Drew Barrymore & Will Kopelman Plus Olive

Congrats to Drew Barrymore & Will Kopelman on the birth of their baby girl, Olive. We love Drew's work in this family with Never Been Kissed and Ever After on our daughters love to watch list. We can't wait to see what direction her creative energy will take as she finds herself inspired by motherhood!

Dr Keith Brownlee is a Fabulous Father

Brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are going for gold in London tomorrow in the same race. As a father, I am blown away by the relationship these two young men seem to have and contemplate the likelihood that their relationship is a reflection of their parenting. Keith and Kathy Brownlee already have a lot of which to be proud. For me as a father, one of the most appealing parts of their story is at an event they were both racing in earlier in June in Oxfordshire, the gap between the brothers was so tight that they decided to cross the finish line arm-in-arm.

This got me thinking about my family's parenting efforts and our goal of making the most of our daughter’s individual talents, even when they have talents in common. Here are some of the things we do. Check back in 20 years to find out if we were successful in creating a sibling relationship as successful as the Brownlee’s.

Do not compare: Eventually some kids reach a place in their own minds where they think if anyone is better at something than they are; it means they ought to just give up at developing that skill. Comparisons are as damaging as labels. Encouraging self-competition seems to work better for our daughters. Improving on their last score or performance time, their personal best, encourages them to improve and keeps their sense of value intact. We set our girls up to cooperate. For example, they race the timer to pick up toys, instead of racing each other. We try to celebrate each child’s varied successes. We also tell them to remember no matter how good you are at something, there is quite likely someone somewhere, better, doing is not about being the best, it is about doing your best. Anyone can improve on his or her own best. Learn to enjoy your experiences and improvement without continually comparing yourself to your siblings.

Avoid Labeling: Yes, everyone is different. One child may be slightly faster with maths, another runs a bit faster, or has a lovely singing voice or especially beautiful eyes. However, allowing children to sort themselves based on this is limiting. Starting a pattern of seeing themselves through the eyes of others. It can limit children from trying something labelled as a sibling’s strong point. Labeling can also limit a child’s confidence in almost all other areas, they may be fearful of being less good at something else.

Equal Time: Make an effort to spend equal time with both of our daughters, without over focusing on the child who needs the most help at spelling, or math, or the child currently performing the best.

Family Strengths: Donnell and I avoid categorizing each other as good or bad at things because we think kids seeing parents as people full of possibilities and strengths means that regardless of which parent they identify with, their options to develop their skills stay open. We are aiming for a family culture that says we expect all our children to be smart and value challenge and this seems to create an environment where our daughters encourage each other.

Acknowledge Feelings: When one child feels insecurity about personal value because of a sibling’s success, we acknowledging those feelings and encourage our child to discover unique talents of their own. Both of our daughters love art and helping them understand the value of personal style has helped them stop the conversation about which of them might be better, and now they encourage each other to create new and different ideas and collaborate much better. We also ask them once in a while what some of the positive things their sister does that they really like and what are some of the things they do that might bother them or make them mad. This helps us track their relationship, and reminds us they have some positive feelings for each other.

Keep it fair: When one of the girls weeds a bucket more than the other we keep the performance scale realistic. The one who did more is paid more. Effort and attitude count.

Competition: It exists and we cannot change that, but we can encourage an environment where our daughters feel that we as a family are the home team. One member’s success touches us all. Cheer for your sibling and they will cheer for you. Donnell fondly remembers the girls on a playground at two, challenging themselves to reach a goal they kept saying to each other, “you do it, you do it.” We think they were mimicking our “You can do it” mantra.

We are encouraged by Keith and Kathy Brownlee’s sons. In an interview, Dr Brownlee commented about his sons, "They have been supportive of each other. They both recognise that neither would be where they are without the other. I try and persuade them to think about it as a family business. Kathy and I both just want them to finish the race healthy, intact and content. We're so proud that they've got this far. What comes next doesn't matter."

What a fabulous father.

Artists - Keep The Heart Of A Child

I think Picasso said; I learned how to draw like Raphael in five years . . . . and it's taken a life time to paint like a Child…

Or as a very dear friend Sir Toss Woollaston told me once; I’m just trying to see with the clarity and simplicity of vision that I had when I was five years old.

David Arquette is a Fabulous Father

Donnell is back on track with our Fabulous Fathers project and reaching out to Dad's from all walks of life to share their insight and wisdom on the subject of Fatherhood. We asked David Arquette what is first thought was when he found out he was going to be a first time father . . . his reply "I felt blessed. It re-defined my understanding of love."

Hugh Jackman is a Fabulous Father

The Australian actor is a family man and cherishes the ''everyday moments'' spent with his loved ones more than anything. 'The things that I really cherish are the everyday moments, like sitting around cooking pancakes together on Sunday morning, or getting home after a tough day and my kids come up and give me a hug and remind me what's really important.

''On Friday nights, we will all sit down and watch a movie together and cuddle up. It's more everyday stuff that really is the goal.''

Asked what makes him happiest, Hugh replied: ''Without a doubt, it's my family. I have two beautiful kids, an incredible wife, and it's just about being with them.''

Congratulations Holly and Fred

With the backdrop a private Island, Hollywood royalty and real royalty Princess Beatrice and her sister Eugenie as guests, Sir Richard Branson's daughter Holly gave a whole new meaning to the term 'dream wedding' when she tied the knot with shipbroker Fred Andrews in a ceremony on Necker Island – Richard Branson's beautiful 74-acre island home. All this considered the ceremony was an elegantly understated affair, in keeping with the bride's desire to have "a small wedding with just family and a few friends each". Only 100 invitations were extended. Holly wore flowers in her hair and shunned the traditional veil.

On that occasion he made his entrance swinging from the bottom of a helicopter. And the typical Branson idiosyncrasy peppered Holly's event, with guests asked to bring tents so that the wedding party could camp out under the stars on the golden sands.

In a touching twist, this was the same date and location as when the billionaire himself married the ever lovely Joan Templeman in 1989.

Colorado and a 44 Magnum

Working for a wonderful family with a ranch just north of Aspen.  Fabulous people with very strong family connections that extend through 4 generations. 

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to know them, and learn from the interaction and stories.  Even more delighted that they continue to request that my wife and children come along when I work at the ranch.  It would be too distracting, but the invitation and warmth are always appreciated.

The Ranch is 55,ooo acres… and span's a massive valley all the way to the Flat Top Mountains … amongst other highlights, I shot a bulls eye with a 44 magnum! 'Made my day'!

Lola and Charlie

Work in Queenstown on return from USA, and managed to get the girls into ski school! They loved the snow…. Reminded me of Marlana's current favorite book.  Lola and Charlie.  Lola said "Charlie, Charlie, SNOW… it is my favourite and my best!" Just back from the snow, now off to New York, Santa Barbara, Michigan, Denver, Aspen etc…


I have just got back from working in Queenstown, had a lovely time with family It snowed and snowed and snowed… some with only two wheel drive vehicles needed assistance… Sienna and Marlana got to go skiing and had lots of memorable moments. Including building a Lakeside snowman/woman… about 150cm down to water's edge!

The Boating Brilliance of Family Focused Fathers

Few things thrill me quite like sailing home into the sunset with a constant SE 18knot breeze on New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf, and one of my twin daughters telling me, "You're the 'bestest' daddy in the whole wide world"! ... "I love you daddy". My daughters are seven. Oh how I hope and 'pray' my girls feel similarly when they're seventeen, or even Eleven!

I have a plan of sorts, and currently my darling wife seems in on the 'idea'.  When my daughters are teenagers dancing around in their 'string' bikinis, my dream is that they are on a boat, loving life as only young girls can... And here's the thing, I know where they are, who they're with, and what they're doing! So far my girls love to be on Sirocco. Just love it. So, perhaps naively, I feel like my plan is working!

I thought this idea was to some extent original to me, until I remembered a quote about one Fabulous Father, Rich DeVos, by one of his sons; "To Dad, the boat is not a luxury. He uses the boat to build family relationships. The close quarters of a boat force a family to spend time together. On a boat, the teachable moments are more frequent and longer lasting."

A little while ago, Donnell and I were warmly welcomed aboard what was possibly the largest sailing yacht in Monaco, by dear friends. I have worked for the family and their delightful children on many boats, but never this one. Yet this was a totally family oriented 'super yacht'!. The couple and their children shared with us many exciting memories and stories of good times enjoyed as a family and as an extended family. Once aboard, immediately board games came out. The boat became an animated family play-ground!

Yes, there's time to play on a boat! Time to share! Time to listen! Time to love . . . even quiet time to read... on a boat!

When the sails are up, the lines are tight, the boats heeling over nicely into the wind and the engines cut... Suddenly there's quiet! There's peace and there's time to talk, to joke about, to love being together as a family.

And then of course our children can't wait to find remote places to go on 'adventures' and explore... unforgettable cherished memories to 'bottle' forever with a camera! Pictures that become 'buoy's' in our minds to tie our family memories to... few things give me such peace and joy and satisfaction as a Dad than taking my family sailing!


Intercontinental Family Life

I’m flying to LA today …missing my three girls awfully already… I’m going to miss their first assembly in their new N.Z. school, Where Marlana is going to say ‘My Mom is an American and my Dad is a Kiwi. When we fly to America, at the airport they say to me welcome, to my Dad they say, ‘what do you want, what are you doing here?’…..

When Marlana rehearses her little speech it’s very amusing … My daughters think it’s funny they sail through customs as American citizens and I get asked lots of questions… even though I have a VISA!