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

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Se7en’s May and Your Free Printable Calendar…

May 1st, 2018 · 1 Comment


A Couple of our readers have asked us how we use our calendar posts for school. These posts began, and have grown, simply because it was interesting to see what events were occurring on a particular day. We don’t celebrate everyday – but we could!!! At the beginning of each month we print out a new calendar (click on the image and print it landscape, works better that way). 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 some fun to post on our blog, like our Shakespeare post on his birthday.


Dozens of Days to Celebrate

1 May: Save the Rhino Day.

2 May 1844: Elijah McCoy Inventor (1844 – 1929).

4 May 1971: GreenPeace launched.

4 May National Weather Observer’s Day.

4 May: International Firefighter’s Day.

4 May: World Asthma Day.

5 May: Cinco De Mayo

5 May: Children’s Day (Japan).

7 May 1937: Hindenburg Disaster

7 May 1840: Tchaikovsky’s Birthday (1840 – 1893).

7 May 2014: Space Day.

8 May 1884: Harry Truman’s Birthday (1884 – 1972).

8 May 1945: VE Day.

10 May: Clean Up Your Room Day

  • 11 May: Salvador Dali’s Birthday (1909 – 1989).

    11 May: Edward Lear’s Birthday (1812 – 1888).

    12 May: Kite Day.

    12 May 1820: Florence Nightingale’s birthday (1820 – 1910).

    14 May 1847 : Webster’s Dictionary First Published.

    14 May 1804: Lewis and Clarke Began their expedition (1804).

    14 May 1727: Thomas Gainsborough (artist) born, 1727

    15 May 1856: L.F. Baum’s Birthday (1856 – 1919).

    16 May: National Chocolate Chip Day.

    18 May: International Museum Day.

    18 May 1980: Mt. St. Helens Erupted.

    19 May: Circus Day.

    20 May 1927: Amelia Earheart’s TransAtlantic Flight.

    21 May 1844: Henri Rousseau’s Birthday (1844 – 1910).

    21 May 1927: Lindbergh Flight Day.

    21 May 1799: Mary Anning’s Birthday (1799 – 1847).

    22 May: International Jazz Day

    22 May 1570: First Atlas Published.

    22 May 1844: Mary Cassatt’s Birthday (1844 – 1926).

    23 May: World Turtle Day.

    24 May: The Brooklyn Bridge Opened in 1883.

    24 May 1844: First Morse Code Message Sent.

    25 May: Missing Children’s Day.

  • 26 May: Blueberry Cheesecake Day.

    26 May 1951: Sally Ride’s Birthday (1951 – 2012).

    27 May 1907: Rachel Carson’s Birthday (1907 – 1964).

    27 May: Masking Tape patented.

    28 May 1959: MonkeyNauts Able and Baker in Space.

  • 28 May 1859: Big Ben arrives in Westminster.

    29 May 1953: Hillary and Tenzing conquer Everest.

    29 May 1917: John F. Kennedy’s Birthday.

  • → 1 CommentTags: Activity Calendar

    Three Green Living Questions That We Asked a Citizen Scientist…

    April 30th, 2018 · 2 Comments

    On Earth Day we introduced a series of Three Green Living Questions that we asked a number of folk that we have interacted with recently when working on environmental projects with them… One of the gang’s favourite environmental outings is to head into the great outdoors, or even into the lab, with our Citizen Scientist friend, Joey. He has been teaching us about pathogens, which are responsible for diseases amongst certain of our fynbos plants, within our local region, for quite a while now. He has taught us about taking care of plants, how do to do rigorous science and how to be a lot more intentional about the way we approach spending time in the great outdoors.


    Introducing Joey, The Citizen Scientist

    My name is Joey and I am a PhD student based in Stellenbosch. I am a researcher, but I am still learning under supervision. I study microbes that make plants sick.


    Three Green Living Questions

    1. What one thing do you do in your home that you feel makes a difference to the environment?
    2. I ride my bicycle everywhere and I also shower with a bucket and use the captured water in my toilet.


    3. If you could tell your community one thing to change what would it be?
    4. I would request that our community invest in bicycle safety and promote alternative transportation.


    5. If you had an opportunity to speak to world leaders what policy would you ask them to implement?
    6. Ooo, this is a bit of a challenge to answer! I guess I would like to see more educational support for impoverished communities and nations with emerging and developing economies. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”. Of course, this would include more environmental education as well!

      The Photo Gallery

      Cape Citizen Science

      If you want to know more about Cape Citizen Science, and join their project then take a look at their website here.

      Watch this spot, same time same place next week… for another Green Living Interview…

    → 2 CommentsTags: Green Living

    A Weekend Wander Above Simonstown…

    April 29th, 2018 · No Comments

    It’s a long weekend in Cape Town… Freedom Day on one side of the weekend and Worker’s Day on the other… means a lovely long weekend. I know I like it is a full blown vacation… just a couple of days off is sometimes exactly what you need. We have big plan for the weekend. So far we have had a massive maintenance day… you know all those little jobs around the house that never ever get done. And today we were working on our annual Sketchbook Project that has to be mailed off by Monday.


    After two days at home I was ready to head for the great outdoors… and here is a quick little hike that will make you feel like you have had a real workout… and because it is in lovely Simonstown there are a least half a dozen beautiful coffee shops to recover in, not to mention penguins to visit and it is Penguin Week…


    Signal School Steps in Simonstown

    At the top of Simonstown Village there are two really easy walks. One is a family friendly adventure of the literally fifteen minute of effort genre and so perfect for first time hikers… and the other, climbing a stairway to heaven, or all the way to Just Nuisance’s Grave and some heavenly views.


    It does look like stairs all the way, but it isn’t because there are a couple of yards of… slope!!!


    Some folk will want to get ahead… but the nature of it is that they won’t get too far ahead!!!


    You may have to stop to look at the view…


    And you will be watched all the way…


    Really watched…


    When you get to the top, you will reach the Navy Base and this monument, that we have never noticed before…


    In memory of men who lost their lives during World War I.


    Just inside the Naval Base fence you will find the grave of Just Nuisance, or Able Seaman Just Nuisance (1 April 1937 – 1 April 1944), a Great Dane with a passion for riding trains. At one time, when his owner was threatened that he would have to get rid of his dog, on account of his train hopping, his owner instead enlisted him in the Royal Navy based at Simonstown and as a fully fledged member of the Royal Navy he was entitled to a free pass on the trains.


    You can find Just Nuisance in the centre of town in Jubilee Square… and there is an annual celebration of Great Danes over the first weekend in April, in Simonstown, to commemorate their mascot.


    That’s really it, perfect at this time of year when the weather is cooler, it is a quick up and down and you will be back down and ready for coffee or a swim in the sea well within an hour.


    Otherwise, before we did this walk we never noticed the jagged scar on the mountainside above the town, those are the stairs you will climb, and to be honest once you know they are there, you will never not see them again when you drive past.


    If you are looking for a bracing walk and to let off a little energy, not to mention enjoy an exceptional view and discover a little history, then this is a great walk… yes it is up, and there are stairs… but that is all there is… keep plodding and you will get there and it will be totally worth it.

    → No CommentsTags: Hiking

    Se7en Amazing Tips That You Need to Know for Reading Audible Books…

    April 24th, 2018 · 2 Comments

    It was World Book Day this week, so let’s celebrate with a Post on Everything You Need to Know About Audible Books… this is a question that folk ask me often and to be honest I grew up with my dad reading stories to me… yes he read me the entire series of Swallows and Amazons, as well as all the Dr. Dolittles. What can I say a good story is a good story… is a good story. And I still like being read to.

    You can listen to audible books anywhere, I listen in the car on the way to gym, when I am editing photographs, at the kitchen table colouring with the kids (pop your phone in a bowl and you don’t need a speaker).

    Study after study has shown that your brain enjoys a good book, and really doesn’t mind if you read it yourself or if you are read to. To be honest we know this already, in fact, if we didn’t inherently understand the human need for fine stories we would never read to our children… and just because children are short doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who like a fine story.

    The Truth About Audible Books

    1. Audiobooks are Not for Lazy Readers:
    2. There are a lot of folk that think audiobooks are really just watered down “TV without the pictures” kind of books and really only for the laziest of readers. This is not the case though, a book creates a story and the reader creates the pictures… if it is read to them or not, all readers appreciate a good story. Why would we read to small children if stories weren’t inherently good for them… it builds their imaginations, it powers up their vocabulary, it takes them to places that they could never dream of going otherwise. In a good story: timid folk can become brave, wild folk can calm a storm and everyone can be the victorious hero of the day. Did you see what I did there? Half way through that paragraph I changed the subject from children to folk… because it is not just children who benefit from having stories read to them.

      Select the Tom Sawyer narrated by Nic Offerman, it had all of us hanging onto the edge of our seats.

    3. You Need to Train for Listening Skills:
    4. I didn’t always love listening to audiobooks because there is actually a bit of a learning curve. Firstly, I was “reading” the wrong books (see the next point) and secondly, like reading from a book, listening to a book is a skill. You have to start in small snippets and build up to an epic saga. You have to train your brain to listen to longer and longer chunks of a book… until you can really just listen all day without mentally wondering off and not “hearing” anything that was read to you. Listening endurance… it is a thing, not a natural thing… you have to work on it. Another thing is that when it comes to audiobooks consistency is key… fifteen minutes every day keeps you connected with your book, while an hour once a week can have you forgetting who is who and what is what. and for ninja-listeners, or if you are just short of time… you can increase your listening speed. At first I could only listen at narration speed 1.0, but as I have got better at listening… I started listening at 1.25, then 1.5 times… and I have settled at 2.0 narration speed.

      This book I got for myself, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, was a review book that I had taken forever to get started. Once I started listening I just could not put it down.

    5. You have to Listen to the Right Books for You:
    6. This was my mistake… you know all those books you should read, the ones you feel you must read, the ones you put off reading forever… those are NOT the books to listen to. I’ll say it again… those are not the books you should listen to… life is too short to waste on books you don’t love. There are so many great books that are a good fit for you. Often the books that you feel you should read are the ones you never read for network in high school and you think you should read in order to be a literate adult… I went so far as to tell myself that I was going to read my way through Susan Wise Bauer’s fantastic list of books to read for a classic education. From start to finish, missing nothing. The list is full of amazing books and it starts with my personal nemesis: Don Quixote. Can I just say… I tried and tried and tried to read Don Quixote… I just couldn’t. So when I joined Audible books that was the first book I bought, thinking well if I can’t read it, at least I can listen to it. Turns out… and I learnt this the hard way more than once… if you can’t read through the first page or two in the paper book, then don’t bother with the audible… put that book onto the “not for you” pile and move along.

      The Last Hours by Minette Walters was also a review book and I absolutely loved it… historical saga, that ended on an absolute cliff hanger, so I can’t wait for the next one to come out.

      What works for me is to mix things up… I listen to a classic; a book I feel I should listen to, which is often a high school reader that my kids have to read but aren’t reading. I know it will be great but some books look overwhelming, so I will listen and then tell them why it is great!!!; Also if my review book pile is overwhelming then I will choose the very fattest book to get on audible; and finally I will reward all the “should listen to books” with a book that I am dying to read off my wishlist.

      These two books: Outliers and Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell are on our high school shelf as must reads and they are such excellent listening too.

    7. How the Audible Subscription Works:
    8. The best most value for money way to consistently build a collection of great audible books is to subscribe to audible books and pay the monthly subscription fee which is about $15. a month. It is not nothing, but it is cheaper than a real live book. Now the point of the subscription is to collect great books and the key is to find value for money books at the same time. For your subscription you get one credit… with which you can buy from a huge selection of the most fantastic books. If you don’t choose a book on a particular month then you can accumulate credits, just saying. Otherwise never waste your subscription credit on a book that costs less than your subscription… a book that is on sale for $1.99 is not a great choice for your credit, that you paid $15.00 for. In fact, the longer the book, and the higher the dollar price, the better. Freshly published books tend to have higher prices, and classics and collections tend to be much longer.

      You have to get the Cherry Jones narrated versions of these, and you have to get them one book at a time. These are superb listening and perfect for a great colouring session or a long drive with kids.

      If you are looking to up your Classics game, then Pride and Prejudice narrated by Rosamund Pike is an absolute winner.

    9. Try Before You Buy:
    10. Seriously, not all readers accents or voices were created equally… usually if an author narrates their own book they are pretty good… but there are some voices that just annoy you and if you have chosen to spend your “once a month credit” on fifty hours of a voice that you just can’t stand you will live to regret it. My top tip is that for every book available on audible, there is an option to listen to a sample… use that option to listen to a bit of a book before you spend your hard earned credit. A rookie mistake… I just endured fifty-two hours of the Count of Monte Christo (you know a classic on my “should read” pile… the narrator grated me from start to finish, and one of the Hoods loved it… best book ever. The Narrator really is everything, and it is personal, your favourite book in the wrong voice will ruin it for you, for ever. That being said, a lot of books are dramatised, which means they are read by a group of voices, often famous actors taking on roles… these are audibles to look out for, they are famous actors for a reason.

      The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place… My kids and I absolutely loved this story and fully intend to get more in this series. The narration is superb and even though they aren’t terribly long, they are totally worth it.

    11. Books that Really Work… What Exactly to Search For:
    12. If you are looking for books for kids then look for story collections and then sort according to running time: The Adventure Collection includes Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, Gulliver’s Travels, White Fang and the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Another great and long listen for kids is The Once and Future King. The Little House in the Big Woods, the entire series narrated by Cherry Jones and are absolutely essential listening, though still not available as a collection… you have to buy them one by one by one. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia… is the full series of Narnia… totally worth your 1 credit.

      The War of the Roses Series by Conn Iggulden is absolutely superb… I bought them five months in a row… one after the other after the other… after reading the actual books all the way through I started listening on a whim and just couldn’t stop. Historical drama at its best. So good that I was kind of gutted in the end when it was all over, I kind of missed all the players that had been part of my daily rhythm for weeks!

    13. Audible Books on Special:
    14. You can of course buy books on audible any time that you wish and look out for their sales. If you follow the Read A Loud Revival, and you should, then she has an ongoing list of current audible deals. In fact, she has a great FAQ to answer any of your audible book questions and how to get free audible books for your kids as well.

    → 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

    It’s Earth Day and We Have Three Questions for you…

    April 23rd, 2018 · 5 Comments

    Over the past year and a half we have really upped our Green Living Goals around our home and to that end we made sure that over and above our regular projects we actively sought some sort of larger scale green project to get involved with. We dipped into a number of projects, we volunteered all over the show and quite a few the projects we joined resonated with us and we stuck with them, others we learnt so much we are still processing them.


    From Our Home to the World

    Our goal was really to look at how changes that we make in our home can spread to our community, and from our community out into the world at large. For example, every time we step out onto the beach, and we do that a lot, before we play doing a mini beach cleanup… and that led us to joining a monthly beach-cleanup project in our community, which led onto thinking about the global problem of ocean trash… raising awareness became a growing concern for us.


    Our intention was to blog about our journey, but it turned into a much bigger project than we anticipated… so today, Earth Day, it is a good day to launch a series and we are going to bring you our interviews over the next couple of weeks. For our projects we visited folk and worked with amazing influential people, who work on environmentally interesting, thought provoking projects. We have planted trees, we have climbed mountains, we have snacked on seaweed and done beach cleanups, to name a few. As we went on our journey of learning we interviewed a number of environmentalists… scientists, researchers, conservationists, activists and so on. We asked everyone we interviewed three leading questions.


    The Three Questions

    1. What one thing do you do in your home that you feel makes a difference to the environment?
    2. We take small positive steps towards change, and when we make a change we stick with it. Little steps towards green living are much easier to implement one by one… and you might not even notice the incremental differences… but over time you are making a bigger and bigger impact.

    3. If you could tell your community one thing to change what would it be?
    4. Get outdoors and enjoy your environment… you can only care for what you love. While you are outdoors could folk please stop littering… all that rubbish ultimately ends up in the ocean. Someone has to clean it up. I think if we could have a lot more anti-littering education it would go a long way to folk caring for their immediate environment.

    5. If you had an opportunity to speak to world leaders what policy would you ask them to implement?
    6. Lose the plastic. Could we just stop plastic production and find viable alternatives. We cannot even begin to comprehend the extent to which our plastic consumption is destroying our planet… if we just stopped making it then we could at least press pause on the mountains of garbage that we are creating.

    By asking the big questions: How do the little things we do affect our local community really, and how does that roll out to the world at large… we found that it really helped us to keep on making small changes… one step at a time. Some of the things that we really thought would be difficult to change weren’t that much of a problem after all. For example, we put off using plastic wrap for the longest time, and yet when we stopped buying it and it ran out, I discovered that we were only using it because it was there, it isn’t available in our home anymore and we just don’t miss it.

    Have a little think about these questions… how would you answer them. We Would love if you could leave a comment… And we will begin presenting our interviews to you this time next week… same time, same place…

    → 5 CommentsTags: Green Living

    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!!!


    Event of the Week

    se7en-28-Aug-17-ww advert2-1-2

    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:


    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!!!


    → 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…


    The dreamer of dreams…

    se7en-09-Apr-18-IMG_0585 (1)-24

    Full of fabulous ideas…

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    Always good for a laugh…


    And the baker of many many treats…

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    The bravest big sister…

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    The beach clean-up professional…

    The shark lover…


    The teacher of ocean awareness…


    The girl who can talk all day…

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    My ocean kid…


    Who loves working away…


    And reading and reading…


    The girl who never gives up…

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    The girl with the biggest brown eyes…


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


    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…

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    → 4 CommentsTags: Home Truths