Sunday, December 30, 2012


Click on this link "LOOKING BACK ON 2012" , scroll down to the screen with "2012 highlights", click on the arrow, and spend the next few minutes relaxing and smiling, watching the amazing places that a couple, Eric and Amaya have travelled through on bike, in 2012. This year they have travelled 20,000ks, through 11 countries, beginning in China and ending in New Zealand in the South Island. These two have the ambition to travel through every country of the world and have be travelling since 2006!
What an inspiration to end the year with.
This year on my blog THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, has been filled with series - 6 of them.
The 1st most visited series was, "SOME PLANS FOR SIMPLIFYING HOUSEHOLD JOBS" 
  ~ "Washing/Laundry" Week 70 Quote 70
  ~ "Cleaning" Week 73 Quote 73
  ~ "Cooking" Week 74 Quote 74
  ~ "De Junking" Week 75 Quote 75
  ~ "Shopping" Week 77 Quote 77
The 2nd most popular series was "BECOMING A MUM VIA AN ALTERNATE ROUTE"
  ~ "Infertility" Week 78 Quote 78
  ~ "Adoption" Week 79 Quote 79
  ~ "C-section" Week 84 Quote 84
  ~ "Stillbirth" Week 85 Quote 85
  ~ "Miscarriage" Week 86 Quote 86
The 3rd series most viewed was the series on "READING". It was inspired by Australia's Year of Reading.
  ~ "Why Do We Need to Read?" Part1 Week 92 Quote 92
  ~ "Why Do We Need to Read?" Part2 Week 95 Quote 95
  ~ "A Case for Reading Books in the Arts" Week 100 Quote 100
  ~ "A Case for Reading Classical Literature" Week 101 Quote 101
  ~ "A Case for Reading Contemporary Literature" Week 103 Quote 103
  ~ "A Case for Reading Plays" Week 104 Quote 104
  ~ "A Case for Reading Poetry" Week 105 Quote 105
  ~ "A Case for Reading Biographies" Week 107 Quote 107
  ~ "A Case for Reading Science" Week 108 Quote 108
  ~ "A Case for Reading History" Week 109 Quote 109
The 4th series was on cooking "HEALTHY EATING" which changed its name mid-year to "EAT ECONOMICAL, HEALTHY, TASTY AND SEASONAL"
  ~ February Week 72 Quote 72 
  ~ April Week 76 Quote 76 
  ~ May Week 82 Quote 82
  ~ June Week 89 Quote 89
  ~ July Week 94 Quote 94
  ~ August Week 97 Quote 97
  ~ September Week 102 Quote 102
  ~ November Week 110 Quote 110
The 5th series was "PARENTS TEACH RESPECT BY -"
  ~ "Their Example" Week 87 Quote 87
  ~ "Training" Week 88 Quote 88
  ~ "How We Live" Week 90 Quote 90
and the 6th series was "LIVING WELL THROUGH THE SUMMER -"
  ~ For Parents Week 113 Quote 113
  ~ For Children and Teenagers Week 114 Quote 114
The 3 most visited posts from 2012 were ~
  ~ "Stillbirth" Week 85 Quote 85 in the series "BECOMING A MUM VIA AN ALTERNATE ROUTE"
  ~ "Cleaning" Week 73 Quote 73 in the series "SOME PLANS TO SIMPLIFY HOUSEHOLD JOBS"
  ~ "Happy Mothers Day" Week 83 Quote 83
So far the most popular posts overall are ~
  ~ "Parenting a Special Needs Child" Week 41 Quote 41.This post remains the most popular two years running.
  ~ "How Can We Celebrate a Happy Family Christmas - With Teenagers?" Week 64 Quote 64
  ~ "Deciding What Colour to Paint a Child's Room" Week 48 Quote48
Posts I enjoyed writing or putting together were ~ 
  ~ "Are You Busy?" Week 96 Quote 96 which was the quickest post I put up as nothing much was needed to be added.
  ~ "Justice" Week 93 Quote 93 and 
  ~ "How Great are Your Ideas?" Week 91 Quote 91. I probably had the most satisfaction while preparing these 2 posts, because when I went back to Charlotte Mason's writings, her thoughts explained and confirmed what I had already been drawn to from others' writings.
Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  
I will be taking a break from blogging until February.
My hope in 2013 is to look out for opportunities to personally be inspired and to continue to inspire my kids.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


"My mother regularly chased her children outdoors. I think we were outdoors more than we were indoors when school was let out for the year. (This was one way she kept her house clean and tidy, I think) ... We ran from backyard to backyard. There were no fences to separate us - only a few shrubs and trees. We sang and swung on each others squeaky swing sets.... How different it has been for my children in the neighbourhoods where we have lived ... Why did the neighbourhoods our family lived in seem so lifeless, the children so unimaginative and rude - or worse, profane? ... Sorrowful thoughts come to my mind when I think about how easily bored, and preoccupied with promiscuity, so many American children are today."
Here in New Zealand the year's routine of school, sport and cultural activities has ended until early February next year. For many children and teenagers, there are weeks ahead with not a lot to do. For some the computer or screen will be their closest companion. Others will virtually live at the mall. Bored young children will moan, whine and whinge. 
To you, this may be normal - just how 'it is'! Maybe you think this is crazy, a wasted opportunity to enjoy summer or do something worthwhile. Maybe you think the solution is to fill each day of the holidays with activities to keep everyone busy.
In my family, some summers have flowed easily and well, while others have not.
Recently I read "The children are respected and accepted as valid persons. But they are not left on the island of their own limited resources. Through careful choice, they are nourished with the best we human beings have to offer : mind is introduced to mind, child to nature and activities." For the Children's Sake: Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
From another book, I read, "Amusements may be, and ought to be, such as will aid in developing and upbuilding a child's manliness or womanliness." The author went on to say that what little children play with and play at can train their eye, ear, hand, voice and movement skills. "And a child may be helped for life by the character which was developed in him in his boyhood's games of skill. It was an illustration of this principle, when the Duke of Wellington pointed to the playground of Eton, and said, 'It was there that the battle of Waterloo was won.' .... The amusements of children will tend to the gain or to the loss of the children." Hints on Child Training: H Clay Trumbull.
These quotes point to the fact that summer holidays  are part of the year-round growing and development of character, in a child and teenager's life. This is an opportunity for them to learn, not just how to have a great summer, but to learn lessons or skills which will benefit them in the future.
The possibilities of how you bring these ideal into summer holidays, are limitless.
Here are 3 suggestions ~
I wrote about kids of all ages needing to grow up with great ideas in "HOW GREAT ARE YOUR IDEAS" WEEK 91 QUOTE 91.
"An idea is more than an image or a picture ... implant an idea in the child's mind, and it will secrete its own food, grow and bear fruit in the form of a succession of kindred ideas." Home Education: Charlotte Mason. Depending on the ideas our children and teenagers feed on or come in contact with, they will grow minds which will be similarly directed.
The minds of children can easily be fed great ideas through reading 'living' books. Charlotte Mason coined the term 'living' books by saying they are books which open a window onto the world. They can be fictional or historical stories of people which give a view into human nature and experiences. Or books about "places, events, processes, causes and effects" Books Children Love: Elizabeth Wilson.
Use the local library to find such books. Read just 30 minutes a day to little children over the summer and feed their minds with great ideas.
Older children can read the books themselves, or you can choose to read to them as well. 
Through the holidays you can watch movies that fall into this category of 'living'. This is especially appropriate with teenagers. Some movies you could start with are -
"The Ultimate Gift", "The Help", "Abraham Lincoln", "The Lady", "Lions for Lambs", "Chariots of Fire". 
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy."
Giving help or giving service to other people is a theme found today in many books and movies for all ages. We have super heroes risking all to save and help others, the wealthy philanthropists of the world giving huge amounts of money to needy situations. But sadly it has not translated into the average person in our societies, practicing this trait of giving help to people around them on a regular, normal basis.
Bob Schultz in Practical Happiness, says we can start by looking at what we have an abundance of, e.g., an over productive vegetable garden or fruit tree. Give some away to neighbours in need. He also makes the connection between giving and happiness. "I'm writing this chapter because I've watched many unhappy men. They've spent years trying to gain money, possessions and fame for themselves, never realising that happiness walks with givers, not getters. Therefore, I challenge you. Look around at your abundance. What do you have that's more than you need?"
As well as happiness there are other traits that develop in our kids when they give help to others. Selflessness, thinking of others before themselves, and maturity which comes as a result of personally going without to the benefit of another.
To give help to another involves forgetting or denying yourself. So there's a struggle, which involves both a child's will and the training of a habit. A will can't be controlled but a child's conscience, which is trained by the ideas their mind feeds on, can spur on the will.  The training of a habit to help or serve people, needs "the support of constant supervision, but by degrees, he is left to do the thing he ought of his own accord." This habit. like others to do with kindness and courtesy, are in the area of self-discipline, so each person must take charge of it eventually for themselves. As Charlotte Mason says a habit is not fully formed if supervision is necessary. School Education:  Charlotte Mason.
The habit of giving help to others can be trained with simple actions such as opening the door of the fridge or car when another has full arms. Helping unload the shopping from the car. 
Older children and teenagers can be asked to help with household jobs - mowing, taking out the garbage, washing, cleaning... If needs be, parents may have to happily continue assisting all aged children with their helping task, until their self discipline takes control of it for themselves.
I believe learning to give help MUST start and be trained at home, in the common, everyday happenings of life, not at school or work where they receive pay or commendation for it.
"A soul occupied with great ideas best performs small duties." H Martineau.
"Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being little. Do you desire to construct a vast lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations. Modesty humility is beauty's crown." Augustine.
By practicing giving a helping hand daily through the holidays, children are trained to be alert to how they can give help to people all year-round.
I wrote about parents needing to set challenges for themselves, in the last post. LIVING WELL THROUGH THE SUMMER : FOR PARENTS - point 2.
It is similar for children and teenagers, they need stretching into areas which are difficult or uncomfortable to them, all through their growing years. Maturity, an accurate self esteem and contentment, are some of the attributes which come to a person who allows himself to work through challenges. Again, look at my post on Jessica Watson Week 9 Quote 9
Your job as a parent is to listen out and watch your kids to help them find what would be a challenge for them, then encourage them to pursue it. This is better than a parent thinking up 'projects' for their kids. Again read the post I wrote on Arianna Stasinopoulos Week 8 Quote 8 to get some ideas on how a parent can do this. Challenges are not optional, like choosing to send your child on an Outward Bound extreme camp. Your children and teenagers must regularly deal with challenges, otherwise they will end up being "a mere toy" as the rhyme above describes it. A movie to watch in this area is "The Ultimate Gift".
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ have a GREAT summer with your kids. Enjoy your kids and love them by investing time in training them in these 3 simple ways.

Friday, December 21, 2012


"Recreation is not being idle : it is easing the wearied part by change of occupation."
William Shakespeare.
We usually think of summer as a chance to get out of routine, to relax, be refreshed, revived and invigorated.
To BE REFRESHED this summer we need to change our "occupation" - change what we are doing.
Charles Simmons, and American of the 19th century, gave us more help when he said, "To recreate strength, rest. To recreate mind, repose (be motionless). To recreate cheerfulness, hope in God, or change the object of your attention to one more elevated and worthy of thought." NOTE: Simmons did not suggest farm out the kids, take yourself off for me time, go do that something you've always wanted to do for yourself. These things could help but they need to be put alongside actions which give REST, our BEING MOTIONLESS, and THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING WORTH THINKING ABOUT. 
So how do you do this?
1. I'm suggesting we start with a SIMPLE METHOD OF USING THE 5 SENSES God made us with - our Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth and Feel or Touch.

(A) The Hospital Sign - a couple of years ago when I was in hospital, there was a sign on the wall of the room which said, "Take 5 deep breaths every 5 minutes to help deal with your pain" - as well as helping with pain it relaxes you, brings blood pressure down and chases away gloominess. Breath in deeply and slowly, hold your breath for a moment then slowly breath out. Try it now.
(B) Smell the fragrances of the flowers, leaves, trees, bark, bush, ocean, seaweed, sea breeze, air just before rain... This is not freaky or earthy, it's normal and was a common routine a couple of generations back. Take the time to do it today.
(C) Burn incense or aromatherapy candles.
(A) You need 5 minutes - sit down outside at the beach, in the bush, a garden... and take your time to look, moving your eyes slowly, stopping to study things that interest you (not the bikini teenagers). It helps to be still and quiet.
(B) You need 5 minutes - again sit down outside after finding a natural object - a leaf, rock, feather, flower, shell, seed pod, critter... Take your time to look closely at the detail of the object.
(C) You need 5 minutes - find something outside that has negative space (if you hold up your hand with your fingers apart, the space in between your fingers is negative space) - e.g.. the branch of a tree, a spider's web, shadows on the ground, seaweed on rocks. Focus on the patterns you find in the negative space. Be still and quiet.

(A) Listen to the sound of moving water - waves rolling on the beach/rocks, water trickling in a fountain, pouring into a glass, in a shower, going down the drain... It helps if you close your eyes. I love listening to water and think it is very relaxing.
(B) Stop and listen to the singing and sounds of birds - at the beach, early morning, end of the day - birds often congregate in trees at sunset. This is my husband's favourite. He says it brings back childhood memories of watching dawn from the farm cowshed.
(C) Listen carefully to your favourite music with earbuds if necessary, or listen carefully to your own voice as you sing.
(A) Savour the tastes you love in food and drink. Why do you love them - focus on their texture-the smoothness of the chocolate, the fizziness of the sprite or champagne, the chewiness of the chiabata bread, crunchiness of the fresh snappy biscuit..
(B) Take up smiling - when you drive, do the dishes, take a shower, and do the jobs you really don't like. This simple habit does relax you, brings down blood pressure and draws good old-age lines on your face.
(C) Practice kissing...

(A) Self massage your hands, feet, leg or arm muscles, your forehead, ears and into your hair on your head.
(B) Close your eyes and use a leaf or fern to soft stroke your face, arms or legs.
(C) In a pool or the sea with no surf, float for a few minutes, be motionless. OR lie down on the ground under a tree, closing your eyes and thinking about how you feel. In winter you can do a similar thing by wrapping up in warm clothes, hoodies, scarves, jackets and lie down on outdoor furniture, or on the sand at the beach, or inside on a couch, doing nothing else but thinking about how you feel. 
Explore one of the 5 senses each day of the week - Monday-Nose, Tuesday-Eyes, Wednesday-Ears ... through to Friday. OR Pick one eg of relaxing and continue practicing it all week - e.g. this week deep slow breathing, next week listening to bird songs....
The point is to not just do it once and forget it, keep going back to your one relaxing choice throughout the day, so you keep relaxing yourself.
2. The daring choice of SETTING YOURSELF A CHALLENGE, daily or weekly. No, being a mum or dad is not the sort of challenge I'm meaning. To take up a challenge involves a contest, a trial or difficult task as in the past when challenges were issued to joust or duel. It was serious and life-threatening. I'm not encouraging you to go to this extent. The point is we need to be stretched or challenged in our "recreation", as Shakespeare said, "change our occupation", or as Simmons said, "change the object of our attention to one more elevated and worthy of thought." A challenge often brings this - a buzz of action, excitement, determination, energy... which refreshes us. A challenge will be different for each person.
How do you find a challenge? Often they are right there in the back of you mind or just in front of you ready to be picked up. Jessica Watson  had been dreaming about her challenge for years before she actioned it. Jessica Watson. Arianna Stasinopoulos' challenge was almost impulsive but it did take time till it came into reality. Arianna Stasinopoulos
One of my sisters told me she had read that it was good for everyone once they turned 40, to learn something new, every 5 years. To start from scratch, become a learner, a 'baby' again and go through the process of feeling useless, but by practice and perseverance, with lots of failures, to gradually improve and feel that excitement of developing skills. It is true.
A challenge for me this year has been in being part of a mums group which involves giving talks at times. I have never enjoyed the 'speaker' role as it's out of my comfort zone, but I'm working at it.
Another challenge last week was cutting our hedges. Normally I begin trimming them before we get into November, but I'd put-off the job, so tackled the generous summer growth in one hit. It was a physical challenge which I spread over 4 days a couple of hours per day. But as Shakespeare points out it was a change for me and yes it "eased" my "wearied parts", and slept well each night.
What challenge will you choose to tackle over summer? It must stretch you, but you need to be committed to it.
3. There's a third way you can be refreshed this summer and it's summarised in this quote.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned 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. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11 : 28 - 30 The Bible.
This talks about finding true refreshment, "recovering your life", not just having a happy summer holiday. This Christmas and summer  I hope you will want to find refreshment like this, refreshment that lasts. Feel free to comment here or email me if you prefer -
Have a GREAT Christmas - 3 days to go!!!! and wonderful summer (you Northern Hemisphere people just have to wait for it).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Today is the 12/12/12.
 "We began to think about decorations for the dining room table, and it was the kids' idea to make Christmas boxes to be laid at each guest's place. Inside these hand-folded boxes was a tiny wooden angel that could be pinned like a broach, and a Christmas joke that the children had great fun writing themselves - I could hear their raucous laughter from the other end of the house! We tied the boxes with fine red satin ribbon, finished off with fresh holly from our forest.
Given how different our surroundings were to our usual Christmas celebrations, we thought that we should develop a few new traditions. We made the table centrepiece ourselves, using only what we could find on the forest floor - with so much natural beauty just outside we would have been mad to use something store-bought."
At My French Table : Jane Webster.
This post is really like what you would find on "Pinterest" - a collection of themed Christmas decorations in photographs. As you look, I hope you will want to "develop a few new traditions".
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ put into action a new tradition for your family Christmas this year - 13 days to go!