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,


Monday, August 3, 2015

Parenting Tip - Cups make the BEST building toy!

For some of you school has just started.  For others, it's still a couple of weeks away.  What to do with BORED kids????

Buy one or two bags of plastic red cups (50 to a bag) and watch the creativity flow.  My two grandchildren age 8 and 12 build with these cups constantly. 

However, you have to be careful, because they're like dominos, if one falls, they all fall!  But watching them fall down is even fun too. 

 I saw some tiny red shot cups at Walmart after they started building, and of course I had to buy some of them too!
Thanks for readying,Cathy***************************************************************************

Parenting Tip - Recycled Shed becomes Kids Club House

I have one of those cute storage sheds in my backyard that my husband insulated, built shelves in and even put a window AC unit in.  It was to be his workshop.  However, he passed away and never got to use it. So I've been using it for my grandchildren to play in, and they have dubbed it, The Kids Club House".
 This summer I decided to decorate and paint the inside of it in bright fun colors and designs.  I spent hours planning, preparing and painting the inside, knowing that I was really doing it for ME, not them.  They wouldn't appreciate all the time and effort I took.  I stocked it with paper, markers, paint, wood, hammers, nails, and anything recyclable I thought they would have fun creating with.

My goal was to finish it before my daughter's wedding in July--that's when all 20 grandchildren would be here.  I envisioned the creativity that would occur there, the art work, the hammering and building, the fun times with cousins who don't often get to play with each other,because they all live in different states. It's still a work in progress, but I finished up most of the painting I wanted to do.

And guess what?  My dreams of  my grandchildren creating and playing and loving the Kids Club House came true!  Plus they even appreciated all the hard work I did to make it so cute and inviting.
Hammering with nails and a real hammer was the post popular thing to do.  I read a good idea of having younger children hold the nail in place between the teeth of a comb so they don't hammer their fingers.  It works pretty good.

It was fun to see which of the grandchildren really enjoy creating.  Most of the girls aged 8-12 loved using the hot glue gun (the cooler type) to create dolls, heads, etc with the recycled materials I had.

All in all, the Kids Club House was and still is a success!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Parenting Tip- How to Keep Your Family Safe

The world just got scarier with the new decision by the Supreme Court.  I feel like some of my choices in my government have been overruled without my vote.  I fear for my children and grandchildren.  What kind of world will they face in the years to come?

But fear is NOT faith.  I cannot lose my faith in God and in His all knowing plan for my peace and eternal progression.  He is in charge.  I will rely on my faith to walk through this world of evil and destruction.

Here is help for me and for my children and grandchildren.

Here is what you can do today!  Lots of ideas to draw your family closer together.

                                                                  Let us all walk in

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Parenting Tip - Forgiveness

I'm writing a blog post about something I don't really know too much about, though I should.  It's about forgiveness, and the reason why I'm writing it is because I feel compelled to.  In the past weeks I've  bumped into this word--forgiveness--twice, and both times it made an impact on me.

The first situation I read and heard about was Elizabeth Smart and a video and TV interview that has been released recently.  You may remember in 2002 when Elizabeth, age 14, was abducted from her home and was the recipient of wide media coverage for 9 months before she was finally found.  She faced horrendous abuse during those months and I, as a mother, could not even think about, read about or hear about her situation because it made me feel so vulnerable.  What if that happened to one of my daughters?  It is only now, 13 years later that I can read her story and hear her talk about it.

On the TV interview she said that she had forgiven her captors.  How was that possible I wondered?  Then she went on to say that what she meant was, she has gone on with her life and will not allow  them to take away her future life and happiness.  They are locked up, safe from others, and she does not dwell on them, but looks forward to what she can do to help others who have faced abuse.

The second mention I heard recently about forgiveness was on a happiness podcast.  The host was interviewing someone who said forgiveness is letting go.  It's saying, "I'm over that now.  I'm going on with my life."

That was such a different definition of forgiveness than I have heard before.  I like it.  It doesn't mean justice is not going to be served, that restitution is not going to be given, but it's an attitude.  "I will no longer consume myself with thinking about, stewing about, getting mad about, ruining my life about  ____________________.  I'm moving on.  I'm controlling my own destiny.  I give this to God, it is in His hands."

As a teenager, if I got mad at my parents for not allowing me to do something or go somewhere, I would employ the silent treatment, and I felt like I had to use the silent treatment for a long time--if not, they might not think it was as big a deal to me as they thought it was (thank goodness I had great parents who put up with me during a hard year in my life).

Forgiveness.  We need to use it daily--and give it freely daily--to our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our co workers, ourselves.  And when we do, we find unimaginable peace.  "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Parenting Tip - The Hands-On Approach

My husband's birthday was a couple of days ago.  He has been gone almost 4 years now, but his legacy still lives on.  One of my sons asked his daughter, who just turned 10 years old, what were some of the best things she remembered from her "decade" of living.  She immediately replied, "Going fishing with grandpa!" 

You never know what impact you make on others until later.  When I look at how my sons parent, I think of their Dad.  He taught them well.

My husband taught through a "hands-on" approach. If the oil needed changed in the cars, my husband had our boys help him.  Later they did it themselves.  If there was a plumbing problem, my husband enlisted the help of one of our sons.  They learned by doing, not just watching.  I wasn't aware of how powerful that teaching was until my husband passed away.  Then as we talked as a family, each of my sons reminisced and told stories of helping Dad fix this or that and how much they had learned from him.

All my sons are married and have children of their own.  They all live in different states from me except for one.  Jacob lives close by and it is so rewarding to watch him parent his own 3 sons.  He, too, is a hands-on Dad.  He takes them to Home Depot with him, not only for the classes, but when he goes there to buy things.   He found out about a new place downtown where you can use lathes, lasers, and other types of machinery to make your own projects for free.  That would sound like a scary, over the top kind of place to take your young children, but not for Jacob.  He took two of his boys and they loved using the tools and making things.

 A couple of weeks ago, my grandsons were so excited to tell me about the garden their Dad was making.  It turns out that my son cut up an old wooden table that my father-in-law had made years ago and built a raised garden bed out of it.  I'm sure my husband and father-in-law were beaming to know that their son/grandson had used something of theirs and had the know-how to make it into something else useful. 

One of the most important things my husband taught with his hands-on approach to learning was how to pray to the Lord and ask for blessings and thank Him for blessings given.  Last year my son invited me to go with him and his two sons to an airshow.  On the way there, we were involved in an accident on the freeway.  My two grandsons immediately began to cry, and Jacob jumped out of the car to open their door to see if they were hurt.  They weren't, so Jacob said, "Let's say a prayer to Heavenly Father telling him thank you for blessing us that we are okay."  What a thrill that was to my heart to see that immediate reaction come from my son.

We learn by seeing, by watching, but most importantly, by doing.  Be a hands-on parent.  Give the wonderful gift of independence to your children by having them work with you, clean with you, cook with you, play with you and---pray with you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Parenting Tip - How to Stop YELLING!

I couldn't resist posting this super idea that I just read about from a link on facebook.  The mom taught school for 12 years before raising her family, and she wrote that she never yelled at her pupils, but continally yells at her children. 

The mother writes, "That is when I remembered this one simple tip that I used daily in my classroom. In fact, if I didn’t try this first, I was usually unsuccessful at changing a child’s desired behaviors."

Click on the link above or go to to see what this mom and YOU can do to stop yelling at your children.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Parenting Tip - Focus on the Positive!

A friend talked to me about one of her daughters.  She was worried about this child, who seemed to get mad, stay mad, refuse to talk about her feelings or problems and said negative things to her brother and sister. As my friend worried about the situation, she became more and more fearful and envisioned this daughter as a teenager experiencing a multitude of anger issues and acting out behavior.  This mom was scared and didn't know what to do.

Then a couple of days later, my friend related how she had suddenly "come to her senses."  She thought about her daughter and all the great characteristics and talents she had.  She remembered how her daughter loved to be active and liked to play outside or go on walks.  She remembered how her daughter was constantly playing the piano and enjoyed playing church songs.  She remembered how funny her daughter was and how thoughtful she was.  She remembered that her daughter had come home from school one day saying she needed to choose a new friend because her present friend was mean and said bad things to other kids.

This mom had been distracted by her daughter's immaturity on one level and had forgotten all about  the other wonderful traits she had.  As she focused on the negative aspects of her daughter's personality, the negative was all she could see.  But as soon as she started to focus on the positive characteristics of her daughter, my friend said she felt relieved, light hearted and saw many, many good qualities in her daughter.

She started inviting her daughter to run with her, since she had keyed into the fact that her daughter needed and liked physical exercise.  She started complimenting her daughter on her piano playing, and started giving her hugs and more positive attention.  And this daughter flourished--because her  mom focused on the positive instead of the negative.
Thanks for reading,


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