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

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What We Are Reading Right Now – A Galactic List of New Books from PanMacMillan South Africa.

May 13th, 2015 · 12 Comments

The season is definitely changing over here and after weeks of summer and it being somewhat too hot to do anything but find a shady spot and read a book, I find us looking for a sunny spot and then reading away. Basically the weather can change – but the reading just goes on. We have a huge pile of books to read from PanMacmillan South Africa… we received all the books in this post for review purposes.


The Galactic List of Latest and Greatest Reads

Family Reads Right Now

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, Ottoline goes to School and Ottoline at Sea, all by Chris Riddell: I may have to mention that in our household Chris Riddell can do no wrong, and right now Ottoline is the centre of all our attention. We are wildly in love with her and one child, who shall remain nameless, but it will become quite apparent in posts to come, has taken to wearing odd shoes – just as Ottoline does. Ottoline is young gal who likes collecting things and solving problems, she is an independent little thing, who has a best friend Mr. Munroe, who looks somewhat like a tuft of grass, as a best friend and constant companion. Her parents are world travelers and she is left home alone, with numerous workers that she can call on at anytime, to carry on with life as usual. And she does hold the fort very well and get things done. She naturally finds herself on little adventures, and discoveries a couple of mysteries that need to be resolved. In true Chris Riddell style the illustrations are beyond delightful and play an integral part of each page and the story… the pictures include snippets of writing and wind themselves in and out of every page. These are great for all ages… my older kids read them again and again and again… They are perfect for children heading into the world of first chapter books and my beginner readers are quite prepared to try them. They are also really good for younger children who are ready to listen and engage in stories that are longer than a picture book. They are great for reading aloud to the younger set, because the illustrations are so engaging and the words… well they are quite funny enough to keep even though most tired parent awake at bedtime. I find myself saying: let’s read another chapter at the same time as they do.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Though the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll: This is the year of Alice, the story is 150 years old, and there will be wonderful Alice goodies on sale throughout the year. The truth is, even though these are the books that turned Hood #3 from an easy ready into an avid reader of everything, I have never read them myself. Never. But when I received them as review books I decided that it was high time we settled down as a family and read these classics. They are fun… a lot of it makes no sense at all and my little kids listen to it with absolute straight faces – a clear indication that in the world of small children, nothing is too bizarre. One feels for Alice, and you really want to know what happens to her in this strange world that she finds herself in. Anyway, if you spot these pick them up and read them. They are pure fun… and really quite a quick read.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Cosmic it’s one Giant Leap for all Boy-Kind by Frank Cottrell Boyce: Well Frank Cottrell Boyce is very popular over here, he also wrote the fabulous follow-ons to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The Astounding Broccoli Boy is another hilarious offering from Frank Cottrell Boyce. Rory, the hero, is prepared for any eventuality in life… and really that’s any eventuality. And then he inexplicably turns green. Not just him, but some of his friends as well, including the school bully. Now that, he really wasn’t expecting. Spoiler alert: he isn’t ill and he isn’t contagious, he has super powers that he is dying to unleash, just as soon as he can get out of the hospital ward.

In Cosmic It’s One Giant Leap for All Boy-Kind, Liam is a boy who has never been small, in fact exactly the opposite. The book is the story of a boy, who is really just too big for boyhood and there are several antics, for instance when he nearly gets to test drive a Porsche, because he appears to be a grown up. He ends up being the guy in charge on a trip into space, and it is just a bit more than he bargained for. It isn’t all fun and games, funny as the antics are in this book there is a whole lot of deeper stuff going on… it is not just your typical… funny little antics popped together in a series of chapters kind of a book… there is a lot more to it and it is well worth a read.

The Mother Person is Reading…

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton: This was one of those books that you want to fly through, something is always about to happen… but the writing is so good that you have to slow down and savour it, just a chapter at a time. Nella is an eighteen year old country gal, who is married off to a wealthy merchant in seventeenth century Amsterdam. She arrives on the doorstep, never having met him, with nothing, in a city she has never visited before. The family she is married into is filled with secrets… and there is an unsettling air throughout the house, someone is always listening at the door, watching through the keyhole, and inevitable quiet footsteps on the stairs. As the book evolves so the family’s secrets are revealed, one by one and spinning the family into an inevitable tragedy. The mystery of it all lies in the miniaturist… Nella’s husband buys her a doll’s house, for her to decorate, it is a replica of their own home, as was the style of the day. The miniaturist has the uncanny ability to provide items for the house that very much replicate the real world… how could she know in advance about the impending doom? The book dabbles with many adult themes, but doesn’t really pursue any of them. Nella really has been thrown into the deep end of a world that couldn’t be further from her countryfied beginnings. One so wants her to triumph, but the odds are stacked against her. The mystery of the miniaturist never resolves… I got to the last page and turned it expecting more and was disappointed to discover that I was at the end already. There has to be more to this story, there is sure to be a sequel. This book is not one that I would leave lying around for my teens to read, the story is great but some of the themes are not for the fainthearted. That being said I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more from Jessie Burton.

That Sugar Book by Damon Gameau: From historical fiction to “you-just-can’t-believe-it-is-true” non-fiction. The Sugar Book is a book that you might have to read in a sitting because you just can’t believe the craziness of the modern food industry. Then you will read it again more slowly, because you don’t want to miss anything vital. How can our diets have become so shockingly bad for us? This book literally stops you in tracks at every page turn. We all know sugar is bad for us, and most of us make every effort to cut it from our diet completely. The author of this book, Damon Gameau, tests out a high-sugar diet of forty spoons of sugar a day, for two months. The catch is, not so much the forty spoons of sugar, which is actually pretty average for most western diets, but the catch is he gets his forty spoons of sugar a day from food that we consider to be healthy. Yogurt, muesli and health bars, for example… just add a juice box and there you have the average child’s school lunch box for the day. The book is divided into four sections: the experiment, the (somewhat shocking) results, the repair and recipes.

This is a great book, packed with information and then heaps more information in the form of snippets and factoids, which are scattered throughout it as well. It is an excellent read. Finally a huge problem in our food culture is presented in a way that is understandable. This is not a book written to terrify readers, it is a very light an informative read about a serious topic. I have left this book on the coffee table for a couple of weeks and my kids have all dipped in and spouted out amazing facts. Sometimes our children need to hear from someone other than their mother, that while they will grow up and make their own decisions, there are to be some right and other very wrong decisions. This book will help them see what some of those good eating decisions are and how to implement them. This is an excellent read, highly recommend it. If you want to know more about the book then head straight for the website.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #1: Has been reading The Blackheart Legacy a fantasy series by South African author Liz De Jager. The Blackheart family, live in present times and are called to protect our world from the fae. The fae are beings that range between fairies and monsters, and between good and evil. Enter the heroine, Kit, a teen that has been raised as a normal kid by her grandma and only recently discovered her hidden strengths and calling. Her family are off fighting their own battles and she has a lot to learn. She finds herself thrown into the midst of the drama and has to literally land on her feet and survive – not just survive but fight for the sake of the world around her. In the first book, Banished, Kit discovers her new skills. In the second book, Vowed, she is still learning on the job. The books are a fast paced read, the action palpable. Kit is likeable, you want to know that it all turns out well for her and the world around her in the end.


Hood #2: Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone: Turns out this book is a lot more than a snippet of history. As soon as I had read it I handed it over to my computer loving kid. This is a great book for high schoolers who are beginning to think about careers and the world at large to see what the working world is like – really. It is quite illuminating to find someone in the midst of the cyberworld with a resoundingly positive attitude… someone who sees failure as an opportunity and 140 characters not a limitation but an opportunity to be creative. This is a biography with a bit of a difference, firstly he has a sense of humour and he is well aware of his failings… instead of hiding behind an elaborate CV and trying climb the corporate ladder, he pursued what he loved best. There is something refreshing about a person with a entrepreneurial and inventive mind, that doesn’t compromise and settle for the “right job” on paper… but followed his heart. This is a read in an afternoon kind of book and somewhat inspiring, totally recommend it if you need a “you can do it” kind of talking to.


Hood #3: Brilliant by Roddy Doyle: Firstly, this book is called Brilliant, because is that is everyone’s answer to everything: “How are you doing?” “Brilliant.” “How was your day?” “Brilliant.” Gloria and Raymond are a brother and sister with an adventurous spirit. There uncle comes to stay with them and they have to share a bedroom. There favourite game is to sneak downstairs after bedtime and sit under the kitchen table while the adults “mumble” on about their lives. One evening granny mentions that uncle Ben has the Black Dog (of depression) on his back. They set out to rescue him and discover they are not alone, other children in town are out looking for the black dog too. This book appears to be just a bit of a story on the surface… but as it wanders along you find yourself thinking a lot deeper. This is a clever book, by an author that can clearly see into the heart of a child, and is good at creating discussion with kids about topics that they may not want to dive into on their own. I just have to add… where were books that even mentioned depression when I was a child, a grew up in a home weighed down by close relatives who suffered from this illness and I would have loved to have know that other folk lived in the same world. In a world where books are written with all sorts of disabilities, there is still such a silly taboo about mental illness… Galactic hooray for books like these.


Hood #4: Robotics: The Whole Technology Story by Glenn Murphy: This is a great read for the kid who loves questions, and you as the mother person, have no idea what the answers are. This book answers questions about networks, smart phones and robots… and a whole lot of others too. The book is written in plain language, easy enough for a not-to-technical person to understand and ideal for the child that is curious about the world of computers and codes, not to mention technology. There are a couple of “things to do” like build your own telegraph, and also a handful of puzzles like crosswords and word searches. This is a fun book, the sort of book to toss in your backpack and read when you find yourself having to wait around for a couple of minutes.


Hood #5: The Pain and the Great One Go Places and The Pain and the Great One on Wheels by Judy Blume Judy Blume writes great easy chapter books for emerging readers, her stories are full of characters that transport you right into the heart of a young reader. This is a series about a brother and sister: Jake, the Pain and Abigail, the Great One, who is slightly older. There is the typical sibling dynamic of fighting the good fight and standing up for one another to the death. These books are just good reads – no tricks, no stickers, no fold out anythings… just chapter books with a couple of illustrations. The chapters can be read in a sitting, they aren’t too long or too short. The point is we can all see ourselves as either Jake or Abigail in the stories and sometimes both. Great books for mastering empathy. They are very funny and well worth the read.


Hood #6: Violet Mackerel’s Pocket Protest, by Anna Branford: Violet Mackerel is new to us, she is a girl with an opinion and if you have an reader at the “first chapter” book stage, who is a little bit of an activist, then they will love this book. Violet discovers that a tree, that she and her friend especially love, is going to be chopped down for a parking lot. They brainstorm a number of ways to protest the demise of the tree but they feel helpless. They don’t give up, and come up with a truly surprising, and very sweet, way to protest. Turns out they weren’t the only folk who wanted to save the tree. The book has a happy ending, not to mention a good feeling, that anyone can make a difference if they set their mind to it.


Hood #7: Sophie’s Tom by Dick King-Smith: Well Dick King-Smith, the prolific children’s writer, is a firm favourite over here and the Sophie series are just just lovely. Sophie is five and really, really wants to be a farmer and for her birthday her brothers gave her a toy farm. Sophie loves her farm, but it is a real animal that she is after. Enter Tom, a local stray cat… that Sophie sets her heart on. The book takes you on a journey through the life and times of a five year old beginning school, little friends and old aunts… its fun, it’s light and really just delightful. Not to mention Tom produces a little surprise at the end of the book. Dick King Smith has a delightful website – go over and take a peek.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8: Little Humans by Brandon Stanton: This is adorable and a real can do book, pages and pages of superb photographs of delightful children. The kids are cute and and the words are enabling: “Little kids do big things…” It is a very sweet picture book and my younger kids were quite intrigued at looking at children that live on the far side of the world. This is the junior version of Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York Book, he has a fascinating instagram feed, @HumansofNY, where he photographs folk from New York city and tells a snippet of their story. It is fascinating, head over there a take a peak.

We would really like to thank PanMacMillan Books South Africa for providing us with the books to review for this post. We would like to declare that this is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

→ 12 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Another Day and Another CTMeetUp with the Great Cindy Alfino…

May 12th, 2015 · 6 Comments

This Saturday past was another meet up of Cape Town bloggers and what a fun event it was. This is the third in a series of meet ups and they just get better and better. Blogging is about community and making friends online… it is quite hard to cross that line into real life – especially when folks meet and you only know them by their user name or their twitter handle. But it gets easier each time, as you arrive and see familiar faces and friends that you have met previously, so it gets less intimidating. The fact is that while all the bloggers have widely different stories to tell… let’s face it no two blogs are the same, but they all have one thing in common, a topic to level the playing fields so to speak, and that’s blogging.

Plenty of Pizza at the Italian Kitchen

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The venue was the Italian Kitchen in Newlands. There were plenty of snacks and snacking… but pizzas clearly win the day. And in a restaurant that is called the Italian Kitchen you would expect the pizzas to be good.

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They were tasty indeed, could not fault them. Thin based, yummy flavours and plenty to go round.

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Plenty of People at the #CTMeetUp

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Cindy Alfino of 3 Kids, 2 Dogs and 1 Old House Fame, leads the way and put it all together. Gathering bloggers and brands together under one roof. This is the third time that she has pulled this off – pure hard work and devotion.

  1. CTMeetUp #1: Se7en + 1 Things I Learned There and a Fabulous Prize from ZANA Products.
  2. CTMeetUp #2:Packed with Blogging Tips, at Graze… who sell the best Chilli Poppers in Cape Town. Yes, the father person and I will drive across the city for a serving of good chilli poppers.

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Of course you know it wouldn’t be blogging with a photographer and the paparazzi are never far behind.

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Plenty of Presentations

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Rain was there in full force… their fabulous staff offering free massages to everyone attending. While I am not a massage loving gal, I do love their products completely. And I love their story even more: Organically grown, local ingredients; no hidden chemicals; no parabens (our family is allergic to parabens – this is significant to us); no animal testing; no child labor. They provide jobs and skills training for local folk, their promise of natural ingredients and minimal packaging, ring true. They are genuinely fair trade and genuinely green. I visit their stores, (ahem) quite a bit… their products are beautiful, functional and affordable… the presentation is always fantastic and their staff friendly. There aren’t many skin care stores that welcome eight kids to browse around quietly (read clamour), while they choose gifts for their granny time and time again. If nothing else, take a peek at their instagram feed for some inspiration.

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Another presentation, Melissa Louise from Zana Products and they gifted us each with a beautiful pencil case… well actually general carry all those little-bits-and-pieces-in-your-bag bag. Can I just say swoon. Beautiful fresh and funky fabrics designed, created and printed in Cape Town, and then turned into just the most amazing products for your house and home… and well yourself!!! Their instagram feed is well worth a follow… just because you’ll love it!!! Anyway I don’t know if you can tell that I was very excited to receive this little bag, I was even more surprised that within the bag was hidden a fabulous voucher, that I am going to absolutely love spending over there!!!

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And then there was Jenny from Zomato, would someone like to say where have I been. When a fabulous energetic person stands up to tell you all about their restaurant selecting/reviewing app… and talks with such enthusiasm about food and eating out, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. And when she mentioned that they were active in 22 countries around the world already, I had to wonder if I had been missing something, somewhat. What began as a couple of chaps collecting menus around town so that they didn’t have to dash out and grab lunch from the same old corner store every day, has turned into a massive global project… all about “eating out”. sounds like a terrific project to me. Considering that we would rather splurge on a family feast out than on anything else this was indeed a revelation. You have to go and take a look at them, pop in any restaurant you might like to try and you will see exactly what everyone is saying about them and most important if a restaurant has power during load shedding or not, because some little local quirks are important, dare I say.

Plenty of Presents in the goody Bags

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When bloggers get together there are going to be brands who want to connect… and the gap between what brands expect and what bloggers expect is definitely narrowing. The product information and promotion resulted in some totally fabulous swag bags… I have to say that there were more than a few fantastic goodies in these goody bags. I am thinking it would be impossible to please such a wide variety of bloggers, but they did. Gifts and vouchers, cosmetics and creams, not to mention a heap of incredible GiveAways.

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To be honest I am not a hair care and instant tan kind of gal… but that Graze voucher is a definite winner, for the father person and I.

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I don’t think I have worn any make-up since I was a student, but very funky Revlon!!! Eye candy for sure… if you love glittery stationary (as I do) then you absolutely have to love these products as well!!!

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Otherwise, I was interested to see that the Botanical Society is presenting themselves as a brand for bloggers, that is good news and something that our family blog would definitely align with. And I think need to find out more about AdMarula…

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Some of the fabulous prizes were: Pens Behaving Badly, Pack of TGW tea; Vouchers to spend at Woolworths; a Voucher for StyleBar; Vouchers and Prints Printwild (definitely need to stop and take a peak at these); A Boudoir Photo Shoot; A Beauty Hamper from Oh so Heavenly; Treatment Vouchers and a GiveAway from Ginkgo Spar; Vouchers from Zomato; A baby hamper from Babaderm; Voucher for personalised stationary from Charlie Foxtrot; A voucher and giveaway from Kin Shop; Fashion goodies from Spree; Two hampers from John Frieda; Annual Family Membership from the Botanical Society and A hamper from Rain Africa.

Sponsors for the Goody Bags were: Admarula; Zana; Oh so Heavenly; Romeo Foxtrot; Rain Africa; Incompass Insurance; Magical Moments in Time; Optiphi; Botanical Society; Spree; John Frieda SA; Graze; Zomato; Charlie Foxtrot; Revlon, South Africa. And let’s not forget Gumtree for all the stationary on our tables.

That’s it… a total treat, and I cannot wait for the next #CTMeetUp event… thank you so much Cindy Alfino for organising, you are a rock star!!!

→ 6 CommentsTags: About Blogging · Blog News · Blog School

Sunday Snippet: As a Mother Comforts Her Child…

May 11th, 2015 · No Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…


Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

Week by Week

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Se7en + 1 Things About My Mum…

May 10th, 2015 · 6 Comments

It’s mother’s day all over the world, some mums have been spoilt and some were ho hum, not. Some mums were thrilled with heaps of cards and lovely surprises and other mums were somewhat disappointed. Some mums are overjoyed by the sweet love of their babes and other mums are overwhelmed by the loss of little hands they won’t hold. So many mums are thrilled with excitement of a brand new arrival and others are so disappointed at their empty arms. This is a day filled with bittersweet on every front… a day loaded with so much more than the Hallmark card that it began as…


Se7en + 1 Things I Love About My Mum

  1. My mum always had something growing, I loved her African violets on the kitchen windowsill.
  2. My mum knitted endless jerseys, even in the summer, endless colours and stripes..
  3. My mum made play dough… lots of it.
  4. My mum created beautiful collections.
  5. My mum loved the autumn and we would go on long walks looking for autumn photographs.
  6. My mum understood movies should be watched with a themed snack.
  7. My mum used to take us by bus into the city for tea at Stuttafords or to Kirstenbosch to paddle in the streams.
  8. And the se7en + 1th thing…

  9. My mum always worked so hard… she still does.

Thanks mum…


→ 6 CommentsTags: Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun #274

May 10th, 2015 · No Comments

The weather has been so great that we head to head up to the top of the mountain for lunch…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. So we are miles from Spring, but I love this Spring Scavenger Hunt on One Perfect Day…
  2. We are not the only family that walks everywhere… I love this post on SimpleKids.
  3. Oh this is just the best: Pine Needle Fairy House on Imagine Childhood.
  4. 8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home on Keeper of the Home, because sometimes you need all the help you can get.
  5. How to Help Your Kids Get rid of Stuff…
  6. Because sometimes you just need stuff to do: 100 TV free activities on Kids Activities Blog.
  7. 67 Children’s Books That Actually Changed Your Life on Buzzed.
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

    A Blast From the Past: Mother’s Day…

GiveAway Winner

Here’s a shocker… a week or two back we published an interview with the Author Alan Glass and we had a GiveAway of his new and fabulous book… well, in all the business we totally didn’t post a winner so here you go:

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All the entries…

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All mixed up… And picking and choosing…
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And the winner is:
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Comment number 9:
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Jo Apr 19, 2015 at 7:21 pm I have never been in the snow, and nor have my kids, so this winter we plan to adventure to Ceres or wherever we can find some snow to play in for the day!

I loved the comments on this post… packed with adventures!!! Congratulations Jo, you can expect an email from us shortly.

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…

We would love to thank Alan Glass so very much for spending time with us and we would like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa who provided us with two copies of the book, one for review purposes and the other for a giveAway. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write the review and the opinions are as usual entirely our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Things we are Looking Forward to in our Home-School this Year.

May 7th, 2015 · 11 Comments

And just like that we are back in school. We usually begin our school year round about now. When the weather starts to cool down for us, we kind of slide into it. Most of our kids cannot remember a time when we weren’t homeschooling; they were born long after our homechooling journey began. Back-To-School is really just a lifestyle of learning that continues in and out of the seasons, rather than a dramatic difference between time spent doing nothing one day and piles of work the next. To be honest our days look just the same… when we are in school or out of school and the time that our children spend working on their own new discoveries is their work… the difference is really where their inspiration comes from. During school time, we read our way through the Sonlight Curriculum and that becomes the basis of their inspiration and when we aren’t in the school season, whatever else they are reading becomes their main inspiration.


There is one dramatic change in our home school this year in that we have quietly shifted from a school where most students were learning to read to one where they are reading to learn. At the beginning of last year we had three very competent readers, the rest were somewhere in the range of “non-reader to beginner-reader.” That has all changed. Last year I really focused on practising reading with each child every single day no matter what, and no matter how little, consistency was the key. Some children were generally happy to power their way through their school readers and others only read till-slips. Confidence and ability don’t always align themselves as you might expect, with ages and stages, but everyone’s reading improved dramatically.

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The first week of school tends to be a series of meetings as folk figure out what exactly they really want to pursue. Final decisions are made on which books we will order for school and mostly we just carry on right where we left off. Well actually, right where we eventually fizzled out during the summer, when life tends to just move outdoors. So we are back in school and good to go, full of enthusiasm for new projects and new plans…

Se7en + 1 Things we are Looking Forward to This Year.


  1. Memorising: I know, what sort of a homeschool is this, where we have never made a concentrated effort for an expended period of time to learn things off by heart. Well, we are conquering that this year – a bible verse of the week, a poem of the week and so on. The list of things to memorise and learn together has grown each week… and we have been conquering it. The results are lovely… when a small child quotes a poem, in context, in conversation… and rattles off an entire verse for the joy of it, then you can be sure it will be something that will stick and will stay with them for an extended period of time.
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  3. Cooking: Cooking has always been a major part of our schooling. Last year we signed up to a few of the Yuppie Chef Cooking School Classes, and there are quite a few new courses up on their site. Not to mention right now there is a se7en week free “cooking with kids” email program on their site. Sign up, and enjoy. We did!!!
  4. Mapping: I was looking for a creative approach to map work that was suitable for all ages to enjoy and do together. I like that this book starts really simply, and then incrementally builds up to bigger projects. I am looking forward to working through this book with our gang – I think it is going to be a lot of fun for all of us.
  5. Listening: I noticed last year that while my kids love me reading aloud to them, they weren’t that good at listening to other folk reading or lecturing, and it is a skill that will stand them in good stead. So we have begun to listen to audible books and we are listening to this epic right now – it is long and very descriptive and really quite incredible – I am very glad that I am not reading it out loud… because it is hours and hours worth of book… but whenever we find ourselves at the table drawing or whatever, then I pop it on to listen. We also have a couple of podcasts that we have started listening to, they are a lot of fun and we should have done this ages ago. We definitely need to post a list of the podcasts we are listening to.
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  7. Watching: This year in our South African Studies we really want to learn more about our National Parks… and we plan to virtually visit them. To this end we have been watching Siyaya… it is a TV program and I never remember to watch, but you can buy the set. A group of youngsters tour the National parks of South Africa with an older ranger called Oompie. They have many adventures and learn heaps, our kids have been loving it. We have never intentionally included “watching” to our school before – it is a whole new thing for us.
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  9. Current Affairs: For years we have dabbled in current affairs, we have tried this and that, we have explored all sorts of options and we finally have some resources that are really working for us. I want our kids to be part of the world and to know the current news – but it isn’t that easy to do, most news has to be filtered significantly before we can let our kids dive in and enjoy it. We seem to have got the news right so far this year, only one of our children asked, “Who is Princess Charlotte?” at dinner last night… he was immediately informed by se7en siblings.
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  11. Exploring: We have a very cool project, that we have already begun… it involves hiking, so everybody is on board. We have chosen a spot to study on the mountain, to photograph, to sketch, to explore – to see how it changes through the seasons. Each month we have looked at a different aspect of the area… the animals, the plants, the weather and so on. It is going to be fun and it is going to require a lot of sandwiches!!!
  12. And the se7en + 1th:

  13. Birding: I confess I know almost nothing about birds – it is shocking really for all our “getting outdoors efforts” I really should have worked harder at getting know our bird-life… the feeder is filled, the bird bath cleaned out and we are ready to discover just who is tweeting what in the hedge.

This post clearly shows that even though we appear to be old hands at homeschooling, and we slide in and out of our school year without too much strain or effort, that there are always new things to learn and discover and new things to try and explore. I definitely don’t add to our repertoire every year… where we try new things, other activities will fall away. I am firm believer in the fact that children need hours of free play – that is their work, in order to learn to love learning with a passion and to pursue their own interests with enthusiasm.

I realised as I wrote this post that some of these points deserve their own blog posts… so I have popped them onto the list of potential posts. Now would be a good time to ask any homeschooling questions that you might have… I have a few lined up already and I will have an “Asked and Answered” post in the next week or two. Looking forward to it in fact.

→ 11 CommentsTags: Organizing Se7en · Se7en at School

Se7en + 1 Head Up Table Mountain…

May 6th, 2015 · 24 Comments

It is our tradition to climb Table Mountain on the 1 May every year… it all began, a couple of years back, in a heap of extreme unfitness and the father person saying yes to a group of friends chatting about having a May Day picnic breakfast at the top of the mountain. Needless to say there was a day of literally crawling up the mountain, in which I made it but only just… and then to discover that “said friends” never made it beyond the idea, or the cofee shop. Then and there we decided that things could only get better and after a year of ambling we had a good hike up to the very top, Maclear’s Beacon. Anyway after another year and hike or three tossed into every month we managed launched ourselves at Table Mountain this past Friday with heaps of enthusiasm…

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The Route

Up Skeleton Gorge, a picnic lunch at the top and then down Newland’s Ravine.

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The Tricks

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Start early, nothing spells adventure like a pre-dawn departure… it does mean getting everything ready the night before and getting to bed at a reasonable hour… a great achievement over here (!!!) but so worth it.

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Otherwise, leave plenty of time so that you can take all the rest you need.

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Some of us are slightly more eager to launch than others… In fact, one of us was unstoppable. In their packs are: two water bottles, one warm top, a hat, their sandwiches and an emergency whistle. Yes, we are the parents with eight kids that bought them all whistles for Christmas. Actually, they treat their whistles with great respect and would only blow them in case of an emergency.

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Up Skeleton Gorge

If you think of Skeleton Gorge as a long flight of stairs, through a wonderfully wild and overgrown forest… with a damp, slippery river thrown in for good measure. This was my stomping ground as a kid and I was thrilled to take my kids there and show them the ins and outs.

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You know you are almost at the top when the moss gives way to ferns and then almost immediately blue skies.

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Lunch at the Reservoirs

At this time of year before the winter rains this reservoir is empty and looks like a vast lunar-scape…

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Signs of Life

While you are unlikely to bump into any large animals, there are plenty of tiny ones… not to mention incredible plant life.

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Up on Top…

The view from up on top is unprecedented, just beautiful as far as the eye can see. The idea that Table Mountain is flat on top is a little bit obscure when you are up there… though there are definitely spots where you can literally see forever.

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These girls are such a formidable team of hikers… gotta love them.

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Down Newland’s Ravine

Newland’s Ravine is the route that takes you down the left hand side of that buttress, it looks like a zig-zag path down the mountain side into Kirstenbosch Gardens… it is. But a lot harder than a path, it wasn’t just me that found it hard, the endless steep and rocky steps were relentless. No chance to stop concentrating for a second because the slope is very steep and the steps just too wide for you to get into your stride… unless of course you are ten and totally fearless, in which case you just fly down the mountainside. It was somewhat terminal but we all came out of it smiling – so totally doable.

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And a great view of the Boomslang Walkway…

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And one of us loved every second of it and might have done it about ten times, scurrying up and down between us.

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The Gallery

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→ 24 CommentsTags: Hiking · Outings · Saturday Spot