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

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Se7en Anti-Excercise Excuses and How to Tame Them…

June 25th, 2018 · 5 Comments

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

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How to Tame Those Anti-Exercise Excuses

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

Journey to Health at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa

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

→ 5 CommentsTags: Healthy Living

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

June 24th, 2018 · No Comments

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


Se7en+1 Winter Break Specials

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

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

Se7en Learn How to be Waste Warriors With Changing Lives Through Nature…

June 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

Gotta say, we absolutely love working with Changing Lives Through Nature. The last time we spent a day with them we spent an entire day celebrating World Wetlands Day. And what a celebration it was.


This award winning team provides nature themed outings and education days, incredible camps and amazing days of learning in the great outdoors, for students from schools all over the Western Cape. Every couple of months they have a Nature Club Day open to Homeschoolers and you really really want to join them for these adventurous days. Last week we joined them for a day of learning to be Waste Warriors.

After Cape Town has survived years of learning to conserve energy because of load shedding, and practicing extreme water management as we find ourselves in the heart of a drought, our next crisis is definitely going to be a waste management problem. We are going to have to learn to manage our garbage a lot better as we run out of space to put the garbage that we create. We need to understand exactly where our garbage goes before we can start to managing it better. Household by household we could be creating a lot less garbage, we just need to know how.

Waste Warriors in Training

On possibly the stormiest day that Cape Town has seen in years we were a little bit nervous about spending the day in the great outdoors… but turns out they have plenty of space for wild play and active learning indoors.
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We began our day with some wild games. Sorting garbage at speed and then blindfolded, and discovered just how hard it is to be accurate when you are sorting garbage.

This was followed by a discussion on waste management and raised the question, even though thousands of households recycle in Cape Town and it gets collected on garbage collection day, where does our recycling actually go? What actually happens to our household recycling, it is all very well to recycle… but does our recycling actually get sorted?

Wild Waste Animals

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Our next task was to invent some new animals, created from a pile of recycling, with the help of tons of tape and project glue they set to work enthusiastically. Each animal needed some documentation, explaining where they live, what they like to eat and if they have any special features.
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A Swamp Crawler

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A Colosseum Sea Snake

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They clearly had a great time creating these… what is not to love about inventing a new and fantastic animal.
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Stepping Out for a Moment

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During our lunch break we stepped out to take a look at the vlei. There was no chance of going out on the lake, it was a truly wild and crazy day…
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Though we did spot a brave mongoose and these coots…

Eco-Bricks for the Win

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After lunch we dived into a mountain of trash and turned it into eco-bricks. It is not as easy as it looks… non-recyclables have to be squashed into soda bottles, these bottles will be used for community building projects. You can read about how to create eco-bricks here.

Fantastic Fashion Show

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Our last activity of the day was a fashion show, teams got together to upcycle the garbage and turn it into a fashion statement… a lot of thought and handwork, not to mention tape… went into creating these outfits…
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Wild fun of the best kind… who knew this gang could be models and that they would make a fashion statement… all in the name of green living.
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Huge thank you to Changing Lives Through Nature and CTEET for a fantastic day of learning… if you want to know more about their programmes then take a look at their websites. Otherwise they do have a holiday programme planned for the upcoming holidays… take a look and go along. Your kids will have the best time ever.

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→ No CommentsTags: Green Living

Se7en Sketchbook Projects in the Mailbag…

June 21st, 2018 · 2 Comments

For the last se7en years we have loved playing along with the Sketchbook Project in New York… The project is a global art project, where folk from all over the world sign up to receive a sketchbook that they fill with artwork and then mail back to the Brooklyn Art Library… it is the kind of project that you feel a little bit daunted by to begin with and then once you start you love it so much that you join in every single year.


We usually order our sketchbook a couple of months before the “mail by this date” date… and then it arrives a few weeks later, all crisp and fresh and blank.


We think and ponder about which theme to choose for ages and then for even more weeks ruminate about how we are going to fill our sketchbook.


Then all sorts of collage goodies get tossed on the table… little bits of useful goodies: sweetie wrappers, strings, fabric scraps, watercolours, markers… all sorts of things and we begin to work and to create a book.


Heaps of cutting and gluing goes on, while meals get later and later and laundry literally piles up…


In the end we have a book to show for it… that we mail back to the library as fast as we can. I know, all that work to ship it away and never see it again, but that is the magic of it… other folk on the far side of the world get to visit your notebook and read it and enjoy it. This years theme was Underwater and this is a peek inside our Sketchbook for 2018.

Se7en’s 2018 Sketchbook: Underwater

Sea Salt and Caramel locally made chocolate seemed like the most appropriate cover of our book.

The theme shouted ocean to us, but a lot of our time spent underwater is just washing dishes… even in the midst of Cape Town’s hardest hitting drought in years… where dish washing has become something a little less routine.

One of our kids has a shell collection that looks like this… it seemed like a good page to dream about underwater.

And our favourite exhibition at the Two Oceans Aquarium, by far, is the jellies.

And then one evening it was too windy to go for our usual evening walk along the seaside, and we had to go for a wander in the wetlands instead… and then we remembered all the pond life that is underwater.

And whale season is close, from May to October every year, whales visit our coastline and what a splendid site that is.

Something we used to take for granted… time under water in the bath tub… I don’t think anyone in Cape Town has taken a bath in the last two years… a serious drought can bring a city together like that.

And after winter comes summer and after two summers without any water in our swimming pool, we can certainly dream about summer days and splashing in the pool. This spread is peeping into the pool through the grating.

There is something for everyone to explore under the ocean.

We decided to look up salty facts for this page.

When last did you think about a great big beautiful coral reef? and all the wonderfully beautiful wildlife hidden inside?

We are passionate about turtles and the supporting the Two Oceans Aquarium Turtle Rehabilitation Program… there is everything to love about turtles.

And the kelp garden is one off our favourite spots in the Aquarium to sit and take a breather and draw.

Don’t forget how our ocean is suffering and without our help we have a tremendous problem on our hands. As Sylvia Earle says, “No Blue, No Green.”

I like the idea of treasure underwater… but there is a little conundrum here… is the actual treasure in the chest or the shark? ‘cos we would all like to go diving with sharks.

Unexpected rain fell on the skylight while we were working… when rain was predicted and we only got a little spots of rain, sigh.

Nothing like surfing to make you love the ocean… know the ocean to love the ocean.

And finally, we recently discovered, after a lifetime of living at the seaside, how magical snorkelling and rock pooling is. And all too soon our sketchbook was done.


Previous Sketchbooks

Click on the link below the image and it will take you into that sketchbook

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2016: Se7en’s Diary…

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2015: The Before and After Book…

2014: The King’s Finder…

2013: Se7en+1’s Travelogue…
(So excited that this sketchbook was featured on the Sketchbook Project’s instagram account!!!)

2012: Se7en+1’s Companion Book…

2011: A Day in the Life…

And that’s us, until next year…

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Our Events

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 4…

June 19th, 2018 · No Comments

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #4… Our big hearted lad, who is so serious, and who loves to make us all laugh and can literally run like the wind. The kid who has shot up this past year and is taller than all of us… and is always looking for a “little” snack. To the fabulous brother… hope fifteen is a fantastic year for you…


Our very mad hatter…

Who never stops flying…
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And running…
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And flying…

And running…
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And Mountain tops…

And running…

And drawing…

And Mountain tops…

And origami…

And adventuring…

And beach cleanups…
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And more drawing…

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Happy Brilliant Birthday


Our master of disguise…


Feet never ever on the ground…


To our lover of style…


And always a ready smile…


Always ready with a good story…


And the biggest brown eyes…


A Blast From the Past…

2017: Hood #4 Turns 14…

2016: Hood #4 Turns 13…

2015: Hood #4 Turns 12…

2014: Hood #4 Turns 11…

2013: Hood #4 Turns 10…

2012: Hood #4 Turns 9…

2011: H00d #4 Turns 8…

2010: Hood #4 Turns 7…

2009: Hood #4 Turns 6…

→ No CommentsTags: Home Truths · Our Events

Se7en Things to Pack for School on the Road…

June 13th, 2018 · 2 Comments

This past month a couple of friends have asked me what we would take for school, if we were going on an extended trip. I decided to reply with a blog post. Firstly, I have to say that traveling with kids is such a completely consuming event that most families will be learning so much together that there will be no need to learn anything more and I certainly wouldn’t bother about your kids falling behind… if you read to them everyday and they play a couple of games, and all the while learn amazing things as they travel… well you just can’t find that kind of learning sitting in a desk, ever.


Before I even started packing, I would begin with a map… and if I was traveling locally then I would get a local map. Keep it handy, roll it out everyday and write on it the progress you made. If you went for a walk, or if you visited a landmark, or experienced a thunderstorm… mark it your map. Your map will be a momento of your trip. It will get worn out… but that it the point. Is there anything better than a lived in artefact.


Se7en Things to Pack for School on the Road

  1. A Journal: This is going to be their “memory box” for years to come… let them use a double page spread a day. And document their days… a sentence or two about their day. Not a heap of writing. If they look like they can’t think of anything to write then gather together a list of questions you could ask them. Pop your list of questions in your own notebook and ask them just one leading question each day… What was your favourite thing you did today? Did you meet anyone interesting today? What did you eat today? Otherwise, once a week add a nature page, or a landmark page. Give them lots of free space to add and stickers and things they collect along the way, wrappers and pamphlets, postcards, till slips and such like. Journaling is something you can do as a family, creating your own journal will give you the space to create the “perfect memoir” for each of you, and will give the kids a bit of space to put whatever they want to into their own journal. Courtney Adamo posted a fabulous post on Journaling their trip around the world on her blog, Somewhere Slower.
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  3. A Journaling Kit: Keep it really simple. The simpler the better, you really don’t want to lose all your enthusiasm because you can’t find what you are looking for or have a family drama, because someone sat on the fancy paints. Keep it simple, so that if anything gets lost you can replace it at any town grocery store. This would be my list:
    1. A Large Notebook for each journaler, we just use a hardback school notebook, that you can get from any store tat sells stationary.
    2. A couple of pencils, erasers and a sharpener each.
    3. A pair of scissors, a glue stick and we use bostik all purpose adhesive in the tube, for things that don’t stick in with a glue stick. And a roll of contact paper, or wide transparent tape… fabulous for taping in things that are awkward to glue… like seeds, or a pinch of sand from a special spot.
    4. If I was going to splurge, I would get a set of great watercolour pencil crayons, and pop a few paintbrushes in with the pencils. That way they can colour in their drawings and all you need to turn your colouring into a painted artwork is a little water from a water bottle and a paintbrush.
    5. Avoid markers, kids love them, but they always bleed through the page and mess things up. If you want coloured pens just get a set of coloured ballpoints and be happy with those.
    6. I would take a pile of scrap paper as well… because kids love drawing and you don’t want to pack their journals with a million random drawings on the first day.
    7. Cover your book before you leave and spend a day… sticking a printable map on the inside cover, so that they can track their journey. And write a list of things they are packing and taking with them… it will be fun to look at later, not to mention you can add things to it when you are on the road, that you should have thought of before you left home. Also, as part of your preparations, stick a large envelope inside the cover of the book, for storing small collectables, like maps and such, that you may not want to stick into your book.
  4. Books: I would definitely take a small pile of favourite books. I would include a story book… a collection of stories is the best. Something you could read everyday and make part of your routine… like the Rebel Girls Book. A collection of local stories would be fantastic and a collection of just jolly fun stories something that your kids will look forward to that you can read a chapter at bedtime or mealtimes when the waiting is terminal, or a rainy day… there will be those. Pick a family classic that you will all enjoy and read it, just a chapter a day… Mary Poppins or Heidi are great family favourites, you would be surprised how quickly you will all get used to reading time. I would also let each kid bring a favourite book or two… something old, something new… if you get tired of a particular book, mail it home or leave it behind. You are most likely not going to the far side of the moon and should be able to treat your kids to a new book once in a while.
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  6. Nature Study:
    Children thrive on asking questions about the environment they are in… we use a range of nature books for traveling and creating nature journals. Kids love collecting leaves, feathers and so on. If it is small and flat let them. These things can easily be stuck into your journals, and the odd flower or leaf that you tape in, will naturally become a pressed leaf as you travel, as your journals will be closed most of the time. Beware of the little stone collected, rather encourage rock rubbings… paper and a wax crayon rubbed gently to and fro as you press on the rock and you are winning. What can I say… we had a rock collector and ummm there is only so much a car can hold before it is overcome by the weight of it.

    I would definitely get a kid friendly nature guide for traveling and possible the adult version to browse and inspire as well. Did you know that you can get the South African Wildlife Guide as an App? Follow the link and download it… and for more local wildlife apps.
  7. Games: I totally understand that space is limited… you can’t actually beat a pack of cards for fun… teach your kids patience and they will play on their own, otherwise rummy. UNO is totally playable for all ages and that right there is all the math training your kids need, if they play daily their math skills will soar. For word play, with a little help even small people can enjoy bananagrams or boggle. Other small and packable games would be Spot it and my kids love and adore Story Cubes (and there is an app for Story Cubes as well).
  8. Audio Books Are Your Very Friends: Pick a series from audible and listen away, a story collection gives you the best value for money on… I would recommend The Narnia Collection if your children haven’t listened to it yet. Otherwise my kids have absolutely loved The series of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Palace, and we have all loved the Little House on the Prairie Series, narrated by Cherry Jones. Otherwise, look online for the CD Roald Dahl Collection… that set of CD’s took us happily to Lesotho and back. Over and above that, I would choose something that makes everyone laugh and can lighten the mood… because there will be times when you need a little humour… a Dr Seuss Collection, or a classic Winnie the Pooh, trust me Winnie the Pooh is hilarious for kids and especially for their adults. Otherwise, search for Classical Kids on iTunes and download some of their stories with a classical music theme, our kids love these: Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr Bach comes to Call and many more.
  9. Actual School Stuff:
    If your kids are normally school goers and you are breaking free so to speak, I would definitely set up a rhythm and routine… a journaling half an hour everyday, a reading time every day, a game playing time and running about in the great outdoors time. If you just can’t leave school behind, then head for your local stationary store and grab some grade level workbooks, but really that is just busy work and your kids really don’t need them, they will keep up with their grade level by living a learning lifestyle. Maybe to help yourself stay calm and not panic… get hold of a kindle copy of Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read Aloud Family, or listen to her podcast, the Read Aloud Revival… and you will hear from someone other than me, that all you have to do is read to your kids and they will be fine.



→ 2 CommentsTags: Homeschooling

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 2…

June 12th, 2018 · 2 Comments

So birthday season has begun and Hood #2 just turned nineteen…


Another licensed driver in the house and…

How do I even have such grown up kids…

Always Mr Cool…

Always able to sleep anywhere…
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And otherwise bouncing with energy…

Fabulous big brother…

And always good for a laugh…

And the ultimate techno kid…

And the reason we have house rules!!!

This little face…

And those little curls…

Previous Birthday Posts

Hood #2 is 18

Hood #2 is 17…

Hood #2 is 16…

Hood #2 is 15…

Hood #2 is 14…

Hood #2 is 13…

Hood #2 is 12…

Hood #2 is 11…

Hood #2 is 10… An interview with an inventor.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Our Events