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

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Se7en+1 Things I Didn’t Expect About Getting Back Into Gym…

August 30th, 2017 · 8 Comments

It is time to talk about gym… I know again. I try not to bombard my feed with workout posts but last night I went for a run on the beach with my kids… and six months ago I could not have dreamed of doing that ever again. An actual run along the beach. Honestly, I thought I would never ever run again, but what I thought was the inevitable knoll of time marching on was really just my absolute lack of exercise. It is exciting, I have no idea where this is going, or what I might be doing six months from now. What I can say is that I am beyond thrilled to find that I am still here, and the person that loves the great outdoors and being active might have been lost for a while, but I am getting me back.

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This year I have been blogging my journey to health over on the Sport Science Website and I thought I would pop all the posts I have written over there in one spot over here. It has been a while since my first nervous ventures into the gym, way back in February and it has taken a while for me to get into the swing of a totally new way of life. What can I say… I love being fitter, I love being lighter and I really love that feeling of waking up in the morning because I am finished sleeping. I am a work in progress and there are many miles to go on my journey… What started as a quest to survive the Eight Week Beginner Healthy Weight Programme has turned into a Journey back to health.

Se7en+1 Things I Didn’t Expect About Getting Back Into Gym.

  1. I Never Expected to Lose Weight: My goal was very firmly to move. I wanted to move comfortably. But as I got moving I felt better and better… I had to change my sleeping habits in order to get to gym on time. The better I slept, the better my workouts were, and the better I could move. And the more I moved, the more I started to lose weight… that inspired me to see where I wasn’t eating well and to tackle that little bit by little bit. I don’t eat perfectly by any means… but I am no longer reward driven. I don’t “deserve” edible treats for getting through the day and I don’t want them either. In fact the other day in a moment of frustration I thought, “I really just need to get out and go for a run.” This is huge, in the past I would thought, “I really need a chocolate to calm down!!!” Eating better, definitely means better workouts and remember my goal is to move better. So eating better and sleeping better are right up there with helping me to move better.
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  3. I was in Such Bad Shape: Honestly, I was in bad shape… yes I could go for a hike/walk with the kids once a week… yes I could walk to the store or the library… but I didn’t like it, and I would make every excuse not to need to. It turns out I was avoiding everything called exercise, because I was just so uncomfortable doing it. Hiking up a mountain is a glorious thing, hiking up a mountain when you can hardly breathe and you know it is going to take three days to recover is a lot less glorious. I am no super athlete, but just being in slightly better shape makes everything easier… tying shoe laces, carrying the groceries, playing with kids, walks on the beach.
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    When you literally wear your gym shirt out. Who knew I would love gym so much!!!

  5. Just How Hard it is to find Great Gym Wear: The struggle to find affordable gym gear for plus size moms is real. I have blogged about it before and I am going to say it again… The Struggle is Real. Why is it that shops that sell exercise apparel think all athletes are slim and trim. Even big brand super sport stores go up to a size 18 or at the most an XL. When you mention to folk that this is what you are battling with, they look at you like you are mad. But I took twenty years off exercising properly and I cannot begin to say how many of those years were spent actually pregnant… and even longer nursing. Years of nursing babies and toddlers folks. I need supportive gym wear. It is not that I cannot do a star jump, it is simply that my apparel does not allow for it!!!
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  7. Exercise is not a Habit it is a Lifestyle: When I started working out at the beginning of the year I thought that if I just kept at it then it would become a habit. You know the idea that if you do anything for 21 days it is a habit… and if you do it for longer then you have really got it. Well I can tell you that if someone said to me, “You don’t have to get up today, the gym is closed.” I would be the first person to linger on in bed. Over the years I have changed habits, with micro-steps… just a little change here, and a little bit there. But I was at the stage where only a massive intervention would help. It isn’t a habit to get up and go to gym in the morning, much as I love that post gym feeling, I need to start my workout by getting bed timeously the night before. That isn’t a habit for me at all… that requires discipline. Every night there is a reason for me to stay up a little longer, but I have to just say no and head to sleep. At this stage I find it hard to stay in bed long after five in the morning… my body is used to working out then, but it would be just as easy to get it unused to the idea as well. A couple of late nights could put me right back where I started and I never want to go back to that place… so I am practicing the art of getting to bed on time.
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  9. Give Yourself A Little Grace: Getting up in the morning isn’t easy, but I know that once I am out the door that I won’t turn back… I literally pop out of bed, into my gym clothes and out of the door. Every single morning I tell myself that if I really can’t face the day after gym then I can return to back to bed for a nap later. I can honestly say that I have never actually done that… somehow once I have been up and at it for an hour or two, the idea of winding down again is not so appealing anymore. After gym I am ready to tackle my day!!!
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  11. My Kids need me to Think About Me Sometimes: So this may seem a little crazy, unless you have been a mom for twenty years. I never realised how much I gave my kids… I happily (read hate shopping) go without shoes for years because somebody else always needs a pair of shoes. When I began gym, I needed a pair of shoes desperately… desperately… it took me weeks to get them. Not so much because of the shoes, but because of my mindset. Getting shoes for myself meant “taking shoes from somebody else…” Similarly, one of the biggest things for me to overcome at the start of the journey, was taking time “off for myself” I felt that by taking time off I was taking time away from my kids… less time to be helping around the house, getting breakfast ready, getting their school day started. There is nothing there my kids can’t do and the more they do do, the better off they are.
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  13. Time is of the Essence: I understand mums need time, and I always took my own time for things like blogging, which I love. But I always waited for my kids to be finished with their day before I settled down to work and I would never have dreamt of blogging when I could have been spending time with my kids. It is one thing when your kids are small… small children eventually sleep… but when you have teens who want to chat or need lifts in the middle of the night and small children that are up and ready for the day before dawn… then you have to realise that working when your kids are sleeping is not sustainable. I didn’t realise that and I just kept surviving on less and less. Crazy but true. My kids need to know that I have real needs and fundamental needs. I need to sleep… I can’t stay up chatting all night, or watching a movie with them or reading with them. I have to work, so do they, if we work at the same time together, then we will have time to play together… but I absolutely have to sleep.
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  15. I have no Excuse not to be Healthy: Going to gym is not taking time away from my kids at all… as I thought it would. It is getting me healthy in ways I could never have imagined and my kids deserve a healthy mum… far more than they need a tired cranky mum who wants to spend all day every day sitting. Yes, it takes time, and yes they are all usually sleeping when I am at gym. This time for gym is an investment in my health and is a huge advantage for all of them. Really, the healthier I am the better it is, not just for me but for them too. They are all growing up, they will all leave home (they will!!!) and they will want a fit and happy granny to play with their kids too. I want to be around for them when they leave home, and not just collapsed in a heap saying: “I survived that!!!”

The changes in my life have definitely made changes in our entire family’s lives. Better sleep habits all round, healthier food choices, and a lot more folk taking a pause in their day to do a quick work out or suggesting that we go out for a walk/run. Every single hike we do begins with a steady vertical climb, if not 500 stairs. I used to dread it and only do it for that great feeling of being on top of the world… The fear of the start everytime was huge and any excuse was a good excuse not to go. That fear has moved on and I am eager to get going at a moments notice, much to some of our kids’ despair. Our weekly Park Runs have become a challenge for the whole family together, everyone trying to run/walk a bit better than they did before. It is an onwards and upwards kind of a journey and I am all for it.

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Previous Posts in my Journey to Health Series Over at Sport Science

From the start…

→ 8 CommentsTags: Home Truths

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #353

August 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Hay there… Hope you have had a great weekend and you are ready for a fabulous fun week…

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We visited the Stellenbosch Park Run on Saturday… and it was just so beautiful to be winding our way through the vineyards on a crisp morning… the joy is that it starts and ends at the Root44 Food Market, and so there is steaming coffee ready for you at the finish.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Somewhere to visit: I have been dying to go to Iceland for a while, well Jojoba went for me!!! otherwise… How beautiful is Axum… I think I need to go to Axum if only to see the Candelabra Tree.
  2. Something Curious: Have you heard of crown shyness… its all about the trees!!!
  3. Looking for Math Fun: Then take a peek at E-Explore!!!
  4. Water Restrictions Are A Way of Life: How to stay fresh in a time of water restrictions.
  5. Food for Thought: If nothing else gets you to bed earlier every single night then have some fun with the Lost Sleep Calculator… Turns out since my first child was born I have lost 37 months of sleep, that’s a lot of catching up to do; changed 47 520 diapers, luckily we mostly used cloth; read 2384, I am sure it is much much more; sung 35,520 lullabies… my poor kids!!!
  6. And if you are into Quizzes: Check out the Modern Mrs Darcy’s “What’s your Reading Personality” before she launches her new book…
  7. Water Really Does Make Us Happier: Why Being Near Water Really Does Make You Happier… on CN Traveler.
  8. And Free Stationary Joy: How lovely are these Back to School Printable Notebooks on Poppytalk.

A Blast From the Past:

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That’s us… hope you have a fabulous week!!!

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→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Steps to Being a Tourist in Your Own Town…

August 25th, 2017 · 6 Comments

When it comes to travelling I am an unapologetic opportunistic… this means that if an opportunity arrises to travel then I will be ready and gone in a flash. It also means that months can go by without an opportunity, which is fine, and also we can have a month or two when we are hardly home at all. The things is I realised that we hadn’t had a family holiday for ages. And we needed one, a complete “out of the house, away from all things schools and chores.” When friends, who live in the city, suggested we do a house swap, it was an opportunity that we couldn’t resist and of course we jumped at the chance. We have a long wish list of places to see and visit in the city and we never get to go there… firstly traveling in and out of the city, not to mention finding parking, is a schlepp and secondly we always say we will head into to the city for the day, but we never ever get around to it.

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For the folk who read our blog from the far side of the world and are stopping by to look for things to do in Cape Town, Cape town is bigger and expanding faster than most folk can imagine. In fact, it is probably better to think of the City of Cape Town, that has a sprawling community all the way down the coastline, as little town after little town, and each with their own personality. Certainly for us we hardly ever venture further north than our seaside town, meanwhile our City centre is packed with excitement and wonderful things to do and see. So we headed for the city, and remember that there are ten of us… so budget travel is a priority… we are on the hunt for cool things to do… holiday specials and kid friendly outings. The opportunity to spend a week, a kid friendly holiday in the centre of Cape Town, was one that we grabbed with both hands.

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How to Up Your Staycation Strategy Anywhere and Especially Cape Town

  1. Accommodation: To make a holiday feel like a holiday it really helps to change location, and even though we weren’t going away, per se, we could change location with a house swap. For us moving location was critical… we couldn’t possibly afford accommodation for ten of us in the city… but we could fit all of us into into a friend’s house in the name of an adventure. For sure. We have in the past had “a week of outings’ and that worked well, but being out of your own space… means none of the usual chores. Yes folk still had to make their beds and clean the bathroom and so on, but somehow chores in someone else’s house are a lot more fun and we kept them to an absolute minimum. The joy was that we were in the city… we could just walk around, or use public transport to get around, with out the normal hour long drive in and out of the city beforehand.
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  3. Don’t Worry too Much About Packing: My kids always pack for themselves… and with a Staycation I didn’t have to worry at all about if they had got it right or not… the worst that could happen is that we would have to drive home and collect something vital. Turns out we only needed a change of clothes… because other folks’ games and books and things to do are always much more interesting than your own. Not to mention we planned to be out a lot of the time… we only had to touch base at our temporary home to recover from one outing in time to head out on another.
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  5. Create Your Wishlist: Nothing like a family meeting to raise excitement somewhat and then give everyone a chance to make suggestions of things you was to see and do. We grouped our list of places we wanted to go and things we wanted to do and see into neighbour hoods. Then we made a list of opening times, ticket prices and any special events or any special deals. As soon as we had a clear idea of places we wanted to visit we were able to plan our days accordingly… we just picked a different neighbourhood each day and tackled all the sights there. Along with the places we wanted to see we discovered a whole lot of new places too… the trick is to schedule a little less and wander a little more!!!
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  7. Look for the Seasonal Specials: We took our break during the Winter school holidays, which is something we wouldn’t usually do… we almost always make full use of the homeschool advantage, that we don’t have to do everything in the school holidays. But Cape Town has some fantastic unmissable specials for kids during Winter. Keep in mind that our winter is very mild compared to winter around the world and you will see from our photographs that we had clear skies and glorious sunshine the entire week. The City Sightseeing Tours have a three for one special, and most places encourage you to buy your tickets online, to take advantage of their online discount. Another tip is to take a visit to a tourist information stand… on your first day. Nobody wants to discover something magical that they wished they had seen on the last day. Collect a couple of pamphlets… and linger a little… tourist offices are a fabulous resource that we often overlook… it is a good thing to be a tourist in your own town!!!
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  9. Free Walking Tours: One of the easiest ways to get a feel for the city is to take a walking tour. Our first day in the city we did just that, getting the lay of the land so to speak. Most cities have free walking tours as a showcase for visitors to the city… Cape Town has a number of them, run by the City Sightseeing South Africa. and they have been on our wishlist for years… we did all of them… and they deserve their own entire blog post. The Walking tours last for 90 minutes, and the centre of town is pretty compact, so you aren’t walking far… it is more of a stop than a walk, as you stop and chat about landmarks through out the tour. We did learn a whole lot of interesting factoids and gleaned a number of tips for visiting our city at the same time. Really these were pretty fantastic… a safe and informative way to wander about the city, and did I mention free!!!
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  11. You can still do your usual stuff: Just because you are on the far side of the city doesn’t mean that you can’t stick to your usual routine. Visit a different library, and the central library in Cape town is fabulous, always hosting great story times… and a fabulous kid section to chill out in and read when you need a break from rushing around. If your family does a ParkRun on a Saturday morning, go online and see if there isn’t a Parkrun on the far side of town… in our case there is.
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  13. Eat Where the Locals Eat: I know, I am a mom of many and so I must love preparing 30 meals a day… at least, every day. Turns out I really rather fancy taking a break from time to time. I certainly did not plan to spend my holiday in the kitchen… really easy meals, nothing too planned or prepared in advance. Just really relaxed feasting and keeping it galactically simple, and hand over all the dinner duties in the kitchen to your kids for a couple of nights… they will relish the chance and as long as they leave the kitchen as clean as they found it, they can do it the next night as well. When we were out and about in the city we found places where the locals eat and bought a picnic… at the Waterfront and in the City Centre there are supermarkets where you can buy regularly priced food to create an instant picnic, something I would much rather do than try and eat take-outs and blow half a years food budget in a week. That being said we do have a splurge once while we are away and I make sure I have a supply of ice-cream money for at least one day. Because lets face it, ice cream makes the world go round.
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  15. Don’t forget Downtime: The entire point of going away is to have a complete break. Really!!! You are taking a vacation, and I have to say that I have never arrived on holiday without being totally exhausted… the first day we scheduled absolutely nothing… explore the massive garden, read and play and watch a movie even unlimited screen time for those of us who need it, which is an unheard of treat. It turned out that the house we were staying in didn’t have working internet… I was planning to blog every evening and head out into the city each day… turns out that there was no internet and so no work got done… I was in bed early each night and refreshed and ready to enjoy the following day with our gang. I am just suggesting that whenever you go away on holiday that you actually just lose the internet for a couple of days… the internet won’t miss you and you will feel so much better for it.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

What We Are Reading Right Now… The Struik Nature Edition…

August 21st, 2017 · No Comments

I have fallen into a rhythm of posting a book reviews every Monday… today I am bringing you reviews of our latest natural factual reads from Struik Nature… I have to say that we loved all these books, for completely different reasons. Take a look and you will see why these books are all fabulous books that can only enhance our great outdoor lifestyle.

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Marvellous Mammals


Southern African Mammals Made Simple by Doug Newman and Gordon King: This book is a little gem and perfect size to toss into your backpack as you head out into the nature reserve to do a little games spotting. It is one of those books with a fabulous amount of information, presented in an easily accessible way, packed into a small amount of space. Essentially an encyclopaedia of knowledge presented in handbook sized spotters guide. The book contains a visual classification system, which is perfect for novice spotters… there is no need to know latin names or fancy terms… Step one look at the shape of your mammal and that will tell you which family to look at; on to Step 2, once you have the family, which group will you be looking at… for example if you are looking at an antelope or buck: does it have horns or not? are the horns curved or straight and such like. Once you have determined which family group your animal is in, then you can easily decide from a full colour photograph, which animal you are looking at. Each animal has a photograph and then an annotated colour drawing to emphasise the special features. The name, as well as the Afrikaans, and latin names… the typical dimensions, habitats and habits are included. There is an “at a glance” information box for each animal, as well as a look at similar species if you are unsure of what you are looking at.

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So for example, on Friday we were out hiking and spotted a group of eland. Turning to the book we decided that it was an antelope… So we turned to the antelope family. Within the antelope family, we chose the group with straight horns and belly not white. There were five buck in this group, but only one of them was extremely large and that was the eland.

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Another example from our Friday hike was an otter… at step 1 we chose the otter family… a quick glance and we knew we had to turn to page 91 to find the Otters. Otters only have one visual group: they are either the spotted-neck otter or the Cape African clawless otter. From looking at the information in the book carefully we could immediately see that it was a Cape African clawless otter and we could learn a few things about this playful little otter that we didn’t already know.

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This little book is a fabulous addition to our wildlife collection and is indispensable in determining which of the buck we often see are which, for instance. There are a lot of extra little snippets of information and fast facts to glean in this book, which makes it the perfect book for dipping into as well.

Stunning Sea Birds


Guide to Seabirds of Southern Africa by Peter Ryan: I have always loved everything about the ocean, but my personal interest in seabirds began on a trip to Marion Island a couple of years ago… in a time before kids.

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The introduction to the book includes all the necessary tips for viewing seabirds. As well as so many interesting facts about specific seabird topics: their migration, their ability to see underwater as well as why they appear to have a runny nose. There is more on ocean conservation and even photography tips, as well as a section on how to use the book to its full potential. The book is then divided into major sea bird families, making it easy to jump around and identify the birds you might have spotted: Penguins, albatrosses, petrels, skuas and such like.

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Each bird has a number of photographs showing the main features of the birds as well as a location map, and a details regarding their conservation status, their biology and breeding habits, as well as feeding habits and behaviour. The photographs are superb throughout and you should be able to identify the bird you have spotted from those alone, but the explanation alongside the photographs and the details in the writing will make that bird unforgettable. Lots of facts and details for each bird have been included in the book. Fascinating facts to keep you reading on and on. For the bird lover, particularly the sea bird lover, this is an absolute must have identification guide to seabirds.

Interesting Insects


Insectopedia: The secret world of southern African insects by Eric Holm: If you live with an insect lover then this is the book for them… It is not a spotters guide by any means, it is so much more. It is a reference guide to everything you ever wanted to know about insects and it is fascinating. The book is divided into twelve chapters and only the last one is an identification guide. The identification guide is well over 60 pages long and full of a number of details about dozens of insects and their family members. The other chapters are on specific aspects of insects… their senses, metamorphosis, locomotion and such like.

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The book is packed with excellent photographs, and where you need more than a photograph there are illustrations too. There is so much to learn about insects… and each spread includes boxes with interesting details, and highlighted points of interest. This book goes way beyond a description of insects… it goes into detail on the role of insects, their interesting habits. The photographs first caught our attention and then the amazing feature facts… and then we got reading the details… the more you read this book the more you will want to read it. For example the spread on insect records includes amazing facts like: the longest insects are stick insects and in South Africa they can be longer than 20 cm, the keenest sense of smell goes to the male emperor moth that can sense smells up to 15 km away. This book is an incredible resource packed with all sorts of things that you just never knew about insects. It is very readable chapter by chapter and makes an excellent book for dipping into as well. This book is a keeper and has become one of our essential reference books of the year.

Fabulous Frogs


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My First Book of Southern African Frogs by Jeanne Tarrant and illustrated by Sally MacLarty: We have blogged about this series before, many many times… because we use this series almost exclusively for our nature study and nature notebooks. We have reviewed the Young Explorer’s Frog App before, which is the screen version of the book. The book is brilliant, there is a simple introduction to amphibians, and an overview of frogs in general and then how to use the book. Each frog has a page devoted to it, the name of the frog, a brief description as well as a location map, where you are most likely to find that frog, the relative size of the frog and the type of eggs of the particular frog, as well as the track on the CD of the frog.

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Yes! The book comes with a CD of frog calls… and it is brilliant. I have to say that the frog calls really enhanced our frogging experience… when we were out night hiking last weekend we were able to identify the frogs that we found, by listening to their calls. Fun times!!! Like all the books in the series, each frog is beautifully illustrated in full colour, to help with learning how to identify them. Also, each frog has a description not only in English, but in Xhosa, Afrikaans and Zulu, which is great for children learning a second language, or for children, whose first language is not English.

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We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with a copy of the books to review. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

The Week That Was… #222

August 19th, 2017 · 4 Comments

Hello blog world, last week I took the weekend off and an entire week flew by before I sat down at my computer screen again… life’s like that!!! And I am all for that… a week of early nights and embracing every moment of time with my gang. Sometimes you just have to read stories on the couch and listen to the rain… Yes!!! We had a little rain and it was lovely!!! And if it wasn’t raining we were hiking… one of those weeks!!! So I thought I would bring you a week that was post…

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Otherwise…

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It is the season of endless sunrises…

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And the prettiest evenings…

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And really quick suppers…

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And hot pies…

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And evening ambles in the freezing cold… I cannot tell you why my children are in shorts and t-shirts, that is one of life’s mysteries…

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And this is for all the folk that think catching the whole gang for a smile and wave photograph is easy… I have one chance and then they scatter… so absolutely no chance of perfection. There are never all the eyes open, all the smiles smiling… I have one chance at it. Boom Done!!!

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And making memories…

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And ice-cream in winter… because everyday is a beach day, and treats of course.

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Outings…

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And so many outings…

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Especially for the kid who has never been to the Scratch Patch… there are disadvantages to being the youngest of eight!!!

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A weekly coffee/hot chocolate date with Hood 2… who discovered the whole vitality points thing… and you get rewards for so many points for exercising and counting your workouts and so on… I am all for it. I have no idea about the details and it sounds way too technical for me… but if he wants to workout then I am all for joining him!!!

Let’s Talk about Gym

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It’s been almost half a year of working out… and ten minutes off my park run time, and finally ten kgs gone… I am loving it. It was totally the time for me to just get moving. I have learned so much and loved the journey… I wouldn’t call it a habit yet, but that is a whole ‘nother post. Consistency is key though and embracing the whole “slow and steadiness” of it all… in this crazy instantaneous world, I think the slowness of it all has been the hardest part for me. After every workout I feel like I could conquer the world… then I walk past the mirrors and it turns out it is just the same old me!!! I can’t see the difference myself, but I can feel the difference and the numbers show it… so I’ll take that and just keep at it!!!

Hiking

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There has been a lot of hiking… I really wanted to do a 52 hike challenge this year and we are on hike 31… so hiking away!!!
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We aren’t always the first folk up…
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Beach Cleanups Galore

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And Getting Things Done…

This is my year of getting things done… Although I kind of stuck on getting myself sorted out, sleep, gym and that sort of thing, and the actual idea was to sort the house out. Meanwhile, I feel our home crashing down around me. I know the only way to get something sorted, something that is way bigger than just a drawer… is to get started. I began by moving the giant pile of “we must donate these now items” out of the house and away… that is always a good place to start. Then for a while there I was just sort of staring at every corner and saying: “I must do something…” but the year is winding on and I had to get into gear… so I am sorting out spots around the house. I have way to many projects to do before the year is out, there is no more time for idle staring. We have corners where things have been dumped for weeks, if not months… and I am reclaiming my space back… bit by bit!!!

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School crates have been sorted and craft drawers… sorted. The joy of having cleared spaces is that you choose what to do on a day… you don’t have to think… I wonder where… everything is, or fight your way to find the things you need… you can just decide to do the things you love doing… it works!!!

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And it’s not just me who has the spring cleaning bug… my pack rat (I will not mention names!!!) has been decluttering and decluttering and decluttering… and every time he finishes, I say “play it again…” eventually we have whittled out all the recycling (that was saved for potential projects), the toys/clothes/things that he has simply outgrown, the collections of goodies that he doesn’t really love… I feel like Marie Kondo should come and live over here for a while. I have to say… cleaning out until you are done. And then doing it again. And again. And dare I say… again… has actually worked. I see the floor, I see the shelves and more important, I have hope!!!

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Let’s Talk About School

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This past week was devoted almost entirely to arting… I really like that my kids think that school is art, I am all for it!!!

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Hood 8 has been diving into Ancient Egypt and found these fun print outs on the Lonely Planet printable page…

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And these hieroglyphs that we bought years ago… when we visited the British Museum.

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And of course The Usborne Time Traveller… but do you know this fabulous Diary Series…

In the same series there is a Roman Diary, a Castle Diary, and a Pirate Diary. These are great, richly illustrated books with very, very short chapters. Easy reading for your “just beyond beginner” reader and easy reading to read aloud too. They are packed with living history, who wouldn’t want to read a diary from days gone by!!! Fun times and plenty of inspiration for acting our what you have learned.

Game of the Week

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We appear to be having a chess revival over here… chess, chess and more chess. And Sudoku… it has been the year of Sudoku over here!!!

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Books of the Week

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All these books were the best!!! Loved them and read them again and again…

We discovered audiobooks in the library… I know, its taken us a while… but this one is tip top, we are loving every moment of it. The story of a very inventive lad, with a notebook, and a quest… secrets and conundrums to unravel… we are loving it!!!

Artwork of the Week

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Even I appear to be confused… I think all art is definitely school… when Hood 7 was inspired by a snippet about Amelia Earhart in a book this week, she spent the day creating this artwork to celebrate her discovery. I am all for that… create away little one!!!

The Gallery

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Since I never got around to posting our Madiba Day mural on our blog… we volunteered with SanParks to upgrade a play school in Ocean View… and here are the results…

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→ 4 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #352

August 11th, 2017 · 4 Comments

Hay Hay Hay it’s Friday and raining in Cape Town… how wonderful is that… cold wintry weather predicted for the weekend… and so… I am leaving most of my family and heading on a hiking adventure… it’s going to be cold and wet and well… did I say cold!!! And I just can’t wait!!! But I thought I would leave you with a Fabulous Fun Post…

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I have been Blogging Over at The Sport Science Institute of South Africa:

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. This brings back happy memories: A Guide to Mykonos on the World of Wanderlust.
  2. And if you need an adventure Trekking in Iceland… on Hike Like a Women
  3. Now this is the way to do your vegetable shopping…Parkside PYO – one of London’s Best Fruit and Veg Farms on Babyccinokids Just totally love it!!!
  4. Alisa Burke… and Creating with your Feet… I just loved this kiddable fun!!! And let’s just mention her white pen collection: My favourite white pens by Alisa Burke. What I wouldn’t do for a white Sharpie… actually any sharpies right now, my collection of colours has definitely seen better days.
  5. Parenting teens… Oh Meg Duerksen on Whatever has a way with words: I Can’t Save Them.
  6. I have to read Seth Godin everyday and posts like these will tell you why: He deserves it, but do you?
  7. Love the Artful Parent and her 18 Creativity Quotable Quotes to Live by…

A Blast From the Past:

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That’s us… hope you have a fabulous week!!!

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

What’s New and Great at Pengiun Random House South Africa for Kids…

August 9th, 2017 · No Comments

Is there anything better than good reads… and good reads of kids, well those are the best of the rest. I recently attended Penguin Books South Africa’s launch for children’s books for kids reads over the next couple of months. As usual there were a bunch of books that I know my kids would love reading…

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Let me take you on a tour…

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Any function that serves hot chocolate to their book reviewers because they know that kids books really should be read with hot chocolate beside you…

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Let’s begin with the Ladybird books, which were there in all their adorable red and spotty glory… and is this not the most perfect ladybird cushion ever.

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Otherwise…

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Gotta say, “How cool is this book…” iDinosaur… that comes with an app… I am not one for gimmicks at all… but Hood 8 would literally die of joy if a dinosaur walked across his hand and out of the book he was reading. There is going to be a bug version too… look out for it. It gets a “galactically cool” from me!!!

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I passed on the Marvel comics…

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I was dashing to take a look at what they would be launching for Christmas…

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I think we are going to have to read our way through this very cool box set from Matt Haig…

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I don’t think we have read Matt Haig before, I know we are missing out on something!!!

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Could I just say Roald Dahl rebranding win… so much loveliness… Great big giant books, for great big giant stories… filled with all the loveliness that is Quentin Blake illustration.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Wonderful Sticker Activity Book: Matilda is right up there with Roald Dahl’s most loved books ever, it is the story of a sweet little girl, who loves to read… tossed into the worst of the worst, only Roald Dahl could imagine, kind of schools. The formidable headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is world famous for her dreadful punishments… but then Matilda discovers she has a friend and a secret talent, which together rescue her from her plight. If you haven’t read Matilda… stop and read it now. For Matilda fans of all ages there is now an activity book… it is too sweet… and I am just going to say: stickers!!! A double page spread of just glorious Quentin Blake Stickers. Otherwise, there is a wordsearch and spot the difference, codes and mazes, not to mention pages for wild creativity like design a pile of books that Matilda would like to read. It is sweet and for the child that loves Matilda it is perfect.

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George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl: This is the book behind the most amazingly awesome experiment book, Georges Marvellous Experiments, that we love so much. George’s very grouchy Grandma is there to keep an eye on him while his parents are out. George gets himself busy, looking for a cure for his Grandma’s insufferable bad mood. There is a fair amount of trial and error involved… a lot of our Roaldalian fun and of course the little guy comes out tops… after thwarting grandma and not succumbing to his parents exploitation either. Good fun, though I wouldn’t say good clean fun… because his concoctions do have some fairly messy results!!! The end of the book has a few fun pages, including a Revolting Rhyme.

The Penguin Random House Goody Bag

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Possibly the coolest goody bags ever… LIKE EVER!!! Stickers, posters, notebooks, samples, bookmarks, and books of course!!!

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Can I just say: The Magic Tree House Series…

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The Magic Tree House Series: And where have I been, an entire Magic Tree House activity kit? How have we never discovered these books… anyway, amongst the bookmarks and the stickers and all the goodies… was a map. Well Hood 8 was hooked and we have been grabbing every single Magic Tree House Book from the library ever since… I had to have eight kids before we found this series, something just for the two of us… unchartered waters so to speak. They are a huge collection of sweet adventures of an eight year old boy called Jack and his sister Annie, who discovered a tree house filled with books. If they open a book and wish they are there, they are magically transported anywhere in the world and anywhere in time… they go on a little adventure, but they always keep their treehouse book in their backpack, so that they can wish themselves home safely. Each book has nine or ten short easy chapters, so they can be read a chapter a day or as we read them, about five chapters a day… Great reading appeal for a se7en year old that is just into chapter books, right now we are alternating paragraphs through them. So far we have been to ancient Egypt, the Amazon, Ireland and the Caribbean and we have so many more to go. The books are all easy chapter books, there is another series the Merlin Missions that are for more advanced readers, which we haven’t got in our library and non-fiction Treehouse Fact Finders, that we will have to look out for. If you are into printables, activity sheet and just plain reading fun… then head over to their website, there are masses of resources for each book in the series there.

Choose Kind Journal by R.J. Palacio: This is divine… an “any year” page a day diary/journal… with the tag line: “Do one wonderful thing every day.” A stunning, stunning… page a day journal, with a question or a prompt to help you think about or do something wonderful every day. Lots of loveliness, lots of quotable quotes. Lovely paper to write on and stunning colours… and plenty of space to write every day. Ideas on every page to think about like: Give someone a chance to help you today; Write about a time when you felt happy for somebody else; Look out for students who react with warmth, what warm reactions did you observe?; How can you share sunshine with someone?… 365+1 pages of loveliness. I love this book, my teenage daughter loves it even more!!!

The BFG by Roald Dahl: This has to be one of the most whimsical, dreamy, lovely Roald Dahl stories of all time. The book begins when Sophie is unable to sleep she peeps out of the window and she captures the attention of the BFG… the Big Friendly Giant, who picks her up from her bed… terrifying for Sophie, not so terrifying if you are reading along. Luckily the BFG is the best kind of giant. The magic in this book is filled with the Giant’s wonderful pop-fizzling language… The BFG and Sophie are a formidable team on a quest to get rid of the wildly bad giants. Of course there is the true Roald Dahl funniness, and inventive plotting and planning, silly jokes and shocking villains, all in good fun. We haven’t seen the movie, so cannot say anything about it… but the end of the book is filled with a few activity pages… how to fill your dream jar, how to draw the BFG and such like. In the spirit of fun, this is such an enjoyable read.

Other Reads from Penguin Random House for Kids

BodyGuard Assassin by Chris Bradford: There is a new Chris Bradford out… in the Bodyguard series. My kids are huge Chris Bradford fans and you can read their interview with him, The Man Behind the Samurai Sword, here. This book was literally inhaled before it even landed on my desk… passed from kid to kid as they filled their Young Samurai hearts. Chris Bradford has mastered the art of a fast paced gripping story. In this, the fifth Bodyguard book in the series, we find the hero of the series Connor Reeves having to work with his rival, Jason… to protect Felix, the son of a frightfully wealthy Russian politician, Victor Malkov. This has a kidnapping, assassination attempts and the mafia, and most unlikely villain. Gripping, fast paced action all the way through and a shocking twist in the tale. Action, weapons, combat… and just the sort of potential movies my older boys would love to watch… meanwhile they are very happy to read the books!!!

I Funny: School of Laughs by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein and illustrated by Jomike Tejido: Can I just say this team of writers is prolific… the books just keep rolling out and my twelve year old loves them. As they roll off the shelf he reads them. They are fat books, feel like you are reading a grown-up book, but they are also picture rich and the chapters are short. Perfect for readers that are not super confident but are also way beyond beginner chapter books. In this book Jamie Grimm is a teacher, who happens to be in a wheel chair, is on a quest to save the school library. The new head master, who likes to be called coach has decided to destroy the library for a gymnasium. And the book is all about saving the library… in-between all sorts of regular middle school happenings including bullies. The jokes roll thick and fast throughout… on every page and every illustration… they will come back to you. If you have a middle schooler, who loves jokes, they will read this in a flash, it is heartwarming where the bullies definitely do not come out on top.

House of Robots: Robot Revolution by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein: The hero of this book is Sammy, he lives with his sickly little sister, his Mom, who is a robot inventor and his dad, who is a comic book creator. It sounds like a regular family, but their house is run entirely by robots. This as you can imagine, is great when things are going well… and not so great when they aren’t. Sammy is working on his science fair project and his mom is busy with a top secret invention. Sammy has to deal with the household robots “losing the plot.” There is also a new school yard nemesis that causes Sammy endless trouble in his day to day to-ing and fro-ing. All the pressures build up on Sammy… until… Sammy’s science fair project boosts his mother’s new invention unexpectedly. A great for middle schoolers, picture rich and quick and easy chapters… a heartwarming book with family values in a world full of robots.


All these books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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