Tuesday, December 27, 2011


"On this occasion, and as the year is coming to an end, it is time to look back on the year and reflect on our activities one more time; reflect on why we are doing what we are doing, whether our activities are appropriate and whether they have the impact we hoped for."
Simone Kloss: ADIDAS Group Blog "A Review of an Adidas Volunteering Year - A Self Reflection." December 5  2011.

This is the last post for 2011, so I thought as some people at the end of this week will be partying into the New Year, while many others in the world are oblivious that a 'New Year' is happening, that I would reflect a little about THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, this past year.
One way to look back at the year is to look at which posts have been the most popular ~
This post clearly IS the winner by a long shot. My dear, gentle, wonderful friend wrote this exquisite post for me and I have asked her for more next year.
This post was the most popular post in 2010.
4th - "WHAT SONS NEED FROM THEIR FATHERS" PART 3 - Learning About Independence, Masculinity. WEEK 20 QUOTE 20 
This was the second most popular post in 2010.
One post that I enjoyed writing this year was "THE HABIT OF SELF-PITY" WEEK 47 QUOTE 47. It was so funny because I really wrote it on my plane trip home from visiting my Mum. Once in the air I realized I had a ticket with no movie and no food, so I decided to get working on the scraps of paper with ideas on self-pity scribbled all over them, rather than indulging in self-pity myself. I actually found that deadline feeling very productive - realizing that after touchdown I would arrive home to family and overseas visitor who were staying. This would most likely mean little time to think blog. So with the thing now written, the day after getting home, I 'rudely disappeared' for a while and stuck the post up.
The 6 post series of "PARENTS LIVING UNDER DIFFICULTIES" WEEKS 40 - 45,  was obviously enjoyed by many, probably because each of the people who wrote for me, opened the door so we could look in on what was normal and natural living for them, and as we read, we admired them.
This year I reluctantly got into blogging recipes through the two posts on parents not being responsible in how they feed their children - "RESPONSIBILITY - WHOSE IS IT? Feeding Your Children" WEEK 49 Quote 49  and  "RESPONSIBILITY - WHOSE IS IT? Feeding Your Children - Obesity" WEEK 50 QUOTE 50 . I was left searching and searching for clear help on what is a normal diet for a family, hence "I'M CONFUSED! WHAT IS HEALTHY EATING? WEEK 51 QUOTE 51 
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning a lot of new things and meeting so many amazing people both living and of the past who have given me so much 'food to chew on'. Living IS exciting and I am keen for what will come my way next year.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ here's another quote for you which was also on the Adidas Volunteering Year Blog page - 
"Another important aspect is to prepare the volunteers properly for what awaits them."  - This quote is relevant for us as parents with our children and gives us lots to ponder during New Years.
But back to the three points in the quote I began with.
 ~ Why are you doing what you are doing as a parent?
 ~ Are your activities appropriate as a parent?
 ~ Is the way you are functioning as a parent, having the impact you hoped for?
Now you are going to need more than New Years to think those three through - but they ARE excellent questions to reflect on and finish your year on, then head into a new year with some fresh determination or excitement as you put your resolutions into place.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


"While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough."
Luke 2 : 6 - 7  The Bible - New Century Version.
Parenting in the raw, pure and simple. I can boast that my last 3 children were home birthed in simple circumstances, but really and truly my situation was nothing in comparison to the one in Bethlehem. If the movie, "The Nativity Story", is authentic to the Bible's sketchy comments about Jesus' birth, it seems Joseph and Mary were 'uneducated' people who were of an ethnic group that were completely socially and politically oppressed - could say victimized, with unequal rights and no 'voice' in comparison to the race that ruled them. On arrival in Bethlehem with their sparse worldly goods, their vulnerability really became obvious, with them finding nothing but a poor-man's animal area to be the delivery suite for their first child. They were not seasoned parents and had no doctor, midwife or helper. Health departments of the twenty-first century would medically condemn the site as having sub-standard conditions for humans to live in, let alone to deliver a baby in.
But apart from all the difficulties and negatives, something far more powerful and effectual was going on. These two inexperienced people were committed to each other, their baby and what was ahead. They loved each other.
Does this describe you and your family - LOVE?
Love in the difficult times
Love in the lacks
Love in the misunderstandings
Love in the rush
Love when hard pressed
Love in the let downs
Love in ___________________
Giving and receiving love can happen whilst in the most horrifying or simple situation. It is the most essential need of every human, parent and child.
This year ~ if you are upset because your Christmas is going to be less 
                     grand than usual
                 ~ if financially your struggling 
                 ~ if friends or family have failed and rejected you
                 ~ if your living under oppression
                 ~ if you are simply in a 'bad place'
Matthew 11 : 28 - 30 is for you, " Are you tired? Worn out? ..... Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. .... I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you 'll learn to live freely and lightly." (the Message Bible version)
This is an offer from God, not a person, so you can trust that it is valid. The offer is that he will love you with true affection and teach you how to love others around you in this way. Not a limited human love, rather a supernatural, God love. 
Jesus' birth at Christmas is an historical record of love.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ why not read the true account of why we celebrate Christmas, to your family?  Luke 2 : 1 - 20

Thursday, December 15, 2011


"Having been held sacred by the Egyptians (and beloved of Spanish beauties as a matchless aid to fine complexion), the ONION seems to have a great start in the great vegetable race to command royal billing. And it does, too, have staunch advocates who would make it king of everything. I would gladly debate that finding on behalf of the potato..but isn't it an interesting event that two of the most common and most economical of vegetables should be the front-runners in that race?
The onion was believed to have originated in Central Asia and its spread was rapid...
The red onion... has a milder flavour for salads and sandwiches or chopped into mashed potato. Much of the onion's pungency is due to its volatile oil, which contains much sulphur. The pungency may be eased in the preparation by keeping the onion under water for a few minutes and, for those who weep uncontrollably out of love for the onion, it may be peeled under running water. 
There is an exciting new potential for the common onion as scientists research its content for an ingredient to fight coronary thrombosis. A team of doctors at Newcastle University discovered that boiled and fried onions raise the blood's capacity to dissolve internal clotting...Tests on people produced what appeared to be a previously unsuspected medical property in the onion and work is proceeding to isolate it."
For years we have used onions to help our children when they have earache. This is what we did ~ 
Cut an un-peeled onion in half and heat in an microwave or oven - the onion must be HOT. Remove from the oven and hold in a small towel or face cloth. Hold the cut onion edge about 2 cm away from the achy ear and hold in this position till the onion cools down - 5 minutes or so. The heated onion oil vapor, travels into the ear canal soothing and giving immediate relief. Our experience has been that often the one 'dose' solved the problem, but in more severe cases we would be up a few times through the night repeating the onion treatment.
Onions are a natural health food, great vitamin C and fibre properties, free of salt, fat, cholesterol and low in calories.
This is an absolutely fantastic dish (we have just eaten it tonight). Even if you don't eat onions, you will love it! This recipe is a version of Jamie Oliver's 'The Best Onion Gratin'.
4 Red Onions peeled
Olive oil
Black Pepper
8 Sprigs of Thyme or Marjoram 
2 Garlic Cloves peeled and sliced/crushed
100 mls white vinegar
50g Edam or Gruyere cheese grated
50g Parmesan cheese grated
Preheat oven 200*C cut onion into fourths then pull segments a part into 'petals'. Lightly oil an baking dish and scatter onion petals in. Drizzle oil over the top, salt and pepper, thyme and garlic. Stir and mix. 
Add vinegar then cover with foil tightly. Bake in oven 45mins. Remove foil and bake 15mins so it begins to caramelizing. Once onion is golden top with Edam and Parmesan cheeses. Return to oven reducing temperature to 180* for 15mins till gorgeous. It can be eaten hot or chilled. Great with a BBQ.
In New Zealand we privileged to have a variety of spinach which is not found in other parts of the world. It grows all year round here, is highly nutrious with good sources of Vitamin A, B, C, E and K, good fibre, potassium, calcium and iron. Meanwhile it is low in fat, calories and is cholesterol free. 
1 Bunch New Zealand fresh Spinach - can use fresh young  Silverbeet
1 Red Onion, if you wish, peeled chunky diced
100g cream cheese/or feta cheese cut into small cubes
3 Hard Boiled or Poached Eggs, shelled and chopped
Wash spinach and tear into pieces, use the stems as well as they are tender. Put into a salad bowl along with onion, cheese and eggs.
Combine ~
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 Tablespoon Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 X pinches of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard
Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss through the salad. We ate this tonight too and I should have made a larger quantity of the dressing to have in a jug for people to pour on more. The verdict on the salad was AMAZZZZING!!

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ Both of these dishes may not be Christmas Day 'material' but they certainly are appropriate dishes for the Christmas season, being red and green in colour. Possibly too our common fare regard which we have for onions and spinach, connects with what we ARE celebrating at Christmas time - a baby called Jesus, being born and laid in a manger or straw filled animal feeding box, a plain ordinary place for the one who would bring total change to the history of all people.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


"Children wake up in excitement to open presents.....
For adults, Christmas is often a time to relax...and provide happy memories for their children.....
Then there's those in between both worlds : teenagers. They are the dreaded names in the Secret Santa bag, those mysterious creatures that no one knows what to buy for or what to think of.
What does Christmas mean to them?"
The author of this article questioned 21 teenagers on their views of Christmas ~
"Are teenagers truly as self-absorbed during this season as adults believe? Or is there some spark of remembrance and goodwill hidden deep in the crevices of their souls?
....while presents do seem to be one of the favorite parts of Christmas for most teens, it does not seem to be merely for the purpose of receiving....
The majority of teens questioned said they didn't care what they received for Christmas this year, followed closely by those who wished most for happiness. In fact, an equal amount of teens preferred bringing people together to anything else."
"ALL THEY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS" : Kristi Oakes. May 14 2008. Connect
What does Christmas look like at your house with your teenagers?
You may not have any problems, but if Christmas for your teenagers is a huge bore, hopefully this post will encourage you to launch into it again this year with fresh enthusiasm, armed with new ideas.
Most Christmas routines for the family with children , can continue on through teenage years. Success in this depends a lot on parents staying positive and happy about Christmas. If you couple this with listening to your  teens comments on why they don't want to do certain Christmas events anymore, or come with you to _______ Christmas function, you will keep happy Christmas memories growing for all. Don't 'close the door' on your teens thoughts at this time. Their views may be different to yours. On the other hand your view as their parent, is totally relevant also - so have the conversations, the discussions on why you do what you do at Christmas. These can not be confrontational debates or arguments - this only destroys family Christmas memories.
So far, our family seems to have entered and gone through and out the other end of teenage Christmases most happily. Our youngest child turns 13 early next year.
Here is a collection of things we do at Christmas + ideas from others. Happy reading and finding something new to try.
 1. Advent Calendars. 
In recent years I have stooped to buying commercial advent calendars, but our older kids used to make their own. It took ages but they loved doing this and opening them each morning. We also have a family advent set of tiny drawers which they take turns opening, reading a treasure hunt style clue, then finding a treat or recipe to cook a simple Christmas treat... Teenagers enjoy this as much as kids.
2. Christmas Music.
From December 1 the Christmas CD music starts to be played daily. We have a stack of Christmas music in various styles to go through, and I add to the collection at Christmas sales. I try to buy different genres so everyone is 'extended' in their musical tastes. Anyone can put on whatever CD they want. The music sets a mood. It is put it on at the start of the day, at meals, or when the Christmas tree arrives and is decorated - which happened this afternoon at our house. 
3. Christmas Tree.
These days our older kids go choose our Christmas tree and bring it home on the trailer, put it up, then together we decorate it, and the house. We all love doing this. If possible we eat together before or afterwards.
4. Our Family Christmas Shopping Night.
Because we are a large family each person gives one person in the family a present. It is drawn out of a hat before hand and a list is made - stuck in the pantry door. On one of the late pre-Christmas shopping nights, we all meet at our local shopping mall to buy our person's presents.  we meet for coffee half-way through the night, then those who are finished can go home, those who need more ideas are helped, and everyone has a high-spirited social time. When we still had little kids the teenagers would often take a little one and help them buy their gifts. We all spend the same moderate amount of money so everyone's gift ideas are controlled to stay within that amount.
5. Cooking for Christmas.
We share cooking for Christmas. This year one of my girls is organizing who cooks and brings what so that everyone contributes. My husband loves BBQed turkey so he prepares and cooks it - wonderfully. Teenagers as well as children can read recipes online and cook them. This way they contribute not only their ideas but also the making of memories for their family Christmas. 
6. Christmas Reading.
As a family we read the Christmas story leading up to Christmas, often having some craft activity we all contribute to, such as our Jesse Tree at our back door, this year. If this is not you, there is a lot of great reading online of other real events that happened at Christmas, which your teenager would benefit from. Follow these links~
  * THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE  1914. A great true story for teenagers, considering many of the soldiers were in their late teens.
  * THE WHANGAEHU RIVER DISASTER CHRISTMAS 1953 The worst train disaster in New Zealand's history.
  * CYCLONE TRACEY HIT DARWIN AUSTRALIA, CHRISTMAS 1974. Two stories -  MY EXPERIENCE WITH A CYCLONE     and     FOR THE MEMORY OF MY CHILDREN  Grammatically not fantastic but both stories fully communicate the situation.
  * NAIROBI, KENYA CHRISTMAS  This is short and thought provoking for teenagers.
  * EARTHQUAKE WHICH LED TO TSUNAMI CHRISTMAS 2004  This is very well written, is long, wonderfully gripping, emotionally revealing and moving. It gives teenagers a lot to think about in how they live and view life - especially considering what our experiences are at Christmas. I HIGHLY recommend this one.
7. Christmas Events.
If as a family you are involved in Christmas community or church events, encourage all the family to go along together. 
8. Christmas Games.
Some families love playing games together. Here are links to some suggestions~
  * FEAR FACTOR FACE-OFF  Great if you like dares and enjoy getting messy. 
  * TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE CHRISTMAS STYLE  2nd game on this page.
  * SPEED PRESENT WRAPPING  same link as above - 3rd game on this page.
  * THE CHRISTMAS CAROL GAME where everyone chooses their favorite Christmas carol and everyone sings their own carol at the same time. Whoever sings the longest, out singing the others, wins. Noisy teenagers are in high spirits after this one.
  * CHRISTMAS BALLOON BATTLE  Go to the 2nd last paragraph on the page which starts "Wanna get more active?" 
9. Giving to Others.
Here's a great example of how to teach your teens to give to others. Scroll down to the "CHRISTMAS TEENS" comment.
10. 10 Frugal Christmas Activities for Families with Teens. Terrific ideas from Grace on her blog  SENSE AND SIMPLICITY 

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ SURELY there is something here you want to trial in your family this week. Enjoy the week with your teenage kids. - I'd love to hear about your results!!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"This 'fruit' of the vegetable clan originated in Northern Tibet and was first marketed in England in the 16th century - although not coming into vogue as a food until much later. It is a wholesome food with its uniquely tart flavour but discourage the children from nibbling on the leaves. They are toxic."
"Scrumptious Tucker": John Forsyth.

The quote is referring to RHUBARB, a much forgotton fruit.

Rhubarb is a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. It has some B group vitamins. It is extremely low in fat, salt, calories and is cholesterol free.
You need ~
5 stalks of Rhubarb
3 Granny Smith Apples
2 large Oranges
1 cup Water
Wash everything. Grate apples into a pot. Add the grated rind of 2 oranges and their juice and chopped rhubarb. Slow low cook for 30 - 40 minutes. Best served hot with Natural yoghurt, fresh pouring cream or ice cream. You can add sugar if you wish, but I love the zingy, tart, fresh taste.

Strawberries are high in sugar - but don't let that put you off. They contain phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin C and A, ascorbic acid and are rich in minerals. 
There are various tips on how to prepare the perfect strawberry
 ~ some say wash them just before you eat them
 ~ some say sprinkle icing sugar over them before serving
 ~ some say sprinkle icing sugar and a generous slurp of brandy before before serving
 ~ some say put a good shake of pepper on as this brings out the flavour!!
 ~ some just open the lid and get eating.
Ideal for a special summer breakfast or dessert.
Sift into a bowl  ~  1 1/2 cups Flour
                                 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
                                 1/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
                                 a pinch of salt
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add   ~   2 Eggs
                                                                                         3/4 cup Milk
Beat well into a smooth batter. I love the colour change explosion when I break the egg yokes. Don't hesitate to add a little extra milk so that the batter is sloppy enough to flow from the spoon onto the pan surface. Drop tablespoonfuls / teaspoonfuls of mixture into the pan depending on the size pikelets you want. I made teaspoon sized ones - perfect size for entertaining with savoury or sweet treats. Cook until bubbles rise to the surface, turn and cook the other side until golden brown. Pikelets freeze wonderfully in a plastic bag for 2 months.
I served these 3 small pikelets with 2 dessertspoons of Natural Yoghurt, 2 large Strawberries sliced, juice of 1/4 lemon and a generous drizzle of Maple Syrup - and they WERE delicious!!!
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ get cooking and eating together with our world famous New Zealand strawberries or Rhubarb.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A few posts back I wrote a few comments about spending time in wild nature. At the time I was thinking about my niece and her husband who live in Central Australia and enjoy the ruggedness of their part of the world. This post is by Jannah.

                                    Walking across the spinifex plain on Day 1.

In the last decade I have started hiking/camping and travel adventures with my husband Tim and some other friends in some remote areas of Australia. I initially found these adventures daunting and scary, but at the same time also found a great sense of enjoyment and achievement. 
Because of a really wet summer, we planned to make use of the extra surface water around to walk in some areas which would normally be fairly dry and inhospitable to bushwalkers. One of these hikes which had been on our list for years, was to climb Mt Zeil (the highest peak west of the Great Dividing Range). We decided to approach this climb from the south, a different route to the usual more worn track from the northwest. This involved navigating our way through undulating spinifex (a very spikey type of grass) country and winding creeks which would lead us to the base of Mt Zeil. We planned to do this with another friend over the space of about 4 days.
                      Looking towards Mt Zeil from the south (Looking for potential creeks)

Off we set with our packs, map and compass into the remote West Macdonnell Ranges. To start with the creeks we walked up were quite full and we even had a swim in a beautiful waterhole surrounded by River Red Gums at our first lunch spot. This filled us with confidence that water would be plentiful, so we didn't carry much to keep our pack weights down. By the first afternoon we crossed over a small saddle in a ridge and the landscape changed slightly, we didn't take too much notice until we started to run low on water and each creek bed we came across was dry. We needed to find a spot to camp for the night and to collect water to cook with and re-hydrate. The three of us began searching for water as the sun was setting. I began to feel a bit nervous but knew we could always walk back for a couple of hours to the last waterhole we'd passed. I also realised it was pointless getting worried as I didn't have time to waste, it was getting dark and we needed water and to set up camp. It was funny how quickly some adrenaline kicked in, the search became an adventure. We eventually found a small seepage of water coming out of a rock face just on dark. We each set to work syphoning each drip of water into our containers, eventually collecting about 7 litres. Once we thought we had enough to get us through the night and next morning we set off to find somewhere to set up camp in the dark.
                                   Climbing the southern face of Mt Zeil

Watching the water we had carefully collected boil on the flames, made me feel more grateful for water than I probably ever have previously. We set off the next morning, checking every gully along the way in the hope of finding a flowing creek. Unfortunately it seemed like the geology had changed from large rock slabs that water banked up on to form pools, to a more weathered cracked rock in which the water quickly soaked through leaving only dry creek beds.
By now, I did start to get worried as we were walking further and further from the last water point - albeit only a small seepage in a rock. The only thing that kept me from beginning to panic was the fact that I was hiking with two experienced bushwalkers and they didn't seem to panic yet! I voiced my concerns about walking further from the only known water, given that we hadn't found any new water by mid morning, and so we all decided to give it another hour of searching and then if we still hadn't come across water we would have to turn back.
We split up and each went looking along different creeks. Having made a plan together, helped me feel more hopeful and eased some of my anxiety. After a 10 minutes walk up a small rocky creek bed we noticed a small puddle of clear water, Tim and I began chasing the puddle up stream and found a lovely clear creek. The excitement grew as we saw the water growing eventually into some swimmable water holes.
                                         Camping by the water hole

In the end we climbed Mt Zeil and the view stretching for hundreds of kilometres was incredible. I was amazed at how I became much more in tune with and observant of the landscape. I took notice of what plants & birds were near water and the type of rock, so that I could use them for future reference. That hike ended up being one of the most memorable this year and so rewarding as I had to overcome obstacles, and control my mind and emotions from going into an unhelpful state of panic.
                                                Sunrise at the water hole

As I've often said, experiences that challenge and press us give rich rewards.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ spend some time googling an out-of-the-way location you would like to take your children to. It doesn't have to be a great distance away, or involve huge costs. Nor does the trip need to be a long length of time. You as a parent just need to be motivated to excite your kids curiosity, and bring them in on the planning. It probably will prove to be everyone's most memorable holiday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


"The metaphoric way in which we experience our children has a great deal to do with the difficulty or ease with which we can let them go.
If you regard your child as appliances that came with a warranty and must perform as expected, you may want to discard them when they start costing a bit more to support and don't function the way you thought they should. And if you see children as cars you have carefully maintained for years and assume that their performance will reflect on how you maintain them, you may feel especially responsible if they don't work in top condition when you sell them to someone else 18 years later.
On the other hand, do you share the view of Emma Bombeck who sees children as kites?
Throughout their childhood you keep trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you're both breathless and still they crash. You patch once more, adjusting for their growing size, and caution them about the perils of unseen wind. When they are ready to try their final flight, you let out the string with joy and sadness because you know the kite will snap the line that bound you together. But you also know the kite will fly as it was meant to fly, alone and free. .......
It is difficult to let go of a kite or balloon that is our child if we doubt our child's ability to steer a course away from electric wires and other obstacles waiting to snatch the unwary. But unless we keep our children tied down and imprisoned, we don't have any other choice than to let go."
A few weeks ago our daughter got engaged and so we are thinking "weddings" - in the day and at times in the middle of the night! This is our third family wedding so one would think it gets easier the more you have 'had'. Not so. Each of our kids have their own ideas and of course the person they are marrying has theirs too, which is totally healthy.
Some people think that the wedding or moving out of home is the moment when parents must let go. But I don't think letting go is a moment, but rather a process that slowly starts when childhood finishes and a child's independence begins to develop.
Each family process, in fact every child in each family, has a unique sequence of events that lead to letting go. One element of letting go is the child's want or desire to go. A child can be let go while still in their teens, maturely and comfortably moving out to live well from here on. While there can be no desire to be let go from another, even though they are well into their thirties. Every child contributes to being let go. On finishing high school at 18 years some of our children have chosen to go overseas - to study, travel or work, while others have not been ready to contemplate such things at that stage. Choosing to be let go involves their character, independence, drive and curiosity. 
Parents play the other part in letting go. If parents help equip their children for the future, they give them skills in independence and self confidence. If these skills are not taught by parents and encouraged to be exercised by the children right through childhood and teenage years, then their future is affected detrimentally. 
Thus equipped, when a parent then lets go in a part of their child's life, the child learns the feeling of responsibility and being trusted. This leads to maturing and gaining of self-confidence. The whole experience has successes and failures, but in these at home years, there is still room and time to 'try it again' and practice aiming for improvement. It's not only the child who gains confidence, the parent too increases in their confidence in their child, trusting them to handle life well when they do leave.
(For some readers I realize you could be thinking, but it hasn't worked like that for me!!!! Possibly because the will of that child has not been won over to see the need to stop behaving irresponsibly, or to see a real reason to stop selfish habits. This is something I have written about previously and intend to write more specifically on in the future. [See the end section of "What Daughters Need from their Mothers" Part 2 or "The Habit if Self-Pity at the end.])
Here are some suggestions of where parents can let go of their children~
By the end of pre-school years - take total ownership for feeding themselves, toiletting, showering, dressing, putting clothes and toys away, setting a meal table and becoming a contributor to meal preparations and clean ups.
Childhood 5 - 7 years - all the above. Total responsibility to pack their own school bag after being taught, increasing responsibility as a contributor to meal preparations and clean ups.
Childhood 8 - 12 years - all the above. Total ownership in getting ready for school and remembering to hand over notes...from school, doing dishes after meals, baking and cooking simple meals after being taught, responsible to be up on time in the morning, responsible for daily or weekly household jobs to be fulfilled.
Teenagers 13 - 15 - all the above. Total ownership to get school work finished on time, being in bed on time, keeping to computer usage as agreed, music practice completed, finishing homework independently- asking for assistance at school or from others if required.
Teenagers 16 --- - all the above. Total responsibility for care of their own clothes - laundry, choice of what to wear, preparation for exams and interviews........
REMEMBER doing this involves failure - the bag taken to school by the 6 year old may be missing food to eat, the music practice by the 14 year old may be substandard and you may not like what is worn clothing wise by the 17 year old, but by letting go over time, you give everyone space to keep talking and reworking things. If you don't let go gradually, you remain holding on, moving from guiding to directing to controlling to dictating as time goes on. The experience of being trusted and trusting won't be experienced by anyone by this method. There is a difference in letting go so they have the responsibility and can choose to ask our advice, and our not letting go and giving them no choice. 
Here are two short articles by Alan W. Carson, a coach for parents and author~ "The Art of Letting Go" and "Children's Wants Versus Needs", which you will find practically helpful.
Why do parents find it hard to let go?
Karen Levin Coburn, assistant Vice Chancellor for students at Washington University and author of the book "Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years", says parents have a 'do it right' approach to their kids futures and are therefore fully part of every stage to ensure the best results eventuate.(sounds like the car in the quote at the beginning of this post.)
GotQuestions?.org, says, "at the heart of the difficulty of letting go of our children is a certain amount of fear." Continuing on they said that when our children were young we could monitor their lives, but parents loose this control as children grow up.
Arlene Harder, author of the quote at the beginning of this post, says, "Letting go involves the process of transferring responsibility for our child's life from us to them." Later she says "....an ideal adult-to-adult relationship with our children can be modeled on the ideals of friendship." She says just as we can enjoy friends who are different in many ways to ourselves, so letting go means we view our own children with this same respect." "We can have equally satisfying relationships with adult children who are also out of sync with us in some way." She suggests we focus on the here and now, NOT the past or the future. This way "we allow both ourselves and our child to evolve into the people we want to be tomorrow, rather than constricting our perceptions by how we viewed one another in the past."
5 of Arlene's check points or guides on how to respond to adult children, which I think are extremely helpful ~
1. Recognize adult children's rights to decide what they will do with their time, money and energy - letting them think for themselves and live with the consequences of their choice.
2. Respect children's privacy - for example, asking if it is ok to drop in for a visit, not asking what they earn or how much they paid for an item.
3. Accepting our children for who they are. "We only need to be willing to view each other with compassion, without illusions or expectations. Once we're willing to accept each other just as we are, we (both) can stop being defensive."
4. Respect that our children may not wish to discuss topics where their views differ to ours. Parents tend to bring up these issues to steer their child away from danger or poor choices..... The purpose is to get the child to change their mind and take on the parents' view. But there's no respect of individual views with this sort of behaviour.
5. Not looking to our child as our only source of connection and love. Parents need rich lives outside their parenting role. Also parents must accept that sources outside the home can have beneficial input into their child's life.
So adult children can still be living with us, but we can have  already let go of them, because as parents we are no longer taking responsibility for their lives - How do you do this? Again Arlene Harder gives six ideas.
1. If adult children live at home, state they are to pull their own weight and be a fully functioning member of the family.
2. Give the same conditions to adult children as  would be theirs if they lived away from home, for example if they have no money, they are to do jobs in lieu of rent.
3. An agreement should be agreed on by both parents and child, of how everyone will function together and that there is a limit to how long they may stay.
4. When adult children have jobs, they should pay rent on a gradually increasing scale.
5. As a parent you have the right to refuse children to live at home when they are addicted to drugs, alcohol or are abusive to family members.
6. Don't allow adult children to live at home when there is not enough money or space to cope.
Arlene Harder's entire book is available for you to read and print off free for personal use. Follow the link after the original quote at the beginning of this post.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ check over how you usually respond to your children in normal daily living and see if you are working towards letting them go. If changes should be made, do it. As Arlene said "...we don't have any other choice than to let go", so work at it over time by equipping your kids, no matter how young, and give them great experiences which will give you and them confidence in their future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


"Eating a 'varied diet' means you should eat lots of different kinds of things. Often families get stuck in a rut and eat the same things over and over again. However, a varied diet of healthy foods ensures that you get the vitamins and minerals you need. Whole foods are the best for your body. ...... It's often easier and more convenient to take vitamin and mineral supplements instead of eating a healthy diet. But many scientists believe that the vitamins found in foods are more effectively used by your body than the vitamins you may take in pills. ....... Many families encourage their children to take vitamin and mineral supplements as an 'insurance policy' to make sure they are getting enough of what they need. However, remember that taking supplements ...... won't 'fix' the problems that come with an unhealthy diet."
"Young Explorers series: Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology" by Jeannie Fulbright and Brooke Ryan M.D.

With this in mind the 'subjects' for the two October recipes are the vegetables Asparagus and Leeks. Asparagus like leeks are members of the lily family. If you have never eaten either I highly recommend you read on and have your first taste-experience this week.


This authentic Spanish tapas recipe is fantastically crisp, zingy and luminous green in colour. It's a compulsory dish on our Christmas dinner table.
Being very low in salt and calories, fat and cholesterol-free, means it is a great vegetable for people with heart difficulties. Asparagus is rich in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, fibre, thiamine and an excellent source of follic acid. This is good for pregnant mums as well as those trying to conceive. Asparagus is one of the richest sources of the antioxidant rutin, which strengthens capillary walls. 

It is best to buy asparagus with tips that are compact or closed and stalks which are fresh in appearance.

1 generous bunch of asparagus
juice of 2 lemons
1 dessert spoon rock salt
olive oil
Wash asparagus and snap off the grey section at the base of each stalk. I cut the stalks in half - to fit into the pot. Put a generous splash of olive oil into a heavy pot, heat on high till the surface of the oil seems to shimmer or slightly move. Throw in the asparagus, put on the lid and shake around roughly for a few seconds, then return to the heat with the lid off for a couple more minutes so the stalks get seared. Again put on lid and give another rough shake, return to heat again, with lid off. Cook in this way no more than 5 minutes. Add rock salt and lemon juice, put lid on and shake, return to heat for no more than 2 minutes. Serve and eat alone (as in it's so delicious you could find you eat the lot yourself, but what I really meant was you can eat it as a tapa or appetiser on its own, or with a meal.)  We cook a number of bunches and my family stand around in the kitchen eating pieces straight from the pot - they say I never cook enough.


Thank Sophie Grey for this recipe "Destitute Gourmet, Everyday Smart Food for the Family".
Leeks are a great source of fibre, vitamin A, B, C, iron, potassium and calcium. They are cholesterol free and low in fat, salt and calories.

The ancient Romans believed leek was beneficial for the vocal chords. But the leek is associated today with the Welsh. Leeks are said to help sufferers with bronchitis, influenza, insomnia and even low blood pressure.
Only buy leeks that have generous white stalks with smooth skin and fresh looking green tops.

3 leeks
1 - 2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2  cups chicken stock
several knobs of butter 
Peel off the outer skin layer of each leek and trim ragged ends. Wash leeks thoroughly, cut into approximately 10cm pieces. Bring a pot of water to the boil and put in the leeks for 10 minutes. Drain and place in one layer into an ovenproof dish with knobs of butter and and sprinkled brown sugar on top. Pour chicken stock over the top to the level that the leeks are nearly covered. Bake at 180*C for about 40 minutes or till the stock level is reduced by half.

It seems crazy with the incredible health goodness along with the great tastes of these two dishes, that asparagus and leeks have remained unpopular vegetable choices!
THIS WEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ get your kids helping in preparing these two recipes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"It seems that current technology is about quantity over quality and that, having communicated via text or email, the communication needs have been met. But I would say that they have been met only in the clumsiest, most expedient way. It's like substituting a greeting card for a heart-to-heart talk. Sure, we can have more frequent episodes of communication, but perhaps they are at the expense of deeper, more meaningful pieces of communication. I see this in my own life....I have contact with my friend via facebook and email, therefore I feel like I am up-to-date on what is going on in his world when I most certainly don't. Absent these expedient communication devices, I most likely would long ago have called him to find out how he is and would have spoken more in depth with him, strengthening our friendship rather than keeping it as surface as it is with, say, my bank teller."
Viewer's comment on www.ted.com 
"What I find weird is when you chat with someone online then you see them in person and barley say a word - something about that doesn't seem right." 
Alex, 19  
Both quotes from the book "CONNECTED: You've Upgraded the Technology - Now Upgrade the User" by Attitude. 

In this post I will repeatedly be quoting from this book, indicating it by *. At $15NZ, this recently published book is easy-to-read, humorous but has challenging comment. It is a must for  every household with children approaching teenagehood right through to adults who are involved with online-living. "Connected" is the fourth in a series by the Attitude group. I referred to another in the series, an excellent book on sex education for teenagers, in "What Sons Need from their Dad's" Week 19 Quote 19 and "What Daughters Need from their Mothers" Week 25 Quote 25
The ability to be able to action an idea immediately, send a detail now, 'speak' to hundreds in a minute, receive their replies the next minute, is just an ordinary everyday convenience that technology now supplies us with. To school and tertiary aged students, this technology is normal life. Along with teenagers, many adults too, freely admit to the usefulness/compulsion, in being in the habit of hourly checking their Facebook, Twitter, blogs, emails, making sure they're not 'missing out' on something. 
The majority of children are growing up into a technology dominated life, which brings with it  both a positive and a negative side.
"I realised I needed to spend less time on Facebook when all I could think of when I was out was getting enough cool photos to upload that night" Jeremy, 16.*
"Mobile phones have become such an extension of us that people actually now have 'Nomophobia': a genuine fear of being without it. It is mainly found in teenagers (surprise surprise!)who consider not having a phone 'social death'. How can they text their mates, put updates on Twitter or check their Facebook while on the go?" *
"A young guy from Morrinsville, Waikato was getting a piercing and feeling a little nervous. he asked the guy doing the deed if he could get his phone - he wanted to hold it for comfort!" *
"DANGER! A 2006 survey by Virgin Mobile reported nearly 4 million people in the UK reported numbness or pain in thumbs, fingers or wrists from texting and related injuries!"*
"Zombie kids' are teenagers sleeping with their phones. That is how much they love them. One dad confiscated his daughter's phone just before she went to bed. He had it in his room and it was receiving messages all night! The last one was at 4 am. Again, maybe, just maybe this is getting a little obsessive. A 'technology holiday' - a complete break from your information and communication technology - can help you get control on your life. If that idea terrifies you then you definitely need one." *
"Virgin Mobile Canada survey found that nearly one third of young people spend more time on their mobile phones and surfing Facebook than with their partners." (www.virgin.com) *
The obsession difficulties, the inability to assess when enough time has been spent with technology, is not only evident in teenagers lives. Parents too are often 'glued' to the screen. If this is you, it could help to have a careful think through of the facts and statistics that prove that the parent who is an alcoholic, illegal drug offender of sex abuser, regularly passes on their negative habits to their children. Your high priority to technology is not just seen by your kids (regardless of age), but you also are presenting it to them as normal life.
"Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or a practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming." *

Time allocation to technology is one issue, but another, possibly more serious question is, if our main form of communication is via technology, are we going to be affected as children growing up, or as adults, in how we relate relationally to each other?
"I read some status updates from a friend who was overseas having a blast. However, when I spoke to him when he got back, he told me that he had a terrible time and was really depressed. It's interesting how deceiving Facebook can be." - Dave, 24 *
I had a similar experience this week through texting someone close to me. I knew she was undergoing some medical tests and I asked about the results. It wasn't until 2 days of texting with her that I detected something was not right, and then found out her results were most unhappy ones.
"In person, face-to-face, you can see a lot more about who people are deep down. When they talk to you, you can get a lot of information from the way they dress, the way they present themselves, their body language, their tone of voice - you can tell a lot. It may add to what they say with  their words, or even contradict it. If you ask your friend, "How are you?" and they say "I'm fine, thanks!", but you notice they have tears in their eyes, dirt on their clothes and arrows in their back, the 'non-verbal cues' give you even more information than the words. Online all you get are words ... and maybe a corny emoticon or two." *
"A UCLA study indicated that up to 93% of effectiveness in communication is determined by non-verbal cues." (www.scribd.com) *
"As SMS shortcuts and chat room acronyms create a new textspeak, an entire generation may be losing out on vital conversational skills, such as non-verbal information gathering, not to mention the ability to listen instead of merely expressing something." ("Art of Conversation" Voyeur. March 2010.) *
Recently a friend told me that her daughter, in first year university, has hardly gone in to lectures and tutorials all year. She gets what she want of the course online from home.
The concern is that if we allow technology alone to be the primary medium through which  a student learns, or personal relations with others are conducted, we miss out on vital aspects of communication. Vital aspects such as  
        ~  perception and sensitivity of private emotions. The lose of these skills takes us closer to the robotic, machine-style human that some movies love to lead us to believe we are all heading to become.
        ~  conversational skills. As David Smiedt rightly says in his article at realviewtechnologies , conversation is not just the exchange of data, it involves a person's personality, gauging of impressions and so much more. He speaks of the growing trend in the US for 'conversation parties' where technology of all forms is banned.    Susan Greenfield, neuroscientist at Oxford University, spoke to the House of Lords on the ability of social networking to "reconfigure the way a child's brain works by 'infantilising' it, symptomatically eroding their attention span and sense of identity .... [Nicholas Carr, who I referred to in "Should the Screen be My Child's Play Pal?" Week 33 Quote 33, makes the same point] .... social networking was 'devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance' - two factors that are hallmarks of the best conversations." Berra makes the point that the average British teenagers uses 'an average limited linguistic range of just 800 words a day - significantly less than the 40,000 words a 16 year old should have at their command...... UK Government-appointed communication Champion, Jean Gross (said), 'Eight hundred words will not get you a job.'
      ~  listening abilities."....teaching children listening skills is one of the most important traits we as adult human beings can help (children to) develop ...... from academic and real world success to becoming a friend and experiencing true friendship." What is needed is that children actively in an intentional, engaging way, listen. The writer of "Little Ones Reading Resource", suggests the skill of proper listening, as they describe above, happens through children being regularly read to  - Teaching Children Listening through Reading.     Again, referring to my post "Should the Screen be My Child's Play Pal?", Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel, developmental psychologist Patricia Greenfield and a Stanford University research group, comment on the damage to attention and concentration skills that over technology use, permanently gives to people of all ages.

" + Expression.
The human face is capable of hundreds of subtly different emotions. You would have to be incredibly clever with your words to communicate through a keyboard all the emotions we can express with our face and body language. Even if you use smiley faces.
A strange things happens to babies born blind. At first, they smile as much as sighted babies, which makes us smile back at them. But, because they can't see our smiles, they eventually stop smiling, and tend to have 'blanker' faces than sighted people. This could happen with people who have an extensive online life. They have rich emotions, but they don't get the visual feedback from the people they are interacting with. Interacting on a computer, we are blind to the feedback....unless you are using your webcam.
  + Touch.
Of course touch can be sexual, but it can also be sensitive, friendly, reassuring and very genuinely loving. So far, you can't do that over the net.
  + Pheromones!
Love is a wonderful thing - we like to hear their voice, see their image, feel their touch...and there is still enough animal in us humans to say that it can be incredibly moving to smell them. We all give off natural scents called pheromones which, even though they can't actually be identified as smells, trigger a sense of attraction in another person. My computer smells of plastic and spilt coffee. It does not attract me. [I first heard of Pheromones when researching for a post last year "What Do Daughters Need from their Dads" Week 16 Quote 16 - the effect of a biological father's pheromones on his daughter's entry into puberty, is incredibly fascinating.]
  + Being Human.
We are physical beings and social creatures. Computers might provide a wonderful 'extra' to normal relationships, and they might even be a reasonable substitute if we can't get together, but as humans, our best times are when we get together - enjoying each other's noise, smiles and company. Parties, sport, eating together and spending time together are always going to beat hanging around a website.
  + Being Confident.
Being with people teaches us how to relate. There are always going to be times when you have to take your body along to real physical situations - job interviews, for example. Computers might be great for shy people, but to actually overcome social shyness, you do need to mix with other people offline." *

Returning to the quote at the start, the more frequently used communication methods of texting and emails, are often communicating "at the expense of deeper, more meaningful pieces of communication."

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Do you and your kids need to even up the balance of time spent in physical person conversation with what's spent communicating through technology? Enjoy a chat with someone right now!