Friday, August 27, 2010

Frog, Toad and Tadpole Nature Study

This week we have been reading up on frogs, toads and tadpoles in "The Handbook of Nature Study". We enjoyed listening to various frog calls and we learned some amazing new things about these creatures. What fascinated me most was the fact that a tadpoles outer gills disappear, leaving a hole on the left side. Water passes through this hole as the tadpole breathes and finally the left front leg pushes out through that very same spot!

The children quietly coloured their life cycle pages as I read to them.

Our study culminated with a visit to a nearby river with our Nature Club today. Our Nature Club numbers have swelled and it was delightful to see all the children happily hunting for tadpoles. There were squeals and shrieks as they caught them.

K found herself a quiet spot and carefully caught her tadpoles, gathered mud, water plants and water.

The children found more tadpoles in the muddy puddles far from the river. Perhaps our noise frightened the frogs away as we didn't see any today.

K carefully set up her tadpole aquarium at home and hopes to raise them until they grow into frogs.

We saw this sign up in a nearby neighbourhood , warning motorists to be careful of the endangered Western Leopard Toads.

Once home, the children documented their outing for their nature notebooks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Card Making wORKSHOP

This afternoon we had our first get together with our new craft group. The aim is to expose our girls to different crafts, using professionals,to teach them their skills. I love making cards and one of the girls had dropped out so I got special permission to join the group.
I was delighted to find a huge bag full of goodies at my place at the table! Cynthia from "Noo-Can-Do!" taught us how to make the most delightful cards. Each girls blank cards had been printed with a label on the back saying "handmade by ........" with their own names filled in.
I loved the pink handbag card, perfect to slip a gift voucher or some cash inside!

Please visit Cynthia's site

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monet study continued

"We aim at putting the children in touch with the great artist minds of all ages. We try to unlock for their delectation the wonderful garden of Art, in which grow most lovely flowers, most wholesome fruits. We want to open their eyes and minds to appreciate the masterpieces of pictorial art, to lead them from mere fondness for a pretty picture which pleases the senses up to honest love and discriminating admiration for what is truly beautiful - a love and admiration which are the response of heart and intellect to the appeal addressed to them through the senses by all great works of art." Charlotte Mason

Today we did a picture study on a fragment of Monet's painting , "The Picnic", painted in 1856. We learned that his main interests were outdoor scenes and he appreciated the effects of sunlight. This particular picture is a picnic scene, full of sunlight and dappled shadow. He did not complete the painting as he had run out of money and had to abandon it.
After spending some time studying the painting, the children narrated to each other what they recalled of the painting. It was interesting to note how each of them had seen it in a different way and K told us exactly which parts were unfinished. She has a good eye and I did not pick that up when studying the painting.

We learned how artists give their work a sense of depth by using perspective and we headed outdoors to to experiment with perspective.

Z did a scene with houses on one side and trees lining the other side.

K chose to paint. She used a house to draw the eye into a tree lined avenue, creating depth.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hotel outing

On Monday the older two children and I were treated to a visit to one of our city's hotels. This was part of the career days that we have been organising for the teens. I feel it is important to expose them to many as many careers as possible.A family friend is resident manager in this particular hotel and he made this a memorable outing for all the teens and the few moms that were privileged to go to.

Upon arrival, we were treated to coffee and freshly baked croissants, drizzled with chocolate. We watched a short DVD on their involvement in the recent Soccer World Cup and learned more about what the hotel industry involves. We then were taken on a tour of the hotel, front and back office. I know I have never thought about what it must take to run such a large establishment efficiently! We certainly learned a lot!

The hotel boasts 546 rooms. Some have magnificent views of the Waterfront or Table Mountain. The suites are luxurious!
We toured the offices of the various departments and the laundry rooms too. I don't think I have ever seen that many white towels and linen ever!

We saw their refuse area and were amazed! It was spic and span and fresh. Not what one would imagine in a huge hotel. They have their own worm farms and the worm tea is used in the hotels gardens and given to staff for their private gardens at home. Recycling of glass, paper and plastics is done too. There are coloured bins into which all recyclables are sorted and then taken away. They donate left over soaps and shampoos etc by giving them to shelters for homeless or street children. The same is done with linen and towels that are no longer suitable for use in the hotel. The gentleman managing this aspect of the hotel has managed to reduce their waste by about 60 % since he started this programme in the hotel last December. Very impressive!

In the kitchen, the chefs were ever so friendly and chatted to the teens and made us very welcome, informing us they had just prepared a delicious lunch for us to enjoy. J particularly enjoyed walking into the freezer. K enjoyed seeing a room service order being processed.

We enjoyed a wonderful finger lunch back in the boardroom and had the chance to chat to some of the executives working in the hotel. As we left, each of us was given the gift of a bag of chocolate covered nougat. What a memorable outing!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A labour of love

K put in many long hours of work on a special gift for Z on his tenth birthday. She decided she would make him a really special cake. She worked on the characters while I read aloud to the two of them and she spent many hours after school at Aunty T. He did not realise the cake was for him as they had told him it was for a little boy.

She designed the cake and made each little character herself. Aunty T guided her but made her learn as she went along and do the work herself. The result was magnificent! Z was so blessed by his sisters gift! It was delicious too!

The Old Ladies

My husband sent me these amazing photos of the two Old Ladies coming down yesterday. Thought you would enjoy them too!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We were there!

Today, despite wind and rain, thousands of Capetonians watched from almost every available spot as the two towers in Athlone were demolished. These have been a Cape landmark for 50 years.They have been nicknamed the "two old ladies". I remember calling them the salt and peeper pots as kids and my children have called them the stinky towers as there is usually a bad smell in the area due to a nearby sewerage works.
The best story relating to the towers comes from my student days. A good friend and I were on the balcony of our new residence at Mowbray Maternity. She was thrilled that she could see the "yachts in the harbour at the Waterfront" from her balcony! I laughed so much as it was none other than the towers that were lit up at night. She was sad to hear of "her harbour and yachts" being demolished today, some 20 plus years later!

We had braved the traffic and arrived at the perfect view point , some 400m from the towers. There was an announcement that the demolition would take place in four minutes. I thought I had better get my camera ready and all of a sudden there were shrieks of excitement and delight as Capetonians bid the two old ladies a sentimental farewell. It happened so fast!
Apparently the Mayor had pressed the button too soon. In just 30 seconds, the two 88 metre tall structures and 21 600 tons of concrete came down. It was not nearly as loud as I had thought it would be.

Like a house of cards, they came tumbling down to the earth.The one imploded faster than the other and there was a spectacular explosion of dust and debris. I sure was glad that I didn't live nearby as I cannot imagine trying to clean up afterwards!

Where once there were two massive concrete structures which for decades formed part of Cape Town’s skyline, there was nothing but massive piles of rubble.

Gold Medal!

On Saturday morning we took J to an inter dojo competition in Camps Bay. He was aiming for a gold medal. The tension mounted as the morning went on . It was such fun to watch the competition. J fought against two 16 year old boys, one being almost a foot taller than him! He won both his fights, scoring one nil and five two. We were so proud of him for coming first! The little guy he had been coaching also won a bronze medal in his division.

Famous Artist Study

On Friday morning, with mum having left on Thursday, I decided we needed a fun school morning. I began reading "Famous Artists, Monet, An Introduction To The Artists Life And Work" to the children. Monet is one of my favourite artists.

We learned that as a boy, he was bored at school, but popular because of his talent for drawing witty caricatures of his teachers and friends. Drawing was his great love. The children sat outside and did their own caricatures. We also used some great note booking pages from Nadine's blog, Practical Pages:

I enjoy Nadine's blog and often download her free pages. The children wrote a brief summary of Monet's early life and added a picture of him and a small gallery of his work to their note booking pages.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Double figures!

Lets face it, birthdays are fun! My little guy woke me at 4 am to ask if he could please open his gifts right then so he could go to sleep! That was not happening as I don't think the rest of the family would have been impressed with that idea. Instead I went to sleep in his room with him and eventually we had to wake him so his could open his gifts before his dad went to work!

He had an amazing 10th birthday and was so happy to have my mum here to share in his special day. He had many phone calls and visitors who came to wish him.
My sister had sent a parcel for him and with great excitement, we went to collect it at the Post Office.

It was such a great gift: a shoebox covered in soccer wrapping paper and filled with all kinds of fun things. There were sweets and other yummy treats, a book, stickers, pens with soccer balls on them, a bat and ball, model racing cars, pool water bombs, gloves and so many other fun things. We love the idea of this type of gift and I am sure that I will make this the tradition between the cousins now that they live so far away.

He is saving to buy himself a Wii and after his Oma had been to visit and wish him, I found his envelope on the kitchen table....

I loved the note he had written on it! He knows that when I don't have cash and the kiddies do, I borrow a couple of rand for milk or bread.( I am very careful to keep track and refund them).

At lunch time, despite the rain, we went to the forest with some friends and enjoyed a picnic. He had chosen kiddies bubbly (grape juice) especially for the picnic and had great fun popping the cork!

In the evening, we had a special dinner with my brother and his wife and my mum and her husband. My sweet, funny, cuddly boy is growing up!

Last day of being nine...

On Tuesday we had near perfect weather. It seemed as if Winter had disappeared and Spring was here to stay. With my mum still here, we took the opportunity to spend some time down at one of our favourite beaches.

My little guy played happily on the beach all afternoon, enjoying his last day of being nine. He loves the beach and will happily spend hours playing in the sand and "digging his way to China." The whales were playing in the bay and K and I took a walk along the catwalk to see if we could get a closer look at them.

On our way we found an area covered in white mussel shells. They were empty and must have been washed up by the tide into this corner between the rocks and the catwalk. She scrambled down to collect some.

On closer inspection, I was amazed to see how perfectly these shells have been created. On the right side, the shell has one little ridge, which fits perfectly into the grooves on the left side, sealing the shell.

K and I had a wonderful time chatting as we walked and I joined her in dipping our feet into the freezing cold water to cool off. Upon our return, Z was still busy playing in the sand under the watchful eye of my mum, J and Mums husband. It was a relaxed and pleasant afternoon, a perfect way to wait for a tenth birthday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bareback riding

My sweet boy had his second riding lesson this week. He so enjoyed it. The horse has a sore spot on her back and so he rode without the saddle. I am so enjoying seeing him have such a wonderful time at riding.

A picnic with the lions

On Sunday my brothers wife celebrated her birthday in a fun way. We headed out of the city to a Lion Park for a picnic. The lion park was established 12 years ago to provide lions in distress with a sanctuary. The park does not breed or trade their lions but rather offers them lifetime care in a safe environment. Some of these lions have been rescued from canned hunting farms or zoos.

This female lion was very interested in the children who came to visit her. I was very pleased that there were electric fences separating her from all the little ones! She left her perch in the sun and immediately came to investigate what was going on when the children walked past.

This sweet white lion cub really wanted to play with the visitors as her companion had injured his foot and was in no mood to play as lion cubs usually do. There is no petting of the cubs as the lion park feels that this is unfair to the lion cubs. I do understand their point of view but I would have loved the opportunity to cuddle this sweet cub.

Best of all , we had my mum with us and the children really enjoyed their granny's company.

We ended our picnic lunch with K's decadent choc fudge cupcakes that she had made for Aunty T's birthday party. They were simply delicious! Each flower had been hand made by K. I am so proud of her!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Enjoying nature...

'Charlotte Mason loved nature and felt that children should be outdoors among nature as much as possible each day, directly observing plants, animals, weather, and seasons."

It has been my goal to spend more time out in nature with the children. All though we may not get out every day, the children tend to make the most of the times that we do get out under the big blue sky. On Friday we took such an opportunity and it was a blessing to have my dear mum with us.

The Cape Fynbos is magnificent...

Our forest has been disappearing rapidly but has left us with magnificent views of our beloved Table Mountain.....

Have water....children will get wet.....

Z enjoyed leaping over the stream....

Tadpoles and frogs were caught.....

Boats were made and raced.....

Children fell into the stream.....on purpose I think.....

Memories were built with best friends.....

A glorious morning!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nothing better than fresh spinach..

A friend blessed me with some fresh spinach and baby carrots from her garden. I just had to make one of my favourite salads with the young, tender spinach leaves. The recipe if from one of my Eating for Sustained Energy books:

1 pack sun dried tomatoes,chopped (I use the Ina Paarmans and only about a half a pack)
Baby spinach shredded
chopped fresh basil (I leave out if I don't have any)
1 can chickpeas
Toss above ingredients together.
15ml olive oil
30ml balsamic vinegar
30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
10ml mustard powder
5ml sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 round of feta crumbled over the salad.

We enjoyed it with cold roast chicken , sliced tomato and avocado pear!