se7en

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

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Let’s Talk About Gym and Getting Things Done…

March 30th, 2017 · 14 Comments

So I haven’t blogged about gym for a while, but then again, I haven’t been blogging a lot at all… And it is quite simply because I am slowly and steadily rearranging my life. It’s fun in a totally new way and I am loving it. When I started the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa I was really hoping to get moving and I didn’t want to aim too high… I wanted to get moving sure, like tie my shoelaces with ease, well I have to say that it is time to re-evaluate my lowly goals. Because let’s face it at my very first meet up for the fitness assessment, they said oh so casually, “We will get you moving…” And they were right, I had no idea just how much I would be moving… or how much everything would be changing around me. I had no idea that I would actually run again, and I had no idea that I would be able to consistently get up at 5:30 in the morning to get their on time.

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That’s an actual athlete on the treadmill, the empty treadmill is waiting for my attention.

Firstly, let’s just say after a 4 weeks of learning exactly how to do gym we finally made it into the real gym last week… and there I discovered the treadmill. My last experience on a treadmill was somewhat of a disaster… and now I kind of like it, not as much as the rowing machine, which I really love. I have to say that the workouts are fun, difficult because we are learning new things all the time, and fun for the same reason. It’s not so much about the gym though, which is fabulous because I feel fitter than I have felt in forever and I am astonished to discover that things I thought I would never do again I actually can do. It helps to have a biokineticist, and a handful of encouraging interns alongside me saying, “you can do it,” all the way… I kind of wish I could borrow them for a Park Run. Not to mention, these folk would make excellent midwives, they are full of encouragement even when you are quite literally convinced that you cannot do something, they somehow manage to encourage you to keep trying.

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Rows of weights, and they aren’t just for decor, we actually pick those up and do stuff with them.

Anyway, it isn’t so much about the gym, and neither is it so much about eating better, though I am doing a whole lot of that. It is all about the sleep. I am sleeping folks, can I hear a hoorah. It has been years since I slept like a regular person. I am in bed before midnight, often before eleven every single night… and I spontaneously wake up at five. This was a goal, that I thought sounded to good to be true, that I would never ever achieve, because it is completely unrealistic for all the things I try and do in a day. But a couple of weeks of real sleep is absolutely life changing. Once or twice I thought, how bad could it be, and I stayed up later only to feel so horrifically dreadful the next day that I quickly chose to sleep properly again the following night. Honestly how on earth did I survive on so little sleep for so many years. This has created a new problem for me, I am not sure how to fit everything into my day anymore…

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This is not a new kind of tree, these are called Pezzi balls and are used to torture novice gym goers.

I always used to blog when my kids were sleeping, I love the peacefulness and working away when the house is quiet. The reality is with doing this programme I have discovered that I need to carve out my needs a lot more clearly. Before I might have said, I am so tired and then soldiered on. Well now I head for bed. So I am looking for extra time in my day – time for emailing folk, time for editing photographs, and also time for blogging. So this means that a lot of folk around here have had to up their game somewhat. I no longer clean up after meals at all… ever. And I use that time for all the behind the scenes blogging work and in the evening, about the only good thing I am for is editing pictures… My most productive time of day is in the late afternoon, I have always liked that time of day for working, but that is also really busy, with visitors stopping by and kids needing attention for this and that. So this past week I tried blogging in the mornings, during school time. I know it seems crazy, but it appears that the mornings might be a good time for me… the kids have their work and I have mine.

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I have very few nice words available for anything that looks remotely like a bike.

When I get home from gym the kids are just waking up and they can take forever to get into gear. I find myself waiting around for them to catch up with me and so I tried getting home from gym and working solidly on blogging, for an hour or two before checking on how their school day was going and it worked. It has to get better though. They all got the idea that they could actually get started with school while I was busy. All my kids have school ready to tackle on their own at the start of the day, even if it is just reading, nobody needs all my attention all the time. So I am upping their school game too. Let’s face it, my kids have a working mum and it has taken forever for me to figure out that it is okay to work while they are up and about and doing stuff. I have always thought that would be letting them down somewhat, but actually it is raising their game and the more independent work they do, the better. I am going to keep at it and see if the morning slot doesn’t work as a good time to get blogging more consistent again. Honestly something has to work out, because I never ever want to go back to not sleeping again. And now that I have discovered how much I enjoy gym I don’t want to lose that either. So time is of the essence, blogging will go on, just at a slightly slower pace, while I find the balance between life and sleep. In the meantime, I am going to encourage all the night owls I know to get more sleep, you will feel so much better for it.

Previous Posts over at the SSISA

Previous Posts in this Series

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I would like to thank SSISA for the free training/mentoring I am getting in exchange for an honest blog post. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ 14 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays

What We Have Been Reading Lately, the Penguin Random House Edition…

March 28th, 2017 · 6 Comments

We have been reading a ton this year, lots and lots of new books are on my desk waiting for their reviews to be written… so let’s dive in and begin…

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Parenting


The Happiest Kids in the World by Rina Mae Acosta and Michelle Hutchison published by Penguin Random House South Africa:

I have to qualify this review a little bit, because I almost never ever read parenting books… ever. It is quite simple, with eight kids our entire parenting philosophy can be summed up in a couple of words: “Whatever makes the least noise.” And I haven’t met many parenting books with that philosophy. That being said, I love reading about anything around the world, and parenting around the world is just fascinating. It turns out that Dutch children have come out tops in the “happiness stakes” in study after study, so I was eager to see exactly what it was that makes their kids so happy. It turns out, love and respect are the foundation of their family life, everyone has an opinion and anyone can voice their opinion… children are people and need to be treated like that… Not necessarily like little adults or like the centre of the universe. This was reassuring for me as in our house everyone does indeed have a voice (and yes often all at once) and opinions are expressed freely and frequently. The authors, who are married to Dutch men and raising their children in a totally “new to them” culture, have had a lot to learn and a lot to get used to. It appears that the Dutch in general are very pragmatic and have a very level headed approach to life in general, including parenting.

The book includes thirteen chapters, from pregnancy and birth, right on through pre-school, primary school and into the teen age years. The gloss over nothing, they merely observe what happens, in schools, in parks, in playgroups and so on. It was a lovely read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and kept thinking I must have Dutch ancestors… because so much of what they write about makes perfect sense, including how they trust their children to get on with things and leave them to get on with them. There are no home work fights because primary school children don’t get homework; there are no chore debates, because everyone has their role to play; there is definitely no hovering around the playground to make sure that your child is performing better than all the rest, because honestly, nobody cares; and there is no “PRETEEN/TEEN TALK” because they have already discussed everything their children need to know as they grew up. I really enjoyed this book. If you are looking for a fun to read no-nonsense parenting book, that isn’t going to leave you drowning in guilt about all the things that you should have done… then this is the parenting book for you. This is definitely not the book for go-getter parents who are aiming to get their kids ahead at all costs… this is exactly for parents who need insights and ideas into raising “The Happiest Kids in the World.”

A Quick Escape

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella published by Penguin Random House:
This is a fabulous weekend read that had me laughing out loud. It certainly isn’t deep or earth shattering in anyway. Just pure fun. This is the story of Katie Brenner, and her boss, Demeter, in two parts. The first part is set in London, Katie is working as hard as she can to stay afloat, in the cut-throat world of marketing. And Demeter has the oh so perfect life of the boss, who really couldn’t care less about her underlings. While Katie’s life looks perfect on her instagram feed, the reality is somewhat further away from that, further than even she would like to share with her friends and relations. She is trying to fit into the BIG world of London, it is very much a case of two steps forward and three steps back… and then her world comes tumbling down and she returns to her roots in the country. And we find ourselves in part two of the book. During her sabbatical, as she tells her folks, from the world of commerce, she establishes a glamping holiday farm… and who should turn up but her nemesis Demeter. Katie decides to get her own back on her perfect boss… only to discover her boss has a not so perfect life. Funny, heartwarming and just the book I needed to get a bit of a break from reality… and a visit to the English countryside, even in a book is always a good getaway. I am definitely going to be seeking our more Sofie Kinsella, for some light reading that takes you away from it all.

Middle School Fun

Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson:
We have a huge James Patterson fan in our house in one of my middle school boys, James Patterson is a bit of a prankster and clearly appeals to the middle school boy sense of humour. This is the story of Rafe Khatchadorian, a middle schooler who decides to break every rule in the school. Gotta say not my fave genre of book, but my “most reluctant to pick up an book and read for pleasure lad” absolutely loves James Patterson and roared with laughter all the way through, so he is clearly reading it and I will take it as a win!!! The chapters are really short and the story is richly illustrated, adding to the easing reading approach and appeal. Clearly Rafe’s scheme to break all the rules is a little silly and he encounters a number of problems as he launches from one ridiculous scheme to the next… fun reading, totally anti-establishment… and a great read for a reluctant reader.

Middle School Fun


Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated bu Joe Sutphin and published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
And this title just brought James Patterson to my younger readers… there is an adorable mouse in it after all!!!. This is the story of Isaiah a laboratory mouse that discovers freedom… The book begins with his entire family escaping from a laboratory… That Horrible Place. They all have rather special, laboratory induced peculiarities, Isaiah for instance is bright blue. And they are all recaptured almost immediately except for our delightful little friend who was the smallest of them all… a particularly nervous little fellow with a penchant for big words and reading. A chatty little mouse, who also happens to be afraid of everything. This is a sweet and endearing animal story… that would make a fabulous read-a-loud to children that are ready to move up from picture books at bedtime, it is also a great first chapter book… because the action is fast and the chapters are short. The book is delightfully illustrated all the way through and against all odds and a number of obstacles the little hero does actually win the day.

The Faraway Tree for Emerging Readers

A FarAway Tree Adventure: The Land of Dreams by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Alex Paterson, published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
This book is perfect for children whose parents are dying for them to read their favourite childhood books, The folk of the faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and yet their children aren’t quite ready for chapter books. These are easy reader versions of stories from the Folk of the Faraway Tree and they are fabulously illustrated with full colour pictures on every page and short snippets of writing on each page as well. Perfect for readers who are launching from those initial reading books, who are keen to read more but lack a little confidence… these books consolidate the reading skills they have and provide perfect practice with interesting and engaging stories. The book is short enough to read in a sitting for the more confident reading, and long enough to be read “a chapter a day” with a bookmark for the less confident reader.

In this story the Folk of the Faraway Tree Heroes Beth, Joe, Frannie and their cousin Rick find themselves in the land of dreams, where they are put to sleep by the sandman and it is up to their Faraway Tree friends Silky, Saucepan Man and MoonFace to get them home safely.

A FarAway Tree Adventure: The Land of Toys by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Alex Paterson, published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
There are six in this Far Away Tree Series, and well worth it for your emerging reader… in this story the Saucepan Man finds himself in a little pickle as he is imprisoned in the castle by the toy soldiers. The children have to figure out a way to rescue him before the cloud at the top of the tree moves onto a new land. Exciting times and just fun reading.

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.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #350

March 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Well this might have been the week that all the things we have been dying to do fell into place and we completely did them… we hiked almost daily and the weather has been hot hot hot… so it has literally been hike, recover, hike, recover, and repeat over here… that is all good for life, but not fabulous for blogging. What can I say the new gym routine for me is working on getting enough sleep and because of that blogging has taken a little rest while I figure out how to schedule it all in… Meanwhile, how beautiful is Table Mountain… and how very lucky we are to have this at the heart of our city.

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Our Book Book Giving Day Project is in full Swing… if you have signed up to join us, I am battling to communicate with the school. This is the reason they very much need a library, internet is flakey, phones don’t always work… and I am getting the details to you as fast as I can. So join in, join in… we are trying to build a library for over a thousand kids… we need books and lots of them. It is totally doable, book by book we can build a library. Don’t forget SuperNova Magazine has an absolutely fabulous offer for our followers, they will match any subscription and donate your order to the library when you stop and shop there. If you don’t know how cool they are then check out their sight. Really if your kids don’t know SuperNova magazine then you need to introduce them to it… for all sorts of cool fun, opinion, factual, fabulous reasons.

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Otherwise, if you have teens desperate for their Learner’s License… then we have a brilliant app for that and it is a GiveAway…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. We are that Family has a way with words…Your Normal Isn’t The World’s Normal And The Greatest Deception Is That You Believe It Is
  2. I just loved this post: How Living in Italy Changed my Idea of Minimalism
  3. Ten Facts you didn’t know about Fynbos on SA-Venues.com
  4. The Art of Simple has everything you need to know about listening to podcasts… everything: How to listen to podcasts: a 101 primer.
  5. Something to make: Painted Leaf skeletons on Babyccinokids…
  6. This looks like something cool my kids would like to explore… Turn your classroom into a citizen science lab with Global Explorer… on the Ted-ed blog.
  7. I absolutely love HandMade Charlotte’s Off-the-Grid Dollhouse…
  8. Love, love, love this post: How to Host a Nature Day on Simple Homeschool…

This Week’s Highlights

Listening: Now that I have an almost daily commute to gym and back. I need somethings to listen to, so I picked this epic series and I am absolutely loving it… riveted!!! I thought it would take weeks to listen to, but no… I am flying through book three, just can’t stop listening!!!


Watching with the Kids: After watching the series we had to watch the movie… as one does!!!

Watching Myself: Well there is of course a whole lot more than one season… so onto season 2.

A Blast From the Past:


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

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→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Two Oceans a Guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa…

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

It’s World Water Day… and Cape Town is experiencing critical water shortages. We have done no swimming in the pool all summer long, and as a result we have had an almost daily walk down to the beach for a swim and refresh.

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The thing about living right at the beach is that you can head down anytime of the day and so avoid most of the crowds… and there is always time to discover something new and wonderful. Rock pooling is one of our favourite outings ever… it’s easy, there is always lots to look at, and plenty of time to play and learn.

And of course whenever we go rock pooling a million questions arise… What creature is this? and What creature is that? So many questions and a new edition of our favourite beach exploring book is out. Our previous edition has literally fallen apart with love and overuse… so we are thrilled to have a the new version to refer to. The book has four authors: George and Margo Branch, as well as Charles Griffiths and Lynnath Beckley, all renowned scientists in their field. We were lucky enough to spend some time exploring rock pools with George Branch, the father of rock pooling in South Africa, at a recent Creative Nature Books event… can you believe the joy at having an rock pooling expert with you as you go exploring…

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Let’s take a look at the book… it is everything you need to find out about living things around our coastline. A brief introduction to the different regions and useful oceanographic information for exploring our coastline and then it dives straight into chapters according to how living things are classified: sponges, cnidarians and comb jellies, worms and kin, arthropods, bryozoans, lamp shells and molluscs, echinoderms, sea squirts and kin, fishes, reptiles and birds, mammals, seaweeds and flowering plants. The edges of each page are colour coded for quick referencing and finding specifics in each chapter. All most every species has a colour photographs to accompany it, and where necessary a pen drawing to elaborate any details. Otherwise each species has a location map, and a detailed description, the scientific name and a list of similar species.

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This is a fantastic resource, we will be using it a lot, not just for school but for everyday life. It is so useful for looking things up when we are rock pooling but also later, when we get home and we want to fill things in our nature journals. For identifying our natural finds it has been fabulous… and it adds so much depth to our discoveries. This book is a great resource for the most ardent explorer… and yes I love with one or two of those and the dabbler who just wants to figure out what it is that they have discovered on a particular day. We don’t have a lot of reptiles along our coastline we do have over 2000 fish species along our coastline. Not to mention, all the incredible sponges and corals… page after page of beautiful sea shells this book is literally filled with wonder. There is a reason that this book is considered to be the quintessential guide for beach explorers all over South Africa.

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Meeting the author was a very special day for us, with lots of questions asked and answered and at the same time so much love and enthusiasm for all things to do with the ocean was shared. Memories made a book literally come to life.

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We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the books for review purposes. This was not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Reviews

GreenPop’s Family Reforest Fest… A Family Festival with a Purpose…

March 20th, 2017 · 4 Comments

It’s a long weekend over here because of Human Right’s Day on Tuesday, a day I feel strongly about, and I am giving my family a long weekend off blogging. But this post is good to go and I really wanted to share all about my visit to the GreenPop Reforest Fest last weekend, because it really was a magical weekend. If you are looking for something fun for your whole family to be part of then look out for this annual event… the easiest family camping and a weekend of tree planting ever.

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For the last few years I have blogged about GreenPop’s Family Reforest Fest and I have been to their Zambia Festival of Action, but this was the year that I actually ventured forth to enjoy the Family Reforest Fest in the heart of the Platbos Forest. Last weekend my instagram feed was full of camping and the great outdoors and tree planting. Here’s how it works… GreenPop are a group of folk that believe in a little goes a long way and so they plant trees, because every tree planted really does add up to forests. One by one they inspire teams of tree planters to plant trees… last weekend in the southernmost indigenous forest in Africa we planted 2000 trees, this weekend they planted 5500 more. At the same time is a wonderful way for families to get away and celebrate all that the great outdoors has to offer and here is the picture rich story…

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I arrived on Friday night, to a campfire, food trucks and fairy lights… Basically this is the easiest weekend away ever… if you know how to put up a tent (and I quickly learnt… though there were moments when I wished I had taken a closer look at my kids’ survival books)… then your weekend is laid on for you. A couple of snacks in my bag and the clothes I was wearing. Really food trucks are there to provide you with wholesome feasts… no need to bother with cooking, and there is full-on entertainment the entire time. Kids, teens, grownups were busy having fun the whole weekend… in fact the schedule is so full of wonderful choices that there were more than a few things that I never got round to doing and so I am keen and eager to return again next year for a little more adventure.

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Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful…

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And I was ready and eager to get moving… the point of the weekend was to plant trees… a forest in fact.

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Stretch, grab a spade…

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And into the forest we went…

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To learn…

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About tree planting…

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Dig… mulch… plant… and repeat… good wholesome hard work…

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Teamwork…

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Milkweeds, White Stinkwoods, Wild Olive and Pock Ironwoods…

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And tree planters as far as the eye can see…

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And a snack time interlude…

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Snack o’Clock


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Followed by more tree planting… and 2000 trees later…

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Meanwhile… you need a password to get back to camp… Little people take these responsibilities quite seriously…

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Where there is bunting…

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And activities galore…

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Family Fun


There was heaps of kids to do… while they helped to plant tons of trees there was plenty of freedom for them to roam around and find fun activities under a shady tree… there were puppet shows from the Two Oceans Aquarium and so many different earth friendly crafts and games for them to join in too…
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And after the sweetest most inclusive talent contest for the kids… the best I have ever been too thanks to the great host and story teller: MAfrika… All big and small and smaller still could join in…

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This was followed by an evening…

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Around the campfire and live music… with Brian Ernst (you have to check him out… loved his back story and his music), as well as… Adelle Nqeto, Crosscurrent and the Brothers Remedy.

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Sunday morning and tents as far as the eye could see…

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Was spent listening to Ted Talks under a canopy of trees… thanks to TedxCapeTown…

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There is just so much to learn about green living and zero waste and steps we can take ourselves and global steps… we can take together. Including Change the Way we Learn by Lebo and Antidote to Suburbia by Epiphany.

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GreenPop Signage is the Best


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And why oh why do I forget to take a t-shirt for screen printing every single time I attend a GreenPop event!!! Note to self, remember for next time… there will definitely be a next time.

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GreenPop Family ForestFest 2017
click on the image for a photo tour

Huge thank you to GreenPop again, for their wonderful hospitality, and for providing me with a ticket to the Family Reforest Fest. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and of course opinions expressed are as usual my own.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Saturday Spot · Thoughtful Thursdays

Pass Your Learner’s Licence Easily… It’s a GiveAway…

March 15th, 2017 · 8 Comments

It’s been a while since we had a GiveAway and I have not one, not two but three fantastic GiveAways for the month of March… so without further a do… I am going to tell you something, and you won’t believe it, that your children are going to grow up and they are going to learn how to drive. I know, I looked forward to this time for years and now, to be honest the thought horrifies me. I suddenly have two kids old enough to drive. I’ll say that again… two kids old enough to drive. This is daunting beyond believe, and much as I pretend it is never going to happen and much as I put off doing anything about it, the time has come.

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Now in South Africa, from the age of se7enteen you can get a learner’s license, which allows you to drive with a passenger who has a valid license and then from age eighteen folk are free to get a drivers license and launch onto the road. From what I have heard it is standard practice for folk to fail their driving test and their learner’s license a number of times. We aren’t discouraging our kids at all but they do have to pay their own way to get through their tests… nothing a little financial stress to improve your chances of passing. My guys got the K53 Driving Test book from the library and studied it carefully, but they really weren’t test ready…

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I must say that I cannot take away the queues or the fact that you have to actually study for the test. Yes, there is that confidence of youth that they have been driving about in a car all their lives and so they know what is in the actual book. Basically, your innate road knowledge is not enough to pass… you have to study all those little nuances that are included in the laws of the road. Not to mention, in a country with multiple languages the test may appear to be in English, but those questions can sure seem very confusing. So studying is not enough, in fact most of my kids’ friends use the first test as a practice run, just to learn how to answer the awkward questions… But I discovered a solution to the multiple failing problem… there is an app!!!

K53 Learner’s App

Like everything else there is an app even for your Learner’s Licence. Indeed there is an app for South African Learner Drivers who are aiming to pass the K53 Learner Drivers Test. My guys made full use of the app and passed their test first time round with flying colours. To be sure my other kids are going to follow suit.

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Here is how the app works: Firstly it has absolutely everything you need to know on how to pass your learner’s license. But the critical thing that the app has is the practice tests… you can take a look at practice questions for the K53 Test here. There are over 250 questions, in each of the test categories, for you to practice on and you can review your answers and see where you went wrong as well. It has the latest questions available from the Official K53 Test. For more details you can take a look at the K53 Learner’s App Website here.

Typical test questions look like this…

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And solutions look like this…

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Both my tech loving and non-tech loving kids found it really easy to use… The thing that they loved about it was that they could head into the test confident that they knew what to expect. Not only was the app a good simulation of the test, but they could practice timed and untimed tests. Also they couldn’t just review the test answers, they had to fill in the practice test first and only at the end of the test does one get the solutions. So, you absolutely have to practice the tests to make full use of the app. Being able to practice the tests and review their mistakes was really essential to their official test preparation.

The GiveAway

We have five copies of the app to give Away… yup… that’s FIVE!!! With compliments from the publishers, Penguin Random House South Africa and the K53-Test App Creators. Leave a comment before the end of play on Friday 31 March 2017…

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We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post following 31 March. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. Naturally this GiveAway applies to South Africans… but if you are overseas, then have no fear we have a few more GiveAways coming your way, that will be open worldwide.

We would like to thank the publishers, Penguin Random House South Africa and the K53-Test App Creators, who supplied us with copies of the app to review and giveaway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 8 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School

Let’s Talk About Gym, and Healthy Weight and Especially Sleep…

March 14th, 2017 · 4 Comments

I am back from a weekend away and back at the gym. If you have been following along, I have been blogging about my journey through the Healthy Weight Program at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa. It has been four weeks of working out, and by the time you read this post I will be nearly halfway through the Program. I don’t even blink at 5:30 am wake ups anymore, in fact I kind of like the associated quiet. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it myself. Just a quick look at me and I don’t think you will notice a massive transformation… it is early days after all. But there have been a number of lifestyle changes that weren’t difficult to implement and that are definitely here to stay…

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The Workouts

The first thing is I have rediscovered that I really enjoy working out. It is hard, make no mistake I am constantly surprised at how hard we are pushed and even more surprised when our whole group manages it. The power of peer pressure! There has been a fairly dramatic improvement in the things I can actually do. Remember those crunchies and planks from way back, well now we just do those. In fact I thought, that all those tummy muscles were gone for good… Seriously I have had eight kids. Turns out they haven’t. I can actually feel all those core muscles working, while I walk around in my every day life now… those muscles aren’t gone, they were literally dormant. I have to say the exercises are not for the fainthearted, and I love that we are constantly pushed, though all the while learning how do things correctly… this is all good for folk like me, who have simply forgotten how to do almost everything. So many folk say that the first step is the hardest, they might be right, if you could take away the first five minutes of every gym class that would probably be something of a bonus. Otherwise, I would never work this hard on my own, I am thrilled to have a biokineticist to encourage all the way.

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The Eating Plan

My big thing, when I started this program was to make make the decision to only put really healthy food into me from now on, and honestly while I still have a few blapses, it isn’t too hard, I just don’t buy any junk ever. Otherwise, I haven’t changed my “breakfast, lunch and supper” diet radically at all, but I noticed when I kept a food diary for the sleep study that I have my own personal feast every single day when I cook dinner… so I have put a stop to that. I stopped cooking every day and started batch cooking a lot more, that keeps me out of the kitchen at that critical time of day… and makes the kids more able to put dinner on the table too. I also made sure that I had some nice crispy apples on stand by for when I am cooking. Turns out that if I am eating an apple at the same time as I am cooking that I don’t want to spoil the apple by tasting everything that goes into the pots and pans as well. Hopefully little changes like that will make a difference overall.

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The Sport Psychologist

Half way through the program there is a choice to visit your dietician for some tips or the sports psychologist… My visit to the sport psychologist during initial the assessment had such a huge impact on our family and how I get things done around here that I was keen and eager to visit him again. Not to mention, I had a disastrous (even for me) Park Run on the Saturday before… disastrous in the sense that I feel like all the gym should help me be better at things but actually after a hard work out and mountain climb the day before I was just physically tired, and it was so so hard. My head went off on a little trip of “I can’t do this and I really should quit.” I didn’t quit, but I wasn’t happy. I really want to do better and not flinch so much when the going gets tough. Anyway twenty minutes of chatting and I now feel a little more amped when I do the hard stuff. This year my gang and I have been hiking almost every week, and for this past week’s hike, which was a long hard hot hike immediately after gym, I put my head down and chose to be there, and chose to stride out and just keep going. No it was not an epic sporting achievement, but I did it and will move on to the next hike next week. Step by step… its a thing.

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The Sleep Study

My recent difficulty has not so much been the Workouts… or my head space or even healthy eating… but as I suspected sleep would continue to be my biggest problem. The irony regarding a sleep study and the alarming lack of sleep because of it. You can read about the sleep study at the SSISA website. Meanwhile, the first week I had to get up fairly early to fill in my assessment forms before gym, the following week there was one 4 a.m. start for a metabolism test in which I totally had to stay awake while sitting under a dome, followed by my usual workout and then immediately a body scan (which did involve clambering onto a large X-ray table in a hospital gown with sweat exploding from me in every direction… the glamour of science), and then last week there were two nights of a sleep study that resulted in what felt like absolutely no sleep. Heaps of wires and cables and gadgets all connected to me, not to mention little flashing lights… it took an hour and a half to set up, and then I could in theory move around freely, and in practice not at all. The kids were intrigued and it was great for a spontaneous science lesson. But I sure battled to sleep. The following morning I had to be up and at it at gym… gah!!! That dreadful feeling of having to perform well on what felt like zero sleep was exactly the sleep kick that I needed.

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It suffices to say, real live science and a sudden alarming awareness of more than a few of my very bad sleep habits. I have been aiming to sleep a whole lot better for the longest time, to be in bed at a reasonable hour and up early enough to start the day with enthusiasm rather than on the back foot… well a couple of nights of sleep study and I was so very tired that I was forced to head for bed earlier and of course I naturally woke up earlier… honestly I never expected sleep, or the lack thereof, to be the thing that brought everything crumbling down and set all my bad habits straight. Lets just say after another night or two of good sleep I had another late night last week and the resulting dreadful day again was enough to pull me back inline. Turns out I could teach school and blog all night, but I cannot manage a gym workout, then school and then blog late into the night. So I am having to figure out a whole different strategy for when and how to blog. Because the time has come for me to sleep properly.

I am discovering pockets of time in the day to blog… and I am getting my work flow much more streamlined. The mornings I don’t go to gym I still wake up early… and I choose to blog then. And I am a lot more productive first thing in the morning than when I am nodding off to sleep at my desk late into the night. Otherwise, when I have a snippet of time in the afternoon I tend to edit photos and get all the prep done for the pending posts. And at night, now that I am just too tired to write I find myself reading my way through review books, this is a good thing. So everything is changing around here and it is all good. But it isn’t easy… there are a lot of three steps forwards and two steps back moments.

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The Challenge for this Week

My previous challenge was to get myself some appropriate footwear and it just so happened that as I was walking past Cape Union Mart there was a shoe sale and I grabbed myself some half price Merrells… yeah!!! They aren’t exactly gym shoes, and not really what I was looking for… But they are fabulous for walking and hiking, which is what I do… so I am happy with that. I am no longer going to gym in my croc loafers and my alternatives that were boots are now shelved for the while, since I have literally stomped my way through the soles of them… and then for today’s workout we actually ran. Yes, I ran for the first time in oh about twenty years and I have to say, they probably aren’t the best running shoes. But they are shoes and they work!!!

My challenge for this week is to work out an actual plan of when and how to blog… it is time to figure out when to get the lion’s share of actual work done during the day… you know during the hours that I am actually awake. This is huge folks, this is literally looking for hours and hours in the day that I just couldn’t find before… those hours just can’t be found during sleep time anymore.

Previous Posts over at the SSISA

Previous Posts in this Series

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I would like to thank SSISA for the free training/mentoring I am getting in exchange for an honest blog post. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays