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,

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Parenting Tip - Cool Toys

My secret wish is to be a toy inventor.  I love to watch children play with toys, and I'm always interested in what toys keep their interest the longest.  My grandchildren in Virginia have Magformers.  These are sturdy plastic shapes that connect together because of magnets.  My four year old grandson played with these shapes for hours for two days straight, making different geometric designs and 3D shapes.  His two year old sister loved to play with them too.

 Bristle Blocks was another favorite toy.  I think my grandson must have made a whole fleet of airplanes.

A game that I play with my older grandchildren (ages 9-12) is a thinking, logic game, called Lotto.  You just need paper and pencil to draw up your own strategy page .  You are trying to guess your opponent's number sequence-made of 4 digits (or 5 digits when you're good at the game) and he is trying to guess yours.  Or if you have several people playing, you guess your neighbor's number who guesses his neighbor's number, etc.  You get a "hit" for the correct number in the correct position and a "miss" if the number is in the sequence, but not in the order you placed it.  It's kind of like Battleship, but you're not sinking ships, you're guessing a number sequence.  You can also play it with words.  You guess your opponent's 4 letter word (or 5 letters to make it harder).  I love this game!
The trouble with toys is, different children like to play with different toys. My out of state grandchildren recently came to visit and they played with different toys than my in-state grandchildren.  And two of them were both 4 year boys.  I guess I'll just have to keep buying toys because I know that some grandchild will play with them. Eventually.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 16, 2015

Music Tip - Simplified Children's Song

I love the song the children are singing in my Church this year for Primary.  The melody is inspiring and the words ring so true.  It's called, I Know My Savior Lives.  It was composed by Tami Jeppson Creamer and Derena Bell.

I arranged a simplified version of it for my piano students and grandchildren to play.
Enjoy it!
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Parenting Tip -It was the TWO YEAR OLDS who did me in!

Oh. My. Gosh.  Today I babysat my two 4 year old grandsons plus their 2 year old brother and sister, plus an 11 month old granddaughter. I thought I was up for the challenge.  I mean, hello-- I raised 7 children.  And I love children.  And I consider I'm somewhat a pro with children.

But today was my day to eat humble pie.  I thought I had entered the twilight zone or funniest home videos or "how to drive Grandma crazy" hidden camera before the day was done.

It was the 2 two year olds who were my undoing:
*Oatmeal dumped all over the family room carpet and chair with two children laughing and playing in it.
*Children hiding under the bed after eating all the mints they took from my purse  (while I was cleaning up the oatmeal, of course).
*Pantry shelf taken out of pantry with cocoa spilled all over the kitchen floor.
* Two potty messes all over the carpet.
* My bedroom door locked (the old fashioned lock that requires a key that is no longer in existence)
* Glass cup dropped and broken

Two year olds!!   ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!
(Note: before one of the two year olds came to my house, he had already spread poop all over his bed from a "accident" and his 4 year old brother had tried to clean up his own poop mess by taking a bath by himself and spreading poop into the bathtub!  My poor daughter-in-law)

After today, I feel like I failed being the "Best Grandma of the Year".  Instead, I became the "Grandma who couldn't cope".  Oh well.  I'm doing it again tomorrow, but I'll be better prepared!  I won't let the two year olds out of my sight!

And I'll do what I did today.  Laugh and laugh and laugh!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, March 13, 2015

Music Tip - Glorious

This song, called Glorious, is just what it says.  Listen to the words!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Music Tip - Hand bells and Chimes

I was in a hand bell choir for a couple of years and loved it!  Did I mention that I loved it?  It was so fun and fulfilling to be part of a group who made  music together.  We used hand bells as well as chimes.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to buy a set of chimes.  These are much cheaper than buying hand bells, but they are still quite expensive.  They make a beautiful, soft sound.   I used them at school in my music classes before I retired, and I have also used them at Church.  Children and adults both love to play them.

I have several tips for making it an easy, enjoyable way to play music with children and/or adults who don't read music well or even, at all.  The most important tip I learned from my brother 20 years ago when he was teaching a group of boy scouts to play those homemade pipes which used to be popular.
Tip 1: Each boy had his own pipe/chime and lyrics sheet.  The words to the song were all that was written on the paper (no music--since the scouts couldn't read music).  My brother circled the words to the song that the scout was to play on his chime.  Then the group would all sing/read along with the lyrics and ding their bell only when they came to a circled word on their own individual page.  Ingenious!  It works!  
To prepare a song this way, type up the lyrics with liberal spacing between words and lines.  Print as many copies as you have notes.  Say a song uses middle C, plus all the notes up to the next C.  Print out 8 copies of the lyrics.  On the first paper write Middle C, then look at the music and find which words are sung when middle C is played.  Circle those words on the lyrics page.

Next, get another lyrics page, write D at the top and again, look at the music, find the Ds and circle those words on the paper.  Continue so each note of the song has its own lyrics page.  Then hand out the lyrics, hand out the bells and sing, play and make music!
Tip 2:  You can either play the melody on the chimes/bells/pipes or play chords.  I find that if part of the group is singing the words, it sounds better to have the chimes play chords along with the piano accompaniment.  If there is no singing, the chimes can play the melody.
You can do both ways when performing a song.  You can start with the bells playing the simple melody (with or without piano accompaniment), then have the singers begin singing and the bells switch to playing the chords.

It's also beautiful to play harmony on the chimes.  Play the melody first time around, then play harmony the second time around. You would type the lyrics two times on the same paper.  The first time, circle only the melody words.  On the second set of lyrics, circle both melody and harmony words (see example above).  You can even use different colors to show which notes are the melody or harmony.
Tip 3: Sometimes a child/adult can play two or 3 different chimes.  This happens when a note is not played very often in the song.  Maybe their note is only sung once or twice (this happens with the highest note in the song). 
 It's not fun getting stuck with that chime--rather boring.  So find another note that is only played a few times, and circle the lyric page with two different colors, one for each chime.  That player thinks they are really cool because they get two chimes!
Tip 4: There are always one or two notes that get played a lot in a song.  It's usually the note the key is in. 
 Assign these notes to players who may have a little more musical training than others in the group.  These notes can be critical to the rhythm and overall success of  the performance of the song.
  Tip 5: Practice, practice correct technique when playing the chimes or hand bells.  Check out you tube videos to watch the correct way to play and dampen the chimes/bells.  I find that children younger than 4th grade don't have the physical dexterity to play chimes.  Wearing gloves is a must when playing expensive hand bells.  They are optional when playing chimes.
 To have your group look really polished and professional, teach your players the "get ready" position. Bells/chimes up to shoulders, looking at conductor, ready to begin.  The bells/chimes are always touched at the shoulders to dampen the sound after playing.  They are also held upright at the shoulders when not in play (as opposed to laying on the table).

Obviously these kids know how to read music!   

Okay, there you have it.  Go find some bells, play some music and have fun!

Thanks for reading,



Monday, February 16, 2015

Parenting Tip - Go Ahead and Use That Cell Phone!

Technology is here to stay and it just keeps getting better and smarter.  We can stay in the dark ages and fall behind the times, we can worry and fret about the bad uses of technology, or we can educate our children (and ourselves) and use technology!

I could not see the advantage of having a "smart phone" and was content to keep using my old cell phone.  I have a computer at home, I teach from home and I stay at home quite a bit, so why not just use my computer for all my internet needs?  But my children and friends told me once I bought a smart phone, I would immediately see the advantage and wonder how I got along without it.

They were right!  I LOVE my smart phone and use it all the time, especially to stay in touch with family and friends.  But I also use it when I teach piano and music classes.

I especially LOVE to use my phone when I'm around my grandchildren.  I take way too many photos and videos of them, but it's so easy to delete the ones I don't want, and it's so fun to utilize the ones I do want.

Not only is the camera fun to use on a cell phone, but I love using the video recorder and voice recorder.

Here are some ways I've taken technology and used it to enhance my fun--yes my fun!
Video recordings of:
1.  my grandchildren digging holes in the back yard, putting on puppet shows, dancing, coloring with chalk on sidewalk, singing
2.  my 92 year old father telling stories of his childhood on his dairy farm 
3.  my grandchildren making a "how to" video, such as "how to make a peanut butter sandwich"
4.  my piano students playing a piece, then uploading it to my private you tube channel so their family and friends can see it
5.  my banjo teacher showing me a new lick to learn on the banjo
6.  Church children singing a song that I sent to a sick teacher
7.  and of course, a million jumping on the trampoline stunts!

But here's the thing I love about using videos and having your cell phone so accessible.  You can use it to STOP TEMPER TANTRUMS, KEEP KIDS QUIET IN CRITICAL SITUATIONS, OR _________________ (you fill in). 

Scene: Grandson, Tac, is playing the piano, but grandson, Asher wants to play it. Tension is building!
Dialogue--- Me: [Look how Asher's] waiting patiently.  Notice he's not crying.  He's frustrated and he wishes his brother would hurry up but he's patiently waiting. 
Asher:  No, I'm not!
                                               (Well, at least he's not crying and hitting his brother!)
IDEA:  Video record or snap a picture of your children doing what you want them to do.  In other words, be positive and focus on the short times you catch them doing what they should be doing or encourage them to start doing it by video taping them.  How about when your children are picking up their toys, brushing their teeth, getting dressed, or practicing an instrument or doing their homework.  Send the video to Dad or grandma.  Make a slide show out of photos.

Here are some ways I've used Voice Recordings:
1.  My text notification is my grandson saying "grandma, you've got a text, grandma, you've got a text"
2.  Me playing a piece on my banjo.  It makes me nervous to record myself, but it helps me get over my nervousness when I record myself several times in a row.  It's a great way to practice for a recital or performance.
3.  My grandson saying words.  He is delayed with his speech, and this is a fun way to help him  practice saying tricky words.
4.  Music groups rehearsing for a performance.

IDEA: Record your child saying his spelling words, reciting a poem, playing a piece of music on his instrument.  Record yourself quoting a scripture you want to memorize, or a mantra to help you during the day.  Record your baby or children laughing.
 So go ahead and use your cell phone.  But make sure YOU are in control of it, not IT in control of you.  Use it for good and worthwhile purposes such as bringing loved ones far away closer to you, or as a teaching tool or as positive reinforcement.

What are some ways you have used your cell phone to help yourself or your family?

Thanks for reading,



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