Friday, July 29, 2011

Parenting Tip - Laughter - The Best Medicine

Is life going crazy for you right now?  Are the kids driving you up a wall?  Then take 5 minutes out of your day and laugh.

We all know there is value in laughing.  It lowers your blood pressure, protects your heart, boosts your immune system, relieves pain and depression, bla, bla, bla. You can probably remember a time from your past when you and a friend laughed so hard you cried.  I can.  I remember lots of times, but if I told you the reason why we were laughing, it wouldn't even be funny to you.  Or me.  But it sure was funny then.

Laughing bonds you to those you laugh with. Why?  Because you are sharing a personal, intense emotion.   So shouldn't you be laughing at home so you can bond with your children and husband?  Many times while parents watch their baby's and children's antics they will laugh and feel closer because of it.

Why can children laugh so easily?  Because they don't have the stress and responsibilities that we as adults have, of course.  But we can learn from children.  Learn to live in the moment, enjoy the now, be enchanted with what your eyes are seeing and your heart is feeling.

Maybe we should all have funny pictures hanging in our homes (you know the ones where the kids are messing around when you want to take a photograph) and CDs of laughter (or just watch you tube once a day).  Maybe we should make funny faces in the mirror and play jokes on each other.

I just couldn't resist sharing this video of one of  my grandsons laughing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Parenting Tip - Preschool Writing Attempts

It’s always fun when your preschooler gets interested in learning to write his name and other family member’s names.

My daughter-in-law sent me this hilarious picture of how Tac-age 3- wrote his dad’s name. The curve on the “p’s” didn’t quite get down as far as they should have or else he's confused about "p" and "d", and his “a” needs a lot of help. He must have been sounding out d-a-a-d to get two “a’s” in there!

Way to go, Tac, keep practicing


Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm trying to change my blog so the posts are more easily read.  Please bear with me as I tweak things here and there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Parenting Tip - Adult Peer Pressure

Peer pressure. It’s always there whether you’re in grade school, junior high, high school or as an ADULT. I have felt peer pressure stronger as an adult than I ever did while I was in school.

I think Moms are particularly susceptible to pressure as we raise our children and create our family’s traditions. We look at other mothers and see what they’re doing and think we should be doing that too. We need to have our kids enrolled on the swim team or in swimming lessons. Of course we have to join the library’s summer reading program and our children need enrichment during the summer so we should enroll them in an arts camp like so and so did. Everyone we know is planning a fun and exciting family vacation and though money is tight, we need to go somewhere too. How can we deprive our children of all these enriching experiences?

During the school year we experience peer pressure as to which school is best suited for our children’s needs. Is it the charter school that ______ is sending her children to, or the preschool that everyone in the neighborhood thinks is fantastic. We’ve got to sign up for T ball and soccer and gymnastics and piano lessons. And I’ve heard that ____ is taking singing lessons, so I better look into that too.

Yikes! I’ve got a stomach ache just thinking of all these things!

Then if you start looking at the HUNDREDS of craft blogs and educational blogs and homeschooling and refashioning blogs on the internet you can go crazy! You can spend so much time reading about what others are doing and trying to copy ALL of them, that you spend precious energy and time on THINGS instead of people—the people in your home.

Why do I know this? Because I have fallen into the “Keeping up with the Jones” peer pressure trap so often in my life. It’s very easy to do. But when you find yourself hyperventilating or being critical of your husband, children and home, when you spend more time on the computer than reading to your children, and when you are grouchy, irritable and ungrateful, then it’s time to take stock of your situation. It’s time to stop and be still. It’s time to write down your blessings. It’s time to start saying prayers of gratitude for what you do have.

Throw away fashion and home decorating magazines. Limit the time you read other people’s blogs. Limit facebook to 15 minutes. And instead read your scriptures. Relax and enjoy your children. Read a good book. Make cookies. Ahhh….. I’m feeling happier already!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Music Tip #80 Recipe for Getting Hyper Kids into Sleeping Kids

My daughter called me one night with what she called her “homemade recipe for getting-wound-up-hyper-kids to sleep”.  She said it works like a charm every time. 

This is what you do: with your child lying in his bed, you pat his back while singing a song to him, but you’re patting very quickly, kind of matching his wound up energy level. Then you sing the song again, but this time pat a little slower. 

You sing the song 2 more times, and with each repetition you pat slower than the time before.  And wholah!  Your child has calmed down and in my daughter’s case the night she called me, her son was sound asleep—in just 4 times of singing the song with the gradual slowing down on each repetition!  She said this works for her 8 year too.

In musical terms, you pat 8ths notes the first time you sing the song. Pat quarter notes the second time, half notes the third time and whole notes the fourth time.  Wow!  Try it out tonight!
From this:
 To this:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Music Tip #79 Practice Music Skills at the Computer!

In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned having computer time for children during the week.  There are a lot of educational sites out there for children from art and drawing to puzzles and logic games.  Summer is a great time to reinforce some musical skills.  Here are a few sites that offer general music information as well as honing in on those rhythm and note naming skills which are so important.  This site has a ton of information on theory, instrument families, quizzes and games for piano note reading and rhythm skills.  I especially like the note trainer and keyboard trainer on this site.  You can click on toggle to give more help for beginners and change the settings to make the parameters fit where your child needs practice.  This site also has free lessons in music theory. This site has some fun arcade games to help with note naming and rhythm This site has lots of info for the teacher, but also drill pages to copy for students as well as online quiz sheets.

Kids love to play computer games, so the smart parents will utilize this to their advantage and let their children learn while they play.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Parenting Tip #86 Kindness Recital

July is the perfect month for sibling fights to escalate. The newness of school being out is over. Boredom is starting to creep in. The weather is getting hot and humid. And tempers start to flare.


July is the perfect month to have a Kindness Recital. You’ve heard of a music recital, of course, where everyone shares what they have been practicing. Well, this is a “kindness” recital where you also share what you have been practicing—kindness.

You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you wish. First you need to decide on a date for the recital, say one or two weeks from now, and then you need to announce and explain to your family what you plan on doing.

Tell them that the purpose of a musical recital is to share what you have been practicing, and tell them as a family you are going to practice being kind. Define what you mean as “kind” and give examples so your children really understand. Kindness is the Golden Rule, it’s sharing, not hitting, taking turns, and thinking of another’s feelings. It’s being cheerful and obedient, letting your sister be first, and not arguing. It’s being helpful and not grouchy. It's using a pleasant tone of voice.

You could make a simple chart listing what kindness is, then post it and let family members put a star or sticker on it each time someone is kind to them. Or make a more elaborate chart where they can add a paper scoop of ice cream to a paper ice cream cone each time they do a kindness (and then go get ice cream after the recital, of course).

You could make little journals and have family members write down their ideas on ways they can be kind and list when they did it and how they felt.

Here’s a kindness song that you could sing during the week.
You might have your children draw pictures or slogans and place them in rooms around the house to remind everyone of your focus. You could let family members ring a bell every time they are kind or someone is kind to them.

When you have your Kindness Recital, make it somewhat formal with all family members sitting down. Take turns letting family members tell about kindnesses that were shown to them and kindnesses that they did to someone else. You could applaud each family member or have them high five each other. Talk about the feelings you have felt during this practice time and how your home has been a happier place. 

Take photographs during the practice week of family members doing acts of kindness. Take photos during the recital and after it while you’re eating refreshments. Make the photos into a little book so that you can remember and be encouraged to continue being kind. You could even skype the grandparents and invite them to your Kindness Recital.

WE, as parents and grandparents, need to exemplify kindness in the way we talk to our children. In the way we treat our children. Teach and expect your children to be kind. And then…….the world will be a better place!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Parenting Tip #85 Structure your summer with Categories!

One month of summer is gone already! Having gone through many-a summer myself, with many-a child, here are some things I found to be helpful. Maybe one of them will help you.

You need to have some sort of structure for summer to run smoothly (plus plenty of food!) I don’t like a lot of structure, but I do like categories. Thinking and organizing your day in categories might help you feel like you have more control over the summer situation. And it helps your children feel structure in their day. You may want to have all these categories every day, or have just a few each day.

reading time- Have your children find a funny place to read--like in the bathtub with pillows or in the closet with a flashlight. You might include some snacks. Stretch reading time out to 45-60 minutes depending on your children’s ages.
And enjoy reading WITH them, too.

art time-structured or creative.  Have lots of markers, paper, glue sticks and anything else you can find.  Glue beans on a paper to spell names/words. Glue yarn in fun designs on paper.  Sew designs on paper with the sewing machine (with no thread in it)

inventive/creative time-create something with recycled objects or objects found in the backyard, boxes, cardboard, whatever

toy time-play with toys that have been put away so they seem new now, or toys in the bottom of the closet. How about trading toys with a friend.

bored time-Let children be bored. Encourage them to create a game using socks, or popcycle sticks. How about playing school, or bank or library. Play alligator by spreading pillows or cushions on the floor (you have to jump from cushion to cushion or the alligator will get you).

Cleaning time- Let children declutter their drawers. Give child a squirt bottle and a fun sponge and let them wash doors, and fingerprints. How about ice skating on a wet wash cloth to mop the floor?

Computer time-Make this a short and directed time length. You probably already know where lots of educational websites are.
Snack time- Cut an apple in half, scoop out the core and spoon in tuna fish or peanut butter. Freeze grapes or banana slices. Make watermelon popcycles by inserting sticks or toothpicks in chunks of watermelon and freeze

Writing time-Have your children write a book, illustrate a story, or write a memory and send some of them to grandma.
Create desks with boxes or as, the baby did, sit in the box.

Water time-Let young children paint with water. Give them a bucket of shallow water and a paint brush and let them paint the patio wall and floor. Please stay with your child while letting them play with water. It takes only a small amount of water for a child to drown in.

Paint rocks with water or fill a large container with water and measuring cups and spoons-children love to fill and dump over and over again. Give your child a cup of ice cubes to play with outside. 

Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Jessica for quickly following through with my plea for pictures to illustrate this blog post.  You can see what kind of mother she is, she's already been doing these things with her kids for years!

Now send me your pictures with your kids illustrating some of the fun ideas you'll come up with and I'll post them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Parenting Tip #84 What to do with BORED kids this summer

I’m a collector of ideas. Don’t do most of them—but I like to collect them. So when my daughter texted me today with this message, “What should 3 bored children do right now?”, I texted her some ideas off the top of my head. Later on I found some fun ideas on the internet and thought I would share them with her, my daughter-in-laws and with YOU!

This blog has some really fun ideas. The frozen paint idea is shown here. All you do is freeze some tempera paint in popcycle molds, then let your children paint away.

I love this blog. Click here to see the fun idea on letting your children paint with a fly swatter.

Want your children to get some physical exercise this summer? Too hot to go outside? Have your children play on this balance board.  The mom decorated her child's balance board, but let your children decorate or paint their own (it takes up more time-hint, hint-and keeps them busy longer).

Letting your children be creative is sometimes messy, but oh, so important. This paper doll idea can help use up your scraps of fabric while letting your child’s creativity soar.

If all else fails, let your kids play in the dirt--that's a real winner anytime!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Parenting Tip #83 There IS HOPE for the future!

I love to support and encourage "good news".  I want to be part of the effort to spread hope and love to the world.

This IS a GREAT time to be alive.

People ARE GOOD and wonderful.

There  IS HOPE for the future.

Spread the word and be a part of something positive and good!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Give-away Winners are......

Congratulations to Pam and Master P for winning the guitar and popcorn bopping CDs!!
  I sent you both an email requesting your information so I can pass it on to the publishers.

Thanks to everyone who entered and who read AND comment on my blog.  YOU make it worth it!

Music Tip #78 I Promise

Sometimes you have to make a big impression on kids.  You have to do something that will stick with them.  You have to make them promise to do something in a memorable way—so they won’t forget. 

Here’s my little gimmick.  This is what I do with my piano students if practicing is not going too good, or they won’t listen to their mom and let her help them practice at home (I teach Suzuki so moms come to the lessons and help at home) or they keep forgetting to flat a note or whatever…….

I raise my arm up like I’m taking an oath and have them raise their arm as well.  Then I tell them to repeat after me.  “I promise I will let my mother help me… I promise I will let my mother help me….I will listen and follow her directions….. I will listen and follow her directions…..”etc. etc.  I try to make it funny, and have them repeat funny things because most of the time they don’t want to repeat me and have to do what they’re promising to do.

The mothers really appreciate this help.

How could you use this idea with your own children?  Define a problem that you’re having with your child, whether it is not picking up his clothes or not doing her chores on time, or coming home late past curfew. Then do the whole arm-raising-repeating-my-words scenario and see if it helps. 

Remember to keep it light and cheerful and sometimes funny.
 But make it impressive so it will stick
Then give your child positive feedback on their small successful steps.
Here’s a video of me doing the “I promise” oath at a piano lesson.  The ending is kind of abrupt because all of a sudden I got camera shy…. but you can finish by saying things like, "and if I don't,  I will wash all my teacher's dishes for one month!
Sorry about my poor camera quality.  Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong--or is it my camera?


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