Friday, June 29, 2012


"Who does it really help if I cut back? Many people are saying that it does not really matter whether we eat more or less. The argument goes something like this:
If I eat less meat this week will more grain be available in Bangladesh next year? If we stop buying sugared cereals and TV snacks the food industry will come up with something even worse. We may decide not to eat out so often but what difference will that make? The basic problem is bad government policy and import-export agreements - or snail-paced family planning programmes and corrupt governments in the Third World.
All these arguments have elements of truth. But they smack heavily of a common attitude - that it doesn't really matter what one person does; or that what one family can do is so small that it has no over-all effect. In our complex world it is difficult to see how a few families' struggles to save food will help. Yet eating less is an obvious first step. The complexity that frustrates easy answers also means that in the global family our decisions are interrelated. 'Life is like a huge spider's web so that if you touch it anywhere you set the whole thing trembling,' says Frederick Buccher.
How can we continue to overeat, knowing that people are starving in other parts of the world, and be at peace with ourselves and our neighbours?  'The destitute suffer physically, the overindulged morally,' writes one Mennonite relief administrator. Jesus recognized the desire to get more and more as a destructive force when he asked, 'Will a person gain anything if he wins the whole world but loses his life?'
When Jesus was surrounded by 5,000 hungry people he commanded his disciples to see that they were all fed. The disciples obeyed. They shared what was available, although it seemed inadequate. Their act of faith was to share and let God take responsibility for the rest.
Eating less is only a start....."
Introduction from "MORE WITH LESS COOKBOOK" How to Eat Better and Consumer Less of the World's Food Resources : Doris Longacre.

This book has live among my cookbooks for decades but recently I pulled it out hunting for an old recipe and read the introduction, part of which is above. Yes, it's a 1977 publication, but it shows that in 35 years we haven't got much further along in attitudes towards eating.
The 'recipe' for this month was not conceived out of the fantastic philosophy to food, outlined above. Rather it was through having limited food at home and the need to contribute a hearty meal for teenage boys getting together tonight.
2 cups of leftover beef casserole (I already had garlic and chilli in the 
     casserole so didn't add anymore - but you could add 2 garlic cloves
     and 1 - 2 fresh chilli into the pot)
2 onions 
3 - 4 potato
2 kumara or sweet potato
1 tin pasta sauce + 1 tin water + 1 cup more of water
1 - 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup dried yellow or green split peas
1 mug frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
I use a crockpot/slow cooker so the cooking is long and slow, like grandma did it.
Plug in the slow cooker. Open the tin of pasta sauce, pour it in, add the tin and extra cup of water. Peel and chunky slice the onions - add to cooker. Wash the potato and sweet potato, don't peel as the skins which are nutritious, also give more flavour and bulk to a hearty meal - add to cooker. If you are adding garlic and chilli now's the time - I put garlic into a mortar and pestle and gently crush then the skin slips off, then pound it and scrape into the cooking meal. Wash chilli, slice in half lengthwise and take seeds out, then thin slice and add to pot. Add cinnamon, dried split peas, frozen peas, salt and pepper. Give it a stir. Lid on and allow to slow cook for 6 hours on HIGH. 
Add 6-10 fine sliced basil leaves in the last hour.
Should stop a few growling tummies! You could serve with rice, couscous or pasta.... cooking more vegies if you wish or add a leafy green salad.
I would have got my boys to make this but they were at the local rural agricultural show - I'm hoping no more chickens will be bought :-%
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ if you're on school holidays as we are, get your kids to creatively Stretch out the Leftovers. Please, I'd love your 'recipes' to develop my ideas bank.

Monday, June 25, 2012


This is the second post in a series of three posts on how parents can teach respect - "PARENTS TEACH RESPECT BY TRAINING".
"Train a child in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not turn from it." 
Proverbs 22. 6
This old proverb reminds us of the importance and need of training our children and gives assurance of a positive outcome.
To speak of 'training' children is regarded by some with disgust. We train dogs and we train plants, and we also train teachers and nurses, actors and astronauts. "Train" just means to teach or equip, so this post's title could read "PARENTS TEACH RESPECT BY TEACHING AND EQUIPPING THEIR CHILDREN"
The responsibility for this task is ours - parents.
One way we can teach respect is through training our children to have ~
Training children  in good habits is like laying down tracks for a train to travel along. The track must be solidly put down and lead to a known destination - so when the train bounces around on the tracks at speed, the train or child can reliably get to the destination. There are many good habits which a child can be trained to have - attention or concentration, truthfulness, application, self control, unselfishness and politeness, thinking, imagination, perfect execution, remembering, obedience.... I intend to write on some over the next months.
I will use the habit of concentration to illustrate some methods of training a good habit.
It is best to work with the real situation, as it happens, rather than attempting to manipulate an artificial set up situation.
As with the training of many good habits, the training of concentration can begin at a very young age. When a baby holds a toy at some point they let go and drop it. Here's the opportunity - pick it up and in loving tones show the toy to the baby, arousing their curiosity to look again at the toy while you play a games moving the toy up and down, or sing a song. These few extra moments that the baby looks at the toy, are the start of baby learning to concentrate.
An older child may be doing the dishes or tidying up the toys and loosing their concentration on the job. To get them back on track we can, again, play a game. Count the number of cups, plates, forks/pick up all the blue toys (their favourite colour) first, then the wooden ones/pick up the biggest things first, down to the smallest/carefully wipe up all the glass things first, then the crockery and lastly the metal things.
The older the child the more complicated the categories can become- first, wipe up everything that goes in or near your mouth/put the oldest toys away carefully first/put away all the toys but keep the toys you play most often with to put away last- so you can get at them easily...
The key points or methods used in training concentration are -
  ~ a happy and positive attitude from the parent
  ~ making the job into a game
  ~ connecting it to something you know they are interested in
  ~ keep working at it
You will have more success in training a habit if you just stick to dealing with one habit at a time.
"Sow an act, reap a habit;
  Sow a habit, reap a character;
  Sow a character, reap a destiny"  Thomas a Kempis.
Habits established in young lives, do amount significantly in determining what a person will become.
A second way we can teach respect through training our children is by -
If you work at forming good habits in your child's life when they are young, there will be less work to do in the area of disrespectful talk later on.
Children can talk disrespectfully boldly to a parent's or adult's face. They can also use the behind your back method which the facial expressions giveaway. A less perceived practice of disrespectful talk is when a child speaks in damaging ways about themself to themself.
Here are 3 courses of action which may be of help.
1. Divert the child's attention.
As mums we often can sense when things such as disrespectful words are about to come out. Before they are said, do something that diverts the child's attention - give them something else to think about. Get them to check the letterbox for mail/ send them outside for a run around the garden (I used this one often when my boys were little - doing a physical thing worked well)/open the fridge and announce what's for dinner/turn on some music ...
2. Practice the opposite.
Each day make time to have conversations with your child that are respectful. Speak in loving ways using respectful words praising them. Tell them how you love them in specific terms. Tell them about particular things you admire them for - for example - not giving up when they were tired, smiling and staying relaxed when you know they had hurt themselves, the way they always give the dog a cuddle and attention, their preparedness to not copy and follow the pathetic examples of kids who bully others.....
To hear you speak in this way pleases them, and fills their mind with good. After a week, move the conversation with the child onto a new level, where your loving words and praise is aimed not only at the child but also at another family member. This practice over a couple of weeks to a month, will break the old habit of disrespectful talk, replacing it with respectful words because their mind is filled with examples of how to speak loving words of praise. (You are shifted the child's thinking, like shifting a train to run on a new track) I personally think this method could be a positive help if used in families where a member suffers with depression.
3. Cut out sources of disrespectful talk.
This could be the TV, TV or computer cartoons and games, movies, books... The amount of damage that these can do is immense. You may not be able to to remove people who talk disrespectfully, but you may be able to minimize access while you're in the training weeks.
Remember this training or retraining needs everyday attention and takes up to a month - just like learning to eat or walk or a musical instrument. So keep at it!
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Children speaking disrespectfully is a common problem. Spend a moment now and look back over this post and decide how you will handle the next occasion when there is disrespectful talk in your family. 

Monday, June 18, 2012


This is the first of 3 posts on how parents can teach respect.

The  more our children see love, forgiveness, humour, creativity, good money sense, tidiness, or RESPECT in our lives, the more likely they are to pick it up. We need to give it to them, model it in our lives and in this way we give them a better idea of what RESPECT is.”
CHARLOTTE MASON – an English educationalist of the 19th – 20th century.

We all have memories of someone demanding something of us but failing to practice it themselves – the boss who demanded punctuality but was regularly late and left early, or the teacher who stressed the need for clear handwriting but wrote in hieroglyphics… “Actions speak louder than words”.
And so it is for us as parents. If we want our children to respect us and others, then we must first model what respect is, by respecting our children.
Here are three areas we can check ourselves on, to see how we are doing in being examples of respect.
(a) Do you listen to your child when they talk to you? Do you look at them? Do you shift your thoughts and tune fully in to the words being said to you? Does your body language and face express connection with them?
(b) Do you interrupt your child when they are speaking? Do you feel you need to grab the moment their attention is turned to you, and remind them of something or give them some instruction? Have you decided that what they are saying is of lesser importance than what you want to say? Are you irritated that they are speaking and interrupting your moment/thoughts/what you were involved in?
© Do you ‘talk down’ to your child? Do you ‘baby’ them or speak to them as though they are younger than they really are? Do you only speak about ‘kiddy’ stuff with them, believing their mind couldn’t handle anything ‘adult’? Or do you talk about ‘adult’ stuff but reduce it down to an insipid level – bite-sized, ready for consumption?
(d) Do you use words and tones of voice that ‘speak’ respect to your child? Does your voice emotion have a hint of boredom, routine or mechanical repetition? Are you caring and careful in the words you select to speak to your child?
These simple behaviours repeatedly called on daily, are the means of displaying how a person is meant to communicate with people. In the past this style of respect was thought of as a common decency that all people were to display.
Life for children is learning, often learning through making mistakes, rethinking and trying again, more mistakes and eventually improving in their decision making skills. (We could remove “children”  in the last sentence and put in our own name – we’re still learning) But it only happens with lots of practice, practice to choose and make decisions in the little everyday things. What areas are you happy to let your child have choice in? Did you let them choose what clothes or shoes they wore today? What toys they get out to play with? How to arrange their room? What colours to paint their walls? When to start on their homework? Areas of choice must be development and age relevant. When parents give such opportunities they show they respect the child believing they are capable of making these choices.
This is time where either kids are alone or we are very much in the background. Sometimes these moments just happen, other times they need to be found. Some children are natural day-dreamers moving from one dreamy experience to the next. But for others, particularly if they are screen dependent, the idea of ‘dreaming’, is foreign. These children need help to find the value of dreaming.
  -  a camping holiday with only the basics
  -  a trip to the beach with only simple play things – even in winter
  -  a long bush walk with some challenges
  -  a long train, bus, car trip can also become  such a time if the technology is
         turned off
Quietness is not essential, but conditions must allow the child to be able to sustain their own thoughts with out interruptions.
  -  it can be as simple as providing time to play in the bath
  -  swing on the swing
  -  watch the rain out the window
  -  listening to the noise birds make gathering at sunset
These experiences develop so many undetectable aspects of thought, self control, sustained concentration, comfort in being alone, and the learning of relaxation.
By encouraging your child to spend time in these ways – thinking, imagining, dreaming, you show them respect because you’re viewing them as a person, understanding they need time to be left alone and develop.
If we generously show respect to our children in these and other ways, our investment  gives them a great base to take off from and become people who are respectful and respected.
Charlotte Mason also wrote –
“If we respect our children and bring them up treating them as a person they will have been loved, talked with, listened to, read to and they will have confidence, be enthusiastic, out-going and creative.” – and I also add, be respectful.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ if your thoughts were grabbed by any point above, go back and read it again, then decide how you want to action it this week with your kids.