Friday, December 12, 2014

Music Tip - Free Christmas Music

Do you want to listen to beautiful Christmas music this season?  Here are some FREE sources that may interest you.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir offers free downloads of 5 of their Christmas songs.  I LOVE the beautiful renditions they have.

The choir also has free 24/7 streaming.

Want to watch and listen to past or current episodes of Music and the Spoken Word?  Go here for their archives.

Want to watch and listen to past Christmas concerts?  Go here for archives.

Enjoy the wondrous, marvelous music of Christmas!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Parenting Tip - Eyes to See

Eyes to see.
But what if you don't have eyes?  Even though this video has been going around a lot, I would like to share it again.
This is such an inspirational story.  I love it.

I listened to a talk this morning as I walked that was also about seeing, but from a different perspective.  It was focused on we,who DO have eyes. As a biologist, the speaker talked about how animals can camouflage themselves from predators.  He also talked about how Jesus taught with parables to hide the truth from disbelievers.

I thought how as parents, sometimes we don't SEE our children as they really are.  We get so caught up in life and living, or we're so frustrated and worried, that we miss what is in front of our eyes.

I remember praying for days and weeks that I would have more patience.  With 3 small boys running around the house playing loudly and fighting and crying, and with me lying on the couch, not feeling well because I was pregnant, I felt I really needed patience to get through this period of my life.

I was frustrated because I was definitely not becoming more patient.  Then the thought came to me to just ENJOY my children.  I started watching them as they played, how they talked to their cars and made up stories.  I listened to them as they sang little songs while concentrating on coloring a picture or putting a puzzle together. I marveled at how they could figure things out while building tents with blankets and how they problem solved when the blanket kept falling down.  Suddenly I WAS more patient, because I SAW my boys with different eyes. (Hey, was and saw are the same, spelled backwards.  Is there significance in that?)

I think if we can stop and SEE our children, our frustrations and anger, our impatience and irritation, our resentfulness at staying home will become dissolved. We will see them as they are.  Sons and daughters of God, entrusted into our care.  We'll see them as children who are learning, experiencing, wondering, practicing, forgetting and relearning, doubting, feeling, trying, marveling and loving.  We'll see them as God sees them and we'll be up for the Challenge of raising them.  Because we'll have God's love for them within ourselves.

At this Chrstimas season, I am excited to SEE all the wonder and love and magic that is around.

Thanks for reading,

Parenting Tip - He is the Gift

I had Family Home Evening with my sister and mother and father.  My sister invited us to see if we pictured or thought of something different each time she said the following sentence, as she emphasized a different word in the sentence.
HE is the Gift
He IS the Gift
He is THE Gift
He is the GIFT

It was interesting how in just changing one word, my idea and thoughts would change each time.

I hope you can share THE GIFT this season in your actions, thoughts, with your family and with others you meet.  I hope I can, too!

#ShareTheGift of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, November 21, 2014

Parenting Tip - Teach Gratitude

My son and his family sent me a Thanksgiving round they recorded of themselves.  It wasn't perfect, but it was awesome, anyway.  I couldn't figure out how to embed the song on my blog, so here are some other Thanksgiving songs for you to enjoy instead. 

                                          Here's a funny Thanksgiving song for you to enjoy.
Oh Gag!  I did this chant and movement (but in a circle) with my K-2nd graders at school for several years.  I hope no one took a video of me!

                                        The pictures that accompany this song are gorgeous!
                                                One more funny one......
                                Beautiful pictures of America and the things we are thankful for.
And my favorite...The true meaning of Thanksgiving with beautiful music and wonderful quotes from the Bible and our Founding Fathers.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to ....... give thanks!

"Thanks" for reading,


Monday, November 10, 2014

Parenting Tip - 3 Cheers for Cub Scout "Moms"!

I have 4 boys, but have never worked in cub scouts, even though all my boys attended and advanced in scouting.  I was always the Mom who was asked to volunteer to work with the children’s music programs.  My mother was a Den Leader when she was in her 60’s and truly loved it.  I think maybe I missed out on something.  Maybe with my grandsons I’ll be able to help in the cub scouting program.

A friend of mine, Alyson Gardner,  has worked extensively in our local cub scouting program.  I’m amazed at her enthusiasm and love for the boys and for scouts.  Here are her words:

“I love working in Cub Scouts!  Cub Scouts is one of the times when I can truly enjoy everything good about a boy being "all boy."  Sometimes at church I might be quick to notice the boys' irreverent behaviors such as wiggling in their seats, shouting out answers or poking their neighbor.  At cub scouts I notice these same behaviors but in a different light. Suddenly, that restless boy is a fast runner or good at basketball.  Or the loud boy becomes the inquisitive boy that wants to understand the what and how of a science experiment.  And the rowdy boy discovers he makes a great bear when performing in the den skit.  Cub Scouting is a wonderful opportunity for boys to discover hidden talents, develop confidence in themselves and have fun!

One of my favorite things to do as a Den Leader is to go into the home of a boy who is about to turn of age and join my den.  I sit down with him and his parents.  I explain the ins and outs of cub scouting including the reasons we wear a uniform.  Often I'll help him pass off a simple requirement or two.  We talk about what he can expect from me his leader - a fun, productive and safe learning environment and what I will expect of him - a good attitude, coming prepared and treating others with respect. The best part is that while I'm making myself familiar to the boy and getting to know him a little better, I'm also spreading enthusiasm for cub scouts.  I've found that when I take the time to hold this personal meeting, that the boy is more excited to come to den meetings each week and his parents are more committed to helping him.  I feel that when I sacrifice a little of my time I send the big message that "You're important and I care about you."

Some of my best learning moments with the boys have been when we are working on the religious knots.  My all time favorite was with a group of 8 year olds.  We were discussing the principle of faith and sharing stories from the scriptures of people who had faith.  We began our den meeting by doing some fun hands on activities that demonstrated aspects of faith such as hope, courage and trust.  Then we broke into two groups and each boy chose one story of faith.  They studied it and then shared it with the group asking specific questions and ended by bearing their testimonies.  It was an amazing experience to have the boys go from laughing and playing as they practiced having faith, to bearing their personal witness of our Savior Jesus Christ.  As they bore their testimonies, it was a silent audience.  

Always remember that we do it for "the one."  My first year as a Webelos leader I only had 2-3 boys.  Occasionally, because of conflicts in some of the boys' schedules, only one boy would show up.  How easy it would have been to justify cancelling cub scouts by telling myself that it was an awful lot of work for just one boy.  But I didn't.  Instead, my assistant and I would present the material and have that one boy do the requirements.  This young man earned his Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks and continued on into Boy Scouts. Eventually, through his experiences in scouting he earned his Eagle.  I had nothing to do with him earning his Eagle, but maybe my small act of holding consistent den meetings and having a genuine interest in his success, helped him along the road.

And then there was Danny (name changed).  He acted up in church and so the other children avoided him.  I wasn't his den leader but I knew him because he was in our pack.  I tried to say hello and visit with him when I saw him at church, school or pack meetings.  There wasn't much I could do to help him have friends, but I could try to help him feel loved.  I tried to notice every time he did something nice or "good," no matter however small and compliment him on it.  He didn't have a uniform so I found one to give him.  I remember how happy he looked at pack meetings to be wearing a uniform like the other boys.  I was his sub in his church classes several times.  He always had behavior issues, but I noticed that he was quick to respond to my correction. I think that was because he knew that I loved him.  He felt safe.

I would love for every cub scout leader to realize the importance of his/her calling.  I feel sad when I hear leaders say, "I'm stuck in cub scouting," as if they've been put in exile.  I worry that they feel their position is insignificant when in reality it has the potential to change the lives of boys.”

Wow!  There is a mother who in actuality is a mother to many other children—all boys!  The world is a better place with moms like her who see great potential in rowdy little boys and help them grow into responsible young men.  

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Parenting Tip - How To Be Happy

One of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubins who wrote The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home. Her ideas are so simple and doable, yet they are so significant in adding to your happiness,   like: get enough sleep.  This is a no-brainer that no one does!

I just read an article about Hank Smith who gave a talk called, The Surprising Science Behind "Supremely Happy" People.  It's a great review--you should click on the link and read it.

I would like to add two more ideas on the subject of "how to be happy". Find something that you can totally be in control of.   This may sound weird at first, but one of the reasons people become unhappy is because of the situations they are in, whether it be financial, relationship problems, health or job issues, or many other things that seem to be totally out of their control.  I have found that if you can find just one thing that you can control in your life, your happiness level jumps skyward.

I found this out early on in my married life.  Situations would arise that were totally out of my control in regards to my husband's work.  Then as children became teenagers, their choices were sometimes not my choices and I really felt out of control.  But anytime this happened, I would find a sewing project to keep my mind focused elsewhere, and I discovered that being totally in charge of how I was going to implement that sewing project, made me feel more in control of other aspects of my life and I could cope and even be happy.

A couple of weeks ago I felt totally out of control and overwhelmed.
My waterbed heater burned a hole in the mattress, which flooded and destroyed my bedroom carpet.  My homeowners would pay for new carpeting, so I planned on re-carpeting the bedroom. But when I removed the waterbed and sold it, I discovered that I had never painted the wall behind the headboard.  So now I needed to paint the bedroom before getting the new carpeting.  BUT, my bedroom has that horrible popcorn ceiling, so since the carpeting was gone and the room cleared out, it only made sense to scrape off the ceiling, then paint, then get new carpeting.

Enter stomach ache.  

We're talking about a major project here.  I don't have time for a major project.  I have company coming for Christmas and I am redecorating and painting the guest bedroom and sewing a king size quilt for the bed.  I don't have time for two bedroom projects.

Enter stomach ache and head ache.

What do I do?  After thinking and thinking and becoming more and more stressed, I talked to a friend and said I wished I could save my bedroom project for January when I would have more time and be looking for something to do. I told her I didn't mind sleeping in the new bed I bought in an uncarpeted bedroom with a crazy paint job on the wall.
 I just wanted the guest bedroom to get finished before Christmas.  Then it hit me!  Okay, just wait on my bedroom project.  Stay on task and do the guest room project.

The relief was enormous. 
My spirits lifted, I felt happy, relieved, energized and proud that I had used SELF CONTROL to help me become more IN CONTROL of my situation.

So the next time you are feeling down, stressed, or out of control--find a project where YOU are totally in control of it's destiny, whether it's a sewing project, book to read, new recipe to try or whatever.  Then DO IT. CONTROL IT.

                                                           Or, use

 to get back on track of where you want to go.

Either way, it's a win-win situation where YOU are in control and HAPPY.

Thanks for reading,
PS Have you had a similar experience?  Share your story with us.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Parenting Tip - You DO Make a Difference

For all mothers and women, and men, and....... and sisters and cousins.  For all of us.  This message will bring you comfort.

Maybe this mom didn't make the same choices you would have made, but we have all been where she has been and had those kind of days.  The key is to have the Spirit with us to know when to say "yes" to someone else's need or when to say "no" and put our needs and our family first. That's the hard part, knowing what choices to make.

But it's comforting to me to know that Heavenly Father cares about the "one".  So if we can help ONE, then we are choosing the best choice.  And sometimes that ONE will be yourself.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Parenting Tip - Grandmothers

Grandmothers.  Unconditional love.   Special treats.   Toys.  Stories.

What is there about grandmothers that bring a lump to the throat, a wistful smile, and forgotten memory?

Grandmothers = LOVE
Grandmothers = ACCEPTANCE
Grandmothers = SECURITY

As a grandmother, I cherish notes and letters I've received from my grandchildren. 
      Kimball wrote, "Just to let you know, I'm still singing."
      January left a note, "This is the best summer I've ever had!"
     Graham sent a text picture, "Don't I look like Grandpa?"
     Elise emailed, "You should read this book, grandma."
     Dean cried until he could talk to grandma on the phone and then said, " aharrggdhhheapokn."

Remember your grandmother today.  Tell her you love her.  If she's gone, share with your children your memories of her.  Say a prayer of gratitude for her wonderful influence in your life.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Parenting Tip - I Could Have Been Rich, Instead I'm Happy

I just finished reading Paul Stutzman's book "Hiking Thru".  I cried and laughed all the way through it.  This is a man who lost his wife to cancer, then followed God's counsel to retire from his career in the restaurant business and hike the Appalachian Trail (which took him 5 months to do).  During his hike he found peace with God and found a new direction for his life.

The author met many other hikers on the trail and hiked with them during different sections of his 2,000+ miles hike.  A fellow hiker named Pathfinder, also lost his wife.  Pathfinder told him that after his wife  died, he sold his construction company at the height of the building boom and left to hike the Appalachian Trail.  He told the author, "If I'd kept my business and not done that hike, I'd be a rich man today.  Instead, I'm happy."

That thought has stayed with me since reading the book.  "Instead, I'm happy."

What choices have you made--and are they making you happy?
Have you chosen to stay at home with your children so you can teach, love and mother them?
Have you chosen a smaller home to live in so you can have financial peace of mind?
Have you chosen to not nag your husband/wife and instead nourish and enjoy him/her?

                                            Look at your life and look at your choices,
                                                                  BE HAPPY!

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Music Tip - Sign up for a class!

Hey Moms and Grandmas- Want to have some fun with your preschoolers? 
Sign up for the PARACHUTE music class I'm teaching at the IDEA MUSEUM on Aug 15 and/or Aug 30

Music for Tots   
Friday, August 15, 2014 10:30-11:15

Parachute fun! This class will have your child singing and dancing, while launching balls and scarves up, up and away. Pre-registration required. (Registration includes all day museum admission for both parent and child)

Ages: 1-5 years (Child must be accompanied by an adult)

Cost: Members $3, Nonmembers $10

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Parenting Tip - Slow Down-Look up

 "It is not so much the major events, as the small day to day decisions that map the course of our living." Gordon B. Hinckley

 "We would do well to slow down a little.  Focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.

Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light.  It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most.

"Diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world." Dieter Uchtdorf

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Parenting Tip - Daily Checklist for my Children

Are you a LIST person?  Do you make lists and check them off?  I definitely am a list person--so is my mother--so are my 3 daughters.  If I do something during the day that isn't on my list, I write it on just so I can check it off.

So you can imagine my excitement when hearing about the book: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.  It was a great read.  Atul Gawande is a surgeon in the United States.  He is concerned about the errors made by the medical field when treating patients and though he realizes the complexity and variety of medical issues and treatments there are, he wonders if some sort of "checklist" can be used to lessen the degree of errors--and deaths.

Dr. Gawande studied and interviewed people in the airline industry.  We are all acquainted with a pilot's checklist, the one he goes through before taking off.  What ideas could the medical field use from their checklist?  The author also researched the skyscraper industry; how do they ensure they are building safe skyscrapers with all the steps that are required to build something that tall?

Reading this book made me excited to apply the author's ideas into my own life.  How could a checklist help me make sure I am living my life without "error" and that I am building the best person I can build?

I remember as a young mother discussing this very idea with two close friends.  I made a list of what I wanted my children to learn before they became adults and then set goals to make sure I was teaching them properly. 

I wondered what a mother would put on a daily checklist.  Here's an idea:

There's no mention of music lessons, sports, or gymnastics on the daily checklist.  While those activities do enhance and develop your child's abilities, they certainly aren't required to produce an outstanding, responsible young adult.                                                                                                  

 So what would you put on a daily checklist?  Did I forget some essential items?

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Music Tip - Smart Phones and Piano

Here's a clever idea to motivate your children to practice.

I received a musical text of my granddaughter playing The Entertainer on the piano.  It was really well done.  I texted her back, of course, and told her what a great job she had done.  I found out she had learned the piece in two hours!  That was a lot of concentrated practicing she did. 

How about using this idea to encourage your child to practice--then record him/her and send it to grandma, or cousins or Dad at work.  It would be fun to record the way he played it on the first day, then record it again after it is polished and compare the results.  A great object lesson on the value of perseverance, working consistently, breaking down a hard thing, etc. 

My, what a wonderful mother you are to teach your child such values!

Thanks for reading, 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Music Tip - Music from Frozen

Here are my simplified versions of music from the movie Frozen.  There are several editions out on the internet, but none of them matched the level of some of my beginning reading students, so I decided to make my own simplified versions.  I hope your children will enjoy playing them.

Thanks for reading,



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Parenting Tip - More Summer Ideas

Do you know about Audacity? It is a free recording and editing program you can download to your computer and it will give your children tons of fun this summer.  It is easy to use (if I can use it, any kid can do it), and simple, but has the capacity to do editing, splicing and complicated things (that I can't do!).

Here are some ideas for your children to do with Audacity this summer:
1. Record funny goofy sounds and laugh (they have to do this first to get their sillies out before they can get down to some serious recording ideas)
2.  Record themselves singing a song.
3.  Record a story or book and send to someone (my grandchildren have done this each year at Christmas for me and it's fun to listen to them read.  They didn't record it all in one day, but I could not tell where and when they stopped or started)
4.  Record them playing a song they have learned on the piano or some other instrument (this is a great motivating factor to get them to practice).
5.  Record your toddler's first words, sentences and song (a treasure you will cherish).
6.  Record jokes 
7.  Record their talks they give in Primary or Church
8.  Record original songs they play or improvise on the piano (this encourages their creativity)
9.  Record interviews of grandparents
10. Record stories, poems, jokes, experiences, then burn to a CD and send to missionaries or grandparents.
11. Just let your children play around and learn the technology of recording, editing and  burning.

I'm sure you and your children will come up with a lot of other
fun ideas.

Oh yeah, one last fun thing I've done with recordings--not with Audacity but on my cell phone.  I
recorded my 4 year old grandson saying, "Grandma, you've got a text, Grandma, you've got a text, Grandma, you've got a text!"
I put that as my text alert and I love listening to him tell me I have a text several times a day.  Other people get a  kick out of it, too.

So if you don't want to download Audacity, record songs, poems, etc on your smart phone--tons of fun times for kids and adults!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, June 16, 2014

Parenting Tip - 37 Things to do this Summer

Several years ago I compiled the following list of Things-to-do-instead-of-watching-tv.  I mailed it to my grandchildren with an empty container and instructed them to cut the ideas apart in strips, fold the strips in half, put them in the container and then pull one idea out and do it when they were bored.  

You might want to use these ideas for some fun summer activities. 

  • Play with play doh or make some if you don’t have any.  Find new things to play with like toothpicks, kitchen utensils, paper cups, muffin tins, etc
  • Read books- maybe you could tape record yourself reading them.
  • Dress up in dress up clothes or old baby clothes, or Mom’s clothes
  • Play with magnets.  Go around the house and find things made of metal.
  • Play with Puzzles.  Or make your own out of a magazine picture or coloring picture.
  • Make cookies
  • Make bread
  • Wash windows in your house with a wet cloth
  • Put a small amount of  rice in a container.  Draw alphabet letters and pictures with your fingers in the rice.
  • Write your name with glue on a piece of paper, then put macaroni on top of the glue
  • Put a little bit of hair gel in a zip lock bag and squeeze it or/and practice writing alphabet letters on the outside.
  • Listen to children’s music Cds
  • Play a game with your mom for 15 minutes then it’s your turn to play alone
  • Play with empty boxes.  Find different sizes.  What can you make?
  • Make animal faces out of paper plates or masks or draw colorful designs on them.
  • Cut newspapers with scissors.  Cut long strips or squares.
  • Color with markers.  Mail your picture to Grandma.
  • Write or draw on a dry erase board.
  • Dig in the dirt.
  • Scrub floor and walls with wet sponge
  • Play with spray bottle outside
  • Write name in a fancy outline font on the computer, then print and color with crayons
  • Write numbers or the alphabet on the computer and then color them.
  • Make up a game to play with socks
  • Play store
  • Play library
  • Play school
  • Play Primary (let them discover their own microphone.)
  • Hold a mirror so it shows the ceiling and walk around on the “ceiling”
  • Make designs on sandpaper with different colors and lengths of yarn
  • Tie a clothesline on 2 chairs and hang an assortment of "clothes" with clothespins
  • Make sticky masking tape balls to throw at the wall, fridge, etc. Watch them stick!
  • Have treasure hunt in tub of cotton balls (lots of goodies can hide in a tub of cotton balls)
  • Play a game with salad tongs.  Gather several items and a big bowl.  See if you can pick up the items and place them in the bowl using the salad tongs.
  • Lay wash cloths or towels or pillows on the floor.  Jump from one to another without touching the floor in between them.  Pretend the alligators or sharks are in the water.
  • Play with a hairdressing prop box. Don’t throw away that old hairdryer, remove the cord and save it for the hairdresser box. Throw in some rollers and hairbrushes and clips and you have a great start to a salon.
  • Play with shaving foam in the bath tub or on the kitchen table.
  • Have fun this summer!
  • Thanks for reading!
  • Cathy

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Parenting Tip - Homemade Toys

 I've been experimenting with HOMEMADE TOYS.  This is a subject that I've tinkered with ever since becoming a Mom.  And now that I'm a Grandma--I still find it a passion to do with my grandchildren.

I love looking for ideas on pinterest and on blogs, and then trying them out.  A lot of times I'm disappointed because my two grandsons, who live close, don't play with them as enthusiastically as I would like.  I blame it either on their age or sex.

 That's what happened with this toy.  The blog showed a toddler (a little girl) spending lots of time enjoying putting pipe cleaners in a strainer.  What a perfect age appropriate toy for a toddler--putting things into and out of spaces.  But my 2 and 4 year old grandsons didn't give it the time of day.  I tried it another day and sat on the floor with them and said, "let's make a silly hat!" I started poking the pipe cleaners into the holes, all the while oooing and ahhing.  They each contributed about 2 pipe cleaners and were done.
I took their pictures then put everything away.  Maybe if they were younger and were girls.......?

 This next idea, however, was a great success and
my grandsons have played with it several times and with different materials.  The first idea was to hammer golf tees into an empty styrofoam egg carton.  The boys had a great time doing that.  I also let them hammer the tees into one of those green styrofoam flowers blocks.  If you keep the cellophane around the styrofoam it works great but eventually it will start to crumble.

The next time I gave my grandsons an empty cardboard box.  I poked a series of small "starter" holes in a grid pattern, then let them hammer in the golf tees.  They really enjoy this activity and it is one they continue to want to do.  Yes!  Success!

Another simple homemade toy is colored popcycle sticks.  The boys and I will make elaborate paths for them to drive their toy cars on.  This continues to be a fun activity for them to do.

Stay tuned for the light box I made.   It has turned out to be a pretty good success, but one that I've had to tweak to make them interested in.

Thanks for reading.  Share any ideas you've come up with.




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