Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parenting Tip - Free Toys

My daughter-in-law always has such fun ideas for keeping my almost 2 year old grandson busy.  And they're free, too!  Here is a video showing an indoor "slide".  Very clever.  She happened to have two tables set up in the front room, but you could do this same idea with one table leaning against the couch or elevated with a box.        

Speaking of a couch--couch cushions are a really fun toy for children to play with (that is if you don't have an expensive elegant couch).  They can stack the cushions, spread them on the floor, jump on them, slide down them, etc. The ideas they come up with are endless.
 Another free toy is a wet wash cloth or spray bottle.  Toddlers and preschoolers LOVE water.  And with the water in this controlled version, they can wash the cupboards, mirrors, floors, anything their little hearts desire.  

When you really feel at your wits end and need something to occupy your child, spread out a cloth, get a container of rice or beans, scoops and bottles, and let your child explore this medium by pouring and scooping and dumping.  Caution:  this can become a disaster quickly, so supervise your child so he doesn't put things in his mouth that he can choke on, or dump the whole container on the carpet.  Ouch!           

Look around your house.  There are toys galore.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parenting Tip - Guest Post

Guest Post

Hi, this is Faith Wagner, Cathy’s oldest daughter.  If you’ve read my mom’s blog before, you’ve read more than a few embarrassing stories about me.  Now it’s my turn to embarrass her.  Our mom is too modest to post a huge announcement that should be shouted from the rooftops, so I am hacking in to her blog to tell you that she has been named Arizona’s 2012 Mother of the Year!!
That’s right, we all know how wonderful and influential she is and now the world will too! (Or at least Arizona.:)  There are several things that are coming up for our mom in this new role.  One of which is attending a National Mothers Convention in Washington DC in May.  She will give a speech there and they will name the National Mother of the Year, which could very well be her!  You can find out more about the convention at http://americanmothers.publishpath.com/Websites/americanmothers/images/AMI_AnnConf12_V8.pdf and more about the National Mothers Organization here: http://www.americanmothers.org/
Also, you can read about and see pictures of our mom at the Arizona Gala where she was honored on Feb. 9, 2012 at http://www.examiner.com/genealogy-in-phoenix/new-arizona-mothers-of-the-year-announced-1  .
Recently our mom was also on TV promoting motherhood in her new role and you can see the interview here: http://www.kpho.com/video?clipId=6761134&autostart=true .  She was amazing!
In the interview she offers to come give a free mom and tot or child music and parenting class to any Mothers Groups around the Valley and that is something you and your child don’t want to miss out on!!   Our mom is genuinely motivated to help other moms become the best that they can be and we are so excited that she is now in a position to reach out and help even more. 
As one last bonus, you can read the Essay I wrote about our mom for the Mothers Organization.

Our Mother’s Garden
By Faith Shepherd Wagner, daughter of Cathy Shepherd

Mothers sacrifice the prime years of their lives to raise children, planting seeds of value, and nurturing them into blossoming adults.  This is true in the life of our mother, Cathy Shepherd.  With seven grown children and 14+ grandchildren, her garden is in full bloom.  The success of her children is the fruit of her labors.
Our parents have cultivated seeds of humility, gratitude, education, spirituality, music, laughter, and love.  These values contribute to the way we now raise our children, motivating us to improve when we fall short and to rejoice in the gift that parenting is.  In particular, our mother’s influence has taught us creativity, responsibility, and true happiness.
Blossoms of creativity border our mother’s garden.  Phrases that decades of children will connect to her are ‘bell choirs’, ‘black light dances’, ‘music lessons’, and ‘singing groups’.  Our mother spearheaded many school projects and also composed countless songs and plays, inviting neighbors and friends to share and develop talents.  The seeds of frugality and sacrifice mingled with creativity as she turned boxes into houses, sheets into dresses, and trials into blessings.  Problems that persisted would be made into songs, sung loudly and proudly several times a day.  Although severely underappreciated at the time, her children now continue to nurture these creative seeds she planted.
The seeds of responsibility run throughout our mother’s garden, teaching morals and strengthening values.  Earning our own money taught us to distinguish between needs and wants.  Working inside and outside the home taught us pride in ownership and the satisfaction that hard work brings.  Consequences for good and bad decisions instilled the value of trust and taught the freedom that obedience gives.  An inspired ‘Smile and Compliment Club’ helped us to find good in everyone.  Service to others brought humility and gratitude to our family.  Variety and diversity blossomed through the nurturing of responsibility.
The seed of true happiness is not purposely planted, but it becomes the heart and joy of a mother’s carefully tended garden.  It comes in seeing sacrifice and service yield blossoms of the sweetest scent and in realizing tears and trials generate striking, vivid colors.  Catching a glimpse of our mother’s flourishing garden gives us hope for our own growing families.  Stopping to smell her roses teaches us that watering and weeding can bring forth sweet fruit. If I had not been raised in my mother’s garden, I would not be the person I am today.  And I love who I am today.  This is true happiness.
Most women stop here and enjoy their lovely gardens, basking in the fruits of their labors.  Not so with our mom, who is not content to rest in her own exquisite estate.  Whether as a teacher, a parenting blogger, or Mother of the Year, she shares this beauty and labors in countless vineyards, helping other mothers plant seeds that encourage children to blossom.  You see, our mother isn’t just our mom raising her own children.  She’s a mother for moms, raising a world. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Music/Parenting Tip - Free Music Class Offer

WOW!  I was just on TV this morning!  I am the new 2012 Arizona Mother of the Year and KPHO Channel 5 had me on their morning show for an interview.  I was really nervous at first, while I waited in the "green room", but Nicole Crites, who anchors the CBS 5 Morning News, came back to talk to me a couple of times before I went on.  She has two young children and she is a quilter too, so we bonded immediately.

Here is my wish for this year:  I would love for mother's groups across Arizona to invite me to their group meeting for a FREE Mom/tot music class.  I want to share my love of music with families as well as to encourage mothers to keep doing the wonderful job they are doing.  So please get a group of friends together or let your mother's group know about my offer.  Then email me and we can arrange a time for me to come and give a free music class.  I'll bring my scarves, balls, puppets and a little bit of parenting advice and we'll have a marvelous time!

Thanks for all your support,


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Music Tip - Numbered Fingers

Here’s another piano idea I use when I’m teaching new students.  To help them learn the finger numbers, I use rings that they put on their fingers.  I have two sets—the eyeball rings—for boys, of course—and the flower rings, for girls. 

I tell them that the thumbs are always #1.  They put the numbered rings on the appropriate fingers in order from 1-5, first the right hand, then the left.  Then we play the scramble ring game.  I give them a ring and they find the matching finger to put it on—they’re not in order this time.

Silly-but fun, and they quickly learn the finger numbers.  I realize this is not a hard concept to teach, but I teach young children and this is a major concept to learn for them.

By the way, sometimes I’ll have students that play a string instrument come to me for piano lessons.  It is hard for them to adjust to the fact that the thumb is #1 instead of the pointer finger like it is for the violin. Then I have to remind them, “use your piano finger #1”. 

I think the piano is the only instrument that calls the thumb #1.  Why don’t we make life easier and number our fingers like all the other instruments do?  We could easily label the thumb on music as “t”. 

 Just a thought……

Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 13, 2012

Parenting Tip - Winning Hair Do

My daughter follows Shaunell's hair blog and loves to braid my granddaughter's hair in fun different ways.  Shaunell had a Valentine hair contest for her readers to submit their hair idea--but it had to include a heart.

My daughter won with her triple heart ponytail!  She also had another hair braid featured in the blog.
Check it out for the complete tutorial.