Hazy Days

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Hazy Days

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Asian Day at Lunch Bunch

Each year, our co-op has an International Day.  We focus on a country, area or custom and all our food and activities revolve around the theme of the day.  This year was Asian Day.  Well, China Day, but since the costumes and food extended beyond China, I’m going with Asian Smile

First: the kids in their varying outfits.  My boys were not too keen on dressing up, so their dressing gowns and a drawn-on moustache was the order of the day.  But Ms Katie was in her element.  She raided the dress up box and devised her own outfit, make up and hairdo.  The result?  See below:

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When everyone was together, the array of Asian attire was varied and very amusing!

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Enough with the photos!

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Since it was the Year of the Horse on the Chinese calendar, Caren had the kids making a little horse each out of cork.

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After all the industry, here was the final product:

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Of course, no Asian day is complete without certain staples, like spring rolls.  These beauties are made by my Filipino aunt Lerma.  She makes to order and they’re fab!

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For dessert – bow-ties.

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Kate explained that all the different courses are to be eaten separately and not altogether like we like to do in the West.  So after spring rolls, the kids had their fried rice and then their ginger chicken chop suey – superbly made by Sue.

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Of course, some kids aren’t nearly as tempted by the food as they are by the fun of friendship:

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We found ourselves chatting so much that we ran out of time to do the Chinese writing activity Kate planned.  But, she left the sheets with us and Sam has been having a blast copying the alphabet.

Speaking of forgetting; I forgot to make the green tea!

But we did get a short video in of Gladys Aylward who went to China as a missionary in the early 1900s.

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And the kids did perform a hilarious show for us about a cruel and abusive Asian empress who is overthrown by an Asian princess.  That video will be one for our year-end party.

Here ends another fun and memorable International Day!

Previous years:

May 2014

May – the month where summer and winter collide leaving us all dizzy and disorientated.  And peeling off winter layers under sunny skies, only to layer them all on again days later.  But – when the sun shines, it’s glorious!

And shine it did for the Cape Explorers outings we had this month.  Firstly – to Kleinplaas Dam on Red Hill.  A little known gem. Well, little known to us that is.  So much so, I got hopelessly lost and we ended up being 20 minutes late!

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Still, we got there and the kids had a blast:

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Even with all the public holidays in April and May, we managed to power on through most of them and kept up with school.  It also afforded an opportunity for cousin Holly to join us one day to experience “homeschool”! 

We did a yeast experiment that day – trying to determine the best conditions in which yeast grows.  Fun!

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Best part?  When Katie tried to take the balloon off her jar and the bubbling yeast exploded all over her!

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May was the month that Micah finally realised that he actually CAN read!  He’s been learning via a programme called Reading Eggs.  He just has not had the confidence as yet and only when I sat down with him and encouraged him to try read the stories at the end of each lesson did he suddenly realise – he could read!

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Can you see the delight?  I love it!

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We celebrated some family time with the rest of the Hayes clan – and Ali’s 40th!

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We took the kids out for Mexican food one night in May.  Sam is fast becoming our “hot stuff” boy – game to try just about any hot stuff for the fun of it.  Here he goes with a chilli:

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Oooh! Hot!

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Sam’s also taken to wanting to cook and bake on his own.  So here’s his first batch of brownies.  Too sweet!

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Micah coming for a photo op!

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On the way to drop kids off at club on Friday night, this was what greeted me in the clouds – beautiful!

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Movie night at club!

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One howling boy who found himself stuck up a tree!

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A surprise letter and picture from dear friends in Kenya.  Wow how the kids have grown!

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Katie loves that her youngest brother is game to play tea party with her.  Especially during school work breaks. 

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On Tuesday mornings, the boys head down the road to Debbie’s where she does fun and educational things with her boys and mine.  It affords me extra time with the girls.  We’ve also started reading through this book as some extra special girly time.  Speak Love is written to young girls about their words and attitudes.  It deals with the heart and has been quite helpful for conversations about how we treat each other.  She nails the Mean Girl.  I’m really enjoying reading together with my girls a book especially aimed at their hearts.  Of course, indulging in Craig’s Triple Chocolate Muffins at the same time is a super cool bonus!

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We did manage a few playdates in May – this photo was from one with the D family.  I love it because it’s a great memory of the many fun times these kids have together. I also love how they love playing together, despite there being a 6 year age gap from the youngest to the oldest. 

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My Sonlight catalogue finally arrived in the mail.  Yay!  We will most likely start on a Sonlight core in the new year, after having done South African history for the past two years.

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May was our month to vote for the next 5 years of government.  It’s been a while since the kids have seen the process.  We spent a bit of time this month learning about the election process and our history.  The kids spent most of the month speaking about elections, government, leaders, voting and parties.  Craig and I were peppered with questions about who we were voting for and why.  Nothing like real life to educate kids!

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Our church’s annual Food Fair had a rebranding!  We’re now the “Soul Food Market” – thanks to a late night whatsapp brainstorm from our home group.  Go Hayes group! Smile  I got a chance to sell my book. Here’s Sam manning the table.

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We headed up to Hermanus that night, after the market, to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom.  Here are some kiddies at the Spookfontein restaurant.

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Mommies!

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The #Bringbackourgirls campaign has been a big topic of conversation and prayer in our house.  One home-educated young girl put together an awareness video and asked families to contribute photos – here’s Katie’s.  IMG_5366

Here’s the video: http://youtu.be/mmV9aQqf3j0

We had book club at the Warton’s this month.  Katie wanted to come with so that she could spend some time with the Warton girls.  All the Warton girls have babysat our children at some point in their lives.  And the kids love them!  So, while I was enjoying delicious tea snacks, great books and company in the lounge, Katie joined Liesl in the kitchen.  I love this photo below for so many reasons – it’s a kitchen that buzzes with joy, fellowship and happiness.  People are the heartbeat here.  It’s filled with wonderful people – people I love.  And the fact that I get to share these special people with my own daughter – and she gets it; she loves them as much as I do, well, it’s just awesome.  She had a blast helping peel and cut potatoes for their 18 people dinner that night!    

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Kiera’s on a Matilda the Musical craze at the moment.  She watched an X Factor on Youtube some months back and loved a piece done by a young girl.  A little googling and she discovered the piece was an item from the Matilda musical on West End.  Well, we’ve not heard the end of it since.  She now knows all the songs by heart, choreographed a modified version of the item “Naughty” and taught it to her best friend.  Then they showed it to their drama teacher.  Well, they now have TWO items for their drama eistedfodd this year.  One being the monologue they each do on their own and the second being their musical item – “Naughty” from Matilda the Musical.  Here the girls are all dressed up for their “dress rehearsal”.  Too cute!

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We’ve been hard at school work this month.  Even if it means we don’t keep to one particular dress code!

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When I took this photo, Kiera said “hey, look, ma! Katie and I are the ‘koeksusters’!”  Katie was making supper (mash potatoes with crumbed chicken fillets and veg) and Kiera was baking banana bread. 

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If memory serves me correctly, this was the same day that we had a reporter from the Cape Argus come to interview us about home education.  They did a great article that highlights some of the concerns about registration of home educated children.  They also gave home education a super promo!  More on that in next month’s update.  But here are the photos off their Facebook page:

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I’ve been wanting to see Blood Brothers for ages now.  It’s a West End musical that was adapted for a South African context by David Kramer.  The story takes place in the 1960s in District Six, then moving onto the Cape Flats – apartheid the backdrop of a story of love and loss.  It was at the Fugard theatre.  We’ve never been there.  I booked the front seats, because our experience has been so positive – front seats are usually cheap seats, but they are also great seats.  But these ones were CLOSE.  We sat down next to a couple who got chatting to me straight away.  It was a wonderful conversation that turned spine-tingling in mere moments.  Turned out that the lady I was talking to had lived in Harfield Village.  Her mother was the principal of the Methodist school in Second Avenue.  She had managed to avoid forced removals, first by being exempt for the year the school was coming to a close.  Then by totally ignoring the government’s notices to move!  What a feisty lady!  She is still living in Harfield Village at the age of 95.  I was marvelling at the similarities in her story to my character – a man, principal of a school, living in Harfield Village, expected to leave due to the Group Areas Act.  And then she told me that her mother’s name is Mrs Hendricks.  Hendricks – just like Mr Hendricks in my story.  The one, totally fictitious.  The other, the real deal.  Wow.  The show itself was brilliant, but the entire evening was made all the more amazing by the conversations I got to enjoy with Dorothy and her husband during interval and before.   IMG_5431

We’ve been doing Table Talk (Good Book Company) for our devotional times in the morning.  There’s a free timeline that’s offered if one writes in.  Well, I wasn’t expecting one per child or this awesome letter!  Really good stuff!

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The sun shines and then the clouds roll in.  But, we can still enjoy an afternoon walk – love, love, LOVE the Alphen trail.

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Katie’s really improved in her attitude towards school work.  She’s so much more responsible and it’s awesome!  Here she’s using the window as a light table – tracing the Western Cape.

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We’ve been studying blood in our Science times together.  We did a fun hands on “model” of blood with honey (plasma), red powdered food colouring (red blood cells), white jelly beans (white blood cells) and candied sprinkles (platelets).  They kids had an absolute blast!

Loads of laughs and fake grossed-outedness!

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It was one of our favourite experiments this year!

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Fun!

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We also experimented with making corn bread – a la Trekboers – well, it was all good in theory but no one wanted to eat this brick!

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Lunch Bunch continues as always – love, love, LOVE this group.  Here Kiera is listening to Caren share tips for drawing.

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These two!  Love them!

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This photo kills me – laughing!  I asked Micah what he was doing and he said, “Mama, I was sliding!  I couldn’t help it!”

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Reading aloud from Secret Seven – love it!

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And learning how to draw some more…

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More Cape Explorers!  Woohoo!  Again to Simonstown for a fun outing of adventure scavenger hunt.

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After our outing, we joined the R family for a visit to the Toy Museum… 

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The favourite was definitely the running train set in the middle of the store.

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I had fun taking photos – trying to make it look real!

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Ok – enough with the overkill of train photos.  Here’s some of the historical figurines.  I have no idea who would collect these, but they’re pretty awesome. Imagine learning history by playing with these. 

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Kiera had her first gymnastics competition for the year in May.  Two weeks before the contest, she still couldn’t do a hip circle on the bar.  She was pretty convinced that she should not compete.  She really struggled and was seriously considering quitting this year.  But, she agreed to keep her commitment to the end of the year.  Lots of chats about persevering and working to one’s personal potential.  She took it all on board.  Worked hard and finally got the hip circle. 

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She had an absolute ball at the competition.  Here she is with her teammates waiting for the prize-giving.

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Best part?  She had absolutely no idea that she had won!  Her joy was too precious.  Her first time on the podium for an overall win.  But for me it was double joy, because she had put so much hard work into it. 

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Love her joy!

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Her friend, Lea, had come to watch along with Katie – love it.

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May ended with Katie’s 10th birthday party – fun times!

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And so ends – May 2014!

2014 CHE Sports Day

Every year the Cape Home Educators hold a sports day event for home educators in the Cape.  We’ve attended on and off over the years and every year the kids have a blast.  This year being their best yet.  I’ve found that the littlies in the family take a few years to warm up to participating, but once they’re in, they love it. 

An event like this is a huge undertaking to organise and not a small feat when the organisers are a small team of dedicated homeschooling parents with a lot on their plate already. 

Some changes were made this year that worked well, other changes not so well, but mostly it was a really wonderful time and I love the fact that my kids get an opportunity to experience track and field events and the camaraderie that happens when they meet other homeschoolers for the first time and just get along like a house on fire.  That, for me, is the best part – for every year my girls end up hanging out with girls they’ve never met, but instantly they’re chatting, getting to know each other and supporting each other on the sports’ field.  And some years it’s a reunion and in other years it’s been girls they know outside of this event too.  Blessings!

In the whole month of February, other than building project photos, this event got the main attention from my camera!

So here goes – photos from Sports Day 2014:

Sam racing his little heart out – short legs and no running-speed-genes advantage left him at the back of the pack – but boy he had fun!

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Katie gunning it – I think she came second or third in this race.

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There was an unfortunate incident where a young boy hurt his back in the long jump event.  It was the first time in 8 or so years of this event running that an incident that required more than a plaster happened.  Big shock, but good news is that he is totally fine!

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Kiera running her heart out – she came second, if I remember correctly!

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Love the excited brother on the sidelines running her in…

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This year some “boeresports” were added – tug of war:

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Yellow team won hands down!

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Egg, spoon and sack races too. 

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We also had a free demonstration, try out and competition of bow shooting that the kids AND parents enjoyed!

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There are two sessions of prize giving – this helps for those families with smaller kids who can’t stay until after lunch.

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Here, Victor, as chairman of CHE, awards the kids their placement ribbons:

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Kiera at the high jump …

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And shot put:

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She came first for shot put.

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Katie, third for running.

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And Kiera, first place tied with two other girls for high jump.  A sweet story here: Kiera was awarded first place and the other two second and third.  But, at the event itself, because all the girls couldn’t get over the next height, they were told that they tied first place.  So, Kiera spoke up politely and told Victor that they had been told that the other two were also supposed to get first place.  A quick check and sure enough – the two other girls stepped up to the first podium in time for a smile for the camera.  I was proud of my girl for speaking up.

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Dads practising target shooting with bows and arrows.  Move over Katniss, here comes Craig! Winking smile

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The event ended and then it was off to the next event.  Leendert Van Oostrum from the Pestalozzi Trust spoke to all home educating parents who came to attend a special meeting.  The meeting was to discuss the home education registration and policy document of the Western Cape and how we as a home education body are to address it.  Leendert spoke a little on the history of home ed and also spent some time outlining some of his concerns and fears.  The floor was given an opportunity to speak, by which a couple of parents spoke up to question some of Leendert’s thoughts.  Then, the main purpose of the event happened – to elect a body of home educating parents to serve as a body of home educators whose aim it is to engage government on the issues of policy documentation and how best to work it so that it properly represents the best interests of the children.  That resulted in the formation of the CHE’s Steering Committee on Education.  The team and the purpose and mission is explained further at www.liberty-in-learning.co.za 

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January 2014

All the happenings in January!  As I was sifting through our photos from January I was struck by 1) how quickly the year has gone, it is May already!) and 2) how much we’ve done when it felt like a month of building!

Without further ado – here are our photos:

New Year’s Day braai with friends…

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bonding over the iPad…

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And some light dramatic entertainment from the kids…

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I love that the kids are all old enough to play monopoly together – I woke to this one Saturday morning.  Love it!

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Despite the fact that Micah is 5 already, he is still subjected to his sister’s dress-up antics from time to time.  More 21st material, I tell you!

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Celebrating Nathan’s birthday – 8!

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Celebrating my birthday, I believe, with some sushi.  And Sam up for the challenge – a marble-sized ball of wasabi.  Yup, he swallowed the lot.

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A rare dinner out, just the two of us. 

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Getting ready for the new school year with these plastic file boxes.  They’re a winner!

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We started a different Language Arts programme this year, since we’ve been concentrating on South African studies.  I felt it was a good time to try another programme.  We love our Sonlight stuff and I’m currently deciding which of the next Cores to do for next year, but this year I am so glad we tried out LLATL (Learning Language Arts Through Literature). Sonlight’s LA was great for my eldest, but my second two are doing much better with LLATL.  And I am too – simply because it allows for greater independence in their work, which is what I need when teaching 4 kids in one go.  Sam still needs a lot of hands on with Mom, but this programme allows for that to happen easily.  It’s on par with Sonlight’s high level of academics, too.  And Sam LOVES the one-on-one with mom time, so that’s been a hit.  Here he is organising words into alphabetical order.

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Visiting our friends, the Myburghs – that’s Katie’s artwork on their wall.  Too sweet.

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When we did our renovations, I thought it would be best not to be there for the first week, what with walls being bashed down and an entire kitchen gutted, so we packed up and headed to granny and grandpa in Hermanus for the week.  We took our school books with as we had already started the school year, knowing that we would be taking quite a break when Craig and Kerry and their kids arrived in March.  Here the kids are packed and ready to go:

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Homeschool morning time in Hermanus:

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Me, teaching mom about “selfies” Winking smile

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One of the beautiful things about doing school work in Hermanus is that it feels like a holiday – afternoons in the pool!  Stunning.

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Or at Davie’s Pool – aka Mermaid’s Pool

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While we were away, Craig sent pictures of the gutting and the chasing…

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A bonus of being down in Hermanus was being able to share my mom’s birthday with her.  I took her out for lunch the next day, but on the special day, she had a bunch of her friends over.  Cake and company for everyone!

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Love this photo – the lady Kiera is talking to is Yvonne, a former school teacher at Sweet Valley.  She always has so much time for the kids and always shows such interest in what they’re up to.  It’s too special.

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Love this!  Taken when we went out for pizza one night.  Happy granny and crazy boy!IMG_9391-MIX

Heading back to Cape Town meant No Kitchen.  Which meant, make-shift kitchen it is.  The boys here got fully into helping make tuna salad – a favourite of theirs. 

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One early Sunday morning in January, we headed to Muizenberg beach for a walk and a swim.  The water was amazingly warm and we ended up seeing seals up close and then, lo and behold, Craig saw this bottle bobbing about on the waves about 10 metres away from us – coming into shore.  How ironic is that?  To see a bottle, exactly the same shape and colour as the one from Seekers of the Lost Boy, coming to land on the shore of the very same beach in the book?  We were all super excited.  It was empty inside – so no super-spooky coincidences there, but still very exciting.  We took it home and it now resides in our playroom.

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And – Hout Bay – a beautiful piece of beach that we love to visit in the early evenings, no matter the season!

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