Thursday, April 29, 2010

Outdoor Hour

For the longest time, I have been wanting to do more nature study with the children. Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when it comes to spending time outdoors and discovering the riches of nature. In our modern and rushed lives it does the soul good to spend time outdoors.
Today we began the process by beginning with our own "Outdoor Hour". You can go to to access this amazing site. There are various challenges to complete and one can slot in at any time of the year. We will use the "Handbook of Nature Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock as a text book and nature as the classroom.
For today, we had to go outside and the children could pick something interesting to them. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were splashes of colour here and there that attracted the children. K picked marigolds and Z picked Nasturtiums.

In the Handbook of Nature Study we found an amazing entry on Nasturtiums. We all learned so much about them!
"It is quite fitting that the Nasturtium leaves should be shaped like shields, for that is one of their uses; they are shields to protect the young nasturtium seeds from the hot sun and from the view of devouring enemies.....but they were never meant to shield the flower which thrusts its brilliant petals out between the shields and calls loudly to the world to admire it ."
In our veggie garden we have planted them to deter caterpillars from munching on our cabbages and broccoli. I know most regard them as weeds but I love the splashes of rich orange, red and yellows that they provide in the garden.
The children delighted in discovering that the long spur on the posterior sepal of the flower had a "delectable nectar well at its tip".

Z enjoyed making little boats of the leaves and discovered that the leaves turn silvery when immersed in the water. I love to see drops of water on their leaves, shining like jewels in the sun.

The children made entries in their nature journals. K enjoyed labelling her entry and writing about all the interesting facts she discovered.

"The Nasturtium is among the most interesting and beautiful of our garden flowers......its combinations of colour are exceedingly rich and brilliant."


This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To my sweet niece

This post is dedicated to my one and only sweet niece. She is living a good 13 hours drive away from "home" at the moment. We all miss her, her precious mom (my sister), and her dad and my one and only nephew very much. She and I had a brief session of skyping this afternoon and it was precious. She says I don't blog enough and I don't post nearly enough pictures....
I will try to take more photos, I know how we enjoy yours and moms photos when we get them. It makes us feel more connected even though many miles separate us. We think of you all often and treasure the memories of our farm holiday with you. I miss your free spirited character and your catching laugh. You have a special place in my heart. You were my children's first friend and I fondly remember the days when you were all cute little toddlers (sometimes not so cute too!). I love the special bond between you and your brother and my children. I love the way you all "play" (and get up to mischief) and have great fun when you are all together. We miss you all most when we cross over the mountain to the other side and you're not home....we always felt welcome in your home and it is as if something is missing now that we cant pop in when we are on that side....We are there at least once a week now as K does drama there and she paints with grandpa. We look forward to the day we can pop in again.

The Cape is getting really cold now during the evenings but we are having some wonderful ,warm and sunny days with no wind. Perfect for a walk on the beach or a braai. Yesterday, being a holiday, Uncle Eric and I enjoyed a cuppchino down at Fish Hoek while K was at drama.

Your cousins are very busy getting ready for karate grading next week. J is also having many hours of extra training for his up coming competition in under two weeks. We will definitely send some photos. K is excited about the fashion show she will be in on the weekend.

Yesterday K went with grandpa to an art exhibition at the Iziko Gallery. She enjoyed that. Her painting is coming on nicely and we will send a photo soon.

I have been having lots of fun enjoying my newest cookery book and trying out all sorts of recipes. I made a delicious pork and mushroom dish and last night I got to use some of our home grown beans in a chicken curry.

K has also been doing some baking and she made the most delicious, decadent choc chip cookies and pinwheel cookies on Monday. They were the best ever! She will have to make them when you come home!

Yip, she was still in her pyjamas when she baked them!
Anyway, sweet girl, I hope to be able to share more regularly, with more photos.....
I love you

Monday, April 26, 2010

International Postcard Swap

I found out about this International Postcard Swap and thought it would be fun to participate. K has a pen pal in USA and is always very excited to receive mail from her. It amazes me that the children enjoy receiving letters in the post. One would think that in this day and age with sms, email, skype etc , that it would not be so exciting.

Shortly we will be sent a list of 5 families that we need to send postcards to. We will then wait patiently to receive our own!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Full and busy days

As we are almost at the end of the second week of term, I realise why I love the school holidays so much! We can just "be" without having to dash here or there and there is less pressure on our days.

This week has been full of all sorts of activities. We have had a second fitting for K for the Bridal show; J and a friend have done career assessment tests at Damelin; a meeting took place in our home; we have been to the gym twice; we have seen the new Nanny Mc Phee movie and tonight the youngest two have been treated to a visit to the Moscow Circus! Amongst all that, there has been the usual karate, tae bo (to keep me fit and sane) and school.

School has seen J making good head way with his Physical Science and enjoying the many experiments. I found a fantastic site where we downloaded a schedule for the Physical science as well as note booking pages and Lab reports. We have made excellent progress with Afrikaans too. The younger two have kept up with all their work and we continue to enjoy our Zoology.

I love it that our learning can take place anywhere in the home and at any time. Early, one cold and rainy morning this week, Z and I went through his maths and language while keeping snug and warm on my bed. This week also saw a few lessons at the kitchen table while I baked a delicious apple and almond bread or made dinner.

Z decided he wanted to learn how to knit....

We tried and there were a few laughs as the stitches fell off and then we settled for finger knitting instead! (I just love the Internet-you can find anything you need in a flash!) He has made good progress and it gives him something to do while I read. He is the sort of child that needs to keep busy!
As we head into Friday, J will be writing his first test for Physical Science, the little ones will sleep late after tonight, there will be drama and extra karate tomorrow .... full and busy days!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lego giants

This afternoon hubby spent some time helping his parents to clear things out of their garage. Z came home and made a bee line to his room to open up his daddy's old Lego from when he was a boy. He had great fun exploring this box that had some other bits and pieces in it too. What amazed me, was the size of the Lego people. They look like giants compared to the Lego people that Z has in his Lego box!

Kitchen and garden

I have been wanting to get my hands onto "Eating For Sustained Energy 3" for some time and I now have my own copy! We try to eat a low GI diet most of the time and this book has so many great looking recipes for things that would not normally be considered as low GI, or healthy for diabetics. Today I tried out a recipe for a sweet potato spice cake....with lemon cream cheese icing....yummy!

While the oven was on, I whipped up a batch of banana muffins and a chili corn bread too. I like to make sure that I fill the oven with more than 1 item at a time. It is great to have a stash of healthy treats for the hungry , growing children! We enjoyed the bread with a braai this evening and the cake for desert. Even my selective eater enjoyed the cake!
In the garden, as we near winter, there is not a whole lot going on. I planted some red cabbage and pulled out the lettuce that had gone to seed and replaced them with some more lettuce. One of the nearby supermarkets sells 6 packs of seedlings for just under R10. It is so reasonable and I love popping in there just to check if they have anything new for me to plant.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What a week...

The week got off to a good start and we had fun resuming our learning. J has started his new Business studies and Physical Science and has continued with Afrikaans and Maths. We ordered his new books and eagerly anticipate them arriving.
K was pleased to start her new Language book that arrived in the mail this week. She is so diligent about getting her work done and was worried that the book would not be here for her to start in the new term.
Z is making progress and has decided he wants to learn to write in cursive. It was not something I wanted to push with him, as writing has been a struggle for him. He surprised me by doing some beautiful cursive writing. He seems to enjoy the way the letters flow into one another.
We managed to finish a book we have been reading together and we have had some interesting discussions around many issues this week.
We had some fun too as K had to go for a fitting for the dress she will be modeling in the bridal show in a couple of weeks time. She so loves pretty, girly things and it is a real treat for her to go to our friends bridal studio and be treated like a princess! The dress has been made specially for her!

I also took the older two children and a friend to the MTN Sciencentre for their Career Open day. The children enjoyed chatting to different people and finding our more information regarding possible career choices. We particularly enjoyed an amusing talk given by a leading scientist from a research laboratory.

Today saw K going to drama and a sleep out at a dear friend. Tomorrow she will be painting and grandpa and hopes to finish the painting she has been working on. J has been unable to train at karate all week as he injured his ankle last week so at least we have a free Saturday morning. I will be going to Tae Bo and then teaching the boys some Afrikaans. We have the birthday party of a sweet 4 year old friend in the afternoon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Light Vigil

On Tuesday evening we joined the more than 1200 members of our community at a Light Vigil to make a silent protest against crime. The SAPS, Metro, Traffic and private security companies were out in full force. A police helicopter flew overhead and 4 crack policemen abseiled down onto the Ladies Mile Circle. There were flashing red and blue lights everywhere and the children were delighted to climb onto the roof of a fire engine.The proceedings were filmed for Television broadcast.
A member of the community who tragically lost his wife to crime 2 years ago, gave a moving speech and there was a 2 minute silence in memory of those who have lost their lives due to violent crime. Even the smallest children remained silent as we stood together with our torches or candles in protest.
The biggest motor cavalcade of more than 200 vehicles yet seen in the southern suburbs, if not the Western Cape, set off with flashing lights on a more than 5 km round trip.Many other vigils were held in other suburbs around our city. The statement being made to the Government, is that our country belongs to us and not the criminals! (We were told they did try to call of the event.....) It was amazing to be part of this event and to take a peaceful stand against crime.

Monday, April 12, 2010

First day of term 2

We were up and on the go early today. The weather was perfect so we spent some of our time outside doing note booking activities for Zoology. We are learning about Primeval Reptiles and the kids think its just great!
By lunch time we had done our Bible study, Afrikaans, Zoology as well as some History...not to shabby for the first day of the new term. J is waiting for his new books and he spent some time doing maths from the Math U See website as well as some Afrikaans. He also worked on getting mails out to Home Ed Community regarding the Chaeli Campaign Art and Poetry Competition. He helped me make lists of what we need to order for his studies. All in all a great first day back at it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The new term begins

Yes, the Easter holidays are over and its back to school tomorrow. I am looking forward to time spent together, learning all sorts of new things and cuddling up on the couch together as we read. I love that we can take a gentler approach to learning and do things at our own pace. I plan to introduce an outdoor hour each week where we will do nature study. I have also got plans to do more art together this term. As we lay chatting before bedtime, Z also expressed his happiness at starting school again tomorrow. I think the routine of school is comforting in some way as he knows what is expected each day.

There are big changes as J begins a new path for his high school too. Sadly, we were very disappointed with the programme he had been using last term. We tried to be patient with all the errors and problems but at the end of the day, it was an unfinished product which gave us many hours of unnecessary complications. We hope that the new journey will be successful and we are excited to see the progress. He will be doing IGCSE or Cambridge O levels (equivalent to grades 10 & 11) as some may know it. He has the added advantage of being able to make an early start as this is officially his grade 9 year. He will have time to become accustomed to this new way of learning and will write his exams in 2011 and 2012 and then go on to AS (Advanced Studies equivalent to Matric) in 2013.

Just had to end off with this photo of the resident artist having fun with colour!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chaeli Campaign Pay-It-Forward Ambassadors Programme

Today we had the privilege of attending the first meeting of the Pay-It -Forward- Ambassadors Programme. J and K were both chosen as ambassadors a short while ago. All though they are going to serve the Chaeli Campaign, I believe this experience will enrich their lives enormously as they embark on this journey as individuals and become members of this awesome team of kids. They will be learning new skills that will make a difference in lives of others.

We met at the Chaeli Cottage which is a hive of activity and the office of the Chaeli Campaign. The walls are covered with colourful art and awards. Zelda Mycroft, Chaelis mom, is a dynamic woman who captivated the attention of the children and parents alike for two hours. This is one amazing momma!
The children were given a file full of important info on the exciting plans for the year ahead as well as a diary and doodle pad to jot down their thoughts. The first assignment the team have been given, is to promote the "Hope in Motion" Art and Poetry Competition. Zelda made special mention that they were very glad to have some home educated children on the team this year so they could promote the Chaeli campaign in their community.

A wheel or circle motif or theme must feature in the entries. Entries must depict disability in a positive way where the focus is on ability and forget the "dis"ing! Entries may be crafts, sculptures or visual art and the poetry may be in English, Afrikaans or Xhosa. All ages from grade 1 to adults may enter. (Come on Dad....give it a go!) The deadline for entries is 21 May 2010. K is very excited as there will be an exhibition where she will finally get to display her own art!
The children have also been asked to give their own story at the next meeting which is titled ," My Story- I have a lot to teach the world". I feel so blessed that my children have been given this incredible opportunity to serve others and grow as individuals doing things that are out of their comfort zones. They are blessed to be mentored by Zelda and the previous ambassadors. Keep watching this space as we travel on this amazing journey for the next year...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Garden happenings

OK, its 3 am and the family is sound asleep but I have such bad heartburn that I cant sleep.... so what better to do than to post on the garden! I have been wanting to post for a while but as it is still school holidays, and there have been so many things happening, there simply has not been a chance.

Our compost bin that we started some months back, is beginning to give us the most amazing compost! My brother advised us to wet the pile a short while ago and it has just taken off.

We took out a wheel barrow of the most amazing, clean smelling , rich black crumbly compost. I didn't think I could ever get excited about compost of all things! The children were amazed that all our kitchen scraps and garden clippings could make this beautiful stuff...

As the autumn sun hits the garden at a different angle, all the pots have needed moving into different positions as they were not getting enough sun. The tomato in this one just sprung up on its own.

I pulled out the marrows, gems and butternut in the veg beds as they were covered in mildew that I could not seem to control. After enriching the beds with our own compost (it feels so good to be able to that), I planted some cabbage seedlings and bright lites spinach.

The bed under Z's window was looking very sad so I added a splash of colour with some gazanias. I just love these bright flowers!

Speaking of bright flowers, another of my favourites is the sunflower, and we have two adding a splash of colour to the veg beds.
I harvested a hand full of chillies! Apparently one should harvest if you want the plant to produce more. I am still harvesting peas which never make it into the kitchen as they are best eaten fresh while surveying the veg garden! We are also enjoying the lettuce and the herbs and look forward to more beans as well as peppers, bringals and broccoli.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter has come and gone

I cant believe the Easter weekend has come and gone so fast. It was filled with wonderful family time and time with friends too.

On Good Friday we had a special breakfast at home with the children and read them a story about a little boy who wanted to play Jesus in the Easter pageant. He was very disappointed when he didn't get he part but on the day of the pageant, it was as if he was transported back to the day of the crucifixion and he WAS Jesus....until Jesus really came and took his place. I love that we can have these special times with our children.
Friday evening was spent at my dads home and we had a great time chatting and creating our own pizzas. K spent the night there so she could paint on Saturday morning. J had been at his friend doing more business studies and he enjoyed the day there on Saturday too.

Saturday was spent with friends from Dar who introduced us to the wonderful game of Mah Jong. We hadn't played in a while so it was great fun to play a few rounds.

On Sunday morning we just had to hide some Easter eggs for Zak who still enjoys the thrill of finding them! Afterwards we enjoyed a special time of Bible reading as a family and shared communion together. We went on to enjoy coffee and hot cross buns and Easter treats with hubby's parents. Later we shared in a great afternoon of fellowship, food and fun with some special friends. All in all it was a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend!
Monday was hubby's last day of the long weekend and he spent time working in the garden which was in need of a mow and neatening up. It looks so good again. The evening was spent with a group of friends.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holidays in our house

The weather in this part of the world has certainly changed in the last couple of weeks. Mornings are crisp. Days are warm and there is little wind. Displays of Autumn colour are amazing. The evening skies are magnificent with stars shining brightly. I love this season.

We are on our Easter holiday and I can hardly believe it is going so fast. K is still practising drama and all 3 children are still keeping up with the karate training. The older two have also wanted to continue with their ballroom dancing and tonight we had the pleasure of going to watch the class.

J is still working diligently on his first terms work and doing a bit each day. He has written his English term papers and done exceedingly well. He and Eric are working through the accountancy and tomorrow afternoon he will be tutored in business studies. In between all the activity we have had some time to catch up with friends too.
The younger two and I have tried to keep up with some reading and K has been enjoying some drawing.

She copied this from from one of our drawing books (unfortunately the flash has over exposed the picture a bit).She so enjoys being creative.

We had the pleasure of going to a lecture given by my dad. It was held at a nearby coffee shop. The children and their friend so enjoyed hearing about the history of neurosurgery and its advances over the years. They were amazed by his interesting stories. K wants to go and watch him doing brain surgery....
Now we have hubby home for the next few days and we look forward to celebrating the Easter weekend together.

They got me good and proper!

Oh yes, the children had a great laugh this morning and were waiting with anticipation as I sipped my coffee....

They had put this plastic creepy crawly into my coffee while I wasn't looking! Thank goodness is wasn't real!
I had forgotten it was April fools day today. My tae bo instructor sent out an sms to all the ladies in the class, informing us that he could no longer teach tae bo classes and we would all need to convert to karate....that got some really worried!