The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Sunday Snippet: You Have Searched Me, Lord…

January 27th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Our Bible Verse of the Week…

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Psalm 139:1,2

You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

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A Weekend of GiveAways: And David Murray’s The Happy Christian…

January 26th, 2015 · 13 Comments

Our weekend of GiveAways is coming to an end and this is one you really should be interested in. This book arrived on my desk with lots of reasons to grab it with both hands, and I will get to those later. Not to mention heaps of recommendations. I was curious to read a book called “The Happy Christian” because let’s face it, that sounds like a collection of “blessed little thoughts.” But I have reviewed David Murray’s books before and after having spent the entire weekend reading it, I can honestly say… this is one of the most practical and optimistic books that I have read in ages.

About The Book

Here’s the thing… I wouldn’t recommend that you read this book in a weekend, compelling as it is… and I will have to go back and reread it more slowly. This book is essentially a “challenge in every chapter” kind of book. If you have found your joy somewhat lacking, if you have felt like you are wading trough your days instead of flying, if you have felt like things would be better if only you would do any number of good and intentional things in you life, then I highly recommend this book. This book will change your thinking about happiness… it is achievable and not just for a special select few. In this book David Murray has combined recent scientific research, with Biblical truths, to create a practical read, a workbook really, on the how and where to find this mysterious happiness. It really helps that he introduces many personal anecdotes – these make the book relatable. I’ll be honest and say, it is not hard to find your own self lurking in the pages… amidst the paragraphs on self-doubt and “I should be doing better,” there are lots of nuggets of information.

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I thought I would post some of the notes I made from reading the book, but I realise that out of context and without the depth of writing around them they look somewhat “peh.” We all know that we can’t change the facts of a situation and we all know that our thoughts directly affect our emotions and that we can train our brains, just like our bodies, to think different thoughts… that is not really the point. The point is how do you do all that… this book provides the how on every level and more, it provides biblical examples on how to achieve this. One of my favourite verses is Philippians 4:8, don’t even ask certain folk in our house how many times they have written it out, gets a whole chapter. Just how to think about whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable… this is a life skill in a world where the media knows that “bad news sells.”

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Once you have worked your way through this book, and yes, though it is an easy going read, it is dense, there is tons of information on these pages, and it is quite a work. I made copious notes, excuse me there are action points and things to do, references that I wanted to follow up on and so on, but I digress. Once you have worked your way through this book, you are not going to have that warm happy glow that you see in marketing campaigns, or that content feeling that you get after a throughly good classic or enjoyed a feast with friends. You are going to have lots of actionable things to do, practical things that you can think about and be intentional about, these things will quite likely change the way that you think about happiness.

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Make no mistake, this is not a quick fix for years of depression, nor is a diatribe about “positive thinking,” this book is unlikely to lift your spirits if you are in the depths of despair, but it will provide useful help that goes way, way beyond the pithy sayings folk like to offer us when we are down. Practical and doable help, that a person can choose to work on and exercise, in order to discover happiness for themselves. If you have ever wondered why christian joy appears to be so elusive, and out of reach and why is there such a disconnect between the written Word and the faces sitting in the pews around you on a Sunday morning, then look no further. Not only does this book provide the connection but it is an excellent read as well. If you are looking for a good book to get your year off to a good start, then this book is a really good choice.

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Image from The Happy Christian Website.

Book Bits and Pieces

This book is available for pre-order now and if you order before the 24 February 2015, then you will receive a bundle of practical goodies worth $100 to go with your book. In the bundle you will find a study guide to the book, devotionals, not to mention films, an impending app, and so much more.

The GiveAway

So we have a copy of this book to GiveAway to a reader anywhere in the world. If the reader is within the Continental United States of America or Canada, they will receive a physical copy of the book and a winner outside of that area will receive an e-book copy. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of 31 January 2015. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.

Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

I would like to thank the author, David Murray, for asking if we would like to review this book and for the opportunity to offer it as a GiveAway on our website. We are not paid to write our reviews and the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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→ 13 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Sunday Snippet

A Weekend of GiveAways: Marigold and the Faraway Tree….

January 25th, 2015 · 25 Comments

We promised a weekend of GiveAways and here is GiveAway number two. Let us introduce you to: Marigold and the Faraway Tree by Alison Fast and illustrated by Wendy Paterson…

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This is a sweet story of a gal called Marigold… who discovers a tree… the kind of tree that childhood is made of. This is a tree where dreams are dreamt, swings are swung… and the flowers are magical. This is a welcoming tree, of the cool shady kind on hot summer days and the warm cozy spot on cold winter days.

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The life of the tree, is interwoven with the story of Marigold… her friends and the real dilemmas that arise between little friends… friendships are restored, the tree follows the seasons… (spoiler alert) Marigold has to move, and her experience of moving away from her friends and tree are somewhat bittersweet, and as she says farewell to the tree… so the tree drops a leaf in her hands. The tree will go on…

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The first thing that you will love about this book is the beautiful illustrations… and my three youngest kids literally swooned over the bright colours and then magical sweetness of them… these illustrations are full of colourful hearts, and hidden animals: chameleons, and peacocks and nests filled with baby birds, little butterflies and bugs. There is lots and lots of loveliness to look at on every page.

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Another thing we love about Marigold and the Faraway Tree is that it is set in one of our local hang-outs: Imhoff Farm It is a place we have been visiting for years and years and years… we have spent many lazy days playing under huge trees, just like this one in the fields at Imhoff farm, picnics with friends, sketchbook afternoons and it is the place that we discovered how to make cheese. Oh the joy for a book set in your own neighbourhood. There is a lot to be said for culturally relevant stories for children. There are not many picture books about our actual neighbourhood, but I believe their is something fundamentally important about reading a story that you can literally get lost in. As we read this story we can hear the sounds of buzzing summer insects, the cawing peacocks, you can hear the horses in the field beside the tree chomping the grass… you can hear the tinckle of the goat’s bells… and you can smell the coffee wafting over from the coffee shop!!!


And finally, behind the story is a secondary story about trees… and while this is an exceptional tree… let’s face it trees are the best for playing, hiding, exploring, reading, clambering. We kind of love trees over here. This book is one of those that will make you want to get outdoors and take a closer look at the trees around you. And often when you go hunting, for little hiding spots amidst the branches or little magical surprises amongst the roots you actually do find them.


The GiveAway

RandomStruik together with the author, Alison Fast have given us a copy of the book to GiveAway to our readers… All you have to do is leave a comment before the end of play on the 31 January 2015. Go ahead and leave a comment. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.

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Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We would like to thank Random Struik and Alison Fast for the GiveAway. We were given two copies of the book, one to GiveAway and one to review. We were not paid to write this review and all opinions expressed are as usual our own.

→ 25 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps

A Weekend of GiveAways: A Little Miracle Onsie from Spree…

January 24th, 2015 · 18 Comments

So just when we had found our new year blogging rhythm… and a week of less than intermittent internet I have decided to declare it a Weekend of GiveAways… The first GiveAway is brought to you by Spree and Little Miracles. Now you know how we love babies over here and you know how we love a good cause. Well here is a product that combines both… I think I need to hear a wahoo…

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Recently together with Jo-Ann Strauss and Keedo launched their Little Miracles Zippy Babygro… I have to say that over here, a zippy onsie is hard to find, but we have a precious friend in the United States that sent us one each time we had a baby. The truth is they are really just the best for easy peasy night-time changes. Literally, unzip, change diaper, zip-up and pop the babe back into bed before they even know they were out of bed. Yup, zippy onesies are pretty wonderful, infact anything that makes night time parenting easier is a little wonderful.

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The joy of these onesies, is that not only are they a great product, but they were created with a great cause in mind. For every onsie sold an underprivileged family of six will receive a balanced meal. Honestly, I had to find out more… this sounded too good to be true. Last year I blogged about the desperate food situation in our country, where for so many of folk malnutrition is quite literally a way of life. The problem with malnutrition is that it is such an overwhelming situation, that most of us just don’t know where to start. Well here is a project, initiated by a group of folk that just weren’t overwhelmed and instead came up with a doable project.

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And a happy delivery day…

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I am guessing these guys enjoyed every moment of it…

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When Spree contacted us and asked us to spread the word about these cute Little Miracle Onsies and their project to raise meals for kids suffering from malnutrition, we jumped at the chance. Little Miracle Onsies are available online at Spree, and we are giving one lucky reader a onesie. These little Miracle Zippy Onsies are 100% cotton, available in four sizes: newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-9 months and three colours: neutral stone, blue or pink.

The GiveAway

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Spree is a South African online store and will deliver the prize to the winner anywhere in South Africa, but we support this project so completely, that anybody world wide can enter and if an overseas reader is the winner we will happily mail it on to you. So anyone anywhere, is welcome to leave a comment, before the end of play on 31 January 2015, and help us feed a family.

Thank you to Spree for the fantastic Giveaway and Jo-Ann Strauss and Keedo for initiating such a great project. All photographs are thanks to Spree and Keedo. We were not paid to write this post and all opinions expressed are as usual our own.

→ 18 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps

Se7en’s 52 Week Challenge #2: The Best Bread Bake-Off…

January 22nd, 2015 · 8 Comments

There are few things better than the smell of fresh bread baking. In fact, estate agents highly recommend that you bake a batch of bread in your home before showing it. It is one of those smells that says home to many of us. That being said, many folk don’t know how to make even the most basic of breads, this is the kind of life lesson I fully intend our kids to have conquered before they leave home.

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So our Challenge this week was to get everyone over here on the road to bread making…

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  1. An Outing:
  2. When it comes to baking bread there is the obvious visit to the bakery. Our favourite local bakery, because it is in walking distance and opens really early, is the Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay.


    Another outing that I had totally forgotten about… and my gang were very quickly to remind me of, was a trip to the flour mill. And we might need to repeat that outing really soon, it has been more than a while.


  3. The Challenge: Master the Art of a Basic Bread Recipe.
  4. The advantages of making your own bread, over shop bought bread are many. The most touted advantage: You know what goes into your own bread. Not to mention it can be, depending on the bread that you make, be significantly cheaper than shop made bread. For us the actual win is the process. There is something deeply satisfying about watching your yeast bubble and kneading away until you have a smooth and springy dough… and then the magic of covering it with a cloth and returning a while later to discover it has risen. With that lovely risen dough you can: make bread, rolls, bread sticks, flat bread, pizza and even cinnamon buns for breakfast.


    If you just aren’t into the kneading and waiting and rising and falling process then, when I was a student I made a basic beer bread: A packet of self-raising flour and a can of beer… smoosh it together and pop it in a bread pan and into a medium oven until it is done. It really could not be easier, but perhaps I should blog it sometime.. With that basic bread dough you could make about a million things… pop in some sun-dried tomatoes, or olives, heaps of herbs or sweeten it with sultanas, you could even roll it out to make a pizza base. Really you don’t need a special kit to make bread at all, let alone beer bread.

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  5. Something to Learn:
  6. Honestly our kids love making bread and most of them jump at the opportunity to help me bake. One or two of them are assigned bread makers but the time has come for them all to master bread making. So over the next couple of weeks they will all be baking bread… loaf after merry loaf, each taking a turn to master the art, practice the skill of kneading and add their own special twist or tweak to the recipe.


  7. Something to Discover:
  8. Bread making is a great way to discover the world. In fact, for many people around the world it is a daily staple food. This is a good thing, it means that as many different cultures there are so there are varieties of bread. We try once a month to make a different bread from around the world… sometimes it works and we embrace the new and other times, well not so much. The point is, to declare one day a month “international bread making day” and give it a try.

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  9. Create Recipe Cards for the Many Breads we have Tried:
  10. I want our kids to take a legacy of recipes with them when they leave home – definitely bread recipes need to be in their recipe collection. So whenever we make a bread recipe… we create a recipe card to go with it. It sounds onerous, but the time has come to document the important things in life and what could be more important than a bread recipe that you have shared with your whole family.

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  11. Make a Habit of Creating Bread before Buying it:
  12. In a culture when it is so easy to stop by the nearest store and grab some bread, you have to become somewhat intentional about the whole bread making thing. So many folk say: “You make your own bread?” “Gasp”… and yes, even in the world of you really can buy so many different varieties of bread from the supermarket, there is something to be said for taking the time and slowing things down and making your own. There is a whole lot to be said for learning from your mistakes, you literally have to eat them, and improving your skills slowly but surely. In our house we have two types of bread, the bread we make and “fake bread”… the fake bread is store bread and we buy a loaf almost every day… store brought bread is to fill the pit of teenage stomachs in the dead of night. But home baked bread we make, we linger over and we cherish, we learn life lessons and we enjoy it.


  13. Something to Present:
  14. The thing about bread is that it can turn a boring old meal into a feast… as emerging bread makers create their loaves, a lot of the fun is in the tasting. Mostly, there will be failures and they become part of family folklore. The first rolls I ever made will go down in history as too hard to even play cricket with… The point is there is something to be said about the ritual of breaking bread together. There is a whole lot to be said for a fresh loaf, warm from the oven, with lashings of butter and jam.

    If your family can’t eat regular bread, for whatever reason, then I highly recommend that you search online or in your library for a recipe that works for you. If you need gluten free then look for a recipe, and master it, because the joy of creating bread together is the sort of things that creates memories, a family culture and really is not worth being missed for the sake of an allergy.

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    And the Se7en + 1th…

  15. The Bread Gallery: Here is a list of all the breads we have made as a gang…

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The Challenge Collection

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Last year a number of followers asked us to blog about the sort of things that we learn during family school… and this year we are blogging the answer to that question in a series of Weekly Challenges. In each challenge we will try to include: Somewhere to visit; something to ask; something to learn; something to discover; something to make; something to work on; something to present and so on.

  1. Challenge #1: The Big Book Challenge…
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    That’s it… Next Weeks Challenge is Scientific Challenge…

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→ 8 CommentsTags: Monday Munchies · Se7en at School

The Week That Was… #205

January 21st, 2015 · 6 Comments

And a Week That Was Post…

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Showing sunshine…

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Plenty of it…

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Did I mention the blustery wind…

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And evening ambles…

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And city lights…

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And we finally got to see the Christmas lights…

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We blogged about se7en + 1 things we would like to try each week this year… and we are popping our 52 Weeks progress into our Week that Was post… accountability and all that!!!

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Our 52 Week Challenge

  1. Walk of the Week: Tokai Plantation is a little further than our usual walks…
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  3. Game of the Week: The game you can just play on forever…
  4. My Just Because Book:

  5. A friend of mine lent me this book and I read it an afternoon… full of interesting and useful snippets. This doesn’t tell you how to homeschool high-schoolers, but rather where homeschooling stands for high-schoolers in South Africa. It was useful in that it provides the legal stand, and mentions a variety of steps for those folk wanting to take their kids from their homeschool and into a tertiary studies. Food for thought.

  6. Letter of the Week: I totally and utterly forgot to write a letter… even I can’t believe it!!!
  7. Organizing Project of the Week: Oh blergh… the totally unplanned and galactic computer clean up…
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  9. Recipe of the Week: The Quickest Easiest Cake in the World…
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  11. Our View from the Deck: I cannot believe I will keep this up for 365 days… nearly a month though!!!
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  13. Our Challenge of the Week: Deserves it’s own post, and it follows this one… It’s a kitchen challenge and I am so looking forward to posting it!!!


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We have been hard at play…

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And trainspotting…

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And have you ever… this is on our walk to the library…

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And visitors…

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And swimming…

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And endless marbeling…

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And beach days with friends…

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And hide and seek…

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And more beach days…

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The Book of the Week

This is a delightful shape book that we got fro the library… I must have read it at least a million times last week!!!

And a Snapshot in Time

Hood #1:

And there is a new instagram account in town.

Hood #2:

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Hood #3:

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Hood #4:

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Hood #5:

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Hood #6:

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Hood #7:

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Hood #8:

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That’s us… Hoping you all have the most fantastic week!!!

→ 6 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

Sunday Snippet: The Heavens Declare…

January 19th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…

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Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God;

The skies proclaim the work of His hands.

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