Sunday, November 6, 2016

Parenting Tip - You are Brave!

A young mom was talking to her single brother who had just sailed around the world on a sailboat by himself.  She told him how brave she thought he was but he said, "Yeah, that's what everyone tells me, but it's YOU that's brave.  It doesn't take bravery to sail around the world, just organization and a boat,  You are the brave one.  You work through problems in your marriage and don't give up and walk away. You teach your children continuously even when you don't think they're paying any attention to you.  What you are doing takes bravery!"
Here's what the dictionary says:
          noun: bravery
courageous behavior or character.
Synonyms:
courage, valor, intrepidity, nerve, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness, dauntlessness, stoutheartedness, heroism;  backbone, grit, true grit, pluck, spine, spirit,mettle; spunk
"the bravery witnessed here today will never be forgotten" 

couragevalor, intrepidity, nervedaring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness,dauntlessness, stoutheartedness, heroism
backbonegrit, true grit, pluckspinespirit,mettle;  spunk


"the bravery witnessed here today will never be forgotten"
Well, yeah, that describes marriage, parenthood and life in general!  I immediately think of potty training with the adjectives "courageous behavior, nerve and fearlessness."

You will need lots of brave moments during parenthood.  Here are some situations that come readily to mind:
*  Teaching your 15 year old how to drive takes intrepidity and nerve.
*  Sending your first child off to kindergarten requires courage and valor.
*  Changing your baby's poopy diaper that he has taken off and finger painted his crib with, needs daring and grit, not to mention stoutheartedness
*  Inviting 10 giggly girls to your house for your daughter's birthday party will take fearlessness and dauntlessness.
*  Buying two dozen cookies for your child's Halloween party at school, then going back to the store to buy a poster board for your jr high school daughter's science project due tomorrow plus taking in dinner to a neighbor with a new baby requires pluck, spine and dauntlessness.

The sentence that the dictionary supplied "the bravery witnessed here today will never be forgotten" could be paired with so many scenarios.

Mom, age 34, just finished mopping the floor, only to have muddy footprints tracked across it by her 3 and 5 year old sons who have been outside playing in the mud from the recent rain storm. Mom  bit her tongue and refrained from screaming, yelling and throwing things.
The bravery witnessed here today will never be forgotten.
or
Dad, age 40, walks in the door from a tiring day at work to find two sick children who have both just upchucked all over the new couch and carpet.  Upon looking for his wife, he finds her sick in bed doing the same thing. Dad cleans up the messes, opens a can of chicken noodle soup for dinner, washes the dishes and tells his wife he will take off work tomorrow.  
The bravery witnessed here today will never be forgotten.

It takes courageous behavior--bravery--to be a parent who is on call 24/7, rain or shine, day or night, feeling healthy or not.  It takes bravery to even bring children into this world with all its skewed sense of right and wrong and what is important in life.  It takes bravery plus faith and hope to go through each day with all its myriad challenges and expectations. It takes bravery to be a stay at home mom, fighting boredom, repetitiveness and un-appreciation from your family.  And it takes bravery to leave your children every day to go to work because it's what you have to do.
 
But you know what? The bravery witnessed every day by what you do will never be forgotten. Not by God who loves you, or eventually by your children and husband nor even by you, now that you know how BRAVE you are.

So stand a little taller.
                      Smile a little longer.
                                                And get out there again and do it.  Because:

Thanks for reading, 
Cathy
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Parenting Tip - Can I say YES Now?

In my last post I talked about how I had learned to say NO, and how good it felt.  Now let's talk about saying YES, and how good that can feel.

The holidays are upon us.  First comes Halloween, closely followed by Thanksgiving, and then Christmas comes rushing in like a whirlwind with all its traditions, madness and overcrowded days.   Sometimes I feel like hiding until it's all over.  It's not that I don't love the holidays, it's just that I get caught up in the busyness of decorations, food, gifts, traditions and worldly expectations to have everything "perfect" and to do it all.  Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook give a trillion cute, cute ideas to do and I want to do them all.

I've learned an important truth, though, and it has been my children that have taught it to me.  When they reminisce about holiday traditions, sometimes they'll mention things we use to do as a family when they were young that they remember us doing every year, like going to the mountains to cut our own Christmas tree.  But guess what?  We didn't do that every year.  In fact, we only did it 3-4 times.

What does this mean to you and me?  We can have cherished traditions, but we can space them out without losing their traditional feel.  Do you have a tradition of going to see the zoo lights every year?  It's expensive, so only go every 3 years.  Do you always make and decorate Christmas cookies but this year you are dreading it?  Skip it.  Do it next year.  Does your family love to do the 12 Days of Christmas for a secret family, but you're wondering if you have enough energy to pull it off this year?  Wait for another year or two to do it, so it will become fun and exciting again.

I don't have a lot of storage space in  my home, so I have limited my Christmas decorations to 4 large plastic tubs.  But, of course, more decorations have slowly been spreading out and gaining more momentum and filling up other shelves and closets.  Last year I didn't put up several decorations and didn't miss them.  This year I'm thinking of decluttering some of my decorations.  I inherited a gorgeous collection of tall, Victorian Santa Clauses that take up a lot of space to display.  Then I also have a collection of Nativity scenes.  So when both collections are brought out to display with all the other decorations, I literally start to feel claustrophobic.

I've had a stern talking to with myself and decided I'm really going to limit my decorations this year. I'm only going to put up my 3 most favorite Santas and only 3-5 of the Nativities.  When you have a small house like mine, you really should simplify.  So I'm going to.

Wait, I started out by saying I was going to talk about saying YES.  But it sounds like I'm saying NO to a lot of things such as decorations and traditions.  In actuality, I am saying to myself, "YES, you may have a simple, meaningful, spiritual, family holiday this year, and this is how you will do it.  You may choose 3 traditions you like the most (or you may start 1 new one) and you may choose your most loved decorations to put up.  You will say YES to empty unscheduled blocks of time during the days and weeks so that you may say YES to unexpected things that come up or to people that need your help. You will say YES to enjoying being with family and friends because you are not rushed and frenzied trying to do it all and be it all to everyone.

Ah.....it feels so good to say YES!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Parenting Tip - It Feels so good to say NO!

During dinner several years ago, the phone rang and I answered it.  It was a teacher from my neighborhood school asking me if I could substitute for her tomorrow.  Arrgghhh, I had things planned for tomorrow, but how could I say no?  She wanted ME!  She wanted ME to solve her problem and teach her class because I was so creative and wonderful and ...and....and....But I had things to do tomorrow and really couldn't and didn't want to.  So, in agony of not being able to help her, I said no.  And in a flash I felt so much relief and happiness and realized a very important truth: she didn't want ME, she just wanted SOMEONE to help her solve  her dilemma--she didn't really care WHO it was.

I immediately burst into song and danced back to the dinner table singing at the top of my voice, "It feels so good to say NO and not feel guilty!"  My family starred at me and just continued eating.  But I kept singing my song again, and explained, "I finally get it.  People want someone to help them out of their problems, and if I say no, they'll just find someone else to help them.  They're not paying me a compliment because I'm the only one and the best one. I've been so prideful all these years, but realize the truth of the matter now."

And that's how I learned to say NO.

It's always been hard for me to stick up for myself.  I was a walk-all-over-her sort of person for many many years. I was taken advantage of because I was nice and didn't want to disappoint people or not help them. I considered myself a wimp.   But gradually I started noticing and admiring people who stood up for themselves, who set boundaries and limits and knew what they could do and were willing to do.  I wanted to be one of those kind of people.  Strong in their beliefs and actions.  Self-assured and self-confident.  And that meant saying NO when it was needed.

Recently I read an article that said when you say NO to something, then really you are saying YES to something else. And when you say YES to something, you are naturally saying NO to other things. So years ago when I was substituting and my children were still in school, if I said Yes to teaching, then some days that would mean I would be saying no to getting the laundry and shopping done and preparing a peaceful dinner.  Sometimes it was good to say yes, but other weeks I should have said no more often.

What are some other NO/YES outcomes?
NO to video/computer time - YES to creative, imaginative children
NO to snacking, candy - YES to healthy lifestyle (ouch, that one always gets me!)
NO to lax, inconsistent bedtime routine - YES to more peaceful evenings
NO to excessive fast food eating - YES to more money and healthier eating
NO to hours on blog/instagram/pinterest/facebook reading - YES to non-comparing yourself with others and feeling happier with your life
NO to judging others - YES to accepting others with different ideas
......and the list can go on and on.

One other idea on how to say NO that I wished I would have known years ago when I was a wishy washy wimp and that is, stall for a moment when someone asks you to do something that you don't want to or think it best not to do.  Say very nicely, "Let me check my calendar."  Then check that calendar and if you want to say NO, you sweetly say, "Oh I'm sorry, I have something scheduled for then."  They don't have to know that you don't have something officially written down.  Because remember the NO/YES consequences.  If you say no to them, you're saying yes to your children for being able to meet their needs that morning or yes to reading a book because you really need some downtime.  It sounds so more convincing to say, "Oh, I'm not available" than "Oh, I'm reading a good book and will lose it if I don't take some time for myself."

It sounds like I'm suggesting you say NO all the time.  I'm not.  I wrote this blog post for me, basically, because I need to say NO to myself more often than to other people.  I love to teach and love to babysit my grandchildren and love to do this and love to do that.  And I want to do it all.  But I have to remind myself that when I say, "YES, I think I'll teach more ukulele or music classes", I'm really saying, "NO, I won't have time to babysit my grandchildren when I'm needed."

Judge wisely when you say NO or YES and remember there will always be a YES or NO answering consequence.

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Parenting Tip - "But it's so hard!"

I was teaching a music class with a group of children who have autism.  We had a song about following directions and had done several activities during the class time having the students practicing following musical directions. As I summed up the class I reminded the students to try and follow directions the rest of the day.  The teacher then asked the students to pick up their chairs and take them back to their desks.  Marshall did not do this and the teacher said, "Marshall, didn't you just learn about following directions?" Marshall responded with a frustrated voice saying, "but it's so hard to follow directions!"

Don't we all feel that sometimes?  It's hard to follow directions whether it's how to install a program on our computer or a complicated new recipe, or even helping a child with his math.

Children feel the same way, of course.  So how can we help them learn this invaluable skill?  We can try to think and feel as a child.  We can use our imagination, use games, toys, music, and play to make it fun. We can use incentives or set family rules and be consistent in following them.

Time to get in the car and the fight to get the seat belt buckled starts?  Try some imagination: "Hurry, hurry, here come the tickle bees.  Get in the car and get buckled before they start tickling you!"
OR
"Hey, Mister Bus Driver, are you going to drive this bus?  Get in and get buckled and start your wheels goin' round"

Toys all over the floor?  Play a game.  My mother was a master at playing army and giving commands to the soldier grandchildren. She would salute each one, give them a specific thing to do (pick up all the blue toys), then have them report back to her for their next assignment.

As a mom, I wasn't in the mood to play games, I just wanted the bedrooms cleaned up.  But I was willing to make it fun, .  So I would hide M & Ms under books, clothes and toys on the floor and tell my kids they could eat the candy they found, but they had to put the item away first.  Worked like a charm!

Time to practice the piano?  Give incentives for following directions to "get in there and practice".  Do your child's chore while she practices (I don't know how many dishes I washed for my daughter when it was her turn to wash, but she still needed to practice the piano).

Other incentives could be, "let's read library books when the toys get cleaned up" or "after your homework is done you can go out and play".  An incentive to clear the table or wash the dishes quickly after dinner when I was a kid was this family rule:  if you get all the dishes washed before the person whose job it is to clear the table gets finished clearing, then they have to wash those dishes.  I caught my brother only a couple of times on this rule before he learned to do his job before starting to play.

Here's a tough direction to follow:  be reverent during Church.  Remember, this is an ongoing learning situation and different age groups will be better at it than others.  But try this family rule:  if you are not reverent in Church, you need to practice being reverent when you get home. Put Church music on and have your child sit quietly on the couch for one or two songs (or more, depending on their age).  You as the parent may need to sit with your young child or even hold him on your lap while listening to the music and practicing being reverent.  Keep in mind the child's age. Perhaps a 4 year old would sit for 4 minutes while a 10 year old would sit for 10 minutes. This would not be appropriate for a one or two year old. They would not connect the events from Church to couch sitting.

Following directions.

Yes sometimes it's SO HARD!

But what a valuable skill and habit to learn--for adults and children!

Thanks for reading,
Cathy
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Parenting Tip - "Not Shrinking" is More Important Than Surviving

Elder Neal A. Maxwell served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) for 23 years.  His last few years were spent painfully battling leukemia.  After undergoing chemotherapy, he was asked by Elder David Bednar, also an apostle in the LDS church, what lessons he had learned through his illness.  Elder Maxwell replied, "I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving."
Not shrinking?  What does that mean?
        The scriptures say:  
“Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men”.  D&C 19:15-19

Again, the phrase, not shrink.  We know Christ did not shrink from the agony he suffered for us in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the hill of Golgotha. He did not shrink and he did much more than "survive".  He overcame!  He was triumph!  His path led to a glorious reward.  And while He was on that earthly path, He walked in love and humility, taught with gentleness and compassion and set the perfect example for us to follow.

How can we apply this concept to our lives, to our daily struggles, to our trials.  How can we not shrink and do more than just survive?

When we are tested, when we have situations arise that are not fun, be it financial loss, health issues, problems with children, depression or a myriad of other concerns, how do we face these situations?  By not shrinking from them, I picture us as meeting our problems head on.  We deal with them.  We have faith that they will pass and that a wise Father in Heaven will give us strength to get through them and learn from them.  

If we don't shrink, we have patience and longsuffering.  "But how long is longsuffering suppose to last," I ask myself?  "I do have patience.  But come on, how long do I have to have patience," I ask impatiently?????

If we don't shrink from our problems we are cheerful as we go through them.  We think positive thoughts, and are kind when we feel miserable, are gentle when we want to hit something or someone and refuse to let the adversary lead us into depression and bitterness. 

When I have big trials and problems, not shrinking is my goal.  But what about those little pesky or middle sized trials and problems.  What about a house too small for your family or a 3 year old who doesn't want to be potty trained?  What a spouse who doesn't agree with your spending values or a teenager who wants to be more independent? What about your boredom in staying home with the kids or your jealousy of your friend's slim body? Here's one, what about what to fix for dinner every night when you hate to cook?

The answer to not shrinking is the same for big or small problems and trials.  Face them.  Problem solve them. Pray for strength, insight and faith to overcome, learn and grow. Listen to the answers that will come.

Not shrinking is more important than surviving.  Surviving means you got through it.  Not shrinking means you were faithful, you learned and you made it to the end with glory and honor.

Here's to not shrinking!!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Parenting Tip - What are you teaching?


Here is a great article that every parent needs to read.  The whole article is here.  The following is  an  excerpt:

"I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers...I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.  
        Here is why…"
 The author, Victoria Prooday, then goes on to explain what we are doing to our children when we let them use too much technology, don't let them wait for things they want, don't say NO to our children, don't let them get bored and let them constantly be entertained.

Parents, what are you teaching your children, either by your intentional teaching or by the absence of teaching?

Let your children be bored, let them play, play, play.  Tell them no.  YOU be the parent, not them.

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Music Tip - I Will by Hilary Weeks

Our girls who were going to girls camp this summer learned this song by Hilary Weeks.  I simplified it so they could learn to play it themselves.  Such a powerful song with a much needed message at this time in their young teenage lives!

Let me know if you like it. Click to get the pdf.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Music Tip - Someone Like You

I just finished arranging Adele's, "Someone Like You".  If you would like my simplified arrangement of it,  Click here to get the pdf.

Leave a comment if you like it.
Thanks,
Cathy

Music Tip - Piano Music 7 Years

I've been busy writing music for my piano students, that is, arranging and simplifying popular songs.  They love them.  But I've been traveling too, so I haven't got as many songs done as I would like to. Here is my version of 7 Years by Lukas Graham. Leave me a comment if you like it. If you would like a pdf copy, click the link.



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Parenting Tip - Parenting Teenagers

 You may have already seen or heard about Josh Shipp.  I just listened to one of his videos that was posted on Facebook--the place I see all the upcoming news and info.  I liked what I heard. He is being called the "teen whisperer".   He speaks common sense and comes from a background of being a troubled youth himself.

As my husband and I parented our children through their teen years, I always remembered what my mother said when she had 4 teenagers growing up in our home at the same time-- myself, my sister and two brothers.  She said,  "I loved having you all as teenagers.  You were the best kids, and it was so fun to be around you." 

Now that's NOT what the majority of parents would say.  And I don't think my siblings and I were perfect or abnormal.  But my parents had taught us to be respectful, honest, have faith in God and know that we were children of God and that He had a plan for our lives.  We did experience ups and downs and normal teenage disagreements with our parents, but we respected each other, listened to advice from our parents and more importantly, they listened to us.  We cooperated together, we supported each other and we loved each other and had fun together.

When I had my teenagers, I experienced the same thing.  They were good kids.  They were funny, respectful, hardworking, compassionate, and good students.  They knew God loved them and had a purpose for their lives.  We were blessed with children that would listen to us and honor our decisions. 

We were firm and a lot more strict than other parents.  I know, because they told me--often.  But all seven children have also told me later as adults, that they were glad we were so strict.  They were glad they had boundaries and limitations.

Teenagers have a lot of peer pressure to deal with.  But so do YOU as parents.  Don't cave into your peer pressure, Moms and Dads.  Don't go with the flow and let your children go and do what others are doing, just because it is easier and your adult friends are letting their children do things you feel uncomfortable with.  Have rules in your home.  Let your family set those rules and help everyone to understand why the rule is as it is.

If your teen is having mental health problems, medical problems or acting different, get help--don't let it slide until the problem is worse.

But most importantly, ENJOY your teenagers! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mom Puts Zip Ties On Her Baby’s Stroller, The Reason? Genius!

 I love it when someone problem solves issues and makes it easier for others.  View this video for wonderfully easy things to enhance your stroller use.

Mom Puts Zip Ties On Her Baby’s Stroller, The Reason? Genius!:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Parenting Tip - Dealing with Anxiety, OCD and Depression

I have recently heard of so many people, of all ages, dealing with anxiety, OCD and depression.  This is such a hopeful and uplifting article.  Please read.

Thanks,
Cathy

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Parenting Tip - Will They Remember?

For the past 3 months I have been teaching home schooled children how to play the ukulele.  They have been coming to my home once a week to learn songs, and now for the past month we have been performing them at retirement centers.

Yesterday I took my ukulele group to a private home to sing and play for the residents living there.  The husband and wife of this home care for 6 elderly women plus the wife's mother.  You immediately felt love and peace upon walking into their home.

The husband introduced all the women and told us their names and a little about their backgrounds.  All were wonderful women who had accomplished much in their lives.  One had taught school for 40 years, a couple of the women were musicians, one had something to do with the opera, and one had served with her husband when he was a mission president for the LDS Church and when he was temple president of the Snowflake LDS Temple.  Then the man said, "but they won't remember anything after you leave, so don't worry about making any mistakes!  In fact you could come back tomorrow and they wouldn't remember you."

We had a wonderful time playing for them, and I am always energized after these performances and visits with the elderly.  They are so sweet and appreciative of everything you do and they LOVE the children.  We were invited to come back often.  But as I drove home I kept thinking, "So what's the use.  Why did I spend time going there and why should I go back again if they won't even remember that we have been there."

I know deep inside that we should show kindnesses to everyone, but what if they forget our kindnesses?????  Then I thought  if my mother or father were suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, I certainly would want people coming and visiting them to bring them joy and happiness, even if it only lasted a half hour.

I was thinking about all these things while driving, and was almost home and sitting at a green light, waiting to turn left, when I saw a little tiny dog running on the street between two oncoming cars.  It suddenly veered into one of the cars and was hit and immediately killed.  I thought about how important one moment was to him--life and death.  Then I thought about how important moments are to those who won't remember with their physical minds, but will remember with their spiritual minds.

I thought about babies who won't remember the love and singing and hugs and kisses we lavish on them as infants.  I thought about the toddlers and preschoolers who won't remember the picnics and toys and games we played with them for countless hours. 

But though they may not remember the exact moments we shared, they will remember the feeling of love they received from us and the special ties they have as they continue growing and begin to remember fun times. 

It's those drops of water, adding one at a time that makes an ocean.  It's the love and strength of that love that ties them to us forever.  And when they are parents, and hugging and kissing their babies, they'll know. In the eternities they will remember.  It is so worth it to make the memories now!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Music Tip - Clocks,simplified

Here's a great song preteens and teens like to learn.  Teach your students how to analyze and see patterns in music.  It makes it so much easier to learn songs that way.  Notice that in the first measure, it is a 1st inversion of a D chord that is played as a broken chord, but backwards.  You play it 3 times in a row (except on the 3rd repeat you don't play the last note)

The 2nd and 3rd measures are identical, and again, they are just broken chords played backwards (A minor 2nd inversion).  The 4th measure is an E minor chord (in root position) played backwards too.  Then you repeat all four measures.  A piece of cake!

Teach the next section by playing the melody.  Notice that the melody is played 3 times, but the rhythm is a little different each time because of the words.

I love to help children analyze and quickly learn a song that could have been hard to learn without noticing the patterns first.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Music Tip - Don't Stop Believing

Here's another 4 chord song to teach your student or child.

I teach the right hand chords on the first line and help them identify the kind of chords they are, ie. G 2nd inversion, D root position, e minor 2nd position, C root position.  Have them play the chords several times, then you play the left hand with them.

Next, have them play the left hand. On the second measure they will need to move their 3rd finger to the E.
Duet the first line with student playing left hand and teacher/adult playing the right hand.  This makes it so much easier to play before they put hands together, which is the next step.

Teach lines 2 and 3 with learning the left hand chords first. Then follow the same procedure of dueting it, they play right hand, duet, they play both hands.

The last two lines can be taught, notating that on measure 3 the right hand needs to move the 2nd finger to the B.

Enjoy!

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