se7en

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

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Let’s Celebrate Earth Day: Se7en + 1 Easy Changes to Make…

April 23rd, 2014 · 2 Comments

Earth Day is one of those days, celebrated once a year, that really we can embrace every single day. I have said it before, and I will say it again: I never intended to be a green mother.

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It turns out at as time goes on that it really is easier and easier to make small and lasting life-style changes that really do make a difference. For instance, a couple of years ago recycling was awkward and involved a lot of schlepping around… but now the recycle truck comes on garbage days and it is really easy to recycle.


Se7en + 1 Easy Things You Can Do to Save the Earth…

  1. Replace Outings to the Mall with Adventures into the Great Outdoors. It is so easy to have a few errands at the mall become an entire morning of rumbling around the shops. We have found that the more outdoors we are the greener we want to be and a trip to the shops is the last thing we want to do as a family on a Saturday afternoon. We have replaced almost all mall shopping with outdoor ambles. If we claim we want to be green and preserve our wonderful world, then we need to get out there and enjoy it too.
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  3. Question Accepted Norms: Since our tour of the grocery store last year, to see how green our grocery store was, we question every single bit of extra packaging. I have always had a thing about extra packaging and just the plain wastage of it all… well there is a green reason to avoid packaging and the more we question it or choose less packaged products the better.
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  5. Use What You Have: It is so tempting to buy new art materials… new paints for a new school year. Those days are really over. I really just stopped buying “just in case” art materials, and only replacing materials when they are actually finished. Well our kids have embraced the recycling bag and almost all their creations emerge from within the hallowed ground of the tossed out junk. I know there is nothing as inspiring as a new art materials but I have found that by changing the packaging from time to time and even small changes like moving the coloured pencils from a box to a tin, can be just as inspiring. Here is a round-up of our outdoor and recycled art projects.
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  7. Get Gardening: Even if you don’t have green fingers, even if you don’t plant fields of vegetables to feed your family, just get planting. It is fun and our whole family enjoys looking forward to seeing new shoots shooting and spotting fruit on the fruit tree. you don’t need acres to create a salad garden, pots are fab and even a small corner of garden can produce enormous amounts of salad greens. Our garden has been pretty much out of commission since it was invaded by baboons. But it is time to reclaim our land. If nothing else, plant a tree.
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  9. Just Stop Driving: Gasp… you don’t actually need a huge car. For the last five years we used or car less and less as our car got more and more fragile. Eventually it collapsed at the side of the road, honestly we haven’t looked back. The father person has a small car that he uses to get to the city for work, and occasionally when someone needs to go somewhere slightly further afield than walking distance. You would be surprised how many places you can actually just walk. You would be surprised how many errands you don’t actually need to run, when you have to walk a mile or two. Occasionally we have to go further a field, occasionally we catch a train… it is fun, it takes all day and I wouldn’t recommend it if you were trying to get anywhere with a sense of urgency. But for day to day living… just leave the car behind, you will feel better for it. We are a lll certainly feeling healthier for an evening amble.
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  11. Visit a farm that practices green farming techniques: I don’t recommend that you visit any other kind, you may never want to eat anything again. I can tell you that visiting an organic farm changed our view of farming practices and how selective we were about a lot of the food we choose to eat.
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  13. Ditch Unnecessary Appliances: While some appliances are so useful we cannot imagine life without them… I for one never ever want to go without a washing machine, but it was really quite easy to give up on the tumble dryer… a couple of years ago we just stopped using it, unless we were absolutely desperate… and desperate became never and we sold it. Yes we have racks of drying clothes around the house during winter… but that’s winter. Similarly we had a chest freezer, way back in the days of two or three kids… but to be honest, when there are ten of you there is not much point in cooking ahead and cooking double is pretty much impossible – who has pots and pans big enough for twenty. We got rid of the freezer and never noticed it’s moving on…
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    And the se7en + 1th…

  15. Create a Green Project with your Kids and their Friends: Don’t be afraid that they won’t embrace it… the kids that think they don’t want to get involved are often the ones crying out, “When can we do that again?” at the end of the project. Big projects like cleaning up a natural area are fantastic… but even small projects at home you will find your kids will embrace them, especially in the name of saving the planet. Make one child responsible for always taking the shopping bags from home and we have a child on recycle duty… they are always on the hunt for things to pop into the recycling bin. Assign your kids a green task – they will love being ambassadors of the earth.

After shooting this video with our kids, a couple of months back, I realised that a lot of the lifestyle choices that we made with them were simply that, lifestyle choices. And to be honest our kids were none the wiser as to why some of their choices were green or not, I would really like to enable them to make informed green living decisions. So I have been working at strewing information around the house for my kids to absorb and discover and really to learn about green practices in general. Last week’s library haul included a couple of fabulous green books for kids:

This book is written for younger kids and it is fabulous, packed with lovely photography, bright blocks of writing filled with easy reading facts and tips. A section on recycling, saving water, saving energy and the bonus: a whole section of arty activities with materials from the recycling bin. This book was perfect for reading a couple of pages at a time to my younger kids and easy enough for a beginner reader to glean a couple of tips for themselves.

This book is aimed at middle schoolers and it is a great read, I learnt a lot from it. It is packed with facts and things to do. It isn’t just about local and household greening… this book has sections about greenhouse gases and pollution, fair trade and packaging. There is a lot of discussion about the problems and plenty of ideas that folk reading the book could implement themselves. And what makes this book a winner: Their is a green diary at the back filled with green things to do and alternatives for not so green things to do. Rather walk than taking a car, rather take a quick shower than a deep bath and so on. It is a lovely bright and interesting book to read, filled with photographs and interesting blocks of information to dip in to.

And then a book for teens absolutely jam packed with tips and quizzes, alternative ideas for our bad habits. This is the ultimate go to for quick info in anything green: garbage, fuel, energy and so on… and it includes a time line of change. As well as a really valuable couple of pages at the back packed with useful organisations contact details and dozens of useful links to green websites all over the world.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Organizing Se7en · Our Events · Thoughtful Thursdays

And a Little Easter Surprise…

April 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

A lovely busy weekend… and Happy Easter to all our readers all over the world…

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Packed with friends and feasting… One feast after another planned and executed… We were all kind of tired between events and we needed a super quick Easter Craft… something packed with treats that required nearly no effort on anyone’s part…

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We began where all good easter crafts begin, with eggs of course. Using a pin and drawing a hole on the base of an egg, it is really quite easy to pop the base up and collect the insides of the egg in a bowl… while the top of the egg remains untampered with and no one would guess that anyone had been inside the egg.

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I planned to fill our eggs, so we needed them clean… pop them into a pot of water and let them boil away gently and skim off the white froth on the surface as you go. Leave one person in charge of skimming… and like all brilliant easter crafts you are going to need bright colour…

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Markers on coffee filters…

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And drip…

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Drip…

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Drop…

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Some serious dripping went on…

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The kids went off to watch a movie… and once our eggs were dried… I filled them with sweeties…

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Covered the base with a little tissue paper, and just used glue stick around the edges…

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Got a little system going…

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Rolled up our coffee filters to make Spring-Easter Bonnets… grabbed a marker for essential faces..

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And our Easter surprise was ready to be unveiled…

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They looked like eggs… But they didn’t sound like eggs at all…

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And a secret surprise uncovered…

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Hope you had a lovely Easter… full of sweet surprises…

The father person is going to be on leave over the next two weeks… you can expect blogging to be slightly sporadic… I am planning to lounge around, read books, go for ambles and generally enjoy his time with us…

→ 2 CommentsTags: Holiday Crafts · Tuesday Art Task

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #219…

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments

The Easter weekend is here, one of our favourites of the year… It is the season for beautiful sunrises…

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And this morning we watched about one hundred thousand bazillion runners fly past our house… Two Oceans Day…

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Meanwhile we have heaps of books donated to our community library, and piles of them have been lurking in our lounge. We can not thank our brilliant readers enough… Our pile of books has grown and grown… We are going to be delivering on World Book Day… we are so excited about this, you have no idea!!!

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Meanwhile, definitely a weekend for feasting and friends…

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Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. Something to think about: from Meet Me At Mikes… Books Are not Tabs…
  2. Love this Easter Tradition on Life Your Way…
  3. Knowing our love for World War Books and Marcia Williams, we loved this post on FBCG and will have to add this to our wish list.
  4. More food for thought: 10 Reasons Why Men Have so Much Difficulty Making Friends by David Murray on Head Heart Hand.
  5. Oh Book Nook Heaven on Apartment Therapy…
  6. I may be the last to show this to the worldm Twenty-Four people applied for the world’s toughest job… I totally love this… A four minute, heart-warming video.
  7. Oh Ikea, Ikea… why are you not in Cape Town… 10 Flexible IKEA products on Apartment Therapy, I mean!!!
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

Book of the Week: Chad Le Clos: Unbelievable, by Myan Subrayan, published by Penguin Books South Africa.

If you are looking to read into the heart and mind of an Olympic athlete then you will enjoy this book. It is a quick read about the life and times of Chad Le Clos so far; and the years of dedication and focus that went the race where he conquered his childhood hero, Michael Phelps. For someone so young he has achieved so much and he continues to shine as one of South Africa’s rising stars. Reading this book, you will realise how life changing the event was for him, he reached his goal… and yet how down to earth he remains and he is still a regular guy with his regular friends,… and he says living his regular life. But to be honest there is nothing regular about the life on an Olympian, except perhaps their gruelling training schedule. He comes from a family that is very close and their dedication to each other is palpable throughout the book. His mother is a breast cancer survivor and as you read through this difficult time in his life, you realise that he had more to overcome on his rise to the top, than just lap times.

I have to say that if you have aspirations for yourself or a child of yours to become an Olympic star then this would be a good read to see just how much as a family you will all have to be committed to your cause and you will be shown a sneak peak into just a few of the many trials and absolute dedication required. I for one am glad that I have no potential Olympic athletes amongst my gang… I wouldn’t wish it on them or on the rest of us. Chad continues to say through out the book that he was never pushed and was driven at an early age to do his best. I have to say there is a fine line between motivation by being pushed and by encouragement and I for one wouldn’t want to be the parent to balance along that line. This book has nothing untoward in it and if you have a young and inspired athlete I would suggest they read it… it is inspiring to read about a young man with a great work ethic, who has plenty of encouragement to share with younger athletes.

We received a copy of this book from Penguin Books South Africa for review purposes. We were not paid for the review and our opinions are as usual entirely our own.

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun · Reviews

Se7en At School: What Are We Are Learning This Year…

April 17th, 2014 · 10 Comments

We haven’t fallen off the blogging bus, so to speak… we are back in school and as we all struggle and strain under the new constraints of school days, as opposed to long lazy days… my days are suddenly incredibly busy and for a couple of weeks their will be no sneaking off and quietly writing a blog post while everyone is busy elsewhere. We will adjust and our students will discover what I do and don’t expect of them, they will push the boundaries – just to check if I really meant them to do something and I have to keep an unusually vigilant eye on what is actually getting done as opposed to what they say is getting done. Soon enough we will adjust and find our rhythm… we always do. There is just the initial prickly time, where we all see what we can and can’t get away with.

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This post is really for all those folk that want to be a fly on the wall and see exactly what our kids are studying for school this year. Most of our days have a very particular rhythm… rise and shine, breakfast and reading and family school around the kitchen table. Then if it is during school time everyone heads for their own core and if we aren’t on an official school day then folk tend to their own projects. At lunchtime we meet around the table to read some more and after lunch we rest and read for a while (depending on just how long I need). Later in the afternoon the kids play and I am available to spend time helping with any teens that still requires some help in the afternoon. Then the usual end of the day chores and an amble before supper and bed.

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Family School

This is the heart of our school and takes an hour or two each morning. We cover a little bible reading together. We may do creative writing or drawing. We will do art together… We are usually reading a series of books as a family… and I will pick something from the library and work through it. Books like the Scout handbook are met with a lot of approval (!) and we are reading a fabulous history book together that is just quite unbelievable and deserves it’s own post. We fit any art or creative writing/journaling. During this time we will learn some local skills… South African history, geography and right now we are discovering map work and loving it. My go-to resource for these books is the library, I look specifically for books that will appeal to my hands on students and books that will appeal to my word lovers. I have also introduced a Mental Math challenge and a grammar challenge to this part of school. I thought I would meet all sorts of resistance, but they are actually enjoying it… it appeals to their competitive edge. Honestly, with a mindful exercise like mental math, it has nothing to do with age as to who will be the champion and all to do with who is paying the most attention. My older kids have some very eager competitors chomping at their heels.

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One on One Meetings

From Family School we move on to our Sonlight Schooling and this is really all about books. We are avid Sonlighters… always have been. They each have a pile of reading to get through each day and pretty much wander through their instructors guides. I know some folks have this idea of homeschooling, that you spend hours of one-on-one time with your kids, this might be true for some but for us, the truth of the matter is that most of my kids don’t want to have me hanging around their work… firstly I am far to full of ideas of things they could add, or might want to do and secondly this is their path to discovery and they are actually enjoying the adventure themselves.

That being said… I do spend at least half an hour and often an hour with each child, depending on their needs on a given school day. Little folk tend to wake up earliest and when they are up, then I do all their school reading to them for the day… their bible, history and science books as well as any read-alouds are pretty much conquered before breakfast. I usually start with the smallest scholar and working up through the ranks. The older children need to tackle their work without me so that by the time I spend time with them they have something to show me.

All my kids have one or two aspects of school that they will not tackle on their own and would like me to sit alongside them. Usually it is math, in which case I check and admire any good work they have done and enquire (though I never ever get a response) regarding the work they promised, but haven’t done. It is just not the most loved subject around here… but they find their way through it: Singapore and in the lowest grades they do a but of Miquon as well. The middle grades do “Key to…” math with their Singapore… we love it, the books are fast and snappy and change.Usually they are not stuck they just want me alongside them. So I sit with them and check that they understand what is required of them in the next few exercises and leave them to it. The other section of work they often want help with is language arts. Any creative writing project that is listed in their language arts instructor’s guide requires time and attention. They do not love it and it shows: for example write a friendly letter, or write a comparative essay. These assignments are simply there to teach them how to write a particular form of writing and they are not as “creative” as one might think. To be honest we treat it as a bit of mental exercise and they do do their best creative writing during family school.

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Our Se7en+1 School Goals

This may sound lofty and airy-fairy, but I am far more concerned that my children learn and grow and develop towards the person they will eventually grow up to be, over the period of the school year than they tick off every box in their Instructor’s Guide. I don’t expect thirty million book reports and I am far more interested in our kids pursuing matters of the heart and things that intrigue them and inspire them to learn more. To this end I have goals for our Sonlight years and I have written about them before as well.

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  1. Hood #1 (16) – Two Years-ish from the End:
  2. Core 300 – 20th Century World History; Science 350 – Chemistry; British Literature (over two years); Psychology; French.

    The end is actually in sight, and I cannot believe it… while he is still trying new things and has no idea what he wants to do after school… the focus has become one of creating a great looking portfolio. Finally all the years of practising presentation are coming into their own. He is also starting to work outside of home and volunteer and has to get used to keeping school deadlines and up to date with a college course or two, all the while being busy with real life responsibilities and tasks… way beyond the level of domestic chores. Busy, interesting times and the work is pretty relentless, but lots of new and different things to look forward too.

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  3. Hood #2 (14) – Middle High School:
  4. Core 100 – American History; Science 150 – Physical Science; British Literature (over two years); Economics; French.

    This is a student that likes to rush on, the goal is to try lots of new things – he loves anything to do with electronics and computers… and recently discovered online courses. We may have lost him!!! There will be a lot more putting work on actual paper, and following through and finishing assignments that have been begun. The thinking is that while he is welcome to fly and follow his heart, he still has to be able to demonstrate what he is learning along the way. So we are going to figure out ways for him to present the work he is doing in an acceptable way.

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  5. Hood #3 – Junior High School:
  6. Core G – World History Part 1; Science G – Geology, Physics and Origins.

    This is a student that likes to tick all the boxes and announce done… but at this stage I am requiring a little more depth. So a book may be read and the box ticked… but what is to be learnt from it… is their a spark of a project, is there a something that the reading inspires – a new hobby to try or a pastime to explore. This is a child that loves and adores cooking and food and we are thinking about expanding horizons with these courses. In the meantime we have plenty of cookbooks that nobody will mind if they are cooked through… this may be a good year for feasting.

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  7. Hood #4 – Upper Primary:
  8. Core E: Introduction to American History – Part 2; Science E: Electricity, Magnetism and Astronomy.

    This is a hands on learner if ever there was one. I really need to introduce tons of hands on projects and scatter books with potential projects in his path. He is not the biggest reader in the world and while he loves dipping into non-fiction for a couple of facts… this is the year I would like to see him getting into reading more fiction. He loves a good story and has listened to hours and hours of audio books so I am not concerned about cultural literacy, but rather I would like him to discover the joy of reading for it’s own sake.

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  9. Hood #5 – Primary:
  10. Core D: Introduction to American History – Part 1; Science D: Biology; Taxonomy and Human Anatomy.

    Well this is a student that loves what everyone else is doing and likes to tag along on a number of projects that his siblings are doing. Because of this he is used to lots of guidance and endless advice (!), but he is actually really capable at anything he tries. I would really like for him to discover projects of his own and that will require rather more strewing on my part. Otherwise he is getting the hang of reading and this is the year that he will most likely dive into fat chapter books and get lost in the reading of them. This is also the year that he will discover “finding things” in a major way… words in a dictionary, places in a atlas and so on.

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  11. Hood #6 – Junior Primary:
  12. Core B: Introduction to World History – Part 1; Science B: Animals, Astronomy and Physics.

    While this little one knows how to read, she is not yet comfortable with reading ion her own. She will read if I am alongside her, but not if I move away. This is the year to get her confident with reading because after that all her school will become so much easier for her. This is a student who needs to start learning to do little bits of school work on her own and I plan to teach her about working independently by strewing copious amounts of crafty inspiration, and she l=…

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  13. Hood #7 – Beginner School:
  14. Core A: Introduction to World Cultures; Science A: Biology, Botany and Physics.

    This is a student who loves and adores school and may quite outstrip everyone in her gallop to the end. This is the year we do “100 Lessons” and learn how to read… all of my kids have taken months and wandered through this book slowly. Well we have literally covered half the book in three weeks. So this is going to be the year of hundreds of easy – readers… I am looking forward to that.

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  15. Hood #8 – Pre-Pre School:
  16. Core P3/4/5: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Exploring god’s World;
    Our youngest really likes to be part of our school day and his time slot is immediately after lunch when we lie on the bed together and we are steadily reading our way through our entire collection of picture books.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Organizing School · Se7en at School

Saturday Spot: Pick’n Pay Women’s Walk… and PinkDrive…

April 14th, 2014 · 3 Comments

This year, all over South Africa folk are joining the Pick’n Pay Women’s Walk. Hood #3, sometimes Hood #6, and I set a challenge to walk all the walks that we could possibly get to…

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And so we have woken up early couple of times on a Saturday morning and dashed out in the early morning to join thousands of women… and men and children, people of all shapes and sizes, super-fit and not…

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Thousands of folk all dressed in Pink, all in an effort to raise awareness for cancer, particularly breast cancer.

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Thousand upon thousand… You have never seen so much pink in all your life…

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There is time to kit up and…

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Get your hair done…

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And your laces laced… before you walk.

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You will meet a survivor and hear her powerful story…

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And this gal… from PinkDrive… we salute her…

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She has literally taught thousand of folk how to do their self-examination.

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And then you get walking…

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And once everyone is walking there is pink spread out for miles as far as the eye can see…

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There is plenty of time to stop and take photographs…

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Plenty of fun… all around…

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And at the finish…

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A Fabulous Goody Bag for a reward.

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Everyone that takes part is making a small difference in the fight against cancer… an hour long walk on a Saturday morning is really good fun and a part of something bigger, each walker is making a small difference in the fight against cancer. Look out for these Pick’n Pay Walks in your area… Take part… really we enjoyed them and we think you will too!!!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #218

April 13th, 2014 · 2 Comments

A Friday Fun Post… on a Saturday. And Cape Town has been glorious…

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The weather just goes on and on…

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And fish are jumping…

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Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and we will be making bookmarks…

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It’s an Easter Tradition over here as we prepare for the Easter Weekend.

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Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. It’s not even spring but Aimee of Simple Bites wrote this brilliant comprehensive post on the Kitchn and I am so inspired…
  2. I confess that I have a pinterest board called bags and boots… I confess!!! And this bag on A Beautiful Mess got pinned without me stopping for breathe!!! and yes there is a little more, you can take a peak inside this bag.
  3. I spotted lots of lovely courses this week… A Beautiful Mess’s “How to Pitch a Book Proposal” for $8… looks fab… and if I lived in Singapore nothing would stop me attending this Food Styling and Photography Course of Bloesom’s, you have to look!!!
  4. Alisa Burke really made me want to go out and buy a bunch of flowers… We just haven’t done that for a while.
  5. It is Yuppie Chef’s Sixth Annual Easter Hunt… Trust me on this you should be following… it is fun and the prizes are fab.
  6. LeCreuset are showing us how to colour eggs… and they are just so pretty!!!
  7. And here is a house tour that I just can’t get enough of… the colours, the stairs, the bike cushions and the bunting… Our house needs some attention, clearly!!!
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Homeschooling in the Western Cape, Especially the South Peninsula…

April 11th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Just lately I have discovered templates, and in an effort to stream-line my workflow I am actually using them. I have always used templates for certain work, standard run of the mill posts, I have a template and I drop the information into the post and “tada…” I have templates for emails, a lot of the F.A.Q.’s on this blog, many of the quick “what, where, why and how?” questions. But there is one question I cannot answer and it is the most frequently asked question on our site. At any one time I have two or three of these questions crying out for help in my inbox. Dear readers, it is time for you all to write us a blog post!!!

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“We are moving to your area and would love to know about homeschooling resources in your area.”

I have no really helpful answer… other than: ummm we homeschool, we always have. That means we pretty much do everything at home. So the art we do is mostly at our kitchen table, the reading happens around the table or draped over the biggest bed in the house and sport and fitness, read “races in the driveway…” well they are in the driveway. That being said, there are tons of home-schoolers in our area and I know that some homeschoolers do co-op and others have weekly meet-ups and there are heaps of varied extra-murals ranging from anything to everything. There are high-school groups and pre-K groups, every group. You can sign up for sports day and prize-giving, both are things that some homeschoolers love their kids to be part of and we kind of think it is a perk of homeschooling that we don’t have to attend. I know these groups exist but we haven’t been part of them, however I would love to share this information with our readers.

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What Do I Say?

I usually refer folks to a post I wrote about homeschooling in South Africa, it is by no means definitive, but explains our experience. And I know that you can connect with other homeschoolers on this Resource Page… and here is another fabulous page packed with heaps of useful links. But what else… and this is where you all come in…

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Please Leave a Comment

If you know of a fabulous resource for home-shoolers in the Western Cape or the South Peninsula then leave a comment… Is there a regular writing group in Cape Town, an art class, a homeschool meet-up, a language class, sport, music… if you are looking for something for your kids to join then leave a comment too, tell us what you need because somebody reading our blog will have the answer. It doesn’t have to be local, homeschooling is universal, as are pen-pals, there are online classes and free-resources all over the world. So now is your chance… leave a comment, a fab resource for homeschoolers that you know about. Share away and help our readers…

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