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

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Thinking About 2017 and A Dashing Diary GiveAway…

November 25th, 2016 · 11 Comments

I did say we were having an entire week of GiveAways. Today’s GiveAway is another Mapstudio GiveAway, we have two fantastic diaries to for our readers. And I know that in the last week of school, before the summer break everyone is just thinking about finishing up their year and not even glancing at next year… so just leave a comment and enjoy your weekend… and then you can thank us later, when the new year spins around and you already have your diary ready to go…


Se7en+1 Fabulous Features

These diaries are chunky and bright, very bright… very cool colours and difficult to lose. They are packed with special features:

  1. Page a Day: Plenty of place to write all those important lists, and lots of place to doodle and create as well.
  2. Lots of Snippets: A conversion chart, planets and moon facts, as well as a “Did you know?” factoid on every, and study tips.
  3. A South Africa Map page: With national symbols and the national anthem.
  4. Place to Put Your TimeTable: Your term timetable and exam timetables.
  5. Space for Lists: Book list, birthday list… contact list.
  6. Outline Pages: Year at a glance and month at a glance pages.
  7. Personal Page: For contact details, and important numbers and allergies and son on.
  8. Bialingual/Tweetalige: Everything is in English and Afrikaans.

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The GiveAway

I cannot think of anyone who doesn’t love a diary… all you have to do to enter is: leave a comment telling us which colour book you would prefer… and if you love them both, then leave two comments… we will do a double draw!!!


This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 30 November 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 1st of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone, worldwide. If you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away.

We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with The Diaries, one set to review and one to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 11 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps

Se7en Are Giving Away a Family PhotoShoot With Marike Herselman…

November 23rd, 2016 · 29 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post on my goals for this year. One of the goals that never made it onto the list was a collection of fabulous family photographs. For years I hid away from the camera, if there was a photograph I was happy to take it and not very happy to be in it. I always wondered why folks had professional photographs taken every year… and then I had a couple of kids and seriously it can take 30 000 clicks of the camera and you still don’t have everybody looking at you or everyone’s eyes open. A while back I wrote an article for a magazine and they asked for a recent family photograph… shock and horror and mass scramble, not to mention stress… and many gritted teeth later… we had nothing to show for our efforts. So when a friend called me the other day and asked if we would like a family photo shoot and to do a GiveAway for our readers at the same time I couldn’t jump fast enough at the offer… really!!!

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography.

This Saturday past, we headed up our mountain, in gale force winds… chasing the sun as we went higher and higher… and we took a ton of fabulous fun photographs… A ton. And I love them. We may well have to create a little more wall art for our home.

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography.

The Photographer, Marike Herselman, was great… not at all intimidated by a heap of kids or clambering over precarious rocks to get her shot… not to mention all the chattering of my kids with about a bazillion questions and dashing every which way except together. What can I say, a photographer with endearing and enduring patience.

Photo Credit to Owl Books Photography.

Now, since we are talking about goals… let me just get it all out. I realised earlier in the year that I didn’t have nearly enough, if any, photographs of me and my mum when I was a child, precious little photographs of my parents at all… and they were both avid photographers when I was a kid. I guess it is genetic to hide behind the camera. Anyway, I have had in the back of my mind for a while now that I really wanted to gift each of my kids with a photograph of me and them… one-on-one in a photo that didn’t look staged. They may think “odd mother person right now”… but years from now they will appreciate it and be glad that they have that memory… of an afternoon up the mountain in the crazy wind laughing and taking photographs as the sun set.

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography

Not to mention, I always thought it would be crazy to try and co-ordinate the whole gang for a photo shoot. The hardest part was getting everyone in the same place on the day. Otherwise, it was easy. I told everyone to put on jeans and wear a plain t-shirt, and we were good to go. Off we went for a walk and let the professional say… stop, turn, look at me… jump, leap, whatever. Mostly she just chatted with us and the photos happened. She had very clear ideas about what photos worked and how to find the light, and how to get them quickly before little peoples’ patience ran out. She was also quite happy to create the photos we were after… take our ideas and turn them into real photographs.

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography.

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography.

Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography

The GiveAway

We are giving away an extended family calendar shoot with our fabulous photographer friend, Marike Herselman, which is an hour shoot at one location of your choice. You receive 12 images in a personalised calendar as well as for download to print yourself. All you have to do is leave a comment… tell us when last you took an actual family photograph. Also, you have to be in Cape Town between 1 December and the 29 of December, to make use of your prize.

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Photo Credit to Marike Herselman Photography.

This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 30 November 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 1st of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are usually open to everyone, but this prize is very definitely Cape Town based. Otherwise, if you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – hang on, our week of Giveaways is continuing…

We would like to thank Marike Herselman who provided us with the photoshoot and a Calendar Shoot GiveAway for our readers. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 29 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps

My First South Africa Atlas, Another Fabulous Mapstudio GiveAway…

November 22nd, 2016 · 31 Comments

All of my children really love pouring over atlases and a couple of them are absolutely enthralled by anything called an Atlas. We always have an Atlas lying on our lounge table so that the resident dreamers and pirates have a map close at hand. They tend to dip into it, glean some facts and then leave it, until they are passing by again and repeat the whole process. You can meet the author, Sean Fraser who also wrote The Children’s Madiba, in our interview here.


We were sent this atlas, My First South African Atlas to review and GiveAway by Mapstudio. First thing, do not be misled by “my first” there is nothing “beginner book” about this… this is a book absolutely packed with fascinating facts for every age and stage. It is very visual, so even non-readers will get a lot from it and it has circles filled with amazing “Did you know?” facts scattered on every page for early readers and then boxes of facts about the area and special features and landmarks for older readers to enjoy. Each spread has a detailed map on it, each page has blocks of information and each page had plenty of photographs to illustrate the points of interest.


The book begins with an overview of South Africa and her national symbols, followed by a look at the whole of Africa. And then there each province gets a handful of double page spreads packed with information on: significant buildings, places of interest, natural landmarks, parks and wildlife, geological features, science and technology, arts, culture and leisure and vegetation. Each spread also has interesting lists answering questions about longest rivers, highest mountains and such like. And along the bottom of each page is a relevant timeline. Important dates and snippets of historical interest for that region too. There is also a section on National Parks and Heritage sites.


This book is a fantastic resource, packed with South African facts and would be a great for folk that need to find facts fast. It would especially be useful for school kids to dip into and have at hand for projects… I intend to read our way through it for school next year. It is a great way to traverse all the provinces of South Africa without having to leave home and without having the feeling that you are even remotely reading a text book. It is fun, your children will want to dip into and many adult visitors have said in our lounge, happily saying, “Gosh, did you know?”…


The GiveAway

If my kids were in school I would enter this GiveAway, they need this book. And I know my homeschool kids need this book it will be a great way to give them an overview of all that is south African. If I lived on the far side of the world and wanted to do a country study on South Africa or I wanted to reminisce about home… then this would be the book of choice… easy reading, very visual and packed with amazing facts. All you have to do is leave a comment telling us where in South Africa you would like to visit.


This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 30 November 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 1st of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away.

We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with “My First South Africa Atlas”, one to review and one to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 31 CommentsTags: Geography · GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School

Se7en + 1 Went to Dinos Alive… and it’s a GiveAway…

November 21st, 2016 · 14 Comments

The holiday season has arrived in Cape town and school children everywhere are chomping at the bit to get out and play for the summer break. Last week we attended the launch of Dinos Alive, which is a really fun dinosaur exhibition at the Cape Gate Shopping Centre. Twenty five life size dinosaurs have arrived in Cape Town in full roaring growling, blinking, moving, life like glory…


We went, We saw and We conquered…


There are plenty of familiar faces…


Each display comes with a quick fact board…


We arrived just in time for the tour, and there are plenty of folk around to answer your questions… just look out for the dinosaur shirts…


There are lots of dinosaurs to look at…


And dinosaur lovers are really going to enjoy it…


Even dinosaurs and their babies…


The Play Area

There is a large play area with lots to do. There is a kiosk for snacks and a store with dinosaur goodies to buy. But the highlight for all of my kids were the bucking bronco dinosaurs to ride on… we may have been the last to leave!!!



There is also a photo area…


There is even a baby dinosaur for cuddles…


And a “fossil” dig…


There is plenty to do and look at at the exhibition…


The What, the where, the why and the How…

If you want to check all the details then head straight over to Dinos Alive website…


The exhibition runs from the 18 November until the 8 January, from 9:00 am till 19:00 every day, though last entrance is at 17:00. You can buy tickets online or at the door.

This show is not for the teeny-tiny faint hearted and if your little one is slightly afraid of overwhelming beasts then give it a miss… but if you are living with a potential palaeontologist who absolutely loves all things wild… then don’t hold back… this is not to be missed. If you are living with a fact-osaurus then you can find out about each of the dinosaurs on their website. And if you are looking for printable colouring pages and puzzles, then head over here.

The GiveAway

And we have a GiveAway for you. If you are going to be in the greater Cape Town Area between 18 November 2016 and 8 January 2017, we are giving away a Family Ticket. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell us which dinosaur is your favourite dinosaur…


This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 30 November 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 1st of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. This GiveAway is naturally only open to folk who will be able to attend the dinosaur exhibition over the Holiday season.

We would like to thank CapeGate Shopping Centre and Dinos Alive, who invited us to the launch of Dinos Alive, thank you so much we had a fabulous time. They also provided us with a family ticket to Giveaway to our followers. We were not paid to write this post and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 14 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #339

November 21st, 2016 · 1 Comment

We just survived our busiest week of the year, the week when every year-end-event arrives on the calendar night after night after night. The great thing is we made it (!) and we are now ready to slowly slide into summer. The other great thing is that we have a week of Galactically Good Giveaways coming your way… all sorts of fabulous GiveAways, changing it up a bit to give you a week of fun in the midst of the end of year craziness. Enter away, please leave lots of comments, one word comments are good… the more entries the better.


Lovely Links from This Week

  1. The Best Super Moon Photos from Around the World on Quartz.
  2. WillowDay’s Leaf Fairy Puppets and printable… Delightful!!!
  3. Would you look at this incredible book of Cardboard Creations like never before… on IkatBag!!!
  4. This post on Petit Elefant about sums up what most media just can’t: Africa’s not sad y’all.
  5. A week or two back I wrote a post on making math fun and a couple folk asked me about fun math apps for kids… and I have to say I am the laziest mother person when it comes to apps and things for my kids. But, never one to reinvent the wheel, take a look at Jimmie’s Collage and her Ten Best Online Game Sites for Homeschool Math.
  6. Now here’s a good question: Can teens ever have a a positive body image? on Who’s the Mummy?
  7. So I am doing this Art Journaling course… it is free, it is online, it takes as long as you want it to take and it is delivered into your email box every day, could not get easier than that: Get Messy Art Journaling…
  8. The prettiest paper chains ever on Pink Stripey Socks: Paper Chain Christmas…
  9. I just love Styling You… she takes fashion from pages of a magazine straight into the real world, if I ever grow out of jeans and t-shirts then this would be advisor that I would seek out: How to look and feel stylish in summer when the heat is on.
  10. If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Family Holiday Tips, Destinations & Ideas – Part 1. Just gotta love Style and Shenanigans.


A Blast From the Past:

That’s us… Hope you are all have a fabulous week!!!

→ 1 CommentTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Would Like to Give You The World…

November 19th, 2016 · 39 Comments

Happy weekending to all our friends. We have a GiveAway. In fact, we have several and we would like to share them all with you over the next week or two, so that the winners can receive their prizes before Christmas, because they are all fabulous Giftables. So keep watching this space… wherever you are in the world we have some fun GiveAways coming your way!!!


Our first GiveAway comes with a bit of a back story…


I posted this image on instagram a couple of days ago and asked folk where in the world they were… and so many friends all over the world joined in. And because of that we decided it was time for a new map, our old one was looking a tad tired. We spent the morning popping pins on all over the map…


We cram so much stuff onto our maps, that it deserves a whole blog post and I will bring that to you later on in the week, but in the mean time we thought we would give you the world…


Really, the whole world. We have the best Know Your World Educational Map Combination Pack from Mapstudio to Giveaway. So what’s in the pack:


An inflatable globe, so you can find where you are in the world, a 60+ piece puzzle of Africa so that you can find where we are, and a pack of Africa playing cards. The globe and the puzzle are political maps and include country borders and capitals. On the globe oceans and special land features are included, highest peaks and also a clock every 60 degrees… which is a fun way to introduce time zones. My kids don’t see an inflatable globe as something “educational” at all… it is just a really fun way to play, and every time they play with it they learn one or two new facts. I call that a win. The puzzle has nice chunky pieces that fit together well… and country labels throughout… my kids love puzzles so it is a great way to learn place names at the same time as they are having fun. And finally the pack of cards… these cards are so great they have gotten their own blog post before… Each card has it’s own country, the capital and a couple of country facts on them… they can be used as regular playing cards and the facts get learnt as you are playing, or you can use them for quizzes and mastering facts…

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The GiveAway

If you are the lucky winner… your prize is all packed and good to go… ready to fly to you wherever you are in the world. all you have to do is leave a comment telling us where in the world you are… and we will pop you onto our wall map next to our school table. We would love as many readers as possible to tell us where they are… nothing like a map filled with friends for some fun!!!


This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 30 November 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 1st of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away.

We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with the “Know Your World Educational Pack”, one to review and one to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 39 CommentsTags: Geography · GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School

Se7en Tips to Being a Tourist in Your Own Town…

November 17th, 2016 · 2 Comments

The end of the year is fast approaching… and for most of us that means the holiday season. And wouldn’t it be dreamy to get away and take break… an exotic island, a foreign city… a friend’s beach house or amenable relatives on the far side of the country. The reality is that we can’t always do that… nothing squashes the holiday spirit quite like breaking the budget and realising that you are going to be paying for it for the rest of the year. A good solution is to have a holiday in your own town… and I can hear all the mothers in the world saying… Aargh… that just means double the work for me and everyone else has all the fun. Been there done that, and that isn’t the refresher that most of us need. You need to be intentional and you need to plan for it.


What makes a holiday great is that you go somewhere else, and you break away from your normal rhythm. You don’t have all the stuff of home and you don’t have to get to all your normal activities and you don’t have to do all your typical chores. So the trick of a good holiday is to try and emulate that. The huge advantage to being a tourist in your own town is that with the help of a travel guide you can look at your town through fresh eyes and at the same time you have insider tips… a place might be a great spot for taking photographs but the worst place in town for coffee… you can use what you know to your advantage and all the while discover new and interesting things.

Se7en Tips to Being a Tourist in Your Own Town

  1. Pack for the Event: The wonderful thing about being a tourist in your own towel is that you don’t have to carry luggage. That being said you will need a good backpack to carry a couple of things with you. I always have a beach towel, that acts as a picnic blanket, my camera and a sketchbook and pencil, and a water bottle. Along the way if you pick up pamphlets or your picnic then you can just toss it in your backpack when you need it. Our kids usually carry a backpack wherever they go… if they are hiking or in the city centre it has the same contents: a sweater, a hat, a notebook and pencil and a water bottle. Some outings we do allow for one momento… that might be a beautiful leaf from a park or a postcard to put into the postcard collection at home. Something to remember their holiday by.
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  3. Do your Research: There is so much to know about your local city that you most likely don’t know… it is a good idea to pop a map on the fridge and ask around the dinner table if your family have special places they want to visit. Grab a Lonely Planet book for your library and explore your town with an outsiders eyes. Maybe make a list: Somewhere new, somewhere active and somewhere interesting… Plot them on the map. Do a little google search… look for the top sights to see in “your town of choice” and then plot them on the map as well. Start a notebook of dream places to visit and note down opening hours and ticket prices while you are at it. Don’t plan too carefully though, because plans change when you are out there… there is always the one person that is has to stick to the plan and collapses if you don’t and then those who want to wander about and explore new things as they arise. The balance is to make loose plans with lots of space around them, for example: Visit a museum in the morning and people watching for lunch and window shopping or a beach walk in the afternoon. A loose plan like that is detailed enough for the detailed folk and vague enough for the dreamers.
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  5. The Visitor Centre: If you were to arrive from abroad in your own town you would most likely find yourself close to a visitor or information centre… it is a good idea to head there first. You can discover what’s on, what’s free… and what days are good days to visit certain spots. There is nothing worse than blocking off a morning visit to a park only to discover that they hold a market there every evening or the buskers are there every afternoon between two and four. Almost all towns have free events or events of interest to visitors, some museums have half price days… the visitor centre is there to help you. They will have pamphlets to collect and inspire you, and for some folk that love journaling… plenty of goodies to stick into your holiday diary when you get home.
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  7. Pick Places to Visit and Places to Rest: When we are traveling we alternate rest spots and busy spots… a museum, then a park, a gallery, then a natural spot. If you visit the centre of most cities or towns there is somewhere outdoors to relax and have a spontaneous picnic. If you have no idea where this spot is then follow the locals or be sure to ask at the visitor centre where there is a good place to stop for a coffee and a rest at lunchtime. If you are having a holiday in your own town you can alternate days out and days home… make sure your days at home are actual days off and not just for catching up with laundry… set a challenge to have a game day or a reading day or an art day or an “any kind of day” that doesn’t involve everyone staring at a screen while the mother person does all the housework. For our home days I make sure that everyone understands that we will be working on chores as a team for a short time and then playing for the rest of the day. Don’t fall into your regular meal rut… use something you prepared before or try out a new recipe together, have a pizza night, or a pasta night… make a family project out of it. It will take longer but it is always more fun to work together and try out new things together.
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  9. Plan for Feasts: Your family will still need to eat while you are exploring your home town and chances are you won’t be eating out the entire time. When we do plan an all day outing, or a series of outings then we will make a batch of muffins the day before… ready to grab and go on the day. Otherwise there is nothing worse than being out all day and coming home tired and cranky at the end of it and there is nothing to eat… make a couple of easy to whip together meals ready and toss them in the freezer. When we are out all day, we do what we would do if we were visiting any city on the world… round about lunch time we head for the local market or supermarket and by a few rolls, and something to put on it… maybe some yogurt for a treat. We would have to eat if we were at home, so pretty much the sort of lunch we would have at home… but something portable we can buy from a nearby store and then we look for the nearest park and have a picnic.
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  11. Leave the Car Behind: I don’t know about you but our car certainly is in a rut and tends to go the same old routes that it always does. The thing about visiting a foreign city is you find yourself in the centre of town and then a lot of the fun is actually exploring and finding your way around… lose your car and use public transport for the day… or head for the city and find yourself some all day parking and leave your car behind and go on a wander. If you choose the places you want to visit carefully then you can group spots together and then spend a week visiting different quarters of your city each day.
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  13. Do Something Totally New: Look for a city tour… and take it. Even if you have lived somewhere your whole life you will be amazed how much you can learn on a tour. Our city has free walking tours, and a number of museums have tours as well… as about this at your first stop at the information centre. If your city has a Red City Bus… then they are so worth taking. Firstly they take you to all the main attractions and stop there, so no need to find parking at all and secondly they have a tour guide telling you everything you would like to know and a whole lot more as you drive around. Search for your city’s instagram account and follow it, maybe there will be an instameet over your holiday time… they are so much fun to join in. Maybe you can take a tour of a stadium, or a neighbourhood… find out which book shops have story time and visit them. There are so many great resources out there that we never make use of because we live right there.
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  15. Take Some Friends: There is nothing like visitors from out of town to get you out of your home town rut and to get exploring as you show them around. I find we stretch ourselves to see local places so much more when we have friends and visiting family to show around. If the thought of having visitors over just when you can’t stand to do any housework… then meet them in town, ask them to join you at the beach. Hospitality doesn’t have to be at home… you can just as easily meet up for a picnic in the park… or go on a city tour with them.

Keep your camera handy and start a collection of snaps of the places you visit… leave that map up on the fridge and see how many museums, beaches, markets and so on that you can visit… this might turn into a whole new thing… being a tourist in your home town, not just over the holidays but much more regularly than that. Your kids and you can definitely practice at becoming seasoned travellers without ever actually leaving home. So that when they do get the opportunity to head out far and wide it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Clearly this is a matter of the heart, that true holiday feeling depends far more on the everyday choices we make and our attitude to try out new things and explore new places, than it does on a couple of plane tickets.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot