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

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What We have Been Reading Lately from PanMacmillan South Africa…

July 13th, 2018 · 1 Comment

So we are taking a break and having a bit of a holiday in the city… we do this from time to time, we swap houses with folk that live in the city center. When you have eight kids, house swapping is a great way to take a holiday. Apart from the fact that we have had unusually beautiful weather and have been enjoying the great outdoors, it is still mid-winter here, in the Southern Hemisphere… which means piles of books and reading in a sunny spot. We have been reading all week, during every available moment… so I thought I would bring you a couple of collections of what we have been reading lately posts… first up: books we have received from PanMacmillan South Africa.

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Not a lot of our usual picture book fair, but tons of middle school reads… so enjoy, there should be something for everyone here…

Fun Easy Readers for Very Beginner Chapter Book Readers




The Gaskitt Family Stories by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Katharine McEwan:
We have actually reviewed these books before, in a post on easy chapter books for beginner readers, but they are so good that they deserve a second spin… It is not often that you get easy readers that are really interesting… the thing is easy readers usually have to use a very limited vocabulary list… and so can only be “so” interesting. With these richly illustrated stories and short, sweet chapters, they are in fact very fun reads. Meet the Gaskitt family: Mr and Mrs; the twins, Gus and Gloria, Horace the cat, the refrigerator and the car radio. There are lots of little surprises in the text and the illustrations, the car radio always has something to say and so does the refrigerator. These books are packed with interesting things to spot and observe, but they are not so busy as to distract their young readers.

  1. The Man Who Wore All His Clothes by Allan Ahlberg illustrated by Katharine McEwan: Mr Gaskitt gets up one morning and puts on all of his clothes… all of them. And nobody is the least surprised about it. There is also a robbery at the bank and a terrific chase across town that involves the whole family, and all’s well that ends well… read on, read on to discover why Mr Gaskitt needs to wear all his clothes to work.
  2. The Woman who Won things by Allan Ahlberg illustrated by Katharine McEwan: Mrs Gaskitt keeps winning prizes. Prizes for absolutely everything including a new hairdo, a year’s supply of cat food… winning and winning. All the while, the children keep losing things faster than they can replace them… all the children in the whole school are losing things. This is a lovely mystery story for beginner readers. Tame, but definitely not lame.

Family Poetry Fun



The Very Best of Paul Cookson: I have to start by saying my kids absolutely love poetry and a poetry collection like this one gets a lot of mileage in our home… we haven’t had it terribly long but it is already looking decidedly worn, as certain favourites get read multiple times as we wander through the covers again and again. We all know we have to read to our kids, it is the best thing… and often we know they won’t be able to sit still for an entire chapter… well poetry is an excellent place to start… because all children can relate to it and poems, especially the poems in this book are relatively short. This collection includes poems for every mood and it really is a short little book that you could fit in your bag and take anywhere. That being said… this little book packs a punch and it is full of clever little lines for the word lovers amongst us. We really enjoyed this one and everyone was very quick to claim their own favourite poem. And… let’s take this a little further and say that listening to a poet read their own poems takes poetry to the very next level, you can follow Paul Cookson on Youtube over here.

A Tween Series to Look Out For…


Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island by Liz Kessler: I don’t know where we have been but we have just discovered Emily Windsnap… the perfect read for tweeny girls, with an adventurous spirit and a love of the ocean… Gotta say Hood 6 loved this one and was thrilled to discover that that there is a whole series that has gone before, to love and to read. The story is about Emily, a girl who is part mermaid part person. She can breathe underwater and when she enters the water her legs become her seaworthy tail. There is friendship, and a tiny bit of romance (truly mild and perfect for my eleven year old), because n this book Emily and her best friend Shona, and her boyfriend Aaron are going to break away from all the adventures they have been having… and go on a tropical island holiday. Of course, when Emily isn’t looking for adventures, adventures tend to find her. An ocean outing to visit a recently discovered volcanic island and a beautiful waterfall turns an unexplained mystery into an adventure of a lifetime. This is middle school magic… and a series we will definitely be seeking out to read our way through it from the beginning. You can meet Emily Windsnap on her author’s website: Liz Kessler.


A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson and illustrated by Helen Crawford-White: A middle grade read that will be loved by lovers of fairy tales and folklore, of all ages. Typically, as a middle school kid you would so like to conform… and Owl does just the opposite… hard as she tries, with a name like “Owl.” Enough said! Not only does she have a problem with her name and an eccentric mother, but she has spent her life longing to know her father. This book is the perfect winter read, a folktale feel that reads like comfort food, and one of the main players is of course the father of winter, Jack Frost himself. While a lot of the magical world spirals through this story, Owl is a very believable teenage character, with typical teenage problems, whose best friend’s parents are going through a divorce… real issues that kids go through in their journey through life, with a whimsical spin. And pretty snowflake and owl borders and illustrations scattered throughout, makes it a very giftable book.


Maybe a Fox by Kathy Apple and Alison McGhee: Another middle grade read, this time you are going to need tissues… its sad and lovely all at the same time. Two sisters, Sylvie and Jules, have lost their mother and their father cares for them. Sylvie is a super fast runner and Jules, well, not so much. One day on a whim they head for the waterfall to toss their wishing stones and Sylvie slips and vanishes from sight. Vanishes all together, and another tragedy has struck the family. As Jules and her dad come to terms with their grief, Jules realises that there is more to the young fox cub that crosses her path than meets the eye. In fact, have the fox and Sylvie become one? A Mystery worth pursuing and a poignant tale for sure… reach for the tissues and settle in. Eleven year old Hood 6 loved this book.

The Never Ending Birthday by Katie Dale: When you have an absolutely disastrous birthday and you wish you could nothing but a do-over… and then you get one, over and over again. This is the story of twins, Max and Anni, who really manage to have the absolute worst birthday ever… ever. And then they have their birthday over, and over again… each time improving ever so slightly on the previous birthday… Max and Anni are transformed, and so are their birthdays. This is a sweet, light hearted read about a happy character transformation.


We would like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa for providing us with these books for review. This post is not sponsored in any way and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.

→ 1 CommentTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en Reviews Kate Motaung’s A Place to Land and it’s a GiveAway…

July 8th, 2018 · 10 Comments

And we are off on a week of bookish adventuring… and I have a GiveAway or two for you. Let’s begin with A Place to Land by Kate Motaung. I have a friend who wrote a book… how exciting is that? And it is the perfect book to launch our week of books.


I love reading memoirs, the truth is that we all have a story to tell but we don’t all write our stories down. We all have a life full of hopes and fears, dreams and tragedies… and on the surface it may look like everyone has everything together, but the truth of it is, we are all “just holding it together” in our own way. I have a feeling that the more we read biographies and memoirs the more we will realise that our own stories are actually okay. They don’t all match up to flashy media lives and they don’t all match up to our perceived perfection of the “neighbours.” But somewhere within all our stories we discover kindred spirits. Whether we are stepping forwards in bravery or trepidation, we are all on a journey.
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This book is a heartwarming story, written by an actual real life friend. Someone that I have known for years and years. Our children grew up alongside each other and we attended the same church for years, I have met her courageous mum, while she visited in Cape Town, and loved her enthusiasm for life. This book is the story of Kate, who through so many trials learns that there is a lot of truth to the expression “Home is Where the Heart is…” The story is about her personal journey of longing for home and a place to settle, not to mention her longing for the people she loves not to live on opposite ends of the earth, quite literally.

Set your heart on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

When she was young, her parents were divorced and her home was divided in two… leaving her longing. She grew up and felt her heart pulling her to a life of missions. After years of feeling shattered by her own world and the loss of her family home, it was only when she began going on college mission trips that she realised that the world was not quite as she expected. The realisation that folk in circumstances very different to the circumstances that she had grown up in could be happy and content, and on the same journey to serve the Lord was in itself a revelation to her. Even so, she never imagined that she would end up serving on the far side of the world, in a place far far from her home in Michigan, working on a campus on the slopes of Table Mountain in the city of Cape Town.

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Her ministry became a team ministry, when one the students she was working alongside became her husband… and now her heart truly lay on far sides of the world. Home with her husband in Cape Town and their small children, or home with her mom and sister in Michigan. Add to the mix a multicultural family, a couple of kids, their own and adopted… and a desperately ill mom, fighting cancer on the far side of the world. This was indeed a difficult journey for Kate to be on. Her story is one of strength and endurance… overcoming the relentless obstacles placed in her path and her secure knowledge that her faith is in Christ alone.

Kate Motaung


A Place to Land


a story of longing and belonging


The thing I really love about this book is that not only does it describe Kate’s story, her journey so to speak, but it covers a world that overlaps with my own world… we have friends in common, a church in common and a faith in common. It’s touching to read about real live folk that you know and love in a book… I was drawn into this book and while it is almost 300 pages long, I had to read it in a sitting. In Kate Motaung’s book you will find a kindred spirit… a sojourner that will inspire and encourage you.

GiveAway Time


Our GiveAways are open to everyone: Just leave a comment below… If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

I would really like to thank Kate and her publisher Discovery House in the United States and Discovery House Distributors in South Africa for providing us with a copy of the book review and GiveAway. We would like to declare that this is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are as usual, entirely my own.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · GiveAways

Here’s to Ten Years of Blogging…

July 7th, 2018 · 4 Comments

We have had a week of hiking and adventuring in the great outdoors. Every single day… living the best life day after day, whatever the weather. And this is Cape Town, so the weather is all over the place… we have had pouring rain (hoorah) and snow on the mountain tops and sunshine for days. It has been splendid, it has been crazy and it has been fun. That being said… sometime during this past week our blog turned ten years old!!!

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Ten years ago I posted a picture on the internet and hoped I could keep the grandparents updated with things we were up to… not for a moment guessing that we would make friends from all over the world. And that our seven kids would become se7en+1 kids. And ten years later we would still have things to tell you all… not expecting folk to follow along on our journey at all… it has been great, it has been fantastic in fact.
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For ten years we have been sharing stories, sharing adventures and posting pictures of our life and times… peeks into our school day and following along on our outings and all the books!!! We are going to celebrate with at least a week of books on the blog. So many many great books to share with you. And watch out for GiveAways!!! I have one or two that I know you will all love!!! Happy reading, happy weekending… and most important happy blogging…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Blog News

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 6…

July 2nd, 2018 · 2 Comments

It has been birthday season over here and we were thrilled to celebrate the birthday of Hood 6 this past weekend.

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On a wild and stormy day we headed for Cape Point…
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Snow jackets and rainbow cupcakes were the order of the day…
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Happy Brilliant Birthday


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To the girl who is always ready to fly…
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Who brings a sparkle, and glitter and glamour to every occasion…
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And a certain finesse… to any day out!!!
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Sparkle away…
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A girl after my own heart…
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Who loves the ocean…
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And all it’s hidden depths…
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to the girl who can create a cosy booknook anywhere…
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And can quietly read her way through any school day…
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That’s if she isn’t creating…
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Or drawing…
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Or photographing…
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Or mixing…
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The girl with sweet freckles…
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To the girl who is not afraid of anything…
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We salute you…
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Happy Happy Brilliant Birthday…
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Hope you have the very best year ever…
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Always full of fun…
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Ready for any adventure…
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Previous Brilliant Birthdays:


And Hood 6 turns eleven.Hood 6

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 10 in 2016

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 9 in 2015

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 8 in 2014

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 7 in 2013

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 6 in 2012

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 5 in 2011

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 4 in 2010

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 3 in 2009

→ 2 CommentsTags: Our Events

Se7en’s July and Your Free Printable Calendar…

July 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

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Can you believe it is July already. Welcome to our calendar post… At the beginning of each month we print out a new calendar, just click on the calendar and it will open in a new window, ready to print (print it using Landscape it just works better). Then we read through the blog post and pick the days that we would like to celebrate. We write those days out onto our calendar and pop the calendar onto the fridge. On the particular date we visit the website and have a look at the links or create a fun post for our blog.

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If you would like to now more about how we use our calendar for school as a fabulous resource of famous people and events then do pop over to the Almanac page for an explanation… Meanwhile, we hope you have a jolly July!!!

  • 1 July: Scarecrow Day
  • 1 July: Canada Day
  • 1 July 1863: Battle of Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863).
  • 1 July: International Joke Day
  • 2 July 1900: First Zeppelin Flew (1900).
  • 2 July 1937: Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937).
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  • 3 July 1937: International Plastic Bag Free Day.
  • 4 July 1776: American Day of Independence (1776).
  • 7 July 1883: Pinocchio first printed (1883).
  • 7 July: Macaroni Day.
  • 7 July: Star Festival Day (Japan)
  • 8 July: Liberty Bell Cracks.
  • 9 July: Sugar Cookie Day – Here is a list of our cookie recipes.
  • 10 July: Teddy Bears Picnic Day.
  • 11 July 1899: E.B. White’s Birthday (1899 – 1995).
  • 11 July: SkyLab fell to the Earth.
  • 12 July 1960: Etch a Sketch Introduced.

  • 12 July: Paper Bag Day.
  • 13 July: National French Fry Day (U.S.A).
  • 13 July: Bon fest and Feast of Lanterns (Japan).
  • 13 July: Puzzle Day.
  • 14 July: Bastille Day.
  • 15 July 1954: First Boeing 707.
  • 15 July 1606: Rembrandt Van Rijn’s Birthday (1606 – 1928).
  • 16 July 1969: Apollo 11 lifts off.
  • 16 July 1872: Roald Amundsen born (1872 – 1928).
  • 17 July 1955: Disneyland opened.

  • 18 July 1918: Nelson Mandela’s Birthday.
  • 18 July: Cow Appreciation Day.
  • 18 July: Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect 10 in the Olympic Games (1976).
  • 18 July: National Ice-Cream Day (U.S.A.).
  • 20 July: Chess Day.
  • 20 July: Ice Cream Soda Day.
  • 20 July 1969: First Moon Landing.
  • 21 July 1899: Ernest Hemingway Birthday (1899 – 1961).
  • 21 July: National Junk Food Day (U.S.A.).
  • 22 July 1284: Pied Piper Arrived in Hamelin.
  • 22 July 1898: Alexander Calder’s Birthday (1898 – 1976).
  • 23 July 1888: Pneumatic Tires Invented.
  • 23 July 1904: Ice Cream Cones Introduced.
  • 23 July: Mosquito Day.
  • 24 July: Celebrate the End of the Tour de France.
  • 24 July 1783: Simon Bolivar’s Birthday.
  • 24 July: Amelia Earhart Birthday
  • 25 July: F.B.I. Created.
  • 27 July 1940: Bugs Bunny Debut (1940).
  • 28 July 1866-1943: Beatrix Potter’s Birthday (1866 – 1943) .
  • 28 July: First Finger Prints.
  • 29 July: Lasagna Day.
  • 29 July 1958: NASA Established (1958).
  • 30 July: Cheese Cake.
  • 30 July 1818: Emily Bronte’s Birthday (1818).
  • 31 July 1965: J.K. Rowling’s Birthday (1965).
  • Hope you have a great July…

    → No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

    Se7en Anti-Excercise Excuses and How to Tame Them…

    June 25th, 2018 · 5 Comments

    So it is the middle of the year and I know for myself that for many years I said, “This is the year I am going to get moving.” And then I didn’t. I am just saying that by the middle of the year that it isn’t too late, in fact I will let you in on a secret… it is never too late. Just put a stop to all the excuses and tell yourself you are going to at least be walking once or twice a week by the end of the year. I think we are too tough on ourselves because it is very rare that someone says I am going to run an ultra marathon by the end of the year and then they actually do… those are the exceptions and that’s why we read about them in the news. The fact is that any moving is good moving and you can start anytime. You don’t have to carry the mountain, you don’t have to climb the mountain… you can just go for a walk on the mountain… really it is enough!!!

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    How to Tame Those Anti-Exercise Excuses

    1. When You Have NO Energy: I am just going to say that I tell myself every morning when I get up at 5:30, that I can go back to bed and sleep for an hour or two after my workout if I am still tired afterwards. Can I also just say that after a workout “I think I’ll sleep for an hour or two.” Says, no one ever… the thing is exercise actually energises us, so immediately after a workout I feel more alert and ready to face the day. Exercise is one of those things, like sleep, that we know we need but we choose to forfeit in exchange for all sorts of other not so important things. If you called sleep and exercise work, and committed to it as you do to getting to work on time each day, then you would have a much better chance of actually getting it done. There probably isn’t time right now, but you know you have to make time. I remember someone telling me that in order to make a difference you have to work out for half an hour everyday and I was like – what… that is ridiculous!!! Now at least an hour of everyday is spent exercising. I haven’t suddenly got less to do… but working out has become a priority for me.
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    3. When You Can’t Get Started on a Given Day: Often times once we get going we are fine… its the getting going that is hard. Once I am out the door I can keep going, it is getting out the door that is so troublesome. Set yourself up to succeed… Before I go to sleep I put all my gym clothes ready. Everything… I plonk my gear in a pile in the order I need to put them on and I make sure that I have everything right there… I don’t want to have to open a drawer, walk across the room… my exit must be as smooth as possible. Me, my gear… and out the door. Right now the mornings are really freezing… so I leave a towel on the floor… I don’t even want the cold floor to put me off getting out the door in the morning. Set yourself up to succeed… whatever you need to succeed.
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    5. When You Have One or Handful of Kids: Firstly, do some of your exercising with your kids… I make sure we go for a walk/run twice a week with them and then a ParkRun together on Saturdays. Otherwise, if there is somewhere we can walk I always choose to walk with them, that might be because “cars and kids” have never been my happy place… first they fought car seats, then they fought about who got the window, and that escalated to fighting about anything… It might take a little longer, but not really when you think how long it can take kids to get into a car, and everyone is happier for walking. So if half my workouts in a week are with my kids, then I only have to find time for the other half on my own.
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    7. When You Don’t Have Time for Workouts: Let me just say that I never think of workouts as ME-Time. Workouts at gym are essential to my health, and just like brushing my teeth or getting enough sleep, they are not me-time!!! I do regard gym as a reward… for parenting well done. I have noticed that my kids really appreciate that I take off time for myself, surprisingly they prefer a mother who dashes home in the morning to do school with them, who is energetic and in a good mood after a workout, to a mother that did a whole lot of morning chores for them and slides into breakfast and collapses in a grumpy heap for the day. Try it… my kids get up (mostly) and do their chores and are happy that I am off at gym… they kind of like it that I have my own life. Your kids don’t need you at their sides 24/7 no matter how clingy they appear to be, they kind of enjoy the space too. Whatever works to make it happen… I workout when my kids are still sleeping in the morning, but if I have to miss a morning then I will make supper half an hour later and go for a run then. If my husband isn’t home I feel nothing about swapping a playdate with a friend and while my kids are out playing, instead of catching up on chores or desk work, I go for a run. Make a plan and stick to it. Your family will adapt, maybe not immediately but it won’t take long before they expect you to go out and exercise.
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    9. When You Feel Like You Don’t Know What You Are Doing: Firstly, you can’t worry about what other people think you look like… they are so worried about themselves that they aren’t even glancing at you. And secondly, ask for help… and then take the information you need and leave the rest. When I started running, I know this sounds insane, but I couldn’t even breath… I just couldn’t figure it out. So I googled how to breath when trying to run… trust me, you will have friends who have done this, ask them… read blogs, read magazines… find the help you need to get moving. The point is, the more you move the easier it becomes. Make the effort and you will be surprised at what you can do.
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    11. When You Haven’t Exercised Forever and You Don’t Think You Can Move Anymore: Actually you really can, but you have to start off with really really small goals. When I started exercising a while back my goals were imperceptibly small… just move and keep moving. Now when I try something new, I really start off ridiculously slowly. When I began the stair machine at gym I honestly could not step on it for five minutes… I settled on a minute every time I worked out and slowly built it up. Now I can climb stairs for half an hour, and it is no problem. About three weeks ago I got onto a WATT bike at gym for the first time ever… don’t laugh, but right now I have worked up to about five minutes every time I go to gym. I will get better, but just because I go to gym a couple of times a week doesn’t mean that I can automatically jump onto a new machine and go… it just doesn’t work like that. The trick is if you start too fast you will hurt too much and you will want to quit. Start slow and you can only get better at it.
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    13. When Working Out is So Expensive: It can be expensive, there is no denying that… but it needn’t be. Beginners really don’t need ALL the gear… the truth is you might need to try a few options before you find a sport that you are comfortable with. In fact buy the least possible gear… comfortable shoes are a must and there after, whatever fits. I have to say for myself finding good gym gear has been a challenge all the way… when I find something that works I just grab it with both hands. (But that is a whole ‘nother blog post that I keep putting off, because I feel like I am opening a can of worms).
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    15. When You Have Failed Because You Have Ridiculous Expectations: Walking around the block once is not going to have you feeling like your eighteen year old self, in fact walking around the block twice in as many days after years of doing nothing will leave you feeling pretty stiff and sore. The best relief for that sort of pain is to get out there and do it again. Just keep moving, you have to give your body a couple of weeks to adjust. Give yourself a three month trial… really commit to it. And then you will start to feel better, long before you can expect to drop clothes sizes, or change shape… those are lucky by products. I don’t lose kilos every week, I don’t drop clothes sizes every week… but I do go to gym, in and out of every week. The changes might not be that observable to you… but you will feel better. Take a before photograph, put it away and leave it away. I had a before photo that I didn’t look at for a year… I never once thought I was making a huge difference to my life, until a year later I looked at the before photo and couldn’t even see myself in it. The thing is, exercise is for your overall health… not because you want to look like someone else or be someone else… it is really to enable you to be the best possible you that you can be.

    Journey to Health at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa

    I Have Been the Brand Ambassador for the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa for the past year and you can read about my journey to health over on their website…

    → 5 CommentsTags: Healthy Living

    Se7en+1 Winter Break Specials in Cape Town for Kids…

    June 24th, 2018 · No Comments

    It is officially Winter Holiday Season over here, schools are out and the weather is cold. It is definitely hot chocolate season!!! Last winter we took our first holiday in the City Centre and it was one of our best holidays ever… There are a lot of family friendly things to do in the city centre. And a full day of exploring at the Waterfront is a must, here are our budget friendly suggestions. Not only that but there are masses of specials that you really want to take a look at…

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    Se7en+1 Winter Break Specials

    1. This Thursday Night (28 July) is Museum Night: And one of our favourite family outings… check out our previous Museum Night Posts… and another Museum Night. A number of museums will be open and free on the night and tickets to the Two Oceans Aquarium are half price.
    2. Izikio Museums: Free workshops in the city centre…
    3. The Planetarium has a “Build your own Rocket Workshop”: for kids age 5-11.
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    5. CTEET and Changing Lives through Nature at Zeekoevlei: have a number of workshops for kids… and their work is absolutely fabulous.
    6. Kirstenbosch Gardens Winter Wonders Holiday Programme: Can I just say… during the Winter Holidays children up to the age of seventeen have free access to the gardens. This is huge folks and we will be taking full advantage of that!!!
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    8. Treehouse Family: Has hikes and days in the great outdoors… Silvermine, Cape Point and Boulder’s Beach for the win!!!
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    10. City Sightseeing: Has there 3 for 1 Winter Holiday Special, which means that two kids go free with every paying adult. This is valid for their bus tours and harbour cruises. This is a very valid outing… one of our favourite favourites!!! Otherwise they have free walking tours that our kids loved last winter…
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    12. CableWay Kidz Season: Another 3 for 1 special, every paying adult can take two children up the Cable Car for free. And Cape Point Funicular: Also has a 3 for 1 Special, 2 kids age 6-16 for every paying adult. There are some T’s and C’s check them out here.
    Related Posts with Thumbnails

    → No CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot · Visit Cape Town