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

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Se7en’s March and Your Free Printable Calendar…

March 1st, 2018 · No Comments


March is here!!! Really!!! And as promised here is your March printable calendar. You are welcome to print it out, use the landscape option, it works better!!! Click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Print it out and write the days you would like to celebrate on it then pop it onto the fridge as a reminder…


Dates to Remember

→ No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post… The Special Events Edition…

February 27th, 2018 · No Comments

Firstly welcome to all the visitors we have received, who popped over from the Start Homeschooling Summit. I spent almost the whole of last week watching and learning and getting inspired… my goodness… there are so many fabulous homeschooling folk out there. I got a real sense of “I can totally do this,” which is a feeling most homeschool moms don’t actually carry in their backpockets!!! The free access is now closed, as the summit is over, but if you would like to know more then just follow the link.


Otherwise, through all that… we are suddenly back into school… we kind of fell into it… and that means that our days are pretty much full of hiking, getting to the beach and reading… it appears to be working. We are all learning, especially myself, and all the while filling our buckets with plenty of time outdoors.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Let’s start our links with … the Best Children’s Books on Bugs… on Imagination Soup!!!
  2. For all those moms, especially homeschoolers who don’t think they do enough… Brave writer’s Podcast… 55 Things I Did Not Do As a Homeschooler…
  3. I love Design Mom, she always tells it like it is, and here she says, “Tell Her First.” It’s a conversation to have with your daughters..
  4. We Are That Family… Writes straight to the heart, and Two Questions Every Christian Must Ask Themselves, is a post that everyone should read.
  5. If you don’t know Nuture Store… then dash over there and take a look at her lovely daffodil study!!!
  6. Alisa Burke’s Creating with a Kid series is the best!!! And her latest post… Working Large is just fantastic!!!
  7. My absolute fave foodie – real food, real fun for real families – on the internet is Simple Bites… well she posted How to make a Chocolate Icebox Number Cake… Just a helpful public announcement!!
  8. And if you need a little natural craftiness… Mollie Makes and Hashtags for Nature Inspired Crafting is your friend…

It appears to be event season… so I am packing this post with upcoming events…

Five for Fynbos Fundraiser

Towards the endow last year a raging fire swept through mountains of the south Peninsula, including the nursery of our friends at Cape Point. While fire is essential to our natural flora, fynbos… fire damage is very hard to come back from. They, and a couple of friends are hosting a fun event… and I know it will be fantastic… you might want to check it out.
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Join us on this three tiered experiential event celebrating the cycles of fire and fynbos. The three themes of Flames, Dormancy and Regrowth will be represented by three different bartenders creating three different gin based cocktails for your drinking pleasure. There will also be fire talks, flower crowns, light snacks, and an interactive wild flavor creation station. This event – partnered by Theonista and The Botanist Gin – is in aid of the Cape Point fires that took place last year in November with all proceeds going towards restoring the fynbos around the Good Hope Gardens Nursery.

Sea-Change Experience Immersion Course

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I mentioned recently that I had had my first underwater experience, crazy I know… after an entire lifetime of ocean loving I had never really looked under the surface. When people say there is a whole new world under there, what I was expecting was a whole NEW MAGICAL WORLD. I loved it, not that I am going scuba diving anytime soon… I really just used a mask and couldn’t even face a snorkel. Anyway it was Lisa Beasley, if you love the ocean and you are not following her on instagram… then get there already, who took us diving and showed us around. She and fellow members of the Sea-Change Team are having an Immersion Weekend… it looks incredible: intertidal walks, snorkelling, kayaking, cold water adaption and so much more are on the menu. If the ocean is your thing then you might want to take a peek at this Sea Change Weekend Experience in False Bay.

Turtle Road Trip


The Two Ocean’s Aquarium Turtle Road Trip starts this week and we are so excited about this… not to mention, you can be a part of it too… all the details are in the image below… if you are in the Southern Cape, then the Turtle Road Trip will be passing through a centre near you and everyone is welcome to stop by and visit with the Turtle Team and learn more about turtles…
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Meanwhile we are heading into turtle season here and if you do discover a stranded turtle on the beach… this infographic is designed to help you remember what to do with it…
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GreenPop’s Reforest Fest

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So many folk have asked us to remind them about the Greenpop Family Fest of Tree Planting… if you are looking for a family friendly comfortable camping weekend away… with a whole lot of tree planting thrown in for excellent good measure then look no rather than Greenpop’s family fest in March… and if you are looking for something a little vibey… then the Friend Fest the following weekend is for you. This is an excellent weekend for learning how to green your life and for encouraging your kids to become eco warriors. Take a look at my Forest Fest Adventure from last year…

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Book Giving Day


Our Book Giving Day Project is coming together and I will be sharing all the details with you as soon as I can… In the meantime we have already started gathering books together… watch out for our impending library project. If you want to take a peak at the previous Libraries we have created with our readers then take a peak at last year’s library… and previous year’s as well.

GiveAway Winner…


And we have a GiveAway Winner… I am Just no Good at Rhyming from PanMacmillan Kids South Africa…



Nikki… you are a winner!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Fun

Se7en Celebrates World Wetlands Day With Changing Lives Through Nature…

February 26th, 2018 · No Comments

Changing Lives through Nature is an organisation that believes in enriching our lives by engaging children from all walks of life with knowledge of the environment… immersion in nature has proven again and again to be the way to teach people of all ages to love the environment and so care for it. They provide outings and excursions and day programmes filled with hands on nature activities for children from all over the greater Cape Town area. Their work is incredible, and if you are into the great outdoors, even slightly, then you should definitely be following them, and looking out for days like these.

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Recently, I noticed a flyer on their instagram feed, which I reposted over here… inviting homeschoolers to join them for a day of fun… to celebrate World Wetland Day. We were really excited to join them… we have been following them for a while and their adventures look so exciting… And, it was one of our best days ever…

They treated us to the most amazing day of learning about the great outdoors… it is going to be a day that we remember for the longest time…

Our day began with some ice-breakers… and after that we quickly settled into a day of active learning…


What is a Wetland?


Wetlands are important water features that provide a home to a number of plants and animals, they also store water and filter water and so provide a good resource for their inhabitants to make use of. Wetlands are found on aquifer’s and behave as sponges. In the area we visited there are two wetlands, a seasonal wetland called Rondevlei, and a permanent wetland called Zeekoevlei. Wetlands are natural water purifiers, dirty water flows into them and the reeds filter out the dirt and capture debris, so that clean water flows out of the system. Wetlands are areas of high biodiversity and are under threat because of over development, over harvesting and pollution, not to mention invader plant species that can totally cover the surface… blocking sunlight from reaching below the surface. If the sunlight can’t reach below the surface then photosynthesis doesn’t occur, without light there is no food and without food their is no life. The life in your wetland will die when a invasive plant species settles in.



We Learned How to Make a Mini-Wetland

Our first experiment of the day was to create our own wetland…
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We gathered some grasses and wetland plant matter, and we added some pollution as well…

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Then we poured some dirty water through our mini wetland, and added some sponges into the mix, as the bottom layer of a wetland is spongey…

And the water came out clean… surprisingly clean… proof that wetlands really do clean our water.

Dragon Boating


Our next adventure took us out onto the water, to explore the vlei. First we had to learn a few paddling skills, but we were quickly ready to go. And we all loved this!!!




From Dragon Boating to SASS Testing

We did a mini SASS test of the Zeekoeivlei wetland. Each teeny tiny animal in a sample of water gets a score, and when the scores are added up and popped into a formula, the result can be used as an indicator of how clean or how dirty the water is. A little learning and a little discovering exactly how everything works and we were ready to dive in… this is hands on learning at its best!!!




After taking samples and adding up our data on the identification chart we were able to determine that the water this vlei is in good condition.

We Stopped by the Gantauw Project

On the way we stopped to take a quick look at the Gantouw Project… this is a fascinating project where Eland have been reintroduced onto the Cape Flats and they are used as a natural vegetation control. These large buck were removed from the region through habitat loss and have been reintroduced in the natural areas as a way to control the natural vegetation and encourage the natural biodiversity in such a small and rich region. Because we were there in the heat of the day we didn’t get to see the eland, but we chatted with a handler and learnt a few interesting eland facts… and tried their feed… we follow these guys, the Gantouw Project on instagram, it is a fascinating project and we would love to learn more about it.


A Bird Walk Through Rondevlei

After a shady lunch, and a visit to the eland project we were up and ready to go on a Bird Walk through the Rondevlei Bird Sanctuary…

We had a wander through their information centre…

And a visit to the classroom to learn about the birds we would most likely encounter in our walk…

And we learnt about hippos… and their skat…

And my kids kept saying they hoped they would see a hippo, and I (the wise mother person said they didn’t really have hippos)… turns out they have at least nine… who knew? and there is evidence of them everywhere…

We also learnt a lot about local plants…
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What is delicious and what is an acquired taste!!!

And we learnt about insects… how is this ant’s nest!!!

Into the bird hide…


And up onto the viewing deck…


And very far away, and particularly poor photography skills but just past those reeds we saw hippo!!! Actual live hippo… you are going to have to believe us!!!

Down, down, down…

And look at this little fellow!!!

One last Experiment

Create your own mini wetland… a refresher on all that we had learned… layers of grass and reeds and sand and stones. Dirty water in… and clean water out…



Don’t Scroll Further Down if You Don’t Love Snakes

As a special reward for a fantastic day out they showed us their snakes… And can I just say, not all, but some… of my kids love snakes…




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And that was it… a perfect day that ended far too soon. Look out for the Changing Lives through Nature Team, they are an inspiration to children and their parents… they are literally changing lives through nature.

Thank you so much to the Changing Lives Through Nature Team for a wonderful day out, we loved every second of it. This is not a sponsored blogpost, but we did experience the day as a gift for an honest review and blog post.

Changing Lives Through Nature

→ No CommentsTags: Outings · Science

Hiking Trails of Southern Africa… A Review…

February 25th, 2018 · No Comments

Weekend reading at it’s very best… as our kids dream and wish to hike further and further afield, this book makes for a very good read.


Hiking with kids is a bit of an art and we dipped in and out of hiking for years before finally saying it is now or never a couple of years back and we took the plunge, so to speak. We never looked back, once we got past the initial, “we can/we can’t/we should/we must” we just got up and got going. The great thing about hiking with kids is you don’t need any special equipment and there are plenty of places to hike and plenty of family friendly hikes available in our neighbourhood. Initially we were somewhat limited by short legs and lack of fitness, but over time and I mean a long time, we got better and better at it.

A family challenge that began as a hike up Table Mountain once a year quickly became a hike or two a month and last year we upped our game and took on the #52HikeChallenge. The #52HikeChallenge is really a challenge to see if you can hike 52 hikes in one year. They have a website you can sign up to and everything… we didn’t really bother with that… we just settled in and got started. Don’t ask me why I thought we could do it… but we did. It is pretty much a hike a week, except we weren’t very consistent and towards the end of the year we did have somewhat of a mad dash… and the last two weeks of the year we pretty much hiked daily to get it done, but we did it.


This year we are at it again and being a little more intentional about it. Making sure that we hike each week, without fail… whatever the weather we are going to be out there. As with most sports as you get better at it, so you want to know more about it. What begin as a hike up Table Mountain once a year has become an exploration of all the routes around us… and we have done a ton of hikes in the South Peninsula. Last year we did our first overnight hike as a family and everyone is eager to try another one.

Hiking Trails of South Africa by Willie Olivier

Turns out Hiking Trails of South Africa is the perfect book for us to review right now… as we begin to think maybe we could be looking further afield…

Se7en+1 Things We Love About This Book

  1. Over 500 Hikes and Trails: This book covers in detail, all the provinces of South Africa, each section begins with a map of the region and a list of hikes for that region. Once you have selected your region the book takes you through all the hikes you could possibly need to know about… area by area in that region. For instance in our area, there are a number of hikes for Table Mountain and also for the South Peninsula and Cape Point, which is our speciality.
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  3. Lots of Hiking Information and Tips: The book has a fabulous introduction… filled with useful information for instance what to pack, what to wear, first aid advice and so on. Particularly useful was menu ideas for food and snacks to take on hikes longer than your typical day hikes. There are really good tips on gear and equipment, and what you actually will need to perform a particular hike. It also includes a fairly comprehensive First Aid Guide, including how to handle snake and insect bites. The Introduction is packed with lots of really useful snippets and the sort of things to keep aspiring hikers enthralled for weeks on end.
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  5. A Comprehensive Hike: The fact that the book includes all kinds of hikes, from day walks to wilderness trails means that any hike is a good hike and this is a truly comprehensive hiking guide for hikes in South Africa. For the family that wants to start hiking, to the more experienced hiker looking for a trail over a number of days… this book has something for everyone and is the complete guide.
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  7. Detailed Information for Each Hike: Each hike can be found on the regional map and then there is a block of information providing all the essential detail: distance; permits required; Maps available; Facilities; Pertinent information and contact details for booking. This is followed by a more detailed couple of paragraphs on the route and what to expect along the way. Basically a guided overview of the hike, providing enough information for you to decide if this is the kind of hike that you are looking for.
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  9. Inspiration for Around the Country: Within Region of the book has a few pages of full colour photographs, inserted in between the trail descriptions. The photographs are epic, and will inspire you to put on your hiking shoes and get out there. This book is great for arm chair traveling, but so much greater if you actually get out there.
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  11. Journal Pages: At the end of the book there are a number of journal pages where you can fill in your own hiking experiences, routes you have taken and bird, wild and plant life that you may have spotted along your route. As well as space to describe your hike and your gear and possible reminders to yourself about things to remember for next time.
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  13. There are Recommended Resources: Beyond the journal pages is a useful glossary, as well as a working index and a list of recommended books… for instance local field guides.
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  15. It is a Great Resource: This book is somewhat of a memoir, reminding us of so many hikes we have done as a family, but more than that it is somewhat dreamy as it is packed with a lot more hikes that we still want to do… obviously we would want to take our kids on the iconic Otter Trail, as well as the West Coast National Park… but what about further afield to the Drakensberg or the Karoo. This book is a font of information and every hiker’s dream book… just enough information to peak their interest and want to step out of the door into another adventure.

This book is a fantastic guidebook for hikes all over South Africa, packed with practical information for hikers of all abilities… and in all stages of their hiking career…

You can meet the authors on their website: Stuart on Nature. I received this book from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Hiking · Outdoors · Outings · Reviews

Se7en + 1 Famiy Friendly Things to do in the City of Cape Town…

February 22nd, 2018 · 6 Comments

Cape Town is a fabulous place to visit for families, with so many activities to choose from. When folk visit Cape Town they tend to go to our major site seeing spots: Cape Point and the Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and up Table Mountain and they are all fabulous places to have on your bucket list. What folk don’t know, and until we had in a staycation in the city centre last year neither did we, there are a lot of family friendly things to do if you find yourself in the centre of Cape Town for a day or even for just a couple of hours.


The part of the city that we most like to hang about in is called the Fringe and you can find it between the Castle of Good Hope, which is nothing like the castles that you find in Europe, and the Company Gardens, which are also just stunning. The area is packed with lots of foodie delights, there is something for everyone and good places to hang out and relax. It is a great neighbourhood for people watching and street art… very trendy very fun. Theatre, the Fugard… Movies, the Labia and of course cup cakes at Charly’s Bakery.

Best Place to Play: The Big Box Cafe


This just happens to be one of our favourite spots in the whole wide world, it is a games cafe in the centre of the city. Old familiar games and tons of new ones that you won’t have met before. If you are playing and discover that you absolutely love one of them, then you can buy the game there too. The cafe has fabulous pancakes and is one of our top outings ever, in fact it is a regular treat on our calendar. Here’s a top tip for you… parking is free and widely available in the city on a Saturday Afternoon… just saying!!!
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Not to mention, lots of games in French… so plenty of practice for my French students.
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Best Place to Read: The Book Lounge


They serve a fine hot chocolate and coffee in the basement… and they have the best children’s book corner in Cape Town. So many of the latest and greatest books and buckets of classics as well. From tots to teens they have you covered. Not to mention lots of trendy and beautiful books for adults. Story time on Saturday mornings at eleven… totally winning at Dreamy Book Store Goals, with couches for deep reading and plenty of space to spread out and browse.
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We have interviewed tons of children’s authors there, it really is the book shop to be… Emily Gravett, Katherine Graham and Andy Griffiths…



Best Place to People Watch: The Company Gardens


If you think the city is just wall to wall concrete and places where kids have to sit still and be quiet… then you havent been to the Company Gardens lately. They are beautiful, full of shady spots and lots and lots of interesting features to look at and explore. Not to mention a place where you will literally find nature and wildlife, stepping out alongside you. If you are looking for the vibe feel of Cape Town locals then this is where you will find them.



Best Place to Learn: The Planetarium


Surrounding the Company Gardens are a number of Cape Town’s Museums, if you need a respite from the great outdoors then head for the Planetarium.

Look for ticket specials during the school holidays, often over the school holidays they have half price sales… and head for their website to see the time of particular shows that showing and what you would most like to see. Also, your Planetarium ticket gives you access to the Natural History Museum… so its a win, win.
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Best Place for Fine Coffee: Kamili Coffee


Apart from their most fabulous coffee and quick treats… and you can buy raw coffee bags there as well… Love them.


Best Place for Zero Waste Shopping: Nude Foods


Gotta love Zero Waste Shopping, and if we are in the city, then my kids love a little visit to Nude Foods, where they have lots of ready to eat food, that you would want your kids to eat, and little treats on hand.
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Best Place for a Quick Lunch: New York Bagels


These guys sell the most fantastic, not to mention beautiful… lunches. Picture perfect works of art every time… not to mention totally delicious!!!

Best Place for a Family Supper: Chef Pons

If you are visiting Cape Town from overseas, then book your dinner at Gold Restaurant and don’t look back… you will have a complete and wonderful African Experience, not to mention dinner to remember. If, however, you are staying in the city centre and looking for a place for dinner with your kids and like us you can’t face anything that is touted as fast food. Then a friend recently recommended Chef Pons to us… like where have we been, why don’t locals know about this spot. The most delicious Asian food… hot and spicy for those that like it, and cool and calm for those that don’t. A menu full of variety and you can buy dishes for the table, which means we just by different meals from the menu and everyone around the table gets to taste and try different flavours.
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Have a look at their menu… there really is something for everyone, and the price tag isn’t over the top. We really enjoy going there, we never have to book… just show up, either the father person and I, or the whole gang… they are not afraid of serving a large table.
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→ 6 CommentsTags: Outings · Restaurants · Visit Cape Town

Se7en Tips To Just Get Started At Gym… and a Healthy Weight Programme Special With SSiSA…

February 20th, 2018 · No Comments

Not quite a year ago I became the Brand Ambassador for the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa… and no I am not your typical “ultra-out-there-in-your-face” kind of Ambassador and I am definitely not even an ultra-athlete. I am just a regular mom, who is finally stepping out from behind the camera, and doing things that I had thought I would never do again. When I signed up for the Healthy Weight Programme I knew that my life would change, but I had no idea just how dramatically it would change and how much better everything would be.


Special Deal This Week for the Healthy Weight Programme

The Healthy Weight Programme, which really should be called the Healthy Life Programme… because they look at your whole life… your sleep, your diet, where you are mentally, your overall health and finally your exercise. They help you find solutions to the issues that are standing between you and a healthy life. They are offering a 10% discount to all folk that join the Healthy Weight Programme this week. They also have a special deal for couples that sign up… and if you sign up this week then you will get a 10% discount on that special deal as well… If you are keen to know more then head over to the Healthy Weight Programme and make sure you sign up with the keyword: SE7EN

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When I was invited to join the Healthy Weight Programme I was nervously optimistic. I had tried to get moving before, and I had failed so many times. I regularly took my kids on hikes and much as I love the great outdoors and being at the top of every mountain, I dreaded hikes… because lets be honest ALL hikes start at the bottom of a mountain and fitness was an issue. Fitness, or the lack thereof in my life, had become a huge issue… it was just getting harder and harder to get motivated to get going, the less I did the harder it became. When I started the program my goal was a simple one, I just wanted to get moving. While I thought that that kind of a goal might be considered silly at a gym with a reputation for training elite athletes, everyone at the gym took me seriously. Not only that, they went the very extra mile to help me to get moving. My entire journey has been personalised, making sure that I enjoy it every step of the way… lets face it, if you love it, then it is a lot easier to get up and get back into the gym, day after day.


So, it is closer to March than January, and all the “New Year, New You” resolutions have dropped off the agenda and been replaced with all the ho-hum humdrum… of real life. And you really wish that a healthier lifestyle was part of your real life, but you can’t see how you will ever… ever fit it in… and you are thinking, well maybe next year. Can I just suggest that you get a head start on next year and just start now. This isn’t some sort of selfish-seeking ambition to escape domestic chores, this is literally your health at stake here, the hour or two roundtrip to gym and back a couple of times a week… will see untold benefits for you and your family. And to be honest, I never though I would be able to do this, let alone continue with it… but here I am. And honestly if I can do this, anyone can!!!

Se7en Tips To Get You Started

  1. Think Small, and Aim High: Just the thought of a full year of workouts would have seemed impossible for me at the start. While my goal was to get moving I had to just think “from class to class…” Get through this class, and then get through the next… one class at a time was manageable. Stick with that. I know, folk map out all their workouts for weeks in advance… and then if you can’t help missing a workout, for whatever reason… you feel like a failure. Nobody wants that, you need to be positive. So I tracked the workouts I attended, just marking them on the calendar everytime I made it to gym. One work out at a time adds up really quickly.
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  3. Once You Start, Keep At It: Whatever you do, don’t give up… you have to be patient and keep at it. You won’t see instant results, in fact for my first eight week course, I hardly lost any weight and I was a lot tireder than usual, not just because of the much earlier starts to the day, but because of the accumulated workouts. So much for “you will have so much energy” and “you will be able to do so many things you couldn’t before.” Your body has to adjust to all the “stress” you are putting on it and that doesn’t happen over night. Your first few classes will be manageable, but if you haven’t moved at all in a while (ahem, more than a few years), you are going to be stiff… and whenever you are stiff… keep moving it is counter-intuitive but it definitely eases the pain. I know it is hard to believe that, but the more you move the better it will be.
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  5. You Will Be Tired: I don’t know why I didn’t think of this, but when you add an hour of working out to your day, whoever you are, you are going to be tired and not only that you will feel fairly sorry for yourself. Be gentle and when you aren’t working out, make sure that you get more rest. Take a nap, sleep more… sleep is the key to recovering between workouts. In fact, sleep is the key to seeing any kind of result… energy wise, weight wise and health wise.
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  7. Don’t Believe Everything (Anything) Your Brain Tells You: I cannot begin to tell you how many times I thought a move was impossible, and how many times I then went on to do it. Things that I was convinced that I could never do were not actually nearly as hard as I thought they were. You have already made the decision to be there, so go one step further and just try things that appear to be impossible… you will be pleasantly surprised. Again and again.
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  9. Classes Are Not At All Random, You Don’t Need to Pace Yourself: Most classes start with a cardio-warm up, followed by two or three sets of exercises targeting specific muscle groups, between sets you will do a little bit of cardio, to keep your heart rate up… and then most classes end with mat-time, and that is all the (dreadful!) core exercises, and finally a stretch. Most moves you don’t do for more than a minute, think about it. Just one minute of most exercises, you can probably do. If you know what to expect, more or less it is somehow easier to survive. Because you do exercises in sets, focusing on different muscle groups each time, you can totally do your best from the start of the class… and each set within the class will require different (and so fresh) muscles. Don’t worry about pacing yourself, and holding back for the end of the class… you are there, so go for it, from the start.
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  11. Just Be Patient: From time to time I would lose my nerve and decide that I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see. Instead of my usual morning workouts, I would add an evening workout as well… everyday, or double the weights I was using on the super circuit from one day to the next, I inevitably got slightly injured and had to back down for a few weeks. The point is you have be patient… you will see results. You will have weeks where you plateau, and then you will suddenly be able to do things you couldn’t before. If you are consistent, then you have to get results.
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  13. If You Plan to Move then Move all the Time: Not just in gym, all the time. Not all the moving you do has to be hectic, some of it can just be life. Look for ways to move all the time. Never take an elevator again, pick up that pen you dropped on the floor instead of calling a kid, walk to the mailbox, walk around while you are chatting on the phone, do 5 pushups with your kids every time you walk in the front door… just 5!!! Go for an amble, do anything… just move. If you are sitting in front of a screen… set an alarm that you can only turn off on the far side of the room… and get up and turn it off every twenty minutes… basically find ways to move… look for them and move.

Special Deal ONLY This Week for the Healthy Weight Programme

They are offering a 10% discount to all folk that join the Healthy Weight Programme, but only this week. They also have a special deal for couples that sign up… and if you sign up this week then you will get a 10% discount on that special deal as well… If you are keen to know more then head over to the Healthy Weight Programme and make sure you sign up with the keyword: SE7EN

You Can Read About My Journey From the Start…

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How We Homeschool Right Now…

February 20th, 2018 · 1 Comment

This week the Start Homeschooling Summit is live online and you need to register right now to get a whole load of free resources.I thought I would blog a little bit about homeschooling for those folk visiting us from around the world… We take a good chunk of summer off every year, a complete break from anything that looks like school, but we are about to head back into it and after weeks and weeks of hikes on the mountains and endless beach days, quite a few (not all mind you) of my students are eager to get back into a more regular routine.


How we do school and every single homeschool is as unique as its students. So this is what works for us, but each and every homeschool has to find their own rhythm and figure out what works for them… some folks school completely differently to how we homeschool and it works really well for them… explore, learn and figure out what works for you. It won’t always run smoothly, there will be good days and bad days, savour the good ones and rescue the bad ones with a pile of stories or time outdoors, and move on.

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The back bone of our homeschool has been and will always be our Sonlight Library, basically each child begins at the bottom and read their way through it… while I read a lot of books to them, they are expected to do a lot of reading too. Up and up and up the shelves until they are done. It doesn’t matter what the season is, they read from the school shelf. It is a living bookshelf, that cannot be kept perfectly tidy… because books move off and on and round about this shelf on a daily basis. Reading is the key to our homeschool and by the time our kids are finished reading their way through this bookshelf they are ready to write their school leaver’s certificates without any other special preparation and they are good to launch. This doesn’t mean that all our children are exceptional readers, some of them have certainly had their reading struggles. For some kids reading is easy and they just power through the shelves and for others audible books have been key to their learning.

How We Homeschool Right Now…

  1. There is a Season for Everything: We have two very distinct (to me) seasons of school in our school year… During the school part of the year they do do math and language arts and fill in their journals and their nature notebooks, spend a ton of time outdoors and read and read and read… and during the un-schooling part of the year they tend to do pretty much the same except anything that might look like a workbook is completely ignored. Math for example, is replaced with boardgames and card games, other language arts is replaced by bananagrams and scrabble. To be honest, as homeschoolers there is very little distinction for my kids, between the school season and un-school seasons because they are learning all the time. Everything is some sort of lesson, whether they are taught it or not. Learning is a lifestyle and cannot be switched on and off. The biggest difference is really for myself… I need the distinction, I need the change and I need time to refresh and gather new inspiration, ideas and resources.
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  3. Grab Every Opportunity to Get Outdoors: I firmly believe that none of us ever spend enough time outdoors and immersing our family in nature is the best way for our kids retain their curiosity about the great outdoors and life in general. I say yes to any opportunity to get outdoors. Even dragging our table outdoors for school on a beautiful day. Schooling under blue skies makes it totally worth it. I don’t actively seek adventures, somehow they come to us… Living on the slopes of a mountain, besides a beach helps for sure. But, be it a local park, or a game park, granny’s garden or the local nursery, there are plenty of ways to get outdoors… even a walk to the library is getting outdoors. Everyone feels better for it.
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  5. Art is Just as Important as Math: I am more concerned that my kids learn to think creatively than they produce magnificent works of frameable art. So art at our house looks very much like a pile of accessible materials. The wandering of little minds as they become totally absorbed in making and creating means that art mornings form a large part of our school days. Materials are available, inspiration is strewn and they are left to create. You cannot expect children to become creative thinking grownups if they haven’t been creative thinkers from the start. Creative thinking takes hours and hours to develop, you can’t squeeze art into an hour once a week… it has to be more and it has to have a lot of time devoted to it. Which leads to…
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  7. You Can Totally Say No to Extra-Murals in Primary School: When my kids are old enough to take themselves to their extra-murals then they are old enough to do them… in the ancient of times, when we had two or three kids I was totally sucked into all the marketing directed at anxious and guilt ridden new parents… my children would left behind, they would not have the same advantages as other children they knew… the list went on and on and on… the fact is, at the end of one school year we ended out extra murals and I just “forgot” to sign up again the next year. Of course our kids loved their extramural and learnt a lot through them, but we paid the price of free afternoons and younger siblings sitting for hours and hours in the car, driving to and fro and otherwise, waiting. Basically, children need to play. Of course they love being busy and engaged and fun activities and of course they will love all the funky extra-murals tossed onto their hectic schedule… But much like ice-cream, that they also love, they don’t need it every day. Children NEED to play. Without play they will not learn, they will not develop the skills they need to learn and they will not get ahead… So with at least one morning for getting outdoors and another spent on some sort of artiness… they find time to fit their school work into the other mornings. And their afternoons are free to play. The temptation to fill their afternoons with playdates since they don’t do extra-murals is always present. But the fact is kids need hours and hours to mull over what they have learnt and if their schedule is always jam packed then they never have time to put all the new skills and lessons into practice.
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  9. What about a Second Language: Once our kids are in high school and they are old enough and able to walk to afternoon classes they do attend language lessons at a local language school. By the end of high school they are pretty fluent, they love it… they have had a chance to learn a new language and culture, make friends and speak a language together that neither of their parents are very good at. In fact it isn’t just about second languages, don’t be afraid to let your children try all sorts of weird and wonderful things. We believe that if our kids are old enough to organise themselves then they are pretty much old enough to pursue their passions. Our kids have enjoyed music, cooking, woodwork and all sorts of skills in their quest to learn more. But there is no rush and they certainly don’t have to have tried everything before they reach high school. It is in fact critical to us that our kids are able to organise their own calendars, and activities… it is required in day to day life and we are living real life over here.
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  11. What About Learning Online: Our kids are growing up in a completely different world to the one we grew up in… they do not know a time when there wasn’t internet or touch screens. The one screen that your kids really don’t need in their lives is TV, and I know you do get very “educational programs” on tv and so many folk are always telling me about the good reasons why kids need tv, but actually, though it was never that intentional, our kids have grown up without TV… and no they aren’t culturally deprived, they just didn’t need it. That being said, your kids do need screen time and they do need to be learning online… they need to be fluent in working in an online classroom, it will enable them to study anything they would like to and when they would like to. You obviously cannot just drop your children in front of a computer with access to the internet… but by the time our kids are coming out the other side of middle school we expect them to have a good grasp of online learning. I am not the best teacher at this, so we have outsourced this and our middle/high school aged students attend classes at Impact Virtual, where they have studied, Digital Learning, Photography, Money Matters, World Literature and Shakespeare to name a few. If you are interested in the skills they have learnt there, pop over and look at the student work there… children that had no idea where to start on a computer, very quickly learn how to build a website, do research and present their results in a useful way. They love these classes and the work is a lot harder than they ever anticipate and they always have to raise their game significantly… this is a good thing. There is a lot to be said for homeschooling kids getting the opportunity to learn from someone who isn’t a parent.
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  13. What About Working and School: One of our priorities for our homeschool is that our children leave home with some sort of work experience under their belt. Not to mention an whole collection of life skills. We encourage our kids to seek opportunities for them to work or volunteer, as soon as they can. From the moment they are able to, our children help with chores around the house… I firmly believe if they are big enough to unpack things then they are big enough to put them back. Being part of the team and household chores are all part of daily life and yes, there comes a time when chores are particularly uncool… jobs still need to be done and then our kids are lucky enough to have two grannies in Cape Town that need household help from time to time. They build the skills, and I will make sure they are rewarded with a day at grannies house to help her clean her home, wash windows, carry groceries, whatever is needed really. Volunteering is work and we take it seriously, planting gardens, beach cleanups and reading to small kids have all been volunteer projects our kids have enjoyed doing. In terms of real work experience, once they are sixteen our kids are eager to find job opportunities: online tutoring, helping on building projects, volunteering, looking after younger kids… these are all opportunities for your kids to get ready for the when they are no longer in school. They quickly realise which jobs are a good fit for them and which are definitely not.
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  15. How Do We Finish School: This is one question we get asked a lot… and I have to say that the question totally consumed me for years… but now that we have two students finished with school, I am guessing that our other students will follow along similarly. The truth is that, while I don’t expect all our children will choose to head onto to tertiary education, I do want them to finish school with the necessary entrance requirements in hand, should they choose to study further they will be able to do so. In South Africa most Universities and Colleges now have their own entrance exams, regardless of the matric certificate your students hold in their hands. This means that your student will have to write and pass the entrance exams to any college or university they might choose to attend. Read the entrance requirements to local universities really carefully and then tick all the boxes. Right now a student can get into college with an SAT certificate and GED Papers. To get into University it helps their cause to have done a year of college studies or if they have been accepted into an overseas college… they don’t have to attend an overseas college, just submit the application and be approved. That is considered evidence enough that your student can achieve the required level of work. Basically… do your research, it is not nearly as hard to finish school as folk think it is.


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