to clarify what a PDP is in the first place. If you were to google PDP you'd come up with a lot of options. The one I'm referring to, however, is a Professional Driving Permit.

A PDP (or PrDP) is required when transporting goods or people in a commercial, mini-bus, break-down or goods vehicle. In my case, I need a PDP to legally drive the school buses transporting students to and from their various activities, and I am in the middle of the painful process of having to renew.

Like many of the government processes, this feels a lot like a waste of money and time, however, I do understand why it should be done. To find out more about the legalities of everything, you're welcome to have a look here. If, however, you just want to know how to get the darn thing over the done with, read on.

Step 1: Collect the necessary forms from the traffic department. You will need a yellow form for the driver applicant to complete, and a white form for doctor's clearance. Do not write on the white form! Really. If there is even one letter printed in handwriting other than the doctor's, you will need to get it redone. Don't do it!

Step 2: Get doctor's clearance in the biggest waste of an appointment where s/he will complete said white form. Hear this: it's a questionnaire. The doctor is not actually required to examine you at all. Just make sure s/he completes the entire form, in their handwriting, and that the information in it corresponds with the other requirements below.

Step 3: Complete the yellow form (you can write this one out yourself) ensuring that all the information is your personal information. Even if you are getting a PDP for work purposes - even if they are paying for it and expecting future correspondence to come to them - put your own information on the form (you will be asked to redo the forms if this is incorrect - ask me). And wherever they ask for an address, insert your residential one (see below).

Step 4: Gather the following support documents and requirements:
  • Proof of residence: this address must be on a utility bill of some sort, and be the same address that's on the forms (even if you have a different postal address, do not use it), and it has to have your title, surname and initials on the page (I'm not kidding: "Mrs Klaasen" will not cut it!)
  • Identity Document: do not assume that your license card is ok (even if it is the traffic department)
  • Passport sized photo for the application form
  • Application fee (please note there is a hidden cost of R100 in the form of police clearance that is not stated upfront)
Step 5: Go to the traffic department and have them check that all is in order for your application. I would recommend you go early and prepare for a long wait. I was there earlier in the week. I arrived before the doors had even opened for the day, and I was number 27 in the queue.  Needless to say, when I got to the reception desk after an hour, and was told something on my form was incorrect, I was not impressed.

Step 6: Assuming you have made it through steps 1 to 5 with everything correct and without losing your mind or sense of humour, you will have your eyes tested (side note: this is the only thing that actually gets tested; it appears what you are able to see is more important than how - or if - you are able to drive) and a photo for your license card taken.

Step 7: Finally, once you've passed your eye test and submitted and paid for your application, you will be able to leave, and the traffic department will check on your criminal status on your behalf. This can take a few days or a few weeks - but once you've been cleared, you will be able to operate under a temporary PDP until your new license card is ready.

Before I go, two quick things:
  1. There is a very real possibility that you will need to repeat the wait in Step 5 when you collect your card. There is nothing friendly about this process.
  2. The validity of the license is 2 years. So in less than 24 months you'll have the joy of repeating this process.
 Image result for bus driver clipart

Friday, 21 October 2016

How To: do a Cake Sale for Kids

I just thought about starting a once-a-week How To series. There are plenty things I don't know how to do, and plenty others like me that can do with some help. Starting with the kids at my school.

Last week, the incoming senior year held their first fundraising cake sale for the primary school. They aren't my register class so I wasn't involved in the planning. I was, however, involved in the transporting of cakes and students to our satellite campus, and it was right then that I knew things were not going to go as well as they could have.

With respect to them (they were full of enthusiasm and seemingly well prepared) they had no idea how to cater to a 4-8 year old market, and arrived there with large cakes and other baked goods, only one of which cost less than R10 per unit. What made matters worse was that these kids, the ones buying, had been told they wouldn't need more than R10.

And right there How to do a Cake Sale for Kids was born.

People think that in order to make money on cake sales, you have to have huge, expensive cakes. Wrong. The trick is to have a lot, of easily (home) made and inexpensive treats, that can be sold for R5 or less.

For example:

Racing Cars can easily be made using finger biscuits decorated with sweets and icing. Kids love character themed things, and enjoy taking apart and eating all the different bits.

Cupcakes should be smaller in size, and simple in flavour. Stick to chocolate and vanilla both for the cake itself and the icing. Kids are not interested in red velvet and carrot options, and usually don't eat a full sized cupcake anyway.

Tea Cups are always a hit. You can make them using cones, marshmallows and plain biscuits. You stick the parts together with icing, and decorate them for effect. If you're feeling fancy you can even add some surprise treats inside.

Who knew Iced Biscuits could be so yummy? Plain biscuits can be transformed with just a little icing and creativity. You can create expressive faces, bugs and insects, or even just create patterns. It's dead easy and super cheap to make.

Jelly Cups whether you make them in fruit-peel shells or serve them in a small container, are a regular favourite. Make different colours, or mix them into a rainbow effect. And you can have them plain, topped with custard, or filled with more hidden treats.

Marshmallow Pops are simply regular marshmallows on a stick. Dip them in chocolate and add some colour and sparkles, and you're good to go.

Mini Cookies can be served a hundred ways. You can decorate them with icing, sprinkles, chocolate and more, separately or together. You can choose to infuse them with chocolate chips or mini sweets, or oats and tasty nuts (watch out for allergies here) or even different essence and flavours to enhance the taste. The best part is you can do them in different shapes too, which kids will absolutely love!

Fudge is also popular and relatively easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they can be sold in smaller portion sizes to cater for smaller kids.

If you must buy go for things that can be bought in bulk, are fairly small and not too expensive so that you don't have to make your selling price too high. Things like small boxes of sweets, chocolate fingers, ice bites, lollipops or ice cream suckers are guaranteed to sell well - and can be kept for future sales.

The class' efforts were not in vain that day. They were creative in the way they made small serving sizes and managed to sell nearly all of what they had, with every little customer having something to show for their money. They did admit, however, they they had not really thought about how different catering for kids could be, and are considering a few of the above ideas for their next sale.

So there you have it: how to do a cake sale for kids. Happy Baking! Happy selling!

Friday, 7 October 2016

How to Eat Pasta - According to Sam

If I were to determine the nationality of my kids based purely on their temperament and eating habits, they would definitely be Italian! No one can chow down a slice of pizza, or devour a bowl of pasta quite like they can, and just last week, I was able to catch Sam in action, on camera.

Believe it or not, the correct way to eat spaghetti, is actually with a fork and a spoon. You take the fork in your dominant hand and catch a few strands in it. You then lift the fork to separate it from the rest, and press it against the spoon in your other hand. You wind the fork against the spoon, and then put the bundle of spaghetti into your mouth.

Clearly, Sam did not get the memo.


Buon appetito!

On Being a Teacher

Despite presently being employed in a teaching post, teaching was never, not even remotely, on my radar as a career option while I was growing up. Being an underpaid civil servant did not seem like an appealing, or smart, occupation.

In some ways I was right. Teachers are taken advantage of, constantly exhausted, under valued by the institutions, parents and students, and paid not nearly enough for the incredible impact they should - and do - make. I was also wrong. Teaching, it appears, is not an occupation at all. For most it isn't even a choice. It's a calling that, sooner or later, if it is yours, catches up with you.

For me, the first signs came in my final year of university while completing my Sport Science degree. We had to do a teaching module as part of our course. I realised then already that teaching comes in many forms (including parenting). At the end of the course my lecturer came to me and said, "Mej. Hendricks. Hoekom swat jy nie onderwys nie?" (translation: Ms. Hendricks. Why don't you study teaching?) I looked at him as though he was mad, and in no uncertain terms told him that was not something I ever wanted to do. He smiled at me in all his wisdom and said, "wag net. Jy gaan 'n onderwyseress wees" (translation: just wait and see. You're going to be a teacher one day). I was horrified, but because I liked him, I smiled and thanked him before walking away.

Less than three years thereafter I found myself lecturing sport science, and little over that years after that, while pregnant with Zac, I was making it official by studying for a teaching degree. I have no idea what happened, I just knew it was something I had to do. Like it had been part of me all along.

This week we celebrated World Teachers' Day. And while I may not be comfortable in my own teacher identity (let's be honest: when you're the PE teacher, it doesn't matter your qualification/s, everyone still think you're just a avid sportsperson), I am so very grateful for all of mine. I could not put into words all that I have learnt from them over the years. They have challenged, guided, inspired and pushed me. In many ways, they are responsible for a large part of who I am.

I feel like I never thanked them enough. It's not that I wasn't aware at the time. Perhaps I just didn't realise then how much time, dedication and effort they were putting in outside of the hours I was seeing them. I know now that they must have sacrificed being a soccer mom/dad to attend school sports; missed out on time with their families while they were finishing marking scripts or preparing a lesson; relied on their spouses to do another solo night so that they could attend school functions. And yet they were still able to make me feel like my education - and I (as a person) - was an important part of their lives.

Teachers need to be celebrated! They are responsible for encouraging the questions of inquiring minds; for inspiring the dreams of entrepreneurs; for honing the skills of all professionals. They really have made all the other occupations possible.

I imagine that for many more years still, I will wonder what I'm doing in this profession. I'm a self-confessed process person - great with systems, less great with people. I have anxiety which means that I'm significantly affected by my emotions. I'm type A personality which means I need things to be done immediately, professionally and correctly. I'm in my mid-thirties which means I understand nothing - and probably disagree with everything - this generation of children are going through. And yet here I am. I have to believe, though, that this is part of the bigger picture; part of God's plan - not only for me, but in His revelation of Himself as well. And if I can impact one life, in even a small fraction of the way my life has been impacted by my teachers, I would have done something significant with mine.

To all teachers (read: pastors, instructors, guides, mentors, parents and good friends): Thank you! xx