i won! spring challenge

deeclarknz.comi was freezing yesterday. chilled to the bone. not even my electric blanket was taking the chill off. the temptation to whine was overwhelming.

i didn’t … whine…

because i’m participating in the 5 days of positive or being grateful challenge on Facebook…i stayed focused…NO complaining.

however cold yesterday was…the signs of spring are beginning to appear.

we have noticed that the grass is beginning to grow again in our yard. my husband said to me the other day, “spring is not far away if the grass is growing again and that means that it’s almost lambing time as well.”

in case you don’t know, dear reader, there are more sheep than people in NZ and one of the true signs of spring in NZ is lambing season.

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“have you seen any lambs yet?” He asked me.

“no, not yet.”

so, being the competitive creature he is, he gave me a challenge. “let’s see who sees the first lamb between us.”

yeah, we are old and can be a bit boring sometimes…but hey, i took the challenge.

(drum roll please…)

i won!

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this morning. driving along with the sun’s rays lifting the day with it’s brilliance, feeling the crispness of the morning air, and daydreaming, i glanced at the glistening paddock to my right. there it was!

the first lamb i had seen for the season, basking in the warmth of the sun. near by, it’s twin, leaping and bounding as if full of uncontrollable joy.

the chill of yesterday seemed distant and warmth filled my heart.

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new life.

playful youth.

nature’s abundance.

my spirits were lifted.

spring is truly on it’s way!!!

(ok, now i hear my NZ readers reminding me not to get too excited because August is coming and as the last month of winter…it’s traditionally fierce. i know. but i’m living in this moment, enjoying the first of spring revelations. i’ll take August on when it gets here…but for now…it’s springtime in my heart!)

what’s your favorite sign of spring?

D

Glasgow games, rivalry and levelling the statistics

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i know you hear me say time and again how beautiful NZ is. i constantly sing it’s praises. the reason is that sometimes, i have to pinch myself to make sure that living here is not some dream i’ll eventually wake up from. beautiful things make my heart sing…

and all i need to do quite often is open my curtains and peek out at the scenery and my heart is cheered.

as many of you are aware, the Glasgow games are in full swing. my husband checks the stat sheet everyday to catch a glimpse of NZ’s standing. he does this with the Olympics as well. his reasoning is partly national pride and partly rivalry.

NZ and Australia have a healthy rivalry going on where sports are concerned. it makes me laugh. i always imagine chest beating and masculine grunts…signalling superiority. the Hakka is a good example of what i imagine when i think of this rivalry.

my husband has a thought process he uses to level the statistics in the games when NZ is not at the top of the leader board. i usually give him a hard time about it…

but i laughed so hard this morning when i heard a radio announcer use my husband’s method.

NZ is currently running 5th in the Glasgow games. last night, Rodney pulled up the stats to check NZ’s standing compared to Australia and of course, Aussie had more gold medals. i waited and then there it was…

“actually, per capita…the gold medals NZ has achieved out ranks most of the other countries which means we are doing really well for a small country!”

i gave him my usual unbelieving grin. he continued his attempt to convince me. i continued grinning.

as i was driving along this morning, the radio announcer gave the gold medal stats and then stated, “but per capita…” i burst into laughter.

the female co-host challenged the theory (girl after my own heart). she convince the host to do the figures. once he completed the challenge of calculating NZ’s standing on a per capita basis, the new standing had in fact changed. NZ was now in 6th place instead of 5th.

laughter erupted on the radio and in my car.

no, NZ has not won the most medals thus far…

yet, each and every competitor from every country has put their heart and soul in to competing.

they have trained and prepared.

they have overcome amazing odds.

they and their families have sacrificed.

they have dreamed.

they have not given up.

they have followed their passion.

while there is only one gold medal…

they all win because they did what they love, with all their might, and with excellence.

just as we win when we all do the same.

on another funny note, i remember watching my first Commonwealth games. in one of my “dizzy” moments, i inquired, “why doesn’t America participate in the Commonwealth games” (i’m loyal to the core and proud of my country). my husband’s reply, “because they threw a tea party!” touché!

congrats to all the athletes participating on all you’ve accomplished!

D

6 ways to support children facing difficult situations

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the phone rang and i could hear the excitement in her voice, “he had a great day. in fact, they both did.”

tears welled up in my eyes and i did my best not to burst into tears; i was both thrilled and relieved. i might add, i was also proud of my daughter.

as a mother, my heart aches when my children struggle in painful situations. it’s even worse, when there is nothing i can do that seems to make a real difference.

however, there was an incredible outcome this time…

let me take you back to the beginning.

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my grandson is such a loving little man. my daughter was a single mom for most of his first fives years and for his age, he was quite emotionally sensitive and gentle. several times a day, he would stop, look at his mother and say, “mum, you’re so beautiful.” when he turned five and started school, he often shared similar compliments with his new teacher.

as well, he is bright and learns quickly. he began attending school in the middle of the year and easily caught up to the expected academic learning levels.

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their little family moved before his second year of school which meant a change of schools.

the change we began to notice was not only in the change of schools…our little man was changing, too.

first, my daughter noticed that he began eating non-food items. she tried everything she could think of: distract, change diet, add vitamins and iron, and visits to the doctor for professional advice. nothing was working. she googled what she was witnessing and found that the condition was called pica. he began to have serious health issues.

she felt helpless and i felt helpless as well.

the eating disorder was not the only change we noticed. he was often unsettled and easily agitated. this was not normal. at all.

we looked at things at home that may be contributing. we wanted to ensure that he was only involved in age appropriate games, TV, and activities. we looked at possible stress points. we were coming up with nothing.

when we talked to him about his days at school, he would mention what sounded like a bit of play ground bullying. so, we turned to the school. they had nothing to report. the school year was ending so we hoped a summer break and a new school year might help bring a solution. summer went well…he was more settled and we were hopeful.

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this year was his third year of school and things were not better-they were going from bad to worse? my daughter began nursing school and her schedule became quite busy and stressful. the school began to call with reports of aggressive behaviour. what? we could not fathom what was happening.

the calls continued to come in from the teacher and my daughter was becoming more and more desperate. we arranged support meetings with the teacher, the assist principal and finally, the principal.

he continued to tell us stories that truly sounded like bullying.

the calls continued to come in. his teacher often explained that his aggressive behaviour seemed to be a result of other children “winding him up” as if he were retaliating. yet, when asked, there did not seem to be any support for him in preventing the “winding up”.

i volunteered to become a substitute (grand)parent aid since my daughter’s time was fully committed with her studies. i noticed an overwhelmed first year teacher, i noticed aggressive playground confrontations, and many situations where adult support was missing when it was much needed. we continued to schedule meetings with school staff attempting to resolve the situation. nothing…at all…was working.

my heart ached for my daughter and i began to feel concern for my grandson. this was not our little boy…he was becoming unhealthy, he was not our happy care-free child and he was becoming reserved and frustrated.

one day while on the playground with him, he pointed to a hedge at the back of the school and told me, “deedee, i used to hide in there during recess but they cut it down.” i was stunned, “jake, why did you hide in the hedge?” “because i’m afraid.”

i wanted to cry.

instead, we attempted to find support from the staff.

sadly, it was becoming clearer that the environment was not safe for him.

she withdrew him from the school at the end of the term and transferred him back to his old school.

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which brings me back to the phone call i described at the beginning of this post.

the change of environment is beginning to make a huge difference.

the principal has placed him in a classroom with a male teacher…which he loves. already, we can tell that his teacher understands how little boys think and learn…brilliant.

his smile and gentle demeanour are back. the pica disorder is hardly noticeable (and i expect it to cease altogether). most importantly, he is less stressed and safe.

what a relief…it may not solve all the issues we were facing but we are off to great start.

children are vulnerable and often find it difficult to communicate how they need help.

here are 6 ways to support children when they face difficult situations:
1. trust your instinct. you know your child better than anyone in the world. if things don’t add up, take action.

2. listen and believe them. although children can get facts wrong sometimes, it’s important to listen carefully. they will give you clues to the fact that there is a problem even if they don’t understand what the problem is. the clues are there: change in behaviour, frustration levels,
emotions and personality. you will find they will attempt to verbalize to the best of their ability, listen.

3. be involved. you will know, instinctively, if you are dealing with a situation that the child needs to work through him/herself. however, if he/she begins to struggle-be involved. sometimes, they just need to know there is back up support. sometimes, they need intervention.

4. be fearless to make the difficult decisions. give yourself the benefit of the doubt. there might be difficult decisions to make to ensure their well-being…make them.

5. ask for help and support. don’t be afraid to reach out for support. we all need help/support from time to time and that is what family and community are about. reach out!

6. don’t give up…no matter how long it takes to resolve. there were times when we were at our wits end. times, when we doubted what we did know, our instincts and decisions. however, my daughter didn’t give up. she started and stayed with it until she was able to narrow the issues down even to make an informed decision. it was stressful. it was difficult to get people to listen. we cried together but we DID NOT stop.

so, the day that my daughter called with good news…we celebrated!

we were grateful…all was well again.

do you have any tips to share about helping children through difficult situations? i would love to hear them. please share them in a comment below.

oh, and give your sweet babies a hug…that’s always a great place to start.

see you next time,
D

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fire/Season of Summer

 

i am definitely not dreaming of a white christmas today! actually, i joined the wordpress weekly photo challenge yesterday in my post summer loving’ and had so much fun with it that i decided that i’d try Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge today. the theme: fire or the season of summer. while in the states in june, i took photos of my friend, Karene’s, lilies…fire red!deeclarknz.com

 

lilies kissed by rain

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collective beauty

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sun nurtured

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exquisit

then of course, when i thought about fire…

my sweet Ella Bell came to mind…

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she is the fieriest little thing i know!

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you can see the fire in her eyes…most assuredly

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locks of red

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and what summer theme is complete without a little play on the beach.

no, i am not dreaming of a white christmas today…i’m dreaming of summer as winter passes…

(summer, please hurry, my toes are frozen today!)

thank you for stopping by.

i hope you enjoy your stay…have a look around…

and as always, i hope to see you again soon.

(and if you are finished with your summer weather, send it my way, PLEASE!)

D

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

living in the Southern Hemisphere, “the warmth of summer is part distant memory, part dream for the future” as stated by Krista of WordPress’ The Daily Post. as i dream of summer, i am participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’.

20140727-001948-1188333.jpgseagulls are often regarded as a summertime nuisance. my husband can not comprehend my fascination with these pesky sea birds.

20140727-002241-1361898.jpgmaybe it’s because as a child who loved the beach, one of my favorite things to do was to grab a handful of french fries, toss them in the air and watch them appear as if out of no-where. now that i live close to the sea, sometimes, i sit in my back yard with slices of bread and toss broken pieces into the air just to watch them scurry in. weird? maybe…but i love it.

20140727-002626-1586057.jpgdid you know that seagulls are quite clever? if hungry, they will stomp on the ground with their feet imitating rainfall and trick earthworms into coming to the surface?

20140727-002851-1731914.jpgseagulls demonstrate intelligence in their feeding behaviours by flying up into the sky and dropping hard-shelled mulloscs on to rocks to break them open so they can eat them.

20140727-003806-2286763.jpgin Native American symbolism, the seagull represents a carefree attitude, versatility, and freedom.

20140727-003632-2192040.jpgseagulls are fondly remembered in Utah for helping Mormon settlers deal with a plague of crickets. the seagull is now the state bird of Utah.

20140727-004708-2828193.jpgstill not convinced?

that’s ok.

i can’t explain it…but it’s part of what i love about summer by the sea!

How a winner sees opportunity

20140726-210338-75818377.jpgan opportunity usually involves a set of circumstances with an uncertain outcome…

requiring a commitment of resources…

involving exposure to risk…

 

it’s important to realise that if you want to win…

accepting the opportunity means that you will invest the resources you have to work with, accept the uncertainty and risk then jump in and work with all your might to make the opportunity a success.

give it all you’ve got!

 

 

 

friendship is a secret weapon

20140726-194957-71397772.jpgour friendships with other women thrive on intimacy

we love to talk,

to visit,

just be together.

it satisfies something deep within us.

who helps us with our lonely feelings?

who comforts us when life gets overwhelming?

our girlfriends

our mothers

or

both.

we know that we are

understood

commiserated with

and

encouraged.

they love us as we are.

they make us laugh and let us be silly.

they are a safe place for our heart.

that warm, affectionate bond with other women is a secret weapon.

D

how to honor the importance of technology in kid’s lives

as a grandmother of two beautiful little beings, i am interested in their development and well-being even though i am not totally responsible for it.Feb2013 (547)today, while using my own technology, i saw a question posed by Momastery on facebook (btw, if you are not following them on social media, you should!) the question was this: are there any parents out there who have created a system that both honors the importance of technology in kid’s lives while also honoring the importance of healthy boundaries around their technology use?2013-10-28 15.53.19we live in a technology age. personally, i understand there are dangers (and if i forget, my husband is more than willing to remind me…often). yet, the dangers can be managed in many of the same ways we manage other potential dangers; training, accountability, communication and love. March 2011 010technology is a tool.just as all children need to learn how to handle other household tools, they need to be taught how to use technology, including how it works, how to take care of it, and respect for appropriate verses inappropriate uses at age appropriate levels.2011Dec (11)i may allow my granddaughter to sit in our boat and pretend to drive it; however, i remain close by, remind her what is appropriate to touch and what is not, and i am watchful for potential dangers such as falling-so that i can offer help if necessary.005there is often concern that technology and media should be limited, but what matters most is how it is used. what is the content? is it being used in an intentional manner? is it developmentally appropriate? if a parent is confident with the answer to these questions, limits may become as unnecessary as on block time or book reading or dramatic play or manipulatives or sports. we don’t tell a child that his 10 minutes of puzzle making or reading for the week is up.2012Dec (23)it is important to be digitally literate and comfortable enough with the technology and the child development to know how to be appropriate, what’s effective, and what to avoid. adult involvement and interaction is as vital as it is when children are learning to cook, clean or even ride a bike safely. as children grow older, teaching skills for making wise choices, managing time and recognising risk help children who are becoming young adults learn to value balance in their life.Feb2013 (306)trust your instincts. you know your child and if you think that a child’s technology time is limiting interactions with other kids or you feel a change of activity is called for, turn it off and nudge him/her in new directions. however, it’s also up to the adult to understand the child’s personality and disposition and to understand if technology is one of the ways the child chooses to interact with the world. technology skills can be as comprehensive, challenging and rewarding as the passion for sports, performing arts or writing. technology is an amazing form of creativity-it just has not reached it’s place of acceptance as an art or creative form.Feb2013 (416)my grandson has learned many skills by using various technologies: not to give up because something is difficult or beyond his ability. when he comes to me to work a game through to the next highest level because he is unable to, i remind him of others times that his perservering has helped him to conquer the skill. he has learned to problem solve on his own and is learning to manage emotions like frustration and anger. my granddaughter’s favorite technology is YouTube tutorials on baking and decorating cakes. at age 6, sometimes she gives me instruction when we’re baking together. she enjoys watching but then can’t wait to practice in the kitchen. i couldn’t be prouder. it’s fun to watch them both.
IMG_3384finally, cut yourself some slack. sometimes, technology is also a useful tool for adults because parents have to make lunch, and need time to take a shower.
DSCF1763 in situations like that, it is the adult’s job to make the technology time more valuable and interactive by asking questions and connecting a child’s virtual experience with real-life experiences in his/her world.DSCF1909training children to properly use technology may be new to most of us; however, we are pretty instinctive when it comes to what is best for our children. technology is and has been changing our world in amazing ways. learn together. keep your family’s life goals in focus and be creative.IMG_4752we honor the importance of technology in kid’s lives in the same way we honor other important skills we are equipping our children with…

we train and guide them

we communicate and talk to them about the family’s values

we hold them accountable and protect them

we interact and engage with them

we demonstrate balance by example

we love them

then we watch them blossom, grow, improve, excel, and enjoy!