The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en Fabulous Resources for Making Math Fun…

October 29th, 2016 · No Comments

I have been pondering how we actually get math done around here, which can be fairly far from what I intend math to look like. I’m old school, look at a couple of problems everyday, stretch your brain a little and then move on. My kids, not so much… they don’t love math, they definitely aren’t sitting around the table asking for more on a daily basis. If there is one thing I have learnt from countless years of homeschooling is that suggesting that my kids do a little extra math “Just for Fun,” is an invitation for them to literally fall on the ground laughing. Because of this and I don’t know why this has taken me so long with all things mathematical, but I have become the master of strewing and just idly leaving things lying in my kids path, things for them to literally bump into on their way through their day. Turns out that they absolutely love all things math as long as it is not called math.


Last year we started reading the LIFE of FRED series with no hidden agenda, my intention wasn’t to create more math for my kids to do, and I certainly didn’t intend to supplement their already great math syllabus. I just wanted to introduce some math fun… and it was a life changer, they had no idea that we were even doing math, it was just another great story and part of our morning read. I decided to raise my game and start introducing math that is pure fun. I realised that if I just strew math fun around, we could ever so slightly change the attitude towards math around here. And change it has.

Se7en Fabulous Resources to Help Make Math Fun:

  1. The Terrific Times Tables Book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels: This is math fun beyond belief… a lift the flap book with so many flaps that you will be busy for hours and hours and hours… The times table from 0 to 12, and each number gets a spread… zero and one are in outer space; two is on the ark; three is a garden growing and four is a fearsome picnic; five is a bedroom closet and a bed full of toes; six is a sweet factory and se7en is under the sea and eight is a shoe store; nine is a clever trick and ten a spread of robots; eleven is a pack of cards and twelve is fireworks. This book is such an in-depth exploration, so many fun facts, nifty little mathematical tricks, hundreds of flaps to lift and explore… pure fun and it definitely doesn’t feel like work. You can take a peak right inside the book in this video. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes from PanMacmillan South Africa.)
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  3. Leave a Couple of Math Challenges Lying Around: Can you draw a curve with a straight line? Leave it open ended and walk away. If you leave a compass and some graph paper and a couple of coloured pencils lying on the counter… to be sure a curious kid will wonder what that’s all about and mathematical magic will happen. You could even print out some matchstick math challenges from this website that is totally devoted to MatchSticks Puzzles.
  4. Murderous Math by Kjartan Poskitt: I stumbled on these books in the library and then we had to buy them. I thought we could read them like other chapter books… one after the other after the other… but immediately we had to slow down and savour all the cleverness between the pages. We read these books with a notebook and pen handy, there are lots of precious and useful facts that are jotted down and lots of ideas to be explored. We read in little snippets and make sure to enjoy the funny bits and not move on until we genuinely understand something. These books are so fun, they feel like puzzle books but they are really filled with great stuff. We have learnt about Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio, Fermat’s Last Theorem and heaps of other actual mathematical facts. Lots of really cool things to pop into a math notebook if you have kids who love filling in notebooks. These are the kinds of books that you can read more than once, because each time you will learn something new.
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  6. Just Good Old Games: Sumoku is one of our favourite games (the same genre as Bananagrams), but Uno and Monopoly and even a plain old pack of cards are fantastic for engaging the math brain. Chess of course and backgammon and just lately my guys can not stop playing Quarto.
  7. Sir Cumference: I have been reading this series of books with my little guys and they have inspired lots of circle art and when we learnt all about pi, we decided to draw it. Using block paper, colour in a tower of three blocks, then 1 block, then 4 blocks, then 1 block, then 5 blocks… and so on and on… Each tower represents another decimal point in the approximation of pi.
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  9. YouTube and Podcasts are your friends:
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  11. Blogs to Follow for Math Fun:

That’s a whole lot of math fun, that should keep you busy… enjoy…


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→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Science · Se7en at School

Se7en Visits the Saucisse Deli Showcase…

October 27th, 2016 · 1 Comment

There are few things that say weekend better than a visit to the deli and looking for little delights and treats to eat and one of our favourite family meals is definitely a deli picnic with some crispy sticks of bread and little bits of delightful tastes to try on them. Last week I was invited to the Saucisse Deli Showcase, which is an invitation to meet the folks behind the flavours they serve in their store… one of those events that I just couldn’t miss.


There is so much to love about the Saucisse Deli, I met the owner/chef on a trip to Zambia with Greenpop and her attitude to good, healthy and especially tasty food is inspiring. If you are trying to introduce your kids to real food, or you are trying to rearrange your diet and go vegan, or gluten free or whatever… then this is the deli that can help you, they literally have something delicious for everyone. Not only that, they go the extra mile to support local foodies, and Cape Town has a lot of those, think local products, free-range, fair trade and then eco-friendly as well… bio-friendly packaging and recycling, eco-friendly cleaning products, the list goes on. If ever there was a deli then this is actually the one!!!


Not to mention they fully embrace Green Mondays and you can head over there for a totally green breakfast, lunch, whatever feast on any Monday. And if you think that sounds alarmingly like you have to eat a lettuce leaf on Mondays, then you are totally wrong… platters of carefully thought out and creative feasts… gotta love it!!!


I hive of activity and dozens of flavours to test and taste… of course I understand that our readers couldn’t join us… so I happy tasted everything for you… as one does!!!


Let’s Meet the Saucisse Deli Supply Team


The Cape of Good Hope Honey Company: Welcome to honey heaven… Honey collected locally from hives in the South Western Cape. The honey is raw, which means they are never heated above 38 degrees Celsius. I tried the Honeys of Origin, from the different regions and so from different plant groups in the area, honey from places like Cape Agulhas, Grabouw and Riviersondend. Each flavour feels like you are going on a little road trip and visiting the area.


Otherwise, they have gourmet blended honeys… these are honestly, royal treatment honeys: blended with vanilla or coffee and even cinnamon. Not only do these honeys look beautiful, but we are redefining toast here. I may never want to eat a pancake without cinnamon blended honey again. Delicious. Look out for these honeys in their distinctive glass jars.


Chilli-Lingo: From the home of chilli lovers, our kids are huge fans of the chilli-lingo range. I have to say, I am not quite as gung-ho as my kids when it comes to chilli but these sauces are great, not so much about the sweltering heat but all about the flavour. Their hot sauce was recently awarded second place at the World Hot Sauce Awards, that’s an outstanding achievement. The chillies are organically grown on a farm in Botrivier, using companion planting to protect their plants from invasive little critters. The sauces are gluten free and no artificial “anythings” in them.


And they have recently branched out into the mustard business, and these flavours could well redefine the sandwich industry…


African Infused Gourmet Foods: It was lovely to meet fresh and exciting range of Pestos from African Infused. I have a nut allergy, so meh… but there was a jar of Coriander and Coconut pesto that I could take home for the father person and he has raved about it ever since. They have gone the extra mile to source fabulous and interesting ingredients and made delicious and different combinations. All their products are handmade in Stanford with no artificial baddies in them and no added sugar. Tasty treats to add to your picnic, for the win!!!


Pierre’s Cured Meats: I met Pierre’s at last year’s Showcase and I was quite happy to try everything here again… this is literally the world tour of lovingly made sausages. I was thrilled to take a piece of sausage home in my goodie bag to savour!!! (You can find Pierre’s Charcuterie on Facebook).



Mr Pukkah’s Sauces: Mild Green Habanero and Extra Hot Habanero, as well as Peri-Peri Sauce… lip smacking delicious, a bit of a flavour riot in your mouth… with a zing. Delicious. And along with the big taste these sauces are sugar and gluten free and for most of us, that’s a win.


Macadamia Nut Oil: With a nut allergy, I didn’t linger long here only to notice all the amazing benefits of macadamia oil. Just to say, this is something different and if you are looking for macadamia oil, then you can find it at Saucisse Deli.



Afrikoa: After the heat, try something sweet… Well here was a product that everyone loves, you just can’t argue with fine chocolate. While I was nibbling on far more chocolate bits than is actually polite, I got to hear the interesting back story as well. This chocolate is special, the cocoa sourced in the heart of Tanzania, and it is more than a product it is a relationship with the farmers and his family.


The farmers have been taught good business practices, they have been shown how to get their product from their remote farm to the chocolatier in Cape Town and the chocolate is fresh, “hot off the press” so to speak. This chocolate ticks all the right social conscience boxes, and is not packed with additives and oddities, you get what you see… and it tastes fantastic. Read their story, it’s a good one and look out for their striking packaging. If you are going to be gifting chocolate anytime soon, then this would be an extra special slab to look out for.


The Flying Pig Curesmiths: What is a fabulous deli without some beautiful bacon… and these guys sure know how to make their bacon and their flavour filled sausages. This team creates slow cured meats with traditional recipes from around the world… they carefully source their materials and have created some exceptional flavours.


The Goody Bag: We got to take home a fabulous goody bag, packed with little treats and surprises for a midnight feast!!!


So if you are ever looking for an instant snack or to pack a picnic basket then look no further than the Saucisse Deli at the Old Biscuit Mill… they will be able to cater for you what ever you dietary requirements are… vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, sugar free… you name it they have it.


Huge thank you to Saucisse Deli for a wonderful evening and a fabulous goodie bag that we all enjoyed, what a fantastic event.This was not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are all entirely my own.

Saucisse Deli ShowCase


→ 1 CommentTags: Cape Town · Outings · Restaurants

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #334

October 25th, 2016 · No Comments

Well that was Monday… a little recovery from a busy weekend was required as most Mondays do…


Lovely Links from This Week

  1. A lot of you will know that NaNoRiMo starts next month, but did you know that there is a children’s version of NaNoWriMo. If you live with a young aspiring writer, then you have to take a look at their website this week so that you can be ready to begin next week.
  2. Earlier this year we joined the Read the World Book Club, with Simple Homeschool… and here you can read the whole series in one fabulous spot.
  3. How Awesome Adulting Impacts Your Homeschool on the Homeschool Sisters site.
  4. I absolutely love these Giant Stamp Postcards with Printables… on My Poppet Makes.
  5. So thrilled that one of our Posts was Linked to on the Simple Homeschool Weekly links,
  6. And another post was linked to at Life Your Way’s Weekend Reading… So cool!!!
  7. More to love, as I followed the magical Just so Festival in the UK recently, well look at these beautiful lanterns that Nuture Store Posted…
  8. I am loving all the Autumn online and would you look at how beautiful and easy it is to preserve Autumn colours with wax, on Time to Craft.

A Blast From the Past:


Our Book of the Week:

Here I Stand: Stories that speak for Freedom by Amnesty International: This book landed on my desk last week, in the middle of a busy day… and I just opened the cover and started reading… the whole way through, right there and then. Compelling, compelling reading and I have spent days ruminating about the powerful stories that have been collected within the pages of this incredible book. Amnesty International, together with Walker Books UK have compiled a collection of stories from twenty five exceptional children’s authors and illustrators… like Francis Hardinge, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Laird to name just three. The stories are written to raise awareness about the injustices that occur in the world… this is a book about Human Rights, or the lack thereof. Some of these stories cover really difficult topics and this isn’t a book I would leave on the coffee table for my younger children to pick up and read. But certainly it is packed with compelling and thought provoking writing for my teens to read. This book will provoke you out of your comfort zone and certainly, you will not be able to idly stand by and watch injustice on the evening news ever again… you will need to make a difference, somewhere, somehow. This is the sort of book that you can dip into and read slowly, take your time to digest it… but honestly I just could not put it down. A difficult topic, well lots of difficult topics handled with understanding. I loved this book, it is a moving collection of stories, that have been gathered together to provoke us into thinking and more than that, into action. Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copy of this book for review purposes.

That’s us… Hope you are all having a fabulous week!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Take an Easy Walk Up KanonKop…

October 24th, 2016 · 3 Comments

As the season changes the weather is cool and the sun is out and it is absolutely perfect hiking weather. So we decided to walk to Kanonkop. A hike in Cape Point, one that we have been past a couple of times while doing other hikes… but we have never been there just for the sake of being there…


This walk begins at the Visitors centre and you just follow the path back towards the main entrance gate…


This hike is an easy amble up to the top of the first low bump on the skyline of the photograph below…


It is about an hour of really easy, slow and steady walking up to the canon… it is a really easy to handle gradient all the way up to the top, on a sandy trail. When the path becomes stoney and a little steeper near the top there is a lovely big flat rock to have a little picnic on or just a rest and look at the view, before you head on up for about ten more minutes to get to the cannon.


Well worth stoping to take a picture of the view…


Or like some of us, whenever they get to the top of a mountain, draw the view.


And the view of the Lighthouses at Cape Point and False bay are just spectacular… and if there were whales in the bay then you would have front row seats.


Wildlife on the Hike


We were followed by three bontebok all the way… they stopped on the skyline for one last look before they scampered off.


Otherwise there were lizards everywhere… the ostriches were out…


And so were the tortoises…


And it is of course baby season…


And the baby bonteboks are just too cute…


A Pause to Watch the Baboons Mudlarking

On the way home we stopped at Buffels Bay for a well-earned swim… and where there is mud and children… it was lovely to watch these little guys play!!!







And this is why folks have to put their garbage tightly into the bins and secure it closed…








Se7en’s Guide to Hiking in Cape Point

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Hiking · Outings · Saturday Spot

What We Are Reading Right Now: The Chapter Book Edition…

October 23rd, 2016 · 2 Comments

We have been writing a series of reviews for a while now, the latest and greatest picture books, fabulous fact books for children, easy chapter books, chapter books and now at last the tween/teen reads. We have split this post into books that are appropriate for tweens and half way down the post, books for teens. My older kids (age 19, 17 and 15) would consider a book a teen read if for some reason it had a trace of fiery language or if there was a little bit more than just a “boy meets girl” relationship… or if the book i just a harder read than they think their middle school siblings would enjoy reading. To be honest, a good book is a good books and I read the books myself, I especially loved The House on Hummingbird Island, and Hour of the Bees…


Se7en + 1 of the Latest and Greatest Tween/Teen Reads

The House on Hummingbird Island by Sam Angus: It just so happens that Sam Angus is one of our favourite authors ever… she wrote and we have reviewed Soldier Dog, Hero and Captain. It is our tradition to read Sam Angus novels as a family, nobody wants to miss a word and there is nothing that my younger children can’t listen to in them.

To begin with The House on Hummingbird Island has the most delightful cover, to match the delightful heroine of the tale, Idie Grace. Idie Grace very quickly stole our hearts and became part of the family. At the age of twelve Idie is sent from a very crisp and formal England to live on a large plantation that she has inherited in the Caribbean, she is a truly wild and precocious child and will not be anyone’s puppet and she certainly isn’t brought to heel by any silly colonial class rules. She moves into her estate at just the right age to realise that she doesn’t have to listen to all the nay-sayers, she could indeed be her own boss… and with this realisation comes a whole menagerie into her home. She keep s a mongoose in her pocket, her horse on the veranda and don’t forget the cockatoo. As the animals literally settle in and Idie grows up there is the underlying mystery of who her mother really was and where Idie fits into the scheme of things.

A lot of the story is told to us through letters written to and fro between Idie and her English cousins, and Idie and friends who are drafted into the war. It is a really interesting way to introduce your readers to a whole lot of themes, while keeping the attention on the main character. Another theme that is a common throughout Sam Angus’books, apart from animals playing a lead is that all her books are set during a World War. This is an author who always manages to introduce big issues, without allowing them to take over the story… and she brings to light the plight of the West Indian soldiers during WW1, the racial discrimination, the unfairness of class structure and colonialism. The issues are there to think about and certainly deserve our attention… but they don’t take away from the main story, which is and always will be, “What happens to Idie?” There are highs and lows, there will be tears, heart wrenching in places… and as usual we feel richer for having read a Sam Angus book. You can meet Sam Angus on her website here.

The Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eager: I loved this book and read it from start to finish in a sitting, it is slow and lilting and beautiful. It is the story of twelve year old Carol from Albuquerque, who together with her family heads out to the desert for the summer to help to relocate her Grandpa, who suffers from dementia, into and a care home. Carol may never have met her Grandpa before, but there is a tie that binds and a love that conquers generations and and a rolling story within the story that winds its way through the pages. Her Grandpa keeps saying the bees will bring the rain and break the drought and everyone assumes that that is his “salad brain” or dementia speaking, and nobody else can hear the bees… nobody except Carol. She hears the bees. He reminds Carol again and again “not to spit on her roots.” It is a true coming of age story… Carol learns to embrace her heritage. This story is poignant, and beautiful, there may be tears… and I have to ask, why are there not more books written about families who have to care for their elderly grandparents, why are there not more books to read where the main players suffer from dementia… this book is beautiful and understanding and lovely. You can meet the author, Lindsay Eager here.

Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples: This story set in the Middle East after 911, it follows the life of a young girl in Afghanistan, who loses everything within the first few chapters of the book and an American teacher in Pakistan, who teaches refugee children under the Persimmon tree in her garden, while she waits for her missing husband to return. Their stories follow side by side and one feels compelled to read on… the story is slow and lilting, despite flashes of violence, as you follow their separate journeys hoping that everything will turn out just fine for them… there lives do collide, but how can it. This is a heart wrenching book and an important read, so many lives were destroyed, so much was lost by so many during this crazy time and not nearly enough has been shared… while this book is clearly fiction, it is true to life and portrays the plight of the people on the ground, people who lost their homes, their families their lives, people whose stories will never be told. You can meet the Author, Suzanne Fisher Staples on her website, here.

Summoner Book One: The Novice by Taran Matharu: This book went straight onto Hood #2’s list of best books ever. The book is set in a fantasy world, there are orcs, and elves, dwarves and Summoners with their pet like demons. This is the story of Fletcher, an orphaned blacksmith, who quite by chance discovers that he has magical gifts… when he is charged with attempted murder he has to flee for his life. Fletcher’s demon is a salamander like creature called Ignatius, who is there on Fletcher’s shoulder on the cover. Together they go through intensive training at the Vocan’s Academy, where he learns through a series of deadly tests, to control and use his power. The question is will he be able save the empire, when so many things are against him. Really the author does well to create an entire universe as the stage for this epic adventure… and then because this is the first in a trilogy, it ends as a complete cliffhanger. Luckily book 2 in the series has been recently released and is ready to read… You can meet the author, Taran Matharu, on Wattpad where the series began.

Teen Reads

Notes on Being Teenage by Rosalind Jana: This non-fiction book is geared for teen gals. Not tween gals so much, but definitely a fabulous source of info for teens who are always looking for information about who they are and how they look, whats going on on the internet, and of course relationships. I for one don’t want my kids to learn everything about the world from their not necessarily that knowledgeable friends and I really wasn’t born yesterday, I get that there are some things they really don’t want to ask their mothers. So Rosalind Jana is the older sister your daughter wishes she had, she talks about things that are contemporary, topical, sometimes awkward and just plain practical… So many really practical tips on how to be a good friend, how to get your blog started, and so on. The style is conversational, intelligent and funny, she talks about alcohol and drugs, eating disorders and taboos… there are tons of inserts for dipping into the book quickly, lots of suggestions and resources for digging deeper. The author backs up her opinions with research and interviews from professionals, like designers, photographers, writers and poets. Some of the topics might be ones you would really rather not talk about, but that doesn’t mean that your teen doesn’t want to know about them… and they certainly are great conversation starters, there is a lot to learn for moms and their daughters in this book. This is the kind of book that I would choose to read alongside my teen, it is funny, easy reading, some issues will be tricky to talk about for her or for me, or even both of us, and some topics will be really just fun, not every teen issue has to be an actual issue. This is a great realistic read about the world your teen is living in and the more informed your teenager is the better they will be able to cope in it. Honestly, where was this book when I was a teen? You can meet the author Rosalind Jana over here on her blog.

Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema: This is the story of Lou, who has trained and geared her entire life to becoming an Olympic swimmer and then doesn’t qualify in the trials. Her best friend does qualify and Lou is left friendless, somewhat goal-less not to mention very unpopular at school. Lou has plenty of personality to go with her ambitions and it is her funny quirky attitude, not to mention her bizarre family that makes this book laugh out loud funny… She meets three lads desperate for a place in a talent competition and suddenly she finds her swimming skills helping her be the coach she needs to be to train this very unlikely synchronised swimming team. This book is funny, its quwerky, and the crazy characters are all people that you might now in real life. You can meet the author, Nat Luurtsema over here.

Vango by Timothée de Fombelle, Book 1: Between Sky and Earth and Book 2: A Prince without a Kingdom: Hood #1 loved these books and puts them right up there with the best adventure books written ever. His story – which is revealed over both books, which fit together seamlessly – begins in a small island near Sicily, where the main character, Vango, is introduced as an orphan being raised by a priest, called Zefiro. The first book begins with Vango, who wants to be a priest, but on the night of his ordination things go awry and Vango spends the rest of the book on the run, in and out the European history of the day, traveling in a zeppelin from place to place. In book 2, the saga continues… running across Europe, Vango starts to uncover the truth about who he is and where he is from. A shroud of mystery covering his identity and past, he discovers characters who have always been lurking in the background, half forgotten memories start to lurch to the forefront as the world he lives in begins to collide with his origins in ways he would never have expected. These books were originally written in French and have been translated into English by Sarah Ardizzone, the rich language and beautiful words add to the depth and artistic feel of the saga. There are places where so much is happening, the pace so fast and complexities somewhat confusing, that is all part of the drama, read on, read on and discover the truth.

Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

The Week That Was… #218

October 21st, 2016 · 5 Comments

Well It has been a while since a Week that Was Post… and what can I say, if that was winter, then we didn’t really have it…


There was rain, but hardly any…


And cold enough for bedtime cocoa, but not freezing…


And it looks like marshmallow season is here…


And late nights…


Otherwise… weeks of pirate play…


And heaps of science fun…



There were repairs…


Essential repairs…


And always hikes…


And of course feasting…




Natural Factual Finds of the Week





Artwork of the Week






Our Book of the Week…



My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel: This is our family read-a-loud at the moment and has everyone in stitches every morning as we try and keep ourselves to one chapter a day. This is the story of Gerald Durrell’s childhood, when his family lived in Corfu for a season. Gerald was the youngest of four children and the characters are so brought to life that we can see each other in them. The older siblings all have to endure a younger brother who collects endless creepy crawlies, and little critters… and keeps the as precious pets. There is nothing funnier than real life and the life and times of this eccentric family leaves us in stitches.









→ 5 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

Se7en Tips to Help You Get Through “The Talk…”

October 19th, 2016 · 10 Comments

This is one question that folk have been asking a lot lately and I thought I had tackled it in my recent Lazy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling… but apparently I didn’t say nearly enough. So I am going to chat about The Talk again, for all our sakes. I imagine that the reason most of us have “the talk” with our kids is because we don’t want them to hear it from their friends, especially since what they hear from their friends may be somewhat removed from the actual truth. We also want to be able to talk openly and honestly about relationships and the birds and the… bees with our kids. And, just saying, most of us want to be better at “the talk” than our parents were and most of us will never feel like our kids are ready. Trust me if you are thinking about if they are ready or not then they probably are. I have said it before and I will say it again, your kids are short, but not at all stupid.


Firstly let me put your mind to rest and say there is no one talk, just like everything else that is important in your kids’ life, there is one long conversation. With all the good intentions in the world… you will probably make mistakes, forget to say this and that, and only think “I should have said that” much much later. This is why it needs to be an ongoing conversation and not a once off talk. If you haven’t found time to start that conversation or the whole thing seems way too awkward for you then take a deep breathe and dive in. If you want grandchildren one day, and you want your kids to grow up and have great relationships then you need to get talking, not so much about the plumbing and the facts, that is a fairly quick conversation, but about relationships and what works and what doesn’t.

Se7en Steps to a Great Conversation

  1. Little People Ask Big Questions: Be prepared for them, and be prepared for lots of open and frank conversation. They may ask where babies come from, they may ask if everyone has a belly button, or how does the baby get out of mom’s tummy, or how did the baby get into mom’s tummy… they may ask why their siblings look different in the bath… they may not even ask, they may just find it hysterically funny. Either way, it is a good idea to call a spade a spade and provide at least the correct names for body parts. When you are chatting with your tots you don’t need to get overly detailed, ours were quite happy to know that their dad put the baby into mom’s tummy and we could move onto the next question, like can we have noodles for lunch. At this stage you are just talking to the natural curiosity of little kids, it is not the main purpose of their lives and they are not thinking about all things related to “the talk” at all… just living their naturally curious little, “why, why, why lives” join them, answer their questions and move on.
  2. Beyond the Naming of Parts: The next stage in our life long conversation has been to read these books, God’s Design for Se.x by Stan and Brenna Jones, I reviewed them years ago… and they are still serving their purpose in our home. The first book is really for young children old enough to sit through a story and tells a sweet story of a boy, whose mum is about to have a baby. It is really a conversation between a boy and his parents, in a normal loving christian family. In Book 2, the difference between girls and boys are talked about and a lot more about where babies come from. Book 3 moves from the story format to a more “grown up looking question and answer approach” for your preteen… this book is a good conversation starter as is Book 4 in the series. I read the older books with my kids before their bodies start re-adjusting, I know as a child I wanted to know everything that would happen to my body, long before it happened, I can’t imagine any child wanting any surprises. These books basically cover “the talk” … what happens, how it happens and answers questions at the same time. They are sweet and informative for younger children and informative and factual for older children. These books are positive, without being preachy… they do not overdramatize the whole event, the way the media does… just an open discussion and an easy introduction for parents to read with their kids.
  3. What About Those Rearranging Bodies: Some kids will take all the facts in their stride, some will be horrified and some will not believe you at all… just continue to be open and honest. Once they get over their initial horror they will be very aware that their body is about to change and rearrange… I have so many friends who have told me horrific tales of how they had never heard of a period at all before they encountered their first one. Just no, that is so unfair. Puberty is a terribly awkward time in anyone’s life, and is one time when ignorance is absolutely no advantage… I want my kids to know what’s going on, I want them to be confident… I want them to understand as much as they can before they reach all the impending milestones. We also leave these books where our kids can find them and refer to them… both books. My boys need to know what goes on in a girl’s body just as much as my girl’s need to know what goes on in a boy’s body. I have no time for taboos and feminine products hidden under lock and key. These are all natural processes, breaking voices, developing breas.ts, periods and all that stuff… shouldn’t be some closet taboo… it is a normal part of our bodies and who we are and I go there and talk about it. My boys need to understand that girls don’t always feel hundreds, simply because they are a girl and they must also be comfortable with the fact that they could well be asked to go shopping for their wives one day, this is not the time to say they may not go down “that aisle.” If your kids are old enough to need to know about the changes in their own bodies then it is time to learn about the bodies of the opposite se.x as well.
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  5. Just Keep Them Talking: You need to know that your teens are thinking about relationships, you need to know that your kids are assessing what they see… they are bombarded in the media by relationships… the good, the bad and the ugly, and mostly the ugly… It is our job to teach them and demonstrate the kind of relationships they need to have in order to raise a family one day. I know you are close to your kids and I know you can talk to them about anything. The thing is most parents think their children are open with them and will talk about anything with them… that might be true for most topics, but not this one. If this is one area that is awkward for you to talk about then it is about a million times harder for your teen. Not only that, but if you don’t know a lot about a topic then is is very hard to ask about it. If you have said to your kids, “You can ask me anything…” then you have to follow that up with information… because how do they even know how to ask. You have to be the grown up here and get talking… talk about the things that you wished you had known about relationships, you need to tell your sons how to treat a girl and your daughters how to treat a guy… It is not so much about the se.x, but it is all about having a great relationship. If their are things you wish you had done differently, then talk to them… just the facts, nobody wants an emotional lecture in the middle of the night. If it feels like your child has moved to the foreign land of teenagedom, then next time you are giving them a lift somewhere just start talking… about relationships, the do’s and don’ts and if, like some of my kids they are always surrounded by a cloud of friends and you are lifting teens all over the place, just keep on talking, just look out of the windscreen and talk. No eye contact is a good thing, and if your son needs to learn that it is a good idea to treat a girl to a chocolate regularly then his friends probably need to know that as well.


  6. And Then What About Dating: The gist of what I hear from most parents is that their children won’t be dating until they finish their studies, their tertiary studies that is. “Hello, most parents,”… your kids are not on the same page as you are on this topic. You may not call it dating, but it is what it is. Almost all parents want their children to avoid a serious relationship until their kids have found their feet in the adult world. Actually, lots of folk grow up together. The truth is you and many of your friends may well have met their partner while they were in high school and your teens are wondering if the cute guy or gal at youth group is the one? They may believe that they have found the one… they may be right!!! Almost everything that your teens read or are taught will be how to avoid dating, how to fill their lives with busy-ness in order to avoid a serious relationship way too young. This is so completely the opposite of what your teens are thinking. It looks a bit like teens are thinking one thing, parents are thinking another… information is given from the parents perspective and right when the teens need to hear something positive they are totally discouraged. If you want to keep the conversation open you need to keep on talking, even during the long silences.
  7. Dating with Integrity by John Holzmann: I realised that we spend so much time teaching our kids what they need to get into college or varsity… but this is just a little mention that we are training our children for life, not for a career. You just have to be having this conversation with your kids and they will do anything to squirm out of it. Like I mentioned, chat in the car they are a captive audience, but that’s not really enough. We realised that we weren’t spending enough time just talking with our teens about the big stuff, so now we spend one evening a week, add hot chocolate to the mix, and we read books about relationships together. I really want my kids to have the best chance at long and happy relationships, I am prepared to put time and effort into it now. We found this book to be a great conversation starter, it wasn’t easy… but it is a completely different take on all the other books out there for teens. You may or may not agree with everything the author says, but you will be given lots to think about and there is absolutely no “bossiness” or “preaching at you” about what you should and should not do. The facts are stated quite clearly, and he uses anecdotes from his own life to create the conversation. We got a clear understanding of what we the parents, and the the kids thought dating actually was… we live in a world where the media describes dating as “You meet a person for the first time ever, you literally jump into bed with them and then you decide to get to know them better.” This unfortunately is very far from reality… in order to have a relationship with someone you need to be friends with them, and this book spends a lot of time on how to be friends with folk of the opposite se.x.
  8. For Young Men Only and For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn: Years ago the father person and I read the grown-up version of these books… and if you haven’t done this already, then may I just say these are the best relationship books ever, get them and read them. I was thrilled to discover a teen version. The book for young men is about what they can expect from young women and vice versa. These books are based on the collected answers of large surveys they sent to young men and women and they are surprisingly accurate at figuring out how young folk think. I think the great thing about these reads is that they are so relatable. As a teen you might think that the feelings you have are entirely your own and that you are all alone in the world, well these books totally open that up and make you realise that the things you feel are feeling are so completely normal. The chapters are short and easy to read… they keep it simple, they keep it funny… these are great great reads.

What can I say your kids need to know that you are their haven, that they really can talk to you about anything… they can ask you the big questions and you will answer them honestly. Get into their world and start this conversation with them, sooner rather than later. There are no guarantees that your kids aren’t going to get hurt, or make mistakes or even do crazy stuff… we all do that at some stage in our lives, some of us do better at it than others. What I can say is that you have to keep on talking, raise the awkward stuff, go there… I really hope this post encourages you to start the conversation with your kids.

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