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

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Weekending and an ECO Fun Day

October 10th, 2016 · 2 Comments

We have just lately been doing our weekending well… getting the stuff of the week done and out of the way and finding a good mix of fun and busy and REST on the weekends. Last weekend we went to an ECO-Fun Day in Glencairn… good clean family fun… and lots to learn about the environment, from the sharkspotters to the leopard toads, Sanparks and Cape Nature, Emergency Services were out and a police dog display and there was even a snake show… (Yes, there will be snake photographs at the end of this post, thought I would warn you mom, not to look past the dogs!!!)



Fishing for facts…


And ice-cream…


Pure fun…




Leopard Toads


Learning so much about leopard toads…



The Fire Department


Who knew I had kids with fire department ambitions!!!




Police Dogs


Clever, clever police dogs on show…



The Reptile Club

These guys were so good, showing all the snakes we would most likely encounter and what to be careful of…








→ 2 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

What We Are Reading Right Now: For the Younger Set…

October 7th, 2016 · No Comments

It’s Friday… and the weekend is finally here. I have plans for a great weekend of reading and I thought I would post a collection of books my younger children are loving right now!!!


Se7en + 1 Fabulous Books For Children

A Classic

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattock and Sophie Blackall: This book went straight onto my pile of favourite picture books ever… it is an absolute classic in it’s own time kind of a book. This story is inspired by the actual bear who inspired the most loved bear, Winnie the Pooh. It is one of those clever books with a story within a story… and begins with a mother telling her small son a story: Harry Coulbourn was veterinarian in Winnipeg, circumstances find him crossing the country to go and fight in the great war. Along his journey he rescues a bear and names it Winnipeg. This bear becomes the mascot of his regiment and has quite the personality… After all their training in faraway England they are finally called up to fight, and war was no place to take a bear, so the bear is left to stay in the London Zoo for a while… and there is a pause in the story and a little boy in England, who has a stuffed bear… visits the zoo and decides to name his bear Winnie the Pooh… And Harry returns from the war and discovers his bear happy and well looked after and leaves the bear where it is and returns home to Winnipeg… And the story within a story theme continues… when you discover that Harry had a son called Fred, who a daughter called Laureen, who had a daughter called Lindsay, who is reading her little boy a story. This is just magical… the end of a book has sweet treasure for the reader to discover, a photo album with pictures of Harry and pages from his diary, and most important photographs of a little bear called Winne. There is even a photograph taken in 1925 of a small Christopher Robin with Winnie, the bear from Winnipeg! This book can be read at many levels, a story about a bear, a biography, the story behind another bear… it is delightful and the illustrations are incredible. The album looks exactly as a photo album from a century ago would look… this book is a beautiful timeless classic and a must read for anyone of any age who loves bear stories. You can meet the author, Lindsay Mattock here, and the illustrator, Sophie Blackall here.

Actual Factual Books

Just the Right Size by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Neal Layton: Everyone knows you cannot beat Nicola Davies for cool non-fiction books for kids, and we have been loving her Animal Science series. This one is all about the BTLT Rule, that’s “the big thing, little thing rule…: which states that as you double the length of something its surface tension goes ups four times and its volume trebles… which is why the only animals that can walk on your ceiling are little animals like geckos. This book also provides documented evidence as to why you cant get monstrous sized giants, let alone spiders, and that’s very good news for most of us. Read on, read on… this book is packed with factions and interesting annotations. You can meet Nicola Davies here.

Home by Carson Ellis: This is a delightful and timeless story for curious young readers… The book begins with a person sitting at the window of a house in the country… and then you go on a journey around the world… looking at houses and homes and the folk that live in them, houses from now and hoses from then, houses from stories and houses from tales… The illustrations are beautiful and there is a lot to look at and talk about throughout the book… but the magic is in the last pages when you visit the artists desk in her home and realise that the very first house in the country is the house that belongs to the artist. A story that goes full circle, that you can read around and around again… Perfect!!! You can meet the illustrator, Carson Ellis, at her website here.

Picture Books

The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie: This is a fun rhyming romp of a story, it is about a detective dog that works six days a week and then on her free day of the week she heads to school and listens to children reading. The dog, who is called Nell has a keen sense of smell… and is very good at solving mysteries… and finding missing items. One Monday she arrives at school and all the books are missing… leave it to Detective Dog Nell to solve the mystery. The illustrations are lovely, of the kind that you want to climb into and explore a little and the story is great for the “bedtime story gang”… light, very fun and a happy ending. What more could you ask for!!! You can meet Julia Donaldson here.

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrated by Sidney Smith: This is a beautiful book, about a monk who lives with his cat Pangur. they both work late into the night… the monk and his cat. The monk pursues knowledge in his beautiful collection of illuminated books and the cat pursues mice. This book has a timeless feel, it is based on a poem written by an Irish Benedictine Monk more than a thousand years ago. The original poem can now be found in the monastery of St. Paul in Carinthia in Austria. This book looks like a simple story, but it will keep you pondering on it long after you have finished reading. the illustrator, Sydney Smith is the same illustrator of our recently reviewed book: Footpath Flowers and can be found here.

Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood: Now this is a clever book… in the grown up world it is about how being different can be totally cool. In the little person’s world it is the story of a couple of cute vegetables, a pea called Lee, and all his friends are peas. Except of cause for his one and only carrot friend Colin. Now Colin is nothing like the peas, but he does make an excellent tower and slide and so on. An excellent “feel good about friends” book that doesn’t feel at all preachy. The illustrations are delightful, tissue paper collage. We loved this book. You can meet the author, Morag hood, over here.

Activity Books

Where’s Wally in Outer Space and Where’s Wally Across the Lands: Oh Where’s Wally for the win… honestly, can you beat Where’s Wally Activity books ever. These are fun for all ages and stages… because along with the activities there are heaps of Where’s Wally goodies to find on every single page. Crazy codes, exotic word searches, marvellous mazes and of course dozens of stunning stickers… in Outer Space there are planets and aliens galore… fun times and across lands is a round the world journey in history, a visit to the Aztecs, the Romans, the Egyptians and Castles of the Middle Ages… fun times all the way. The whole gang loves these. And Where’s Wally can be found on the web over here…

Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Getting Outdoors…

October 6th, 2016 · 7 Comments

In my head I have a series of posts and they all begin with “The Lazy Mom’s Guide to…,” it all began with this post a couple of weeks back on how we do a whole lot of school without it feeling like we are actually doing school. That post felt like “The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling.” Getting outdoors is an absolute life changer for me, as the mom of eight kids and all the associated work that involves I cannot possibly get through any day without spending at least a little time outdoors getting some real air. The busier I get, the more I need it and the more I need it, the harder it is to find the time to get outdoors… it is one of those crazy, counter intuitive things.


Getting outdoors is a big deal, there is no argument about that. The more studies scientists do, the more they confirm this. Though in this case we don’t need studies to tell us what we know to be true. Getting outdoors is good for us in so many ways, from our physical well being to our mental well being… across all areas of our lives. Last week I blogged about how much exercise children need in a day, and the easiest way to get that exercise is to just head outdoors.

Se7en Tips for Getting Our Kids Outdoors

  1. Just Step Out the Door: I know it is obvious really, but stepping out the door is a good place to start… we have this idea that the great outdoors or nature has to be a Botanical Garden or a National Park… it doesn’t have to be that. Nature is everywhere and if you live in an apartment and even step onto your balcony the nature is there. Even if you have no balcony, then a walk down the sidewalk should reveal a shoot pushing through the pavement or some birds flapping by, and the clouds… oh the clouds!!!
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  3. Ditch the Agenda: My kids especially when they were tiny just wanted to be alongside me, and it occurred to me that if I wanted them outside then I would have to be outside. I am guessing it is the same for most mums… but then we get pressured into thinking that every moment needs to be filled with “useful activities” trust me there is nothing like a little boredom for our children to come up with a plan to play. Leaf collections, bug watching, clambering and climbing are all essential to fill our daily great outdoors’ quota. Head for a shady spot and then pause for a while, take a cushion or a blanket if need be… but just head there. Just being outside is good for you, you don’t have to have a program or a curriculum while you are there. I take twenty minutes to hang the laundry most days a week, my kids come with me… the climb around and play and chatter. I am busy and they get busy and did I mention the fresh air… it’s a good thing!!!
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  5. Schedule Your Outside Time: Look at all the activities you do in a week… perhaps there is one you could walk to, if there isn’t then create one. Once you have one, make it two. It doesn’t have to be hours, an evening amble to the end of the block and back is a good thing. My kids write one letter a week and we schedule a walk to the mailbox, I agree this is not exactly walking along a trail through a game park… but you will be amazed at just how much nature is waiting to jump out and greet you. You may not spot the big five, but to be sure you could spot the small five… ants, bugs, pigeons, whatever… and if you can’t find any nature you can at least count passing cars. Of course it is easier to stay at home and not bundle up the kids, but this is a fairly easy way for you all to get rid of the cobwebs from being stuck indoors and spread your wings and get busy looking at things, busy kids are happy kids.
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  7. Lose the Gym: When I was younger and did competitive sport, gym was a way of life for me… but now I have been in a different season of parenting little ones, and gym isn’t the solution to our exercise needs. I know that is a shocker, but if like me you have to drive to the gym and then you spend an hour and a half stuck indoors, then you would actually be better off outdoors… find a green park, a place to walk, and if you live in Cape Town, a beach and instead of driving to the gym go for a walk on the beach… it is playful, there is lots to look at and all the fresh air is so good. The thought of walking on a treadmill indoors breathing everyone else’s air just about kills me. If you have an excellent gym where the kids play, that’s great but when we had that I found that indoor exercise just didn’t give me or our kids a spring in our step and we needed to spend the same time again in fresh air to feel the benefit of the exercise. When our gym resorted to watching movies with the kids and not a beam of natural light in the building, I knew it was time to move on.
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  9. Create Outings Outdoors: We have scheduled time to spend with friends, meet them somewhere outdoors… my kids love meeting up with friends, I cannot express how much they love it. So to schedule that meeting somewhere in the great outdoors is actually perfect. And we usually do an outing every couple of weeks… make a list of natural spots that you would like to visit in your neighbourhood. Pop your list on the fridge and start being a tourist in your own town… so that you can advise out of town guests which spots that are better than all the rest.
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  11. Take your Snacks Outdoors: It is just as easy to chop an apple at the kitchen table as it is to eat to outdoors… not every snack has to be an event for the picnic basket or to bring out the heirloom tea set, keep it simple a couple of orange slices while you watch the clouds float by is indeed time well spent outdoors. If we head outdoors for a snack, my kids tend to get busy with a game and a play… they are moving about in fresh air and that’s what I am after. In fact, we have a crazy house rule (and this is a genuine lazy mother’s rule), we can only eat inside at the kitchen table or outside… My kids sit at the table for school so throughout the day they are thrilled to sneak off for a little snack even if it is torrenting with rain or freezing, they will choose to head outdoors for a snack.
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  13. Take a Story Outdoors: The benefits of getting outdoors, to a person’s mental and physical health and so to their ability to learn and engage in the world around them completely out strips anything that can be taught by sitting in a classroom or watching tv. And no wildlife documentaries are not actually getting outdoors, they are just another version of screen time. We read after lunch everyday, there is a good reason when the weather is fine, to head outdoors with a blanket and read outdoors.
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  15. Bring Nature Indoors: It can happen that the weather is just too grim to want to go out, and it is hard to find enthusiasm apart from a quick dash outdoors to catch the rain in a jar or to look for little rivers in the gutters… in that case have a supply of all the natural factual collections that you made through out the year… the stone collection, the feather collection… this is the time to bring the indoors inside!!!

The easiest way to get our kids outdoors is to actually to just step out the door and I know in the season of my life when we had many many small people underfoot the last thing on earth that I wanted was to actually get outdoors and even less exercise while I was there, we are talking sleep deprivation central here. Yet that is exactly what I needed to do for so many reasons. Make a start and take your morning coffee out the front door onto the doorstep and just sit on the front step, then take a walk to the mail box, trust me the improvement to your day, because of that small action, is totally worth it.

→ 7 CommentsTags: A Mother's Almanac · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Book of the Week: Five Minutes’ Peace…

October 5th, 2016 · No Comments

Every now and then a book crosses our path that is literally pure fun… as fun for the parents reading as it is for the children being read to, because lets face it a good book is a good book, whatever your age. Our book of the week is Five Minute’s Peace by Jill Murphy, the 30th Anniversary Edition. Yes, for thirty years Mrs Large, the mom in the family has been asking for just five minutes peace…


Let’s Meet the Book

The Large family are a delightful family of elephants, with three small children, created by childrens’ illustrator and author Jill Murphy. Any mom in the world will relate to this book so well. It is the story of mom arriving in the kitchen, not quite ready for the day, and her three youngsters are already up and at it. Self-service is the name of their game. I do not have to describe the sight before her eyes, just to say… she needed just five minutes of peace before her day launched. So she made a breakfast tray and slipped away quietly to have a bath and a cup of tea. As any mother knows, there is no such thing as slipping away quietly. She is joined in the bath, literally, one by one… by her sweet children, one is playing the recorder, one is doing school reading and the other tumbles in with all his toys, jammies and all. You have to admire Mrs Large, because she persisted with an uncanny determination, back in her gown, she left her children in the bath and returned to the kitchen… where she managed 3 minutes and forty five seconds of peace before her kids come tumbling after. We’ve all been there. This is a delightful classic, with very expressive illustrations, and it is funny because it is so relatable. Look out for more of the Large Family, they are perfect “read again and again picture books, with heartwarming stories and beautiful illustrations.

And then there is a an add-on, activity book… sweet!!! With the same illustrations as the book, there are lovely full colour pages filled with easy activities for the younger set: spot the difference, finish the puzzle, dot to dot, a maze and so on. And stickers of course, and the stickers are just adorable too… who wouldn’t want a collection of stickers of the Large Family!!!

Let’s Have a Spa Day

We decided to celebrate this book with a spa day… And all good spa days begin with a face mask.


Face mask = Yogurt + oats + honey + a dash of lemon…


Mix away… and pop those soothing cucumber slices onto the eyes.


Of course I am not sure if you are supposed to actually eat your face mask…


But I am guessing sparkly skin doesn’t mind where the goodness comes from.


Then we made some lip balm to go with our sparkly skin…


Lip balm = coconut oil + a dash of vanilla.


Warm the oil and add the the vanilla, stir away…


Pop your mixture into the fridge for a few minutes and your lip balm is good and ready.


After all this beautification we needed a snack, a pink snack of course… of the nail polish variety.


Rice Crispie Treats = 1 cup of butter + about 500 g of marshmallows + a big box of rice crispies

Melt the butter and marshmallows slowly in a large pot. Once the marshmallows have completely melted, toss the rice crisps into a large, well greased roasting pan. Work quickly and flatten the mixture with the back of a metal spoon. Leave the mixture to cool, and if you are in a hurry pop it into the fridge. Once the mixture is solid turn it out onto a chopping board and cut it into cubes. With a dash of icing “glue” liquorice strips onto your cubes of rice crispy treat and voila, little bottles of nail polish for a treat.

After a little munching and painting of nails we were ready to read our story again… I think with these two, spa days may have just become a regular thing around here!!!


Previous Picture Book Party Posts

This post forms part of The Picture Book Party with PanMacmillan South Africa.


Is this not the most adorable media drop, to be sure there will be plenty of Pink Bubble Baths to follow. Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the gift and then copy of Five Minutes’ Peace and the Activity Book for review purposes and the invitation to join the Picture Book Party. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are, as usual, our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Book Crafts · Brilliant Books

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #6…

October 4th, 2016 · 6 Comments

Did I mention that it was birthday season over here…


And Hood #6 turned twelve today… and baked us a fantastic cake to celebrate, because that is what celebrity chef’s do, of course…


Do the boy who is always outdoors…


Looking cool…


And learning new stuff…

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To the boy who has no fear of onions…


And who absolutely loves to help…


To the boy who flies in his free time…


And is always dashing somewhere…


Our champion puzzler…


And mid-winter swimmer…


To our dune runner…

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Happy Brilliant Birthday




The Celebrity Chef’s Recipe Collection.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Home Truths

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #331

October 3rd, 2016 · 2 Comments

Summer is in the air… and there has been a little bit of pirateering going on… as usual!!!


Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Lil Blue Boo’s DIY Portable Watercolor Palette is the cutest thing ever!!!
  2. And if you are into snail mail and crime writing then you have to take a peak at these postage stamps.
  3. Somewhere Slower on Journaling their Travels Around the World… love love love!!!
  4. If you haven’t met Jennie Maizels fun creative site full of things to do… here’s a list of sketchbook ideas, and here’s her instagram account.
  5. And on Blog, She Wrote… Art and Nature Study with Beatrix Potter… just lovely.
  6. This post on A Beautiful Mess: 12 DIY Soaps and Spa Goodies… just perfect for the next post I am posting!!!
  7. To quote the Modern Mrs D`arcy, “The mental processes involved in experiencing a book are pretty much the same, wether you “read” it with you eyes or your ears.” Seriously, audible books for the win, take a look at the Modern Mrs Darcy’s 15 Audiobooks that enhance your reading experience. So much to love.

A Blast From the Past:


Our Book of the Week:

Dan’s Angel by Lauren Child was a bit of a gem we picked up in the library last week, so much so that we had to share. This is Art Appreciation for the younger set in the best possible way… Dan is a detective in training and finds himself wandering through an art gallery with the Angel Gabriel as his guide… it is delightful as with typical Lauren Child artwork and plenty of youthful surprises, we are drawn from famous artwork to famous artwork… and taught a few facts about each famous painting as we went. This should be a whole series, of books. Brilliant reading, I got to read it again and again and we were quite sorry to return it to the library.

Print Wild

Weeks after the previous CTMeetup I am still enjoying all sorts of goodies from the goodie bag, if you don’t follow us on instagram then you would have missed this little gem that I got using the Print Wild Voucher. I have wanted a huge canvas print forever and in my year of getting photographs printed and updating my workspace I was thrilled to be able to get this from Print Wild… It was super easy to order from them, their customer service was superb… remember I am “slightly technologically challenged” and then within days a huge truck arrived with our order… All wrapped up, terribly carefully and no-one could imagine what surprise was inside!!!


And within minutes, it was up on the wall… I love it and it makes my heart sing every time I pause and take a look at it!!!


Nal’ibali Has a Fabulous Competition for Your Inner Story


Will you be South Africa’s next Story Bosso? Nal’ibali is a national campaign to spark a love of reading for South African children, in their own language. Right now they are running their annual story talent search… looking for an amazing storyteller in South Africa. The idea is to reawaken our culture of storytelling. Everybody has a story to tell and if you have a story bubbling to get out and you would like a chance at having it transformed into a book then here is your chance. For the Story Bosso competition you can submit a video or audio clip of you telling your story or reading your story, a new story or a retelling… in any one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. Really don’t be intimidated, last years winner was just se7en years old… anybody stands a chance. You can read all about the competition here. And important: closing date is 14 October… head on over and tell your story!!!

That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en’s October and Your Free Printable Calendar…

October 2nd, 2016 · No Comments


So October has crept up on us…

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Click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!

Meanwhile, this is October:

1 October: Homemade Cookies Day

1 October 1908: Henry Ford Introduced the Model T

1 October 1924: Jimmy’s Carter Birthday (1924-)

2 October 1950: Peanuts First Published

2 October 1869: Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (1869 – 1948)

3 October 1906: SOS Established

3 October 1189: Richard I (The Lionheart) crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey

3 October 1916: James Herriot’s Birthday (1916 – 1995)

4 October: Child Health Day

7 October: National Poetry Day

7 October 1885: Niels Bohrs Birthday (1885 – 1962)

8 October 1871: Great Fire of Chicago

9 October: First Two Way Telephone Conversation

9 October: Leif Erikson Day

9 October: Moldy Cheese Day

9 October: World Post Day

11 October 1884: Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)

11 October 1880: Boer War Began

12 October: Columbus Day

12 October: National Fossil Day

14 October 1066: Battle of Hastings

15 October: National Grouch Day

16 October: World Food Day

16 October: World Dictionary Day

19 October 1879: Thomas Edison Demonstrated the Electric Light Bulb

21 October: Apple Day

21 October 1959: Guggenheim Museum Opened

23 October 1940: Pele’s Birthday (1940 – )

23 October: Mother in Laws Day

24 October 2009: United Nations Day

25 October 1881: Pablo Picasso’s Birthday (1881 – 1973)

26 October 1836: International Red Cross Organised in Switzerland

27 October: International School Library Day

27 October 1848: Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday (1858 – 1919)

28 October 1886: Statue of Liberty Dedicated

30 October 1735: John Adam’s Birthday (1735 – 1826)

31 October 1941: Mt. Rushmore completed

31 October: Halloween

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→ No CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar