Kia Ora, 2017

220px-Daisy_chainAren’t you a tantalising new year then, eh?  Unfolding provocatively, with your opportunities and stressors, joys and delights!  I welcome you!

Quick few links to share, then I’m gonna crack on with my yoga practice – 31 day challenge, love you Adriene!

First up, please join me in celebrating the values of scheduling fewer activities for our children.  This term we have Big Girl about to start high school and Little Girl gearing up for primary school … I have hit ‘pause’ on ALL activities.  Swimming, piano: PAUSE.  We’ll pick ‘em back up term two.  Let’s all catch our breath with a new system, first.

Here is an article from the NY Times about a loving librarian (dreamy … the moral of the story is TURN UP for what you believe is important) and on the subject of books, check out these wee beauties, from Japan.  COVET!

From reading to writing: those of us with children and things to say will appreciate this article, from the Guardian.  I have not shared with my Geeky brothers and sisters yet, but OH MY CRIKEY GOODNESS look at this amazing project I’m getting to work on just now. Careful what you wish for!

Here is an article from Scientific American about the changes to our brains after pregnancy (just as well, really) and from the Atlantic, an article about the amazingness of babies.  It blows my mind how many people still think that infants are ‘blank slates’ and still haven’t received the memo of their magnificence!!

This is interesting: an examination of the skills that job seekers need to thrive … of course we all know that the best time to influence job seekers is DURING THEIR INFANCY!  Thanks, Professor Heckman!  For realz, how long has it been since you brushed up on The Heckman Equation?

Time to crack on.  My yoga mat, she calls to me.  And my kids will awaken at any moment! x x x

Shout out to the kin-keepers at Christmas-time

Hello friends.

Kin-keepers: I see you.  People like me: the card-senders and list-writers and picnic-packers of the season.

Kin-keeping is all the stuff we do to maintain strong bonds with friends & family. It’s the name given to the invisible raft of tasks that supports the rich social connections required for optimal health.

It’s thinking ahead to get the ingredients for your dad’s favourite birthday dinner.  It’s remembering to call your mother-in-law on the day of her medical appointment.  It’s about making a list and checking it twice.

This is often invisible work, but it deserves to be a separate line-item in the imaginary time budget of our lives, but because it tends to morph itself into the general busy-ness of family life (pack the swimming bag, unload the dishwasher, soak the collars) even those of us who facilitate the lion’s share of the kin-keeping underestimate the demand it places on our resources: time, energy, funds.

Ideally, kin-keeping is a joy.  With a little bit of breathing room about it, a gift for a friend can be a loving creation (I love making smart-arse cross stitches for my significant ladies) and preparing a casserole for an ailing relative can be a lovingkindness meditation.  But when time is short and energy is stretched, buying the gift or making the meal can feel more like pressure – even resentment – than love.

At this time of the year, when New Zealanders are preparing for the whole world to shut down for a few weeks, with school prizegivings and work dos, let alone a massive feast to cater, it can be really hard to find that breathing room to create a joyful kin-keeping heart.

I find it much easier to take the advice about slowing down, being mindful, practicing gratitude if I identify kin-keeping for what it is.  Give it a name.  Recognise what a vital function I am performing for my family when I remember that Little Girl will need a gift for Olivia’s 5th birthday on Sunday.  (CRIKEY that’s tomorrow.  No worries.  Zero panic.  She’ll be right, etc.)

How about this for a cool name: te ahi kā.  I am told that this is what the first New Zealanders would have called the person who (quite literally) keeps the home fires burning.  There are hunters, there are gatherers, there are gardeners, and there is te ahi kā. 

I salute your work all the year round, but I especially honour you now, 8 days from Christmas with kids rattling around hereafter.  All that food, those bathroom wipe-downs, the gift-wrapping: it all happens in the service of family relationships, and that makes it such noble work.

Someone has to keep the meals chugging and the laundry flowing, and I sing a song in your name.

Arohanui, keepers of kin, ahi kā ma.

x

 

 

 

 

running somewhat behind …

oh baby dec 16I got my latest issue of OHbaby! magazine a good week ago, but life has been so intense and my children so needy that I have not had an opportunity to tell you about it.  It includes my Open Letter to the Dads of Aotearoa.  I hope you will read it and enjoy it.

Speaking of Dads, check out this interesting research as described in the Guardian … it tells how a man’s attitude to fatherhood impacts his kids’ behaviour.  We are not even talking about his actions, just his attitude.  INTERESTING.

More later.  To close I’ll share that my family and I are currently obsessed with Bad Lip Reading … Star Wars, Presidential Debates, High School Musicals, all of it.  It makes me laugh till I cry, which is a phenomenon I adore!

Now, to get in the washing and make the dinner and unpack from the school trip …

Thankful for … Los Amberleys

Kia Ora Friends

The weekend has almost evaporated.  I’m trying hard to get a bit of rest in, after a huge day of cooking a thanksgiving feast for our half-American family.  The trees and pollen of late springtime are having their way with my respiratory system, and I could use a lie down!  Later, I promise.

SO: we had a buzz-out about all sorts of stuff at the Amberley Medical Centre’s forum last week, and – as promised - here is an intro to Temperament research, and here is an assessment scale.  More on that later!

Here is a talk by Bruce Perry, thanks be to YouTube, and if you’d like to muck around with the “think of child rearing in terms of what our ancestors did” idea, I recommend “The World Until Yesterday” by Jared Diamond, and “The Continuum Concept”, by Jean Liedloff.

**AND … I”m adding these in later … here are a couple of pieces I’ve written on the concept of Good Enough Parenting.  This is from the Newsletter of the Brainwave Trust,  and this was written for OHbaby! magazine.  ENJOY **

Better go, as I am trying to model healthy screen habits.  That’s step one, peeps.  A great book on this topic is “The Big Disconnect”, that’s your homework!

disasters: natural and unnatural

Another natural disaster has had its way with my community.  Thanks a lot, Rūaumoko.

So I’m gonna share this excellent resource again – the Open Letter to the carers of  Infant/Toddlers.  The mums and dads and others looking after the small humans.  It was produced by IMHAANZ (the Infant Mental Health Association of Aotearoa/New Zealand).  There is another, equally awesome, on their website.  It deals with sleep and it is here.

We will be well advised to learn how to respond intelligently to trauma.  If in doubt, check back with Bruce Perry and the Child Trauma Academy. 

And do some yoga.  After all, the body keeps the score.

nearly November

geez.  I know everyone says time speeds up as we age, but this year is beyond ridiculous, isn’t it?

I can feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those people who just keeps the Christmas decorations up, year round.  Because I’ve barely put all the tinsel into its boxes and back in the barn … and it’s time to get it all out again!

Anyway, my geeky brothers and sisters.  There are plenty of links I’d like to share with y’all today.  Here they come, with no particular order and no promise of snazzy segways in between …

A couple of foodie bits first, this about children’s ‘pester power’ when it comes to the marketing of junk food, and this one wondering about the alleged secrets to getting children to eat their vegetables.

This is a report from our Families Commission, back in 2013, reviewing evidence of efficacy for parenting programmes targeted at supporting vulnerable parents, and here is a similar (albeit more recent) effort from the UK.  Meanwhile, this is what the state government in Western Australia is up to, to help vulnerable families.

What else?  Um … Here is the You Tube channel of Stony Brook University’s Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics.  We’ll never run out of stuff to view, eh?

This link will take you to a publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s about virtual violence (and children’s exposure to it …) AND here is something v useful from the Australian Council for Educational Research.  It’s going to be very useful for classroom teachers, it’s about the implications of exposure to trauma.  Speaking of trauma (aren’t we always?) this is a link to a useful website about such thangs.

Finally, from the magnificent Center for the Developing Child, a paper about using the Science of child development in Child Welfare systems.

thinking out loud … why ‘Self Care’ is vital, and ‘Me Time’ is gross

Whaddup geeks?

Happy holidays to the kiwi families.  I’ve a list of jobs as long as my person, but I’m as happy as a clam about it, because most of them speak to my hermit like tendencies.  Clean the glasshouse?  Happy to.  Muck out the calf’s stall?  No worries.

Go to the supermarket?  Awwwwwwww … Can’t someone else do it?

So yesterday I had an excellent lunch and rant and conversation with some hard working and wise education legends in North Canterbury.  While we were examining the woes of the world (I was possibly blahing about the impact on child development of growing up in a society whose leadership values measures of GDP more than indicators of Human Flourishing)  I laid on the table my profound dislike of the phrase “Me Time” … and my seemingly paradoxical, overwhelming passion for Self Care.

“They are not the same thing.  One is about indulgence, the other is about nurture.” I offered. And the women agreed, adding that there is an element of separation in one that is not necessary in the other.

I will be back to this.

I’m not done.  But for now I need to get some firewood in and do a spot of forward bending.  Yoga is self care, you know.  Not me time.

I wonder

sept tots teens eleanor wonderHello friends, Kia Ora e hoa ma

A couple of things to update before I go heat up leftovers and pick some silverbeet leaves to throw on top (oooh, exotic!).  I was supposed to go to the fruit and veg shop today but when I pulled up outside I discovered I left my wallet at home.  Durrr.   It’s times like this I love my huckery old silverbeet plants.

But that’s not the point.

I wanted to share this cool link from the Lammily doll people about the creation of their new, realistic boy doll, and please enjoy this delicious gift from the folks at TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) … this about using books to spark play.  

This is a link from the LA Times about the fear raising of a nature-phobic generation (not here.  Not yet.  Thank God(dess)…) AND you will see in today’s picture that Little Girl is reading the latest issue of Tots to Teens, which features a wee article I wrote.

I wonder what it’s about.  I’m being silly.  It’s about Wonder.

Finally, a giant shout out to my friend and colleague (*frolleague?) Sarah Best.  She is a writer, a teacher, and a like minded play enthusiast who spent her birthday weekend here with her husband, staying with my family.  Arohanui!!  x x x

Playcentre, baby

Kia Ora Geeks, what’s up?  So Little Girl and I started our week with a beautiful visit to the Playcentre in Leithfield.  I wanted to follow up with a few links from our conversation there.

First: May I say how much I love Playcentre as a movement, a philosophy, and a thing in general.  It’s uniquely kiwi, supportive of families (therefore is grounded in Bioecological theories of human development, whoop whoop!) and it is a monument to play.  And play rules.  That’s that. As I told the lovely Kate, who is writing about the morning for a Playcentre publication, being in a Playcentre makes me proud to be a New Zealander.

I also happen to adore Kay Henson, who runs that Monday morning session at Leithfield Playcentre.  What a lucky little village.  And what lovely, devoted mamas all hanging out that day.  I am grateful to have spent some time with you all.

I see the way you attend so patiently, selflessly, (exhaustedly!) to your settled, loved, inquisitive children.  I see you.

Some of the things I wanted to follow up:

This is a good intro to temperament theory, and, to follow on, here is an article about the concept of Goodness of Fit.  And this article does a lovely job of explaining Self Regulation and highlights the link between it and Goodness of Fit.  Good times!

An extension of our temperament conversation led us into talking about Elaine Aron and her Highly Sensitive Person work.  Check out more here.

A couple of musical links now: first with regards to behaviour.  This is Accentuate the Positive, which is more than just a classic tune.  It’s also a great strategy for dealing with our families.  It’s a behaviour management anthem, about choosing your battles, and celebrating the bits that are going well!

The next musical link is a live version of Dixie Chicken by Little Feat, from the year of our Lord, 1977.  It’s for Dixie and her mama.

What else?  Here is a link to learn more about Madga Gerber, this is a book I highly recommend, this is one of the Buddhist inspired parenting books I wouldn’t live without (I chatted with one mama about this), and won’t you please have a peruse of my writing page for many expansions of some of the topics we discussed.

Finally, this is a random and cool link from Mothering mag about baby birds and the power of song … ooooh.

Speaking of birds, I’m off to give my poorly chook a spa treatment.  I wish I was kidding.

life after the Olympics

220px-Daisy_chainwe are fans of the Olympic games, in this house.  It’s one of the only times that our rigid “No TV in the mornings” rule gets bent.

Little Girl and I have had several re-enactments of races, victories, and awards ceremonies.  She likes to gaze reverentially at an imaginary flag being raised, and has a warm way of congratulating other imaginary competitors on their good runs.

The weird bit is how she’s turning everything into competition, now.  An example, from yesterday, as she’s gathering daisies off the lawn: “Pretend I won the flower-picking competition!”  Flower picking as competitive event?  Break my heart!  Go on!

I’m not a particularly competitive person, so my instinct is to detract from this trait.  One beautiful strategy for turning away from rampant competition is to embrace the wonderful world of yoga.  I’m on my mat several times a week, and will feel more competent in supporting my kids to enjoy their bodies and their own practice having had the great fortune to attend a day of training with the beautiful Michaela from Yogi Kids.  Namaste (now let’s play!)

What else?  A flurry of important, informative and slightly depressing links from Australia.  First, from the Early Trauma and Grief Network, an excellent PDF about supporting children who have witnessed family violence.  I’ve linked to it before, but I’m linking to it again because it worthy: it dispels some myths and is altogether excellent.   This is a link to the website of an organisation called Lifespan whose mission is to prevent suicide, and please behold this (important!  Slightly depressing!) from the Valuing Children Initiative … it’s about public perception of children.

This is an important li’l piece written by a Scientist … it’s about keeping the ‘A’ in STEAM (instead of narrowly obsessing about STEM).

This is a report from the Pew Charitable Trust, summarising vast amounts of information about the efficacy and awesomeness of Home Visiting (unnecessary captials, I know!  But I flippin love home visiting).  Kiwi Midwives do some home visits, Plunket do a little (and used to do more) and Parents as First Teachers (PAFT) have just tragically had their funding cut!

A couple of gifts from Scientific American, and then I gotta go be an attentive parent once more.  First: Data Visualization and Feelings (I feel that I flippin love this, so what does that look like?) and finally, here is neuroimaging exploring what new thoughts look like as they take shape in the brain.