October 21st, 2016 · 2 Comments
Well It has been a while since a Week that Was Post… and what can I say, if that was winter, then we didn’t really have it…
There was rain, but hardly any…
And cold enough for bedtime cocoa, but not freezing…
And it looks like marshmallow season is here…
And late nights…
Otherwise… weeks of pirate play…
And heaps of science fun…
There were repairs…
And always hikes…
And of course feasting…
Natural Factual Finds of the Week
Artwork of the Week
Our Book of the Week…
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel: This is our family read-a-loud at the moment and has everyone in stitches every morning as we try and keep ourselves to one chapter a day. This is the story of Gerald Durrell’s childhood, when his family lived in Corfu for a season. Gerald was the youngest of four children and the characters are so brought to life that we can see each other in them. The older siblings all have to endure a younger brother who collects endless creepy crawlies, and little critters… and keeps the as precious pets. There is nothing funnier than real life and the life and times of this eccentric family leaves us in stitches.
Tags: The Week that Was
October 19th, 2016 · 8 Comments
This is one question that folk have been asking a lot lately and I thought I had tackled it in my recent Lazy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling… but apparently I didn’t say nearly enough. So I am going to chat about The Talk again, for all our sakes. I imagine that the reason most of us have “the talk” with our kids is because we don’t want them to hear it from their friends, especially since what they hear from their friends may be somewhat removed from the actual truth. We also want to be able to talk openly and honestly about relationships and the birds and the… bees with our kids. And, just saying, most of us want to be better at “the talk” than our parents were and most of us will never feel like our kids are ready. Trust me if you are thinking about if they are ready or not then they probably are. I have said it before and I will say it again, your kids are short, but not at all stupid.
Firstly let me put your mind to rest and say there is no one talk, just like everything else that is important in your kids’ life, there is one long conversation. With all the good intentions in the world… you will probably make mistakes, forget to say this and that, and only think “I should have said that” much much later. This is why it needs to be an ongoing conversation and not a once off talk. If you haven’t found time to start that conversation or the whole thing seems way too awkward for you then take a deep breathe and dive in. If you want grandchildren one day, and you want your kids to grow up and have great relationships then you need to get talking, not so much about the plumbing and the facts, that is a fairly quick conversation, but about relationships and what works and what doesn’t.
Se7en Steps to a Great Conversation
- Little People Ask Big Questions: Be prepared for them, and be prepared for lots of open and frank conversation. They may ask where babies come from, they may ask if everyone has a belly button, or how does the baby get out of mom’s tummy, or how did the baby get into mom’s tummy… they may ask why their siblings look different in the bath… they may not even ask, they may just find it hysterically funny. Either way, it is a good idea to call a spade a spade and provide at least the correct names for body parts. When you are chatting with your tots you don’t need to get overly detailed, ours were quite happy to know that their dad put the baby into mom’s tummy and we could move onto the next question, like can we have noodles for lunch. At this stage you are just talking to the natural curiosity of little kids, it is not the main purpose of their lives and they are not thinking about all things related to “the talk” at all… just living their naturally curious little, “why, why, why lives” join them, answer their questions and move on.
- Beyond the Naming of Parts: The next stage in our life long conversation has been to read these books, God’s Design for Se.x by Stan and Brenna Jones, I reviewed them years ago… and they are still serving their purpose in our home. The first book is really for young children old enough to sit through a story and tells a sweet story of a boy, whose mum is about to have a baby. It is really a conversation between a boy and his parents, in a normal loving christian family. In Book 2, the difference between girls and boys are talked about and a lot more about where babies come from. Book 3 moves from the story format to a more “grown up looking question and answer approach” for your preteen… this book is a good conversation starter as is Book 4 in the series. I read the older books with my kids before their bodies start re-adjusting, I know as a child I wanted to know everything that would happen to my body, long before it happened, I can’t imagine any child wanting any surprises. These books basically cover “the talk” … what happens, how it happens and answers questions at the same time. They are sweet and informative for younger children and informative and factual for older children. These books are positive, without being preachy… they do not overdramatize the whole event, the way the media does… just an open discussion and an easy introduction for parents to read with their kids.
- What About Those Rearranging Bodies: Some kids will take all the facts in their stride, some will be horrified and some will not believe you at all… just continue to be open and honest. Once they get over their initial horror they will be very aware that their body is about to change and rearrange… I have so many friends who have told me horrific tales of how they had never heard of a period at all before they encountered their first one. Just no, that is so unfair. Puberty is a terribly awkward time in anyone’s life, and is one time when ignorance is absolutely no advantage… I want my kids to know what’s going on, I want them to be confident… I want them to understand as much as they can before they reach all the impending milestones. We also leave these books where our kids can find them and refer to them… both books. My boys need to know what goes on in a girl’s body just as much as my girl’s need to know what goes on in a boy’s body. I have no time for taboos and feminine products hidden under lock and key. These are all natural processes, breaking voices, developing breas.ts, periods and all that stuff… shouldn’t be some closet taboo… it is a normal part of our bodies and who we are and I go there and talk about it. My boys need to understand that girls don’t always feel hundreds, simply because they are a girl and they must also be comfortable with the fact that they could well be asked to go shopping for their wives one day, this is not the time to say they may not go down “that aisle.” If your kids are old enough to need to know about the changes in their own bodies then it is time to learn about the bodies of the opposite se.x as well.
- Just Keep Them Talking: You need to know that your teens are thinking about relationships, you need to know that your kids are assessing what they see… they are bombarded in the media by relationships… the good, the bad and the ugly, and mostly the ugly… It is our job to teach them and demonstrate the kind of relationships they need to have in order to raise a family one day. I know you are close to your kids and I know you can talk to them about anything. The thing is most parents think their children are open with them and will talk about anything with them… that might be true for most topics, but not this one. If this is one area that is awkward for you to talk about then it is about a million times harder for your teen. Not only that, but if you don’t know a lot about a topic then is is very hard to ask about it. If you have said to your kids, “You can ask me anything…” then you have to follow that up with information… because how do they even know how to ask. You have to be the grown up here and get talking… talk about the things that you wished you had known about relationships, you need to tell your sons how to treat a girl and your daughters how to treat a guy… It is not so much about the se.x, but it is all about having a great relationship. If their are things you wish you had done differently, then talk to them… just the facts, nobody wants an emotional lecture in the middle of the night. If it feels like your child has moved to the foreign land of teenagedom, then next time you are giving them a lift somewhere just start talking… about relationships, the do’s and don’ts and if, like some of my kids they are always surrounded by a cloud of friends and you are lifting teens all over the place, just keep on talking, just look out of the windscreen and talk. No eye contact is a good thing, and if your son needs to learn that it is a good idea to treat a girl to a chocolate regularly then his friends probably need to know that as well.
- And Then What About Dating: The gist of what I hear from most parents is that their children won’t be dating until they finish their studies, their tertiary studies that is. “Hello, most parents,”… your kids are not on the same page as you are on this topic. You may not call it dating, but it is what it is. Almost all parents want their children to avoid a serious relationship until their kids have found their feet in the adult world. Actually, lots of folk grow up together. The truth is you and many of your friends may well have met their partner while they were in high school and your teens are wondering if the cute guy or gal at youth group is the one? They may believe that they have found the one… they may be right!!! Almost everything that your teens read or are taught will be how to avoid dating, how to fill their lives with busy-ness in order to avoid a serious relationship way too young. This is so completely the opposite of what your teens are thinking. It looks a bit like teens are thinking one thing, parents are thinking another… information is given from the parents perspective and right when the teens need to hear something positive they are totally discouraged. If you want to keep the conversation open you need to keep on talking, even during the long silences.
- Dating with Integrity by John Holzmann: I realised that we spend so much time teaching our kids what they need to get into college or varsity… but this is just a little mention that we are training our children for life, not for a career. You just have to be having this conversation with your kids and they will do anything to squirm out of it. Like I mentioned, chat in the car they are a captive audience, but that’s not really enough. We realised that we weren’t spending enough time just talking with our teens about the big stuff, so now we spend one evening a week, add hot chocolate to the mix, and we read books about relationships together. I really want my kids to have the best chance at long and happy relationships, I am prepared to put time and effort into it now. We found this book to be a great conversation starter, it wasn’t easy… but it is a completely different take on all the other books out there for teens. You may or may not agree with everything the author says, but you will be given lots to think about and there is absolutely no “bossiness” or “preaching at you” about what you should and should not do. The facts are stated quite clearly, and he uses anecdotes from his own life to create the conversation. We got a clear understanding of what we the parents, and the the kids thought dating actually was… we live in a world where the media describes dating as “You meet a person for the first time ever, you literally jump into bed with them and then you decide to get to know them better.” This unfortunately is very far from reality… in order to have a relationship with someone you need to be friends with them, and this book spends a lot of time on how to be friends with folk of the opposite se.x.
- For Young Men Only and For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn: Years ago the father person and I read the grown-up version of these books… and if you haven’t done this already, then may I just say these are the best relationship books ever, get them and read them. I was thrilled to discover a teen version. The book for young men is about what they can expect from young women and vice versa. These books are based on the collected answers of large surveys they sent to young men and women and they are surprisingly accurate at figuring out how young folk think. I think the great thing about these reads is that they are so relatable. As a teen you might think that the feelings you have are entirely your own and that you are all alone in the world, well these books totally open that up and make you realise that the things you feel are feeling are so completely normal. The chapters are short and easy to read… they keep it simple, they keep it funny… these are great great reads.
What can I say your kids need to know that you are their haven, that they really can talk to you about anything… they can ask you the big questions and you will answer them honestly. Get into their world and start this conversation with them, sooner rather than later. There are no guarantees that your kids aren’t going to get hurt, or make mistakes or even do crazy stuff… we all do that at some stage in our lives, some of us do better at it than others. What I can say is that you have to keep on talking, raise the awkward stuff, go there… I really hope this post encourages you to start the conversation with your kids.
Tags: Thoughtful Thursdays
October 18th, 2016 · 3 Comments
Spring has sprung and the weather is somewhat confused sunny days followed by cold days… But there are poppies everywhere, and sweet peas… not to mention teeny tiny baby animals all over our local game park…
Lovely Links from This Week
- If you need a little delightfulness in your day… Marmagblog shared her Fairy Friends Books.
- Who can resist a nature notebook: Absolutely loved Alisa Burke’s Peek into Lucy’s Nature Journal…
- Did you know that Nurture Store has an Online Tween Book Club… get there already!!!
- Just saying: The Joy of Less: 4 Decluttering Epiphanies That Have Changed My Life.
- Oh I just love books with things to fill in and this one, oh my on Imagination Soup: Beautiful! 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up…
- Picklebums posted Chapter Books by Awesome Aussie Authors, lots of faves and lots of new reads in there!!!
A Blast From the Past:
That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
October 17th, 2016 · 2 Comments
Last Saturday was African Penguin Awareness Day and penguins are very dear to our hearts. We took a drive down the coast to visit friends in Kleinmond, on the way we stopped in Betty’s Bay to visit the penguin colony at Stony Point. The Stony Point Nature Reserve is a small protected area, with walkways through an African Penguin Colony. We of course chose a wild and stormy day… clearly demonstrating that Cape Town is not quite finished with winter.
Throughout the area at Stony Point there are information boards up not only describing the local wildlife, but also explaining the history of the area and the remains of the whaling station that was in operation in the early 1900s.
The African Penguins
This is a sea bird watcher’s paradise, not to mention a bird photographer’s dream.
These little chaps all look as though they are dashing off to work…
And wherever you have rocky outcrops in the Western Cape you will also find dassies, and their sweet babies.
From there we went on to friends in Kleinmond…
The lagoon area was earily quiet… most likely because of the wild wild seas and stormy weather.
Even the colourful canoes were waiting for finer weather.
There was time for marshmallows and then home again… short and sweet.
Tags: Outings · Saturday Spot
October 14th, 2016 · 6 Comments
So I spent the afternoon thinking… What on earth should I blog about… WHAT ON EARTH… the thing is the post I had planned needed some photographs that I haven’t been able to take yet and so I needed a spontaneous off-the-cuff kind of a post. And there it is, nothing came to mind… so here’s a post on what to do when absolutely nothing comes to mind.
se7en + 1 Ways to Pull A Blog Post Out of the Hat or Not…
- Get Outdoors: Everybody knows that I get my balance from the great outdoors. But there is an icy cold wind blowing and my lazy self just can’t stir me out there, I am thinking maybe a fine coffee would be a better idea.
- Create Something or Do Something Mundane: I love how my mind wanders when I am creating and drawing… today I got as far as sorting my pencils… not exactly creating, but it is a start. If you can’t create then doing some mundane chore can often leave your mind free to create as well… tidy your desk, clean out a draw, sort a closet, neaten a bookshelf… just pottering about, some folk would call this “wab-ing” or “work avoidance behaviour,” actually this is often the best way to discover new ideas for blog posts.
- Get off the Internet and Read a Book: I know Pinterest is lovely, but no… you end up with a pile of posts ideas that other folk have written already, honestly, I just want to create my own posts, with my own ideas. Oh my word I have a huge pile of review books to read. Isn’t it great that I can read fab books for a living, dare I say I might have read a non review book in a sitting this afternoon. Loved it and ahem… still have a pile of review books on my desk!!! And honestly I don’t think my readers want to read about books all the time, I have a feeling they want something else every now and then as well.
- Look in your Draft Pile: I have literally dozens of half written posts… Posts that never got past five points, and just can’t get to se7en… After a little search through my draft box: Se7en insane things my children believe, How to make math epically fun for everyone, My goals for the year… now that the year is closing in on us that would be a really great post to publish (not!!!).
- Ask your Readers for Questions: But that is a dangerous path to go down, because as every blogger knows there is always that little voice, “Hay what if nobody actually reads your blog (because who really looks at stats and sees that folk are really reading away) and you get absolutely no questions whatsoever… In fact I only ever get one question, well mostly the same question, multiple times a week. Actually there is one other question: The answer is a simple one liner: No, you may not join our homeschool.
- Write About What You Have Been Doing: Well in that case I should definitely write a post on my kids playing all day every day and the fact that we may never do school again… I firmly believe that play is the work of kids and leave them to it. The fact is, my kids have this idea that school requires them to sit at the table and do writing… so the fact that we have read piles of books and sat outdoors writing letters to friends, they have baked and sorted their closets and done tons of laundry… life skills for the win. Played UNO for hours and they have created another pirate ship in what once appeared to be a garden, but is now the distant seas and well LEGO, there is tons of complicated LEGO on the go here all the time.
- Take a Break: Nobody needs to read your blog every single day, and I know everyone everywhere says be consistent blogger, even if consistent is once a week… but I have to say, I have a feeling that a night off every now and then should be something that you schedule into your plan… you do need a break from writing and I believe that followers need a break from reading as well.
And the Se7en + 1th thing…
- Sleep on it: Reward yourself with a night off and get to sleep early, it’s amazing how inspired we can be after we have had a couple of dream cycles in our sleep bucket!!!
Tags: Blog School
October 13th, 2016 · 4 Comments
So we have been doing a little virtual traveling… and a whole lot of nature study at the same time. We have had the following three books on our review pile for a little while now, and it is definitely time to share them. All of them would make fabulous gifts… and have been quietly sitting on our coffee table as folks dipped in and out of them.
Wildlife of the Okavango
Wildlife of the Okavango by Duncan Butchart: Who wouldn’t dream of a trip to the watery wildlife packed oasis of the Okavango. The Okavango delta is quite unique in that it is the end of the river, the river that begins in the highlands of Angola and flows into the Delta region in northern Botswana… a river that never reaches the sea. This rich water supply in the midst of a desert means that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is incredibly rich in a wide variety of animal life. We have been using this book to explore the wildlife of the region.
The book is divided into animals: mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, freshwater fish, invertebrates and plant life: trees and shrubs, aquatic plants, soft stemmed shrubs and grasses. Each plant and animal has a colour photograph for identification purposes, the common and latin name, the habitat, the length and/or wingspan and the status, as well as a paragraph on their habits, calls, reproduction and any other striking features. Basically this is your essential wildlife spotter book… if you can spot it in real life in the Okavango, then you will almost instantly be able to flip to the page in the book and find out a few more details there.
Even though it isn’t a guidebook, it does have information on the climate and weather, and which season to visit in. There is an article on the different habitats to you can find there and a little bit on the impact of tourism and conservation in the region. But mostly this is a spotters guide with tips on how to get the best viewing… while a wild life walk with a guide is great for learning about the wildlife, a wildlife drive is your best opportunity for photographs. And you should not visit the Okavango without spending time exploring in a Mokoro, which is a flat bottomed canoe which uses a pole to push along the bottom to propel yourself through the water.
The Okavango is a birders paradise with over 500 species of bird spotted there. There is an impressive collection of birds of prey and waterbirds, not to mention endless beautiful little birds. Amongst the reptiles you will find the Nile crocodile and a large variety of snakes… best to spot those all from a distance, I dare say. There are a lot of less dangerous reptiles to encounter, like lizards and tortoises, for example. Being a wetland there are of course frogs, these are most active and vocal after dark, you know when the wild and dangerous nocturnal animals emerge. Most people head to the Okavango to see the mammals and birds but there is an entire world of invertebrates, and these little creatures provide an impressive display for most visitors.
First we drew some Okavango Maps, then we wandered in and out of the guidebook, placing wild animals on our maps as we read about them… here are se7en amazing animal facts that you may not know, gleaned from the book:
- The hippopotamus is an aquatic herbivore… it stays in water all day and only comes out at night to feed on grass.
- Did you know that the Cape Porcupine, eats roots and tubers and will scavenge bones and carion, but is also an avid digger (our garden knows this fact!!!).
- We decided that we would really like to spot a Black Heron feeding, it uses its wing feathers to make a shady spot for the fish to shelter in and for them to easily catch.
- The Rock (tree) Monitor is a giant lizard weighing up to 15 kg, and can be spotted in trees… and eats anything it can overpower.
- Then there is the Giant Bullfrog, that remains underground during the dry season, but emerges after summer rains to breed.
- There is a fish without scales, called the Fine-Tooth Squeaker, the has a sharp spine on its back that it uses as a weapon.
- So many dragonflies, as you would expect in a watery spot… we would like to spot a Common Tigertail, a beautifully striped dragonfly that is about 8cm long.
Africa’s Top Geological Sites
Africa’s Top Geological Sites, 35th International Geological Congress Commemorative Volume: This book is really a grand tour of Africa, including 44 places of incredible interest and beauty to visit throughout the continent that are geologically significant. This is a serious book of the geological kind, not to mention it looks perfect on the coffee table. Each site is presented with beautiful photographs and maps and diagrams to explain the geology, geomorphology as well as the archaeology, cultural heritage and myths of the site. There are boxes with interesting snippets for example, pioneering scientists from the site or special artefacts, specific to the site.
While I was wondering how we could include this book in our homeschool our kids spotted it on the coffee table and there really is something in it for everyone… the fossil lover poured over the fossil pages, the map lover spent time exploring the geological maps, which are very different to the more typical political or relief maps that we usually use. Our traveller has created a list of places that we have to visit, from Table Mountain to Augrabies Falls, the Pilansberg to Victoria Falls, not to mention the Okavango Delta and of course Kilimanjaro. This book is an asset to real and virtual travellers, there is nothing like knowing the details behind the places that you visit. It is packed with details and there is something for every level of explorer to look at and discover.
The Bedside Ark
The Bedside Ark by David Muirhead and illustrated by Patricia de Villiers: This is a collection of 42 weird and wonderful short articles about animals found in our region. This is the perfect gift book or holiday read for animal lovers… it is packed with information that you won’t find anywhere else. Each animal gets three to four pages, to tell about their folklore, their habitat, their food, their reproduction and of course all their quirks. This makes for several quick reads… and each of them will leave you somewhat astounded. The stories are definitely written for an adult audience, they have a somewhat adult tone to them, so I didn’t read them to my kids directly, but the facts are incredible and make for amazing conversation starters.
This is very much a book that you want to read in company, because you feel compelled to “Did you know…” rather a lot all the way through it. For instance did you know that rock pythons like to nibble on porcupines, that is if they can snatch them at the correct angle and then remain undisturbed during their post dinner nap… while they digest their feast. The Praying Mantis, which is an ambush predator, can remain absolutely still and just rotate its eyes in every direction… to keep its eye on you. And here’s a snippet that I bet you didn’t know… even a lion will back off from a troop of baboons in the day, however at night baboons like to settle securely out of the way… and woe betide anyone that walks beneath a baboon sleeping on a branch, because they can expect a spontaneous and impromptu shower of the the not so pleasant kind. Otherwise did you know that dung beetles roll their ball in a straight line, aligning themselves by the sun in the day and the milky way at night… Anyway…look out for this little gem it is packed with great stories!!!
We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the books for review purposes. This was not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.
Tags: Se7en at School
So the weekend slipped away so very fast… Monday flew past as well and here we are, saying hello from Cape Town, where the weather is in that lovely state of indecision… one day is wintry and the next day feels like summer. Right now every rainy day, in this dry dry land, is celebrated…
Lovely Links from This Week
- So much Cardboard Fun on Handmade Charlotte!!!
- Fantastic, fantastic, Fantastic post on Simple Homeschool: In Celebration of the Slow Learner…
- These Books at Workman Publishing are totally top of my wishlist right now… Presenting The Big Fat Notebook Series.
- On the Art of Simple: How do you Start and End your Day?
- 9 New Instagram Features You Probably Missed on Later.com
- 9 Apps to Green Your Life on GreenPop.
- If you haven’t followed this series on Meet Me at Mikes, then here’s a quick catch up: Pip’s School for Slumpy Creatives: Lesson Se7en.
A Blast From the Past:
Our Book of the Week:
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory: If I told you that I always have a pile of books that I am reading through and that audible is one of the top three apps I use on my phone. I love audible books and haven’t actually read a Phillipa Gregory for years, but I started listening to this last week and haven’t stopped listening since… it is so very good. There is nothing like a well read audible, to keep you gripped… Set in tudor England, three princesses destined to be queen, bound together through blood and marriage… there is love and loss, betrayal and victory… and peril on every level. The sisters do become queens of England, Scotland and France… and in a world where you can’t trust anybody, they each pay a huge price to fulfil their destiny.
Will you be South Africa’s next Story Bosso? Nal’ibali is a national campaign to spark a love of reading for South African children, in their own language. Right now they are running their annual story talent search… looking for an amazing storyteller in South Africa. The idea is to reawaken our culture of storytelling. Everybody has a story to tell and if you have a story bubbling to get out and you would like a chance at having it transformed into a book then here is your chance. For the Story Bosso competition you can submit a video or audio clip of you telling your story or reading your story, a new story or a retelling… in any one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. Really don’t be intimidated, last years winner was just se7en years old… anybody stands a chance. You can read all about the competition here. And important: closing date is 14 October… head on over and tell your story!!!
That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun