Monday, October 22, 2018

Parenting Tip - I'm Not in Control Today

Have you ever been in a bad mood?  Out of sorts!  Mad at everyone and everything?!  Having a "terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day"(s)?!

That has happened to me so many times during my life, and I'm sure in your life too.  Sometimes when I stop to analyze my feelings, I find out that why I'm feeling so mean and rotten is because I'm not in control of certain situations in my life.  Things are happening around me that I can't do anything about.  And that feels horrible.

Here are some examples that you might just relate to:
the car needs new tires--no money to pay for them--but it's new tires or an accident's going to happen
your son is dating a girl you don't like
one of your child's teachers require way too much home work, putting lots of pressure on your child
your child has no friends and you don't know what to do about it
you have no closet or storage space in your too small house
your brother has a big gorgeous home with less children and plenty of closet space
your husband is working overtime but you need help with the kids

I could go on and on with the examples, but you get the idea.

This summer when I was in Nauvoo, I was having lots of great experiences, but sometimes not having a lot of fun.  I realized it was because I was not in control of my situation.  I didn't have a car and had to rely on other people to take me where I was suppose to go.  I would make new friends and then they would leave after two weeks to go home.  Then I had to make another friend and arrange for more rides......

So after losing my first new friend when she went home, I analyzed my feelings, realized the problem and wrote this song for myself while I went for my daily walks after lunch one week.

I’m Not in Control
(tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb, minor key)

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
I need another’s point of view
I guess they could be right--- it’s true.

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
So calm myself and count to ten
Then breathe and count again!

(Major, happy key)
God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
He sees a broader point of view
His ways are always true!

God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
His tender mercies help me see
His sweet abiding love for me.

Writing this song really helped me understand that yes, I won't be in control of my situation lots of times in life, but God is always in control.  If I rely on his perspective and ask for guidance, he will help me see and understand what I can do to help myself.  And he always loves me and sends tender mercies if I keep my eyes open to notice them.

I hope you can get control of one of your life situations or at least learn how to deal with it.  When I can't control a situation and change IT,  I try to find something--anything  I can do that I'm totally in charge of.   Then I feel better.  Find a craft or sewing project, do some cooking and baking, or read a book you want to. Going for a walk always helps too.   If all else fails, declutter a drawer or cupboard.  That ALWAYS makes me feel better.  And it's so much easier to do when you're mad, too!

Thanks for reading,

PS  Have you read this book lately?


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Parenting Tip- Make the most of 10 minutes a day

I was in Nauvoo volunteering in the costume department for most of the summer - 7 weeks.  I was helping with the Nauvoo Pageant, that takes place for one month every summer.  The British and Nauvoo Pageants tell the story of the missionary work that took place in Great Britain (for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the acceptance of the gospel by thousands of people there, and the exodus of those Saints in coming to Nauvoo to help build up the Church.  Then the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the exodus to Utah.

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to my family:

This Nauvoo experience is taking me out of my comfort zone and making me grow and stretch.  This week I had to become more friendly, look out and befriend new volunteers who have come, ask for help and pray to be able to do hard things.  I have relied on the Savior's atonement and He has helped me learn and grow.

Someone pointed out to me all the things that have happened to me while being here serving:  my water pipe broke in the back yard, a tree in my front yard  has broken in half tearing out half the tree, and possibly ruining all of it, my laptop broke, but miraculously someone was able to fix it, my phone quit but I discovered I can use my kindle to read emails and books AND it has a camera. So yes, bad things have happened, but I have seen the Lord's hand in resolving most of them too.

I have been pondering about something here, and that is how much work and time and expense has gone into the little details that not many people notice.  Also, how important the details are and the importance of individuals--the ONE.  Example:  The pageant is put on for a month.  The core cast do the speaking and singing parts for the entire time.  But families come for 2 weeks at a time to perform the group parts and dancing.  Every week a new group comes (20-25 families).  They spend a week learning the dances and movements while watching the group from the week before who came a week before them, actually perform on stage.  Then their second week, they perform while the new families that have just come learn and watch them.  This entails directors and choreographers teaching the same dances and movements to a new group every week.  This means we rip out hems and wash costumes and remark hems and re sew hems on skirts and pants every week.  This means the logistics of housing and feeding families is huge.  BUT this means 125+ families get to participate and have their testimonies strengthened and renewed.  This means hundreds of individual lives are touched.

Another example:  There are two fabric temples used for the pageant.  One for rehearsals and one for the performance.  They are huge panels that are tall and hoisted up the tower every other night (they are used for the Nauvoo pageant, not the British pageant).  80 women in Utah sewed on them for 6 weeks several years ago.  They have cross stitching on them, soft sculpture, ribbons, applique, etc. Hundreds of hours were spent on the temple panels.  And they are used on stage for only 10 minutes during the pageant! 

I couldn't comprehend why all that work was done for a mere 10 minutes of show time.  But a new roommate came last night who helped sew on the temple panels.  In fact, it was her sister who was asked to make the panels.  She said women came every chance they could to work on them and she said what a privilege it was and how much they enjoyed doing it.  And when I said, "yes, but for only 10 minutes?"  She replied, "but they've been used for 15 years already and 10 minutes times 3 nights a week for 15 years is a lot of use!"

So I've been pondering:  what do I do, or could be doing for 10 minutes a day, that when added up, will effect my life dramatically?

What do I do, or could be doing for 10 minutes a day with my children, that when added up, will effect their lives dramatically?

Thanks for reading,



Friday, May 4, 2018

Parenting Tip - Be Inconsistently Consistent

I've noticed two main attitudes that develop in families when things get hard.  Either they quit doing the hard thing completely and let it drop, or they make adjustments, streamline the "hard thing" for awhile and then get back to doing it again.

I've seen this happen over and over again as I have taught piano lessons.  The family begins lessons with enthusiasm and commitment and practicing begins in earnest.  Then after a few months, LIFE happens.  Soccer games, illness, busyness in school and Church, financial problems--you name it, suddenly it becomes too hard to fit practice time in and lessons drop.

I've experienced this over and over again with family/personal scripture reading, Family Home Evening, and family prayers.  You have them consistently but then LIFE happens.  It becomes too hard to schedule them in because of late night games or teenagers are at work or your kids have too much homework, or Dad is out of town. And the scripture reading, FHE and prayers drop.

Life is full of HARD things.  But it is in doing those hard things, that real growth and benefit is acquired. So I propose:

                                                   BE INCONSISTENTLY CONSISTENT!

I've seen it with my piano families.  Those who keep on taking lessons and practice when they can, actually do make progress.  Example:  I teach twins in a family who is very busy raising pigs and goats and showing them at county fairs around the state.  When county fair time arrives, they have to miss a lesson here and there and they are so busy with travel, that practice time becomes 10 minutes instead of 30.  But they don't quit, they make adjustments and simplify, then get back to normal practice when the fairs are over.

Another example is my son's family.  My daughter-in-law has taught piano to some of the children, exchanged giving lessons with another mom and has even quit for awhile.  But when I visited them last week, I was amazed to hear my granddaughter and grandson playing popular music that was quite advanced.  In fact, my grandson is accompanying his school class at their Spring Concert.  By being inconsistently consistent with piano practice, these two grandchildren are enjoying piano and progressing at it.

What about scripture reading, prayers and FHE.  Each time we read and pray it becomes a thread we weave into our family's tapestry of spirituality. Some days,weeks,months we may be consistently weaving while at other times, the progress is slower.  But as we continue to try to be consistent, our pattern takes form and our tapestry grows in beauty and strength.

Teach your children to do hard things.  If you have to make a new chore chart, do it.  Give a pep talk, give it. Be a "mean" parent. Be it.

Teach yourself to do hard things.  If you have quit exercising and eating healthy, begin again.  My daughter has run 13 half marathons and 2 full marathons, but hasn't ran for two months.  Will she begin again?  Of course.  Life happened and she had to take some time off, but she is still a runner and will continue running in the near future.

Hard things are hard.  But they can be tackled, achieved, and overcome as we continue working on them.  We are not perfect and not expected to become perfect in this life.  But we can learn, acquire skills and progress as we step forward, fall back, then step forward again.  As we consistently keep trying amidst all our inconsistency, we are doing what we should be doing.

Good luck to all of us!

Thanks for reading,



Friday, March 2, 2018

Parenting Tip - Ending Screen Time Peacefully

Screen time.  That's a new phrase I didn't know when I was a young mom.  Did you mean screen door?
Screen time.  The time when your child is no longer in the world, but has entered another realm, be it fighting aliens, watching Bob the Builder, or creating his own world with Minecraft. It is very hard to come out of that reality and enter the "now" world.  It's not like going to the park and giving your child a 5 minute warning that you'll be leaving soon.  It's not like giving your child a 15 minute deadline to get his room cleaned.  At times like those, your child is still in this world, he is present in this environment and is alert to what is going on.  Not so when he is in screen time.
 French clinical psychologist, Isabelle Filliozat, has a peaceful, brilliant way to reduce screen time temper tantrums.  Enter your child's  world.  Sit down by her and gently ask a question about what is going on.  "Once the child starts answering your questions or tells you something she has seen or done on screen, it means that she is coming out of the “cut-off” zone and back into the real world. She’s coming out of the state of flow and back into a zone where she is aware of your existence – but slowly. The dopamine doesn’t drop abruptly, because you’ve built a bridge – a bridge between where she is and where you are. You can start to communicate, and this is where the magic happens.
You can choose to start discussing with your child that it’s time to eat, to go have his bath, or simply that screen-time is over now. Because of the minute of easing-in, your child will be in a space where he can listen and react to your request." 
So how do you avoid melt downs when getting your child to end screen time? I encourage you to read this brief, well written article, "How to End Screen Time Without a Struggle."  It explains the science about what is happening in your child's brain when he is in screen time and the technique for scientifically helping his brain adjust back in to the real world. 

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Parenting Tip - The Contrary Child

I have written several posts about Gretchen Rubin's 4 Tendencies and how knowing what your tendency is can help you understand yourself.  It can also help you understand others, of course, when you know theirs. 

Gretchen gave a link recently to an article about how to motivate your unmotivated student.  She says this is a "rebel" tendency.  Interestingly, the author doesn't call children like this "rebels" but "contrarians".  To each, their own!  I like the label contrarian better than labeling a child a rebel.

Here is a link to the post. 

I really like Gretchen's approach to dealing with rebels, as well.  You can't make a rebel or a contrarian do something and in fact, telling them to do something makes them NOT want to do it.  Instead you give them information, consequences and choices.  Then the situation is in their hands.  I also think you need to give rebels/contrarians space.  Walk away, don't nag, and let the decision come when they are ready to make it.  Indecision on their part, may start the consequences, but that is their choice.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Parenting Tip - How to have Resilient Children

What is resiliency?  To me it is the ability to bounce back after having set backs, negative experiences or trauma.  It is the ability to assume our role and feel comfortable with ourselves and our lives and get back to "normal" after having experienced changes in our lives. 

Your whole family has been down with the flu for weeks.  But now you are finally back to your schedule.  You aren't derailed forever.  You are resilient!

Sometimes BIG changes hit you: you just had a baby, your mother died, you are moving, your husband lost his job, your child was diagnosed with leukemia.  But seemingly small changes can also impact us and throw us for a loop as well:  soccer season starts, you get a new Church calling, your husband is working overtime and not around to help, your sweet 11 year old becomes a tween.  How do we deal with these changes in our lives so that we don't get thrown off track.  How do we maintain our family's schedule so our days run smoothly and our children feel safe and secure?  How can we be resilient?

I think we need to remind ourselves of the BIG picture.  Step back and look at what is happening now, but also what happened before and what will happen after.  Get a larger perspective of life.  Yes, your car is broken, with no money to fix it immediately in sight and you feel smothered in your house with your kids.  No, this won't last forever--though it seems like it.  Your income tax return will pay for the repair in the near future and in the meantime you can take little adventures around the neighborhood with your children.  You have managed before and you can manage again.  You are resilient!

It is important as adults to be resilient, but how do we teach resilience to our children?

Your graduating senior didn't get the scholarship she applied for, your son didn't make the team, your daughter's best friend moved and she has no friends now.  Help your children see the BIG picture.  Help them see their strengths, and new possibilities opening up. Don't discount their emotions, but let them express their feelings and empathize with them.  Help your children see other choices available to them.  Let them decide their course of action.  Listen to them without criticizing and condemning.  Let them feel what they're feeling, but gradually encourage them to "think out of the box".

Teaching children to be resilient starts when they are young.  It starts with you, as the parent, letting them make choices.  It means letting them fail, make wrong choices and own their own problems.   It is not solving your children's problem but it is offering your love, safety and confidence in them.  It is helping them see alternative solutions and possibilities.

Teaching resilience means not fixing your child's problem but teaching him to fix his own problem.

Resilience.  Not a word we talk about or hear about much.  But what a powerful word!

 Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Parenting Tip -The silent tragedy affecting today’s children

I wholeheartedly agree with this post.  It is written by an occupational therapist, Victoria Prooday on

There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels - our children. Through my work with hundreds of children and families as an occupational therapist, I have witnessed this tragedy unfolding right in front of my eyes. Our children are in a devastating emotional state! Talk to teachers and professionals who have been working in the field for the last 15 years. You will hear concerns similar to mine. Moreover, in the past 15 years, researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

How much more evidence do we need before we wake up?

No, “increased diagnostics alone” is not the answer!
No, “they all are just born like this” is not the answer!
No, “it is all the school system’s fault” is not the answer!
Yes, as painful as it can be to admit, in many cases, WE, parents, are the answer to many of our kids’ struggles!
 It is scientifically proven that the brain has the capacity to rewire itself through the environment. Unfortunately, with the environment and parenting styles that we are providing to our children, we are rewiring their brains in a wrong direction and contributing to their challenges in everyday life.
Yes, there are and always have been children who are born with disabilities and despite their parents’ best efforts to provide them with a well-balanced environment and parenting, their children continue to struggle. These are NOT the children I am talking about here. 
I am talking about many others whose challenges are greatly shaped by the environmental factors that parents, with their greatest intentions, provide to their children. As I have seen in my practice, the moment parents change their perspective on parenting, these children change.   

What is wrong?

Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:
  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:
  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments
Could anyone imagine that it is possible to raise a healthy generation in such an unhealthy environment? Of course not! There are no shortcuts to parenting, and we can’t trick human nature. As we see, the outcomes are devastating. Our children pay for the loss of well-balanced childhood with their emotional well-being.

How to fix it?

If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible! I know this because hundreds of my clients see positive changes in their kids’ emotional state within weeks (and in some cases, even days) of implementing these recommendations:
 Please read the rest of the post here:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Parenting Tip- What Matters Most?

It's a new year--2018. Time for goals, for schedules beginning again, for activities to start running into each other and for saying goodbye to the lazy days between New Year's Eve and school starting. I had lunch with a friend today as we set our new goals for the year and the month and I'm actually excited to get the new semester going again. But I'm afraid I'm falling into the same pitfall that I fall into so many times before--that of over scheduling myself. 

I like to be busy.  I like to think I'm still young and vital and involved in life.  When I really admit it to myself, though, I think I'm afraid of quiet and slow time.  It makes me feel like something is wrong with me, that everyone else is busy doing fun and important things and I'm not.  Pres Uchtdorf said,
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
 The wise understand and apply the lessons of tree rings and air turbulence. They resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”1In short, they focus on the things that matter most."
I love that phrase and concept, "the things that matter most."  What things am I doing in my life that really matter the most?  Is it reading Facebook and looking at what others are posting about so I feel bad about myself?  Is it following someone on Instagram who is so focused on photographing every aspect of their life, that they forget to really live their life?  A friend told me about a girl she follows on Instagram.  One day my friend and her husband went to an ice cream shop, and there was the girl she followed on Instagram, posing with her ice cream cone while her husband took pictures of her.  I thought, "How sad, that you can't even enjoy having a date with your husband without thinking about your next post and making sure you get a good shot of yourself."

What Matters Most?
Am I  making space during my day so I can babysit or help someone when they call and need it?
Am I allowing time to play with grandchildren or read a book or call and talk to a lonely friend?
Am I putting my creative energy into fulfilling my role as a mother, grandmother, or Church member?

Thinking of this question has already helped me make two hard choices.  I want to play my banjo somewhere that is out of my comfort zone.  I met a person who has an "in" and can help me achieve this dream of mine, but I'm starting to chicken out of doing it.  I'm thinking of all the reasons why I shouldn't do it after all.  When I asked myself the question, what matters most, though, it helped me put things into perspective and gave me the courage to take the plunge and do it.  Well, I haven't done it yet, but I'm going to do it!

The other choice involves taking time to see out of state family, which is costly, time consuming and again, out of my comfort zone and normal schedule.  But when I ask  myself, "what matters most", then of course, it is seeing grandchildren and establishing relationships with them.

So you guessed it.  One of my goals for 2018 is to ask myself, "what matters most?"

Thanks for reading,




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