Monday, April 20, 2015

"WHAT IS A FAMILY? : A Changing Life Mobile"

                                    " mobile   n.   Art.  A delicately balanced construction or sculpture of a type developed by Alexander Calder since 1930, usually with movable parts, which can be set in motion by currents of air or mechanically propelled."   Webster's New International Dictionary, published 1954.
"In so many ways a family is a mobile - an artwork that takes years, even generations, to produce, but which is never finished. The artwork of this mobile called 'family' continues, and imagination, creativity, originality, talent, concern, love, compassion, excitement, determination, and time produce a diversity which is a challenge to any intelligent human being who has been given understanding of how to begin in the studio of life itself." WHAT IS A FAMILY? Edith Schaeffer p.18.
What an accurate picture, of a family being a life mobile, always changing in endless ways, which as Edith Schaeffer acknowledges, is a huge challenge for any parent to have the capacity to work with!
"A mobile is a moving, changing collection of objects constantly in motion,... Every individual is growing, changing, developing, or declining - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and psychologically. No two years, no two months, or no two days is there the exact same blend or mix within the family, as each individual person is changing. If people are developing in a variety of creative areas, coming to deeper understanding spiritually, adding a great deal of knowledge in one area or another, living through stimulating discoveries of fresh ideas or skills - they are affecting each other positively. ... What is a family? A family is a mobile. A family is an art form. A family is an exciting art career, because an art form needs work." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.18-19.
Edith uses the mobile analogy to describe the unique and temporary position each family is in right now. We will never again have the combination of situations that are happening today in our family. Your family is not static, it is either developing positively or declining, and parents are contributors to which direction their family goes. 
An art form, like the family, requires time spend on it for it to develop in positive ways. Because you created your family, it is your time that it needs. Your family needs you to make the choice to make it your "exciting art career".
"The universe is a spoiled universe, and people have been really made 'abnormal' by sin. There is no possible way of having good relationships, nor of having a whole grouping of good relationships in the framework of a family, if there is no one who understands that it takes time, patience, hard times, unselfish work, sacrifice of a variety of sorts, and planning on the part of someone to insure memories of beauty sprinkled all through the difficulties. Someone has to feel the wonder and dignity of having the mobile of the family be the artwork which that person is interested in seeing develop." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.29.
Someone - it can only be parents who take on that sort of  responsibility - to take time, be patient, work hard and unselfishly, and sacrifice, "to insure memories of beauty (are) sprinkled all through the difficulties" of life.
"Mobiles - smashed, torn, sagging, all balance gone, the delicate interplay finished - turned into something too ugly to keep around, too painful to see. Broken marriages, smashed homes, splintered relationships, shattered families, these have become the norm in this twentieth century (and twenty-first). No generation to follow a generation in the beauty of balance threaded together like the mobile! Senseless breaking up of priceless, living, balanced beauty over - so often - nothing." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.31.
Edith Shaeffer goes on to say that all families which are heading in  positive directions, have also been "in danger of being broken." Being affected by anger, pride, frustration, impatience, being misunderstood..., is common to every human relationship "for at least minutes, if not hours or days." 
She goes on to say that there is a different outcome only where a deep, strong understanding exists of the importance of family continuity. 
This is why bringing up a family is such a challenge, requiring strength, understanding and generations of work.
"There is a beauty and continuity which can never be had unless someone in the family has the certainty that the whole art form is more important than one incident, or even a string of incidents. To smash a Ming vase which is absolutely irreplaceable - just to satisfy a violent feeling of wanting to be emphatic in making a statement, when there is a five-and-ten-cent-store plate which could be smashed just as well to suit the need - is a minimal picture of what it is to smash the living artwork of a family, and then to spend the rest of one's life paying for it and seeing other people pay for it, too. Wasted lives." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.32.
Your family is delicate, precious as the threads in the art mobile.
Where are you heading your family? Are you influencing your family  in positive ways? If not, the outcome is clear. 
A few guidelines are suggested above, but if you are struggling and would like help and encouragement, feel free to contact me through my website - I would be happy to meet with you to help. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"WHAT IS A FAMILY : A Museum of Memories"

                            Auckland Museum
"Memories not chosen, but given day by day, are also being collected. Is a slap in the face the first memory? Or is it the memory of Mommy still being there when the early streaks of dawn starting to come in through the curtains startle you into seeing that 'Mommy has been up all night because I had the croup. She didn't go to bed at all. Oh, Mommy!' You can't choose the first memory; you can't regulate what will be remembered and what will be forgotten. If there are enough lovely memories, and if there are apologies for making really wrong choices, then the museum will have a good balance and a nonromantic reality of what life is like.
Of course, there will also be memories of flare-ups, in the family. 'Daddy is awfully mad right now!' can be said by a four-year-old without any tragic results. ... The reality of the ups and downs of dispositions, of people's tempers or of their mistakes and actual sins, does not tear apart the museum of memories, nor does it have to tear up the home or split the family. A realistic facing of the imperfections, faults, weaknesses, blind spots, and sins of each other in the family, although it will never be a complete facing of the whole person, will be a measure of understanding the whole person which will give a preparation for the future. If every fault, weakness, imperfection, blind spot, or sin was able to be hidden from each other, the relationships and realities of having lived together as a family would be a hypocritical farce! To succeed in hiding everything but the good things in the years of living together, would be like a married couple never undressing in front of each other, going to bed clothed, never seeing each other naked, as far as the physical 'knowing' of each other goes. There were couples taught under Mid-Victorian asceticism who, although they produced children from their bodies, never saw each other without long-sleeved clothing during the whole of married life. It may sound impossible, but it took place! To never accept the fact that no one is perfect, while never allowing the family to remark upon our imperfections, is somewhat in the same direction - knowing a person only superficially.
.... Therefore, before speaking of the fact that our memories will contain upsetting times which we lived through, it is important to set forth the strong fact of our need for reassurance time after time, and the pleading with each other not to 'destroy' each other by constantly dwelling on the weaknesses (with a virtuous feeling of being honest or realistic or non-hypocritical). One can carry too far this pointing out or recognising or talking about faults. That is called by a good old-fashioned word - nagging. ... To recognise each other's good points and to have the family really admire each other is a basic source of stability in our lives. But to recognise each other's weaknesses and to speak of things that happened in the past which were a result of those weaknesses, is not harmful if kept in some sort of balance. The museum of memories will have memories not planned, not chosen and some of them will be good ones - and some will be of flare-ups, arguments, disappointments, as well as of sicknesses, accidents, and tragedies."
WHAT IS A FAMILY? Edith Schaeffer. p 200 - 202
I have been slow reading this book for over 6 months, sometimes stopping after only a paragraph to re read and think if this connects for me in my life and in my family.
The chapter the quote comes from is titled, "A Museum of Memories", and is chapter 9 in the book. Every chapter has numerous gems to challenge and encourage, so I am going back through the book to dig out and share the wise advise of this extraordinary woman, who died a couple of years ago in her nineties. 
1. Parents are to Hand-on a Realistic Understanding to Children, that People are Not Perfect.
I was interested in the way the above quote presented the reality that however we live, we are passing on a mixture of good and bad memories and experiences to our family. The writer wasn't accepting or encouraging poor parental behaviour, but she correctly said that as humans we will get things wrong and unforeseen accidents and heartaches will come into family living.
She rightly reminded us how ridiculously artificial it would be, if our children grew up in a household where all nasty aspects of behaviour and character were hidden. Her example of some Victorian marriages, illustrated her point here.
A family life of niceness with concealed weakness only provides a child with a veneer taste of true life. Well-meaning parents who strive for this sort of family experience, deny their child the strong building blocks which develop their understanding and discernment of life. A child needs to not only find within themselves, but see their own family members also struggling with imperfections, to understand that this is 'normal' or human.
2. The Result of Growing up Thinking Everyone Can be Perfect.
Edith moves to practically speak of what comes from an upbringing where a child does not understand that no one is perfect. 
Commonly, the habit of constantly dwelling on, criticising and being irritated by the weaknesses of those in our family develops, which simply divides and destroys the family. This becomes the pattern that children take into their school life, university, the work place and community. It will be their attitude for life and will be reflected in how they see their rights, amongst other things. The handed-on faulty family view, will generate many more faulty relationships with disastrous outcomes in the child's future.
3. A Solutions to Bring Stability.
We are not left here in a hopeless place, Edith suggests a model to give family stability.
Make a choice to stop fixing our eyes on the disappointments, faults and irritations and rather find, then give attention to the good points that are in people of our family.
She is not saying we are to ignore the bad habits in one another, but when they dominate and shape how we think of our husband, teenager or toddler, we only invite destruction into our family and pass on patterns of thinking to our children that will lead them in to a destructive future.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Does this ring true for you? Do you need to rethink how you view people in your family? For the future of your children, as well as yourself, I thoroughly recommend reading this book.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"MORE TREASURES FROM THE FILING CABINET - the Importance of the Arts in Your Family"

This week I am sharing more treasures from my filing cabinet as I continue to clear it out, keeping and discarding as I go.
The article I am about to share, speaks about the important place the Arts must have in families. The following quotes come from an article written by Terry W. Glaspey. It is Part One, entitled "The True and the Beautiful"
"Given my own deep love for the arts, to write about their importance seems to me too be a rather strange undertaking, something like trying to defend the necessity of breathing.
..... One of the reasons that art is important to us and our children is that it helps keep us focused on that which is truly beautiful and good. The poet Wordsworth wrote that the mind should be "a mansion for all lovely forms."
..... It (the arts) can provide those moments in which we can put aside the rush of our everyday demands and find a quiet repose. Sometimes our lives seem so disordered, so rushed and harried. We are driven from one activity to the next by the momentum of necessity and spend our whole life missing out on the enjoyment of the present moment.
...... If we do not introduce our children to the exquisite pleasures of truly fine art, we rob them of a magnificent source for making their lives more fulfilled.
..... Art is also of great importance because it trains the inward eye. It helps us to see more deeply and clearly into the realities of our everyday life. It reaches us to awaken our sense and look more searchingly into ourselves and the world which surrounds us.
...... We tend to use art in our culture as a diversion, a leisure activity, a time filler. Therefore, the art that is the least demanding is the art that is the most popular. But the truest art gives us eyes to see more deeply into ourselves and into the world around us. Great art often functions like the shock of cold water across our face.
In our scientific society we focus on the outward appearances of things, on what our senses can interact with. We try to reduce life to the rational sphere, pretending that everything can be rationally dissected, examined and explained. But it cannot. Art reminds us of this truth.
..... Art is reaching after transcendence. It is the probing of the mysteries of life. It awakens the senses; it grips the spirit; it brings us alive; it causes us to see. Art is the bridge between the natural and the spiritual realm; it focuses us to see that there is more to life than meets the eye."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ give some thought to how you can increase the Arts in your family. Visit an art gallery of your local library for some inspiring books in areas of the arts that you are unfamiliar with. Just start browsing and you will stumble on things which will lead to new ideas and hopefully new practices that make your children's lives "more fulfilled."

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I have begun. The shelves, bookcases, cupboards, store, filing cabinet and sleep-out are at present being looked-at in a way they haven't been for 26 years, not that we have lived in this house that long, but the things that have fill these places for that period, are finally being judged on as to if they are TRASH or TREASURE!?
It is taking some time. It is easy with some things - they quickly get put into the rubbish - 5 bags so far have gone out for the garbage truck to take away, and 6 boxes have gone to the hospice shop, nearly 30 books have sold on Trade me to some luck people. 
But there are tons of things to now be read and considered - 'would  any of our kids want this?'.... 'would any person I know find this helpful, as I once did?'
I decided that before I once again filed such gems away I would put a few up and send them on to you. 
During this clean-out it has occurred to me that as I have read, if I am excited and reminded of the worth of something which I stored away years ago, then it must be treasure. Even though it has been hidden away it has retained its great value, as treasure always does.
Today's quotes are from a hand written sheet with 20 points for parents, here's a few ~
Doing things together as a family - the house jobs, shopping, preparing for visitors... so they learn how to work, communicate, what responsibility is... not individually but together as a family.
This is hard but a necessity for every parent.
Every kid is tempted. They need parents to talk and give them realistic alternatives to help them to not choose to go down the stupid route.
We are not a Rules orientated family, but if you are, your kids need to understand your reasons behind each.
Lots to think about with this one.
This way there is a real reason and purpose for discipline, in what ever form you discipline at your house.
This is essential, otherwise you are simply developing painfully, selfish, pathetic, human adults.
Essential for all parents. You are the one leading the way, so do it with dignity, otherwise who WOULD want to follow you?
To me this is the proof that your parenting has been successful, that once your kids are late teens and older, that they respect and honour YOU.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ As always, there is loads to think about. Choose just one point that rings true for YOU and spend time thinking how you can work on it. Ask your partner for their ideas, then both work together on it in your family.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


LAST DAY OF 2014!!
Rather than looking back - let's move into 2015 with new ideas to add into life.

1. Smile as you shower for a HAPPIER you. You could smile whenever you turn on the water - flushing the toilet, turning on the washing machine or dishwasher, bathing the kids, rinsing fruit and veggies... - A happened-on idea.

2. Put your ear rings on before your makeup. WOW, glam you! You probably look good enough to skip the makeup. - A happened-on idea.

3. Find "five things to be thankful for" each day, NAME them in your mind. - A family practice during the morning walk.

4. LOOK at the moon and stars in the night sky and spot the satellites as they pass by overhead. - My Mum's evening practice.

5. Begin and end every day with a glass of WATER. - Charlotte Mason.

6. Take 5 SLOW DEEP breaths while you drive or ride on public transport each day. - The sign on the wall at North Shore Hospital.

7. Put the washing on LAST thing at night and hang it out early morning. - Don Aslett.

8. Close your eyes and listen for a few minutes to the birds singing or cicadas chirping... It actually takes practice to LISTEN to them. - A happened-on idea.

9. Choose to think on and remember THE GOOD and not make mental lists of wrongs against you. - "Love keeps no record of wrongs." 1 Corinthians 13:5.

10. Become a learner of something you know nothing about. A lot is written about the benefits an adult brings to learning something new, but great things develop within an adults to be back in the beginner/LEARNER SEAT. - A handed-on idea from my sister, Pip.

11. Always be in the process of reading a physical book, so that new ideas are given for you to CONTEMPLATE. - Charlotte Mason.

12. Get the daily TOUGH things done at the start of the day. - My Mum.

13. Send a daily message to encourage or BRIGHTEN someone who is unwell, in difficult times or worrying. - My sister Jules' practice.

14. Develop a CREATIVE space in your week to garden, do art, knit, sew... so you design and decide. - Edith Schaeffer.

15. Take a walk and get 15mins of SUN every day. - Charlotte Mason.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Pick out what works for YOU and add your own ideas to it. This way you are choosing to be refreshed by small things as you keep living, minimising complaining or the decision to give up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


As we are now into the 2 week count-down until Christmas, there is an awareness in our family of the need to get the Christmas tree and decorations up and organise the family Christmas meals and gifts. But everyone at this stage is mesmerised by work deadlines before the Christmas shut-down, moving house, bidding on a house auction and frantically looking for summer jobs... The year's demands and strains will be sticking with us right through into the Christmas season!
In December 2010, I put up a post about the high incidence of difficulties, troubles, disagreements, arguments and bust-ups occurring at Christmas when the family gets together. Today we tend to come into the Christmas season from wild busyness and pressure.
Family Christmas can be the place where some want to tell of their year's successes or of their disappointments, but the essence of Christmas gatherings is CONNECTION. How can you move everyone's attention from their stress realities to a position where we are brought back into relationship with one another, so peace and goodwill towards each other is promoted??
There are lots of ways this togetherness can be brought about. Here is one simple suggestion ~ 
Ask everyone to bring a photo of one happy memory to the family gathering which they can briefly talk about. It could be a photo from childhood or something wonderful, thrilling or an encouraging and happy moment in 2014. 
Many times over the years in our household when someone is in the midst of trouble, tragedy, stress and unhappiness, a pile of old family photos sitting on the bookcase being thumbed through, has started a new conversation, given a mental holiday, brought laughter  leading to a different mindset.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Whether your 2014 has had some tough times or not, try including a Good Memories Meal into your Christmas season to reorientate, refocus and develop improved family connection.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


With the continuing stormy, windy, rainy, hail, thunder, lightning and snow weather here in New Zealand, it is very hard to believe summer is meant to be arriving in less than 2 weeks!
So before the hot sunshine comes, have a read of 7 questions about sunscreen. 
1. What is the history of sunscreen?
The ancient Egyptians considered lighter skin to be attractive, making potions to prevent sunburn. Some of the ingredients they used are in our sunscreens today.
A pharmacist in South Africa produced the first sunburn cream as we know it, in the early 1930’s.
The founder of L’Oreal refined this preparation, making the first sunscreen in 1936.
In 1938 an Austrian Piz Buin chemist came up with the sun protective factor, SPF. SPF is “a standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen when applied at an even rate of 2milligrams per square centimeter.” His original cream had a SPF of 2.
After more experimenting, in the 1980’s, the company Coppertone developed their first UVA/UVB sunscreen.
Research continues with ideas of developing a sunscreen pill…!!!?

2. How does sunscreen work and what are the benefits of using one?
A sunscreen is a protective layer which has inorganic chemicals that reflect the sunlight, and organic molecules that absorb the UV rays releasing it as heat, hence preventing or minimizing the amount of UV rays getting through to the skin.
UV rays consist of UVA and UVB
      UVB are shorter in wavelength so don’t penetrate deeply into the skin. These rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer and cause damage to DNA. The SPF factor in a sunscreen only protects a person from the UVB rays.
      UVA are longer in wavelength, penetrating to deeper levels of the skin, they are linked to the cause premature aging of the skin. Only sunscreens that carry the words “broad spectrum” will  protect from UVA rays.
Australian research at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane in 2013, found regular sunscreen application helped to counter the premature aging of skin. Researchers however did say that as well as the lack of sunscreen use, there are other factors that contribute to premature skin aging and skin cancer, such as smoking, sun exposure history, skin colour and wearing sun protective clothing including hats – these conditions are not prevented by the use of sunscreen alone.

3. Are there any concerns about sunscreens?
Babies of 6 months and younger should not use sunscreen at all because of its chemical ingredients. It is best to keep babies in this age group in the shade or indoors during the hottest time of the day, 10am – 4pm.
“One of the main constituents of sunscreen is the ZnO particles. ZnO nanoparticles are sought out for UV-filter applications thanks to their inherent optoelectronic properties and are, therefore, broadly used today in cosmetics and polymers. Preliminary toxicological data, however, point out that they can induce significant DNA damage and genotoxicity due to their Zn2+ ion leaching. It has become important for the nanotechnology industry, to devise scalable, safer-by-design approaches to minimize the ZnO nanoparticle dissolution and toxicity without altering their desired optoelectronic properties.” “In our center we developed a safer formulation concept to mitigate toxicity by encapsulating the materials in a thin layer of Silica.” Feb 2014.

4. What is the correct way to put sunscreen on?
* Apply before going outside
* Some say use a shot glass full of sunscreen as a quantity guide to cover your body, however bodies are different in size. Professor Leffell of Yale School of Medicine says, “use enough to evenly cover the skin and massage it in, and be systematic about it. There’s no such thing as using too much.”
* Reapply 2 hourly, more often after swimming or heavy sweating. The skin literally uses it up. Apply and wait a few minutes to give time to be absorbed before swimming, otherwise you simply wash it all off.

5. What do different SPF scores mean?
 “Products with a higher SPF allow fewer of the photons that produce sunburn to strike the skin. In simple terms, you can view an SPF 10 sunscreen as allowing 10 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin and an SPF 20 product as allowing only 5 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin.”
A product with SPF 30+ will block out 96% of sunburn from UVB rays.
A product with SPF 60 or more will only very slightly increase that protection. There is no product that can give 100% protection.
Specialists therefore warn of the need to never trust in sunscreen alone, but add wearing a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, tightly woven fabrics or clothing that absorbs UVA and UVB rays and avoid being out in direct sun for long from 10am – 4pm. Stay in the shade.
Moisturizers and makeup foundations often have SPF in them. Foundation with SPF does not give sufficient protection as it fades through the day and when applying you put less quantity of foundation on your face than the quantity of sunscreen you would apply.
Moisturizers with SPF however do give effective sun protection.

6. Are there benefits from being in the sun?
In just a few decades we have gone from promoting summer sun worship to sun dread over the summertime.
But sun on the skin does have benefits – it relaxes, eases off depression and mind anxiety. It lifts our emotions. Going out into the sun promotes outdoor sport, real play for children and gardening, which are all essential contributors for our wellbeing.
It is questionable if the level of vitamin D deprived people today was as high a few decades ago. Being in the sun is a natural and the best way to receive vitamin D. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your face, arms, back, or legs without sunscreen a few times a week is enough to generate your body’s vitamin D needs for a week.

7. Do sunscreens last forever?
The active ingredients in sunscreens do deteriorate over time, becoming less effective, so check the expiry dates of the sunscreens in you cupboard.

To be available and handy for use sunscreens are often stored in the car glove box or boot all year round. This exposes them to extreme high temperatures, which also may result in their effectiveness being compromised.