Thursday, April 26, 2012

Parenting Tip - Parable of the Bike Ride


I rode my bike this morning and was so happy the weather had turned off cool again--a little reprieve from the coming hot weather.  My route today led me to a road that I usually avoid because it’s a gradual downhill ride, and really fun, but bicycling back up is murder, and I’ve learned once I go down this road, all roads back to my house are uphill.

I decided to take it anyway.  It was a fun bike ride and I enjoyed the breeze and the beautiful palo verde trees with their brilliant yellow flowers.  After awhile it was time to head home.  I rode along the canal path, hoping I could find a different route home that wouldn’t be so steep.  As the canal path curved I was soon heading straight into the wind.  Whoa, it was hard pedaling! I decided to just pedal slow and steady and soon the path  curved again and the wind was not blowing straight at me.  I saw the end of the canal path up ahead that led back to the street.  I noticed that I had cut off half of the steep uphill drive on the road and hoped I was up for the rest of the ride to the top. 
As I pedaled the uphill road I took it slow and steady and thought, “Wow, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.  If I just pedal slow and push each leg down in turn, I’ll soon be at the top.”  I kept pedaling and soon reached the top and felt such pride that I had been strong enough to keep going.  I thought, “Boy, I bet my thighs and hips are going to be lean and mean now!”
video

The rest of my bike ride was enjoyable.  There would be stretches again where the wind would blow straight at me.  But by now I knew it wouldn’t last and I lifted my eyes to look at the gorgeous blue sky with the huge billowing white clouds.  What a sight!  And the wind was heaven sent, I realized, because it blew my hair out of my eyes so I could see clearly in front of me, plus it cooled me down.

As I rode back to my house, I couldn’t help but compare my bike ride to my life.  Especially the last 8 months since my husband has passed away.  The wind has blown a lot, and the path has been steep and hard.  But the blue sky and white clouds have always been there and I realize that my legs are stronger and the breeze is cool and heaven sent and I can see clearly where I’m going.  I can’t see the end of the road, but I’m enjoying the ride.

I hope your “bike ride” through life is teaching you things.  Be sure to look for the parables as you go through life raising your children—it makes life so much more worthwhile. 



Thanks for reading,
Cathy


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parenting Tips - Children

 I was looking for quotes about children and found these on this website:

  • Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything. - Giacomo Leopardi
  • We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up. - Christopher Morley
  • A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. - Anonymous 
  •  There are only two things a child will share willingly - communicable diseases and his mother's age. - Benjamin Spock
  • A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often. - Anonymous
  • Little girls are cute and small only to adults.  To one another they are not cute.  They are life-sized. - Margaret Atwood
  • What is a home without children? Quiet. - Henny Youngman
  • The easiest way to teach children the value of money is to borrow some from them. - Anonymous
  • Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. - Sophocles
  • Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it. - Harold Hulbert
  • It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. - Frederick Douglass
  • There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.  There are seven million. - Walt Streightiff
  • Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. - William Stafford

  • Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. - John W. Whitehead
  • Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky. - Fran Lebowitz
  • Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. - Rabindranath Tagore
  • Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. - Franklin P. Jones
  • Like fruit, children are sweetest just before they turn bad. - Dena Groquet
  • Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. - Anonymous
  • A little girl is sugar and spice and everything nice - especially when she's taking a nap. - Anonymous
  • In America there are two classes of travel - first class, and with children. - Robert Benchley 
  •  
Thanks for reading,
Cathy
 (Pictures of children, courtesy of my grandchildren!)
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Music Tip - Brain Training with Music Lessons


I have been giving piano lessons for a loooong time--like 35 years.  I’ve taught lots and lots of children.  Hundreds.  But I can count on my two hands the number of students who have become proficient enough at playing the piano that they can play church hymns or classical or popular music with ease. That’s pathetic!  8-10 students out of hundreds—that’s not a very good percentage of success.
 I was feeling very discouraged one day when thinking about my success rate.  What a waste of time and money.  But then I started thinking about the new job my daughter had.  She’s a brain trainer with Learning Rx.  I became interested in this program because one of my piano moms was also a trainer (that’s how my daughter heard about the job).  As I talked with my piano mom and my daughter I was fascinated with the games and activities the trainers did with the children/adults.  Learning Rx states, “Brain training "rewires" the brain to perform more efficiently than ever before….scientists have documented that the brains of "good" readers and "poor" readers are "wired" to function differently. Intense training makes it possible to rewire the brain so that reading becomes faster and easier than ever before.”

The good news is that students who struggle to read, or do math, or who can’t concentrate  or remember things, can significantly improve with brain training exercises. Due to copyright, my daughter and piano mom couldn’t share all the exercises they do with the children in their training, but some of the ideas they mentioned reminded me of what practicing and playing a musical instrument does for the brain.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad anymore about wasted time and money and nonperforming piano students.  Because I realized that I am a brain trainer!  Even if a student only takes lessons for 12 months or less, in those 12 months I have helped train his brain.  He has practiced eye-hand coordination, small motor finger movements, sequential learning, plus all these cognitive skills:
Attention Skills- sustained, selective, divided
Long term memory and short term/working memory
Logic and reasoning
Auditory and visual processing
Processing speed

WOW!  Music lessons do all that! 

And guess what?  If you’re a parent whose child only took lessons for a short while, don’t feel guilty or feel like it was a waste of money.  You were providing brain training for your child!  And he’s smarter because of it.  Way to go!  What a good parent you are!

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parenting Tip - Follow Your Gut Reaction

I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, a couple of years ago and think of it quite often.  It’s about how we make those quick initial judgments or gut reaction decisions, which most always seem to be true and correct.   I’ve been thinking about that in connection with my trying harder, lately, to listen to God’s voice so I can receive inspiration for my life.

 

Following your gut reaction and listening for inspiration sometimes mean you may do things “outside the box”.  They don’t really make sense at this time or point in life, but you feel that the decision is right, nonetheless.  Sometimes you have a fleeting thought and feel like you should follow it.

It just feels right.

 

I know a couple of moms who have experienced this.  One of my piano students quit recently.  The reason—well there were a couple—was a new baby, plus her husband was going back to school but still working full time.  The mom just had a gut feeling that she needed to simplify her life if things were going to go smoothly at home.  Even though her son was progressing with the piano and doing well, her feeling was that they needed to stop lessons for awhile.  

 

Another mom was deciding what to do about school for her children.  She felt like she should home school them.  Were they having problems at school? No.  Did they like school?  Yes.  Then why rock the boat?  It was that uneasy feeling and fleeting thought that something different needed to be done.  And homeschooling was the answer.  She followed her gut feeling, and that thought.  Now she’s feeling that changes need to be made again.

 

Is it easy to hear, listen, and understand those impressions that come so quickly or those unsettled feelings that won’t go away?  Definitely not! But as we practice listening and following through, our ability to hear and understand will increase.

 

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

 

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Music Tip - The song of a child

I was touched today, when I heard this story, told by one of the speakers at my church's conference.

During the earthquake in Haiti, a distraught father and mother ran from work to their apartment building to check on their 3 children, only to see that the whole building had collapsed and was in ruins.

There could not possibly be any survivors.  As they wept and mourned with others around them, suddenly the sound of a baby crying was heard.  Under the rubble a baby was found alive--their baby.  Then they heard singing--a child was singing--unbelievably their son!  He said he knew if he sang, his father would find him.  And then they found their third child alive as well.  A miracle! 

A child singing as he lay amid broken walls and bricks, trapped and waiting to be found.

 MUSIC.   

What power there is in music.  Power to calm our souls as we wait in the dark, power to reach out to others, power to join our love with others.

It is a gift.  Let us use this gift to bring love, laughter and healing into our homes and families.   

Thanks for reading,
Cathy
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