Thursday, February 27, 2014

Parenting Tip - Get Outside

This is a blog post for anyone who is a little down in the dumps.  Or sad.  Or worried.  Or stressed. Or mad.             
That's my advice.  I know it helps because I've been there before; mad, sad, stressed and worried, and every time, I'll come home from a walk feeling lighter, happier and more hopeful.

A few years ago when I turned 40, I became worried about all the candy bars I had--and was still--eating.  I decided I needed to take charge of my life, if I wanted to have a healthy old age.  So I started walking in the mornings, and I haven't quit.  I love walking!

Then when I turned 50, I started hiking once a week with a friend.  I love hiking!  You're out in nature, you see God's handiwork and you talk and talk with a friend.  It's even better than eating a candy bar!

 When I'm walking or hiking my outlook changes.  My perspective broadens and I'm not microscoping in on my problems. 

 In fact, my problems shrink in size when I look at mountain tops and gaze down into valleys.  When I walk by cacti, flowers and trees, I see God's love for me in a wide lens. I feel stronger, able to handle my situation.  I feel gratitude for God and see His tender mercies in my life.  I start to see analogies in nature and relate them to my life.  I'm energized!

But sometimes it's impossible to go for a walk either because of health issues, kid issues or time constraints.  So here are some good, better, best options when the outdoors are just not available.

Good:  Sit by the window and look outside at the sky, the clouds, the birds and the trees and flowers.
Better:  Pull up the blinds and really look outside, up and down, back and forth.
Best:  Put on some music and admire the great outdoors, thoroughly enjoying the sky, flowers and trees.

If you are able to go for a walk, here are some good, better, best options as well.

Good: Walk slow to begin with, then increase your pace.
Better:  As you walk, notice nature.  Look up and enjoy the sky and clouds. Notice the birds.  Look at the architecture of the houses and buildings you pass by.
Best:  Find a beautiful park to walk in and listen to  music or a podcast as you walk.  Jog for a few seconds, here and there during your walk.  Enjoy nature.

And finally, if you can go for a hike:

Good:  Go with a friend.  Talk about cooking, problems, frustrations.  
Better:  Notice the birds and rabbits and lizards.  Draw strength and serenity from the open sky, the mountains, the trees. Gaze down from your trail and see how small everything looks below.  Notice how far you have come.  
Best:  Suddenly your problems and cares become miniscule and your heart enlarges and expands with love and optimism. 

Thanks for reading.....
Now go walking,


Music Tip - The Triangle

I just received a nice comment from one of my subscribers (thank you Master P), so I decided to check out a couple of her blogs.  Since she is a musician and teacher, one of her blogs is about helping her own children practice and ideas on how to motivate them.  Today she posted a "scathingly brilliant" (know what movie that is from?  Anne of Green Gables, I love that phrase!), idea for practicing and a very sound learning principle behind the idea.

I don't want to take away her thunder, so you'll have to check it out, here.  It is a very true principle.
Also scroll down and read the idea about chocolate chips practicing.

Now here comes the point to my post today.  I, as a piano teacher, feel like my job is to teach, encourage and motivate my students to practice.  I enjoy doing that, in fact.  

BUT....I'm not the reason your child will learn to play the piano; it will take a triangle for this to happen--- Me--the teacher, you--the parent, and your child--the student.  Together we can create a musician.

You--the parent, are VITAL to this triangle.  You can't just "wish" your child to play the piano.  You can't even just "pay for piano lessons" and have your child learn to play the piano.  YOUR CHILD HAS TO PRACTICE THE PIANO. 


You--as the parent, have to provide enough time in the day for your child to practice. That sounds simple, but read that statement again.  

t h e r e  h a s  t o  b e  time  t o  p r a c t i c e. 
Think about it.

You--as the parent, have to help motivate your child to practice.  You have to be involved.  You can't just provide piano lessons, you have to help make learning it, happen.

So, there you have it.  Me.  You.  Your child.

It's a journey all 3 of us are on together.  Let's have fun on the journey!  Let's be creative!  Let's enjoy it---cause let me tell you, music is a gift from God, and it is one of the most beautiful gifts He has given us.  

Let us say, "thank you" by using this beautiful power to enrich and bless our lives.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parenting Tip - An Amazing Mother

Aubrey Kleinschmidt is a wife and mother of four children under the age of 6; Tyler 6 years old, Emma 5, Jacob 2 and Gracie 8 months old.   Aubrey is blind.
Aubrey lost the sight in her left eye when she was only 4 days old.   She considered her vision in her right eye to be normal and did not consider herself to be visually impaired. Her sight limitations weren’t really noted until she was working at a dry cleaners. She had trouble matching customer tickets with their dry cleaning items because she kept reversing numbers. The owner of the cleaners suggested she might be dyslexic. She was tested as a senior in high school and found to be visually impaired. She qualified for an Individual Education Plan and went to Berkley, California (an assisted living program) for vocational rehab where she had an opportunity to learn Braille and life skills related to functioning as a blind person. It was assumed that she would lose sight in her right eye.  Aubrey says that she did not take the program very seriously. She met Michael, her future husband, while living in Berkley. 
Aubrey and Michael married and began their family.   Aubrey's pregnancies, however, were stressful for the fragile retina of her right eye. Her vision began to wane after Emma was born. Despite repeated attempts to salvage the sight in her right eye – Aubrey was told, almost three years ago, that she was considered "stone blind" (totally blind).  Shortly after this news, she discovered that she was pregnant with Jacob.

Aubrey attended classes for the blind for over a year. She was taught life skills/mobility skills and Braille, etc. She has special equipment that helps her to read printed text and a very smart phone.

Since Aubrey knew that she would never visually see Jacob’s face she made a special effort to find a doctor that would let her assist with her own delivery. She had the amazing opportunity to help bring Jacob into this world. He has a very special spirit and was a very calm and easy baby to care for.

Despite the loss of her sight, Aubrey and Michael felt there was still a baby waiting to come to their family.  In 2013 she had another special opportunity to help bring Gracie into this world. Gracie has also been an amazingly calm and easy baby to care for.

  Aubrey was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 4, 1983.   She was delivered at 28 weeks and weighed 2 lbs, 2 ounces.  The doctor didn’t think she would make it through the night and her mom was told not to even bother to name her! Retinopathy of prematurity (ROM) was the  cause of damage to her eyes.
 Aubrey cooks, cleans, helps with homework and stays on top of the myriad of details sighted moms have to contend with. She is an amazing mom. She doesn’t see with her eyes. She sees with her heart.

Despite the devastating news of losing her sight, Aubrey was not one to wallow in self-pity.  She says her vision loss has improved her marriage and strengthened her testimony of God. She says it has made her a better mother.  When Tyler or Emma say, “Look what I’ve made," Aubrey can’t just glance over and then get back to whatever she was doing.  She stops and goes over to the child and feels with her hands what they have made. When she interacts with her children she is down on the floor playing with them in ways other mothers might skip.

Aubrey is especially grateful for the tremendous support Michael has been for her since she lost her sight. He has been her rock and comfort in difficult times. His flexible work hours have allowed him to drop everything and attend to her needs when necessary. 

Aubrey has a few tricks she and Michael have developed to keep on top of things at home:

- safety pins in all the girls clothing to tell them from the boys.

- puff paint Braille dots on the stove, microwave and washer where the instruction words are.

- always keeps spatula handle aligned with skillet handle so she knows where it's at.

- Tyler's school teacher puts a staple in the top right hand corner of school papers that need parental attention.
- if the TV is on, Aubrey can judge when she is walking in a straight line away from the sound or moving diagonally away from the TV
-Children's shoes are velcroed together and kept on a shelf.
- Aubrey has the chocolate chip cookie recipe memorized!
-Aubrey holds the baby in front of her with her elbow touching the wall as she walks down the hall and the other hand is in front of baby's face (she's bumped the baby into things before)
-Aubrey is constantly feeling her preschooler and baby's faces for smiles, running noses,or  objects in mouth that shouldn't be.
-Aubrey crawls above her baby and explores the floor with her.
-if Aubrey needs to find her younger children she'll call their name and instruct, "say moma" so she can hear where they are.
- Aubrey feeds baby food to her baby by cutting the top off the nipple to make the hole bigger.
-Aubrey is reading Harry Potter to her children with a braille copy of the book. 
Aubrey understandably has her down days.  Life is hard for a mother with sight, and especially hard without sight.  6 year old Tyler spells out the instructions for his homework, letter by letter so Aubrey can know what he is to do.  By the time he finishes, he and his mother are both mentally exhausted before they even get to the homework.

Aubrey has an amazing outlook and attitude about her life. She states that her problems in life are not due to her blindness.  She understands that her vision loss does not affect her ability to progress in life. She does not use her blindness as an excuse for not being the best person that she can be. 
Aubrey "sees" what is important in life!
Thanks for reading,
 Thanks to Cathy Rogers for help in writing this post.
This post was published on the Arizona American Mothers blog  
and pending being published on the National American Mothers blog.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Parenting Tip - Easy List vs Hard List

My daughter emailed me this and said I could post it on my blog:

"Lately it seems like everything I do is from the easy list. It's no wonder I feel like a flabby, grouchy, time waster. 

Before we came to earth I'm sure we were looking down at all the types of people and things we could do and promised ourselves we would not be wasters doing things on the easy list.  

It's obvious that the things that are worth anything are all on the hard list. After earth life is over, I want to be made up of the things on the hard list.  So why is it still hard?

Oh well, I guess I should stop philosophizing and get up and do something. I'm probably just feeling guilty that it's only 10am and I've already eaten not one but four of the kids' lunch treats... And as I know eating, making lists, and feeling guilty are all on the easy list!"

Isn't that so true?  All the easy things are not the BEST things.  It's that good, better, best idea, though there wasn't anything"good" on my daughter's easy list.  Ok, so if we think of the things we do every day as being on the "easy" list or the "hard" list, will that motivate us?  

My motivation comes from seeing the whole picture, and actually the end of the picture.  What is my goal?  To live together forever as a happy family.  Now what are the steps to reach that goal?  Well, nothing on the easy list, that's for sure!  

What motivates you to do things from your hard list?

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Parenting Tip - How to Shrink your World

Have you noticed how small the world is becoming?  With technology constantly upgrading, updating and up-smarting, we can communicate easily and immediately with anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.  This is GREAT NEWS if your family is spread out like mine is, and chances are that your family is spread out.  My siblings plus my own children live in 8 different states and 3 different time zones: AZ,CA,UT,TX,MN,IL,PA,VA.

So what is the GREAT NEWS about having your family spread out all over the entire United States?  The GREAT part is that we can still stay in touch with them through technology and creativity.

Let's brainstorm some ideas of things families can do to stay in touch with each other:

Birthdays. Of course, this is an easy way to stay in touch.  Birthday cards can be sent as well as gifts.  You should see me at Walmart lifting up toys and guessing what their weight is and how much postage it will cost.  My daughter-in-law recently told me her children are saving up money to purchase a big item they want.  She told me money would be more welcome than an actual toy.  Thank you.  Goodbye Walmart.

Buying and sending gifts online is another great alternative to buying and mailing birthday presents.  You can even email Amazon gift cards.  No postage or shipping!

My mother likes to make her own birthday cards on the computer using past pictures or baby pictures of the birthday person.  Wow, she is 85 years old and knows how to make cute computer birthday cards.  Technology sure has not passed her by!
What?  It's my birthday?  Come, on then, bring out the cake!
Last week my Dad had a birthday; he turned 91 years old.  One of his favorite songs is The Strawberry Roan.  Each of my siblings wrote a verse to the melody of this song that told about a specific time in his life.  Then when they called on the phone or skyped to tell him "happy birthday", their families sang their part of the song with their verse and chorus.  My Dad loved it.  He felt cherished and special.  And just as important, my brothers and sister and I felt a bond between us as we worked on this surprise for him.

How about writing a song for your Mom or Dad, or your daughter or husband or married son?  Find a cute melody like, "This is the Song that Never Ends" or "Frere Jacques"  and write new words to the melody.

Holidays.  My youngest daughter decided she would send her nieces and nephews something for every holiday this year.   I was babysitting my grandsons the other day and sure enough there was a package that contained hearts galore that she had "heart attacked" them with.

I do something different for Mother's Day.  I've never really liked this day and feel like everyone is "staring" at me all day. When my children got married and started having their own children, I, like all grandmothers, wanted to give them lots of unasked for advice. As one Mother's Day was approaching I had the inspiration come to me, that I could give them unsolicited advice every year on this day, because I was a mother and this was my gift to them.  I gave them notebooks to keep my advice in, and I've had so much fun giving advice each year!! I've given advice on "what to do instead of watching TV", marital tips, things to teach your children, funny things my kids said when they were children, and much more.  Each year I try to present my advice in a fun way, using grandchildren's faces, or Disney prince and princesses...whatever.
          They love the years when I write memories of them when they were children and the joy they brought me.

School Projects.  I've had grandchildren send me Flat Stanley and asked me to take him with me and and then send him back with photos of him in the places I've been (exotic places like the grocery store, hiking, you know....).  Cousins have also sent them to each other.
My grandson is holding Flat Stanley
 Babysitting.  I love to go out of town to help out when families have a new baby coming. Or one year my son and his wife went with the youth in their church on a 3 day hike and I went and stayed with my grandchildren.  What fun!  This is an opportunity for 24 hours of bonding that you normally don't get to have.  You can also take photographs while you're visiting, and put them together to make a little memory book.
The letter "A" for a memory alphabet book

Special Events. With children around, there are always special events you can invite family members to, if time and transportation allow it.  Things like baby blessings, baptisms, plays, or sporting tournaments are fun things to attend and bond with cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.My son and his family went to PA from their home in VA to attend the blessing of new niece.  The cousins had fun playing while the adults had fun talking and eating (of course). Be sure and send lots of pictures to the family members who can't come.

Skyping. This is a super good way to stay in contact with family members.  I even know of a grandma who gives her grandchildren piano lessons by skyping them (no, it's not me).  You can skype on birthdays and special occasions.  You can skype to share news, or even play games.  I've played card games with my grandchildren once or twice.

All my children skype with me on my husband's birthday so we can remember "grandpa" and make it special. It's really hard to skype and find a day and time when your family is in 3 different time zones like mine is.  We've discovered that the Sunday when our church has "General Conference" is a good time for us to all get together for a group skype.

My son-in-law has a program where you add things to the callers while you're skyping, such as a mustache on someone, or funny hair, glasses, or a spider.  It's hilarious!

Videos. It's so easy to take videos of your children playing the piano or singing or playing soccor.  What a great way to keep grandparents in the loop of what their grandchildren are doing.

It's also fun to take videos of cousins/grandchildren teaching you how to do something--"This is how you do a cartwheel", or "This is how you make a peanut butter sandwich".  How about, "This is how you make a rainbow bracelet"--they're so popular right now!

Photographs. It goes without saying that everyone loves to see pictures of distant cousins, grandparents or new babies.  You can even have fun with photos in a creative way.  One day my 3 year old grandson was taking pictures with my camera.  Needless to say there were lots of photos with close ups of something or other.  So I sent a batch of these pictures to his cousins and said to guess what the pictures were of.  I told them I would send a prize to the families with the answers.  Sure enough, soon the emails came with the guesses, and I mailed out a pack of gum to all the families.

Do you have a photo program where you can distort the faces?  I used a free one I found on the internet and have never laughed so hard as when I was distorting my grown kids faces for some project I was sending them. (I can't find that program now.  Anyone know of a good one?) Be sensitive in distorting faces, though. One of my granddaughters was not so happy with her face and it made her cry. 

One time my daughter sent "Where's Waldo?"photos to all the cousins.  She told what object was hidden in each of the pictures, then the cousins had to look at the photos and find the object.  Fun!
Can you find the red flashlight?

Phone Calling. Whoops, I almost forgot this one--it's so easy to do! My son used to call me every Sunday to catch up on things we were both doing.  I love talking with my daughters (they're in 3 different states). Sometimes we talk once a week, and other times 3 times a day!

After my husband passed away, my brother called me from Texas every month for a year.  This meant so much to me and reminded me of how close we were when we were growing up together.

Texting. What would we do without texting?  My children and I who live in the same town text each other with "sunset alerts".  We LOVE to see AZ sunsets.  My out-of-state children have recently texted me with their weather alerts (-30 today and no school).  It's so easy to text:  "I love you!" or "Thinking of you!" or "what's up?".  I especially love getting a text from a grandchild.
Sunset alert!
Did I forget cards/letters?  Duh?! One of my favorite letters I received was from my grandson a few months ago.  It said, "Der grama, Just to let you no I have ben singing a lot of songs!  Love Kimball
do you like the dexrrashin? [decorations-there were music notes around the edges]" 

 Ahhh! I keep that letter on my freezer.  (I had visited Kimball a few months before the letter came and we had enjoyed singing lots of songs together.  Did my heart good!)

 Okay, so this has been a really long post.  Sorry.  It takes a lot of work sometimes, to keep your family close to you.  But it's some of the most important work you can do--and so fun and rewarding!  Send your ideas of what your family does to stay close, so we can all get more good ideas.

Thanks for reading,



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