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

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Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #217

April 7th, 2014 · 4 Comments

This was going to be a Friday Fun Post on an actual Friday, then on Saturday… and here we are and it is Sunday. For the first time this weekend I am actually sitting and I will not move until our readers have a post… It turned out to be the weekend that we had nearly nothing happening to one that was ever so slightly hectic and top that with glorious weather and having to spend every moment in the sunshine – enjoying the blue skies…


We Are Really Building a Library Book by Book

Firstly a warning, if you decide to build libraries, with the help of your blog readers then from time to time your house is going to be smothered in books…SMOTHERED!!! We are thrilled to show you boxes and boxes of books that have been pouring in – really we cannot thank our readers enough for their commitment and their love… If you would still like to contribute we will be collecting books for the next week or two.


Book of the Week

Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott, Published by Penguin Books, South Africa. This is one of those books that is pitched at early teen, tween girls – but absolutely anybody can read and, I have to say I totally loved it. But Hood #3 really lived and LOVED it. This is the story of your typical eleven year old girl, Liv, who loves photography and doing her own “eleven year old, wish I was sixteen year old” thing. She is in the sweet hinterland of childhood, where older looks so appealing but younger is well worth hanging onto. She has an older brother with Asperger’s Syndrome, which puts her in the awkward position of being younger and yet responsible. She loves him dearly and if you didn’t know more, from the book jacket, that would probably be enough of a story.

But there is more, Liv’s mum is dying and the book begins a couple of months before her death… and follows Liv and her mum through this tragic time. It is sad, you will cry… but these two have a special relationship and you will find yourself laughing your heart out as well. You will find conversations you have had with your daughter in this book, and conversations that you know you must have… This book covers topics where most of us wouldn’t dare to tread… but it is funny and lovely and tragic. Grab the tissues and read away. It is brilliant and special, a book about real people in a real family and they are so heartwarmingly normal that you may well know them.

I love that the author has been writing diaries since she was a young girl, and kept them… not knowing that one day she would create a book. Perhaps the honesty in this book could well be because she could look back and see the world through the eyes of a young girl. A brilliant first novel, I would put this onto my pile of must read-books with any of my impending teen/tween daughters. What a debut, we are looking forward to more from Rebecca Westcott, This book was given to us by Pengiun Books, South Africa for review purposes. We were not paid for our review and the opinions were as usual totally our own.


Here are some lovely links from this week

  1. Gotta love these Home Made Journals on A Beautiful Mess…
  2. Oh Alisa Burke… so very much to love: Driftwood Flowers… and Lucy’s Fairy Gardenin a Pot.
  3. 16 Gifts for New Mothers… on the Art of Simple… I don’t have a friend, new mom or not, who wouldn’t like to be gifted from this list… really fab ideas.
  4. Well Keeper of the Home did a fab round-up of all the books I need to read write now!!!
  5. Everything you ever needed to know about having folk over on Apartment Therapy.
  6. Oh you are going to need some inner strength to read this post from David Murray’s Head Heart Hand: The Widow’s First Laugh.
  7. 50 Photos of Cape Town that Will make You Want to Live Here on TravelStartBlog.
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years: The Easter Edition…

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Have Been Boxed Again, Thank-You Sonlight…

April 4th, 2014 · 19 Comments

It’s been quiet over here, what can I say… we have been boxed and there are a number of people over here immersed in books. As most of you know, we are avid Sonlighters and from time to time we get boxed, which means we have read through our stash of Sonlight books and order the next level up…


Now I am not the best at ordering school books, trying to co-ordinate eight kids and their accumulated reads is pretty much mission impossible. Every year I delay the inevitable order as long as I possibly can. A couple of weeks back our kids declared a mutiny and began school… they were right of course, summer appears to have come to an end. Little did they know that I had placed their order. We astonished the delivery men with shouts of joy as their school books arrived. The books were piled in the corner… until the father person got home… to share the heady joy!!! But then we had guests for dinner and …


After they went home our kids just couldn’t wait another moment…


Our teens dived in – don’t tell me kids don’t love school!!!


Someone I know stayed up way after 1am reading her way through her brother’s history Encyclopaedia.


And the books stayed neat and piled on the dresser for about a whole ten minutes… while the packaging was rolled up to make our Sonlight snail…


And much as I love our Instructor’s Guides I really don’t enjoy filling those files…


But there is no holding back a Sonlight veteran and with a flurry of pages… my kids had their files in shape and good to go in minutes…


And our crate-shelf that has been filled with just library books for the past couple of weeks is back to being our current school shelf… each child has a crate with their current school reads in there. And our days are now called school days. To an outsider our school days look pretty much like our days of summer… we gather round the table for breakfast, read together for a while, work on a project together and then the kids drift off and work on their own projects… we gather again for lunch and read a whole lot more. Perhaps the biggest difference between our school and non-school days is that for 36 weeks of the year we read Sonlight books and the other weeks of the year we read just about every book we can find in the library.


Now I always forget to get something – did I mention I am galactically bad at ordering our books without losing my mind… well one child is missing a history book, we should get by. But another was elated to discover that he did not get his language arts instructor’s guide… I am pretty stranded without it. He is thrilled, it means he gets to read through his pile of books without care in the world… I might have liked him to do a little more application. But lets face it, it is not nearly as bad as the year I forgot all their Instructor’s Guides!!! And since we are back in school, it is probably time to share a couple of homeschool posts… over the next few weeks…

→ 19 CommentsTags: Se7en at School

Se7en’s April… And Your Free Printable Calendar…

April 2nd, 2014 · 4 Comments


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

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #216 And All Our GiveAway Winners…

March 31st, 2014 · 4 Comments

A Friday Fun Post… on a Sunday… We had such a crazy, busy weekend!!! All good and all fun… but busy!!!



Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. I love Attic24 for all the beautiful colours and a touch of lovely Englishness and I totally loved this post: Caravan Love Affair on Attic 24… and another book jumped onto my wish list.
  2. LongMilesCoffee is one of my favourite travel spots on the web… and this post, from the heart… Debunking 5 Myths about Expat Life… So well written.
  3. This post… on The Homeschool Classroom on Successful Strewing, had I know it had a name!!! This post resonated, strewing is one of my favourite life skills!!!
  4. If you are in need of a quiet place to sneak away then look no further than Top Five children’s Spaces…on TigerLillyQuinn.
  5. Love this “HOW To Post”… on The Fresh Exchange: “How we create on the run.”
  6. I never wear make-up and I pretty much don’t do selfies… but this post: Why I don’t do make-up free selfies… on the Gourmet Girlfriend, really deserves a read…
  7. The Ultimate Collection: No More Entertaining Excuses on Apartment Therapy...
  8. Everything that you might ever need to know about April Fool’s Day by Heather Sanders on Pioneer Women Homeschooling.
  9. And the se7en + 1th link:

  10. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

Quick Report on our Community Library

The Community Library that we are creating with all our readers is taking off!!! And we are loving it… books are pouring in daily. A blogging friend, Reeta at “House of Anais” blogged about our project and she is sending a whole pile of books over…

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We want to thank each and every reader for sending books to us… really book by book we are steadily building a library… Very Exciting Times!!! If you still have books you would like to share or you want to know more about our project then you are welcome to follow this link to read about it…

GiveAway Winners

Lesley Pearse Hamper

All the entries…


And the winner is:


Jo Mar 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm I would love to win some good books for winter!

We would like to thank Penguin Books South Africa who supplied us with the GiveAway books.

Your Southern African Bucket List – 2 copies…

All the entries…


Turned and Mixed…

And the winners are:
se7en-31-Mar-14-DSC_0105.jpg se7en-31-Mar-14-DSC_0104.jpg

We would like to thank MapStudio.

The Syding Adventures Caravans and Castles

All the entries…


Turned and Mixed and selected…

And picking and choosing…

Erin M. Mar 25, 2014 at 11:09 pm I find it easier to find books that my daughters would enjoy than to find books for my son. This would be something he would like to read.

Congratulations to: Jo, Erin M and Cat, and totally and completely randomly, Erin M again… I will be dropping you all an email later today to gather your details…

We would like to thank Christain Book Discounters who supplied us with the GiveAway book.f

That’s us… Hope your weekend was a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Saturday Spot: Earth Hour and Time to Plant Some Trees…

March 30th, 2014 · 10 Comments

So tonight was Earth Hour and time to make an environmental promise for a greener planet…

WWF - Earth Hour

So I asked our kids: “What is a Green House?”

Clearly we still have quite a bit to learn about living a greener life. There are so many things we can do to live a greener life and every little bit you do really does make a difference. Using less electricity, conserving water, recycling and going car-free are choices we can make that do make a difference. We love creating green projects like beach clean-ups and we are always on the look out for fun family events focusing on a greener environment.

GreenPop is a local environmental organisation that believes that greening the environment can be fun. They don’t just talk about living greener they actually get folks and volunteers to get “doing.” Their projects are ambitious, they set out to plant thousands of trees in local communities. Just recently GreenPOP contacted us to tell us about themselves and an upcoming project and we just had to share it with our readers… we think you would be excited about it too.

photograph courtesy of GreenPop.

Imagine a TREEmendous weekend that you and your family would enjoy – join Greenpop from the 9th to 11th of May for The Platbos Reforest Fest. Going on its fourth year, this POPular festival aims to (re)connect families with the planet by giving everyone the chance to get active by helping plant 3,000 to 4,000 trees. The family festival includes activities for all-ages to enjoy and meals are provided for the weekend.

photograph courtesy of GreenPop.

In addition to planting trees and having fun with your family, you will also be contributing to an effort aimed at revitalizing South Africa’s southern-most indigenous forest. Platbos is an ancient forest, containing indigenous trees over 1000 years of age. Unfortunately, the forest is endangered and needs all the help it can get so South Africa does not lose this rare ecosystem. This is why Greenpop – a social enterprise that aims to inspire people about getting active towards a sustainable future – partnered with Platbos to run this festival of action and make an actual difference in the ancient South African forest.

photograph courtesy of GreenPop.

You can find out more information about the Platbos forest and about this event and many other GreenPOP events on their website.

photograph courtesy of GreenPop.

This sounds like a fun weekend, and wether you join them or not it will be good to follow up and see if they manage to plant all those trees. And wherever you are in the world, the point of Earth Hour is to reflect and promise to make a change towards a greener environment. I think as a family, this earth hour, we promise to plant some trees.

This is not a sponsored post. GreenPop did provide us with information and photographs to use for the post, otherwise the opinions expressed are, as usual, entirely our own.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot

The Week That Was… 6.38

March 29th, 2014 · 2 Comments

And just like that the season has changed…


We had our first real rain of the season… and the morning and evening temperatures ha dropped slightly and us summer folk are already reeling in shock!!!


Our evening are looking more like this… crisp and cool…


And stunning…




It is the perfect time of year for the beach… the crowds have left and we claim it!!!


We are still conquering our almost daily walk…


Some of us are a little more athletic than others…


But we may have to reschedule slightly, because the other evening we were surprised to emerge from the library to discover it was pitch dark and pouring with rain…


This may well be the year that we up the number of visits we make to the library each week…


Meanwhile they do find stairs for me…


And in fact there were two teens that challenged me to the super circuit the other day… I’d like to say they were in awe, but I cannot stretch the truth so far, however they were rather surprised and they haven’t re-challenged!!!


And it is the season for… tea and buns… we are embracing this!!!


Npt to mention, friends visiting us for tea and scones and bringing the scones… fun times…


And quiet Sunday suppers… for my youngest “his and hers…”


The gang have been cooking up a storm…


Anyone for peach cobbler or lemon cookies…



And a couple of chores…


And just like that we are back in school and we have been boxed… we will post you a “we have been boxed” post next week!!!



Meanwhile welcome to the creative centre of Cape Town, my kids appear to be on some sort of expressive roll… Mr Blockhead is out and about almost daily… not to mention ships and shipping…


And someone is creating the whole world on a daily basis…


And the Artwork of the Week:

Carefully created people by the bazillion… there is just not enough paper in the whole world…


And the Book of the Week:

Yes, we dived in and we are reading #2 in the series… it seems fitting my father has been really ill and he read these books to me as a child. And we have been re-discovering why he likes all the treats that he loves, because they were the favourites of the children featured in these books, his favourite childhood books.

And this is what the Hoods have been up too:

Hood #1: Lego…


Hood #2: Science…


Hood #3: Playlists…


Hood #4: Flying…


Hood #5: Meringues…


Hood #6 and #7: Created a very happy gallery…


Hood #8: Driving…


I have raised eight children that have no idea that when you place money in the slot these machines spin around… I thought this was a great achievement until a really good friend of mine mentioned that this was perhaps a “serious mothering fail” on my part. Oh dear!!!

And on that note… we would like to wish you all the very best weekend…

→ 2 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

What We Are Reading Right Now #24… The Galactic Edition…

March 26th, 2014 · 10 Comments

I promised a week of books… and we have had a couple of days of rain… actual rain!!! Yes, the laundry is piled up and my kids are screaming at the site of rain, but we are holding it together and reading away. We so enjoy reading and free access to our local library… we are going to be making a lot of use of it over the cooler months!!! You are welcome to take a peak at our community library project over here…


Meanwhile, once again we have read through our pile of review books and it is time to show you all the latest and greatest reads that are coming out right now… All the books in this post were given to us, for review purposes, by PanMacmillan South Africa… there is an epic for every age-group here!!!

The Hoods Are Reading…

Hood #1:

Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz: After our interview with Anthony Horowitz last year my guys have been waiting on tenderhooks for this book to come out. It did not disappoint. If you have followed the Alex Rider series… then you will be familiar with the players in this book… the catch is that it is written from Gregorovich’s perspective. Just before the first Alex Rider book begins, Gregorovich is commanded to assassinate Alex Rider. This is the prequel to the Alex rider series and you will learn how the assassin came to be who is. He and Alex had very similar starts in life, but one turned spy for the Secret Service and the other assassin… the question is: two boys with similar backgrounds and life experiences turned out so diametrically opposite… the one chose to work for good, the other is a villain through and through. Alex Rider fan, then this is a must read.


Hood #2:

The Ultimate Truth by Kevin Brooks: If you are looking for a great mystery/detective read then you have just found it. This is the story of Travis, whose detective agency parents are killed in a car accident. Amidst his grief, one or two things peak his interest and he starts to investigate the death of his parents. The more he is drawn into the investigation the deeper the mystery becomes. He has unearthed the proverbial can of worms and the reader finds themselves discovering things they never knew they needed to know. A book that you want rush through, but you can’t afford to miss any of the details. A gripping read – to be sure.

Young Sherlock Holmes, Knife Edge by Andrew Lane: Well Hood #2 has collected this entire series – they are that good. If you are looking for a fabulous mystery then this is a great series to read your way through. these books are the kind you rush through because they are so good and yet you never want them to end… also because they are so good. There are lots of clever twists and turns. Knife Edge is set in Ireland and the locals are terrified by strange and mysterious happenings… is there really something ominous afoot or is there a reasonable explanation?


Hood #3:

What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens: I know… a book about war. We loved it from start to finish. I confess we don’t usually choose to read themed poetry books, but this one is a keeper. The poems are beautiful, funny and sad… and are divided into sections for each of the World Wars, and takes a look at more recent wars. Turns out you can learn a lot about the war from reading poetry and while we learnt a lot of historical bits and bobs, we really got a feel for life in the war… this book took the “there are two sides to every war…” and the standard documentary of life during times of war, and personalised it. The focus on one topic, one person, one heart at a time and writing to share was beautiful. We were all very impressed with this book.


Hood #4:

Oliver Fibbs and the Abominable Snow Penguin: And the Oliver Fibbs series grows and the reason we reviewed all these books is because they are good, especially for readers who don’t jump at the chance to read… you know those that put it off until they have too… and then the story must be quick to appeal before it is discarded. What can I say, the stories appeal. In this book, Oliver Fibbs is sharing his uncle, Sir Randolph’s, adventures in the Antarctic… the adventure gets wilder and wilder… and then even WILDER!!! There are cartoons interspersed throughout the book, they are an integral part of the story and keep the avid comic reader content, while reading a chapter book. This series is a continuous chuckle and this book another winner.

The World’s Greatest Underachiever: Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver: In the same vein as books for boys who really would rather be doing anything other than reading… Hank Zipser brought to us by Henry Winkler, is hysterically funny, especially for a ten year old boy. This series of books have really encouraged my middle boys to keep turning the pages. This book has no dramatic effects, no stunning illustrations, no intertwining comics, just words on a page. It is humour that will keep you reading on… who doesn’t want a good laugh. The book begins with Hank discovering on the kitchen calendar that one of his best friends’ mum is going to have a baby and in true young lad style he is shocked and appalled and tries to break the news to his friend very gently… only Hank has it wrong and it is his mum… and all the drama he was envisioning for his best friend has now landed back home. Funny, readable and easy enough for a quick and enthusiastic read.


Hood #5:

Picture This Animals: Well say good-bye to boring old fact books and enter the delightful world of info graphics… All sorts of incredible and amazing facts presented with the use of very clever illustrations. There are not a lot of words to read in this book and so for the boy who wants to dip and browse for a couple of fact about animals, this book is perfect. this book is very definitely the case of a picture says a thousand words. Facts like:

  1. Skipper caterpillars shoot pellets of poo at their enemies.
  2. The burrows of Meerkats have up to 90 different entrances.
  3. Don’t even ask about the worlds longest animal… the giant ribbon worm, 30 m… 30 m long.

Picture This Human Body: the companion book that we have reviewed before. But so worth another mention. More fabulous info graphic delights, packed full of amazing and incredible facts. If you are looking to build up a good reference collection of books for your kids then I would definitely add this pair of books to the pile. And to be sure you will find yourself immersed in them just as much as your kids are.


Hood #6:

The Gruffallo Play by Julia Donaldson: Here is one to he advantages of having a heap of kids… you can instantly put on a play!!! And when the play is the Gruffalo, with all the words carefully written out by Julia Donaldson you just can not go wrong. This book has provided my kids with hours of fun… it is not just a book, it is a performance. The parts are clearly marked with a little image to help your early readers to spot when it is their turn to speak. There are a few fabulous tips to help you put on your play… and just a vague suggestion of dressing the part and the whole gang dived into it with enthusiasm!!!

Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant: I confess I would never have bought this book, on account of so much pink (I don’t mind a certain amount of pink, but this is like totally pink!!!)… and I would have made a mistake. This book has been loved and read and read and loved. It is the perfect book for a beginner reader to enjoy, because there are lots of intriguing bits and pieces to read. The lead player in the book is a young gal that looks very like Hood #6, and she writes letters to the tooth fairy, who in turn writes back. It is one of those delightful books filled with real letters to open and read… the illustrations, by Vanessa Cabban are delightful. This book went straight onto Keeper pile of books!!!


Hood #7:

Too Many Tickles by Thomas Taylor and Penny Dann: This is another book that I felt was a little bit weak in the story line and one I wouldn’t really want to read night after night after night. But never ever underestimate the power of a book with actions… Little people love doing things and acting out actions… this book was a rip-roaring-tickle-inducing success!!!

Where’s My Teddy by Jez Alborough: What can I say, Jex Alborough and the classic: “Where’s My Teddy?” published in a new “pop-up” version… There is something about bears and the small people in my house, they just love them and this book is such a find!!! A small boy loses his teddy – so he very bravely goes to find his teddy in the big dark woods… he finds a little more than he bargained for… but ends up safe in bed with his ted. What can I say, “all’s well that ends well!!!”

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8:

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown: Oh this is a classic in the making, what a book!!! The illustrations are exquisite and the delightful Mr Tiger is a bit of an unconventional rebel in a city filled with very law abiding animal citizens. Mr Tiger wants to break free from all the conventions… and finds his freedom in the great big outdoors, but he is lonely and misses all his friends. The question is can he have it all? By the end of this book, the animals living in the city will have relaxed significantly and it turns out they had quite a bit to learn from Mr Tiger!!!

Stick by Andy Pritchett: This has got to be my favourite book in the entire pile… we all loved it totally. Our youngest fellow is very into dogs and books and so a book with both of those… well!!! This is a book of very few and very large and very clear words. A somewhat forlorn and lonely pup is looking for a friend to play with but has no luck… Nobody in the farmyard wants to be friends, until another adorable pup arrives on the scene. Our very beginner and not even reader loved this book for the sake of really reading!!! The story is about friendship and page after page of delightful illustrations… this is one of those sweet and magical tales that is going to quickly become a classic.

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

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→ 10 CommentsTags: What We Are Reading