Monday, January 30, 2012

Journaling 101: How to Journal: Create a Personal Profile

So you've bought your children their journals and they have decorated, covered or prepared it because of course your read my previous article and journaling - and you were inspired and excited and want to develop your children's talents and giftings.    And you are all ready to go and waiting for the next article.  Been a bit slow in coming I know but with all our excursions around Cape Town and wanting to blog about it before I forgot everything (yes I know - doesn't say much for my short term memory).  So this journaling article was put on the back burner.
 Create a Personal Profile

This is a always a great place to start.  A surprising way even to discover a little more about your own child.  I have always found my children's journals a delight as I constantly find out new things about them every time they journal.

* Preschoolers and Kindergarten:   Write their name and surname in big bold colours.  You can do a pencil outline and let them write over it.  You could also get them to cut the letters out of a magazine and stick over the letters.  Add a photo, or get them to draw a picture of themselves.  I always loved my children's first pictures of themselves, and its amazing to see how this changes over time.
 To make it more fun:
1.  Let them do a hand and foot print on the page
2.  Take a photo and go and develop it with them, little ones LOVE photos of themselves

For the beginner and intermediate writers:   Let them write about things they like - dislikes, favourite colours, best friends, their best movie. They can even add their own drawings or magazine cut outs of these if they can't write well.  To help them you could even create a mini page for them to do this.  They may also need headings or words to guide them.
To make it more fun:

Older children: They have been chosen to win a prize and one of their friends or family members have to stand up and tell the audience who they are, what their achievements are and what makes them remarkable - What would they say?  This also a wonderful opportunity to give some very positive input into your children's lives.  They may struggle as its always harder to say nice things about ourselves than of others but you can prompt them with their strengths.  In fact this would be a good activity for you moms!  You could even ask your children to help you and give you input.  If you dare!
To make it more fun:
1.  Let your child sit in front of a mirror and do a self portrait
2.  An autobiography worksheet - this might help with some guidelines

On a last note:

The key to developing a love for journaling is start as young as possible ( no they don't need to be able to write when you start).  The focus is not perfection but developing a joy for writing, or doodling or drawing in a familiar book.

The second key is approaching your choice of topics in a creative out of the box sort of way.  Expecting children to just write a page is a big ask until they are comfortable with journaling. The way to do that is to give them topics that are inspiring and interesting.

Happy Journaling!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Everything you could possibly need

I am going through a very challenging season at the moment.  I feel like every aspect of my life is under a magnifying glass, pressure points are being exposed and I have felt very resentful and irritated with life.  Then I found this gem today and I felt like God just turned my face from looking at my circumstances to Him. 
This is a devotional by Max Lucado:
"Are you hoping that a change in circumstances will bring a change in your attitude? If so, you are in prison, and you need to learn a secret of traveling light. What you have in your Shepherd is greater than what you don’t have in life.

May I meddle for a moment? What is the one thing separating you from joy? How do you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when ________________”? When I am healed. When I am promoted. When I am married. When I am single. When I am rich. How would you finish that statement?

Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this. If your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? If not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent. You are in prison. And you need to know what you have in your Shepherd.

You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need."
Max Lucado
From: Lucado Inspirational Reader
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2011)
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Winner of the Cape Science Centre Giveaway

The winner of the Cape Science Centre Giveaway goes to ..... drumroll!!!!

Trys (Trixi) WoW, what an amazing center. Pity we're not closer, Misha would have loved the LEGO activities & Jesse would have enjoyed the Robotics training. I will definitely have to schedule the centre into our next trip to Cape Town which at this stage is planned for March/April.

Yes, the Cape Science Centre is offering a giveaway of a family package of 4 valued at R132 rand!  This competition is only open to those of you that can make use of the tickets.  However if you are not local, you can still enter if you can bless someone you know in the Cape Town area!

How to enter:  
Visit their site at and come back and leave a comment giving me the name of any one of their December/ January holiday activities.
(Remember that if you don't have a blog, leave your email address when you comment, so that I can contact you, otherwise you might not get your prize and you don't want to lose out on this one!)

Anyone can enter our Giveaway AND you can enter even if you have won one of the Giveaways before.  Its open to anyone whether you live across the ocean or next door.
The Winner will be announced on Friday 27th January 2012.  

Don't forget you still have time to also enter our Reading Eggs Giveaway

SA Carnival of Homeschooling: Learning Spaces and Places

So it's my turn to host the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs at the beginning of the year. New Year, new ideas and new mom to host, and I am always up for a challenge.  And then I almost blew it and published this 3 days early, leaving out half the bloggers.  Talk about missing the connections in my rather challenged brain!  For those of you that watch NCIS, imagine a rather disapproving Gibbs smacking me on the back of the head like he does with Tony:)

OK too much info...

Firstly I have to say that I love the creativity of these mothers. I appreciate the fact that not one of them has homeschooling rooms that look like the other because each one of them has a unique style with their own child combinations.  There is no right way or wrong way for that matter.  We need to do what works for us.  I love the freedom of homeschooling - the freedom to do what works best:  Structured or unstructured - curriculum choice - how we manage our day - no two families are the same.

Here are some mothers, doing it their way.  And their intention and focus is to ensure the best environment for their children.  

Visit Nadene from Practical Pages , wow is this lady organised, with some lovely ideas for homeschooling like using a white tile for Spelling and Maths.  She'll let you peep into her homeschooling room. And all of this in the Karoo!! I am impressed.

Karen takes homeschooling outdoors, indoors and even on a trampoline at Karen's Clan.  And if you visit her blog for long enough you will discover a lady of many talents who runs Wonder Workshops with other homeschooling families - and if you're lucky their might be space for some more.

Donette at The Journey is revamping her school room, murals and bean bags, and some of those lovely old desks we used to use as kids.  I still love them. 

Taryn at Hayes Happenings has a diverse home school room … on the couch, in the playroom, at the dining table, at the kitchen counter, in the garden, on the bed, next to the fire place, outside at the park… and even in the car.
Wendy from Loving Learning is a homeschooling mom who has been homeschooling for 13 years with two teens and a preteen! This beautiful veteran homeschooling mom has seen how the age of her children has changed how and where she has homeschooled.  A reminder that homeschooling is organic and remains transitional.  We don't start with a plan and stick to it with gritted teeth and force our children into our own plans.  As Wendy will tell you, children change and we need to allow them the freedom to do be themselves and make space for them to grow in an environment that bests suits their age and personality

Trixi from Trixi'x HomeEd Academy has one, two, three posts on her homeschooling room.  An interesting journey of moving from the more structured environment to an environment that the children have chosen.  Moving into a space of freedom and liberation.  All of us had to do this.  We had to find what works.  Keep the good and throw out the rest or adjust it to make it work for our children.  Doesn't this photo just say it all - the joy of learning.
And to have a peek into our home school room pop over to Our Little Ol' Homeschooling Room in South Africa.

If you're still deciding what you want to do with your homeschooling room look at these inspirational ideas in Homeschooling Room of Dreams

And to see some other decor adventures go to Your Homeschool Rooms

And before you head off, don't forget our great giveaway to win family tickets to the Cape Science Centre, head over there now and enter.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nutcracker on Ice and Homeschooling

So you heard about our wonderful experience when we were invited to the World Premier of The Nutcracker on Ice, and of course like the good homeschooling mother that I am, I am VERY good and telling everyone else how to do things.  So I am going to tell you how you can take an experience like this and turn into an educational moment.  Of course the whole experience in itself is educational in nature but if you want to take it a step further here are some ideas.

A composer study of Tchaikovsky
 * You could even create a mini book on Tchaikovsky.

*  Read the different versions of the story of the Nutcracker to your children which you can get from the library.  

* Printable lesson plan for the Nutcracker which includes turning a pine cone into a Xmas Tree

Make some Nutcracker puppets

Mapwork: Russia and surrounds, take out some books on Russia

A quick quiz

Listen to the music

Crafts:  Make a Nutcracker from a toilet roll

Winners of Reading Eggs Giveaway Back by Popular Demand

The Winners
 We had 83 entries to this competition which is wonderful!  Thank you for all entering!  So the winners were supposed to be announced last night but I wasn't anywhere near a computer, so here they are this morning.

The two winners are:
Lynette Bantjes
Nor Fyadzillah Mohd Taha

Well done to both of you and trust that you will enjoy reading eggs as much as we do!

I hope some of you signed up for this program after the last giveaway for a trial run and discovered like I did, what a phenomenal program this is.  And so Reading Eggs has decided to sponsor another two subscriptions for a year! 

This reading program is suitable for children from 3 years to 12. The youngest children start in a playroom, and then as they progress they build on what they have learnt.  The older children start on a rotating island which they explore and compete to win various golden eggs.

The whole program is colourful and fun with lots and lots of games (which are all learning activities but FUN ones.)  The children earn golden eggs for completing various games and they can go shopping with it.

My children beg me to use this program daily!  I have never found it so easy to motivate them to read.  In fact in the older section there are over 600 e-books to read with very familiar titles.  They not only have to read the books but they have to answer comprehension and vocabulary questions to earn their golden eggs and there are lots of fun rewards which motivate the children to want to read even more.

Reading Eggs would benefit 
*  reluctant readers
*  beginner readers 
*  children who love reading
* children with special needs

And so after using this program and loving it, I asked them for a prize and we have 2 X 1 year subscriptions valued at AU$79.95 or £39.95 for 2 lucky readers!  ( Each subscription is for one child) So go ahead and enter!

This is How to Enter the Giveaway

You can do any of the following and you will be entered:

*  Follow this blog through Networked Blogs (found on the right hand column)
*  Leave a comment 
*  Subscribe to updates by entering your email address ( also found in the right hand column )
*  Follow with Google Friend connect (right hand column - sounding a little repetitive I know)
 Of course if you want to do all 4, because you REALLY want to win this amazing subscription - you will increase your chances!

(Remember that if you don't have a blog, leave your email address when you comment, so that I can contact you, otherwise you might not get your prize and you don't want to lose out on this one!)

Anyone can enter our Giveaway AND you can enter even if you have won one of the Giveaways before.  Its open to anyone whether you live across the ocean or next door.
The Winner will be announced on Wednesday 25th January 2012.  

Whether or not you win this giveaway, why not sign up for a free trial of 14 days.  It's just worth every day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friendships of Gold

 Friendship is a priceless gift
That cannot be bought or sold,
But its value is far greater
Than a mountain made of gold.

For gold is cold and lifeless,
It can neither see nor hear,
And in the time of trouble
It is powerless to cheer.

It has no ears to listen,
No heart to understand,
It cannot bring you comfort
Or reach out a helping hand.

So when you ask God for a gift
Be thankful if He sends
Not diamonds,pearls or riches,
But the love of real true friends

Source: Pinterest

Someone needs your smile today
Your hug, your listening ear:
Someone needs encouragement
And gentle words of cheer.

Someone needs your helping hand,
A letter - or what's more,
Someone needs your cheerfulness
To make their spirits soar.

Someone needs affection
When they are feeling blue.
Listen, someone's calling-
For a special friend like you.

- Jacqueline Schiff

Source:  Pinterest
This morning when I wakened
And saw the sun above,
I softly said,
"Good morning, Lord -
Bless everyone I love."

Right away I thought of you
and said a loving prayer
That He would bless you specially
And keep you free from care.

I thought of all the happiness
A day could hold in store,
I wished it all for you because
No one deserves it more.

I felt so warm and good inside
My heart was all aglow,
I know God heard my prayers for you,
He hears them all,  you know


Friendship is like a garden,
Of flowers fine and rare,
It cannot reach perfection,
Except through loving care.
 Then, new and lovely blossoms
With each new day appear,
For friendship, like a garden
Grows in beauty year by year.

Why not forward one of this poems in an email to a special friend today and tell them how much they mean to you?  Maybe your husband is your best friend - he probably needs to hear these special words too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out and About Cape Town: The Nutcracker on Ice

With my handsome date (that would be my sexy husband - though mind you, don't you call him sexy, only I am allowed to call him that), a star babysitter for the children and an excited buzz we headed to The World Premier of The Nutcracker on Ice presented by Pieter Toerien and performed at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town by the Imperial Ice Stars.  

To say that this was a remarkable show would not only be a sad understatement but it would in no way give a true reflection of this magical, fantastical, thrilling, acrobatic and awe inspiring production it truly was! 

So what's the story?  Maria is a young girl who because of her love brings her Nutcracker to life - and not just any Nutcracker but a magical one which was given to her by her godfather for Christmas.  And the Nutcracker is not the only fantastical character that we meet- there is a Mouse King,  a Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Chocolat, dancers from Spain, a Chinese couple in silk pajamas who perform the Tea dance and La Cafe from Arabia who perform a stunning dance in the air. 

Will your husband like it?
This is a strong production.  Even though at times it feels like you are watching ballet on ice, because the cast truly are so talented and they seem to just glide effortlessly from one side of the stage to the other- there are lots of strong men who perform the most amazing stunts on ice.  And in one scene, as you can see from the photo below, some of the stars who hung from the ceiling by ropes, upside down over solid ice. 

My dad is one of those macho types - nothing in tights kind of man- but I know that this will be a production that he will not easily forget. 

What about the children?  
I spent the entire time thinking - "oh wow, the children would love this scene"  and "I wish Declan were here to see the magic", or "I bet Chad would be asking me questions the whole way through" and "Ruthie will probably want to go the ice skating rink right after watching this".  The Nutcracker on Ice is definitely something your children would love.  My suggestion though would be to brief them on the storyline before they get there as you don't want them piping up in the middle of the production asking who that funny mouse looking creature was and why he was wearing pink tights?  Could be slightly embarrassing.

The cost of seats range from R100 to R380.  Even the cheaper seats offer are comfortably close to the stage as the theatre is not that big.  ( I base my opinion on the lower level) 

Of course there are some of you that are professional theatre goers - so just for you I'll add some information that might interest you too:)

Maria Orlova, Olga Sharentenko and Vadim Yarkov, who are part of this exciting and energetic cast were all competitive skaters in a former life and were part of the Russian National Ice Skating team with about 100 competition medals to show for it.  So your question - Is it any good?  With that type of experience you can be guaranteed to see lots of lifts, jumps and spins.  Apparently they do jumps and lifts  that have never been attempted before in a competition or on stage and that are so complex they haven't even been named yet!

Here's a short video preview

For further reading visit the Imperial Ice Stars website
And to book your tickets visit the Artscape website

This production will only be in Cape Town until the 12th of February and then it's leaving the sunny shores of Cape Town to perform in London at the Royal Albert Hall.  In fact the Imperial Ice Stars have performed to nearly 3 million people across 5 continents.

I would love to hear about your experience when you go. Come back and tell me.  I hope to take my children to see it too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Out and About in Cape Town: The Cape Science Centre

It used to be known as the MTN Science Centre at Century City.  And when it closed, mothers in the Western Cape lamented over the loss of such an educational gem.  Well it's back! And its better!

Thanks to some complementary tickets for a tight budgeted family, we were able to head off to the Cape Science Centre to see what it was like, what there was to do and of course with a hidden agenda - for the children to have an authentic learning experience.  (we never tell them that though - the emphasis for them is always how much fun it will be...... while secretly we are planning and scheming on what exactly they can learn.  Its all about being intentional without letting them in on the secret)

The first item you see when you walk through the door is a magnificent model train which kept running the entire time we were there. I personally must have stood there 3 or 4 times just watching it go round and round.  And then round and round some more.  You can see I didn't have capacity to do anything really brainy first thing in the morning, especially since I had only had one cup of coffee that morning - not my usual litre.  (just kidding ..... OK, well actually not:)
 There was a battle of the sexes, brain activity competition.  Those funny looking bands were to measure our brain activity and then we had to "think" the ball forward.  Let's just say I won twice.  And I won't mention anything about men being less capable, or having less brain cells or less brain activity - I trust you will come to your own conclusions on that one:))) And after all it would probably just be plain rude.

There was Lego room - Paradise for some of my children.

There was some constructing
 A fantastic science show which included foam jumping out of test tubes, rocket science and some colour changing chemicals that had parents and children catching flies!  They apparently run various science workshops, so if you want to be informed of when that takes, add your name to their email list.  I know I have, because we don't have the equipment or the chemicals for a lot of the more advanced science experiments.

- and just to say there were LOTS and LOTS of parents(including yours truly who got very involved with some of the demonstrations).  I even got the chance to see all my curves, bumps and bulges from every angle possible - frightening stuff!  I have had a rude awakening to reality - may need counselling or just another coffee would probably do the trick!

Some tummy turning, upside downing and inside outing activities

The new centre is breezy and bright with lots of natural light which makes it much nicer than the one at Century City, I felt far more relaxed and while sitting in the coffee shop I could see most of the hall.  Also the coffee shop gives you a view of the entrance as well as the toilets, so no children disappearing without you being aware of it.  I found this venue far less stressful as mom than the last one. I was able to enjoy my time there and in fact we were there for about 6 hours.

And while your older children are busy, the venue is also really suitable for toddlers as they have a lovely play area, videos and hands on activities that are strong and hardy for clumsy fingers.  You don't feel the need to say "don't touch" all the time. 

It is still under construction but there is just so much potential for growth!  I look forward to going back in a few months time to see all the proposed changes.

There is food and coffee on sale at the coffee shop.  We took our own food which we ate in the parking lot (yes I know we are very civilised but the reality is that with a family of 6 - it keeps excursions affordable).  We did enjoy some good coffee at their in house coffee shop when we took a break while the children continued to play.

Go and experience the Cape Science Centre yourself!  Its another amazing activity for your children to do in the Western Cape.  And in fact if you follow the link you may be able to win some tickets for you and your family to experience it firsthand.

Friday, January 20, 2012

And then there was silence....

As I wake up early before the rest of the family gets up, the only sound I hear is the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks.

As my children sit engrossed in a specific task or section of work there is a brief moment thick with concentration, where I can breath and enjoy a moment of silence.

As I wonder through the house, checking on my sleeping children - the only sound I hear is their breathing.

As Sean heads out the door on the way to the beach and the door closes ....... silence.

Those precious moments are rare with 4 children- but I have realised that I need to find these moments.  
Search for them.

Moments that I need every day.   

Within my day, I can find a moment, a few minutes and if I am lucky - an hour - to enjoy the silence.  

A man is known by the silence he keeps.
Oliver Herford
Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.
Helen Keller

Silence is more musical than any song
Christina Rossetti

Where do you find that moment?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to get your child to read - Part 2

Previously I posted about how to get your children reading and hopefully you have had the opportunity to put some things in place.  For those of you with short term memories like me:  Some of the ideas included 

*  Putting Books Everywhere 
*  Getting a Variety
*  Reading to them A LOT
*  Dress Up when you read to your children
*  Go to the library often- and not just for books
*  Choose books for them

So now for part 2, yes you thought you had all the tools - but there are more.

Reading is such a vital part of a child's life!  When they can read they can do Maths, Geography, Science or any other subject because there is comprehension and understanding. 

So here are a few more thoughts on how to help your child read and enjoy it!

1. Creative spaces for reading
Beauty is inspirational.  Beauty can make a moment - a memory moment where reading can take place.  

I found some amazing spaces on Pinterest (yes I am seriously addicted), so many beautiful ideas to pin.
Fairy lights just make this reading corner so special, fairy lights make everything special.  I love fairy lights!  This is truly whimsical! Never mind for the children, I want a space like this.

Reading Tents, easy to make! I know my boys would love this

 And if you don't have a budget to buy material and wood, why not just throw a sheet over an area where your children can simply read and read?
Budget reading tent
And for some more beautiful ideas (or more boyish ones - because I know the girl in me loves all the pretty stuff that boys don't always enjoy) for shelving and decor for a reading space, you can check out on my Get them Reading Board

2.  E- Books

OK so what's the difference you ask?  

Well isn't it funny that the moment it becomes electronic their interest increases.  Get yourself a Kindle/ Nook or iPad - if you can afford one.  (I am still holding my breath for Father Xmas who still hasn't arrived with mine and may be barred from ever entering my house again if he doesn't arrive soon).
But never fear, now you can get an app for your computer, so that even if you don't have the equipment, you can still use your computer in a similar way. 

3.  Computer programs

I have posted before about Reading Eggs which has just been one my best finds ever! But there are so many others.  Some of them are free, some of them cost a packet.  Ask around, find out what others are using.  If your children are like mine, anything on a computer is a winner.  Even Ruthie who is only 3 is already fascinated with the computer.( I will post about reading sites a later post- notice the lack of dates, I have so many posts and these chubby fingers can only type so fast)

4.  Mom and Dad, Siblings and Grandparents - well actually just about anybody
Grab anyone who is available to read.  I don't always have capacity or time to read to all my children all the time, so find someone who will. And if they are especially patient individuals let them have their younger sibling read to them.  

Please note:  this works sometimes and other times there have been enormous arguments because the one sibling is telling the other sibling what to do:) or maybe it just happens in our house....

5.  "How to do" books
If it's Lego its Declan
if it's J-Boarding or fishing it's Ethan,
if its baking its Chad 
and if it has anything to do with princesses - then its definitely Ruthie
(that does go without saying - but thought I needed to say that anyway)

My children each have their own interests but if I happen to take a book out on how to build, make or catch something - or in the case of the only daughter in the house - how to make herself look like a princess, I find I have 4 very avid readers.

Give it a try.  You would be amazed.  Of course you may be expected to buy ingredients, take your child fishing and help him put that slimy worm on his hook, or endure endless changes of clothing - but you will have them hooked.  (couldn't resist)

6. Movies with subtitles
Which means:  This will work if your child is interested in movies and wants to know what is going on.

So there you have it, in brief - 6 good ways to help your child to read.  And in fact not just read but love reading. 

And one last thing, I hope you remembered to enter the Reading Eggs Giveaway!  There's still time!

I would love to hear from you as to what works for you?  How do you encourage your child to read?  
Bribery?  Dedicated reading times?  Lots and lots of books?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gardening this week? Looking for inspiration?

I love gardening, I never seem to have enough time in my day or week to do everything that I would like to and if I had an endless budget I would probably spend chunks of my hard earned cash on surrounding myself with the most glorious plants.

Gardens are a place of refuge, new growth, pruning - and as the gardener you get to choose the direction you want to take - creativity at its best.

I love the landscaping ideas found in any Garden and Home magazines, or photographs of gardens in exotic locations,  botanical gardens with their indigenous plants and of course garden furniture that creates a haven of solitude and beauty.

But then, here I am in a house with no garden so to speak and a budget that couldn't buy even one container advertised in any those lovely books we all like to page through.  So I am always on the hunt for unusual ideas for gardening.  Recycled, refurbished, budget ideas.  And here are some of my favourites.

Recycled soda bottles, mason jars and tins.  Anyone can do this!
Herbs in shoe holders
A birdhouse and feeder from an old teapot.
Recycling Kitchenware for the Garden
This is just the cutest idea, especially for when they outgrow their Wellingtons
Who would have thought a succulent and a stiletto could be such a good combination?
I think my children would love this idea
Happy Gardening!