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

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Se7en Visit the Two Ocean’s Aquarium for World Turtle Day…

May 26th, 2017 · No Comments

World Turtle Day was the perfect reason for the Two Oceans Aquarium to present an evening of Environmental Talks by such inspiring speakers. It was fantastic and I thought it would be a great idea to give you a summary of what we learned. Six fabulous speakers, one of them even inside a tank, spoke to us about relevant local environmental issues.

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Lauren, Hayley, Simon, Talitha, Bongani, Tamlyn

Talitha Noble Conservation Co-ordinator at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Turtles are threatened for a number of reasons, firstly they are eaten and their beautiful shells are used for commercial products. They are also bycatch, which means they get caught in large fishing nets. They are very vulnerable to plastic pollution, they think balloons and plastic bags are jellyfish and eat them. And their habitats are threatened by sea level rise and so many more coastal developments, where they are distracted by the lights. Not to mention the change in ocean temperatures means that their is a change in gender… warmer waters means more female turtles and cooler waters mean more males.

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In South Africa Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles wash up on our Southern Coast. Talitha runs The Turtle Rehab and Release Facility. Turtle wash-ups are rescued, data is collected, they measured, weighed, cleaned, fed often tube fed or little piece by little piece with tweezers and they are each kept in their own quarantine tank until they are well enough to be released. Their rehabilitation requires a lot of feeding and a lot of cleaning, since this is a sterile hospital environment for tiny turtles. Many of the turtles have serious medical issues when they arrive, they all have fungus growing on them, but more seriously their tummies are filled with micro-plastics which can be seen on x-rays. The goal is to release the turtles after about 6-8 months. They can only be released when they are healthy and able to survive… it is illegal and unethical to release an impaired turtle back into the wild.

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From inside the tank, Simon Leigh who is an animal behaviourist, showed us how playful and just adorably cute and personable the turtles are. Each with their own sweet personality. There is Yoshi, that arrived when she was the size of a dinner plate and is now over 150 kg. She loves having her back rubbed to get the algae off her shell, not with a brush mind you, but with your feet. Then there are two green turtles at the aquarium as well… they get their name because as they get older their diet changes from jelly fish to eating green kelp and the chlorophyll in the plants affects their colouring. Sandy was rescued after a boating accident, her shell was severely damaged and her health drastically compromised because of that, she had undergone surgery and her shell is very slowly but surely repairing. And Bob, who did not eat for the first three months of his stay, because his stomach was filled with plastic… they had to wait for it to pass before he could eat real food. He also had meningitis and as a result has only partial vision.

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These turtles love attention and need tons of affection, one of the challenges of keeping them in the tank is to keep these friendly turtles stimulated. They try and give them interesting food… Bob’s favourite food is lettuce. Otherwise lettuce frozen in ice blocks presents a challenge. There is a lot you can do to support our turtles… raise awareness, if you are not afraid of a lot of poop, you can volunteer and you can become a turtle ambassador.

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Bongani Mnisi Head of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Management the City of Cape Town.

Bongani told us about his Stepping Stone Project that connects birds of the South Peninsula Mountains to the Wetlands on the Cape Flats. His idea was to create a corridor of biodiversity gardens, particularly bird friendly gardens in local schools, linking the Muizenberg Mountains to Rondevlei. They planted small gardens in local high schools, rich with plants that would encourage our local sunbirds and sugar birds to visit. The birds pollinate our local fynbos plants, particularly proteas and critical to continuing our rich and unique biodiversity. As the bird dips its long beak into the flower for nectar so it collects and deposits pollen as it moves from flower.

The problem is that in the South Western Cape we have a small and unique biome with a very rich biodiversity in this area is the City of Cape Town, a highly urban area. The urbanisation breaks up the natural areas and makes it hard for the birds to perform their unique task of pollination. What they needed to do was to plant nectar rich areas and create a memory for the birds that nectar is there. They chose a number of schools and created gardens… greening the schools, teaching the learners about our local biodiversity and our natural heritage. The idea is that we create more and more biodiversity gardens so that the birds can get right across the Cape Flats, the more the birds move around and pollinate plats in our region the better the chances for sustaining our natural heritage. I love this project, it is something we can all be a part of, creating gardens with indigenous plants, where our local birds would love to visit.

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Tamlyn Engelbrecht from the Shark Spotter’s Research Unit.

Similar to the Great White Sharks in False Bay are the lesser known Broadness Sevengill Sharks. While False Bay is famous for its large aggregation of Great White Sharks at Seal Island, across the bay at Miller’s Point it is possible to have personal diving encounters with up to seventy sevengill sharks. Sevengill sharks are apex predators, that is they are at the top of the food chain. Apex predators are critical to the food chain and without them our rich biodiversity would collapse. These sharks, which have similar diets to the Great White Shark, do not have the protection that Great White Sharks have… because they are data deficient. Not a lot is known about their behaviour at all. They have been using acoustic telemetry to track the sharks. The sharks are caught with landlines and placed in a cradle alongside the vessel. Data is collected and a transmitter attached before they are released back into the ocean. Each shark transmits a unique ping, when it swims within range of an acoustic array of receivers. Once a year the data is collected from the receivers and analysed and from this data they are hoping to determine critical habitats, and how this species interacts with other species. You can read more about this project here.

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Hayley McLellan and her Rethink the Bag Campaign.

In a world that is passionate about respecting our bodies, we need to get respectful of our world and environment too, because that is our life support system. In the ocean huge accumulated currents called gyres are essential transport systems around the globe, they are vital to our ocean’s health. They transport heat and food and horror of horrors, plastic. Her comment for sushi lovers was that they are at the top of the ocean food chain and they need to be aware of what they are eating. We are horrified when Bob the turtle eats a plastic bag and we definitely wouldn’t want to eat one ourselves. It is time to ban them and stop single use plastic.

A short sharp message: Rethink the bag. 8 Billion Shopping Bags are used a year. Ban them. Other items we find loads of on beach clean ups like cigarette butts, the filters are filled with toxins that are then eaten by sea life. Once you have seen a video of them taking twelve minutes to remove a straw from a turtle’s nostril you will never want to see an animal in pain like that again and you will never want to use a straw again. Cut the loops on your packaging to prevent animals getting entangled. Use a reusable water bottle, a glass or a metal one, where ever you go. So much is wasted for five minutes of convenience. Finally join the International Coastal Clean up on September the 16. Start with one thing and make the change.

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Lauren de Vos Mapping the Biodiversity of False Bay.

Lauren de Vos works with the Save our Seas Foundation in False Bay, she catches footage on video on the biodiversity of sea life in False Bay. With the use of BRUVS, Baited Remote Underwater Video Surveys, with gopro cameras that have bait attached to them, in order to document the fish that you find in the region. She is a fish detective, trying to determine wish fish live where and how their numbers change over time, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that need to be put together.

False Bay is an interesting place for ecologists… where you find fish of the cold Agulhas current and fish from the Warm Benguela current… you also find fishermen, and recreational users and a large urban fringe surrounding it. She has found that there are so many uses for the ocean… for wondering, for adventuring, exploring, worshipping, well being, shear joy. The wonder and discovery of exploring under the ocean just shows that you don’t have to be a scientist to change the world.

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If you have a couple of eco-warriors in training then look out for fabulous environmental nights at the aquarium on their website.

→ No CommentsTags: Cape Town · Caring and Sharing · Outings

Se7en Celebrates World Turtle Day With a Beach Clean Up…

May 23rd, 2017 · 2 Comments

Today is World Turtle Day. All se7en of the species left in the world today are threatened. Wherever you are in the world, your lifestyle choices effect the ocean and the habitat of all our turtles. Today is the day to consciously make greener choices for our ocean. As the great Sylvia Earle says, “No blue, no green.”

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

The Two Oceans Aquarium is Celebrating…


You can read all about this evening’s event: and there are loads of fabulous speakers.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

Let’s Talk About Our Turtles

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

Sea turtles are incredible adventurers, that swim incredibly long distances, carried for thousands of kilometres on the flow of ocean currents but they always navigate their way home to their birthplace to breed and lay eggs. Turtles breathe air like we do, and can hold their breathe for long periods of time while they are underwater. They also gulp water when they feed and excrete the salt (from the sea water), through glands close to their eyes.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

Their need for water is perhaps their downfall, because when young turtles find themselves stranded on our Cape Town beaches they quickly become dehydrated, unfortunately in this weakened state placing them back into the water when they are too weak to raise their heads to breathe means that they inevitably drown. To protect our local turtles from this awful situation the Two Oceans Aquarium has established a rehabilitation centre for stranded turtles and they rely on the public to contact them when they find a stranded turtle. If you want to know more about Cape Town’s turtles then take a look at this link.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

At the rehabilitation centre the turtles are given any medical treatment that they might need, they are fed and cared for until they are viable and able to launch back into the ocean. Every year the Aquarium is able to release more and more turtles back into their natural environment.

What to Do If you find a Turtle

Recently Hood 3 did a course at the aquarium and was so taken with the plight of the stranded hatchlings that she gave a talk to a local group of kids about what to do if they should discover a stranded turtle on one of our beaches.

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The aquarium has published guidelines and the more people that know how to rescue a stranded turtle the better…

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

Another problem our turtles encounter is a lot of litter, particularly plastic, in our oceans. If the turtles eat plastic then even though their tummies are full they cannot get any nutrition, and otherwise the plastic creates a buoyancy in them, which makes it impossible for them to dive for food. It is a cruel and horrible way for turtles to die… and every piece of plastic that you choose not to use is a good choice. And for the plastic that is out there already we have to clean it up piece by piece and urgently.

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After learning about turtles and how to deal with the plastic Hood 3 headed out onto the beach to do a beach cleanup. Even on a pristine looking beach in a marine reserve, at Cape Point, we were able to accumulate a lot of garbage on the beach.

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Each of us, at the clean up, was easily able to collect at least a turtle sized pile of trash. Which we documented as we usually do.

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We always take a sheet from this site down to the beach for a clean up, it is important to document the garbage that you find.

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With 33 people on our clean up we cleared up at least 33 turtles worth of garbage… that’s a lot of garbage. Of course the main culprits were: straws, plastic bottle tops and packing tape.

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Just say NO to straws.

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Don’t use single use bottles.

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Never throw out packing tape rings that you haven’t first cut open.

That’s a lot of garbage that was collected in a quick beach clean up… Imagine if everyone who visited the beach just picked up three pieces of garbage before they went for a play, or a surf, or a snorkel… it would make a real difference.

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On this World Turtle Day, wherever you are in the world… you can make a difference for threatened turtles everywhere, you can choose to just say no to plastic.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans aquarium.

Head over to the aquarium to find out more about their event this evening and more about their turtle rehabilitation programme.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Caring and Sharing · Green Living · Se7en at School

Se7en Steps to Getting Your Sleep Back on Track…

May 22nd, 2017 · 5 Comments

In my year of getting things done, I never expected that learning how to sleep properly would be one of the most important things that I would be working on. After twenty years of not sleeping well, and developing possibly the worst sleep habits on earth, I am finally working on it. I went from the sleepless nights of restless newborns to blogging and never even realised that my kids were way past the stage of waking routinely through out the night, and yet I was still up at all hours. Years of bad sleeping cannot be remedied overnight… it has been quite a journey. I am sharing it with you, because I believe we all need to sleep better and because if my family hear me say anything more about Sleep!!!…

I have become a sleep advocate.

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Settling down for a sleep test or a trip to Mars!!!

We live in a culture of not sleeping, we are too tired to even go to bed at night. We might feel worn out and uninspired, unmotivated and tired of everything including ourselves… longing for a holiday, or a weekend off… even a day off. And if you are like me you will change project many times throughout the day to stay awake and will hotly deny that you are sleepy. Well I started this year on an unexpected journey to health, my life has literally turned around… I am getting back the person I once was, without even realising that I had gone somewhere. The Sport Science Institute of South Africa invited me to blog for them, and in exchange I could join their Healthy Weight Programme… Oh my heart I was in heaven, just exactly the push I needed to get exercising, though little did I know what I was in for. Firstly, a healthy weight programme says to me straight away: change your diet and start some exercise… in fact any kind of healthy weight programme will say that.

What I didn’t expect was: diet and exercise and SLEEP. That was a bit of a shocker. Day one and I discovered some alarming truths about sleep… without it you cannot maintain a healthy weight. Your body is in shock mode all the time and whatever you do with your diet and exercise… you will not lose weight… you will also not have any of the other benefits of sleep. In fact you will be seriously compromising your health and happiness.

The way they tackled the sleep situation at the gym was to put a sleep tracker on my arm and ask me to keep a sleep diary… just for a week. The point is, you think you exercise okay, you think you eat well enough… but we all think we sleep more than we actually do. Yup… you can go to gym and up your exercise, you can concentrate on eating healthily… but with a sleep tracker and a sleep diary, it was impossible to hide from my appalling sleep habits and I couldn’t deny them anymore. It’s been nearly three months and I am finally getting my sleep to somewhere close to what it should be, I thought I would share my sleep journey so far… because I know that so many of you reading this blog are convinced that you are sleeping enough, if not well. And truthfully, you are probably not. Basically, we don’t get enough sleep and we don’t understand enough about sleep to realise just how important it is to us.

Most of us know we aren’t getting enough and we are “getting round” to our improving our sleep habits… sometime; Others, claim we are fine and use every excuse available not to get sleep, we do just about anything to avoid getting to bed including dozing off in front a screen in the evening, because we are just too tired to get ourselves to bed; And then there are others who think they don’t need very much sleep and will say that they can fall asleep on the spot, anytime, anywhere… folks, that is not a specially learned skill… it is an indication that you don’t sleep well at all. We live in a culture of self inflicted Sleep Deprivation…

I have been reading this book for weeks now, every single word… I have missed nothing. Turns out, that if you are reading this post then you are human and you need between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night… not 5 because you have a lot of work to do, or 3 because you are reading a good book… not 2 because tonight was bad but you can catch it up tomorrow… you know you won’t. Between 7 and 9 hours a night… sounds like a lot, it is… And we have all heard that there are so many “exceptional people” that only need a few hours sleep a day, well yes, but they actually nap (a lot) and they need just as much sleep as you do… and if they aren’t getting enough sleep then they aren’t going to be exceptional for very long.

The Promise of Sleep in Four Parts

  1. The Fundamentals of Sleep: In the first chapter the author, William C. Dement, describes a family’s sleep journey through one night. Gasp we were all in there. The teenager that just can’t get to sleep till after mid-night, the father who never experiences deep sleep because he is (dare I say) snoring so much, the mother who collapses on the couch and doesn’t move the ten year old that is the only one that actually experiences deep and restorative sleep… basically preteens are experiencing the best time of their lives from a sleep perspective. This section of the book also explains why we are tired, because we are tired…
  2. When Sleep Fails: There are so many kinds of sleep problem… folk that find themselves falling asleep when they should be awake, those that find themselves awake when they should be asleep, and those that aren’t even aware that they are not sleeping properly but they are exhausted to the point of dysfunctional… all the time. These problems are real, you need to find yourself a doctor that understands sleep problems and you need to get your problems resolved. Folks, it is just not normal to be exhausted all the time. Sleep problems are a lot more serious than we think they are. When sleep fails there are solutions, but we don’t actively seek them out.
  3. When Sleep Works: This is where we all fall short, we don’t understand sleep well enough to understand that we need it. In this section all the details of good sleep are described. Good sleep enhances our immune system, does wonders for our moods and why we needn’t bother to cram the night before an exam because we won’t remember it any way.
  4. The Principles of Healthy Sleep: Finally, you are taken through a step by step guide to figure out how to get the best possible sleep for you. Because your sleep needs are unique to you.

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Sleep test in progress

So Why Are We Tired?

Even if we don’t know how much sleep we are getting our bodies know… and our brain keeps tabs on, not so much how much we have slept, but how much sleep we haven’t had. It’s called Sleep Debt. Think of the sleep you didn’t get last night as a brick in your back pack, and the night before another brick and the night before… All those bricks add up really fast. Previously people thought that if you had had a couple of late nights, or worked through a few double shifts then a good night sleep will make everything better. Unfortunately that is just not the case. We need to unload our sleep debt brick by brick until we have levelled the playing fields, so to speak.

And here is a real problem for trying to deal with your sleep debt, that we have natural rhythms… and those natural rhythms wake us… in the morning light, that energy lift after your afternoon slump… you know the times that are great for you to be getting work done and those times of day when you really shouldn’t sit on the couch, because you won’t be getting up for a while. So even if you get a good nights sleep after weeks/months/years of accumulating your sleep debt you just can’t catch it up in a night… you have to sleep a little longer every night and slowly whittle away at your accumulated sleep debt.

What we don’t realise, is that when we are tired… not even to the point of exhaustion and you collapse, but way before that when you start to feel a little drowsy you are actually too tired to do most of the things that we think we are fine doing. Experiments have shown that people have micro sleeps between 3 and 5 seconds long, that we are not even slightly aware of, in fact we are quite oblivious to them. Not to mention that performance tests and reaction tests have shown that driving at just the legal level for drunk driving, is equivalent to driving after a double work shift… as a mom I work a whole lot more than double shifts.

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Se7en Steps to Getting Good Sleep

  1. Do a Sleep Audit: You have to really know how badly you sleep before you will want to change. Keep a sleep diary for a week… and write in it throughout the day. Set your watch alarm to beep on the hour and determine how sleepy you feel. Jot down if you are feeling wide awake and alert, or a little foggy, or desperately tired and unable to keep your eyes open. You will discover firstly how many hours of sleep you actually get and secondly when you are most inclined to take a nap (not a bad thing!!!) and when you are most likely to be alert and getting things done.
  2. Determine Your Sleep Latency: If a sleep diary doesn’t convince you that you need to sleep more then trust me your sleep latency will. Sleep Latency is the time it takes for you to fall asleep after you have put your head on the pillow. Less than 5 minutes, and you are seriously sleep deprived and dangerous. You should not be driving, using heavy machinery or operating on anybody – just saying. In fact the biggest takeaway from the book is that by the time you feel your eyes drooping you are already asleep and if that is ever the case while you are driving that should be a red alert to pull over immediately, take a nap or call for help. If you take longer than twenty minutes to fall asleep, then you probably aren’t that sleepy get up and do something sleep inducing, like read a boring book. In the book, The Promise of Sleep, the author has a great way to check your sleep latency, because when we are in that initial stage of sleep we often deny that we are asleep, so a test helps: Hold a spoon in your hand and let your arm hang over the edge of the bed. Look at the clock as you put your head on the pillow, as soon as you fall asleep the spoon will drop, clunck… and wake you up again. Check the clock and you will be able to figure out your sleep latency.
  3. Determine How Much Sleep You Need: My goal is to sleep all the sleep I need in a night and to that end, I shouldn’t require an alarm clock. To get to gym on time for class in the morning I need to wake up at 5:30… counting back the hours I need to be in bed by 10:30 to get se7en hours, which also happens to be the very lowest sleep requirement. I might need more sleep to catch up on my personal massive sleep debt, and so you will often find me in bed earlier… and if I can’t get to bed earlier I think nothing of committing to an afternoon nap.
  4. Get Used to that Good Feeling of Getting Enough Sleep: When I began gym I was so physically tired from my early start that I was actually tired enough for bed at 8:30 in the evening. I tried desperately to ignore it but I was so tired by the end of the day that I literally could not do another thing and staggered to bed. I quickly realised that if I didn’t get to bed timeoulsy that my gym session would feel so bad the next morning that it wasn’t worth staying up late. Even more critical to my decision to sleep better, was how fabulous I felt when I had the right amount of sleep… really I felt like a different person. After weeks of going to bed earlier and whittling away at my sleep debt I am once again able to get to bed at about 10 pm and wake up timeously for gym. But it isn’t just about gym… I can get up early and love my workout… or get to bed late and survive my workout. I cannot begin to express how much easier it is to hike or homeschool an entire gang of kids when you have chosen to have a good night’s sleep.
  5. Make it a Habit: Initially I would sleep well for a night or two… and then because I was feeling so good stay up late again… and I would feel so physically dreadful the following day that I couldn’t fathom how I survived for years on so little sleep. At this stage the fear of feeling so dreadful even for one day… makes me head for bed and sleep a good nights sleep every night… it is just not worth being undisciplined about going to bed and then feeling dreadful. I have to say initially all the extra sleep and yes, se7en hours sleep a night was a lot of extra sleep for me, left me feeling so much tireder than usual, but it takes a while and then levelled out. I have to say it gets harder to fall asleep, I used to crash as soon as my head hit the pillow and now it takes a few minutes of concentrated effort to fall asleep. I certainly don’t just nod off any time I sit down in a sunny spot anymore.
  6. Make use of Your Sleep Diary: I discovered that my most alert time was actually between 4 and 6 pm, and that was when I traditionally was doing end of the day chores and getting ready for dinner, not stuff that requires a whole lot of thinking at all. It has turned out to be a lot wiser for me to sit at my computer then and write, especially since at that stage in the day my kids are hard at play outdoors and definitely don’t want to be called in to do chores. I can’t do it every day, life happens, but when I can I will write out at least the roughs for a number of blog posts.
  7. You May Have to Fight for It: Once you are aware of your sleep requirements you can be a lot more sure about getting it. Before I began my sleep journey I was a lot more blasé to myself about getting enough. Now I demand it and I will even fight to get it. Previously I was available to my kids 24/7… if they woke me up from sleeping I answered their questions and went back to sleep… If my teens got home in the dead of night I would wake up and listen to them. Now I literally fight for my sleep… last one up put the dishwasher on, I no longer wait to be the last one up. It takes a bit of gumption and tenacity – lose the pride, you really can learn to sleep better.

So I may be blogging a little less, have no fear, I am still here blogging away, but I am determined to get the sleep I need. Now that I have a much better understanding of my sleep requirements, I can’t in all honesty not sleep. It is simply a matter of going to bed. I know sleep is not a topic we talk about a lot amongst each other, except to say how we never get enough sleep… well I am planning to swim against the tide. I am prioritising sleep because I have a feeling everything will come together and run much more smoothly around here when sleep is working well.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays

Last Call for Books and Exciting News in Our Build a Library Book by Book Project…

May 16th, 2017 · 4 Comments

We are drawing to the end of our Build a Library Book by Book project for this year and we have such exciting news that I could just about pop. All along I have been wondering where we would put the books… there is no spare classroom space and how would the books be accessible to all the children. Well the school has managed to build a library. How brilliant is that. I am so excited about it, you have no idea. Honestly, it is hard to imagine a school with out books and even harder to imagine a childhood without books.

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We need your help to fill this library with books.

Meanwhile, our task just became real… we need to fill this little library with inspiring books. The books need to be books that these children can’t help wanting to spend time delving into, books that will encourage them to try new things, dream big dreams… books they can learn from and books they can imagine a whole new world to the world they live in. These children do not have a culture of books, they do not have books at home.

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These kids desperately need a library, and you can help us build it.

Literacy levels in their community are low, their parents may never have read a book themselves, let alone read their favourite books to their children. These children are the start of a whole new thing and our library has to spark that excitement inside of them, to work hard and learn to read, so that they will have favourite childhood stories to read their children. This is a dream that we can turn into reality… book by book.

Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Just as they have been building away… to construct a library we have been collecting books and it is time folks to fill it up… if you have great condition books that your children have out grown or you have books that you would like to give to our library project now really is the time.

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If you live in South Africa then this is the weekend to do a quick run through of your book cases, if you live abroad you can shop online locally and have it delivered… we really do need your help. A book or two will make a difference… every book counts now that we are in the home straight… These kids need our help, there is no chance of “other funding” helping them to create their library. The task is ours, so lets do it really well!!!

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How the Build a Library Book by Book Project Works

We are looking for new or nearly new books to gift to these children. We would like to gift these children with wonderful books that inspire them to dream big. We will be visiting the school in May and opening up the packages that you sent for the children with them… so we would like you to send us a package with one or two books inside it. Books that you would like to give your children or books that your children would like to give their friends.

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Aramex Can Help You

If you live in South Africa, things just gotta a whole lot easier for you: Go through your bookshelves and choose a couple of books that your children have read and then: Did you know that anywhere in South Africa… you can head for your nearest Pick ‘n Pay and pop the books into an Aramex Bag… and for R99. they will ship your bag of books to us… whatever you can squeeze into that bag… all from the convenience of your local Pick ‘n Pay store. It doesn’t get easier than that.

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Thank You, Superb SuperNova Magazine

Otherwise, the fabulous SuperNova Magazine have sent us a big fat package full of great comics for these kids to read. And they will match anything our readers buy on their website… and donate that to the school as well… It is a pretty fantastic offer and easy way to send our library fun things to read. If you haven’t seen their funky factual magazine for kids then take a look at this post… If you would like to join Super Nova Magazine and have them match your purchases then follow this link:

Use the coupon code: ”7+1” (no spaces) in their shop and they will know to match it. You can also leave a note in the notes panel.

So How Can You Help to Build a Library?

Step 1: Select a Book or Books

  1. You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love. Remember these books are gifts, we will visit the school when they unpack them. Loved books are great, over-loved books… not so much, and old tattered textbooks from your college days that have been used as door stops… really not at all.
  2. You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
  3. You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
  4. And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, or Reader’s Warehouse (where a little cash goes a long way) and ship directly as well.

While all the students do learn English, many of the learners have Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. English books are very welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.

Step 2: Contact us.

Leave a comment and tell us that you intend to help or contact us. I will reply to you all as soon as I can with the shipping details, with the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you.

Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose

We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post almost weekly. I will pop the photo’s you send into the blog post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…

Step 4: There is a Deadline…

We would like to deliver the books that we personally collect and accumulate during May, so while you can ship anytime… we are hoping to end this campaign in the next week or two.

Previous Post in this Series

Finally, I have sent emails out with the shipping details, to all the folk that I had on our list. If you didn’t receive an email and you have put your name down already… then please forgive me, and leave a comment below, I will email you the details as soon as I hear from you.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Caring and Sharing · Thoughtful Thursdays

A Zero Waste Evening at the Two Oceans Aquarium…

May 15th, 2017 · 4 Comments

When the aquarium announced that they were having a Zero Waste Evening I just knew I had to be there. On the journey that is Green Living, the more you hear the more you learn and the more you can implement. After traveling to Zambia a while back we reduced our garbage to a small bag a week, but there is so much more we can do and I am always looking for tips and tweaks that we can use in our home to improve our carbon footprint.

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Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

One of the most important steps to reducing our waste and our contribution to the landfill was to find out where our garbage goes… that was enough motivation for us to get into gear and to stop throwing out anything that needed to be tossed. The aquarium had an excellent line up of speakers… and this post is all about what they had to say…

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Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Jade Khoury: Low Impact Living


I first heard Jade speak at the Greenpop Family Festival a couple of weeks back and I was interested to hear more. She started her journey by wanting to reconnect with nature, and she has come full circle to where green living is for everyone, it is not just a wealthy person’s lifestyle choice. As a single mom, trying to make ends meet, she walks the talk. She began her journey by reading No Impact Man, the book where Colin Beavan decides to spend a year having Zero Environmental Impact… his family live in Manhattan. I popped that on my to read list, and have to be glad for her goal of Low, rather than Zero, impact living. Jade runs workshops on green living for teenage girls, helping them to make greener choices, like making their own cosmetics; and for domestic workers teaching them to create green cleaning projects. She also runs wilderness camps for kids… always focusing on getting closer to nature.

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Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Samantha Annandale: CEO of Cape Verde Hotel


Africa’s Greenest Hotel, the hotel with the goal to be a Zero Waste Hotel. I can understand the hotel management and staff wanting to be green, but how do you keep track of your visitors. I really wanted to hear this talk. Having a hotel in Cape Town does have its challenges, first there was load shedding and no electricity, and now there is a drastic water crisis… but the hotel must go on. They have found ways to run their hotel for all their visitors, despite the conditions… they have found ways to save enough electricity to power 215 mid income houses for a year, imagine if every hotel did this. The language of sustainability is about neutralising your impact… you can’t just do this for the money, you have to have a good reason and you have to do the right thing. Waste is not measured, so it is a lack of awareness problem… as soon as you start to measure it, people realise it is a business. Every single employee gets to sort waste four days a year, everyone… there is no escaping it. That way every one sorts it properly, no one wants to be the one who gets landed with grotty waste to sort. Visitors are rewarded financially for sorting their waste into split bins… it is a way of thinking. 96% of their garbage is diverted away from the landfill… they have valid certification to prove that they are the greenest hotel in Africa. Sustainable living is on thing, thrivability is another… I know if I was choosing a hotel, I would want to stay in the certified greener one. Even the gym has energy generating equipment… you have to take a look!!! Somehow I had never translated our personal green living in our home to the much larger scale of a hotel. and when she said, “What if all hotels did this… ” I know, one step at a time, one change at a time… but sometimes its okay to dream big.

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Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Petto Myburgh: Operations Manager for Cleaning, Waste and Landscape at the V&A Waterfront


From a low impact mom, to a green hotel, to waste management at the Waterfront... fascinating and now we are talking on a grand scale. With 19000 people working there, 1500 living on site and 180000 visitors a day, and that is not during the peak season, waste management at the Waterfront is like looking after a small city. 70% of their waste comes from tenants and primarily the Food and Beverage industry… 560 tons of garbage a month of which 45% they can divert from the landfill… I know just crazy numbers. That equates to about 260 grams of waste per visitor, per day, that is 17 soda cans. That is a lot of garbage. Obviously the goal would be zero to the landfill. They have found that which costs, gets done and reward those tenants who recycle, by offering free recycling. They can only salvage so much recycling, if the recycling is contaminated then it has to go to the landfill. All their garden waste is now composted and returned to the gardens. They have an organic waste plan with uses flies to break down the waste, and with an 11 day life cycle… the maggots are turned into protein rich animal feed. They have tried to reduce and will continue to work harder, hand dryers replaced wasteful paper towels in all the bathrooms, for instance. Their waste plans have to become part of the design… and I think this is true for all of us. Garbage needs to be separated, composting takes up space, all these factors need to become part of the design and front and central in our minds… not some back little corner. The problem of 720 tonnes of garbage a month has to be solved. I was surprised to discover the green efforts the Waterfront have made and their openness to looking for more solutions to their waste problem. This is a case of an effective management system that works on a grand scale, that could very well translate into waste management on an individual scale… meantime, those of us who frequent the V and A Waterfront definitely need to adopt a zero waste mind set.

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Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Bea Johnson and the Zero Waste Home

A family of four that produces about half a mason jar of waste every year. They have been on a journey to reduce their waste since 2008. They realised when they moved to the inner city for a year that they didn’t need as much stuff as they had and then she slowly but surely began making greener choices for her family. Something worked really well… like canning their own tomatoes and somethings didn’t work, like using stinging nettles as a lip plumper. Somethings a lot of people use like the NO-Poo solution for a green shampoo, her husband really got tired of his wife smelling like a vinaigrette and she had to find another solution. After many trials and errors she has simplified her journey down to their mason jar of waste.

Five rules of a Zero Waste Home:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

  1. Refuse what we do not need: Just say no to packaging, no to freebies, no to junk mail, no to business cards… if you don’t need it, then don’t take it home. Marketers tell us we need stuff, if we take it home then we are telling them that they are correct.
  2. Reduce what we do need: Loose all the duplicates, if we only use twenty percent of our closets then get rid of the other 80%, get rid of all the WHAT IFS.
  3. Reuse swopping anything disposable for reusable, and only buy second hand: Stop all the disposables, use glass jars to store food, use cloth bags when you shop. Shop second hand… look for unconditional lifetime guarantees.
  4. Recycle only what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse: Recycling is not the solution to our massive waste problem, look for clever ways to recycle… for instance nike has a program to collect sneakers that they recycle to make basketball courts.
  5. Rot or compost the rest: You shouldn’t be left with much and what you are left with you can compost. The only food packaging they buy is butter wrappings, that can be composted. Floor sweepings can be composted… we should have been doing this already.

She had nothing good to say about plastic… if you can taste the plastic it has leached… ugh. And if it is recyclable, because not all plastic is recyclable. (Take a closer look at your Woolworths plastic on a lot of their salad and vegetable products… their lettuces for example… it is not recyclable and their is no excuse. Buy your lettuce elsewhere). And if the plastic you are using is recyclable then it is only recyclable once or twice before it ends up in the land fill… plastic is essentially created to fill up your landfill and we have to find alternatives.

After going into their Five Rules of Zero Waste, she took us on a virtual tour of her home, room by room. She explains her way through each room, their closets with just enough clothes to fit into a carry on bag, the cleaning products she creates, the cosmetics she makes and a detailed wander through her kitchen and what they keep in their fridge. At first her husband was alarmed at the expense of a zero waste lifestyle, but they compared budgets to before and after and realised that they were saving 40% of their budget… really we are paying 15% more for our produce, just because of packaging. They realise that their life is a lot simpler, they have a life based on experiences rather than on stuff. A lot of folk want to know how her kids cope with this alternative lifestyle, but as she says, this is their home and they know no other way. The only regret they have about their Zero Waste Lifestyle is that they didn’t start sooner.

For myself, I didn’t find anything she said extreme at all, not even her fifteen piece wardrobe. I think my takeaway from this is to stop waiting for folk to catch on to the idea and just get started. In the last two or three years we have reduced our garbage significantly and we have been turning our non-recyclables into eco-bricks. But we could still do a lot to reduce our consumption of packaging, we are going to have to get a lot cleverer and inventive at reducing our garbage as we aim to reduce ourcarbon footprint.

You can follow Bea Johnson on her Zero Waste Home Website here… and she has a page of fabulous and really useful tips.

She has a book that I have to check out…

And if you want to see her presentation, you can find a lot of it in her Ted Talk here:

Huge thank you to The Two Oceans Aquarium for their Zero Waste Home Evening, packed with inspiring talks and wonderful presentations. I attended the evening as a media guest of the Aquarium and all opinions expressed were as usual my own.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Green Living · Thoughtful Thursdays

What We Really Want for Mother’s Day…

May 14th, 2017 · 6 Comments

It Was the Best of Times and it Was the Worst of Times… yes, I have just read The Tale of Two Cities. And that has to be the opening line for Mother’s Day all over the world. This is one of those days when the whole world goes quite crazy with ridiculous expectations. In fact, fraught with expectations. The media tells us to expect to be rewarded for all the mothering we do… We should expect breakfast in bed, and if your kids are not old enough then our husbands should have organised breakfast out… we are told what to expect and that we deserve it and then even more that we need to have a glorious day laden with special gifts and full of surprises… because we are worth it. And yet we know that “needs” and “wants” are not quite the same thing… but marketers would prefer you not to know that.

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The truth is we have all loved and lost, and marketers don’t touch on this either. But this is a difficult day for potential moms and friends who wish with all their hearts to be moms, it is a terribly difficult day for moms who have lost babies no matter how old they are, not to mention all those folk without moms. And it is a horrible day for mom’s who wish with all their hearts that they were in a better position to look after their kids. While marketers are all about what I need for Mother’s Day… there are moms around the world who would love to be giving their kids just one meal today and they won’t be. It’s not all beautiful picnics and pretty potted plants, it is not all floral gift wrap and shiny packages. In fact, all things considered, Mother’s Day is a bit of an awkward day to get through.

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My kids are not going to make me breakfast in bed… heaven forbid, I can’t stand the crumbs. They are going to squabble in the car about who gets to sit where, they are going to get to church and be reminded that it is Mother’s Day, and then we will pop past their grannies because it is Sunday. And we will wish them happy Mother’s Day… because as I get older and I realise Mother’s Day belongs to them and I am in awe of them for getting their kids to be grown ups, we will dash home for a Sunday after noon nap and then I will stay home and make supper, while the older kids head for church. It is just an ordinary Sunday… just the way I like it. Except this Sunday when we stop by our grannies we will most likely have a chocolate with us… because whatever the marketers say… they do deserve it.

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Honestly, I want my kids to appreciate me, I do… I want their hugs, but I also just want them to be the best little people they can be… despite what the local store says they have to buy me… and to all the moms out there, whose day isn’t a marketers dream… I want to say hang in there, it does get easier. Enjoy the good moments, move on from the awful ones… and let your children love you and appreciate you everyday. Don’t be distraught when you don’t get an entire years worth of loving on one day, don’t be distraught when they don’t even remember. And if you have something in mind that will make your Mother’s Day special… make it happen. If you want a special afternoon tea… your kids would love to make and bake with you, if you want an afternoon nap… tell them that an afternoon nap will make this day special for you… even if it is “five point three” seconds before they prize open your eyes to check if you are in there.

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Gift your kids with the chance to try. You have poured hours and hours of your heart and soul into your kids, and you are going to be doing a lot more of that. If they have forgotten Mother’s Day, gently remind them. There is really nothing worse than at the end of the day telling your kids, “I wish you had made me a card.” I know I have had years of no expectations and years when I needed some sort of acknowledgement. Tell them what you actually need, and it probably is just a hug and “I love you mom.” Don’t fall into the trap of waiting all day for them to surprise you and then at the end of the day being devastated that they didn’t. If your day is filled with all sorts of unavoidable commitments… let your kids know in a quiet moment that you love them with all your heart… because it is Mother’s Day and it would totally make your day that your kids know that. In fact, what we really want for Mother’s Day is for our kids to know that we love each of them fiercely with all our hearts… everything else is just fluff.

Previous Mother’s Day Posts

A fun Poem for Mother’s Day by Hood 1 when he was quite a bit younger!!!

Mother’s Day for Real Mothers

→ 6 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #353…

May 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Hay folks, we seem to have landed in the busy season it is all good, if not a little crazy over here right now. We are doing school, we are doing fun, we are slowly but surely but surely building our 2017 library and for some reason I have decided that this is the season to up my “Getting Things Done Year” game and I am clearing out stuff faster than even I can believe.

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I am blogging over at Harassed Mom today…

She is posting a series on motherhood… and my motherhood story is over there!!!

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Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Our library project is slowly but surely growing book by book… and a package is arriving everyday now. Huge thank you to SuperNova magazine for their fabulous contribution. If you would like to help us to build a library of books for a school in desperate need then look no further than this post here.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. This book… 9 Months… I am absolutely dying to share it with my kids… all the real facts in a child friendly place, there will be lots to talk about… and I a that mother who likes to talk about everything with my kids!!!
  2. Can you beat Seth Golden Ever: The Self-Healing Letter of Complaint… You know for next time you really want to complain about something!!!
  3. Four Awesome Wonderbag Recipes… from Yuppie Chef of course. Comfort Food!!!
  4. If you are an audiobook fan then this on Modern Mrs Darcy is gold… go grab some free books.
  5. I am sure we all have a teacher we would never forget… Se7en Authors that Celebrate the Teachers They’ll Never Forget.
  6. The scientist in me loves this: Walter Munk’s Centennial Year. In the olden days when I was a student I worked under Walter Munk on sound prpoergation… looking back it is totally cool!!!
  7. Would you just look at these incredible libraries from around the world… on Starts at Eight.

A Blast From the Past:

This Week’s Highlights

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I am Looking Forward to: A good weekend read and meeting Lesley Pearce next week.


Listening: This is my year for conquering the classics and so far I have managed to get a few under my belt, I just finished The Tale of Two Cities… what a tragedy, how did I not know the story before and what rich characters. Took a while to get into it but the beautiful wordage kept me engaged in the story and I had to know how it ended.

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Reading with the Kids: Who knew that Peter Slingsby of fabulous map fame, had also written a couple of books for kids. always looking for rich South African content to read and we have been enjoying these historical fiction stories… packed with richness that only the local landscape can provide.

Watching with the Kids: My kids are watching Makoccino on youtube right now… her boredom busters are fab!!!

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Making rusks… because it is the season!!!

And Looking Forward to: The Penguin Waddle this weekend. Here’s the Waddle so far…

Day One: Gansbaai to Stanford

Day Two: Stanford to Hermanus

Day Three: Hermanus to Kleinmond

GiveAway Winners

It is time to bring you the Landy GiveAway Series Winner…

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Huge thank you to so many of you for entering… the more you enter the more GiveAways we can post…

And our winner is: Lopke Apr 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm Oooh lovely! We’d definitely take a trip out to the mountains!

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

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→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun · GiveAways and Swaps