se7en

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

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It was Se7en Years Ago Today…

July 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

Today marks the day that we have been blogging for se7en years… I can’t believe it myself. It feels like a blink… but so much has changed since we began… And we really wanted to thank all our readers for their fabulous support and loyalty… and friendship.

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Yes, in the olden days when our blog was young… and we only had se7en kids. And I thought they were so grownup.

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Anyway we are celebrating by taking a break. After months of anticipation, I am finally off on an epic trip to Zambia, to plant trees with Greenpop.

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Our blog will be back in a couple of weeks with heaps of GiveAways, all good to go, and to tell you about the amazing adventure that I will have been on… So long and see you soon!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Blog News · Home Truths · Our Events

Se7en’s July and your Free Printable Calendar…

July 1st, 2015 · No Comments

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Can you believe it is July already. Welcome to our calendar post… At the beginning of each month we print out a new calendar, just click on the calendar and it will open in a new window, ready to print (print it using Landscape it just works better). Then we read through the blog post and pick the days that we would like to celebrate. We write those days out onto our calendar and pop the calendar onto the fridge. On the particular date we visit the website and have a look at the links or create a fun post for our blog.

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If you would like to now more about how we use our calendar for school as a fabulous resource of famous people and events then do pop over to the Almanac page for an explanation… Meanwhile, we hope you have a jolly July!!!

  • 1 July: Scarecrow Day
  • 1 July: Canada Day
  • 1 July 1863: Battle of Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863).
  • 1 July: International Joke Day
  • 2 July 1900: First Zeppelin Flew (1900).
  • 2 July 1937: Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937).
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  • 3 July 1937: International Plastic Bag Free Day.
  • 4 July 1776: American Day of Independence (1776).

  • 7 July 1883: Pinocchio first printed (1883).
  • 7 July: Macaroni Day.
  • 7 July: Star Festival Day (Japan)
  • 8 July: Liberty Bell Cracks.
  • 9 July: Sugar Cookie Day – Here is a list of our cookie recipes.
  • 10 July: Teddy Bears Picnic Day.
  • 11 July 1899: E.B. White’s Birthday (1899 – 1995).
  • 11 July: SkyLab fell to the Earth.
  • 12 July 1960: Etch a Sketch Introduced.

  • 12 July: Paper Bag Day.
  • 13 July: National French Fry Day (U.S.A).
  • 13 July: Bon fest and Feast of Lanterns (Japan).
  • 13 July: Puzzle Day.
  • 14 July: Bastille Day.
  • 15 July 1954: First Boeing 707.
  • 15 July 1606: Rembrandt Van Rijn’s Birthday (1606 – 1928).
  • 16 July 1969: Apollo 11 lifts off.
  • 16 July 1872: Roald Amundsen born (1872 – 1928).
  • 17 July 1955: Disneyland opened.

  • 18 July 1918: Nelson Mandela’s Birthday.
  • 18 July: Cow Appreciation Day.
  • 18 July: Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect 10 in the Olympic Games (1976).
  • 18 July: National Ice-Cream Day (U.S.A.).
  • 20 July: Chess Day.
  • 20 July: Ice Cream Soda Day.
  • 20 July 1969: First Moon Landing.
  • 21 July 1899: Ernest Hemingway Birthday (1899 – 1961).
  • 21 July: National Junk Food Day (U.S.A.).
  • 22 July 1284: Pied Piper Arrived in Hamelin.
  • 22 July 1898: Alexander Calder’s Birthday (1898 – 1976).
  • 23 July 1888: Pneumatic Tires Invented.
  • 23 July 1904: Ice Cream Cones Introduced.
  • 23 July: Mosquito Day.
  • 24 July: Celebrate the End of the Tour de France.
  • 24 July 1783: Simon Bolivar’s Birthday.
  • 24 July: Amelia Earhart Birthday
  • 25 July: F.B.I. Created.
  • 27 July 1940: Bugs Bunny Debut (1940).
  • 28 July 1866-1943: Beatrix Potter’s Birthday (1866 – 1943) .
  • 28 July: First Finger Prints.
  • 29 July: Lasagna Day.
  • 29 July 1958: NASA Established (1958).
  • 30 July: Cheese Cake.
  • 30 July 1818: Emily Bronte’s Birthday (1818).
  • 31 July 1965: J.K. Rowling’s Birthday (1965).
  • Hope you have a great July…

    → No CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar

    There is a Birthday in the House… Hood #6 is 9…

    July 1st, 2015 · 10 Comments

    It is indeed birthday season over here and today Hood #6 is nine… Nine entire years already…

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    This post is for our sweet gal,

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    Who loves a good book and would like to be Ottoline,

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    The gal who is so good at making new friends,

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    Who loves arting…

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    And making…

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    And the great outdoors…

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    To the gal who is braver than brave…

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    And funnier than funny…

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    Always looking for new adventures…

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    And full of hilarious antics…

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    The funny one…

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    The nutty one…

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    Always up above us one…

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    To the gal who is not afraid of a challenging challenge…

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    And always ready to play…

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    To a gal that loves some fine head gear…

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    Did I mention funny…

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    To the gal that likes wild days…

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    Who has her own special style…

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    Special style…

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    To the girl who always has to play…

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    To the girl who loves living things…

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    To the girl who is serious about fairies…

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    To the girl who loves making friendss…

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    To the girl who was once so teeny tiny…

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    Happy Brilliant Birthday… We are so looking forward to all the wonderful things that being nine brings!!!


    Previous Brilliant Birthdays:


    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2014

    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2013

    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2012

    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2011

    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2010

    Happy Birthday to Hood #6 2009

    → 10 CommentsTags: Our Events

    Se7en + 1 More HomeSchool Questions, Asked and Answered…

    June 30th, 2015 · 8 Comments

    A couple of weeks back I posted a homeschool post and asked our readers if they had any homeschooling questions. So here are your homeschooling questions asked and answered, there is no theme, just as they arose… and really I can only tell you about our homeschooling journey. Every homeschooling journey is unique and in time you will find your own way and the path that works best for your family.

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    Se7en + 1 Homeschool Questions Asked and Answered

    1. What does your typical day looks like?
    2. Hmmm, this is not as easy to answer this question as you think, because in the scheme of life typical days are hard to find. And a homeschool is always evolving, from season to season, lazy afternoons of summer to cold crispy wintery mornings. Our days are broken up into chunks of time, the endless weaving of life seems to naturally divide our life into time for meals and time for chores, time for learning and time for exploring, time for working and time for resting.

      We do have a day that we aim for and it looks something like this: Breakfast is followed by family school time, when we all sit around the table and work together. Mid-morning we take a break outdoors. After this the children work on their own projects, their own history journal and science and any work books that they are working through. I usually spend one-on-one time with everyone during this time slot, as long as they need, and different children on different days. Followed by lunch… during lunch I will read to them. And immediately after lunch everyone reads, including myself, for about an hour. Some folk continue to read for hours and others can’t wait to dash off and play outdoors. Each to their own. Most afternoons are free for playing, I guard their time fairly fiercely and don’t fill it up with “things to do,” free time is free time and their’s to spend as however they would like.

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    3. How do you know when they are doing enough activities?
    4. The answer to this question follows on immediately from the previous question. I have a feeling that if our children are busy and engaged during their free time then they are probably doing quite enough activities. If they don’t have free time, then clearly the are doing too much. And if they are bored during their free time then they are probably getting far to used to being entertained by someone else and most likely have too many activities on their cards. The thing is children love activities – I know mine do. There is nothing on earth that they wouldn’t sign up for. That doesn’t mean that they have to do them all. In the world where many children have far too much and many more have far too little, it is very hard to find the right balance.

      While the price of extra-murals quickly adds up, especially if on has eight children. Our decision to do very few activities outside of school actually aligns with our school philosophy in general, than with financial or time limitations. It just makes more sense to encourage a lifestyle that includes exercise naturally and a daily run/walk, than a number of children sitting in a car waiting for their siblings to finish sport. In the same vein, we would prefer that our children developed a habit of creating, generating their own projects and spending their days inventing their own art or scientific projects than necessarily sitting in a class being told what to create. When our children are old enough to find their own way to and from activities they tend to explore further afield and I have no problem with out sourcing things that they are eager to learn. Right now our extra-murals include a foreign language for our high-schoolers, the boys all do woodwork once a month and we spend one day a month in the local nature reserve. However my kids don’t call those extra-murals they are fully part of their schooling experience.

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    5. This looks like too much fun, when do they actually learn?
    6. What you see on instagram and our blog are not necessarily the gnashing of teeth that goes hand in hand with our cultures typical idea of learning. To be honest, homeschooling isn’t school at home and a lot of what our children do really is fun. They learn a lot from being read to, they learn a lot from looking things up and doing research and they learn a lot while they are playing. But what about the drudgery? What about the writing assignments or the math practice? Yes, there are assignments that they balk at and before you think my children are all perfectly sitting around the table doing whatever I ask of them, they don’t. But experience has shown them that if they work hard at something they are a lot more likely to get into a topic and enjoy it… what you put in really is what you get out.

      Also, after years of homeschooling I have learnt to find an alternative way to get things done, for example the same child that cannot face doing any sort of creative writing assignment has a shoe box full of stories they have written in notebooks all beautifully illustrated and carefully written out word for word. Apparently writing books is more her thing and actually I can live with that. When it comes to math, nobody here loves it, except maybe me (!!!), and so I do that alongside them and we figure out what needs to be done in an exercise before they go off and do it. When that exercise is done then they can book another appointment and spend some more time alongside me preparing the next exercise… eventually they all get back to me. Some take a little longer than others, but that’s another reason why we homeschool – folks can work at their own pace. I can say that there was one day when everyone did math voluntarily and the very next day there was snow on the streets of Cape Town… coincidence, I think not!!!

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    7. Everyone Says Homeschoolers Have to do Nature Journals… Where do I begin?
    8. I actually thought that the whole idea of homeschooling was that you do what works of your family, so if your family is not into nature journals – really don’t go there. REALLY. The idea that everyone is doing something specific is really just another version of the whole comparison story and actually the one thing that everyone should be doing is just not comparing their homeschool with someone else.

      That being said, we do have nature journals, they are not filled with beautifully pressed flowers, or beautifully illustrated notes on the observations we have made… in fact not even all that beautiful. We do what works for us, which is really a blank notebook, with a 4B pencil, that goes in their backpacks on every single outing, hike or otherwise, with us. And when we take a break they tend to take out their nature journals and draw. Sometimes they will fill their journals with watercolours, or pencil crayons when they get home and other times they won’t. One of them likes to make notes, others don’t. There are no rules. I reckon if they are drawing then they are observing and they are learning. I draw alongside them and I really enjoy that it is something that we do together. We don’t plan special nature journaling days, except occasionaly, but never underestimate the power of spontaneity and opportunity though, if we visit the museum, or the park or the aquarium then they will most likely draw in them.

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    9. Where do your children find friends?
    10. This could be the socialisation question all over again. Homeschooled children are not taught in isolation, they are taught while living and because of that they have a lot of scope to meet folk of all ages and stages over days and even weeks. My children seem to have no problem accumulating friends and like I have friends with the different things that I do, so do they. Our calendar is packed with folk stopping by and I am guessing that if we had one or two kids it would look like one or two visitors a week, but with eight the stream of friends in and out of our house is somewhat endless, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. They do tend not to know that they should be friends with people just they own age and they have a wide range of age group friends, from the grannies and students that they meet at church and youth group, my friends and friends that they have gathered from just living life. In fact, can I just say that it is actually impossible for our kids not to find friends, at the beach, in the library, to and from the store… passing the same folk everyday.

    11. So how exactly do you use the 100 Lessons in your School?
    12. The question of teaching your kids to read often comes up on our blog and we do use the book “Teach your Kids to Read in 100 Lessons.” I have to emphasise that 100 lessons is not 100 days and unless you have an extremely motivated parent-child team you will not have a child reading in three months time. Reading is one of those things that society says your children have to do by the time they start primary school, grade 1 at the latest. The truth is that some children start much earlier and tons of children start much later. I have said it before and I will say it again, literacy and reading are to different things. Literacy is about engaging with and absorbing books and in this day and age, reading is not the only way to get that done and there is no reason why a child that doesn’t read well needs to be illiterate, there are plenty of tools available to help the reader who is taking a while to grasp the skills.

      This leads onto reading, which of course is a decoding skill. We have found that our children tend to stagger their learning – a few lessons in a row and then the book is abandoned for a while, wile that stage is absorbed, suddenly they get it and ready for the next step. Of course, a little bit every day helps a lot, but the “learning to read” brain likes to take a couple of steps forward from time to time. I have to say that a couple of times we have started the 100 lessons enthusiastically and then given up… the child in question was just not quite ready. If you find yourself battling then put it aside and try again later, eventually there is nothing you can do to stop them sounding out words and trying new words.

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    13. If your children are sharing a core, do you buy two lots of books?
    14. This is a very specific Sonlight question and since we are avid Sonlighters let me see if I can answer it. A core is Sonlight’s term for grade level, and all of our children actually do their own cores. They do partner up for some subjects, I have found it useful for them to have a partner to work with for science and I have never found the need for them to have their own books. They share books happily, if there is a book that more than one person is using then that book is left in a communal place, like on the coffee table. Keeping in mind that they never have to read much more than a double spread from any book on a given day, and that doesn’t take long at all, I think it is perfectly feasible to expect them to share a book. If it is a book that they have to fill in, a consumable book, then naturally they each get their own – but mostly if a book overlaps then they take turns to get their reading done.

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      And the se7en + 1 the question…

    15. What do our younger kids do during family reading time?
    16. Ever since we began homeschooling there have been little people underfoot while we do school and I have to say there is a period of time when you can do almost no reading unless little people are asleep. For my first born I used to get up with him really early and we had all his school reading done by the time the others started to emerge. A nursing babe in arms was always an excuse to do a little more reading. But there is that sweet time in a little person’s life when they have to have all your attention and reading to someone else is not that… I made it a priority to always have our next school book with us, in the car, in the park – anywhere where those little people might fall asleep and take a even a momentary nap.

      Most of our reading takes place at the table right now, as soon as I have finished eating, I begin reading, while we wait for the younger slower munchers. Also there are a couple of toys next to the table and if I read for “too long” they will perhaps get out a puzzle and play a little. Otherwise I shake it up somewhat and will go and read outside, there is no end to things that little people can discover to do and play with while I am reading in a shady spot or with our feet dipping into a paddle pool. I do have a low tolerance for noise around me while I am reading – I cannot have children scrabbling with lego, while I am trying to read but I don’t mind if they are drawing. I can’t have little side-conversations, or folk talking to me while we are reading… there is a time and a place to talk to me and its not actually while I am reading.

      I know when my children were really small I would even read to them while they were in the bath… and almost always their story book for the day would become a bed time story. Leaving bed time stories until bedtime though never really worked for us because toddlers tend to get desperate for sleep and can be somewhat disruptive… immediately after their afternoon nap, while they are sleepy and kind of hazy was a good time to do that last bit of reading. The trick really is to find the moments and if you don’t have enough moments in a day then you are probably aiming a little high. One or two pages of history, one or two pages of science, a bible story and a chapter book are about as much as we can handle for any school day… more than that I am floundering about. So perhaps lessening your load and expectations during the busy toddler season is an idea for conquering this as well.

    Click on the button below to find many more homeschooling questions that we have asked and answered before and if you have a question feel free to ask away and I will address it as soon as I can…

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    → 8 CommentsTags: Se7en at School

    Sunday Snippet: From the Rising of the Sun…

    June 30th, 2015 · 2 Comments

    Our Bible Verse of the Week…

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    Psalm 113:3

    From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

    The name of the Lord is to be praised.


    Week by Week

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    → 2 CommentsTags: Sunday Snippet

    Saturday Spot: Se7en Visit Cape Gate’s Winter Ice Slides…

    June 29th, 2015 · 6 Comments

    So it is mid-winter over here, which means three days of hard rain followed by a day of sunshine and then again. And a whole lot of cold thrown in for good measure. The one thing we do not have is snow… on the distant mountains, a day’s drive away, maybe. But not where we live.

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    Very occasionally there is snow on the top of Table Mountain, um and we all know that’s a fair climb. Snow on the ground that you can actually play with is not a feature in our wintry world. So much so, that our kids have never seen actual snow before.

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    But hold on, it is also a mid-year break for most schools, and plenty of parents are desperately looking for fun things to do. And there are heaps of things available for kids to do all over Cape Town… not least of all…


    CAPE Gate’s Winter Ice Slide

    Some folk were fairly excited about trying this out, so much so that they got up before dawn on Saturday morning to be there by opening time…

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    You can read all the details about times and ticket prices here… But, if you ask my girls, what you really need to know is “What to wear?” Is it hot or cold, wet or dry… there was a lot of pondering and debate. Well cold, because it is a cold time of year, but layers are what you need, because as soon as they have run up and down the ramps a couple of times they are going to be hot. Also they are riding in inner tubes… so even our wildest creatures remained dry throughout. So layers of regular clothes for having fun… and there will be fun… lots of it.

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    They were still getting everything ready when we arrived, but the purpose of the mysterious tunnel soon became apparent…this is where your tobogganists will emerge from they 45m high slide.

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    Yes… you could hear certain people launch from the top and go AAAALLLLL the way down… let me just say, this is not a quiet activity!!!

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    But if you are looking for action to cope with energetic cabin fever… then look no further, this will certainly tick all the boxes for using up excess energy!!!

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    Tobogganing is a Winner

    Everybody loved it, some in their cool, calm and collected way… and others less so!!!

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    So, scream with joy all the way down and dash to the very top again and repeat until you just can’t anymore…

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    Did I mention and repeat…

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    A warm drink…


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    Ahem if your drink is too hot… you can always cool it down…

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    There is a Smaller Slope

    For those who don’t think they can handle a 45 m downhill run, there is a smaller slope… It looks just as much fun!!!

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    And requires quite a bit of energetic launching up and down the slope…

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    Thank you so much to Cape Gate and Hippo Communications for inviting us to the launch of their Winter Ice Slide. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it, the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.

    → 6 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Saturday Spot

    Se7en’s Fabulous Fun #281…

    June 29th, 2015 · 7 Comments

    Gotta love weekends. Cape Town is cold and wet, but in true Cape Town style that means plenty of sunshine and blue skies as well…

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    I have a couple of surprises up my sleeve for you all this week… and about half a dozen pending posts in my draft folder. However the days seem to be screaming past and before I know it I will be winding my way across Africa in a bus… So let me get on and post away and hopefully I will leave you with some interesting snippets to read… Meanwhile you can follow my adventure with the GreenPop gang…


    GreenPop in Zambia


    Greenpop on Tumbler.

    Greenpop on Instagram.

    Greenpop on Twitter.

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    Lovely Links from This Week

    1. Well this… anyone thinking of a quick stopover in London!!! Love this Virtual Field Trip to London, England on Simple Homeschool.
    2. And I can’t help myself… summer and cooking out… just looks so good from our wintry world… Camping Recipes on Imagine Childhood.
    3. Wow, food for thought, every now and then we should stop and ask ourselves this question: If You Could be Anything on the art of Simple.
    4. Well I love Alisa Burke and of course markers… take a peak at Alisa Burke’s Markers.
    5. So many fab ideas on this post… the sort of post to look back to again and again and again: Nature Walk Fun
    6. Gotta love how Zen Habits travels… that’s pretty much our style… the less you have to carry, wherever you are, the better.
    7. And on A Beautiful Mess… this post pure is GOLD: “Our top 12 Posts About Blogging.”
    8. And the se7en + 1th…

    9. If you are looking for some outer space fun… dash over to Playing by the Book for some Food from Out of this World!!!

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    Winter Holiday Fun in Cape Town

    Schools are out and there are holiday activities everywhere, here are some of our tried and tested ones…

    1. City SightSeeing and the Red City Bus Tours has a fabulous special over the holidays, (pay for 1 adult and 2 kids under 18 go free). you haven’t done this with your kids it is totally worth it, all ages will really enjoy it.
    2. During the school holidays Kirstenbosch has free entry for under 18’s. Here’s their Winter Holiday Program.
    3. Cape Union Mart has Fun events all over the country.
    4. There is always something going on at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
    5. The Winter Ice-Slide at Cape Gate, our kids went down there and loved it!!!
    6. Take in a show: Snow White and the Se7en Dwarfs, the Musical is on at Canal Walk.
    7. In the great outdoors you just can’t beat: The Company’s Gardens or GreenPoint Park.
    8. And if you need to get away into the wilds without leaving the city then Rondevlei and Intaka Island are your very best and extremely affordable bets.


    A Blast From the Past:


    Book of the Week

    This book was inhaled by Hood #4, along with the rest of the series. I always say that everyone has a book that switches them on to reading… before that book reading is work and kind of stumble as you lurch through a chapter a day because you must. Then you discover your book and you read the whole thing without noticing the chapters fly by, and when you get to the end of it, you kind of wish you hadn’t. Well Bear Gryll’s Mission Survival series have been those books for Hood #4, they electrified his reading. The books are survival books, set all over the world in different circumstances. Each book has a survival theme and a small section at the end of the book teaching essential survival skills.

    This is the eighth book in the series and with plenty of good books before it, you are transported to the heart of the Himalayas. The hero of the series, Beck Granger is hiking through the mountains with two friends, who appear to be fairly shady characters, ex-assassins and such like. Surviving in the wilds of the Himalayas, flash floods and wild animals, appears to be mild compared to the people he encounters in the book. Throughout the series there is this underlying mystery regarding Beck’s background. Exciting stuff, of the middle school variety, just above the level of the beginner chapter book reader. Short sharp chapters and easy reading and of course packed with survival tips, for in the wilds. Should you ever need them!

    Lair of the Leopard was given to us for review purposes by Penguin books South Africa, we were not paid for this review and the opinions expressed are our own.

    That’s us… Hope your weekend has been a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all… not to mention a GiveAway or Two…

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    → 7 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun