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.

Eli Broad - The Art of Being Unreasonable

Accomplished men usually have something worthwhile to share, sometimes in the form of simple word phrases, triggers ‘game changing’ in personal values.

This article in Fast Company on Eli Broad and his Time Management tips was sent to me by my wife. http://www.fastcompany.com/1836821/how-eli-broad-works-24-7-and-still-gets-8-hours-sleep-every-night

Most of us have read numerous ‘windy’ books on time management, keeping logs, strategies etc.

Eli’s advise is the simple phrase, ‘now let’s move on’ sounds too simple but the way he explains it in terms of moving meetings along that are dragging out, is brilliant!

In addition, the reminder that eight good hours sleep help ensure the other sixteen are well spent is refreshing if, like me, you have the tendency to keep at a thing until it is done. My wife has successfully been getting me in bed in the PM rather the early AM. Life is good, better, obviously simple stuff again, energizing all the same!

It would seem Eli Broad makes time for lighthearted fun, taking off his dress shoes and celebrating in the renovated Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain on Thursday to cap off an opening ceremony for downtown's new Grand Park.

Looking forward to reading and commenting on more of this book as time permits and as an artist, I love the title. The ART of being unreasonable.

Source: http://mahlonsmissivescom.ipage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Eli-Broad-Art.jpg

Getting Gooey with High Rising Daughters

Making real wholegrain bread full of yummy seeds and nuts with my daughters is something I’d LOVE to rediscover.

They say kids spell LOVE as T-I-M-E… bread making takes a little time, and it’s a MAGIC lesson as well. The doubling of the dough as the yeast goes to work is kinda magic to my girls.

As a kid, walking home from the village bakery with warm fresh bread was always a cool happy chore, only pulling away and chewing the crust edge was not an art form my Mum thought needed rewarding. Experiencing the girls doing the exact same thing with fresh bed straight out of the oven was ‘Brilliant’!

(Recipe; Big Book of Baking, Paragon Books ©2008)

Super Students

Sienna & Marlana have come home with distinction ‘Super students’ today…. Incredibly this sort of thing seems to work…. No one wants to be on the ‘bottom’ category ‘NEED to Call parent’!!!

Dolphin Talk

Took the girls sailing last weekend… Two Dolphins swam with the boat for 20-30mins…

Sienna & Marlana were squealing like you’d never believe…. Which must of sounded like ‘Dolphin’ talk to the Dolphins!

We we’re doing 8plus knots under sail and it seemed like the Dolphins were just having a blast with the girls… the girls were sitting on the pulpit and the Dolphins remained below them…. The girls will never forget last week end!

How Long Does It Take To See The Smithsonian?

Among the places we would like to visit one day as a family is The Smithsonian. So we were very excited to hear the National Museum of Natural History announcement today that it will construct a new dinosaur exhibition hall made possible by a $35 million donation from David H. Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries and philanthropist. “Dinosaurs have always been one of the Smithsonian’s most important and popular exhibitions,” said Cristián Samper, director of the National Museum of Natural History.

This is the largest single gift in the history of the Natural History Museum. Koch has contributed to many cultural, educational and health organizations, including Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Koch has been a member of the National Museum of Natural History’s board for five years.

“We are grateful to David Koch for this gift that will allow the Smithsonian to update one of the most important and popular exhibitions in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History,” said Secretary of the Smithsonian Wayne Clough. “Millions of Americans and visitors from all over the world will learn and be inspired for years to come.”

The existing dinosaur hall will remain open until spring 2014. This gives us a little time to save up for a visit after the new hall is opened. We do have one question though - how long does it take, to take in the Smithsonian?

Men with Odd Shaped Balls.

It is snowing in Queenstown. I'm wondering if I can sneak in one more run on the slopes before my flight back to Auckland. Stumbled up this online today. New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team have released a trick-shot video for the Rugby Channel TV network. Just a bit of fun.

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!

Santa Barbara Polo Club

I'm in Newport Beach right now am back in NZ next Monday. I was at the Santa Barbara polo club on Saturday as a VIP with William and Catherine I have some, well actually alot of fabulous pictures of a truly delightful couple...Prince William is a excellent go hard Polo player.... you won't read this in the Media, Prince William scored 4 goals... the 'opinion' was that the other players were 'soft' on him... Wesley Ru a top Polo player in the world told me, 'no no we did go easy on him, the little shit out ran me...twice!!!' 'He's a really good player!'  If you hit the MINDFOOD website you'll read an article I wrote about it...

Sing: The Art Of The Love Song

Glimpse what is possibly the most exciting performance of a love song ever. STING LIVE, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; 'Whenever I Say Your Name'.StingLiveInBerlin

When I took my lovely wife to the New Zealand version of this concert, I was hoping for a special evening.  I wrongly assumed the orchestra would be back-up to Stings band. Intoxicatingly the orchestra was the band!

The layered harmony and all encompassing sound of the NZ symphony orchestra with maestro conductor, Steven Mercurio, was so full and powerful, yet quite unlike a typical amped ‘rock’ sound. The experience was pure magic! On the attached track, stick around for the Marsalis solo, when the Orchestra really becomes a Jazz-Rock 'over-drive' sound machine!

Now Imagine me 'filling-in' on the 'school run' at 8:30 A.M.  The girls have named our Champagne Merc, Samantha.  I love the Merc's willingness to beep, whenever I get too close to anything, only slightly less than its Bose sound system. Once buckled up our twins almost always chant, 'push track #9', ‘Whenever I Say Your Name’, starts playing perhaps  the hundredth time! ‘Turn it up dad’, they say. From the moment the 1st violinist starts, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up, I'm with my 'girlfriend' at the Hawkes Bay N.Z. concert.  Wonderful!

Among the comments posted about this clip is; ‘I want to be Jo Lawry’s microphone’. Yes her performance, you'll notice is passionate and outstanding also!

When I'm working overseas, and especially when I'm traveling solo, this song has the power to get me on a plane, and arrive back home to my darling wife and family unexpectedly early.  It’s a totally passionate, ‘in love’ love song.  Even if Sting is not your thing, you’re very likely to thoroughly enjoy this! Sting: Whenever I say Your Name.


Find the Album here on Amazon.com

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!


Wild Meat Sauce, by a Top Bloke

My 'Jelly and Jam Queen', Mum, sent me a bottle of the Sauce of meat sauces, Glasseye Creek, Wild Meat Sauce, from the Mediterranean Market in Queenstown N.Z. This stuff (sauce) is wow, with a ‘home-grown’ flavour, yet with a ‘Paul Newman’s own’ kinda gotta get some more… ‘pull’!

The ‘good joker’ from the ‘Main land’ (South Island N.Z.) Don Keebles, who is the bloke who beavered away at the recipe, seems resolute to tell the story through his friends, especially his good mate, Dave White who owned the Little Wanganui Pub.

“So, fueled with the West Coast atmosphere, the attitude of the people, the quality of the tucker and the heritage of our newly enlightened patron of the pub, Don set out to create a sauce that captured these elements, to be a best mate of meat and to complement the unique flavours that these premium meats offer! For the next 6 months, in his small kitchen at home, Don produced over 40 different recipes and brews, supported with many a tasting session and a wee tipple with his mates, to eventually hone, refine and settle on the recipe that is now known as Glasseye Creek Wild Meat Sauce”.

“……He was brewing a few bottles here and there for mates who tried it and wanted more. The Little Wanganui Pub then began serving it with most of their meals (not whitebait), and big Dave was using it in his marinades, roast meat gravies, casseroles, stews and pretty much everything he served from his legendary kitchen, which was the home of the famous ‘Fat Bastards Special’”. ~’Our Yarn’, glasseyecreek.co.nz.

The development of the recipe seems to be assisted greatly by good old scotch, so perhaps Don shipped the sauce to his friends in the empty whiskey bottles… and then never stopped using them! If I was a bona-fide foodie, I’d give this saucy stuff all the stars! And then there’s the good bloke; ‘Yoda the Prawn Star’, who’s got a story too!

My Close Encounter with Jim Carrey

A few Saturdays ago in the course of photographing a family in the States, I got to meet, hang out with, and photograph the inimitable Jim Carrey.  The images are private so you’ll never see them.  I can tell you however how much I enjoyed the man.  In my experience Jim Carrey was gracious, candid, totally fun, and fabulous with kids.  Check out his official website at http://www.jimcarrey.com/

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!