Hazy Days

For South African Home Educating Families

With the recent developments in terms of policy governing home educators in South Africa, the Cape Home Educators have started an initiative to engage with government.  Here is the recently elected Steering Committee for Education’s letter to the home educating community:

che letterche meet the team header 2014

For a clearer view of the members:

CHE steering committee

And their profiles:

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logoandheaderCHE1

A Room Redo or Two

(ETA: photo quality not so hot!)

It started with a display cabinet.  One minute our playroom-cum-schoolroom-cum-storage room looked like this:

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And the next, it looked like this:

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Why?  Well, Craig’s folks decided to move house.  And in their downsizing, they gifted us with a beautiful piece of furniture that holds enormous amount of sentimental value to Craig.  In trying to decide where it should go, we realised that we would have to do some serious juggling around of rooms to make it fit.  Eventually, we decided to combine the playroom, school supplies and TV room into a proper second reception room.  We moved the piano into this room too and painted the shelving white and the walls blue.  That then freed up space (where the piano had been) in the main lounge for the display cabinet.  It also meant that the girls could finally have their OWN rooms, as the old TV room was freed up for Katie to move into.  Of course, there was some juggling around there too. But finally the girls ended up with freshly painted rooms to suit their tastes.

But before we could tackle their rooms, we (I) had the unenviable job of unpacking thousands (literally) of books off the shelves so our painter could prime and paint the shelving…

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Gavin, the painter, did a superb job of painting and then, after a couple of weeks with a holiday in the middle, it was time for the girls and I to repack everything back onto the shelves…

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Progress!

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Almost done!

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But not before hubby and our awesome friend, Rus, had to move our enormous couch from the TV room…

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It was not easy!

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Especially when they had to navigate this:

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Our trusty piano – the last time it is to be in this spot.  A few days later it too found its way to the new tv/playroom.

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And voila – here we have it.  With spill-over chairs from the dining room in the meantime…

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We’ve rearranged these shelves a few times over and have finally got a good space for all the maths manipulatives, shapes and other goodies essential for our school mornings.  But we did replace our green plastic file boxes (see below) with …

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These plastic ones (see below) – they’re larger, which I LOVE – the others were threatening to shatter shards of plastic all over the place, so stuffed with books they were.  They’re also transparent, which makes it a whole lot easier to see the pencil tub and any errant erasers at the bottom of the case.  They’re also hard-wearing, but lightweight and cheap at only R28 a box!

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Who would’ve thought that it would work so well?  We are loving having the TV here.  We spend far more time in the playroom now.  The kids’ piano practise doesn’t drive me dilly anymore, as it’s not reverberating throughout the entire house thanks to the echoey main room it used to reside in.  We spend more time doing school things in the playroom now.  The TV is so easy to use for Maths DVDs and everything is on hand, whereas before I had things split between TV-room, dining room (where we do most of our seatwork) and playroom.  The kids are even reading more, if that is at all possible.  The rocking chair and poofy couch make for comfy reading corners and often I find the kids in their absorbed in a book.  And, calling them for morning bible time during the week is not nearly as huge a task as it was last year as 9 times out of 10, they’re already in there! 

Hurray for the Hayes Snrs and the Display Cabinet that got us motivated to do this (at the relatively little expense of some paint, curtains and a fair bit of sweat!)

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Kiera’s Room

The playroom redo meant that Kiera and Katie got to have separate bedrooms.  After enduring years of Kiera begging to have it happen, we weren’t surprised when the news was well-received!  The deal was that, since we were losing the sleeper couch for guests in the playroom, we’d make up for it with a queen bed in Kiera’s room.  She would have to vacate when visitors came and bunk with Katie.  Well, Kiera was keen to agree to just about anything if it meant her own room!

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Craig’s folks gave us their old queen bed – thanks to their downsizing.  Kiera had to keep their old bedding and decor, as per agreement and she got to have some of our old bedding to cover the queen duvet.  The only thing new that she got was a fresh coat of paint. Namely, white paint for the furniture that used to live in the playroom (that’s my old desk from when I was 10!) and a colour or two of her choice for the walls.  Well, let’s just say that her room is BLUE … very, very blue.  But she is thrilled thrilled thrilled!  And that makes it all worth it.

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Katie’s Room

Katie chose the old TV room so that she could be closer to us.  That meant that she got the girls’ old bedroom furniture and their twin/bunk beds.  We had promised them when we redid their room earlier in 2013 that if they ever got separate rooms, Katie got to have the new bedding as she really wanted pink and since Kiera was having none of that, she got to keep the non-pink stuff. 

So, pink shopping it was!  We finally found a beautiful pink bedding set that wasn’t too little girly for Katie.  The catch was that it only came in a queen size set.  Turned out that it wasn’t a catch at all, as I just had to cut it down the middle and sew two duvet covers from the one, and because it was a queen we scored two pillow cases: perfect for our needs.  And it worked out cheaper than two singles.  Yay for savings! 

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We found awesome curtains at Mr Price, voile with pink embroidered butterflies.  We had a double track curtain rail, so the spare set of cream curtains we had went behind with the voile at the front.  Beautiful!  Gavin painted the walls grey – the grey shade came out a little bluey-purple, but in such a way that it complemented the room perfectly. 

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Gracie quickly figured out how to get up to the top bunk and it is now her new favourite sleeping spot in the house.

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Katie was thrilled with how well her baby photo matched her room:

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Katie spotted this stick-on wall mural at Builder’s Warehouse and begged for it.  Since it was just R90 and we had the budget for it, it now graces her wall.

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Her teddies are kept safe and neat in a toy hammock just like the boys’ one. Since coming across that idea, it’s become one of my favourite bedroom organising ideas. 

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Katie scored herself a pinboard too.  The fabric was ridiculously cheap at R18/m. 

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This little box from Mr Price was a Christmas gift from her aunty and uncle.  Perfect!

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And her trusty hobby horse (tutorial here) looks on rather forlornly from the end of her bed.IMG_9078

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Under her bed for now = blow up mattresses and bedding for certain young cousins who get to share her bedroom in March.  We can’t wait! 

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And that ends our big room redos!  At the beginning of 2013, we never would’ve dreamed of all the renovations and redos we’ve ended up doing to our house, but here we are in the middle of a kitchen renovation and with two bathrooms renovations complete too.  More on the “why”s when the kitchen is complete!

A Fun Family New Year’s Eve 2013/14

We seldom do anything particularly exciting for New Year’s Eve.  Usually we are in Hermanus having a chilled evening.  We generally pray together at some point and then watch the fireworks from the balcony.  More often than not, someone falls asleep before midnight, and that’s often me! 

This year we were in town, but couldn’t find sitters for the one event we thought we’d attend.  So, it was NYE at home again.  Thanks to some great ideas shared via my fellow Hip Homeschool Moms team members, I realised we could make a fun NYE time right here at home with the kids, despite it all being very last minute.  Last minute being NYE itself. 

The biggest obstacle for me has always been the idea of having young kids stay up ’til midnight.  That seemed like a recipe for a disastrous New Year’s Day.  Then I hit on the idea of celebrating the switch-over from the old year to the new year according to a time zone further east of ours.  It was as simple as choosing 9pm our time to celebrate and then googling a country that fit that time zone.  Pakistan it was!  From then on, the fun for the evening kinda flowed with random activities thrown in as we went along.  And it really was such fun!  We had a blast and so did the kids.

We began around 6pm with a discussion about what New Year’s Eve is. Micah and Sam take the cake for the best answers.  Sam: “It was the night that Eve was made!”  Micah:  “When we have crackers!”

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After that, I drew a little template and printer-copied it for the kids.  The idea was for them to express what they loved best about 2013 and what words they hoped to be characterised by in 2014.  Most of the kids included godly character traits, but the boys took the cake again.  Sam’s little “bag o’words” was filled with virtuousness deluxe: “not hurting animals”, “loving my enemies”, “loving God”.  But his last statement?  “A really good cricketer!” Micah insisted that he wanted only two statements.  “loves God” and “A very nice boy.”  Funny boy!

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We all got involved, even dad!

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The kids were so excited to hear that they got to celebrate the New Year too.  There was almost a full-on fight as to who got to find Pakistan on our globe.  It all felt very educational when we started discussing time zones, lines of longitude and calculating how much time each line of longitude represents.  Then we pulled up the Wiki article on Pakistan to find out more about the country we were celebrating with.  We discovered that a demonym is a word that denotes a person or thing that originates from a particular country.  For example the demonym of South Africa is South African.  America?  American.  Pakistan?  Pakistani.  We compiled all our knowledge on a kind-of mind map, which included an incorrectly-drawn South Africa flag.  Oops. 

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We ended this more formal time of the evening with prayer for Pakistan and our family and beyond, with 2014 in mind.  Then, all our pages, drawings and thoughts went into our new New Year’s box to be opened again next New Year’s to see what we last wrote and did.

By then, our pizza had arrived along with the coke.  Somewhere along the line, we seem to have dropped our “coke only once a year at Uncle Willy’s” to “coke once in a while at special occasions”.  Hmm. 

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Next?  Charades!  We used the Junior 30 Seconds (like Taboo) cards for words to act out.  They had a blast!  The best was Craig acting out “cockroach” – he did a pretty good impersonation of me freaking out when I see one!

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Here Micah is getting some help from mom:

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After that, the kids asked for some night cricket in the back yard.  Here’s where I loooong for a bigger back yard.  They love playing games like these, but the space is just so cramped!

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Never-the-less the kids had a blast taking turns playing, and in Katie’s case (below), being a cheerleader between batting.

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Craig doing Kung-Fu-Cricket. 

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Before the night swim, Craig produced a bunch of water pistols that he had bought on his way home from the kids’ toy shop. 

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I kept a safe distance away and managed to get a few shots (camera shots, that is):

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Soon everyone was in the pool.  Me included!  The night was so warm and the pool so inviting that I surprised everyone by bomb-dropping them all … before promptly getting out shivering!

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Finally, it was almost 9pm.  The kids dried up and came inside for dessert and the count-down.  We found a count-down for Pakistan on my iPhone, so while Craig sorted out dessert for the kids:

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…the kids watched the count-down clock. 

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We self-timed a not-so-great family photo and then played our last game for the evening.

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Jenga! 

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By the time the pieces crashed, it was closer to 10pm than 9pm and definitely time for young ‘uns to get into bed.

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But, apparently not before writing this sweet note that we got from Katie:

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We really had such a lovely evening, I felt sad that we’ve never done anything like this before.  If I had been better prepared, I’d have got noise-makers and glow sticks and perhaps organised some other fun stuff.  I’d have invited other family’s kids too.  But, God willing, we can save that for NYE 2014/15!

As it was, we got to enjoy the day with friends the next day.  Craig organised a get-together with some of the usual suspects Smile  Braai, friends, pool and sunshine – how’s that for a typical Safrican New Year’s day? 

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Bathroom #2 Redo

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When we bought our house 10 years ago, we fell in love with the trailing morning glory on the pergalo and the sweet little wooden playhouse outside.  We loved the space, the open planning and the number of rooms.  What we didn’t fall in love with were the bathrooms.  They were clean and neat, but dated and showing some wear and tear.  10 years on and the wear and tear was threatening large bills in the form of cracked cisterns and peeling ceilings.  So we were so very glad when our budget finally allowed us some renovation space.  We started with the kids’ bathroom (see Kids Bathroom Renovation) and then, after a two week break, started in on our bathroom.  What was to take 3 weeks took almost 5 thanks to the shoddy building work of the original extensions – we had falling down internal walls and crumbling plaster to deal with!  But, Ladder and Chisel did a superb job and we now get to enjoy a beautiful bathroom. And here’s the proof of the transformation:

Before (as in the day before the demolition of the old bathroom)…

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that’s our shower floor in the photo below – believe it or not, it’s actually clean as a whistle.  That’s permanent staining.  Yes.  Ew.

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Mildew build-up on the sagging ceiling, peeling paint on the floor…

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hideous pink tiles on the walls…

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honestly, just gross…

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gross, gross, gross…

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that’s our leaky toilet there… I wasn’t kidding about the gross factor…

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DURING:

Demolition time!

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Finally!  AFTER:

Like the kids’ bathroom, I wanted something shabby chic with a Victorian-Modern edge to it.  Craig was more partial to grey, so I tried to incorporate a grey-beige colour using mosiac travertine tiles and beigey-grey wall paint. 

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Once again, we sourced our bathroom furniture from Ruby’s Cottage – I found the cupboard above the toilet a few months before we started our renovations and I bought it with the view to put it exactly where it now is – but before I had any other ideas and before asking Craig!  But, it has worked out beautifully.

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One of my favourite pieces in our bathroom was the conversion of this old kitchen dresser:

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into this beautiful bathroom dresser:

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Ruby’s Cottage did it up for me all shabby chic, replacing the glass doors with mirror glass, adding some tongue-in-groove boards in places and separating the top section from the bottom section with an added shelf.  Unfortunately, when it first arrived, the shelf covered over the taps.  But Ian, owner of Ruby’s, kindly came to our house and jigsawed a curved cut-out that our painter then touched up, creating a beautiful final piece.

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Once it was all completed, it was just a matter of a few finishing touches, like these photo frames:

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I think that they’re a bit too fussy, so I’m not convinced they were the best idea, but I love the little cameos of our family taken from a photo shoot by Susie Leblond in April 2013.

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I so loved using these handles in the kids’ bathroom that I just had to use them again in ours.  So beautiful…

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Mr Price has been kind to me and my tastes lately – the heart and towel hooks and towels particularly:

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Oh, and this cute little spice box that really belongs in a kitchen but looks so nice on my window sill!

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My mom’s friend, Jenny Book, makes beautiful pottery.  This is one of her pieces.  Love it.

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More beautiful pottery, this time from my mom-in-law – so pretty.

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More angles:

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Our builder (Jerome from Ladder and Chisel) retrofitted our drawers for us, providing space for the basin in the unit, but still allowing us the use of the drawers.  Love that!  Thanks Jerome!

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This panoramic shot from my phone includes the floors – we went with stick-on sheet vinyl again.  Cheaper than most flooring options and yet so beautiful and WARM underfoot.  It looks like wood and goes so beautifully with our bathroom.  It’s finally a pleasure to use this bathroom!

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Hazy Days