Monday, November 6, 2017

Parenting Tip - What Do You Say No and Yes To?

I've been listening to The Simple Show podcast for several months now and love it. It's a great walking-in-the-morning companion.  For the past little while, they have had a segment where Tsh Oxenreider, the host, and her friends discuss what they say NO and YES to on different topics.  It has made me stop and think about what I say no and yes to.  There is always a trade off--when you say no to something, it opens up your life to say yes to something else.  And vice versa.  So here are a few of the things I say NO and YES to.  Not by topic, but by what comes to my mind.

I say YES to nature.  I am somehow intrinsically bound to the weather and outside.  I open the door to check the weather each morning and I'm immediately happy when I see cloudy, stormy weather (I live in Arizona--enough said).  Because of saying yes to nature, I hike a lot with a hiking friend.  I have to.  I have to get outside and enjoy the cacti, clouds and beauty.  It's also a healthy mental outlet that I need.

I say YES to sunsets.  I check the sunsets in the evenings and randomly send out "sunset alerts" to my friends and family when I see a beautiful one.  And they send them back to me, by the way.  I say YES to stopping life and standing outside and looking at a sunset.

I say YES to grandchildren.  I am a child at heart still and love to watch children play.  I say yes to buying toys that let them use their imaginations. Lately I've been stalking the thrift stores for firefighter coats and hats.  I even converted one of our sheds into "The Kid's Club House" where last night my 7 year old grandson creatively hot glued small rocks onto a paper cup to make a fairy house.

I say YES to learning.  For the past 4 years I have been learning to play the banjo.  I learned to play the ukulele and teach it now.  I want to learn to play the mandolin and my children are buying me one for Christmas (I hope).  I've always wanted to learn to draw, so this year I have been taking an online art class.  I'm still not good at drawing, but I'm getting a lot better at lettering and doodling--which is what the class was about.  I'm thinking of taking an online watercolor class next year.
Now what do I say No to?

I say NO to feeling guilty about things.  This is an ongoing process but at my age, you would think I would have my act together.  Not so.  I have to continually analyze my actions and thoughts and specifically tell myself to not feel guilty about a situation or event.

I say NO to wasting time.  That doesn't mean I don't sit down and read a book, or look at Facebook.  But I try to organize myself to accomplish good things during the day--and evenings.  I cut down the time I spend on the internet randomly surfing and following mindless links and videos.

I say NO to shopping sales and ads.  When I need to buy clothing, I'll buy it.  If I shop all the ads, I tend to spend when I don't really need something. When I look at the ads and specials I find that I start wanting things I never knew I wanted or needed before.

I say NO to a life of misery, unhappiness or just going with the flow.  If I'm down I analyze why and try to change my attitude.  One of my favorite quotations is this one by Pres. Hinkley that is on my living room wall. 

I want to live my life so that at the end of it, I can look back on all the fun experiences I have had with family, grandchildren, friends and others.  I want to look back on the meaningful service I have given and the heart to heart talks I have had with loved ones.  I want to live an intentional life, not one that has just happened randomly as life went by.

This has been fun for me to think about what I say NO and YES to.  It really helps to put things in perspective and helps me realize what my values are.  It makes me stronger and more diligent in wanting to keep my "nos" and "yeses" intact (how do I spell that, anyway?).  I am living an intentional life.  I love that feeling.

It's something I say YES to.

Thanks for reading,


PS What a great experience it would be to talk as a family or as a husband/wife about what you say no and yes to.  It helps you get on the same page.  It helps you solidify what you want to happen in your family, how you want to spend your money and what experiences you want for yourself and your children.   It clarifies your values and beliefs and aligns your actions to those values. Say YES and see what happens!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Parenting Tip - Is Your Child an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner or Rebel (read as Strong-willed)?

I really like many of the books Gretchen Rubin has written, but I’m obsessed with her newest book, The Four Tendencies.
This is what she says about it on her website:
During my multibook investigation into human nature, I realized that by asking the suspiciously simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge.
I discovered that people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively. The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.
I am an Obliger (you can take a quick quiz here to find out what tendency you are ).  Knowing this has made my life easier.  I understand why I do some of the things I do and know how to deal with other aspects of my life, like accomplishing goals or saying no to people.  I think it is important to understand our family members and realize their tendencies—especially our spouses and children.  It can make family life so much more enjoyable when we understand why people act and respond the way they do.  Then we can change the way we approach our spouse or child so we can have win-win experiences and less conflicts.

Here are the Tendencies in a nutshell:
The Upholder Tendency
Upholders are those people who readily respond to outer and inner expectations alike.   They meet work or school deadlines as well as keep goals they set for themselves.
Strengths:  Upholders can set goals and ideals for themselves and stick to it.  They follow rules. They also fulfill expectations that others have for them.  They love schedules and routines.  They like to know what is expected of them and don’t like to make mistakes.
Weaknesses:  Upholders don’t like to have their schedules changed.  They are uncomfortable if they can’t follow the rules or expectations teachers or others have put on them.  They want to follow them whether they are sensible or not. They don’t like change and can be inflexible and rigid.
Dealing with an Upholder Child
Parents may enjoy having children who are Upholders because they don’t have to nag them about doing homework or practicing the piano. They plan ahead and have their softball equipment ready and like to arrive at school on time or even early.

The Upholder child doesn’t like to change his schedule.  If he needs to read 30 minutes a day for school he has a hard time letting that go if a busy day prohibits it. He has a hard time letting a task go not quite completed such as a book report project he feels he needs more time on.

Be careful about unintentionally adding an expectation or suggesting unnecessary rules.  An upholder child will exert a lot of energy toward trying to meet it.  The author states that an offhand remark like, “you should enter the spelling bee” might set off an unintended stressful chain reaction.

In dealing with an Upholder child, address his tendency value: “You like to do things that are expected of you”, “you like to be on time”, or “you like to finish your projects”.  But then address the issue in a logical way such as, “your teacher will understand that you can only read 15 minutes on some days”, or “it’s more important to go the speed limit and be safe than to be extra early to school”.

The Questioner Tendency
We all have inner expectations—things we want to do, and outer expectations—what others want us to do.  Questioners only do things that are inner expectations and only those outer expectations that they have turned into inner expectations.  Questioners want information, logic and efficiency.  They want to gather the facts and decide for themselves if something is legitimate to do, the best thing to buy, or the right thing to follow. They like logical conclusions and will research options until they are convinced.
Strengths:  Once Questioners are resolved to do something, they follow through and are reliable. They don’t just accept the traditional way to do things, so may come up with new solutions to problems or situations.
Weaknesses:  When Questioners don’t accept the justification for an expectation, they refuse to meet it.  Rules may seem arbitrary or make no sense.  When wanting to purchase an item, they may research and question so much, they can’t come to a conclusion and make a decision.

Dealing with a Questioner Child
A child who is a questioner does not accept phrases like, “because I said so”, or that’s the rule”. Questioners want to understand the “why” of doing something, and once they do, they are more willing to comply.  Why is piano practicing important?  Why should I learn the multiplication tables? Why does my school require uniforms?

Parents or teachers who are dealing with a child’s refusal to do something should find out why the child is refusing, then help the child understand the reasons behind the issue.  Help him find the justification for doing what he doesn’t want to do.  Why do I have to sit in my car seat?   Because it’s the law and you don’t want Mommy to have to pay a fine.  Why do I have to eat my vegetables?  Because they will make you healthy and strong so you can hit a home run some day.

The Obliger Tendency
Throughout a day, week and month, people are always asking us to do things.  The Obliger can accomplish things someone else asks her to do, but has a hard time meeting expectations that only she puts on herself.  For example, when you were in school, you could meet your English deadlines, but now you have a hard time consistently writing in your journal.

Obligers needs accountability.  Someone who is expecting them to bring them the results they’ve asked for.  If you are on a team and training for a game, you don’t want to let your teammates down, so you run every morning.  But after the season is over, you can’t get yourself to run anymore.  The accountability has disappeared.
Strengths:  Obligers get things done!  They volunteer, help out, and meet deadlines.  They make great leaders, team members, friends and family members.
Weaknesses:  Obligers have a hard time meeting their own needs and desires.  They need to feel accountable to someone in order to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves.  This is my tendency.  I used to always announce to my children that I would give them $10 if they saw me eat any more cookies the rest of the day.  Then it was easy for me to not eat any more.

If Obligers get overwhelmed by constant demands they are trying to meet of others, they can have a meltdown—which is usually not pretty.  They go into Obliger-Rebellion and resist doing anything.   Family members need to be aware of Obligers in their home, and help them not get overwhelmed, by helping them say “no” when necessary.  They can also provide accountability to help them reach their goals.

Dealing with an Obliger Child
I was delighted to read the author’s example when dealing with an Obliger child (which she says is sometimes hard to pick out).  She gave the example of piano practicing and said there needs to be accountability like having a practice chart, a parent’s gentle reminder or a teacher who says, “I can tell if you’ve been practicing or not.”

Help your Obliger child create accountability by enrolling him in classes, making job charts, having family rules, etc.  But be aware so your child does not begin feeling overwhelmed by meeting everyone’s needs but his own.

The Rebel Tendency
Rebels don’t want anyone telling them what to do, including themselves! They resist all efforts when someone asks them to do something and have a hard time getting themselves to do something they want to do.  For Rebels, being able to choose and have freedom of self-expression is vitally important. They respond better to people asking their opinion rather than being told to do something.
Strengths:  They don’t cave into peer pressure.  They enjoy meeting challenges especially when someone says it will be too hard to do. Rebels do things their way and want their lives to exhibit their values.
Weaknesses:  Rebels don’t like to be told to do something and resist commands and control over themselves.  They want to do things in their own way and in their own time.  They have a hard time sticking to a schedule.

Dealing with a Rebel Child (my daughter prefers to call them Strong-willed children and I agree)
Strong-willed children are hard to deal with. They want to make their own choices.  The best way to handle them is to give them information, tell them what the consequences are, and let them make their choice. And don’t watch them—then they think there is an expectation and will rebel and not choose.
Strong-willed children need to feel the consequence of their choices, be it good or bad. Strong-willed  children are motivated by identity.  Explain the situation:  “When you’re always late and delay our leaving, I feel like I can’t trust you.  Do you want to be trustworthy or not--your choice."  Make things fun for the strong-willed child.  Make up games when you’re brushing your child’s teeth or sing silly songs.  Strong-willed children like challenges: “Bet you can’t get dressed before Daddy does”.  Let them choose: “You can eat a snack, do your homework now, and then play before dinner or you can eat a snack and play first.  But if you don’t finish your homework before dinner, you will have to finish it after dinner and not have time for me to play a game with you before bedtime.  It’s your choice.” Then allow them time and space to make their choice.

In reviewing how to deal with children in these four tendencies, it seems to me that parents should use lots of common sense.  It shouldn’t be a nerve wrecking decision trying to decide what is the correct thing to say to your obliger child compared to what to say to your strong -willed child.  Good parenting  techniques cover all types and personalities of children.  In summary, here are some basic, sound ideas that work well in dealing with any and all types of children:

1.       Explain the situation to your child when a conflict arises.  Appeal to his sense of value.
2.       Listen to your child to understand what his needs are that are not being met.
3.       Explain the “why” behind rules and “why” you are asking for a certain behavior from your child.
4.       Make charts and give positive reinforcement to help establish new habits and outcomes.
5.       Give information, consequences and choice to your child.
6.       Let your child suffer the consequences of his choice and actions.
7.       Have fun with your child, make up games and challenges to spice up daily routines.

I hope this information has been helpful.  Now apply it to your spouse!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, October 23, 2017

Parenting Tip - Strengthening our Kids for the Last Days

This is a great video that gives practical advice to parents who are raising children now.  And preparing them for the future.

Where are you spending your time?  Where are your children spending their time?  Too many activities?  Not the BEST activities for this crucial time in their lives?

How can you get protection for your children?  How can you open the other POWERS that are available?  How can you access the "other side" of the veil to strengthen and help you.

How can you utilize the Sabbath Day?

Great insights and support and help for parents in this, the last days, as we prepare our children to usher in the coming of the Lord.

Thanks for reading--and viewing,



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Music Tip - Ukulele Chords for It's Gonna be Okay

Hi Ukulele Fans,

Here are the chords that go with the Piano Guys latest hit, It's Gonna be Okay.  My current ukulele group is loving it!  Hope you enjoy it.  Here is a link to the group performing it on You tube.  This version is in the same key, so you can play along with the group.  So fun!!

At the bottom of this version is instructions for playing a little harmonic pattern on the ukulele with the chorus.  If you don't understand how to do it, let me know.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, September 1, 2017

Parenting Tip- How Can I Help in a Disaster Situation?

We all want to help.  When there is a disaster, our human nature wants to reach out and make things better.  Right now we all want to help Texas after the ravage and destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey.  But how can we help and what is the best way to help? The following information is what the LDS Charities has posted in the Church News.
Hurricane Harvey has ravaged the greater Houston, Texas, area, affecting thousands of people. Many organizations and individuals have provided rescue efforts and continue to help those with the greatest needs. (See related story.)
LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is donating supplies to the relief efforts and is preparing to support ongoing relief and cleanup. This relief is provided through the Emergency Response efforts of LDS Charities, which responds to hundreds of disasters worldwide. LDS Charities’ first efforts are focused on helping people in need.
How you can helpAs you feel a desire to provide aid, please consider the following seven ways you can help:
  1. Don’t go to the disaster area until you are invited. LDS Charities works with government organizations that are already in place. If you want to immediately volunteer, connect with the local government emergency operations handling the situation or an organization in the area that is soliciting volunteers. Spontaneous volunteerism creates what is often called a “second disaster”—having to support the needs (shelter, food, safety, and so on) of additional volunteers with the same limited resources available to support those in need.
  2. Donate funds. Donating to the Church’s humanitarian aid fund (LDS Charities) via the humanitarian aid section of your tithing slip or through LDS Philanthropies is a great way to support emergency response efforts worldwide. One hundred percent of your donation to LDS Charities will go to support those with the greatest needs, including other worldwide disasters that similarly affect many lives. Many other organizations and religions have charitable efforts dedicated to helping in disaster relief. These organizations have connections, plans, and the resources to quickly provide relief. Their first need is generally funding to handle relief efforts, as they can maximize monetary donations. Many organizations prefer to use funds to buy locally to save on shipping costs and boost the local economy. Before considering a donation of supplies, ensure the organization has a need for the suggested supplies.
  3. If you are in a surrounding area, let your local leaders know you are willing to help. LDS Charities connects with local priesthood leaders to receive reports and coordinate response efforts such as cleaning up homes and yards damaged by the disaster. Once the cleanup requests have been processed by Church emergency operations centers, priesthood leaders in areas surrounding the disaster receive requests for help in cleanup efforts. If you are willing to help, let your priesthood leader know so that you can help if your stake is asked to provide volunteers in cleanup efforts. Volunteers can also search and sign up for relief effort opportunities on
  4. If you do not live close to the disaster area, look to support local community efforts. Consider the needs in your own community and what you can do to help. You can find local efforts through sites such as For example, consider donating to a local food bank or offering to donate blood. These efforts are always needed and can relieve some strain on areas no longer able to provide that assistance due to the disaster. Be careful to check what the needs are of your local organizations before donating supplies. Read more about how to find reliable community organizations to support.
  5. Pray and fast. We believe in the power of prayer to help and sustain those who face disasters. Join in prayer personally, as a family, or as a ward. Consider dedicating a fast for those who are suffering and donating a fast offering.
  6. Be an advocate for correct information about the disaster. Share correct and validated information about the disaster and about how others can help via your social media channels. Consider following Mormon Newsroom or LDS Charities on their social channels to follow how the Church is responding.
  7. Work on your own preparedness efforts. Disasters are often unexpected. Those who are prepared to handle emergencies are better off in emergency situations and can then help others. Consider what you can do to be more prepared with your financial situation, career goals, food storage, family emergency plans, mental and emotional health, spiritual strength, and so on. Being prepared yourself will free up your resources to help others in need not only if you are in the affected area but also in situations where funding is needed to respond quickly or volunteers are called upon from surrounding areas.
Thank you for your desire to help those in need. LDS Charities responds to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey all over the world. It sponsors relief and development efforts in 189 countries and gives assistance without regard to race, religious affiliation, or nationality. We pray for those who are suffering in Texas as well as those suffering in myriad other disasters throughout the world, and we depend on your generous help to support relief efforts.
I'm trying to follow #1,2,5 and 6--hence this post.  Share the word about the best ways to help and involve your family and children to make it a learning situation for all.

I better start working on #7 too!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Parenting Tip - Good Things to Listen To

Here's part of an email I recently sent to my children/spouses.  I thought you might be interested in it too.
Hi Family,
I've been trying to find good things to watch and good things to listen to--as well as good things to read.  It's hard sometimes to find those things, but I've bumped into a few good podcasts and talks that I have really loved and thought I would share them with you. I think it is really important for us to fill our minds with positive, inspiring thoughts and ideas.  Thoughts lead to actions, as we've been taught.  It's also important to ponder on them throughout the day---I mean those tiny moments when there is a lack of children clamoring for your attention.

           I love to listen to these podcasts when I go to the gym:
           Gretchen Rubins and her sister's podcast.  Here's a sample of recent podcasts:
Episode 126: Look for an under-used area of your house, find ways to mark sad anniversaries in a happy way, and strategies to deal with the challenge of perfectionism.

Podcast 121: How to get more reading done, an interview with Sam Walker about the qualities of the world’s best captains, and a car-related travel hack.
The Simple Show.  This next month or so they are talking about how to say "no" to things, which means you are saying "yes" to better  things.
         Ep. 87: When to Quit
        Ep. 88: No & Yes
A friend passed out a link to a talk she liked in RS on Sunday.  I listened to it and realized BYUtv has a link to lots of BYU Women's Conference talks, which I have loved listening to.  Well, I've only listened to two so far, but loved both of them.  The link that was passed out on Sunday was to Sister Eubanks, which was really good.  This link is to the talk by Sister Causse, who is wife to the Presiding Bishop of the Church.  She has a delightful French accent and talks about their experiences and I LOVED her talk.
 When do I have time to listen to a talk or podcast, you're probably thinking.  Here are some ideas:

  • while getting dressed and fixing your hair
  • driving in the car
  • on Sundays
  • before you go to bed
  • while crocheting, knitting, drawing, etc
  • while feeding toddlers their breakfast or lunch
  • first thing in the morning
  • while cooking dinner
  • at the gym or while exercising

Ear phones are great inventions as are cell phones and laptops that are portable.

I'm up for more ideas on what to listen to or watch.  So please share good things you've read and how you fit it into your schedule.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 14, 2017

Parenting Tip - The Four Tendencies

I'm a follower of Gretchen Ruben.  I loved her book, The Happiness Project, I listen to the podcast she does with her sister and I'm really looking forward to her new book, The Four Tendencies. What are the four tendencies?  They are personality or character traits that put you into one of four different areas--though you can also overlap areas.

This is how Gretchen explains it:
In a nutshell:
  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (my husband is a Questioner)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

I recently gave a talk at LinkedIn about the Rubin Character Index, so if you’d like to see me discuss each category in  a video, you can watch: for Upholders, watch here;Questionershere;  Rebels, here, and Obligers, here.
   From my observation, I can say with confidence that Rebel is the smallest category, then Upholder–this was a shock to me. I didn’t realize how few people are Upholders. Many things became clear to me once I realized this. Most people are Questioners or Obligers.
Obligers are the folks who are the most likely to say they wish they were in a different category. They say things like, “I wish I weren’t a people-pleaser” or “I wish I could take time for myself.”
Do you find yourself within this framework? If so, does it help you understand how to manage yourself better? Figuring out the Tendencies helped me understand myself, and it has also made it much easier for me to understand other people’s perspectives. Fact is, most people don’t see things the way we Upholders do.

As I have read about the four tendencies, I've been able to understand myself better.  It is so rewarding and satisfying to understand why you do what you do.  I'm an upholder.  I follow rules, I cross the crosswalk only when the green hand is up, I do what people ask me to do, but I can  also set and achieve goals I've made for myself.

Now I realize why some  people act the way they do.  The light bulb comes on and I inwardly say, "Ah ha! So that's why you feel that way and do those things."

It's really important to know what tendency your husband and children are.  It makes life so much more peaceful.  When you know that a child is a rebel, you will want to interact differently with him than your child who is an obliger.

A listener wrote to Gretchen and said that now she understood her preschooler was a "rebel", she was learning how to communicate differently with her, and her daughter's behavior had improved tremendously. Here's what she wrote:
Hi Gretchen, 
Thank you SO much for addressing my question about my Rebel preschool daughter in episode 120 on the podcast!

I wanted to send a quick update to let you know how much your advice has helped. I really have tried to embrace the idea that I CAN’T make her do anything. I can’t! She knows it, I know it, and it’s changed a lot of how I talk to her about things.  I make such an effort to make everything her choice. She can do it if she wants to, and if she doesn’t well then here’s what will happen. Very matter of fact, very calm, not punitive, just the facts.

Here’s an example of how I’ve changed my language.  She was looking at books on the couch and my parents were about to arrive for dinner. She had to wash up for dinner and I thought she should get it over with now, before the get here, to not miss the fun hellos. If I were speaking to my older daughter (tendency TBD but definitely not rebel) I would have said:

“You need wash up before dinner. Please go do it now so you won’t have to do it when Nanny and Poppy are here.”

I now know I would NEVER say that to the rebel. NEED to do something! HA! She would say. I don’t NEED to do anything.  I really thought for a minute and picked my words carefully.

“I’m going to ask you to wash up before dinner. Nanny and Poppy will be here soon. You can choose. You can go now and then you won’t have to do it when they’re here, or you can do it right before dinner, but then you’ll have to leave them to do it. Whatever you choose is fine with me. It’s your choice.” (I did in fact say choice that many times)

A minute after I left her I heard her little footsteps walking over to the sink. She was done right before they walked in the door and was THRILLED that she could say hello and chat and walk right over to the table.

I’ve also appealed to her sense of identity. She was hyper when we were visiting my frail old grandparents and I was truly afraid she was going knock one of them over. Telling her she HAS to stop running and calm down would have failed. I told her Grammie just got out of the hospital b/c she fell and she’s not sturdy on her feet yet and she needs her protectors. She needs the kids to be careful around her and protect her and make sure she doesn’t fall again. Success!  Or when she was sharing a room with her little cousin on vacation. Instead of you HAVE to be quite while he’s falling asleep I said, he’s younger than you and he’s so tired and needs to sleep. Will you be his helper? Will you help him go to sleep by ignoring him and letting him rest? She jumped at the chance.

Overall I would say part of the success has come from me changing my language and how I talk to her, but part of the success has also come from me changing my perspective and fully embracing that I can’t make her do things.

As an Upholder it’s also been freeing to let her help me break the rules a little. Like so what if we’re late? It was a self-imposed timetable, no one is counting on us. I’ve embraced her rebel-ness and this has allowed me see things differently. You’re so right. We’re free-er than we think!!!

Thank you so, so much.

Brilliant strategy.  I tried it with one of my "rebel" grandchildren and it works!  Of course, I think letting our children make choices, and giving them the right to do it, is good parenting with any type of child.

Knowing about the four tendencies helps me in many aspects of my life when dealing with people. I'm anxious to apply it to my piano students.  If I can help classify them into one of the tendencies, I think I can help them with their practicing.  An obliger is going to need outer controls such as charts or rewards to get him to practice.  A questioner needs to understand the importance of practicing, and the rebel will need to be in control of when during the day he/she chooses to practice.

Food for thought, right?

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Music Tip - Ukulele group class and service opportunity

UKULELE MUSIC CLASSES & SERVICE OPPORTUNITY: 8 week class -7 weeks learning new songs and 1 week performing at a Retirement Center, plus possible ukulele flashmob experience!! (I’m working on the details.)
DATES: Classes begin week of August 14 thru week of Oct 2, 2017
TIME: one hour classes.
LOCATION: west Mesa, Main St/Alma School (tell your friends so you can carpool!)
COST: $65 per student or $110 for a family with 2+ children (pay cash/check on 1st day of class)
AGES: age 8 and up
CONTACT: Email me: Cathy Shepherd - 480-332-8379
FAQ: Don't own a ukulele? Borrow one of mine (register early to reserve one)
Five different classes offered—choose one. Register for the day and time that works for your children: Monday 1 pm , Monday 4 pm, Wed 1 pm, Fri 1 pm, Fri 4 pm (performances will be scheduled during your class time. *All classes begin week of Aug 14 (no Monday classes on Labor Day.)


Homeschoolers, check out this link for other resources:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Parenting Tip - Grandma's Camp

I just got back from Grandma's Camp last week.  This was a week of having fun, learning about ancestors, and bonding with cousins.  I invited my 11 oldest grandchildren, ages 9-14.  I have grandchildren that are scattered across the United States--6 in Virginia, 4 in Illinois, 3 in Utah and 7 in Arizona.  I don't get to see them that much, plus the cousins don't get to see each other either. Some of the cousins don't really know each other that well because they haven't been able to spend a lot of time together, so I decided to fix that problem.  Hence, Grandma's Camp!

The goal of Grandma's Camp was to have the cousins bond and create memories with each other, as well as for my grandchildren to get to know their ancestors better, namely their grandparents and great grandparents.  My husband passed away almost 6 years ago, so some of the grandchildren barely remember him.  Both of his parents have also passed away.

We held Grandma's Camp at my daughter's beautiful home in a beautiful rural area of southern Illinois.  Talk about green countryside!  Green, gorgeous trees everywhere, green rolling fields, wide open blue skies, and relatively wonderful weather.  What a setting for our week long camp.

Each day we focused on the life of one of the grandparents/great grandparents.  We told stories about their lives and I assigned grandchildren to find and tell a story too, so they would internalize their relationship with this deceased ancestor.  Then we would do a fun activity related to their grandparent's life.  For instance, my dad grew up on a dairy farm in the early 30's and milked cows when he was age 5 and rode a horse to round up the cows.  So on his day, we went horse back riding. My mother's parents came from Sweden and our Swedish heritage is big in our family.  My sister and I learned to say the blessing on the food in Swedish and always said it that way when we were growing up.  So I taught one of my granddaughters to say the prayer in Swedish, and she taught all the cousins, and at each mealtime a different grandchild would eagerly ask to say the blessing.

My mom painted rocks to look like cute animals, so on my mother's day, the cousins painted rocks. On my husband's day we went fishing, on my father-in-law's day we went rock jumping and swimming in a lake and even wore mustaches to honor his handlebar moustache.  My mother-in-law was an avid bird watcher and made pictures from pressed wild flowers, so on her day we had a bird scavenger hunt outside and made bookmarks with the flowers we had collected on our other days.  On my day, we played music, of course!

Each day also had free time for the cousins to play together.  They enjoyed sliding on the slip and slide, created fun mazes with mats and swings and air mattresses in the basement,  rode scooters, colored with sidewalk chalk and talked and laughed and bonded!

The goal of Grandma's Camp was accomplished.  Cousins became best friends and grandparents and great grandparents became real people with hobbies and talents passed on to their grandchildren.  Relationships is what life is about.  Loving people, enjoying family and building trust and friendships that will last throughout eternity--that is what we will take with us.  And our memories!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parenting Tip - Teaching Children to Feel the Spirit

There are so many things to teach our children, it can be overwhelming at times.
We may ask, "What are the most important things to teach?  How can I fit one more thing into my schedule?"

Read this article:  Learning the Language of the Spirit: 7 Teaching Tips for Parents and see how you can dovetail this type of learning with your everyday living that you already do with your children.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Parenting Tip - The Paradigm Test

Text from my daughter to me:
        "So I've been trying not to feel like a failure by choosing to run the half marathon instead of the full [this coming weekend] in AZ.  I just haven't been able to get the training in.  I'm disciplined in lots of other areas, but this one hasn't been able to be a priority right now.  I was feeling kinda low until I had a new thought - Oh my gosh Mom!  I passed the test!!!!!!!
    I chose sacrificing time running this school year for doing homeschooling and being with  my kids instead of out running for myself!  It's not a failure at all!  It's a giant victory!!!!!  How would my kids be right now if I was completely ready for the full [marathon]??That's a scary thought.  My relationship with A [her 11 year daughter] definitely wouldn't have been strengthened through this year.  She would probably resent me for all the time spent babysitting M [the preschooler].  M would be a screen junkie.
     Dang.  Paradigm shift!  So grateful!!!"

Text from me to my daughter:

     "Sigh of relief!!  You chose the good part!!!  You DID pass the test!!!!  I'm so proud of you and love you so much!! (Wow, I just had a thought - this text could be from Heavenly Father just as much as it is from me.)"

So what have you been sacrificing, that with a paradigm shift, looks more like a blessing instead?
Are you a stay-at-home Mom with a college degree and inner desire to be out in the workforce? What are you trading for and what benefits can you see if you look close enough?  Are you developing other talents such as gardening, cooking, love of children's literature, home repair skills, or beautifying your home with recycling items?

Do you have a child with autism, ADD, speech problems or other issues?  But are you gaining knowledge, insight and gifts that you wouldn't otherwise have?

Do you have to pinch every penny and long to have your husband out of school?  But are you becoming adept at finding sales, learning to sew, and acquiring skills to refurbish used furniture?

I've had to give piano lessons in my home my whole married life to supplement our family income. For years I felt frustrated and pitied myself.  Then one day I had a paradigm shift and was shocked at what I saw.  What I saw were blessings everywhere.  Blessed that my husband worked from 5:30 am to 3:00 pm and could be home with our children when they came home from school.  Blessed that my husband enjoyed cooking and cooked dinner while I taught piano.  Blessed that I never had to advertise and always had lots of students to teach.  Blessed that I could teach my own children and share my love of music with them. The more I looked, the more blessings I saw.  I immediately fell to my knees and poured out my gratitude to my Heavenly Father.  I asked Him to forgive me for my thoughtlessness and past complaining.  Over the years I have realized what a blessing teaching piano has been in my life and how much I have grown as a teacher and a musician.

Paradigm Shift: an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.

Look at your life, look at your problems.  Have a paradigm shift and enjoy the blessings you see.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Parenting Tip - Be Nice to your Future Self

I'm basically a lazy person.  If a recipe calls for cutting an onion and garlic, I'll either skip that recipe or just use onion and garlic salt instead.  If the weeds are over running my flower bed, I'll try spraying them rather than take the time to pull them out. But sometimes I'll amaze myself by talking myself out of being lazy.  Like if I'm too tired to take a shower at night but have to leave early the next morning, I'll tell myself, "just take a shower, you'll love yourself tomorrow."  And I do.  I thank myself over and over the next morning for taking my shower last night.

A listener on Gretchen Rubin's podcast mentioned "doing something kind for your future self" when she read a blog entry from Wil Wheaton.  This idea of doing something nice for your future self really resonated with me, since that is a tactic I use to get myself to do something hard.  Gretchen's sister mentioned on the podcast that she uses that idea to make herself lift weights, telling herself that when she is 70 years old and not feeble, she will thank herself.

You can use this idea in so many ways---getting yourself to fold and put away the laundry so your future self will enjoy seeing your family function more happily.  Doing the dishes at night so the kitchen is clean in the morning.  Ah, thank you, self!

Gretchen says this is a great strategy for obligers to use to help them do something just for themselves.  Obligers are people  who can meet outer expectations--they can do what others ask them to do, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.  

Why is it so hard to do something just for yourself?  I think it is because we feel selfish.  We feel like we should be using our time to help our children, or our husband or doing our Church calling or whatever. We are told over and over again to serve others-- that is the key to happiness, but I think we forget that serving ourselves will give us more energy to serve others.

Another reason might be that life goes by so quickly.  We are so busy taking care of life in the present, that we don't have time to worry and take care of life in the future.   The "squeaky wheel gets the grease" and life squeaks really loud in the present.

So how can you and I take this idea and help our future selves?  I can tell my present self, "No, don't buy that cute blouse.  Remember you are saving your money for __________.  You'll thank me in 6 months."

I can tell my present self, "Don't eat that _______.  Go drink a glass of water instead.  You'll love me tomorrow."

I can tell my present self, "Yes, it's okay to stop and play with my kids (grandkids).  I'm bonding and will love myself when they come to me with problems when they're older."

Be nice to your future self--she'll thank you profusely!

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Parenting Tip - Modeling

I was babysitting Bromley, my 2 year old grandson, when he found a book lying on the floor.  It was a thick book with lots of pages and no pictures in it.  He opened the book, turned some pages, then closed the book and folded his arms and bowed his head and say, “prayer”.  He waited for me to say a short prayer, repeating some of the words, then he opened the book again, turned some pages, then closed the book again and folded his arms and bowed his head and say, “prayer” .  We went through this whole scenario 5 times in a row!

When my daughter came home I told her about it and wondered what was going on.  She exclaimed, “He was reading the scriptures!”   She said for the past several weeks they had consistently been reading the scriptures, then saying their family prayer afterwards.

Wow, what a great model my daughter and her husband were giving for their son to follow.  It got me thinking about modeling and how that can affect our own actions.  A friend of mine from childhood moved back in with her parents, who lived down the street from me, when her parents became ill and unable to care for themselves.  She modeled great love for her parents and the importance of taking care of them in their older years.  When my mother in law became sick and unable to live by herself, my husband and I invited her to come live with us.  We had seen great examples of children caring for their aging parents modeled to us and we followed and wanted to do the same.

What kind of modeling are we doing in our homes with our children?  We usually don't even think about what our actions are saying, but we know that actions are like a picture-- worth a thousand words. 

How do we model unconditional love with a rebellious teenager while a younger sibling is watching?
How do we model patience when potty training a three year old with the five year old watching?
How do we model forgiveness when our two year colors with crayons on the newly painted wall?
How do we model longsuffering when everyone in the house is sick, including you?
How do we model respecting others when your daughter rants about her _________ math teacher?
How do we model honesty when we find we weren't charged for the french fries we bought with our hamburger?

Many years ago I made a photograph book for my son illustrating when he liked to wear his Daddy's shoes around the house.   Each page shows 
him wearing one of his Dad's shoes, like his work boots, Sunday shoes, fishing shoes, etc.  These are the last two pages: 
I know it's hard for me to walk and keep these shoes on right.
So I'll follow Daddy's footsteps as he guides me in the light.
Choose who you look to for a model carefully, and remember who is watching YOU.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Music Tip - Mom/tot classes starting up

To all of you who live in Mesa, AZ, I'm starting up my Mom/tot music classes for this semester.  They will be on Tuesday mornings and will alternate between two different retirement/nursing homes.  You can choose which weeks you want to come (1st/3rd or 2nd/4th or all).  Here's the scoop:

Music classes held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the following months at Symphony Rehabilitation (Broadway between Lindsay/Val Vista).  Classes are 10:45-11:30
Feb 7 and 21
March 7 and 21
April 4 and 18

Classes on the 2nd and 4th Tues of the following months will be held at The Courtyard Towers 22 N Robson, across from The Idea Museum .  Classes are 10:00-10:45

Jan 24, 2017
Feb 14 and 28
March 28
April 11 and 25

All music classes are Free!!  This is my service to the community.  However, this semester I am asking for a $20 donation per family that I will give to a children's charity.  If you want to come to all the classes every week, it is still just a $20 donation. Grandmas, use this as a play date with your grandchildren!!

There is something magical about combining 2 different generations with music.  Your heart will swell with love and pure joy as you watch your children wave scarves to music with the "grandmas and grandpas" or play the jingles or egg shakers with them.

Space is limited, so please email me early to register:
I'm a past Kindermusik teacher for ASU's community ed classes.


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