Monday, February 8, 2016

Parenting Tip - The Little Acts of Love

Edward Kinghorn is a licensed Neuropsychologist and is currently the Psychology Department Chair at BYU Hawaii. He gave a talk telling about his experiences working as a counselor with the Red Cross after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in the Fall of 2001. 

Professor Kinghorn describes working with a Dr. Frances Menlove, who was a seasoned and experienced clinician.  She later was asked to give a guest sermon to the Lincoln City Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, on March 10, 2002.  These are her words describing what she saw inside the St. Paul's Chapel which is near Ground Zero.  St. Paul’s had been set aside as a sanctuary for workers who were still toiling around the clock to clear the debris of the Twin Towers and to search for human remains. "The entire chapel was covered with banners, hand-lettered posters, small and large pictures by school children expressing thanks and appreciation.  There were notes taped to the sides of very pew, up and down the aisle.  Several Banners hung from the balconies.

One four-by twelve-foot pennant had a multitude of hand-drawn green mittens, each signed by a child, with a headline that said “Warm your hearts with our mittens.”  Another huge streamer lined up dozens of red children’s hand prints to form the stripes of an American flag.  There were notes in the pews.  The one tucked in by me said: “Dear Hero, thank you for making us safe.  I like soccer.  I don’t like baseball.  Do you like soccer?  Your new friend, Craig.”

The altar was the only place unadorned by posters, notes and banners.  Several votive candles were burning.  In front of the altar, a flute player from the New York Symphony played lilting melodies.  There was a lot of quiet activity.  Along the back wall of the chapel sandwiches and soup were being served.  Along the left side of the chapel, tables held first-aid supplies, candies, lip balm, socks, aspirin—anything someone might want coming in from the cold after a shift of spirit-wrenching labor.  There was a bowl of power bars, each with a homemade valentine wrapped around it and held tight with a rubber band.  All were free for the taking.  In front of me, one man was lying down on the pew, apparently asleep.  Others were sitting in the pews eating, or just resting.  I didn’t know then that these workers had found four more bodies that morning.

A small enclosed area about eight feet square caught my attention on the right side of the chapel.  A large bronze plaque announced that this was George Washington’s pew, the place he worshiped on the day of his inauguration, April 30, 1789.  Right next to this official plaque was a large, carefully printed sign “Foot Care.”  The workers were having trouble with their feet, so it was decided to devote George Washington’s pew to “Foot Care.”  Each day a podiatrist volunteered.  One worker had his shoes off and another one was waiting to be examined as I sat scrunched in my own pew.

I remembered the Gospel of John:  Jesus got up from the table and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.  After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you” (v. 15)."

I was so impressed with this talk and thought about all the school teachers who were aching to do something,-- anything, to express their love and support to the survivors, to the families who were devastated and to the workers still addressing the horror of Sept 11.  I pictured the teachers talking to their students and deciding on what small act of service they could do.  I pictured the children coloring pictures, writing notes, and making valentines to cover a power bar and wrapping a rubber band around it, never knowing the impact their service would make.  Never knowing that a whole church would be covered with small acts of service.  Never knowing that I would read of their acts years later and still be profoundly touched by them.

Sometimes we never know how our actions make a difference in someone else's life. I had the privilege of  hearing how one small act of mine affected a friend. I had taken my teenage neighbors to the hospital to play our instruments and sing for my friend's husband.  He was in quarentine and we had to dress in special robes to enter his room.  He passed away several months later.  My friend wept as she told how, what I viewed as a small act of service, had brought so much love and comfort to her and her husband.

Valentine's Day is coming.  What can you and I do to brighten someone's day with a genuine message of love?
The first Valentine's Day after my husband passed away, my next door neighbor brought me flowers.  She said that was what my husband had done for her the first Valentine's Day after her husband had passed away. I never knew that he had done that.

Love.  Little Acts of Love. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Thanks for reading,




Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parenting Tip - Chords for Your Family Song

I wrote a Music Tip blog post a few months ago about chord progressions and how popular music is so full of them.  Lots of rock songs use a 4 chord progression that is repeated over and over again. The chord progressions use root chords as well as 1st and 2nd inversions.  You don't really need to know what those kind of chords are to get the idea of this blog post, but I'll explain briefly.

A root chord is built on the 1st note of the scale (let's say C) then skips a note and uses the next note (E), then skips a note and uses the next note (G).  So C,E,G are the notes played in the root chord.  BUT, you can move their positions around.  If you "invert" the C and put it on top, you have a 1st inversion: EGC.  If you again invert the bottom note to the top, you have a 2nd inversion: GCE.  And if you do it once more, you're back to the root position CEG.  So you can tweak the chord and make it sound a little different, but you're still using the 3 basic notes.

Interesting, huh?

As I have been analyzing music, I have found the root chord plus the inversions EVERYWHERE!  In popular songs, in classical songs, in hymns, in folk songs.......and the reason is because those chords are the building blocks, the basics, the foundation which the music is built on.

I've been trying to get my students to internalize and understand and identify these chords inversions.  Why?  Because they can learn their songs so much easier.  They already know the chords, they know the notes, they know the fingering, and they can get right on to learning the right hand notes.  It makes learning to play the piano so much more enjoyable and easier when you already know the basics.

There are 73 different songs that all use the same chord progression.  The melodies are completely different, but the basic chord structure is exactly the same ( I would give you the you tube link to a funny group who demonstrates and sings these songs, but there's a lot of raunchy stuff there too, so I won't).

Which brings me to what I was thinking about this morning.  Those basic chords are like the basic things we are told to do in Church. Have family scripture reading.  Say family prayers.  Have Family Home Evening. Each family is different, so we sing a different melody according to our individual and family's needs, but we are still playing the same chords in the same progression.

Families with small children will read the scriptures in a different way than families with teenagers will. Empty nesters will read their scriptures different from the way a person living alone will.  But we will ALL read our scriptures.  The same holds true for how we hold Family Home Evening.  Get your family together, learn together, enjoy time together, but do it how it works best for your family, right now in your present circumstances. Raising a family is so much more enjoyable and easier when you know what foundation you should base it on. Your children will learn to sing their song so much easier when the basic "chords" are embedded in their routine. 

What does your family song sound like? Is it bouncy and lively?  Is it loud, or has it begun to slow down and get softer with age?  You are creating your own beautiful melody that is perfect for the chords in your song. Sing your song with the particular singers you have in your family right now, and if you sing it with the correct chord progression, you'll have a hit song on your hands.
Sing your song strong, and well and often.

Thanks for reading,



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Parenting Tip - STOP Comparing yourself to others

Will I ever stop comparing myself to others? Good grief, I'm 65 years old! When will I accept myself as I am!

This is a great article.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Parenting Tip - How to Search for Answers

My children tease me about the advice I use to always give them--"put neosporin and a band aid on it" or "take some allergy medicine".  That seemed to cure just about anything in their young lives that would ail them. In the past few years my advice has changed to--"google it".  In my mind, all my answers can be found on the internet from someone who has had the same problem as I have.   But I feel that advice is kind of worldly and shallow when I think back to my own mother's advice to me as a young mother--"have you prayed about it?"

Lately, I've changed my advice to my children to incorporate both my solution and my mom's solution to problems. (I try not to give unsolicited advice to my children-- but boy, is it hard not to!)

My advice to my children now, when they ask me, is: search google for answers to your problems BUT also pray about your problems and get a Priesthood blessing.  To me these seem to go perfectly hand in hand, and I have a scripture to back it up!

Remember when Oliver Cowdery tried to help Joseph Smith with the translating of the Book of Mormon? He was chastised of the Lord.
Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (Doctrine and Covenants section 9:7,8)
The Lord expects us to search out the answers to our problems, and the internet is one of the blessings the Lord has given to help us.

I recently heard the story of a young missionary who was in charge of several other missionaries.  He received a phone call saying two elders were having a serious disagreement with each other and he was  needed to come diffuse the situation.  As he went to their apartment and began talking with them, another elder showed up saying his companion had just become unconscious and he couldn't revive him.  The young missionary left the two fighting elders to help the sick elder.  They had to call the paramedics and the now conscious elder was taken to the hospital.  The young missionary then called his mission president to tell him what had happened with both sets of missionaries and asked him for his advice.  The mission president, much to his disappointment said, "I don't know what you should do Elder.  That's why I put you there.  You figure it out." Now years later, the man telling the story said he had come to learn that the Lord will help us find the answers, but we must first study and search for ourselves.

I realize that searching the internet is kind of a secular way to search for answers.  But it is one of the fastest ways to find experts on all kind of situations from parenting issues, to physical and emotional ailments and of course, household and repair problems.  The problem is--you don't know which solution is the best answer for your particular problem.

There is another way of searching out and finding the answers to life's problems, and that is listening to the "still, small voice". The Holy Ghost  will tell us the truth and the answer for our particular situation.
I have found an interesting way of listening to the Holy Ghost.  On my morning walks, I listen to podcasts about knitting, or crafting or sewing.  But I've found on the mornings I listen to a BYU devotional talk, a thought will come to my mind that will help me with a situation or problem I'm having.  Sometimes the thought is totally unrelated to what the speaker is saying, but I always feel the truth of the thought and it becomes planted in my soul.  It is another way that I am showing Heavenly Father that I am trying to "study it out" in my mind.

I feel when we ask for a Priesthood blessing, that also shows we are again trying to study out our problem and realize the great need we have for heavenly help in our searching.

One last thought.  Many times our problems won't be solved immediately.  The thoughts and answers we have found may take time to resolve our issues.  Don't mistakenly think you didn't get the correct answers after all, but allow time to help you in solving them.  And feel the peace that someone who loves you from above, is indeed helping you.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 28, 2015

Parenting Tip - What is a Narcissist Child and How Not to Raise One

I just read this article on the New York Post, which I LOVE:

"This week, a study came out confirming that narcissists are largely bred, not born. The study, conducted by the University of Amsterdam and Ohio State University, found that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” (That’s scientific-speak for Special Snowflake Syndrome, and the researchers are talking about the other parents at your youth league soccer practice.)
This is great news, because it means there are steps we can take to prevent unleashing more little egotists on the world.
And this is bad news, because these steps are actually pretty common-sense; the study cited parental warmth, not praise, as a counterbalance to the trend. It’s also kind of depressing that we’ve even come to a point where narcissism — the increase of which contributes to societal problems such as aggression and violence, according to the research — has become so widespread that an entire study was conducted in the first place. (Then again, selfie sticks are now sold in drugstores for $24.95, so the mystery ends there.)
Anyone who’s spent time with a toddler recently does not need to be told that narcissism is the status quo in children. Remember how Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice? In kids, it bends toward narcissism.
After all, we are talking about a segment of the population that sees nothing wrong in waking their parents up at 4 a.m. to demand pancakes and episodes of “Dinosaur Train.”
And that’s why parents exist. It’s partly to keep their kids clothed and fed and safe and loved, and partly to prevent them from becoming Caligula.
The way to raise a narcissist is pretty evident: Tell your child they are wonderful, the very best, the most special of the specials on the sports field and the classroom and in the country and possibly on the planet — and keep telling them that. Or, just be a narcissist yourself. Done. Cool, we’ve settled that.
Children need to accept that they’ll hear “no” in life — and it’s best for them to learn this early.Photo:
But what if you’d like to raise someone who’s confident, kind and aware of others?
Here are nine ways to make sure your child doesn’t become a narcissist.
Say no. A recent school of thought seems to treat “no” as a kind of ultimate buzzkill, a tamping down on childish creativity and artistic self-expression. This is nuts. It’s fine to tell your children no, especially when they’re trying to set something on fire. In fact, a lot of life is being told no and then trying to come up with alternative plans. They might as well learn this young, so it doesn’t come as a shock five minutes into their first job.
Teach them basic manners. A lack of manners is the ultimate form of narcissism. Whether it’s someone who is rude to waiters, has bad table manners or can’t be bothered to dress for the occasion, lack of manners is signaling to the world that you have no need to conform to any silly “social codes” or “basic ideas of decency,” and that all that counts is your own comfort. But wait, you say. There are plenty of well-mannered narcissists! Yes, but they’re a lot more pleasant than the ones who sneeze into their dinner napkins or take food off your plate without asking.
Teach them how to manage frustration. Much has been written about good old-fashioned grit, a person’s ability to confront failure and learn from it. Studies have found it to be one of the best indicators of later happiness in adults. Teach a kid how to overcome adversity, and you’re also teaching him or her about disappointment, another invaluable life lesson that’s cut off when parents attempt to cocoon their children from anything unpleasant.
Pull a Louie. There was a fantastic episode of “Louie” a few seasons back where his daughter is enraged because her sister got something that she didn’t.

“Listen,” he says. “You’re never gonna get the same things as other people. It’s never gonna be equal. It’s not gonna happen ever in your life, so you must learn that now, OK? The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have . . . as much as them.” Pretty much everything Louis C.K. has to say about parenting is dead on, so if you’re looking for more pointers and great life lessons, just cue up your Netflix account.
Be kind. To other people, not just your child. This one might seem painfully obvious, but it’s worth remembering that your kids don’t just notice how you treat them — they notice how you interact with the world. You know how some of the most successful people are the ones who are unfailingly lovely to everyone, from shoe shiners to CEOs? People like that lead by example, creating wonderful environments to be emulated. Parents who are rude to everyone but their children are sending a message that there are people who matter (their kids!) and people who don’t (everyone else!).
Traveling with your kids will reinforce that it is not acceptable to simply exist in a bubble of people who reflect their own worldview.Photo:
Travel with them. Take trips with your kids, whether it’s to another country, another state or even a town nearby that’s completely different from the one you live in. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A change of scenery will be enough to reinforce to your kids that not everyone lives the way they do: that life goes on differently in other places, that people come from different races and nationalities and economic situations, and that it is not acceptable to simply exist in a bubble of people who reflect their own worldview.
Love and approval are different. Loving your kids unconditionally is one thing, but that love doesn’t need to translate into constant, unconditional, 24/7 approval and praise of everything they do. You can love someone while redirecting their behavior or being disappointed by their actions. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy.Photo:
Read to them. A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy, because it encourages them to place themselves in others’ lives and understand their actions. In that way, reading is like traveling — with your mind.
Run errands with them. Not all of life can be fascinating, interesting and wonderful, and no lesson reinforces that better than bringing your kids along on some errands. While the recent parenting emphasis on “quality time” is fine, boredom is its own powerful life lesson. So is the message that you have to spend a portion of each day doing things that are necessary, though not magical, and that not every activity revolves around kids. It’s also a great time to bond with your kids in a casual, low-pressure setting."

Great ideas to think about for this coming new year.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Parenting Tip - Fear Not!

My daughter-in-law, Heather, was asked to give a talk in Church.  I loved her talk so much, and think it applies to so many of us, that I asked her if I could publish it on my blog.  Here it is:

The Birth and Ministry of Christ
With this assignment to speak, I’ve been reflecting as deeply as I could on the time of Christ’s birth. Those were days of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest. The laws and punishments were brutal and the nation of Israel was fractured by oppressive Romans. 
Lloyd Newell, the host of Music and the Spoken Word brought to my attention that in the account of the Savior’s birth, there are four separate occasions where an angel appeared with the message “Fear not.”
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias with news that his wife would bear a son, the forerunner of the Messiah, he said, “Fear not, . . . for thy prayer is heard.”
Later the same angel visited “beautiful and fair” Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, assuring her with similar words: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”
Shortly thereafter an angel appeared to Joseph the carpenter in a dream and said, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.”
And then, on that holy night, as all eternity watched in reverent silence, the angel came upon humble shepherds keeping watch over their flock. The shepherds, who “were sore afraid,” heard the angel proclaim, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
So much of what happened during those pivotal moments in the nativity narrative depended upon the courage of people like Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. God had a monumental task for each of them; their lives were about to change forever. Imagine if they had let fear overcome them. What if they had pulled back, doubted, and failed to do what God needed them to do?
Like Zacharias, who feared that he would never have children, you may have fears about your family. Or maybe your fear isn’t that you won’t have children but that you will have children, whom you will have to raise in a toxic world increasingly hostile to families. Like Mary, you may have an assignment or responsibility that seems far beyond your abilities. Like Joseph, you may fear getting married—or that you will never get married. Like the shepherds, you may be “sore afraid” when your peaceful and simple life is disrupted because God has plans for you that are bigger than what you have for yourself.
It wasn’t too long ago when I had a strong desire to increase my faith. It felt like I had a personal mountain to move and I knew if I just had enough faith, it would move. As I knelt in prayer, the moment I began to pour out my heart for greater faith, I was tempted with fear. I feared that if I prayed for faith, surely, Heavenly Father would put into my path a tragedy or some great trial in order for me to stretch myself and gain greater faith.   When I thought this, my desire to pray for faith diminished and I shrunk at the idea of praying for such a thing. I didn’t want to bring trials or tragedies into my life.
Then I was taught by the spirit. I saw this fear for what it was…a lie, a weak spot in my faith as long as I heal onto this belief. From that point on, I’ve been able to discern more clearly where my own doubts and fears. As I pray for these fears to disperse, my faith has become strengthened.
The truth is, God doesn’t give us stones when we ask for bread. I know this, yet, the moment I give into fear or doubt, is the very moment my faith is weak or completely absent.
Life presents endless opportunities to fear.
We may fear we can never truly overcome an addictive behavior or perhaps we fear for a loved one who has strayed. We may fear we aren’t good enough. We may fear God is ashamed of us…which is, in my opinion, the most darkest of lies.
For those of us who fear, ask yourself, do I pray with the spirit of fear or do I pray in faith that the Lord will provide a way and cling to the hope that you are never so low, but that Christ has gone lower or never so lost but that He will seek you out.          
I don’t think the message “Fear Not” was only intended for one difficult task or experience, I believe this message was meant to be taken into our hearts and continually be applied throughout our lives.
Mary had to not only “Fear not”, while carrying a child, but also when there wasn’t room in the inn to bare her child, and fleeing into Egypt to spare the life of her child, and in feeling the weight of raising the Son of God, and most of all, Mary had to “Fear Not” when her beloved son, her perfect son was to be lifted upon the cross and take upon him the sins of the world.
The Lord’s message to you today is the same message He sent through His angels so long ago: “Fear not.” He can say that because He knows more than we do. He sees what we cannot see. He knows what is coming, and, in the eternal scheme of things, it is not as bad as we may think. He knows that we can handle it with His help because He knows how to strengthen and succor us.
Most of all, He tells us not to fear because He knows that fear will paralyze us. It will keep us from knowing and doing His will; accepting His blessings, His love, and His light; and fulfilling His purposes.
Satan wants us to give in to fear. God wants us to hold on to hope.
I find the message of FEAR NOT profound because I too have fears. I live in a world of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest.  Sometimes I feel that my fears create blocks in my lines of inspiration and connection to God. 
President Howard W. Hunter said:  Fear . . . is a principal weapon in the arsenal that Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts. . . .. . . A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission to fulfill… that simply must not be dissipated in fear and anxiety. 

When the Christ child was born into the world, I can only imagine the utmost feeling of joy, of relief, feelings of being rescued.  And why? Why these feelings?  Because God is perfect. And he bought us for a profound price, even with His blood. We are his sheep.  We need not fear. A shepherd tends to the needs of his flock. He gently guides them. He feeds them. He guards them. 

I’m forever grateful for my Shepherd. And as I continually learn to be his sheep, I need not want for anything.  I can Fear Not.

There’s a hymn, not found in our hymnbook, but sung at the funeral of President Hinckley called:  My Shepherd, you supply my need
My Shepherd will supply my need: Jehovah is His Name; In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake, In paths of truth and grace. When I walk through the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay; A word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread; My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head. The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days; O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise! There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come; No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.
God’s greatest gift to all mankind is His son.
If we earnestly appeal to God, He takes us as we are—and makes us more than we ever imagined.  Then, if we stay in the fold, and be his sheep, we will be brought back to our Father in Heaven to partake of all that the Father has.   
It may not always easy to have faith and “Fear Not” amidst the storms of life. During His ministry, Christ
often professed the strength or weakness in faith of those around him. I noticed that when he found doubt or fear, faith was either weak or absent.  An example of this is found in Mark 4:37-40 as Christ and his apostles were crossing the sea. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
When I read this I can help but wonder…what would faith have looked like here? Their boat was filled and the storm was raging.

Is it really possible to have faith and internal peace in the midst of a storm? The answer is yes, an absolute yes.

Quoting Elder Bednar:
Truly, one of the great blessings of devoted discipleship is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
The peace Christ gives allows us to view mortality through the precious perspective of eternity and supplies a spiritual settledness (see Colossians 1:23) that helps us maintain a consistent focus on our heavenly destination. Thus, we can be blessed to hush our fears because His doctrine provides purpose and direction in all aspects of our lives. His ordinances and covenants fortify and comfort in times both good and bad. And His priesthood authority gives assurance that the things that matter most can endure both in time and in eternity.

Heavenly Father’s gift to us was the way home to him again through His son Jesus Christ. To show love to my savior, I will strive to repent of my fears and choose to have faith in my Lord, Savior Jesus Christ and partake of the Peace of God which passeth all understanding.

We sing the song “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but I wonder if we might not be able to expand it.  O Come, all ye faithful. O Come All ye doubtful. Come, all ye sorrowful and shameful and prideful and sinful. Come lay our burdens at His feet. Come take part of the condescension of Christ. You are never so low, but that He has gone lower. You are never so lost but that He will seek you out.           
This Christmas we worship the Christ child who wipes away our fears.
 I Know that God lives and that Christ was born into the world for us. He is the way. I testify that I know Christ lives today and that we need not fear…we are His Sheep.  In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Parenting Tip - I am Grateful!!!

This morning I hiked to the Wind Cave at Usery Park--I forgot how steep the trail was.  I wasn't a lone hiker on that mountain, though.  99+ other hikers and myself, including 20 tourists from China--all boys, made the trail seem like a highway.  I guess my good idea was everyone else's too, and you can't blame us---the weather is GORGEOUS!!!

 Of which I am very grateful!

Last week I hiked Hamburg Trail at Ramsey Canyon Preserve in Sierra Vista.  The colors of the trees were stunning.  There were small deer grazing along the path and they were not shy at all! Neither were the turkeys, and I told them they better hide because Thanksgiving was coming.  Hiking with a good friend, enjoying nature and even hiking a steep mountain out of my comfort range....all made a memorable trip.

Of which I am very grateful!

On Veterans Day I took four of my grandchildren hiking in the Superstition Mountains.  Wow, I was so surprised that the 3 year old and 5 year old could hike such a long hike with steep terrain.  Afterwards we stopped by Goldmine Ghost town and enjoyed being tourists, riding on the train and going on a mine shaft tour.  So much fun with grandchildren.

Of which I am very grateful!

I am so grateful for a healthy body.  It is a gift that, after years of eating Snicker candy bars, I feel so blessed to have. 

I am so grateful to live in Arizona where the weather is perfect to hike in during the winters.  I love the mountains that surround us, the freeway system that gets us to those mountains in 30-40 minutes and even the abundance of differing cacti to marvel at as I hike.

At this Thanksgiving time of year, I am indeed GRATEFUL!!!!!!

Thanks for reading,



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Parenting Tip - Why Do We Do This to Ourselves??

I did it again.  Started berating myself.  Started feeling guilty.  Asking myself why do I always wait too long to act on my good intentions.

I was suppose to buy fabric or thread or any other numerous things on a list that was going toward a service project my church was doing.  But I didn't read when the deadline was to buy the supplies.  So I missed it.  Too late.  They had everything they already needed donated.  Guilt.

Guilt until I analyzed why I hadn't had time to buy the supplies and then I had to laugh at myself.  Why hadn't I had time?  Because I was giving service that day by babysitting my grandson.  I had also taught a music class for free so we could perform, a musical service, to a retirement home in the near future. 

And I did help sew the items we were donating the next night for 2 1/2 hours.

With the holidays coming, please don't do to yourself what I did.

Be nice to yourself and recognize the good things you are doing.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Music Tip - Singable Picture Books

Singable picture books-- they are so fun!

What are they?

Books where you sing the words.  There are lots and lots of singable picture books out there, you probably have some yourself.  What fun to sit and read with your preschooler, but what MORE FUN it is to sit and sing with your preschooler.  And what is even MORE FUN is when both you and your preschooler sing together.

I found a music therapy for kids site online that listed the top 8 singable books.  I had no idea what some of them were or sounded like, so I searched the book title in google, added the words "you tube", and presto, listened to the singable book as I looked at the pictures. 

There was one book that I fell in love with and had to have for my music class called, We All Go Traveling By.  It is written by Sheena Roberts and the illustrations which are done by Siobhan Bell are so cool.  
All the pictures are fabric applique.  It is sung by Fred Penner. It has a really catchy tune and is a cumulative tale of different ways to travel.  My 8 year old granddaughter heard it only one time and then said, "I keep singing that song in my head"-it's that catchy. 

Another favorite singable book that I used when I taught school was Puff the Magic Dragon.
 This song is listed in the 42 songs that the Music Educators Nation Conference says that every American
should be able to sing.

As I was searching for more singable books, I found a list on this site for teaching early literacy/teaching English as a second language.  Next I found The Kennedy Center ArtsEdge site where 5th-8th graders take a singable book, analyze it, then take an original poem, set it to music and make it into a singable picture book.  This corresponds with some of the common core state standards.

Wow, who knew all the educational value you were accomplishing by simply sitting down and singing a book with your child/grandchild.

Have any favorite singable books?  Please share!

 Go.  Enjoy.  Sing.
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Music Tip - Fun Chord Progressions

I've been giving my piano students chord progressions.  I love them, and my students seem to like them too-- anyway when they come back to lessons I can tell they've been practicing them.  You may know about the popular 4 chord progression made popular by Axis of Awesome.  These four chords I V vi IV are used in more than 70 different popular songs.  In the key of C major, this would be: C–G–Am–F.  When you play the chords one right after another, they make a pleasing musical phrase that you can improvise melodies above.

Recently I gave the following chord progression to my students, but I can't remember which website I got it from.  It might have been Tim Topham, a popular Australian pianist/teacher/speaker.  The progression is:
Am/a  G/a  F/a  G/a        
Am/f  G/f  F/f  G/f
Am/d  G/d  F/d  G/d
Dm/b  EM/e  Am/a.

The capital letters represent the chord played with the right hand- four times in a row.
The lower case letter after the slash is the left hand note, played one time.
(So Am/a means right hand plays the notes A,C,E as a block chord four times in a row while the left hand plays an A on the piano with just the first time the chord is played.  Then the right hand plays GBD four times with the left hand again playing an A, etc)
One of my boy students said, "That sounds like the music to Rocky."  He was hooked, of course.

The next week after giving my students this chord progression, I gave them a number of different ways to try playing it at home during their practice time.  Here are some different ways to play it:
* Have the right hand play a broken chord instead of block chords.
* Have the left hand play a rhythm on it's note during the chords instead of just playing the note one time per chord group.
* Play the chord progressions in a different octave on the piano.  Playing it up high sounds like a music box.
* Use different dynamics during the progression.
* Add the pedal - in fact, this is an excellent way to introduce how to play the pedal correctly.
* Improvise a melody above the chord progression.  I would demonstrate by improvising a melody as the student played the chord progression, then I asked the student to improvise a melody.  I told them to use stepping or skipping steps on the notes in the chord I was playing.

Another chord progression my students have enjoyed is from Jon Schmidt's (from The Piano Guys) song he wrote way back when he was in high school.  He based it off a tuna commercial.  The song is called, The Dumb Song, and that really appeals to students. The link will take you to a pdf of the song.

I teach just the left hand of the first page.  Then the next week I add the simple right hand single notes.  Depending on the ability of the student, I eventually have them add block chords for the right hand and/or inversions.  This is a great way to teach students about chord inversions.

Teaching my students to play and have fun with chord progressions has really appealed to my teen and preteen students.  It works so well with older students who are just beginning to take piano, or who don't sight read very well.  It's an attention getter when they play it for friends and family, it sounds like they can play advanced music and it is WAY FUN!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Music Tip - Practicing Helps

I just got back from visiting my son's family and was surprised at how all three of my grandchildren had progressed so quickly in playing the piano since I had last heard them play.  I asked my daughter-in-law what had happened and she said, "they have to practice 30 minutes a day." 
 Well, there's a no-brainer.  That is what I have been saying for years, as a piano teacher.  But here is a family who is actually doing it and it works!  You can see progress when you practice 30 minutes a day!!

Sounds easy.... just go tell your child to practice the piano for 30 minutes.  But you and I know that just telling a child to go practice and having it instantly and happily done is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

So here's the back story of the spurt of progression, at least this is what happened for my 7 year old grandson.  He complained about practicing, he wanted to take guitar or singing lessons instead, and he became uncooperative at home and at lessons. It just so happened that he also wanted an ipod.  Ahhhh, the perfect item to use for positive reinforcement.  And that's exactly what my daughter-in-law used.  "Son, I would love to buy you an ipod .  But you have to earn it and this is how: practice cheerfully for 30 minutes a day (5 days a week until Christmas)."

Not all piano stories end up happily like this one. Some children still won't cooperate.  Some parents refuse to "bribe" their children (when in fact it it NOT bribing).  Sometimes the reward loses it's appeal.  But it is certainly worth the try. Also, in my grandson's case, his teacher had to give him some fun songs that appealed to him.  He used a timer so he knew how long to practice.  He found he had to play his songs for more repetitions than he had before, to use up the full 30 minutes. He started to enjoy playing the piano!

It takes time to learn something new.  Time.  Repetition.  Consistency.  
And a little positive reinforcement along the way.....

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Parenting Tip - How to Build and Uplift Your Children

In Moses chapter 1 we learn of the vision Moses received where he saw God face to face and talked with Him.  God showed Moses the workmanship of His hands.  He told Moses that he was in the similitude of His Only Begotten.  He showed Moses the world and the ends thereof and all the children of men.  He called Moses His son, over and over again.  Moses marveled and wondered.

God was enlarging and expanding Moses' understanding.  He was showing Moses who he really was (a son of His) and what his potential could be.  That's what God does for all His children including you and me.  He lifts, builds and enlarges the soul.  He encourages us and He even gives uplifting nicknames as He did to some of his disciples....Peter the Rock, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, the Sons of Thunder, John the Beloved.

As parents, do our words build, uplift and encourage our children?  Do our words show them their great potential? Do we sprinkle character building thoughts throughout our conversations?
          Sarah, my faithful daughter.
          Jason, my creative son.
          James, my quick to obey son.
Do we label our children's actions to help them see who they are becoming and what their potential is?
           Macy, look at how you obeyed me when I asked you to put away your toys.
           You're right, Craig, you do have a lot a math.  What courage you're showing right now to begin it.
           That was a creative way to solve your problem, David.
           It's hard to stop playing right now Wendy, but see how you can do hard things!

The scriptures can teach us how to become good parents and we can pattern ourselves after the Perfect Parent.
Thanks for reading, you may be interested in listening to this talk, which is where I got my ideas from.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Parenting Tip - There's a War Going on!

Yikes!  There is a war going on.  Right now!  This very minute.  And you and I are in the war-- so are our husbands, and our children.  In fact, that is what the war is about.  FAMILIES!

Families are disintegrating. Families no longer eat together, or even talk to each other. Young married couples are choosing to have pets instead of children.  Yes, dogs are replacing children for many mothers.  Single parent families have become the norm.

This world is a scary place--a very scary place to bring innocent children into. Newly married couples wonder:
Should I have children?
What will happen to my children? 
How can I raise them to be responsible, well adjusted adults? 
What can I teach them that will help them embrace the truth instead of all the lies that will be thrown at them?

The answer lies in teaching children WHO THEY ARE.

When you  know who you are, it is much easier to hold on to that truth and use it as a guide as you wade and sift through all the lies, distraction and allurements that the media is constantly enticing you with.

Teach your child these simple truths:
* You are a child of God. He loves you unconditionally.
* You lived with Him before this life and He wants you to return to live with Him after this life.
* God has provided a family for you to grow up in.  A family loves you unconditionally.
* A family helps you learn how to act and love and serve others.
* God created you for a purpose.  Find out what that purpose is.
* Live your life according to God's word and you can return and live with Him.  
* Be kind. Serve others.

We need to teach our children that this life is only part of a larger, bigger picture.  It is the 2nd Act of a 3 Act play.  They need to know what happened in Act 1 (we lived with God) and what will happen in Act 3 (we will return to live with God if we have lived righteously on earth).

When a child understands who he is and why he is on earth, his choices take on more meaning.  

Life takes on more meaning. 

And that war that is taking place..... well it takes on more meaning too.  But  now we'll be up for the challenge, for we, and our family members, will be armed with knowledge.  And Knowledge is Power!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 10, 2015

Music Tip - Teach Your Baby Sign Language

It's so frustrating not to be able to communicate--whether you're in a different country where they speak a different language, or on the computer with it's different language.  How about if you're trying to communicate with your teenager (who speaks a different language at times!) or even your baby/toddler!

If you're visiting a different country, a dictionary helps somewhat, and if you're on the computer, your younger children can help you (ha, ha!).  Communicating with teenagers can be challenging and  rewarding, BUT talking with your baby is an unbelievable thrill!

You can communicate with your baby through sign language!
From age 8 months to 2 years your baby begins to know what he wants and needs, but does not have the skills to express his needs to you, his mother.  How frustrating for your baby and you.  By knowing a few basic signs such as milk, play, eat, sleepy, water and so on, you can ask your baby what he wants, and he can tell you what he needs.

Plus, it's so fun!! Involve your whole family in signing basic words.  Repetition is the key to success.  After several weeks of signing words (while saying them, of course) your 8-10 month old baby may start attempting to sign the words as well.  Her signs may be just approximate gestures to the ones that you are using, since her fine motor skills have not developed fully, but she'll definitely be signing a word and you'll know what it is.

There are several websites that give basic signs to begin your signing adventure.

Just choose a couple of signs like mommy and daddy, or eat and play, then incorporate the signs with your words throughout the coming days and weeks.  Don't get discouraged if your baby doesn't immediately respond and sign back.  It takes TIME to learn, digest information and be able to respond and perform it back.

If you live in the Mesa area, join my baby signing music class!

Music + sign language =  a whole lot of fun!

Thanks for reading,



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