Your Child’s World of Play  Play is the highest form of learning. ~Albert  Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.  We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. ~George Bernard Shawdeeclarknz.comImagination is where your child lives. When you play with him, you enter his world. 

For a parent to be able to spend half an hour of uninterrupted one-on-one time with his or her child is often seen as a luxury, especially in families with more than one child.  However 30-minute blocks of uninterrupted one-on-one time, where you as a parent are giving your undivided attention to your child, can be one of the most beneficial and valuable things you can provide for your child.   


(Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Things Made Of Plastic)

Epochal Moments

So, do you want to do an experiment with me?

Let’s measure your frustration level on a scale of 1 to 10.

How did you do? (Just keep that number in mind, we’ll come back to it.)

I experienced an epiphany the other day and it has to do with epochal moments.

The word epochal means a point marking the start of a new period in time. Examples in history are the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the freeing of slaves in America, the splitting of the atom, signed treaties and more recently, the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York City. All of these events marked a significant, monumental change.

More personal examples would be the coming of age for a young man or woman, traumatic injuries, marriage, having children and death of a spouse or child.

These are moments that change everything in your life.

The times when nothing of your former life is recognisable.

The idea is like that of a renovation. In our society today, renovations are quite popular; the “makeover”, “redo” or “update”.

I love makeovers. Taking something that is well past it’s use-by date and freshening it up, giving it a new modern look.



The makeover I did a few years back (pictured above), was only a cosmetic makeover. We sold our beautiful home in order to concentrate on and be close to our business. So, we decided that we would turn a 20 year old ablution block in an abandoned building into a little apartment. Let me tell you, about some of the frustrations I encountered. 1. There was no running hot water. Picture it, bathing was done out of a bucket with water boiled in the jug (a NZ term for an electric kettle). 2. There were only about 3 electrical plugs that worked properly. So, I lived dangerously plugging everything I owned into electrical strips. I often wondered if I was going to burn the place down. 3. My make-shift closet leaked. 4. The bathroom sink was knee operated instead of hand operated.

The apartment was functional to a degree but not a proper home. The change was no epochal.

In order for the apartment to function as a proper home, the renovations needed to be much more in depth than they were. We needed to rip everything out to the bare bones and replace the wiring, install proper plumbing, replace and restructure the walls. But we didn’t. In our minds, we only planned to stay there short-term. We ended up living there for 3 years. By the time we moved, we were completely over those living conditions. There is no way we ever want to live like that again. I can not describe how frustrating it was at times – even though we calculated the cost of the decision, attempted to keep a good attitude and were learning a lot about ourselves at the time.

Let’s get back to that measure of our frustration level.

The epiphany that I had the other day is this: I am most relaxed, less frustrated, when I have approached the epochal decisions I have made in my life in the right way. I am most frustrated when I try to live between two moments (events) in time that have nothing to do with each other or that conflict with each other.

The idea of epochal change is that the old has to be completely done away with (ended) and completely renovated.

This is why New Year’s resolutions or diets don’t always work. We try to make changes that are not truly fitting with our lifestyle or value systems. When I have dieted unsuccessfully, I changed my eating behaviours for a short time but then went back to my old eating patterns. For the weight to stay off, I need to change more than just what I put in my mouth.

Not every decision I make is epochal. I change my hair all of the time! Long then short and back to long then back to short. I even dyed my dark brown hair blonde one year–big mistake. My frustration level on these types of decisions is almost nothing because I don’t mind back and forth result.

Having children was an epochal decision in my life. Do you know how different life becomes once you have children? Everything changes. I had to reconstruct or renovate everything about my life from what I said to how I did everything.

My children repeated a lot of my conversations at the most inappropriate times. It was embarrassing and frustrating. I learned quickly that if I wanted to prevent the embarrassment and lower my frustration (with them and myself) I needed to change what I discussed in front of them and many times I had to change the way I thought about and talked about everything.

I had to change my sleep patterns, my schedule, and my alone time because my time was not my own anymore.

Attempting to hold onto my “no-children” life was not going to work. Living as if children were not going to change my life only heightened my frustration level because that life did not exist any longer. Dee life was going to be totally different post children otherwise, both lifestyles suffered greatly.

Do you see what I am getting at here?

A married man must reconstruct his single lifestyle because single-man and married-man do not mix very well AT ALL. In fact, the two will rip each other apart.

A young person stepping into adulthood requires a completely new approach. Depending on his/her parents to rescue him/her from his adult decisions doesn’t work.

A vibrant, healthy person whose life is drastically changed by trauma must relearn to function in life with the disabilities that resulted. There are some truly inspiring examples of people who have overcome the limitations of disabilities.

Life after loss, spiritual conversions, offering forgiveness…all of these are epochal moments/events and the before and after are diametrically opposed. Once the decision is made or the event occurs, trying to go back to the old way of thinking or doing things limits the potential for happiness and success.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22″No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” ~Mark

This explains a wise approach to epochal decisions. Unless you want to destroy both the new and the old, new wine must be placed into new wine skins (or bottles) and life has to be renovated to accommodate those epochal moments.

When we do renovate, we decrease our level of frustration.

So, are you trying to live your old life after an epochal moment?

Do you want less frustration?

Can you make necessary changes in your life?

Is it time for “old things to pass away and all things become new”?

It takes time but I believe you and I can make the renovations in our lives that will produce a better way of living.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Soft Pastels


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Soft Pastels

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Candid Photography




Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Candid Photography
Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

6 ways to support children facing difficult situations

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.

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.

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.

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.

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,

3 things to help children learn to process emotions


recently, my in-laws came into town and we planned a trip to the park with my nephew and my two grand children. we started out with three happy-go-lucky children who were excited to participate in a fun filled afternoon. things were going quite well, if i do say so myself…

deeclarknz.comthere was hanging…and smiles… there was climbing…and smiles…


and squirting water…and smiles…

                                 even the adults were finding there inner child…

and before we blinked twice…there were tears in abundance…tears brought on by the adults in the group who played on an adult playing field and left the children heart broken.

pawpaw played too rough for the grand children resulting in injuries (minor to the body but huge to their hearts)…and daddy played in a way that frightened my nephew…

there we were with three children with broken hearts.

what i witnessed was that at their tender ages, they did not know what to do with what they were feeling…

no matter how many apologies were given…the tears continued to pour.

i hugged each child and explained that although what the adults did was pretty yukky to a little kid, the offending adult did not mean to cause them pain or to hurt them…even though that is what happened.

i asked the adult to come over and say to the child, “i’m sorry that i hurt you.”

i then asked the child to offer forgiveness and say, “pawpaw, i forgive you.” or “daddy, i forgive you.”

my goodness…the tears poured out even more. my grandson said to me, “i can’t forgive him” and he walked to another part of the playground by himself.

i watched as he sat alone for a few minutes and, when he could he rejoined the group, as someone suggested we go to another part of the park and visit the animals.

as we walked, i noticed my grandson and his pawpaw walking together ahead of the group. pawpaw later explained to me that, my grandson had run ahead of the rest of us to catch up with him and as they walked, Jake said, “pawpaw, i forgive you for hurting me.” my husband then explained that he realised his actions were silly but that he had not wanted to hurt Jake…he just wanted to play and it turned out badly. he also promised not to play rough like that again.

as my husband told me about their conversation, i smiled because i realised that my grandson had taken himself out of the situation to be alone for a few minutes and when he had processed his feelings and was able, he extended forgiveness and moved on.

that was a proud moment for me…i saw maturity developing in my six year old grand child.

it can be frustrating working with children because they have not reached a place of understanding concerning their emotions or how to work through what they are feeling.

we teach children to walk, dress themselves, colour inside of the lines, and these skills help them make advances in life.

i think it is as important to help our young children begin to understand what and why they are feeling what they are feeling and give them tools for coping and managing their emotions.

they may not get the whole concept, but children are bright (my grand children can operate technology better than i can) and they are capable of building life skills that will benefit them on their life journey when they are dealing with emotions in friendships, family, work and other social arenas.

here are a few things that are important for children to learn concerning emotions:

1.  how to identify what they are feeling. am i angry or frustrated? do you realise that a child’s reaction to anger is the same or nearly the same as when they are frustrated? learning to recognise the difference and communicate it, will actually help the adults in their lives help them come to grips with how to handle the emotion effectively. children need permission to express emotions in a healthy way.

2. what to do with that emotion? suggesting the child take some time on their own to allow angry or frustrated emotions to settle is a valuable solution. however, it is more than a “go to your room until you calm down” response on the adult’s part. i have found with both of my grandchildren that even when an angry emotion is raw, when i remain calm and ask them if they are feeling angry, the emotion often diffuses quite a bit at that point. as we adults know, when someone shows understanding concerning what we are feeling, some of the pain is removed. adults should be good role models. show children how they can express their emotions. use show and tell, art and writing as outlets for emotional expression.

3. discuss and practice appropriate behaviour. children do not learn and perfect skills on the first attempt. we stand them up, we encourage them to take a step and they fall down. we then try again. it is the same with training any skill and it can be applied to teaching and training them how to maintain healthy emotional well-being. give children phrases and options that they can use when they are attempting to express themselves. help them practice the skills so that processing their feelings becomes as natural as brushing their teeth will one day.


by the way, we ended our park adventure with many more smiles than tears…and had a lovely afternoon.

i would love to hear how you help you children process their emotions. please stop by the comments section before you go and share your experiences with me.

here’s to smiling children and enjoyable afternoons,



how children’s laughter touches a mother’s heart

20131019-131331.jpgmy cousin Char shared this thought.

the world can be spinning out of control and the sound of your child’s laughter can set it right.

nothing thrills the heart of a mother like witnessing pure joy leaking out our her child’s heart.

just lovely!

thank you, Char, for sharing your heart…I’m miles away but my heart can vividly see and feel what this moment in time was like.

you really can look inside your own heart and see, feel and experience what another person is living!

happy Saturday!

5 things children can teach us about succeeding

20130809-003618.jpgchildren are amazing creatures and we can learn some important lessons from them about succeeding in our lives and reaching complete well-being.

do you realise that children possess the key elements required for success within them from the very beginning of life? they do…instinctively. which means, you possess within you exactly what you need to succeed, overcome difficulty and live a whole-healthy life. i believe it’s not there by chance. it was by design! in fact, i’m sure of it. after all, if we look at nature, every creature and part of nature was designed to perform in every way exactly what it needs to for existence…perfectly.

and aren’t we the crowning glory of creation? the most amazing creature of all that was created in nature and life? why, yes, WE ARE!

this sends my mind down a reasoning path like this: why then, could i ever imagine that i am unable to live my life to it’s fullest? i watch little creatures like birds flutter about making nests, gathering worms, chirping songs, learning to fly, migrating, and everything they instinctively do in their little lives…without failure…and i (and you) sometimes question whether or not i can “do this”.


as we grow, we become conditioned whether conscientiously or not by negative experiences and others around us. often, it starts when we are children because “conditioned” adults do not realise that these essential, designed elements need encouragement and nurturing.

there are 5 things children can teach us about living successfully and fully:

1. excitement. just stand in the midst of a group of children and ask, “who wants ice cream?” the group will erupt with excitement. let a child learn a new skill or draw a picture and they can barely contain themselves as they share it.

excitement is an instinctive element that acts like fuel. too many adults exchange their excitement for a more logical requirement of security. we don’t want to be disappointed therefore we stifle excitement until we are more “certain”. however, we still get hurt, disappointed and have disadvantages. excitement fuels our hope. we need to be excited about our lives. not allowing ourselves to “get our hopes up” does not prevent the disappointment…it stifles our creativity, willingness to try and keeps an under lying current of sadness flowing in our lives.

we can attempt to lead safe, secure lives expecting and waiting for guarantees but we will miss the opportunities excitement with lead us to.

2. persistence. everything we undertake in life requires persistence: losing weight, lasting relationships, financial freedom…and more. often, we give up before we reach the goal because it feels too difficult.

my granddaughter was here last night for my birthday. this is her approach:

Ella: “DD, can I have a milo? (NZ hot chocolate)

Me: “sure, give me a minute and let me finish this then I’ll make you one”.

(seconds go by)

Ella: “milo please”

i repeat my first reply which she accepts.

(seconds go by again)

Ella: “aren’t you going to make my milo?”

if I managed to get through 1complete minute to finish the task…she will have asked for the milo a minimum of 10-20 times in the minute. persistent! until she has the milo in her little hands…BTW, then we were immediately onto, “can I put on your make up”…and she asks persistently until she gets what she wants.

now, as adults, we want them to learn patience, to not be so demanding and stop annoying us. the problem is, we are training them to set aside a vital key to succeeding if we don’t handle it properly. they learn that persistence equals annoyance and it is not acceptable.

i think instead, we should learn from them how to reactivate this key in our pursuit of successful living.

3. adventure. risks are vital to success. children have amazingly adventurous spirits. if someone says they can jump off the roof with fake wings strapped to their arms…they are willing to try. boys will eat worms just to see what they taste like. at 12 years old, i jumped off a diving board because the other kids said i would float. i took the risk and because i couldn’t swim, i nearly drowned. that fear paralysed my risk taking for the rest of my life. children don’t stop to analyse the possible pain that could result, they jump right in.

if you have a big dream, you will have to be willing to take risks in order to see it eventuate. you might experience pain but you might not…you might actually make that dream come true!

4. shake-it-off. watch a toddler learning to walk. he falls down, maybe a bit stunned, but he keeps getting up and attempting until one day…he is walking.

a child learning to ride a bike might fall off but they shake it off and learn to accomplish the goal.

as adults, when we fall or fail, we think, “how could I have been so stupid. i’ll never do that again”. we stop. many times we are told of inventors who failed many times before they found the “one” invention that worked and was a huge success. the key is to shake-it-off…get up (don’t stay down)…and keep trying! success, healing and wholeness will come.

5. faith. the final thing we can learn from children is faith. we all have it designed into our very being.

have you ever tried to argue a point that a child has but their faith into? my granddaughter’s teacher told her that butter was not healthy. since that time, she has refused to eat butter. my daughter told me that the other day she was trying to convince her it was ok to eat butter. ella finally dipped her little finger in the butter and put a tiny dab of butter on her bread. however, her faith in the message that it was not healthy has her convinced and she is not going to eat it. Lol.

faith is also the reason most children believe that on Christmas Eve there will be a visitor who comes down the chimney and leaves them surprises if they have been especially good. there is no need for evidence or proof of the possibility…just blind belief that it must be so…so much so that it alters their behaviour to ensure success…gifts under the tree!

you and i were designed with the excitement, persistence, adventure, ability to shake-it-off, and ability to have faith in order to succeed at forgiving, in our relationships, accomplish our dreams and whatever else we set out to accomplish.

our Creator knew what we would need to produce successful, heathy well-being in the same way He knew what the birds or dolphins and all other living creatures needed to thrive. He knew and He designed us with those elements knit into our being…

just watch little children…it’s there…even without having to be taught!

i think we could watch and learn. if do, we would discover some amazing keys to making our lives the success we long for.

isn’t that “exciting” news?

i think so.


Our Past Can Be A Light For Others


maybe you are not ready to let your pain help heal the community. the gift of healing shared inspires. it is difficult to find courage following pain, especially with deep wounds.

consider this. if overcoming your wounds to inspire others in your community (or as I call it your circle of influence) is too much to consider, how about doing it for your children?

effects of emotional wounds are evident in people world wide, true? you may witness this truth in people in your community, city, region and even closer than that…your family.

maintaining well-being through difficult times and healing emotional pain provides light/life skills for your children. you provide them a better future. what a wonderful gift. our children need to learn wisdom, courage and decision making skills in order to prevent emotional wounds. if pain is not averted, they need to know how to heal properly.

the Hebrew story of Joshua and Caleb who were sent with 10 other men as spies, tells us that they came back a bit ambivalent. it was a beautiful place with amazing produce. they found giant fruit- grapes that required two men to carry. amazing. exciting. they had never seen anything or any place like it.

a little problem existed. along with those giant grapes were giant people. it scared ten of the men but Caleb & Joshua had nothing but courage and faith. they had seen far too many proofs in their journey that they were not alone. they also had seen seemingly hopeless situations turn around in ways that would blow the human mind. they were like, “we can do this…let’s take ’em”.

as a result, they received this promise:

The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever

when all was said and done, the time came for the rewards to be passed out. Caleb went to get what was promised to him. problem was, he had walked over all the land. so, he chose the part he wanted. he said, “give me that mountain over there.” why? there was probably easier land to claim.

he wanted the mountain where the giants lived! he was going to do what he knew he could have done from the start…defeat the giants! he did, too.

when his daughter married, he gave her husband a piece of dry land. she was fine with that; however, because her daddy had been bold and courageous, there was boldness and courage inside her as well. knowing that her family would need water, she requested springs to go with the dry land. i wonder if he chuckled before he granted her request knowing that he had taught her well?

the courage and strength you use to walk your journey, even when painful, is a gift to your children. you teach them to be fearless, strong and willing to get through their difficult places to the place where there is blessing, life and well-being.

you may think they are not even getting “it” but believe me, they are and as they become adults…it will be like looking in a mirror.

be willing to move beyond your darkest hour…bring it to a place where healing can become a reality. lighten your heart’s load. you are not alone. Light, Truth & Love will meet you on the journey in miraculous ways that add strength to your courage and actions.

the places you walk through and overcome will be beneficial to your children in ways you could not imagine.

do you have a mountains where giants live?

“take ’em!!”