Southern Hospitality

My parents have the three older children in Auckland.

Grumpy, my mother in law and sir-smiles-alot James nipped down to the South Island to meet and greet local lines companies, EV community and council members.

Grumpy and MIL and baby James have flown home to the big smoke and I remain here till tomorrow morning.  The peace means I get a chance to blog and do some work, so it is an absolute treat to share some stories of our journeys over the past few days with you.

Willows on the banks of Lake Waihola

Willows on the banks of Lake Waihola

Clutha river

Clutha river

Rural view

Rural view

The road less travelled

The road less travelled



There is something about the South. It is simpler, softer, slower, and somehow a bit sweeter than the hustle and bustle of the big smoke up in Auckland. People are warm, welcoming, humble, and genuine. They also don’t have a lot of time for Auckland arrogance (perceived or real).  One gentleman said in all Earnest: “We aren’t in any rush to be inviting all you Auckland types to come down here to live thank you.”  A proud local, and after only a few short days here, I can see why people choose this place and these communities.

One of the stories I’ll share with you today was of a couple living in a huge and beautiful converted church. They run a gallery out of their home, and have a gallery full of beautiful hand painted glass jars and goblets. There is also a huge range of sweet and kitsch goodies. I bought my friend Ann a pig. She collects them and this particular pig caught my eye.

The husband was having his breakfast and we had a nappy emergency that we tended to in their shower room.

Once the baby was changed and Christine (the artist and wife) kindly disposed of the toxic waste for us, we had a chance to look around.

I gave them a copy of the magazine we are on the cover of, and told them a bit about our story. They reciprocated by telling me a bit about them and their large family. Christine took James to meet her birds, some parrots, a starling and my favourite was a beautiful and obviously smart magpie. I’ve always had some trouble with birds in cages, kind of an almost phobia I guess, but these gorgeous creatures were so loved and cared for, and their feathers were fluffy and they seemed very fond of their human mum.

We looked around a bit more while Christine held James with veteran arms.  You can tell she had held many toddlers before.  A beautiful woman with kind eyes and an eye for beautiful things.  You could tell her husband adored her and they had a very interesting story.  Their family, her glass painting and artistic talent, renovating the church.  They were a fascinating couple and I am so pleased we got to meet them, even though it was only briefly.

Please click here to see Mr. Flannery playing the piano for us and a also to see some of the beautiful church and gallery:

There is something about small Southern communities that breeds a kind of eccentric streak that I find absolutely enchanting.

James was bored in the back of the car and I had forgotten to pack little toys for him. We were scoping out potential sites in Balclutha for a fast charging station and we happened across a sign for “DollyWood” so we popped in briefly.

A gold coin donation and two $3.00 lucky dips for babies later, I got to meet a couple of warm and chatty locals who beam with pride for their collection of toys and dolls. This is not the kind of place you would happen across anwhere else on earth. The toys and dolls are not in glass casing. There are no velvet ropes. The couple live in the house and they dedicate a large part of it to welcoming strangers in to share their collection.

Please follow the link to see a short 40 second clip of Crystal and Ross form DollyWorld:

Sweet and unpretentious, I got a chance to chat with them and share our story as they also shared theirs with me. They were generous and warm and welcoming and it was a treat to get to meet them and see their vast collection of dolls and toys.


That’s only two of the dozens of stories of the South Island I have for you.

I do hope you will consider traveling around this beautiful country with your families. We live in an amazing and magical place and the more I get to see of it, the more blessed I feel to live here.

Thank you for reading!


Johari Window: A Step on the Road to Being Self-Aware – A Tool – (Helps Me Try and Curb Tendency to Over-Share)

Good morning!


Entirely not true in my case, as I wish everyone a good everything most of the time… but the E-card made me laugh so I am sharing.

I wonder how many people about to read this are familiar with the Johari Window? (for those of you who don’t know, the different coloured words will take you to a really great link if you click on them, this particular link is a PDF on the Johari Window I found on, and is well worth a glance)

This is a great tool for getting yourself or a group you are working with on the right track, and encouraging a culture of honesty and transparency.


Very simply, you describe yourself, and the people who work with you or have any sort of vested interest in what you are doing can do the same.  I have shared a link to a page where all of that information gets collated into a grid that tells you what you know, what everyone knows, what you know but everyone doesn’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know… Kind of.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, it is actually kind of fun.

I encouraged a bunch of people to take the Myers Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI) assessment a few years back, and a few of you found that really helpful.

I would STRONGLY encourage you to spend some productively wasted time today, or anytime this week when you have a minute, and start out your own Johari Window profile online. You can invite people to contribute. Fun for introverts and extroverts alike!

I like that I can have a brief chat with you about it and not have to reference the stuffing out of every single thought or insight I might have.

OKAY!  Here is the link:

You can add to my window and/or start your own, I will gladly contribute to your Johari Window as best I can, even if we only know each other online and not so much IRL, I will be honest in my assessment I promise.

Hopefully, if enough people participate and share this exercise, we will all get a pretty clear picture of who we are and how we are perceived vs how we perceive ourselves.

*Note – You cannot fail at this, so just be as honest as possible.

Clock is just about to tick over to 5:00am so I best get up and ready for the day.  As Effie Trinkett would say:  “It is going to be a Big Big BIG day!”


Demolished the Hunger Games trilogy in one weekend recently. Very enjoyable read. Effie is quite the character! Have a great day, and remember your manners 😉

Have a great one.  And here are a couple more links to Johari Window stuff, including a video that will help explain it a bit perhaps.

Being a Parent to “That” Kid…

I’ve not written in a while.  Busy, and overwhelmed and feeling like a bonafide failure as a parent to our middle son.

I would implore you to read an article about “That Kid” from the Huffington post less than a year ago.  My older children are mortified, and I am feeling like a failure, because I am currently a parent to “That” kid.  I don’t want anyone’s pity, and I know that we will get through this, but we keep on hitting new rock bottoms and I am tired, terrified to share this with you all, but convinced that when I have the balls to share this very real stuff with you all, it does more good than harm.


So here goes.

Adam’s behavior is not currently getting better. It would not be inaccurate to say, that in some ways, he is getting worse.

We’re stretching our time, resources, and patience to the point of breaking.

Because his “thing” is anger, and he has pushed, pinched, punched or kicked teachers and children, we have put in place constant supervision for the sake of those around him.

Our eldest son has been bullied mercilessly and risen above it with grace, dignity, composure and even an expanded sense of humour as making bullies laugh is one of the many weapons in his arsenal.

Adam is the bully.

I can now officially say I have been on both sides of this fence as a parent, and I am finding dealing with a perpetrator to be a much more heartbreaking and challenging prospect than being on the receiving end.

We’d make light of it when he was very small. He would stand up to his siblings and rule the roost in our hectic household. We’ve come down heavy on him for unkind behavior, and rewarded and highlighted… and in my case CLUNG to his empathetic and kind moments.

He starts the day assuring everyone who will listen that he would have a very good day and he would control his temper.

It appears he may expend too much energy in wanting to be good, and building up his huge expectations of the glorious admiration and adoration he’ll gain for behaving so well. All of this anticipation and all of this energy culminates in outbursts.

My heart sinks and tears refuse to remain in my eyes and drip silently down my face as I listen to the principal, assistant principal and teacher’s aids relay the same messages:

“We’re all trying so hard.”

“We just don’t know what to do.”

“You mustn’t blame yourself, we see in him all the good work you have done as parents.”

“We’ve never come across anything like this before.”

“He’s so bright, and so angry.”

And on it goes.

I am ashamed to admit, earlier this week I looked at my son and I had to close my eyes tight for a moment and grit my teeth. My fists clenched so tightly at one point I broke skin with my nails.

And the most reprehensible feelings washed over me.

For a brief and terrifying moment, I could not look at my five year old with compassion or hope. Those feelings were completely eclipsed by despair, shame, exhaustion, sadness, and anger.

I’ve spent time digging very deep to try and figure it all out.

He’s only little. We all know he is trying, really actually trying not to be a vicious little brute. But a vicious little brute he absolutely can be…

So we are making HUGE changes.

Changes that include less socializing, more routine, less electronics, more exercise, less yelling and more calmly walking away, less anger and more cuddles.

We have been given “sensory diet” by a wonderful occupational therapist that embraces movement and routine over harsh discipline.

We are at day two and I can’t report too much at this stage.

The older kids are mortified that they have a little brother who is “one of those kids” and I am quick to remind them that they have overcome serious behaviourial and social issues in their short lives as well.

That shuts them up for a bit.

Last night Steph and Adam played together and neither were given any screen time at all. They had two rounds of go fish and had a fashion show and wrote each other encouraging notes before bed. It was a rare and much needed light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

So on we trudge through the trenches of childhood with our extremely bright, and extremely angry five year old.

I must end this by imploring other parents to take it easy on themselves and their troubled kids.

The single most counterproductive activity in our family is blaming and self-loathing. I feel like a failure. Adam feels like a failure. I feel like the other kids are getting lost in the fray.

All that takes time in my heart and mind and day.

When we carry on one day at a time and do the things that the army of specialists have suggested, we do see progress.

We can’t handle this by ourselves. Nothing will improve if we give up, waste time on blame or shame, or if do not work as a team to help Adam cope with his huge emotions and feel safe and a whole and better equipped to make better decisions.

All my Love and respect to other parents. Of all the many things I have learned through this heartbreaking journey, it is that we are not alone.

If anyone reading this has a good online or real life support group for families dealing with angry kids and/or ASD, I would very much appreciate an introduction, as I am feeling very alone and defeated right now.

Have a great day, and if you are struggling with your kid(s) right now like we are, I wish you all the strength, Love, hope and support in the universe to get you and your child to a better place.

Thank you for reading.


Two Minute Train of Thought on a Tuesday…

I woke up before 2:00am with some vague sense of dread. It is the middle of the night, and the recently full moon is shining so bright through cracks in my thick bedroom curtains that for a moment, I thought it was morning. An equally pleasant and unpleasant surprise when I stumbled out to the kitchen and saw what time it was. 2:02 on a Tuesday.

So I thought I’d do a train of thought blog.

This is from a Tumblr Page entitled a melody so young.  I think that this is drawn freehand by the author/administrator of the page and I really like it so I am sharing it here.

I google image searched and found this picture from a Tumble page called: A Melody So Young.

Here’s my parameters:

I’ll time myself for two minutes. I’ll jot notes on the thoughts that tumble through my head in that minute and then I will expand upon them enough so that they are somewhat cognitive enough to be understood…

Here goes:

Faraday, Michael. A genius. He suffered. Suffering sucks. Wonder if that is the curse of genius. Adam suffers. It breaks my heart. All the kids do. How am I supposed to raise kids who are so much smarter than me? Don’t much like the name Michael. I’m not a genius. The name Bruce is great. My dad is great. Why do I care what people think? Steve sleeping is making me jealous. Wish I was sleeping. I love sleep. Shame about the TPP. So secretive. Scares me. Are we all powerless? How many people would it take to start a revolution? (Crowded House: Don’t Dream It’s Over plays in my head in the background) What would a Kiwi revolution look like? I really hate the idea of a revolution. (Insert many flashes of images from Gone with Wind, Terminator and WW2 movies here) Unless it’s peaceful. Is there such a thing as a genuinely peaceful revolution? (images of the Simpsons episode where Homer’s mother is running from “the man”) A lot of people are upset about the poacher who killed a lion. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Our problems are so much bigger than one lion. Mass extinction. 90% of big fish have been fished and the ocean is dying. Our planet is dying. Do people understand? Am I wrong maybe? I’d like to be wrongs. Don’t think that’s a possibility. Climate change. It is so big. So big. Wonder if I am a conspiracy theorist. Probably not too much if I think I might be.  What is that razor called? That one that stipulates that you should never attribute to malice what can be explained by basic incompetence. I’ll try and remember that. That dentist hunter is one of the most hated men on earth right now. I am sure he has some redeeming qualities, and surely there’s someone who loves him. Actually, there are probably people who think big game hunting is cool for real. Hunting to eat seems reasonable, hunting like he did must mean he is very ill indeed to want to kill such a beautiful animal. Email flashed up. I wish I’d responded to that LinkedIn email sooner. C has cancer. I feel terrible for avoiding her because I felt guilty about standing her up the other day. I hate cancer. I miss her. Wonder if S has gotten any more results back. K still needs a kidney. Think his brother is giving him one. Wonder when I will see the family out West again? I miss so many people. Everyone has problems. I wish I could do more. I am such a crap friend. How can I be a good friend when I Love so many people? Would someone actually lie about having cancer? People will figure out you’re lying and the fallout won’t be good. Wish that didn’t make me so angry. Sad. Space in my brain wasted on worrying about that. Grrrr. How can you trust people? I want to trust people. Wish people didn’t lie so much. Wish I had a Tank Juice right now.

Two minutes up.

Shame I didn’t choose a more positive couple of minutes in my brain. There are many positive minutes in my brain. Minutes filled with gratitude and fond memories. This was just not one of those minutes I guess.

I had very little idea what I hope to achieve by opening up my internal dialogue to the world like this.

Writers block and feeling a bit overwhelmed more often than I would like has set in like a thick fog.  I am not currently depressed.  Not even sad, and there are times when my thoughts are very neatly organised and not a jumble like the two minutes of Dee’s brain I have just shared.  I am busy and awake and wanted to share a bit of my brain and see if it is pretty normal, which, to be honest, I suspect it is.  Thoughts tumble down our stream of consciousness.  It is just a thing that happens.

If you suffered through today’s blog, I thank you.  If it helped you to stop and think about your thoughts and improve them and be easier and on, more positive to yourself in some way, that would certainly make all the effort of sharing this blog well worth while.

Have a wonderful day and a great rest of the week.