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

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A Fabulous Fun Post… #363

April 16th, 2018 · 2 Comments

It has been a while since we had a Fabulous Fun Post… so sending you all some wonderful links from around the Webisphere… Otherwise we are waving hello from beautiful sunny Cape Town… the season is definitely changing… crisp mornings and evenings but glorious days that linger on and on!!!

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Event of the Week

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I am so looking forward to this: A Women’s Wellness Workshop at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. The first in a series of three workshops for women… honestly, I can’t wait.

Lovely Links

  1. Babyccinos has a lovely series of fabulous Picture Book Artists tell us their Top Ten Favourite Children’s Books: Have a look at Bruce Ingman and would you just look at Alan Ahlberg’s Top Ten…
  2. Oh Sonlight, why did you!!! New History of Science Curriculum. And it all looks so lovely!!! After carefully making sure we had a full library they have added a little bit of irresistible to their library.
  3. This is right up there with totally magical… The Imagination Tree and Two Ingredient Unicorn Dough.
  4. I cannot get enough of Handmade Charlotte and her Ghana Inspired Doll collection… in fact her entire round the world collection, everything to love.
  5. Food for thought… and for anyone that has ever waitressed anywhere: I’m a Female Chef. Here’s how my restaurant dealt with harassment from customers… in the Washington Post.I might have posted this one before but it is so incredible I am posting it again…
  6. A sneak peek into beautiful picture book: Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill.
  7. I can’t resist post that inspire play: Childhood 101 on 7 Essentials for Creating an Outdoor Play Area Kids Will Adore.
  8. I love the sketchbook projects of Jennie Maizels, we interviewed her here… And she has recently launched her sketchbook classes online, take a look at her video and be inspired.

A Blast From the Past:

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Book/Movie of the Week

We are having a little Beatrix Potter Study over here…

First we went to see the new Peter Rabbit movie, and really enjoyed it, then we watched Miss Potter together and now we are brining a couple of these tiny books home from the library each week.

I have to say I thought they would be quite tricky to read and I have been yearning after the audible version of the Complete Collection for ages. Recently, we started taking a handful out of the library each week delightful and engaging stories are being read and throughly enjoyed by all of us. There is a reason these books are classical classics… they really are fun. Get some from the library and read them… they are sweet. Otherwise, we are so inspired by the beautiful illustrations… our nature notebooks are rocking it this year.

That’s us… hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Fun

There was a Birthday in the House…

April 11th, 2018 · 4 Comments

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Happy Beautiful Birthday

To our funky, feisty gal…

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The dreamer of dreams…

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Full of fabulous ideas…

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Always good for a laugh…

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And the baker of many many treats…

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The bravest big sister…

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The beach clean-up professional…
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The shark lover…

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The teacher of ocean awareness…

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The girl who can talk all day…

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My ocean kid…

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Who loves working away…

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And reading and reading…

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The girl who never gives up…

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The girl with the biggest brown eyes…

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I can’t believe how quickly se7enteen years have flown past…

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Sensational Sixteen

Fantastic Fifteen…

There was a Fabulous Fourteen…

And a Thrilling Thirteen…

A Talented Twelve…

An Exciting Eleven…

And a Totally Ten…

A Nice Nine…

And an Endless Eight…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Home Truths

What’s New And Exciting in Books from PanMacMillan South Africa…

April 9th, 2018 · 2 Comments

I blogged about books throughout March, and now that it is April… nothing has changed. Brace yourself for a whole lot more book posts. First up is a post about the recent PanMacmillan showcase for children’s books, this is a highlight of our literary year and my gang is fully committed to it… year after year after year… what can I say… books + cake = commitment!!! In this post I am going to tell you all about PanMacmillan Kids books that will be launching this year… lots and lots of epic reads for all ages and stages…

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The Theme for their showcase: The PanMacmillan Book Safari

You don’t have to say twice… there was an Animal Safari Theme and, “Would you like to dress up?” Apparently they did! They threw themselves into this project with boundless enthusiasm. Days were spent deciding and pondering, who or what to be… and the chaos that is an entire family working away on grand scale projects…

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Needless to say they turned out well and won the dressing up prize of a big bag of books.
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A very happy result!!!
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The Feast: at Moyo Restaurant in Kirstenbosch Gardens

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Always a fantastic themed feast, Moyo restaurant is great for banquets of the book safari variety…

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And would you look at the cake… spectacular…
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And the watering hole…
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The Speakers


One thing I can say for the PanMacmillan speakers, who hail form South Africa and the U.K., is that they have very obviously read the books that they are presenting and they can tell you all about them with great enthusiasm. There is nothing like someone who has actually read the books, and loved them… telling you which books should be your next read.

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First up was Macmillan Children’s Books:

  • There is going to be more Julia Donaldson, who is bigger than Harry Potter in sales… she is bringing our The Cook and the King, the king is looking for the very best cook and through a series of trials and errors, ends up cooking for himself. There are also going to be sound books and wait for it… a Room on the Broom Cook Book.
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  • There are going to be more Stories in the TreeHouse from Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton… just saying…
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  • And there is a new Emily Gravett, Cyril and Pat… and squirrel and rat who are best friends. We just can not wait!!!
  • Chris Riddell, unmissable of course… hooray, hooray!!! Once Upon a Time in the Woods… filled with his classic illustrations.
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  • Campbell Board Books are absolutely stunning… across the board (!!!) beautiful illustrations, packed with colour, simple yet lots to explore… great great books for little people and their grown ups to enjoy.
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  • Also from Campbell Board Books… have you met carousel books… have a look at Mermaid Kingdom… there are more in the series: enchanted forests, unicorns, and fairies. Very sweet, very hands on…
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  • For older readers… Children of Blood and Bone is my next read and apparently going to be the book of the year. A debut novel by Tomi Ayedemi, a quest for power and journey frought with struggle and a cliffhanger of note. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian, a fantasy novel, where Princess Theodora’s country is invaded when she was six and she is renamed Ash a title of shame… a story of revenge and the invaders may well have underestimated the crown princess. Another one my teens are going to be reading.
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  • Meanwhile, Kat Wolfe investigates by Lauren St. John is a middle grade reader… that we have been enjoying together as a read a loud. Kat Wolfe is twelve years old, her mom is a vet and one night they have a break in, and her mum decides it is time to move to the country. Kat decides to start a pet-sitting agency to make pocket money, and finds herself in the centre of a mystery… fun reading.
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  • Not to mention piles of fabulous picture books…

Followed by Hachette Books:

  • Let’s start with the magical Oi Books by Kes Gary and Jim Field: These books are superb, superb. The next Oi book is Oi Duck-billed Platypus, and you can expect hilarious rhyming fun for word lovers of all ages and stages.
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  • The Brilliant Women Series: looks fabulous… encouraging girls to go on and do something brilliant!!!
    Brilliant Women, by Georgia Amson-Bradshaw and illustrated by Rita Petruccioli: Can I just say that I love this series: Amazing Artists and Designers; Pioneers of Science and Technology; Heroic Leaders and Activists and Incredible Sporting champions. I am all for the rise of women heroines in kids literature right now, but I especially like that these books cover activities that girls are interested in. So many books in this category are all about saying girls can be anything, and then look at a handful of famous women who might have done something in a male dominated career. The hidden message is of course, girls can be anything, especially if it is something that men traditionally did. My questions is: why can’t girls just be girls, there seems to be a less empowering message that says being a girly girl isn’t good enough. This series of books is great, it squashes the hidden agenda, it looks at famous women working in careers that would appeal to my girls. Coco Chanel, Caroline Herschel, Mary Anning, and Ada Lovelace, to name a few.
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  • Superpower Science: A series of fantastical and energetic vintage style comic book, super heroes, who ask incredible questions and live by them. For instance, “If you were a time traveler, what would be a consequence of your super speediness?” or “If you were a shape shifter what would happen to your clothes?” Solid scientific methodology and solid questions.
  • The Wizard of Once by Cressida Cowell: We totally loved this and are eagerly awaiting book 2 this year. If you haven’t read the first book in this series, then read it already!!! And while we are talking about book 2, there will be a second Nevermore… and there are people in our house that just can’t wait for that one either.
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  • Pat-A-Cake board books: Bright, chunky fun… you will want these for your coffee table… these books are so fabulous. Books that open up, stretch up, funky colours… and as appealing to the grownups of small people as they are to the small people.
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  • Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field: We absolutely adore Rabbit and Bear. The cantankerous rabbit and wise wise bear, and all their woodland friends make a great couple. There are lots of hilarious incidents and perfect for beginner readers, just lurching out of the easy reader stage of reading. The stories are funny and engaging, with a pearl of wisdom buried inside them too.
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  • There is a Claude Collection by Alex T. Smithlaunching… Yes please!!! And a TV series to match. Claude and his most affable friend, socky, are just delightful… can never get enough of them.
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  • Two new middle-grade heroes on the block, Mr Penguin… another Alex T. Smith hero, and this fellow: Iguana boy by James Bishop and illustrated by Rikin Parekh, who happens to have the lamest super power ever… Dillon can talk to iguanas, and can I just say iguanas are all the same they are either called Paul or Pauline… I know my kids will love this!!!
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes: This book was in our goody bags and I dashed home to read it. Contemporary fiction, the story of a young black lad shot and killed by a white cop… topical, I think so. When Jerome dies, he is able to look at the world from a very different angle. He can see his parents grief, and he can visit the home of the cop he shot him and he discover’s that there are some folk out there that are aware of him… his relationships with his one and only friend, his sister and the cops daughter are all brought into the story. It is gut wrenching, but nothing that your tween/teen kids can’t cope with. Jerome very quickly realises that he is not alone, there is an army of boys who have been through what he has been through and with the help of the cop’s daughter they start to raise more awareness. A powerful book about racial injustice, this book is a thought provoking must read, that will help kids to talk about a topic that is just so horrific to us that while we might want to turn away, we just can’t afford too.
  • Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin: Is a graphic novel about a young boy from Ghana, called Ebo. It is the story of his treacherous and harrowing journey from Ghana to Europe… this is the story of so many refugee children. Looking forward to a chance to read this one. You can meet Eoin Colfer over here, and Andrew Donkin has a website here.
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: Another very topical book, this time looking gender… and the crazy things that teens do that, in a split second can change the direction of their life forever. The life of Sasha who identifies as agender, and attends an upmarket school in Oakland, California collides with the life of African American teenager, Richard from a local public school, on the 57 bus. Apart from their passing on the bus each day their lives should never have met… but one day Sasha falls asleep on the bus home and Richard and a couple of friends were playing a stupid game on the bus with a lighter and one thing leads to another and Sasha wakes up engulfed in flames… rushed to hospital and several operations and skin grafts later… Richard is charged for a hate-crime and life-imprisonment. The thing about this book is that it is a true story, you can read about it here.
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  • And amongst other great reads… I am just going to say it is the year of the Unicorn.

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And of course Walker Books…

Lots of familiar friends… Timmy Failure will be back, there will be more of our friend Where’s Wally… Atinuke’s Baby Goes to Market is delightful, as is Giraffe Problems by Jory John.

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Not to mention Roger and Sally from Priddy Books…

My love for bright and beautiful, picture rich Priddy books doesn’t end…

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I cannot begin to express how excited I am about see Priddy classics like First 100 Words, in local languages. It is so critical for children to have books in their own language… full marks to Priddy Books for this new feature. Otherwise lots of lovely wipe-clean books, and let’s pretend books and the Smart Kids series, that my guys really wanted to get inside and explore. these books are so great and they are always coming up with new and intriguing ideas… tactile books, that you want to touch and feel, brilliant illustrations and photographs… truly engaging books that you can rely on always appealing.
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The Book Table


Obviously there was a book table smothered in the latest and greatest reads and this is where we really stopped and took our time exploring… here are our favourites:
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Living on the Veg by Clive Gifford and Jacqueline Meldrum: This looked like the most fabulous vegetarian book for kids, not because we are vegetarian ourselves… but because quite frankly… nobody eats enough fruit and veg ever and if I was looking for a book to inspire my kids… to want to try something new, or venture into eating food they already love with a vegetarian twist, then I am all for that. This is not just a recipe book, it covers all sorts of vegetarian topics… why be vegetarian, famous vegetarians, be a healthy vegetarian… all introduced in a bright, fun and readable way. This book would be great for curious kids and their parents, there is lots of information in there, its not preachy at all, just presenting the facts, followed by lots of delicious recipes. You can meet the author Clive Gifford here, and Jacqueline Meldrum, whose blog Tinned Tomatoes is fabulous, here.

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Three Cheers for Women by Marcia Williams: There is a theme in children’s literature right now… and it is all about women. I am all for it. To be honest, when I read a pile of biographies to my kids they don’t really mind if the hero is a male or a female, what I love is that there are a lot more heroine’s around for my children to emulate, than they were when I was a child. Not to mention, we are huge Marcia Williams fans… and quite a few of our favourites are in there… Let’s hear a “Hoorah!!!” for Wangari Maathai!!! Marcia Williams detailed comic strips are perfect for readers of all ages and stages, there is plenty to read on every level in here. We love her comic strips and you can take a look at Marcia Williams’ website here.
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Books We Can’t Wait to Read


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The Glorious Goodie Bag

One of the many treats of a Panmacmillan book showcase is the absolutely lovely goody bags… and as soon as we could escape to the Kirstenbosch Gardens we did, for a collapse and a perusal of our goody bags.

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We dashed out into the gardens to fins a shady spot to enjoy them in… tons of books to read and explore… all the fun!!!
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Blast from the Past


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We would really like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa for this fantastic event, for the invitation and of course the extra special treatment. This post is not sponsored in any way and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s April and Your Free Printable Calendar…

April 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

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Welcome to April and here is your free printable calendar… click on it and it should open in a fresh window, print it landscape and colour away. We add a couple of dates we especially want to remember to our calendar before we pop it onto our noticeboard.

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→ No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

Happy Easter to all our Friends…

April 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

With love from the gang…

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Matthew 28:6


He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

The Great Easter Round-up

Palm Sunday

Colourful Palm Leaf Crosses…

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Easter Crafts

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Se7en Things to do the Week Before Easter…

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Se7en Egg-stra Special Easter Craft Ideas…

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An Easy Easter Tree in Se7en Steps…

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A Mighty Moses Scavenger Hunt…

Easter Traditions:

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Sunday Snippet: Passover and a Platter of Palgues…

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Sunday Snippet: Passover Resources For Kids…

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Easter Recipes:

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Jelly Bean Biscotti to Die For in Se7en Steps!

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Greek Easter Bread in Se7en Steps…

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Hot Cross Buns in Se7en Steps…

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Easy Baked Easter Cheese Cake in Se7en Steps…

→ No CommentsTags: Happy Holidays · Holiday Crafts

A Weekend of Running and the Two Oceans Marathon…

April 1st, 2018 · 6 Comments

Every year for as long as we can remember we have watched the Two Oceans Marathon with enthusiasm… we are avid followers, but never ever expected to be a part of it. The Two Oceans Marathon is a 56km ultra-marathon that runs down one side of the Cape Peninsula and up the other… and it crosses across the Peninsula through our seaside town, Fish Hoek. While I could only dream of being part of the main race I was totally thrilled to be asked to run the 5.6km, (yup that is one tenth of the main event), as the brand ambassador for The Healthy Weight Programme at Sport Science… My year of working out just became totally and utterly a dream come true for me.

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The Two Oceans Expo


This is event is for runners to collect their race numbers… but is in essence a runner’s paradise. Packed with tons of fun activities… and of course our first stop was the Sport Science Institute of South Africa stand…
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Had a chat with the team…
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And discovered that homeschoolers, might skew the stats a little, because who ever has to get up early for school…
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If you only have to get as far as the kitchen table.
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Everyone had a turn on the Grucox machine… and only one person loved it… don’t believe what their faces say(!!!) and one person couldn’t even reach the pedals.
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Otherwise there were competitions and giveaways…
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And masses of athletic apparel…
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Leggings and socks as far as the eye can see…
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And would you look at this… foundation wear… with super helpful staff, with actual tape measures, doing actual measuring and fabulous show specials… no one is happier than I am. Because I have literally been looking around for a year…
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And of course route maps…
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And thrilling beyond thrilling…
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A race number for the Fun Run for me…
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The 5.6km Fun Run


So weird to think that I am running in an actual Fun Run, with a water table and well 5.6km… so weird in fact that it rained. Yes, drought stricken Cape Town, got such a shock, that it poured… apart from that I hardly slept the night before because I was so excited… and was just a little stressed about the parking and I needn’t have given it a thought.

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An nervously optimistic me at the start… chasing 3500 runners around UCT Campus…
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And getting caught in the rain…
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Strangest thing… I am thinking maybe it wasn’t my typical route, so wasn’t sure where to stop and rest… so I kind of forgot to rest and just kept running…
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Not to mention that I was just so excited to be part of anything related to the Two Oceans Marathon, that I blinked and we were half way…
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And then it was all over…
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I will just whisper… “way too soon…” I was having a blast…
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I totally did it, I didn’t die… I didn’t fade, I just came, I ran and I got the medal to prove it. Kind of thrilling really… considering a year ago I could not even run around the teeny tiny track at gym.

The 56km Event


Race day dawned bright and cheery… it was just a little blustery to start… and I am thinking a lot of runners would have preferred the rain we had the day before… anyway it is what it is… and race day means run, whatever the weather.
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We weren’t the only ones waiting for the runners…
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Twenty Five Thousand runners and so many runners run right past us…
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And when your oldest kid is a trumpeter…
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So very many many many athletes… and all the associated bikes and bicycles and trucks and traffic cones…
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And a rhino…
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And as fast as they arrived… so the runners were gone again…
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So long Two Oceans Marathon until 2019, when the race celebrates it’s fiftieth anniversary… exciting times ahead.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Healthy Living · Outings · Visit Cape Town

What We Have Been Reading from Bumble Books…

March 27th, 2018 · No Comments

Good quality, locally published books are great for children wherever they are. Children need stories written in their own context. Stories about everyday life, like new siblings, family adventures and elephants growing on trees. These stories can be read and enjoyed by children all over the world, but they will be especially loved by local children.

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A while back we took a trip into the City of Cape Town, for our favourite story time at the Book Lounge… and these are the books we read:
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My Great Expedition

My Great Expedition by Justin Fox and Illustrated by Lucy Stuart-Clark: When I was extremely young, really very very young, my parents took a wandering trip through Europe, a grand tour so to speak. I was the youngest of a couple of siblings, and had my first birthday in Switzerland, wandered through German Christmas markets… a tour of Rome; Athens in the heart of summer; not to mention a visit to the Eiffel Tower, Loch Ness and the farm of Beatrix Potter. This trip somehow got into my blood and I have been traveling ever since. Decades later and Justin Fox has written a picture book of a similar adventure that he took in his childhood, the adventure of a lifetime that resulted in him growing up to be renowned travel journalist.

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Travelling with kids inspires them to great things… if you live with a young and inspired traveler then this book will take them places. This is the story of Justin’s Grand Tour as a six year old, with his favourite soft toy, Liony. This book is richly illustrated, each spread is packed with things to look for and explore. Collage brings the whole book into three dimensional life, and the artist has made good use of family photographs and artifacts from their trip, make the whole book feel like a family scrapbook. We have to say, so well done to the illustrator, Lucy Stuart-Clark, who makes this book literary jump off the page.
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We really enjoyed the story, Justin’s older siblings breeze in and out of the story, as older siblings do… the family relaxes and visits landmark cities and popular destinations on their journey through Europe. It is a fun and lively read, and the artwork is really engaging.
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Elephants Don’t Grow on Trees

Elephants Don’t Grow on Trees by A.H. Benjamin illustrated by Adrie Le Roux: I am a firm believer in dreams, so is Mr Tusker, who is the hero of our story. Mr Tusker has longed for an elephant ever since his childhood, and beginning way back when he was always told that elephants don’t grow on trees.

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Mr Tusker is desperate, and he searches all the likely spots: the Safari Park, the Circus,… everywhere he could think of. Everywhere he went he was told that elephants don’t grow on trees. Well twists and turns in the story and a little magic… and you might just discover that elephants do grow on some trees. And just in case you were wondering, elephants growing on trees might just cause a little trouble, so needless to say… Mr Tusker has to come up with a plan.
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He does and everyone lives happily ever after. Lovely loose illustrations, and laugh out loud funnies throughout the book. A good story full of hope and a clear message not to give up on your dreams. This book has a nice touch… The author has requested that royalties from sales of Elephants don’t grow on Trees be donated to the Thula Thula Conservation Fund.

The Baby Brother Curse

The Baby Brother Curse Written by Michelle Sacks and Illustrated by Carla Kreuser: This is the story of a little girl, who gets some terrible news… she discovered that she was going to be a big sister. She is really concerned that the grownups in the world won’t have enough time for her, and that her little brother is going to eat all the biscuits. She panics that he is going to all those terrible little sibling things and her life is going to become a disaster. As her mum’s tummy grew bigger and bigger so do her worries. And once her little brother is actually born, the little girl, Boo, decided that she is not nearly so unlucky after all. This story assumes that little kids think the same way that small children do… and little Boo worries about things that parents expecting child number two or three worry about… will they have enough time, resources, loving arms… to go around. The book is a little tongue in cheek, the illustrations perfectly illustrate the grand tragedy of little Boo’s impending disaster. Funnier than the story, my kids who always looked froward to a little sibling, did not think the story was even slightly amusing… until I explained the behind the scenes story. All’s well that ends well… and Boo and her little brother I am sure will go onto many happy adventures together, despite her parents misgivings.

Thank you so much to Bumble Books South Africa for giving us these books for review purposes, this is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

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