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

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Se7en + 1 Tips for Creating Nature NoteBooks With Kids…

May 20th, 2016 · 2 Comments

From time to time I post a snippet of our kids’ nature journals on instagram… and inevitably folk ask us to write a post on nature note booking with kids. Honestly… it is the easiest thing in the world and is a lovely way to create a sweet and lasting memento of their drawing through the ages and stages of their lives. I know that some folk think that nature journaling is essential to homeschooling, really it is not an exclusive club, all children (and their associated grownups) would benefit from having a nature journal with them on family outings.

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I think the biggest reason that folks don’t carry a nature notebook with them on their outings is that they think they need a lot of special equipment and they don’t think they can draw at all… both valid fears and hopefully this post will put your mind at rest. Firstly a pencil and a notebook is enough and secondly you don’t have to be an experienced artist to create in your own journal.


Se7en+1 Tips for Nature NoteBooking

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  1. Keep it Simple: Every time we go on an outing, whether it is an urban amble or a hike, they take their backpack which has a sweater, a water bottle and their notebook and pencil. If it is an all day event then their will be a sandwich and a citrus fruit, because citrus fruit comes naturally prepackaged. It is the notebook that we are on about in this post… In the past I would buy really good quality watercolour notebooks, nice ring bound covers and a crisp clean smell. Those are nice in theory, but not ideal for small children to be lugging around, where every single extra gram does count. So we switched to the simplest blank A5 notebooks I could find, moleskins or their closest approximation and they have lasted us just as well. And the pencil… needs to be somewhat darker than your average HB, everyone here has a 4B pencil especially for their nature notebooks.
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  3. Gear to Inspire: Sometimes when we head out, I know we are intending to look at something particularly nature orientated. It may be mushroom walk, or a fynbos walk… it might be a walk to see if our favourite plant is flowering, or to take a look at the mountainside after a fire. When I know we have a little time to linger then I will add a couple of things to our bag of nature note booking tricks… nothing complicated and nothing that can’t be easily replaced. So: envelopes for collecting a sand sample, or a leaf to look at later, a magnifying glass is an incredible tool when you are out in the wilds and a tape measure. A tape measure is a really simple little tool that will add hours of fun to your observations, firstly they are light, secondly there are millions of things to measure – from footprints to shadows, and everything else in-between. Trust me kids can measure everything.
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  5. Turn it into an Art Excursion: Most outings we just have a pencil and our notebooks… and when they return home they create further, later on in the week. But from time to time I will turn an ordinary looking walk into an arty excursion, just by adding some coloured pencils and watercolour crayons to the mix… a paintbrush and we are good to go. Don’t worry about water, there is water in their water bottles already.
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  7. The Things That We Draw: So we have addressed the materials, but what about the other question… what to draw? Like most groups of people, some of my kids love to draw and could draw all day… and others not so much. But there is always something for folk to pop into their nature journals… a list of animals or flowers spotted, a list of sounds they have heard, a poem or even things that come to mind when they draw a rough map of the outing. This is one thing that we can all do together, there are vast differences between students abilities to either draw or observe what they are drawing. For some it is all about drawing what they see, and for others it is all about creating a story… either way it is all good. It is nothing elaborate, and it is not for show… nobody else is going to look through your journal unless you want them to. Something to add to your pages is the date and location, to remind you of the event when you are looking back. They don’t have to be filled with just drawings either… you can add ticket stubs to events you went to, print photographs and add the odd pressed flower or gathered leaf.
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  9. Places to Go: When you say nature notebook folks tend to think they need to take a holiday on a lake or a road trip to the desert, or wade through rock pools at low tide… all fun things for sure, but you can also just sit on your front step and draw what you see, consider the herb planter on the windowsill. Also, a nature journal doesn’t have to be in the wild outback… you can take it with you to the natural history museum or the aquarium… we just make sure our journals are always in our bags so that they are good to go whenever we are. If you have your notebooks and inspiration hits then you can let the great outdoors inspire you and let your creativity roam. For us it has been so worth it to always have our journals with us.
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  11. Local Books: I mentioned that we often take our nature notebooks home and add more details later on. It is one thing to sit and observe something in the great outdoors and draw it… it is quite another to turn it into some sort of nature study. We often use our nature notebooks to inspire us later on in the week… to dig a little deeper. Make sure that you have some hand books available for inspiration and to add a few facts to the mix. I grew up on Usborne nature spotter books and I loved them, but we don’t live in the English countryside. You do need to have to have local books to support your nature journals. These books from Struik Nature have been published slow and steadily throughout our homeschooling journey and are perfect for the job that we need them for. A detailed picture, showing the colours and markings, a few very simple facts in English, and two or three other local languages. For some of the books there are associated apps, that just adds to the fun. We explored the Mammals app here.
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  13. Layers of Books: Beginner books are fine, but sometimes our young naturalists want to dig a little deeper… pocket field guides and an all purpose wildlife book are fantastic for the person who wants to know even more… I wouldn’t recommend lugging books around, though some people do… we usually just jot a note down in our nature journals, reminding ourselves about something that we wanted to look up. The Wildlife book in the picture actually has an app, that I keep on my phone, so if we are ever in desperate need to identify something right there and then, we can. Mostly we take a photograph and make a note in our journals and look things up at home later.
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    And the Se7en + 1th Tip:

  15. Time is Your Friend: This is my golden rule for nature journaling, there is no rush… take your time. Most kids can concentrate for about fifteen minutes before being distracted away… Fifteen minutes. Don’t envision hours of drawing in the fields under a shady tree and set up a little art station and then be disappointed when they glances at the set up and dashes off to look for tadpoles in the stream… that is what it is all about. Looking and learning and having fun while they do it. I have one or two artists that can sit for hours, but mostly mine draw a little play a lot, draw some more and so on. The only person who can linger for hours, while the children play, is myself. I am happy with that. Because I know drawing requires a lot of energy and attention, I always encourage my kids to take their time… I try and make it feel like we have all day, even if we haven’t. You can’t rush art and by saying, “take your time,” you are freeing them to linger a little longer. It need only extend your outing by about ten or fifteen minutes, but somehow by saying take your time it is giving the artists permission to look a little more carefully and pay attention to the details.


The Gallery

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Hopefully, you can see that nature journaling is as easy or as complicated as you make it out to be. We prefer to keep it really simple, that way I am much more likely to get it done, and get it done often. I love the sweet notebooks my kids have drawn over the years and you can look back to their early scribbles, and wander through all their illustrations and remembering when and where they were when they worked on a page… fun times.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Outdoors · Science · Se7en at School

Random Trivia Facts for Kids… A Mapstudio GiveAway…

May 19th, 2016 · 17 Comments

I thought I would surprise our readers with a mid week GiveAway… here you go, a really fun book of facts to be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Trivia and fact books are great for beginner readers to grab hold of and glean snippets of information from. One of my kids read nothing but fact books for years, before launching his reading career.

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Children’s Facts published by Mapstudio: This book is packed with se7enty odd pages of amazing trivia facts. A wide variety of amazing topics, each page has a new theme. It is packed with illustrations and has a really easy to read layout. Each page covers a specific theme and provides a heap of fascinating facts.

Themes like:

  1. Movies Stars
  2. Unusual Sports
  3. Nonverbal Languages
  4. Weird Dishes Around the World
  5. The Evolution of the Cellphone
  6. Unique Places to Visit Around the World
  7. Towns with the Strangest Names

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On each spread Malcolm the Meerkat reveals a “Did you know?” factoid… and there is a double page spread in the form of a board game that my kids love. Along the bottom of each page throughout the book there are a stream of trivia questions. The answers to the questions are at the back of the book… and make fantastic conversation starters.

Trivia Questions for you to think about:

  1. What is the name of the first full-length animated movie?
  2. Where does the term Pop Music come from?
  3. Where did tennis originate?
  4. What is another name for pufferfish?
  5. In which country was Pac-Man first released?
  6. How many years did it take to build the Statue of Liberty?
  7. In which ocean are the Maldives?


The GiveAway

We have not one, but three of these fun Fact Books to Give Away… all ready to mail anywhere in the world. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on Friday 27 May, 2016. 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 MapStudio who supplied us with the Children’s Fact Books to review and GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

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→ 17 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School

Table Mountain CableWay… ‘Tis the #KidzSeason…

May 18th, 2016 · 2 Comments

This past Saturday we were invited to the Table Mountain’s first #KidzSeason meet up by Table Mountain CableWay. My gang were beyond excited to be invited to this event and after days of anticipation, and building excitement, they had an absolute blast.

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During the winter months the Table Mountain Cable Way has a special for kids. The Cableway Kidz Season, for each paying adult, two kids can go free…

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It’s not hard to understand why Table Mountain is one of the New Se7en Wonders of Nature…

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Free Shuttle

First things first… The Cable Car is one of Cape Town’s biggest tourist attractions and almost every visitor to the city has it right at the top of their must visit list. Parking in the past has always been a problem. But they have introduced a free bus shuttle, from the lower cableway, where there is plenty of parking. And honestly a bus trip just added a whole new level of excitement to the adventure.

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Up and Away

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Looking down on hikers winding their way up the mountain…

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And hikers taking a break…
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We found ourselves about the clouds…


Looking Down on the City of Cape Town

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Cape Town was covered in an autumn blanket… with little peaks into the city…

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Up on top it was crisp and clear…

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Treasure Hunting

Part of you the Kidz Season ticket is a treasure map… taking all the little visitors on a tour of the information boards and a little wander around the mountain top looking for amazing facts and finding all the best viewing sites at the same time… One thing my kids all love is a treasure hunt… they were off!!!

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The WildLife

There is a lot to see and so much to look at, and you are never far from typical Cape Wildlife… it was too cold for the lizards to be out, but the fynbos was on show for us, and so were the dassies. Not to mention the crows, who were scavenging themselves a quick breakfast…

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Lunch

The cafe has a Kidz season special too… and my guys were happy to try out the kiddies menu…

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Super friendly staff and giant pizza slices… can’t go wrong with that.

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The WiFi Lounge

On to the WIFI lounge. This is right on top of the Cable Car Station and literally on top of the world. I could work here all day… the view is forever, the service with a galactic smile, and fine, fine coffee… not to mention plugs and adaptors for every possible devise, hmmm this would be a most excellent place to get away and work. Fine coffee on the top of the mountain, gets a yes please, from me!!!

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The Hike

Now the thing about Table Mountain is that it is high…. the very top is 1085m up in the sky. Twice this year we have been very close to the tippy top and I knew when my kids discovered that we had a ride up the Cable Car that they would want to take full advantage of their tickets and take the very easy walk across the mountain top to the reach Maclean’s Beacon. It is a 45 minute walk each way and a really easy walk, getting up the mountain its the hard part. So as soon as my gang of hikers could escape to the hills they literally skipped along the mountain top.

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They were happy to leave the tourists behind…

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And get wandering…

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The path along the front of the mountain was closed for rehabilitation… so it was really an easy there and back walk straight across the top.

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Past my nemesis, the very beautiful Platteklip Gorge, which a couple of years back is what got me hiking again after years of not hiking…

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Places to clamber…

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And frog filled puddles…

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And fynbos…

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And views…

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Maclear’s Beacon

Race you to the top… last time we were up here, I was so excited to make it all the way that I forgot to take photographs… so we had to capture the moment!!!

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Down and Down… and Down…

A quick walk back to the station and down we went…

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The Gallery of Hikers

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Waving Goodbye…

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Thank you to the Table Mountain Cable Way for a great day out and for inviting us to your first KidzSeason Meetup, we all loved it.

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Previous Table Mountain Hikes

Se7en’s Hike to Visit the Disa of Table Mountain… (The Aqueduct and Smuts Track)

Se7en + 1 Head Up Table Mountain Again. (Skeleton Gorge)

Se7en + 1 Climb Table Mountain to the Top. (The Pipe Track)

Table Mountain, A National Park Right in the City Centre. (Platteklip)

This was not a sponsored post, we were paid to write it or asked to write it. We were supplied with cablecar tickets for the event. Opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #316… And a GiveAway Winner…

May 16th, 2016 · 2 Comments

We’ve been busy in a crazy busy fun way… we are all sensing the energy of the changing season… hanging onto sunshine days and enjoying the cooler weather too. Crispy evening walks and reading in sunny spots… it’s the perfect time of year for the great outdoors…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. FIRSTLY, in case you missed it: This week we delivered a library… Huge thanks to all of our readers… and our project made it onto the local news… Mom Sources 1000 Books to Help Build a Library at Manenberg School.
  2. And here is a Picture Book illustrators dream The Life Boat Illustration Auction, All to support The School Bus Project… go and take a look, loveliness!!!
  3. Did you know that The Picture Book Party has dozens and dozens of colourful printables from heaps of favourite picture books.
  4. And here’s a quick and easy fun way to create lots of little artworks: Index-Card-A-Day 2016 countdown Begins… I love this project and use it to create bits and pieces of art that we can use later on in the year in our annual Sketchbook Project.
  5. This is golden… life with teens can require quite a bit of grace and this post had me smiling: On Being Treated Like an Adult.
  6. And this post gave me pause for thought, because to be honest I love puttering about my house and tidying out nooks and decluttering cluttered corners… and I have to say in a house with many more boys than girls, this could be a girl thing!!! Do Men Even Know Who Marie Kondo Is?
  7. The Art of Simple is Going to be Decluttering, this is always full of fabulous help and encouragement if you are about to dive in and declutter then now is a good time to follow along and join in.
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:


  9. A Blast From the Past:


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SnowWorld Family Ticket GiveAway Winner

Last week we held a GiveAway: A family ticket, for four, to SnowWorld… take a peak, ‘cos here’s the winner….

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All the entries…

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Covered in snow…

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After picking and choosing winner is:

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Comment #12: Jo May 10, 2016 at 10:20 pm This looks amazing! My older kids would love it!

Congratulations, Jo look out for an email from us…

We would like to thank Hippo Communications and Snow World for inviting us to the fabulous launch and for the GiveAway Tickets. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Reader Questions Asked and Answered…

May 13th, 2016 · 4 Comments

I get asked a lot of questions, about living with eight kids and homeschooling and life in general, via email and just lately on instagram… some of them are easy, some of them are awkward and some, I discard as they arrive. But I thought I would gather up a few of them and answer them as best I could…

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Se7en + 1 Reader Questions…

  1. This is our Top Instagram Question at the Moment: “Whatever Happened to Hood #1?”
  2. There has been a noticeable gap in our instagram feed as most of our outings and hiking happen during the week and towards the end of last year Hood #1 slipped seamlessly from school into a summer job and then into college. On the one hand it was all a bit of a surprise, I was just teaching him to read a year or two back (time literally flies) and on the other hand it wasn’t as big a deal as everyone said it would be, for anyone… it was time and it is his season to spread his wings. He is loving college, there is lots to learn and friends to be made, what’s not to love? Of course we miss him on our outings, but he is still very much around and a big part of our lives. I know for parents of little people it is hard to believe, but your kids will grow up. It appears that the jump from traditional schooling to real life is a fairly large one, with a distinct school leaving event and closure, before you launch onwards… well with homeschooling it appears that the transition is slightly seamless. From a lifestyle of learning at the kitchen table or the couch, the transition to learning at lectures hasn’t really changed this students heart for learning, or his desire to share what he has learnt. So hood #1 has neither vanished, nor fallen off the earth, but while we are out adventuring in the middle of the week he is in lectures.

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  3. How do you Cope When the Neighbours Disrupt School?
  4. This was an unusual question… because right now our neighbours are the least disruptive ever. That being said the hardest neighbours for us to homeschool along side were actually homeschoolers. Their kids were up way before ours and while they did a couple of workbooks and watched a lot of educational videos… it wasn’t the same style of school as ours. Honestly, our school can linger for hours because we have discovered a book we can’t stop reading or an art project becomes an all day project and we won’t even mention science days. Our schedule is a very relaxed one, loosely fitted around meals… So it is very difficult to have small people at your front door or window asking, “Are you done yet?” because the answer is almost always, “No, we are not done learning yet!!!” What I did create to ease the obvious differences in learning style was create an hour or two one or two afternoons a week… when we were open for play. And if we did do something outdoors, and we tend to live outdoors, then we had to accept that we would have small (and mostly) disruptive guests along. The battle was continuous and relentless with their small children wanting to play at our house long before I had had my first coffee every day, there were more than a few days when I was overwhelmed and had to literally remind myself, out-loud, to be gracious. Seasons change… and neighbours move on, or ours tend to(!!!), so don’t let the neighbours be the deciding factor in any of your real life decisions…

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  5. How Old are your Kids when they Start Chores?
  6. I have written a series on chores before… but let’s see, I cannot remember a time when my kids didn’t have a few household jobs. Chores are part of the culture of being a family, they give us all a sense of belonging… I want my kids to have ownership of their place in their home and chores are the way that we achieve that. We aren’t perfect at them, and I fail at consistency often, but just by having chores in place means that we have set a standard… dinner doesn’t happen until the laundry is done, breakfast doesn’t happen before beds are made and so on. Honestly, if your kids are old enough to unpack anything then they are old enough to pack it back… and I have never known a one year old who didn’t like sorting, sort the recycling into the right box… tots love mud, give them the job of putting veggie peels on the compost pile… it doesn’t take too much creative thought to connect the right kid with the right chore. And honestly, if they can drive an iPad they can figure out how any appliance works… the washer for instance is a fairly easy machine to work. The younger your kids start helping the better, they see it as a way of life… there is nothing quite as helpful and energetic as an enthusiastic toddler… (or unhelpful depending how good you are at assigning chores).

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  7. How Do you Find Time to Clean your House and do School?
  8. I stopped trying to clean and do school ages ago, school time is for school time… not for social media, and certainly not for cleaning. It doesn’t take long to clean our house and because we have a team we can literally do it in mad dash twenty minutes: One person gets the bathroom, one person sweeps all the dirt into little piles and another scoops that up… and so it goes. Our home is far from perfectly clean, but we do like to keep it visitor ready. We have keep our home fairly tidy because for ten of us, the space is pretty small… you have to clean up from breakfast to do school, you have to pack away your school work to have lunch, because it all happens at the same table. So keeping it tidy is a good place to start with keeping the house clean, it is so much easier to quickly sweep the floors of a tidy house, than to sweep the floors of a messy home. We tend to avoid creating galactic messes, rather than spending time cleaning… So we clean as we go, we have zones for everything: we only ever eat in the kitchen or outdoors, we only ever play with LEGO in one room, we only ever do arts and crafts in the kitchen. And otherwise get rid of all the stuff. The more stuff you have, the more mess you have and the harder it is to clean. Forget about Marie Kondo here, we are talking about survival, toss everything and thank me later. Without a doubt the less stuff you have the easier it is to clean, and nothing sparks joy if you have to continuously shuffle it around to clean.

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  9. What do you do when your Children Refuse to Hike, Go to Bed, do their Schoolwork?
  10. My kids don’t refuse to do stuff… it just wouldn’t occur to me that they would, and so I don’t think it would occur to them. (However, they may choose to ignore me… but that wasn’t the question!!!) Of course they want to go to bed, I am most likely reading a good book to them; not to mention taking a nap while they drift off to sleep next to me. Of course they want to go hiking… I just can’t imagine saying, “Anyone for a walk?” And nobody joining me… I am not in that space yet… maybe when our kids are older and they would rather collapse on the couch, but at this stage every body wants to do stuff. Okay, they may refuse to do math, or a certain aspect of school… but most of their work is interest driven and so they want to do it, they get up in the morning wanting to carry on from where they were the day before. And nearly all their school they eventually get around too. Like all of us, they all have their pet downfalls, some of them are notoriously bad at doing their particular chore… but there is a domino effect and when one thing stops working, then other things stop working… a chore undone, inevitably means that the next meal will be be late, which means that the culprit will be very unpopular. I am patient, I am not in a rush, I can generally wait!!!

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  11. What is our Morning Routine like?
  12. Well, this is an interesting question and you are about to discover that I am not a shining example of pre-dawn productivity… I know all the world’s go-getters are up before dawn with incredible routines: exercise, journaling, yoga and meditation, and more… but I am not a go getter, I am just a mom. I am the mother that firmly believes: never wake a sleeping baby. And that quickly became: never wake a sleeping child, and well teenagers… they don’t wake up in the early morning and that’s fine with me. So… we rouse about eight or 8:30, and there is a deep respect for those that are sleeping in our house, you may not wake anyone for any reason, unless you want to sweep the driveway on your own (for some reason this is dreaded above all dreadful things!!!). If you absolutely cannot remain in bed another minute… then you may go to the couch and read a book… but most folk tend to stay in bed until we are all awake. Otherwise, the morning begins the night before with leaving the kitchen clean and tidy, and if the washer is full then a load of laundry gets done while we are sleeping. So upon waking there are dinner dishes from the night before to pack away and laundry to hang, while breakfast is made. I have to have a plan for breakfast or everything fall apart… but mostly I have a plan and we are good to go. By breakfast time: chores are done, beds are made and kids are dressed and I do none of that… haven’t for years. Even the smallest person can pull a duvet straight and dress themselves, maybe with a little help from an older sibling, but they definitely don’t need help from me. From Breakfast we slide into our family school and so the day rolls on from there and usually by nine-o’clock we are all up and going. I have to say that I would never have to chosen to homeschool because mornings are so much easier, but after adding new babies into our family and the associated late nights, not to mention blogging… I am very grateful for our slow starts that we could never achieve if I had to get eight kids into four or five different schools each morning.

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  13. How do you survive on a single income?
  14. This question is usually followed by a “Oh, you blog, you must earn buckets.” Hmmm I do blog, it is work… but no I don’t earn an income from it, not even coffee money. I do occasionally earn outings to events that my kids would never have the opportunity to go to otherwise. So blogging has bought my kids fun opportunities, a trip to the movies once or twice and so on. Back to “How do you survive on one-income… it is tricky, it is sometimes really tight… harder than you can imagine, and yet we always seem to make it through. Our kids find themselves living in a land where a lot of their friends have way more than they do, in terms of stuff, activities, holidays and so on… and other friends who have way, way less. They can see the best and worst of both worlds… Turns out that heaps of belongings and extramural and nearly all the outings and functions that are considered essential to life, one can quite easily live without, in fact most of the world lives without them. Many of our lifestyle choices are made because they are good choices and often those choices turn out to be more economical choices.

    So where do we cut down on costs: We seek out free opportunities and activities for our kids, our family activities are all free… hiking free trails, reading library books, and trips to the beach are all free. We have our food budget down to a fine art, cooking from scratch is a lifestyle choice and it turns out to be more economical. But we do have lean weeks from time to time… my kids call them rice weeks, for obvious reason. We have a fairly small house and our kids all share rooms, they don’t have a lot of space for stuff, and I don’t want to spend my life organising our small space – it is easier to just not have extra stuff. Each child has a shelf of their clothes I wouldn’t want more for them to have to look after: 2 short tops and bottoms and two long tops and bottoms, pretty much does it. Definitely no piles of anything, no seasonal clothes put aside, what you see is what they have and there is enough. They can’t wear more than one outfit at a time anyway. Shoes are another story… I pray for shoes!!!

    Other lifestyle choices may have been forced on us and have turned out to be good ones… When our car broke down a few years back, like most people in the world, we couldn’t just replace it… we had two years to learn to live without a car… and we will never look back. Now we use our car at most once a week… and choose to walk everywhere. And just before you think you couldn’t possibly survive without a car, imagine
    no squabbling over who sits where… every.single.time.you.go.out. Another life style choice is homeschooling… homeschooling turns out to be drastically cheaper for us than other schooling would be, especially since our kids down the line use most of the same resources; It turns out that single income living demands a certain lifestyle, but it is the lifestyle we would choose even if we had two incomes. We don’t have any magical tricks on how to transform money into masses of money, but I think being content with what you have and not bothering about what the proverbial neighbours are doing goes a long way to making your single salary stretch.

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  15. Do You Ever Run Out Of Things to Blog About?
  16. Never, ever. Ever. We blog about our life and times… the projects that we are working on and outings that we have done lately. We seem to always be doing something, learning something and somehow creating heaps of blog post ideas as we go along. It helps to have readers ask questions, because then I know what they want to be reading… but mostly the story of our life and times just keeps on flowing, and the blog just keeps on blogging. Life with eight kids does mean that there is never, ever a dull moment!!! If you would like to ask us questions, feel free to ask away… I will make every effort to answer as best I can!!!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Readers Have Raised Another Library Book by Book…

May 12th, 2016 · 7 Comments

Since World Book Giving Day earlier this year we have been collecting books, sent to us by our readers from all over the world. We cannot thank you all enough.

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I always say at the start of our library project that you can build a library book by book… and then I worry just a little, that no books will arrive… and slowly but surely the books always come in… package after package has been arriving and we drop the books in a box and pop them in the garage. Well yesterday when we got all the books out of the garage we had twenty big boxes of books. I had no idea we had managed to accumulate so many books… just goes to show: Little by little you can really make a difference and the proof is in the pictures, you can build a library book by book…


Delivery Day

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We settled in the library with piles of books and a group of children… and every one was very polite and formal… at least one person couldn’t believe the boxes were full of books…

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And then we opened the boxes up and there were piles of books, books for everyone…

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And the more we unpacked the more everyone got involved…

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If you are wondering if the books you donated were received with excitement…

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Just take a look at these pictures…

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We discovered packages from far away friends… thank you all so much!!!

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So many treasures and so many of our own favourites were donated…

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A round of applause and thank you to all for sending books…

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Reading Together

I always see reading as a chance to go places, to escape the here and now and go anywhere in the world, not to mention anywhere in time. But today these books did so much more, books brought these young people together.

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The School

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Every year we carefully choose a school that really needs some help to build a library. A school that without our help would not have a library at all. This year we chose the Red River School in Manenberg, that recently moved into lovely new buildings. So new that the plants are just beginning…

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The moved from a previously inadequate and dilapidated school into their new facilities… unfortunately a school does not come equipped with resources. So they have a library but not nearly enough books to put in it, and because they have received funding for the school buildings there is absolutely no chance of any more funding for resources to fill it, like books.

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This school is in one of Cape Town’s most poverty stricken areas, these children do not come from a culture of reading there are no books at home and there is no chance of there being room in any family budget to buy the odd luxury, like a book.

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We arrived at break time and there was a playful atmosphere…

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The smiling happy faces belie the reality that is the world that these children live in.

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This school is a island in an area that is one of the gang capitals of the world, a neighbourhood notorious for poverty, gangsterism, drugs and domestic violence… the school is a haven for these children. Where just outside the gates the reality of their lives is awaiting them.

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The Library

I set our readers the task to fill the shelves and believe it or not, I think we have done that. Together you have given these children far more than a pile of books, you have given them a dream to hold onto. A library, literally a place to escape, in the middle of a crazy and confusing world… Once all the books have been catalogued and placed on the shelves… together we will have put a lot of books on these shelves…

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We can’t change the world, none of us can, but we can make a difference and even a little difference is good. The excitement amongst the teachers and children today, the eagerness to dive in and enjoy all their books was thrilling… I cannot express how much fun we had delivering these books on behalf of our readers… to all of you who joined in and took part, thank you so very much!!!


Previous Posts in this Series:


Libraries Our Readers Have Created in the Past


Living on the Southern tip of Africa, we are in a part of the world where reading isn’t actually the standard protocol and many many children have no access to books, let alone the luxury of books in their own language or books about their own culture, not for school, not for fun and certainly not at bedtime. We can change that, book by book… I firmly believe that wherever you are, and whatever situation you are in, you can always escape into a book… but that is only if you have an opportunity to connect with a book. The project that we choose will have children that need to be able to escape the world around them, more than most of us.

We would like to thank Biblionef South Africa, for helping us to find a community in our area that needs a library, over the years they have provided us with unprecedented support in helping us to pursue our dream to provide books for children just like ours, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to books. We would like to thank the St. James Educational Trust, that did all the organising and the communicating and liaison that we needed to keep this project rolling. And we would like to thank Pan MacMillan South Africa for their fabulous donation of books to our project. Most of all we would like to thank our readers for joining us on this adventure again!!!

→ 7 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Welcome to SNOW WORLD and a Family Pass GiveAway…

May 9th, 2016 · 24 Comments

Welcome to Snow World… you know we are a family of winter wimps. We come from a world of sunny skies and our winters are mild compared to many of our followers. Our winters are for us, cold and wet and a fairly good reason to hibernate for a couple of months of the year.

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Well this year Winter has come to us in the form of SNOW WORLD and we were invited to the launch last week… and we got an understanding of why our wintry followers love winter… We loved it… Now a picture paints a thousand words, so prepare yourself for a picture rich post and we have… A Family Ticket to GiveAway, all the details are at the end of this post.


The Welcome

We arrived to a warm welcome of Glühwein and cookies…

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The Alpine Village

Our first stop was at the Alpine village to set the scene, and to have a quick snack supper for the adults and giant hot dogs for the kids. Supper was quick because my kids knew the rides were waiting for them, and a little lingering was never part of their plan.

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The Ice Bar

Off the from the Alpine Village is an ice bar (serving drinks for adults), we all had to take a look at the ice sculpture and the furniture made from ice…

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Ice Age Animals

Scattered around the event are animals from the Ice Age, a mammoth or two and a sabre toothed tiger, to name a few. If you have a little tremulous person with you, then you can easily avoid them and slip past… but if you have a keen prehistoric lover then they will enjoy them and the fact boards that go along side them.

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The Party Fun

There is a party zone, that can be booked for parties and the gang tried it out for you, while they weren’t snowboarding. There was plenty of fun to be had… clowns and mimes, facepainting… and chillaxing…

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Magical Ice-cream

And let’s be honest a wintry world requires a special kind of ice-cream… Where have we been, welcome to the world of the N2IceCream Lab. Ice cream made with liquid ice-cream… totally totally cool!!!

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And Onto The Slides


The Small for Teeny Tots

Next to the snow play area there is a little solid slide of 1.2 m slide that my kids didn’t even glance at, but little people will love. My guys stopped to make a few snow balls and moved on…

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The Medium

This slide is called the radical dipper… and it is fast and furious and fun…

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The Large

And the downward spiral… this slide is grand in every way, up you go and down you spiral… I thought my kids would never go home… adults and kids were spinning their way down and dashing up again and again and again. There are plenty of helping hands standing alongside… at the top and the bottom to help you launch and to catch you at the finish… you will notice even the lesser spotted father person could not stop himself from joining the fun…

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The Snow Box

And finally, the reason why you dress warmly for this event… the Snow Box… Oh My!!! You can join a 20 minutes snowboarding class and do some snowboarding – they have all the gear right there. My gang were happy to fling themselves down the slippery slope again and again and again… and dare I say again. Snow tubing for the win.

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The Details and the GiveAway

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The show is at GrandWest… you can buy various tickets: the non-rider pass (snow play), the mini-pass (includes snow play and the ice slides), the snow and ice-rider pass (Snow play, the ice slides and the snow tubing), and the snow boarding pass (includes snow play, ice slides, snow tubing and snow boarding, which is not for under 6’s and comes with a 20 min snowboarding lesson). Everything you need to know about SNOW WORLD is up on their website…

We are giving away a family ticket: Four Ice-Rider Passes… for you and your kids to enjoy.

This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment, before the end of play on Saturday 14 May, 2016. 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 we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Naturally this GiveAway is open to Cape Town readers, who can easily get to Grand West… but never fear to our World Wide Readers… we have a couple more Give Aways for you all later on in the week.

We would like to thank Hippo Communications and Snow World for inviting us to the fabulous launch and for the GiveAway Tickets. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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→ 24 CommentsTags: Cape Town · GiveAways and Swaps · Outings · Saturday Spot