Sunday, January 31, 2010

Parenting Tip #24 Teach Service

A young Dad spoke in Church. He related a talk he had heard about Jack McConnell, MD. Dr. McConnell “grew up in the hills of southwest Virginia in the United States as one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mother. Their circumstances were very humble. He recounted that during his childhood, every day as the family sat around the dinner table, his father would ask each one in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?” The children were determined to do a good turn every day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone. Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives. As they grew and matured, their motivation for providing service changed to an inner desire to help others.

Besides Dr. McConnell’s distinguished medical career—where he directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI—he created an organization he calls Volunteers in Medicine, which gives retired medical personnel a chance to volunteer at free clinics serving the working uninsured. Dr. McConnell said his leisure time since he retired has “evaporated into 60-hour weeks of unpaid work, but [his] energy level has increased and there is a satisfaction in [his] life that wasn’t there before.” He made this statement: “In one of those paradoxes of life, I have benefited more from Volunteers in Medicine than my patients have.” There are now over 70 such clinics across the United States.“,5232,23-1-1117-27,00.html

The speaker then continued, “I have two little girls. This talk made me realize that now I am responsible to teach my children to serve others.”

How do we teach our children to serve others? By giving service ourselves, by including our children in our service projects and by teaching them to serve one another in the family. My daughter tells how at Christmas time their church suggested that members buy gift cards instead of presents or money to help those who needed help. My daughter thought this would be a great way to involve her children so all week she had them do extra chores to earn money, then they went to the store to purchase the gift cards. Everything went as planned until her 6 year old daughter had to actually hand over the gift card. Then she had a huge temper tantrum. That made my daughter so mad that SHE had a huge temper tantrum in return and the wonderful service project turned sour fast!

That’s life in the real family! But I know that my daughter will continue to teach her children to serve others and I know my granddaughter will eventually learn to serve cheerfully—because my daughter is a great role model of how to give service to others!

Music Tip # 24 Song I Am a Child of God

What a world we live in! Technology is at its highest, but morality and integrity are on a fast downhill slide. Those of you with small children (and not so small children) have probably pondered what the most important thing is that you could teach your child. Some bit of truth that would give him security and a sense of well being and peace. Whenever I have thought about this question, I always think of a song I learned in Church as a child. My children also learned it and my grandchildren can sing it too. It contains important truth than a child needs to know that will bring him peace and happiness.
These are the words:

I am a child of God, and he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

I am a child of God, and so my needs are great,
Help me to understand his word before it grows too late.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

I am a child of God, rich blessings are in store
If I but learn to do his will, I’ll live with him once more.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

Click here to listen to this song:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Music Tip # 23 Make Practice time a Fun time!

Does your child take music lessons? Does she/he love to practice? Lucky you, if you said yes! Most children start out excited to take piano, violin, etc lessons, but somewhere along the line the excitement wears off and practicing becomes something your child tries to avoid at all costs. Here are some ideas from a music teacher's perspective on how you, as a parent can help keep your child interested in practicing:

1. You are the parent, she is the child. She may have initially wanted to take cello/piano lessons, but now it's really YOUR thing you want her to do. So, you need to realize that if you want her to continue, YOU have to be willing to see it from a child's view.

2. Children want their parent's attention and they'll get it by misbehaving if they have to. But how much more pleasurable it is to get attention in a nice way. So use music practice time as a BONDING time. Sit with your child and be her cheerleader. Be positive and make practicing fun! You don't have to sit with your child every day (unless your child is young and a Suzuki student), but 2-3 times a week would really help out.

3. Be positive, positive, positive. Say, "that's sounding better." or "How can you fix that note to make it sound prettier?" or "You have lots of concentration to sit there and play that section 5 times!"

4. Don't make music practice a power struggle. No one wins that way.

5. Make it fun! Turn off the lights and have your child play a song 3X in the dark. Take your child's instrument to the bathroom and have him practice a song and listen to the rich vibrant sounds. Dance with a sibling during one of the songs. Be creative, go for it!!

6. Be consistent. Let your child help choose when the best time would be to practice each day. Before school? After school and a snack? Right after dinner?

7. Make a contract if necessary. Write down what your child will do (i.e practice 30 minutes 5 times a week without whining). Write down what YOU will do (buy her favorite box of cereal, do one of her chores while she practices, or let her read uninterrupted in your bed for 20 minutes each night...)

8. Remember that love and gentleness is how the Savior taught and encouraged his followers. Use love and gentleness with your child. Hug him. Tell him you love him. Be his advocate, not his enemy. Be on the same page with him. Listen to him. STOP! I'll say it again LISTEN to him.

Good luck and post YOUR ideas of how you help your child have a successful practice experience.

Parenting Tip #23 Temporary Crisis Situations

My preschooler was sick, my baby was sick, the house was a mess, the dishes were piled up, the laundry overflowing, and I was dead tired because I had been awake all night with a crying baby. I had responsibilities I should be doing for Church and the community but I couldn’t leave the house. I felt guilty because I had been sitting on the couch all morning holding my baby and reading a book, while my preschooler watched TV.

“Wait,” I thought, “why should I feel guilty? I’m in a temporary crisis situation.” So to make myself feel better, I got a piece of paper and divided it into 2 columns. On one side I wrote TEMPORARY CRISIS SITUATION and the other side I wrote WHEN THINGS GET BACK TO NORMAL. Then I listed what the crisis was (sick kids) and listed what I was able to do and should do (like give loving attention to my children). On the other side I listed all my jobs and responsibilities I would assume again, once my children were well.
After looking at my list I didn’t feel guilty anymore. I didn’t feel out of control anymore. I was being Mary instead of Martha and was putting important things first. And I could certainly read a book to keep my mind occupied while holding my baby, for pete’s sake, without feeling guilty!

Now I kind of look forward to temporary crisis situations because I can read a book or say “No” to others without feeling guilty. In fact, I just finished reading a book while sitting with my husband in the hospital yesterday. And I did not feel guilty one bit!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Tip #22 Record voices for posterity

I teach general music to K-6th graders at Eagleridge, an enrichment program offered by the Mesa Public Schools to homeschooled children. I love it! This past week I've been experimenting with recording my students with the free recording program called Audacity. It is very easy and simple to use. You can click here to listen to some of our recordings:
You can easily download this program and record your own children. Record them singing, talking, telling a story, answering questions. Then burn it to a CD and you'll have a audio memory you will treasure for always.

We're making a CD for our grandchildren. This is our third one to make. I'm recording my sister telling her "famous" stories she use to tell all the nieces and nephews. I'm recording my mom and dad and mother-inlaw telling stories from their childhood and bearing their testimonies of their faith in God. I'm recording some favorite songs we used to sing when my children were young.

What great technology we have today! Let's utilize it to our advantage and help preserve those soon to be forgotten little voices and older voices too.

Parenting Tip #22 Only one Bathroom?!

I have one older sister and 4 younger brothers and we all get along great. Growing up we were normal children and had the normal squabbles, but we never really fought that much or for very long. My mother thinks we are perfect—and we almost are! But she attributes the reason that we all get along with each other so good to the fact that we grew up only having one bathroom!

Now think about it. If you have 8 people in your family and you only have one bathroom, life can get pretty tough. Early on you have to learn to share, to cooperate and to think of how the other person may be feeling. You have to learn to give and take, to be fast, and to be considerate.

Years later, I married and had seven children. Our home only had one bathroom. My children also learned quickly the value of being fast, being considerate, and thinking of others. We also had only one telephone and one television set. My children had to learn how to cooperate, share and take turns.

I’m certainly not advocating that you get rid of your second bathroom! But I think that important values can be taught more readily and easily in the absence of too many luxuries. So the next time you think you need a TV or computer or phone in each room—please take a moment to consider these questions: Am I teaching selfishness and impatience? Am I putting wants over needs? Do I really need that item, or could I teach cooperation instead and even save money at the same time?

How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? ~Paul Sweeney
Or to paraphrase: How can a society that exists on a phone, computer and TV in every room or for each person teach cooperation and unselfishness to its young?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Music Class Starting Soon

ASU offers music classes to families through the Herberger Institute Community School

Registration is open now. Classes are Feb 20-May 1. The class "Sing and Sign with your Toddler" will be a fun class for parents and tiny tots. We'll experience dancing, playing instruments, moving with scarves, hoops and more. We'll learn words through American Sign Language that will help your toddler communicate more easily with you. Whether your child is talking or not this class will open a window of communication through sign and singing.

Would you like a class for an older child? Contact me or ASU and let them know!

Parenting Tip #21 The Jelly Bean Principle

My young teenage son was enamored with a particular baseball player and had ordered a baseball cap with the player’s number on it. The hat was to be delivered by UPS so every day Aaron looked out the front room window to see if the UPS truck was pulling up to our house. After a couple of days of watching he commented, “Wow, I didn’t know there were so many UPS trucks that drove through our neighborhood.”

I immediately took advantage of this teaching opportunity and told him about the Jelly Bean Principle which is, you notice what you are focusing on. If you have a bowl of jelly beans put in front of you and someone says, “Look, this bowl has lots of red jelly beans in it”, then suddenly you notice that there DO seem to be lots of red jelly beans compared to any other color. But if you say, “Look at all the yellow jelly beans in this bowl,” then yellow seems to be the predominant color.

What are you looking for and focusing on with your children? Do you notice how disobedient they always are, or how messy they make the house? Do you see how your husband always throws his socks on the floor and how no one ever thanks you for the things you do?

Here’s the challenge: focus on the good your children do. Catch them in the act of doing something kind or obeying you and compliment them on it. Notice those things your husband does to help and tell him how you appreciate him helping. If you continue to focus on the good, and show appreciation for what your family does, soon your children will become the model children you have always wanted –just kidding. The Jelly Bean Principle won’t make your children into “model children”, but it will make a happy home as everyone looks for the good in others.

Music Tip # 21 My Favorite Classical Pieces

Last week I said I would list some great classical pieces to listen to. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Albinoni- Adagio
Bach – Little Fugue in G minor, Brandenburg Concertos, Air, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Minuet and Badinerie (ok, all of Bach’s music!)
Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise, Symphony No. 3
Copland(more a 19th century composer, I know) - Appalachian Spring, Rodeo
Dvorak – Symphony No 9 (New World Symphony)
Elgar – Enigma Variations (Nimrod!!!)
Faure – Pavonne Op. 50
Handel – Royal Fireworks Suite, Watermusic Suite
Holst – St Paul’s Suite Op. 29 No.2 , The Planets
Grieg – Peer Gynt Suite
Kodaly – Viennese musical clock
Marais – The Bells of St. Genevieve
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition
Pachelbel – Canon in D
Rachmaninoff – Prelude in C sharp minor plus lots of his piano pieces
Saint-Saƫns, Organ Symphony (song from the movie Babe taken from this piece), Carnival of the Animals
Tchiakovsky – Swan Lake, 1812 Overture
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons
Wagner – The Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, Tristan & Isolde, The Ride of the Valkyries

You can go on You Tube and listen to any of these pieces, or go to Amazon and listen to samples, then download the ones you want for 99cents—wow, your own classical CD to play in the car or whenever you want. You can also list the pieces you like on Pandora and have your own classical radio station. What a world we live in!! Wouldn’t Bach be surprised that we’re still listening to his music today and wouldn’t he be awed at the many ways we can choose to listen to them?

I missed some of your favorites. Share them with us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Music Tip # 20 Do you Listen to Classical Music?

My teenage piano student came to lessons yesterday. He had decided he wanted to learn some “classical music”. Great, I thought. This will be fun. I immediately started playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and asked if he had ever heard it before. “No,” he replied. “Are you sure you haven’t heard this piece before?” I inquired as I continued to play. “Nope. Never,” he answered assuredly, “but I like it.” I was so surprised my student had not heard Moonlight Sonata before. Doesn’t everyone know that piece of music?

When I was in 4th and 5th grade the Phoenix Symphony sponsored a program for all elementary age students. They chose several pieces of classical music and gave the repertoire list to the music teachers. Throughout the next several months, the teachers played the music and taught about the pieces. Then a test was given to the students. Musical passages from the repertoire music were played and the students wrote down the title of the piece. If you had enough answers correct you received either a silver or gold certificate and were bussed to ASU’s Grady Gammage to hear a live concert of the Phoenix Symphony playing the pieces.

I still love the music I learned from those two years. Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun and Clair de lune, and

The Grand Canyon Suite by Grofe are a few of my favorites. The Phoenix Symphony still continues educating school children today.

Play classical music for your family! Use it as background music, get the work done music, go to sleep music, anytime music. I’ll give a list of some great pieces to start listening to on my next blog. But give me your ideas to include. What pieces of classical music do you love to hear or play?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parenting Tip # 20 Simplify

I am constantly trying to simplify my life. I thought when my children were grown and married, life would slow down. Wrong. I recently read a new book Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher and reread a favorite one Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Both books are a reminder that as mothers and women we need to take time to enjoy life, slow down, and simplify what we can in our lives.

A long time ago I decided I would never be able to keep up with the goal of always being dressed in the latest styles and looking really cute. I don’t have the money, talent or looks. This decision took a lot of stress off me. I have simplified by trying to look “nice”.

My children weren’t in gymnastics, dance, on ball teams, taking music lessons and karate—all at the same time. They all took piano lessons—from me—and the boys were on baseball teams for a few years, but because of finances, their outside activities were very limited. At the time, I felt bad that we couldn’t afford to give them all the enrichment activities everyone else seemed to be engaged in. Now I look back and think how fortunate we were to simplify in this area. Their childhood was rich in “being a kid” by playing with their siblings and creating and using their imaginations.

Where can you simplify? Does your house have to be decorated and look as cute as everyone else? Do your children really need to take dance lessons, be on a soccer team and take piano lessons too? Is TV and video games taking over all the free time when you could be reading together or playing with each other or just talking?

An Amish proverb says, “A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to leave alone.” It’s a new year. Make it a simple new year.


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