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.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Parenting Ideas - Summer Time!

Summer time, oh, it's summer time......

I've been asked to teach a class at church on ideas for summer fun.  I decided to post some of the ideas here.

Free/Cheap kid play activities:
Super bubbles!
6 cups water
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups Joy dishwashing soap (If using an ultra concentrated dishwashing liquid, use only 1 1/3 cups) 
In a large bowl (at least 3 quarts) stir water and corn syrup until combined.  Add dishwashing liquid and stir very gently until well mixed.
(Try not to make any bubbles.) Dip (don't stir) bubble wands into bubble liquid and blow bubbles.

Snake bubbles
Cut bottom off a water bottle. Duct tape old sock to cover bottom opening.  Dip sock in solution of dish soap mixed with a little bit of water.  Blow through mouth end of bottle and see the long snake bubbles that appear!

with water and brushes outside 
water color

Stores with free activities:
Bass Pro Stores Outdoor Kids Night! Tuesdays 5-8pm free kid activities
Home Depot, Lowes - Saturday free craft - check local stores for details
Fiesta Mall Thursdays 1-2pm at Center Court

Reading Programs to earn free books or prizes:
Barnes &Nobles
Pottery Barn
Pizza Hut
Local Library
Scholastic and Sylvan online activities 

Discount Movie passes:
Cinemark and Harkins Theaters

Children's Museum of Phoenix
Target Free First Friday

Things to do with food:
Mini marshmallows and pretzels (or toothpicks) - build geometric 3 D shapes
playdough - look up on pinterest
Assign older children to make breakfast/lunch or dinners
Lots of healthy snacks=happy children

Water Activities:
Splash pads at theaters, malls
Homemade slip n slides/sprinklers
Duck, duck squeeze (like duck duck goose, but squeeze sponge full of water over head)
Water in buckets/bins.  Add soap, give kids egg beaters (find at thrift stores) and watch the fun!

Summer Focus - Help children make goals to:
learn something new (sew, crochet, use drill, hammer)
practice something (cooking, musical instrument, art)
read certain number of books
create/invent something
work on scouting 
family service project

Organize your summer
Weekly focus (reading week, learn something new week, craft week, watch Disney movies week)
Daily centers (chores, reading, free play, sibling/friend play, practice time, crafts, snack time, quiet time)
Pair up older children with younger children to help with chores, playing, learning

Collect "junk" and let children create, create, create.  Play background music.
Make marble runs with toilet paper tubes

Teach children to entertain themselves or play with siblings.  Have a rule "If you're bored, you get an extra chore!"

 Go on pinterest and find some fun activities. Type in these ideas to find hundreds of ideas:
*light boxes
*marble runs
*children's books
*children's art activities
*water play
*children and food
*children's crafts

Emphasize something your child is good at or interested in.  If your child likes dinosaurs, do lots of reading, writing, looking at and playing with dinosaurs...or rocks.....or American dolls.....or whatever!  Encourage your child to explore his interest and learn as much as there is to know.

Last idea:  do what someone on facebook posted:    Make a goal to simply 

survive summer!


But what a waste of 2 good months.


Thanks for reading,


 Check out this website for free things to do in AZ 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Parenting Tips - Be Nice

Summer is here.  School is out.  I'm depressed. I've been crying for no reason and can't think or plan future events, make decisions or feel excited about anything.  Classic symptoms of depression.

But why?

Well, I hate the heat.  I'm an outdoor person and crave being outside and feeling a cool breeze.

But that's not it.  Why would I cry all the time and feel so muddled in my mind just because it's hot?

Then it hit me.  Oh yea, I'm subconsciously preparing for the anniversary of when my husband passed away on August 8 three years ago.  A year later his mother, who was living with me, passed away in July.  So summer is a time of loss for me.  It's a traumatic time for me.

No wonder I'm depressed! And cry.

And now that I figured out the reason, I feel less depressed.  I understand the reasoning for my emotions, and while I still cry and can't seem to cope very well, I do feel stronger for longer periods of time.

If you talked to me or watched me right now, you would never know I am coping with depression.
That's one reason I'm writing this blog.  If YOU are feeling depressed, I am really sorry for you.  Try to see if you have a trigger that is bringing on your depression.  Try to analyze what is going on.  It helps--a little.

If you don't have depression, be nice to everyone around you.  Be understanding and nonjudgmental of others.

If you have gone through grief and loss, you know it is a constant battle of emotions.  People tell me I have handled my husband's death so well.  They think I've "conquered it", that I'm a whole person again. I'm not.  I'm still struggling and I still need prayers and understanding and kindness. 

I guess that's why I really wrote this blog post.  Can we all be nicer and more thoughtful to others? We don't know or understand what they are going through.  While they appear strong on the outside, they are crying and falling apart when they are alone.

Summer--get thee behind me.

Thanks for reading,



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