Thursday, August 25, 2011


"Perhaps the most important attitude for cultivating good fortune is a strong sense of perseverance. Many of the people in this book faced considerable constraints in finding the Element and managed to do it through sheer, dogged determination. None more than Brad Zdanivsky.
At nineteen, Brad knew that he loved to climb. He'd been climbing trees and boulders since he was a kid and had moved on to scale some of the highest peaks in Canada. Then, while returning home from a long drive after a funeral, he fell asleep at the wheel of his car and plunged nearly two hundred feet off a cliff.
The accident left him a quadriplegic, but he remained a rock climber in his heart. Even as he waited at the bottom of the cliff for help to arrive, knowing that he couldn't move, he recalls wondering if it were possible for a quadriplegic to climb. After eight months of rehab, he began to talk to fellow climbers about designing some kind of gear that would get him back onto a mountain. With the help of several people, including his father, he created a device with two large wheels at the top and a smaller one at the bottom. Seated in this rig, he uses a pulley system with his shoulders and thumbs that allows him to scale about a foot at a time. The technique is excruciatingly slow, but Zdanivsky's persistence has been rewarded. Before his injury, his goal had been to climb the two-thousand-foot Stawamus Chief, one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. In July 2005, he reached that goal.....
People who find their Element are more likely to evolve a clearer sense of their life's ambitions and set a course for achieving them. They know that passion and aptitude are essential. They know too that our attitudes to events and to ourselves are crucial in determining whether or not we find and live in the Element." page 167 - 168.
"THE ELEMENT": Ken Robinson

It's hard to stop quoting this excellent, must-read book for all parents!

As Ken Robinson says, most successful people get where they do "through sheer, dogged determination." 
Possibly none of my children are going to become internationally successful, but I do hope that each of them will have 'success' in some shape or form. "Success" could be to learn to ride the bike before Christmas, to save $100 by next year, to stay at school till the end of Year 13, to 'nail' an internship at an admired company, or take full responsibility from here on for washing one's own clothes. The point is - to get there is going to take time and perseverance.
In April last year I wrote a post on an incredible young role model, Jessica Watson, the then 16 year old Australian who successfully circumnavigated the globe - WEEK 9 QUOTE 9 . Jessica is an example of perseverance.
In that post I commented on the harm parents do their children when they allow them to give-up on things, when the parent knows it is an issue of laziness or selfishness on the child's part, and that the child could and should keep going. I'm picking up this point now in this post, because when children get away giving-up on things they should see to completion, they are missing the natural opportunities given in life to learn perseverance.
It is true some kids by nature are more determined than others, but if a child in their growing-up years has little to no personal experience of having to persevere, they will be robbed of knowledge which is needed for success in life.
My 'hero', Charlotte Mason, discusses her search back in the late nineteenth century, to find material to help parents and teachers encourage children in what she called "steady effort" = perseverance. ".... there was the depressing sense of labouring at education in the dark; the advance made by the young people in moral, and even intellectual, power was like that of a door on its hinges - a swing forward today and back again tomorrow, with little sensible progress from year to year beyond that of being able to do harder sums and read harder books." She then goes on to say, ".... they were all incapable of steady effort, because they had no strength of will, no power to make themselves do that which they knew they ought to do. Here, no doubt, come in the functions of parents and teachers; they should be able to make the child do that which he lacks to power to compel himself to "(do). page 99-100 "Home Education" by Charlotte Mason.
Success in learning perseverance depends, according to Charlotte Mason, on the efforts of parents and teachers. Writers on the subject today completely agree.
There seems to be three major reasons why children don't learn perseverance.
  1. Parents don't live an example of perseverance themselves.
The "Knol - a unit of knowledge" website, says that all day our children overhear and observe our reactions to difficult situations. "Your kids won't think it's important to persevere if you're routinely giving up on diets or exercise programs, or quitting college classes when they get tough. They won't think it's important to follow through on commitments if you back out on organizing the church fundraiser or fail to take them to the zoo as you promised."  "If there's discrepancy between what you say and what you do, your kids are just going to ignore what you told them. But if your actions are consistent with your words, then your message is going to be reinforced."
Parents are not being asked to live perfect lives, rather we're asked to take an honest look at our habits and see if we need first to deal with ourselves.
The power of living with a real example of perseverance right in front of us, is found in the story of Robert the Bruce. You can read a short version of the story here. 
  2. Parents don't prepare their children to persevere, because they fail to teach them how to work at things.
The second reason why children don't know how to persevere, has helped me to get thinking in regards to some in my family. In a large family like ours, it's easy as a parent to assume everyone understands what is expected. I now realise I probably have not been clear enough for some to know exactly what is expected of them.
Bernie Quimpo's article "Teaching Your Child How to Persevere" on HUBPAGES, says that when kids are unclear of parent expectations they can end up getting away with anything or feel that nothing they do is ever good enough. It's recommended to start with everyone being involved in family jobs or chores with the understanding that in doing so they are contributing to the family. Jobs need to be age appropriate. Begin by showing and teaching a job, step-by-step. For ideas you can look at my post WEEK 25 QUOTE 25 "What Daughters Need from Their Mothers - B. Flexibility For Multi-Occupations" and also in my most popular post, WEEK 17 QUOTE 17 "What a Son Needs from His Mum - 10 Things Mothers Should Teach Their Sons; by Lilsugar points 11 - 15. 
Before an overly excited child signs up with a sports team or begins guitar lessons, parents should talk them through what is actually involved. This way they can with understanding, responsibly commit to it.
Another aspect of setting children up well, is seen when your child leaves homework till the night before it's due. You are then at this late stage asked to 'help' (meaning "Will you do it for me Mum?"). DON'T. Give them some help with ideas or a plan of action, but don't do more. The next time show them a method to work on the assignment with better time usage. The point is not about getting top marks - rather it's about teaching our kids to persevere, developing ways to work hard at things themselves.
Going back to Charlotte Mason - she said the children were "incapable of steady effort, because they  had no strength of will, no power to make themselves do that which they know they ought to do." - as she concludes, here's where us parents come in.
The last reason children don't persevere is ~
  3. Parents don't praise their children for their efforts.
At first I thought this a weak point - everyone praises their kids! But what do we praise them for?
Professor Carol Dweck PhD of Columbia University, found through her research that when children were praised for intelligence "they avoided risks in a effort to keep looking smart."
However, kids praised instead for effort  "are energized by the difficult questions."
The research of another professor, Sanford Dombusch PhD of Stanford University, shows high school students who were most successful in achievements, had parents who gave praise for hard work and effort.
Students that performed the worst, however, had parents who either ignored results, "punished or criticized poor grades or paid for good grades with money or other material rewards."
'Paying' children for good results, whether it's top marks at the end of school or university, a ballet exam Distinction, for coming first at Nationals in sport and the such, gives the wrong message about the place of perseverance in life. We are only confusing them.
Children of all ages need the correct form of praise - not money - they need to know their parents value and accept them. Another old post you can look at for more on this - WEEK 23 QUOTE 23 "What Daughters Need From Their Mother -  B. A Positive Example Acceptance, Approval, being Valued, Being Loved". 

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Along the route of learning to persevere, there are struggles and difficulties working against progress. Naturally, such experiences are not enjoyed by children, teenagers or adults. But for parents to bail out their children, cover them from the hurts, avoiding situations of difficulty - they ruin the possibility of their children becoming future adults who persevere.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"More than a decade and a half ago, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a powerful and enduring icon:the Food Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed in a flash what the USDA said were the elements of a healthy diet....
Tragically, the information embodied in this pyramid didn't point the way to healthy eating. Why not? Its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.
With much fanfare, in 2005, the USDA retired the old Food Guide Pyramid and replaced it with MyPyramid, a new symbol and "interactive food guidance system". The new symbol, basically the old Pyramid turned on its side, has been criticized ever since its debut for being vague and confusing. In 2011, the USDA replaced this much-maligned symbol with a new food icon, MyPlate.
....the new icon while an improvement over MyPyramid, still falls short on giving people the nutrition advice they need to choose the healthiest diets.
As an alternative to the USDA's offering, faculty members at the Harvard School of Public Health built the Healthy Eating Pyramid .... The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes into consideration , and puts into perspective, the  wealth of research conducted during the last 15 years that has shaped the definition of healthy eating.....
This document, which by law must be revised every 5 years, aims to offer sound nutrition advice that corresponds to the latest scientific research."
THE NUTRITION SOURCE: Food Pyramid: What Should We Really Eat?

I highly recommend reading the whole of this article. 
The confusion about what foods are healthy is not just to do with pyramids.
We are told that red meat gives us essential iron and protein sources for  tissue and muscle fibre development. But health specialists warn us that if we eat too much we heighten the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you have problems with bad body odor, some suggest to cut back on red meat. Medical authorities in the areas of diabetes, osteoporosis and immunity system problems, also give a clear vote to lower the consumption of red meat.
But if you have problems with anemia, red meat along with other iron-rich foods, are encouraged.
Other foods and food groups also suffer with contradictory advice.
It's a confusing picture.
In most doctors waiting rooms, and near the dispensary in pharmacies, there is often a rack-full of literature in pamphlet form, suggesting a variety of approaches to eating. Add to this, product promotion through television and magazine diet advertising, and magazine articles on what's best to eat and we find the picture gets more foggy.
What is the best approach to eating?
Finding the Harvard School of Public Health article is a help. Its explanations of why previous models have been inadequate and its statement of the intent to revise the pyramid each 5 years as new facts are found, is all helpful.
But I think food and eating must be a pleasurable and fun pass time. The preparation and eating of food should not have a science experiment feel to it. It needs to always be another opportunity of communication and enjoyment of being together as a family. (You may like to read my post WEEK 12 QUOTE 12 on The Family Meal Table)
My approach to food is simply to eat from every food group, eating through all the varieties that each offer. With vegetables don't just stick to potatoes, carrots, peas - include all the options on the shelves at the vegie shop. The same with fruit. If I don't know how to cook something I Google for ideas. Often friends from other cultures to our own, have great  recipes for foods that are unusual to us. Trying new foods broadens our taste palette and gives our family diet, the health benefit of different nutrients and minerals. 
Each month for the next year I intend to put up 1 or 2 healthy recipes using ingredients available that month here in New Zealand.  I'll aim to use some unusual foods.
So here's the first one ~

 >>> AUGUST <<<


From the first night I made this it has been an absolute favorite in our family. Some in my family find the flavor of parsnip, strong. This recipe however makes it totally acceptable.
Parsnip is an excellent source of fibre, has vitamin C, Potassium, is very low in salt, low in calories, low in fat and is cholesterol free.
I use 3 MEDIUM SIZED PARSNIPS / if I'm making the swede version I use 1 SWEDE. 
A LARGE HANDFUL OF ITALIAN PARSLEY (I LOVE the smell and taste of Italian parsley). Parsley is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and has twice as much iron as spinach. You can keep it with a little water in the fridge in a plastic bag, or freeze it.
100gm approx GRATED CHEESE. 
Wash Parsnip and slice into similar sized pieces/if using swede, peel and slice into 2cm cubes. Put 2 cups water into pot, lid on and bring to the boil. Add Parsnip/Swede, lid on and cook 15 mins. Grate cheese, and wash then roughly chop Parsley. Once cooked pour most of the water off the vegetable, leaving a small amount behind. Throw in the Parsley and Cheese, lid on and shake over a low heat 2 - 3 minutes. Serve.


I only started to bake pears this way this winter. Pears have vitamin A, B and C. 
It takes 30 seconds to prepare this dessert!
Use 1 PEAR PER PERSON. Wash and place into an oven dish. Bake at 180*C oven for 30 mins - the pears need to split open and juice ooze out. some pears varieties do better at this than others. I prefer Packhams and Doyenne du Comice varieties. The pear juice in the oven dish becomes a syrup which is to die for! Easier to eat with a knife and fork.
(Thanks to Jack Forsyth's "Scrumptious Tucker" for his insightful information of fruit and vegetables.)

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ for one meal, get them involved in cooking - try these recipes or something else which introduces a new fruit or vegetable to your family. Happy eating.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"Weight problems are epidemic. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades. Kilos often are packed on gradually over decades, and many people struggle to  limit weight gain without realizing what's causing it."
"PUTTING ON WEIGHT IS MAINLY ABOUT DIET - NOT EXERCISE" : The New Zealand Herald. Friday June 24 2011.

                                               The "Biggest Demon"

A New Zealand Health Survey in 2006 - 2007 found that 26.5% or one in four New Zealanders were obese. The survey said that 41.7% of Maori adults were obese and Pacific Island men and women were two and a half times more likely to be obese than men and women of the total population of New Zealand.
Some major hospitals and the ambulance service in New Zealand, have had to modify their facilities to accommodate people with extreme weight problems, by installing winches and hoists capable of lifting 500 - 750kg.
Reality television shows  "The Biggest Loser" and "Big Fat Family Challenge", help a viewer understand and sympathize with the difficulties in life for obese people, and the determined willpower required to successfully free oneself from the habit of over eating.
Many countries of the world have increasing numbers of people who are obese. Why? How does a person become obese?
A team of Harvard University researchers - Dariush Mozaffarian, Tao Hao, Eric B. Rimm, Walter C. Willett, Frank B. Hu, released findings in June this year under the title ~
Their study was with over 120,000 American men and women who were not obese at the beginning of the study. The focus of this study was dealing with what habits led to obesity, rather than trying to find ways to assist obese people with weight loss.
Testing was conducted in three separate studies each lasting over 20 years. Every four years changes in lifestyle and factors for weight change were recorded. All three studies revealed the same connection of lifestyle changes with weight gain..
 *  It was "misleading" for a person to focus on eating food that carried 
      labels saying it had fewer calories, was low in fat, low in energy 
      density, low in sugars....
      RATHER the researchers stated it was extremely important to eat 
      food and drinks which were healthy by nature.
*  The "biggest demon behind" excessive weight gain was the humble    
      potato chip with its irresistible flavors and crunchy crisp texture.
*  The second serious contributor was potatoes.
*  Coming in third was sugar sweetened drinks - "liquid sugars". All the 
      sodas, soft drinks, fizzies, juices, sweetened waters and sweetened 
      sports drinks.
*  Fourth place was unprocessed red meat - beef and lamb.
*  The fifth highest contributor to high weight gain, was processed meats 
      such as bacon, hot dogs and deli meats.

The researchers also gave the following foods as the best helpers to prevent obesity ~
+  Vegetables of any variety
+  Wholegrains such as  : brown or wholegrain rice 
                                           : oats   raw or as porridge or oatmeal 
                                           : corn   even popcorn
                                           : bulger
                                           : buckwheat
                                           : spelt
                                           : wild rice
                                           : whole kernel or wholemeal or wholegrain flour
+  Fresh fruit of any variety
+  Nuts
+  Yoghurt
These are all less processed, raw foods.

Eating more "healthful" foods changes the patterns in our eating such as 
=  the feeling of being hungry
=  the feeling of one's appetite being satisfied
=  the size or food portion we eat
=  the insulin level in our body

As Frank Hu, senior author of the research paper says, "These findings underscore the importance of making wise food choices in preventing weight gain and obesity." "The idea that there are no "good" or "bad" foods is a myth that needs to be debunked."
Another fact that helps prevent obesity is physical activity.
Whereas    '  regular alcohol use
                    '  regular television watching
                    '  regularly sleeping of less than 6 hours and more than 8
                        hours each day 
         were found to contribute to obesity.
This study gives us lots of practical, easy-to-follow directions to keep parents and kids, out of the zone of obesity.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ As you eat and drink your way through this coming week with your usual family favorites, check how much of your eating habits could be contributing to a future of obesity.
Next post - some recipes of food and drinks to help keep us out of the obesity zone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


"At least three quarters of New Zealand's low-income primary and intermediate schools have joined charitable schemes to feed pupils.
A Herald survey has found many schools have signed up with several charities to cover breakfast and other food needs during the day.
All primary and intermediate schools in the lowest fifth of schools are also eligible to get at least one piece of fruit a day for every student under the government $12million Fruit in Schools scheme.
The Ministry of Health says only 12 of the 496 eligible schools have declined to accept fruit.
But a few schools have stayed out of the schemes, or limited their involvement, because they do not want to undermine parental responsibility.
Some schools have provided breakfast - or lunch for children  who come to school without food to eat - through churches and volunteers at least since the 1990's.
 The first nationwide program was KidsCan, founded in 2005 by a former sponsorship executive for the Warehouse, Julie Helson. It provides muesli bars, fruit pottles, raisins, bread and spreads through teachers to 20,000 children each week in 189 decile 1 - 4 schools. . . .
The principal of decile 1 Bairds Mainfreight School in Otara, Alan Lyth, said his school decided not to run breakfast programs and gave out KidsCan food to an average of less then one of its 370 students a day, because all the students received fruit and he did not want to completely take over the parent's role."

In the same week as this NZ Herald article, NZ TVOne program "Close-up" ran the story of Monica Tigifagu, mum to 6 kids, with 4 different fathers. Monica is on the Domestic Purposes Benefit for solo parents, after paying her bills, she said she often had just $80 a week left to spend on food. The cupboards and fridge were bare of food except for bread, margarine and peanut butter. This is what the family ate for lunch the day of the interview. 
Monica, smoking her cigarette while chatting with interviewer Mark Crysell outside, was asked if she thought it fair that she smoked when her family were so hard pressed for food? She answered that she needed cigarettes to cope. Monica said she encouraged her children with their education because she didn't want them as adults to have to live as she lived now.

Children who are hungry. Children going without a meal, even a day's worth of meals. None of this is new and is certainly not restricted to New Zealand and the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century! There has always been the poor and hungry! There has been examples of support for the hungry of various kinds in different cultures. 
In ancient middle eastern cultures there was a wonderful practice, that the margins of a cropped field at harvest time were left free for the poor and hungry to 'help themselves'. It was willingly available for them. Yes they needed to come to the field, do the picking, carrying, grinding or whatever - themselves, but the produce was then all theirs to live on.
The organization Oxfam, say they don't like to give food to the hungry. "We'd sooner help them grow it. For example, seven years of drought  on the southern edge of the Sahara have destroyed the way of life of the Tuareg herdsmen, forcing thousands into the towns to queue for relief food. For a small number Oxfam has found an answer. At Tchirozerine in Niger, hungry people have been shown how to make the best use of water resources to improve their pasture and grow new crops. Already the results have been dramamtic. But the task in the whole area is huge......"
What a radically, different approach these two examples are, compared to the two at the start of the post!
The KidsCan and the DPB family style, STYLE 1, is that parents with little effort or involvement, have the food provided for them and for their hungry children.
Whereas the ancient Hebrew and Oxfam style, STYLE 2, is that parents are involved, equipped, trained and assisted to work at responsibly themselves providing the food for their hungry children. The people of the simpler cultures here seem to be getting the better deal - a future with hope.
Both systems have costs  ~
                                                * The first group, STYLE 1, depends on the government providing through benefits directly to the parents, or to the school along with financial support from businesses and organizations. But with little or no cost to the parents at all.
                                                * The second group, STYLE 2, depends on the government, along with businesses and organizations, putting finance into setting-up schemes of practical self-help solutions. This involves commitment and effort from the parents, resulting in a change of lifestyle and possible graduation out of the hunger cycle.
What could a self-help scheme look like?
Being a Charlotte Mason advocate, I believe it must start with conversations, possibly through a DVD, convincing the parents of hungry children, that they have a say in their children's future. By parents remaining in STYLE 1 mode, the probability of their grand-children going on in the future to also be hungry, is extremely high. However, if they chose to commit to a STYLE 2 lifestyle and be involved in a practical self-help scheme, there was a high probability their grand-children in the future would not be troubled with being hungry.
Next, the scheme would need to deal with the immediate, by teaching parents and children of 13 years and older, to be able to prepare a weeks worth of nutritious yet economical meals for all the family. Starting with how to make porridge, soup from cheap seasonal vegetables, protein and fibre rich dinners, desserts and baking.
If organizations, businesses and the government are happy to pitch-in with a STYLE 1 method, I think they'd be ecstatic to be involved with a STYLE 2 self-help solution for the hungry.
Thirdly, there should be training for parents and children 16 years and older in the following areas ~
                                          #  successfully living frugally
                                          #  managing one's finances
                                          #  starting and successfully working a home-based 
                                          #  preparation for getting a job in various industries
                                          #  preparation to study for a qualification
                                          #  encouraging good family dynamics towards
                                                    working as a team
This would really establish a changed lifestyle, habits of thinking and effect a future of hope.
I like Alan Lyth's comment, from Baird's Mainfreight School in Otara, "he didn't want to completely take over the parent's role."
But this is exactly the road the media and others are steering us down with the escalation of free hand outs!

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Parents, take responsibility for caring for your children, responsibility for feeding your children. Stop letting the State or an organization do-it-all for us. If we want our kids to responsibly care for their kids, we need to live responsibly today.