What a winner!


So proud of my boy!

Even though he hates writing (handwriting that is), when he saw an article in the local paper advertising a short story writing competition for children, he immediately sat down and wrote a story. The closing date at that stage was only a couple of days away, so he really had to knuckle down to complete it, and we got the entry in with hours to spare.

His (unusual) motivation came from the fact that the prize was a R450 gift book voucher – a tantalising carrot for a boy who can never get enough books!

What a thrilling surprise when we received notification that he had won his age and language category in the inaugural Skryfnet (Just Write) competition!

A couple of weeks ago, we were privileged to meet the organiser of the competition, Dr Owen Msimango, a dentist (originally from Soweto) now living in the UK. He was in South Africa briefly to meet the winners and present the prizes. He has an awesome vision to promote literature and writing skills amongst young South Africans.


One of the judges, author Michael Sears, posted an article about the competition, including my son’s winning entry, on this site:http://www.murderiseverywhere.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/skryf-net.html#comment-form


New Year, New Challenges!


That says it all!  Whilst I am not in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions, having long since discovered that they rarely – if ever – are accomplished, I do believe in making decisions and setting challenges for a new year.

This year’s major new challenge is Scouting-related. My son has turned 11 and so completed his journey with Cubs and moved on to Scouts. It was long-since decided that I would travel through Cubs with him, and that his father would make the Scout journey with him. However, for personal reasons, Dad was unwilling to be involved with the current Scout Group.

To cut a long story short, after much debate I resigned my post as Pack Scouter/Akela, and together with my hubby took up the challenge of reviving a scout group in our area which has stood dormant for the last 4 years.

We have spent the past few months sorting through store-rooms laden with dust and records going back 50 years. Hubby is seriously re-considering the wisdom of his decision after finding out that he now needs to manage not only Scouts, but the hall and facilities as well! He has been wading through accounts and tenant contracts and the like (a really torturous task for a techie like Himself).

We are 17 days away from our opening and are stepping up our preparations – if you wish, you may follow our progress on our blog 29thvalhalla.wordpress.com or visit us on Facebook.

These are exciting times!

I will be developing the Cub group – I love my “Cubbies” – as well as a Meerkat group (5 – 7 year-olds), and hubby will be taking on the Scouts with our son as the first Scout of the new group!

As for homeschooling …

Feeling more confident in my abilities now, I am building my own curriculum for this year instead of buying a packaged one, hoping that this will assist us to tailor our schooling more to our own interests and passions, and allow us to more fully explore the subjects we are really interested in.

We will be spending more time this year on Nature Studies, and will be adding Latin to our repertoire.

History studies will continue with Story of the World, but we will expand on it with more related activities, using the companion Activity Book.

We will complete our current Geography, Biology and Anatomy curriculums and then continue with Zoology 1 from Apologia, and begin a round-the-world study of Peoples of the World (Usborne).

Our Life Skills and Technology studies this year will include some cooking, photography and computer skills.

The other subjects will continue in much the same vein as we have been doing.

Another challenge I have given myself is to start a homeschool support group once a month, using the Scout Hall as a meeting place (and hopefully encouraging home-schoolers to join Cub and Scouts).

LOTS of new challenges! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

New apps and breakfast in bed!


I have this great new app on my phone that allows me to blog straight from my phone – maybe I’ll get here more often now!

It’s my birthday and my son made me breakfast in bed! Paw-paw followed by tea with toast and boiled egg – with a sparkler stuck in the egg! So sweet!

I LOVE home-schooling! If I’d had to get him to school this morning I wouldn’t be sitting here in bed now with a full stomach and a smirk on my face!



I just loved this story and had to share it. I wonder how we, as home schooling Mums, would describe ourselves?

A woman, renewing her driver’s license at the Motor Registration office, was asked by the counter clerk to state her occupation.
She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
‘What I mean is,’ explained the counter clerk, ‘do you have a job or are you just a ..?’
‘Of course I have a job,’ snapped the woman. ‘I’m a Mum.’
‘We don’t list ‘Mum’ as an occupation, ‘housewife’ covers it,’ said the clerk emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Medicare office.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like ‘Official Interrogator’ or ‘Town Registrar.’
‘What is your occupation?’ she probed.
What made me say it?  I do not know.
The words simply popped out.
‘I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.’
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.
I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
‘Might I ask,’ said the clerk with new interest, ‘just what you do in your field?’
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, ‘I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn’t) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I’m working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.’
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than ‘just another Mum.’  Motherhood!
What a glorious career!
Especially when there’s a title on the door.

The Birds & the Bees


We are fortunate to have a fairly large garden, and live in an area that is reasonably well populated with large trees. As a result, we have always enjoyed a good variety of bird visitors to our garden, and have recorded some 50 different species over time.

We do not employ a gardener, and with added responsibilities this past year, the upkeep of our garden has slipped somewhat, and we have “allowed” the back part of our garden to grow wild.

This troubled us somewhat until we realised that we had begun seeing previously unrecorded bird-life in our garden, culminating with visits from two different owl species.

Although we did not actually see the Marsh Owls, we on two different occasions found feathers belonging to them in our garden, and heard their calls at night.

Then one night in August, Einstein and I awoke at 2am to the distinct and echoing hu-hooo of a Spotted Eagle Owl.

We lay for while listening until, overcome by curiosity, Einstein went to investigate. “Come look here!!!”,  he called urgently a minute later, and I sprang out of bed and joined him at the sitting-room window to gaze in awe at the perfect profile of the large owl perched on the tip of our neighbour’s rooftop, outlined against the night sky and hooting mournfully.

Deciding that this was an event too special to be missed, we woke Little Einstein, and the three of us crowded together at the window.

We were rewarded a moment later when the owl spread its wings and swooped silently down to land on our fence, literally a couple of metres from the window where we were transfixed.

A moment later, a second owl softly landed in the spot on the neighbour’s roof vacated by its mate and there they sat hooting at each other.

We enjoyed this spectacle for several minutes before they flew off, leaving us grinning delightedly at each other from this special experience.

Well, following this unique moment, we decided to leave the back garden wild, and have since been further rewarded for this decision.

During the past three years or so, a small swarm of bees have regularly returned to hive under Little Einstein’s playhouse, and we have left them to it and stayed clear during the summer months.

Since our decision to leave the garden wild, two more swarms have “moved in” – one into the hollow trunk of our birdbath, and another into an old tyre lying under our apricot tree.

Inspired by our visitors, Einstein (an inventor at heart) began to research bees and took to his design programme to design a hive.

This weekend, he began to build the hive.

And so begins a new and exciting chapter in the life of our family … bee-keeping!