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

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Se7en Review: A Box of Rocks… Rock Collecting 101 for Kids…

August 29th, 2015 · No Comments

I know I don’t usually post a book review on a Friday night, but this so follows on from yesterday’s post: How to Turn a Collection into a Museum, that it actually has to go here…

Our love for the great outdoors and certain folks’ predeliction for collecting meant that this book ticked all the boxes. Box of Rocks by Nick Norman is published by Random House South Africa. The book begins with an introduction to rocks in general: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic… followed by a closer look at twelve commonly found rocks.

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Se7en + 1 Reasons to Love This Book

  1. It is simple enough for kids (and their mother person) to understand. It is not one of those books written for adults and dumbed down for kids. It is readable in bite size chunks and not overwhelming at all.
  2. Each type of rock gets its own double page spread with information about it’s appearance, interesting facts about the rock, and where you can find it locally, in South Africa.
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  3. It is so good to have a natural factual book written in the local context… so many of our nature books we use for school are written for the overseas market… it is good to have something our kids can relate too.
  4. That being said, kids the world over will love this book because it has a detailed instructions on how to make your own rock collection.
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  6. There are fabulous photographs throughout the book… close ups and details, so that when you are out and about you will be able to identify rocks for yourself.
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  8. There is a whole section on fossils, how they were formed and where to find them… photographs of the process.
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  10. Not to mention there is a list of great rock features found throughout Southern Africa… so should you happen to visit a rocky feature, like Table Mountain or Victoria Falls, then you can read up on it yourself.
  11. And the se7en + 1th…

  12. This is about our favourite science for school this year and a great addition to our collection of nature books that are left lying about to inspire little nature lovers to go out doors and observe close up the things they normally jump about on.

We would like to thank Penguin Random House South Africa for a copy of this book. This is not a sponsored post, the book was given to us for review purposes and the opinions expressed were as usual our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Science · Se7en at School

Se7en’s 52 Week Challenge #4: How to Turn a Collection into a Museum

August 28th, 2015 · 5 Comments

Maybe you guys enjoy visiting a fabulous museum as much as we do… the more hands on and interactive the better. The things is, it is one thing to visit a museum and it is quite another to live in one. I often blog about decluttering and keeping surfaces clear, but what about all the accumulated treasures. Because one man’s clutter is another man’s museum and all that. Not to mention that I live with quite a collection of kids and if nothing else, kids are designed to collect things. No-one returns from an amble empty handed… an outing, a trip, just a quick visit are all good reasons to collect and gather.

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Children are natural collectors, and to be honest I love to see what they collect. They are driven to gather things on nature walks, piles of papers and museum pamphlets, special little things and well not so special little things. I am for letting them collect what they must collect and quietly discarding what I just can’t handle – think the child that collected two bags of bones from a picnic spot recently… (no those were not ancient artefacts at all) they had to go. But piles of empty sea-shells brought up by the tide or stones gathered on an evening amble… that’s fine. Feathers, sticks and so on… We have a spot outside in the garden for collecting natural factual goodies as they come in the gate. But still there is more. So amidst all the ongoing decluttering it was time to build our own museum. To sort, discard, organise and present.


  1. An Outing: Well naturally there are lots of lovely museums to visit and we make good use of Museum day and Heritage Day, when most of our museums are free. And if you are anything like us and sometimes you just want to see something new and exciting, then there are bazillions of wonderful museums to visit virtually. In fact if you have a museum you are longing to visit, even on the far side of the world then google them and head straight and follow their link into the education section. You will find heaps of online fun to enjoy.
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  3. A Challenge: We needed a challenge, and it is an on-going challenge… we wanted to coral all our collections into one spot. I have a plan, it is a good one… and this is really just the beginning of it. The first decision that had to be made was just what were we collecting… because when we put all our collections in one spot – trust me, we had a lot of them. Turns out we have a map collection from ancient National Geographics and friends around the world; we have a fantastic postcard collection from previous postcard swaps; not to mention all the natural factual collections; and of course all those little treasures gathered on our collective travels.
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    An historical home

  5. Something to Learn: We took a look at museum floor plans. Most museums have a map of their floor plan online, so that you can pre-prepare yourself for an interesting visit. Floor plans can be intriguing, and not all museums are the same by any means. Some museums had picnic spots amidst their display rooms, most museums have a hands-in room, and lets be honest it is always good to know if there is a coffee shop corner. The floor plans that intrigued my kids the most were those of historical homes… there is a lot to look at and think about and imagine… when considering who might have lived there and who might have played there.
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  7. Something to Discover: We created a miniature museum… and what will follow is weeks of discovery under the microscope… there is so much to explore and discover in a whole new world of exploration.
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  9. Create a Museum in Se7en Steps: We decided to create a continental museum. Who knew that we had been to so many places and had friends strewn so far and wide… there are a couple of little surprises in each box.
  10. Most collections come in bits and pieces, that is the nature of collections… so you need a number of suitable containers.

    1. Sort your collection into things that you must keep and discard the rest. It helps to have a good look at your collection and to have an idea of the volume and the size of your accumulated stuff… believe me you will have to show some discernment and throw a few extraneous objects along the way.
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    3. Find suitable containers. It looks good to have containers that are all the same shape and size for a particular collection. We had a heap of boxes from a previous project. Look around you probably have containers ready to use.
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    5. The first part of the project was to paint them white…
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    7. Then decorate away… Stickers were our friends, but really this is the time to get into decorating.
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    9. Pop your collections into their boxes… we had lots of little artefacts for continental boxes: beads, cards, tiny books, nick nacks, fridge magnets… literally look around your home and you will most likely find treasures that you didn’t even know you had.
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    11. Labelling and categorising is a very important part of museum collections. Make a list of what is in your collection and keep it in the box. Also consider things that you might like to add to your collection. For example, we actually have nothing in our South America Box… how can that be? We totally drew a blank and will have to put our thinking caps on.
    12. Finally, admire your museum and show it to friends. There is nothing worse than a museum that is not on display, ours is in a quite central place and folk are welcome to take it down and examine it in detail.
  11. Make it a Habit to Look After Your Collections: Looking after your treasures and collections is something that needs to be done properly. By specifying the things that we collect it is easy to decide what gets to stay and what doesn’t, when we are decluttering. Also, by declaring a certain collection a museum has meant that those items are so much better cared for, rather than dropped at the bottom of junk drawer, when we clear the surfaces, and forgotten.
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  13. Something to Present: Some of the Hoods really rose to the occasion and created fabulous mini-museums… the rock collection deserves a special mention and it’s own special post is looming.
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  15. The Museum Gallery:

Turns out there is something very relaxing about creating an ordered collection and pottering around and arranging and rearranging treasures, that would otherwise be jammed out of the way and completely forgotton. There are so many different “museums” or collections you can create… we made a continental collection for this post, we also have a mini-museum collected in petri dishes, and a shelf in our courtyard devoted to natural factual finds. I am sure that if we looked a little closer we would find more things that we can gather and store and by the end of the year we should have a working museum and a little place to visit for drawing inspiration…

The Challenge Collection

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Last year a number of followers asked us to blog about the sort of things that we learn during family school… and this year we are blogging the answer to that question in a series of Weekly Challenges. In each challenge we will try to include: Somewhere to visit; something to ask; something to learn; something to discover; something to make; something to work on; something to present and so on. Well we began with enthusiasm and then the year simply got away from us… well we are back and the dozens of ideas that have been lurking on the back burner will be begin to emerge again…

Challenge #1: The Big Book Challenge…

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Challenge #2: The Best Bread Bake-Off…

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Challenge #3: Computer Maintenance…

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→ 5 CommentsTags: Science · Se7en at School

Se7en + 1 Visit Fabric Creators Zana Products…

August 27th, 2015 · 6 Comments

For the all the world of crafty loveliness… you just can’t beat layers and layers of beautiful fabric. I have to confess I am not the best seamstress by any means, but I cannot resist fabric. So when I discovered the beautiful and funky fabric at Zana Products I was thrilled – because hello, not only do they create the most incredible fabric – but then they turn it into amazing stuff to love – and they ship it, not just here in South Africa, but anywhere in the world. Yes… I know too good to be true!!!

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Zana Products began as small, screen printing fabric in their garage and quickly turned into a round the clock, sewing through the night sensation. It has grown into a business that outsources and employs… and not only has a fabulous online store but a studio in Woodstock, where we happened to visit last week. They have an inspiring instagram feed – packed with daily loveliness, that I discovered in my wanderings on the internet.

Our Back Story

I’m not always the first to dive in and shop online, I can be a little off the pace with trendiness. But I was lucky enough to win this amazing Foxy bag last year and I loved it with all my heart. And I never looked back.


And then at a Cape Town Mom’s Meetup I was thrilled to win a voucher too… talk about heaven. To say I spent hours purusing the online store is an understatement… Anywhoo… I shopped and changed my mind and shopped some more. And then I meant to get my order sorted while I was away in Zambia and come home to a treat… but forgot to. And I am so glad I didn’t, because not only was all my luggage stolen off the bus in Zambia, but my to-die-for-foxy-bag was stolen too. Galactic Yahoo for the voucher. I came home and knew exactly what to order. And we didn’t want our order delivered we wanted to visit the store and show our readers little behind the scenes… at Zana Products…

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Let’s Take a Studio Tour

Firstly the entrance is through this pretty space of urban gardening…

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And food trucks, which is why I would never be able to work there… for the love of feasting!!!

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And straight into the heart of fabric heaven…

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You wander through their crisp and clean product display…

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May I hear an audible sigh…

Plenty of Pretty Products

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Magical Making

We headed into the heart of the studio, past dashing desks… to see the magical making in progress.

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Feast on the Fabric

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The Sensation

I have a feeling that certain family members were a little less interested in their mother person’s oohing and aahing over trendy cushions and bazillions of little zipper bags… I think a certain little fellow won their hearts and was very difficult to part with!!!

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So you can find Zana Products and their store online, right here. You can check out their new lovely Laptop sleeves right here. And yes… they even have workshops, where you can join in the fun. And finally if you find yourself to be a superfan, then head straight over to instagram and follow them there.

This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it, we just love these guys and thought you would like a little tour around their store.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Outings · Reviews

Saturday Spot: Se7en + 1 Take a Hike to Cape Point LightHouse…

August 25th, 2015 · 11 Comments

It has been a while since we have visited our favourite Nature Reserve, Cape Point. This Friday past turned out to be a glorious sunny day after what feels like endless weeks of rain… we grabbed the day with both hands and headed south for an easy hike.

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We Started off with a Lesson on Soil

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We wandered down to the beach to gather some sand…

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There is nothing like a good investigation…

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A Visit to the Old Lighthouse…

You know when you have lived in a place all your life you kind of forget to visit the places right in front of you… I was a grown-up before I visited the lighthouse at Cape Point and not all my kids have been there. So Friday on a balmy blue-skied day we headed to the lighthouse. The southern tip of the Cape Peninsula is the perfect spot for a Lighthouse, particularly in a part of the world called the Cape of Storms. The Lighthouse that most visitors see is the original lighthouse that was built at the top of Da Gama Peak.

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I walk up to the top is fairly steep, but well worth it and there is plenty to look at along the way.

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Just saying, Cape Point is always a little bit blustery…

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Looking down is fairly spectacular… as you can imagine.

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We spotted a path…

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And we decided to go exploring further…

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From up top you are literally a million miles from almost everywhere.

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The Lighthouse Trail

This was not our normal kind of walk, when we visit the game park… it wasn’t terribly wild. But the view spectacular and the walk fun, we decided to do the Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail as well. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail is a walk down to the actual Lighthouse at Cape Point. Most visitors just visit the original lighthouse on the hill, but it turns out it is a lovely walk down to the newer lighthouse that was built when folk realised that the original lighthouse was too high above “usual mist levels” and so proved a lot less useful as a lighthouse than they had anticipated.

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It is an easy walk…
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And if you are afraid of heights then you probably shouldn’t look down.

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There are handrails where you need them…

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Not everyone does…

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Did I mention spectacular…

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And you can see just how high the original lighthouse was, up there sitting on the cliffs.

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It is a quick out and back walk and well worth adding the extra hour to your visit to the Point.

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The Actual LightHouse…

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Even on a calm day you can see why this is an essential location for a lighthouse.

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There Was Wild Life of Course:

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More Important, there were Whales.

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And Spectacular Views

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We Weren’t the Only Ones Enjoying the Beautiful Day

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Other SAN PARKS Hiking Posts in the Cape Peninsula

Table Mountain National Park.


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→ 11 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Sunday Snippet: He Will Not Let Your Foot Slip…

August 24th, 2015 · No Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…

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Psalm 121: 3

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

Week by Week

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→ No CommentsTags: Sunday Snippet

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #286

August 23rd, 2015 · 5 Comments

A week with a hike is always a good one… we managed a quick and easy hike after a couple of mid-wintry weeks that have felt a little like we haven’t been out in the fresh air nearly enough. We are making up for lost time and getting back into evening ambles as the days slowly get a little longer, beach walks, mountain walks, any walks…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. I love, love, love these Big Cardboard Birds on Krokotak.
  2. Last weekend was the Australian Blogging Event of the year, #PBEVENT. Here are Style and Shenanigans Three Take Home Messages from the #PBEVENT.
  3. I love the message in this post, for all my friends in ministry: Ministry is not the Enemy of Marriage, on Blogging Theologically.
  4. I have said it before and I will say it again… If you only listen to one Podcast, it has to be the Read A Loud Revival.
  5. I haven’t walked as much as I would have liked in this last month… think cold and wet… but this series over on Chino House… makes me want to get my marching boots marching again…
  6. When you just can’t get up in the morning: PickleBums has a very good perspective!!!
  7. My kids would totally love these Toy Passports… Printable Fun… on Katie’s Creative Space.
  8. And the se7en + 1th:

    A Blast From the Past:

Book of the Week

This book we picked up in the library this week and just had to share. It is just delightful and we have read it about ten bazillion times already… There is a crocodile hiding between the pages, and he is desperately trying to get out. This is a real action book… the reader has to try everything, including giving the book a good shake… and (spoiler alert) eventually the crocodile does manage to force his way out of the book… this is all good, totally hands on and very fun!!!

That’s us… Hope your weekend has been a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 5 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Timeous Lessons Learnt on a Trip to Zambia with GreenPop…

August 21st, 2015 · 9 Comments

After Weeks of blogging about Zambia, I am actually getting to the end of my Zambia series and regular blogging will eventually resume. That being said, I do promise a round up, with plenty of details for you to join in and be part of the fun too.

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I have said it before and I will say it again, when you travel something happens to time and everything changes. It feels as if, while you have been off and discovered new places and things, the folk back home have stood still and not moved. I am sure that for those back home it is quite the opposite… they were busy doing things and getting things done and I had vanished out of time. Needless to say time didn’t actually stand still for any of us…

Se7en + 1 Timeous Lessons Learnt in Zambia:

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  1. There is Time to Plant Trees and Make Friends: The magic of planting trees had me, long before I actually knew how to plant a tree… crazy I know. The thought of planting trees in one of the world’s most deforested areas appealed to my heart. It turns out that in order to plant trees you have to be a people person and I had to climb out from behind a screen and mingle. It was as easy as you might think and there was a whole lot of mental strategy and planning that went into it… and then I loved it. I loved meeting folk from faraway places and spending time with children who had hopes and dreams very similar to my own children. The thing is, you could get professionals to go in and plant rows and rows of tree like machines, and planting with volunteers is a slow process indeed, as each of us has to be taught and trained. But the relationships built while planting and the pride of a school child in owning a tree that will provide fruit is worth taking a little longer. I am not the best tree planter by any means, I am slow and pedantic, but I love it and that has to count for something.
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  3. There is a Time to Just Dive In and Paint Murals: I have painted murals over the years, but I have always been a little anxious about taking that first step. Well one thing about the GreenPop team is that “hesitation” is a word they just don’t know. See a wall and grab some folk and dive right in. The mechanics of splitting warm colors and cold colors and creating a focal point, are nothing compared to spending time with a group of kids and seeing them turn a white wall into a canvas. May I suggest that you grab a couple of kids and go… dive in, it is such fun, and very good for the soul.
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    Photo Credit: Marike Herselman

  5. There is a Time to Heal and Learn New Skills: The very first lesson we learnt upon arrival in Livingston, was the “how and why” behind the deforestation. In a nutshell, the cost of a very fragile and unreliable electricity supply in Zambia is exorbitant, so they rely on coal for their domestic power. Coal comes from the local woodlands. Teak trees, that are hundreds of years old, are chopped down and slow-burned in kilns over a period of two weeks. Smoke rises from these mounds as the slow burning fire works its way through the kiln. The wood is transformed into charcoal for domestic use and sold in bags around town.
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    The woodlands here need time to recover. There are so many quick fixes… at present foresters break the kilns open when they find come upon them. But that also takes away a livelihood, and a host of dependent family members will suffer, not to mention the tree is already chopped down. Other solutions take longer, find more sustainable sources of power and remove the dependence on coal is a good place to begin.

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  7. There is a Time to Make a Difference One by One: One of the things the GreenPop leaders do to help their volunteers and and the local folk work together as a unit is gather in a circle to begin with and get to know each other. Here we were all learning that every little bit counts. first we clap one finger, then we clap two, then we clap with three fingers, and four and five. Naturally the sound is tiny and finally there is a loud clap.The thing is a forest can only be planted a tree at a time and each of us can make a difference, one voice at a time really can join together to make a difference.
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  9. There is a Time to Take Charge and Make Changes: Years ago I wrote a post that I never intended to be a green mother, it just turned out to be a lot easier. But I can tell you that after a visit in a green camp it was definitely time to up our green game significantly. After years of procrastinating we have a compost pile of note… why oh why did this take so long? Between composting and making eco-bricks our household garbage has reduced dramatically and we are way less than a bag a week. We also made full use of the Yuppie Chef birthday special and grabbed a WonderBag, and it has been working round the clock for us. Don’t even ask why this took so long, I have no Idea. Little things really do make a big difference and it just isn’t hard to implement.
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  11. There is a Time for Team Work Even at Home: In our house everyone does chores and jobs generally get done but nobody, except one player was ever been keen to wash dishes. One child took forever, another is talented at smashing, and all in all dish washing was pretty much left to me and took literally hours off each day. But after spending a couple of days in the GreenPop camp I couldn’t help noticing the efficiency of the dishwashing system. Each person washes there own dishes after each meal. To be honest, the wall of dishes in our house can range from frightening to terrifying alarmingly fast, but nobody is afraid of one or two dishes and even the wildest or the slowest of dishwashers is able to wash the plate they used for breakfast, lunch and supper. I haven’t washed a wall of dishes since I got home from Zambia and I never ever intend to go back to the way things were again.
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  13. There is a Time to Rest: I am the ultimate busy bee… always doing and moving from one project to the next. If I run out of steam with a project, well I know a change is as good as a holiday, so I change what I am doing and carry on with another. But I have always heard that folk that rest are so much more productive. So I took this opportunity to rest and catch up… and without the business of home I slept out all the tiredness and finally worked out what “working from rest” actually means. It means embracing the afternoon nap and if it gets too late and you don’t have a blog post – then you go to bed, because tomorrow is another day and your blog readers… will still be there. For years I just pushed through tiredness as one does… now I don’t even think of it. So blogging less and getting so much more done. There is indeed a lot more strength in rest. If you find yourself battling to just take yourself off to bed, and pushing through just one more thing… then get someone else to send you to bed… do it for yourself and everyone you live with too!!!
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  15. There is a Time to Make Memories: I have never really liked having my photograph taken and the last heap of photographs that I had taken were on our wedding day… that’s more than twenty years ago, not to mention more than half a dozen pregnancies. Turns out the person in my minds eye is very far removed from reality. The fact is I hardly know myself, in so many ways… motherhood can actually do that to a person, without you even noticing. I do realise that our minds are very clever at liking what we look at a lot, so in our culture we see a lot more of other “fake” folk in print that we see ourselves. The thing is those other folk are not necessarily real people… it is time to be in a few more photographs so that I can learn to like the person that I am right now. Not to mention, this is the face my kids know so well… I am always championing their causes and they were thrilled to see a little crazy triumph in my eyes when I visited the Victoria Falls.
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Previous Posts in the Zambia Series:

  1. Se7en Stories to Begin With…
  2. The Journey that is Traveling to Zambia by Bus
  3. Feasting in an Eco-Friendly Kitchen
  4. Life in the Green Green-Pop Campsite
  5. There is so much more to Planting a Tree than Planting a Tree.
  6. Se7en + 1 Things to Make and Do in Zambia.
  7. The Incredible People You Can Meet in Zambia.
  8. A Trip to Zambia and a Market Tour.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

→ 9 CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot · Zambia