Tuesday, November 16, 2010


 Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it centers around family, friends and being grateful. On the first of November this year some friends on facebook began doing a daily thankfulness post and encouraged me to join in. It's amazing how daily thinking of what I'm grateful for has made me a happier person. So I thought I'd share what I've posted so far and encourage you to think of the things you are thankful for.

November is for thankfulness. Day #1: Super thankful for my faithful supportive loving husband.

Thankfulness Day #2: Today I am thankful for our daughter Abigail. She was named after a woman know for her great beauty, intelligence and independence. Since day 1 she has lived up to all three. I love her colorful personality, her artistic endeavors, and her desire to do what is good and right.

Thankfulness Day #3: I am thankful today for our middle child Josiah. Named after a young boy who became king, a king who going against what was popular reformed a nation. Our Josiah too is a leader and does what he believes is right despite what others think of him. I love how he is creative in his drawing, his skateboarding and his thought process.

Thankfulness Day #4: Today I am thankful for Alazar, our youngest. His birth parents named him after Lazarus who came back from the dead. He defied the odds and has continued as the most resourceful persistent person I know. His determination to survive his first year brought him to us and for that I will always be grateful. I love his happy spirit, his hilarious antics and his joyful singing.

Thankfulness Day #5: Today I am thankful for the opportunities I've had to travel, 40+ countries, 40+ states “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a
position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for
granted.” – Bill Bryson

Thankfulness Day #6: Today I'm thankful for weather. And how I get to visit it.

Thankfulness Day #7: I am thankful for God. I am amazed that the God who made the universe, the God who raised from the dead, that same God is the God who loves me, forgave me, saved me and calls me friend. And just fyi, that same God, whether you know it or not, loves you too. :)

Thankfulness Day #8: I am thankful for drinking water. I am thankful
that I don't have to hike to get my water and carry it back to the
family. And I'm super thankful that when I get my water it's clean. Running faucets rock!

Thankfulness Day #9: Thankful for my kind, supportive, hilarious neighbors.

Thankfulness Day #10: Thankful for music- the simple, the complex, the entertaining, the thought provoking, thankful to listen, thankful to teach, thankful to participate

Thankfulness Day #11: I am humbly grateful for the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.
"O beautiful for heroes prov'd In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life.
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,From sea to shining sea."

Thankfulness Day #12: I am thankful for all you amazing friends who were willing to realize that I am super shy not super snobby and loves that FB allows an introvert like me to say what I would be too intimidated to say out loud.

Thankfulness Day #13: I am thankful for three days of solitude I've had. I'm also thankful that I get my kids back today and my husband back for a little bit tomorrow.

Thankfulness Day #14: Thankful for sweet Vanessa and my beloved sister Becky. They are the two who inspired me to do thankfulness posts and I love how it has made me concentrate on what I am grateful for. I am also thankful that though both of these ladies have suffered great loss this past year that both of them are now having healthy pregnancies. I am thankful for their adorable kids and their babies on the way.

Thankfulness Day #15: Thankful for our health. Thankful that I don't need to sleep under a bed net and thankful that if I did I'd have the access and funds to do it. Thankful for the luxuries of healthy food, medicines, clean water, safe shelter and local hospitals.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday Special for Kindermusik with Ms B

This season give the gift of a musical
jump start for your
child's body, mind and soul!

Register early for the
Spring Semester and receive 20% off!

Order by Nov 20 for a free Hanukkah gift
or by Dec 4 for a free Christmas gift
beautifully wrapped for your child.

Kindermusik with Ms B is a music and movement program for children 0-5 years old in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Promo code: HOLIDAY

For more information see:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Music and the Holidays

Whew, with Halloween over we can move into Thanksgiving and then the winter holidays, which for me is Christmas, my favorite holiday. The one thing that truly separates Christmas in my mind from the other holidays is the music. From the time I was a little girl, music was an essential aspect of the season. There were music programs at church and school, tree lightings and fancy shows, even caroling. In fact our family would go door to door to our neighbor's homes and sing carols every Christmas Eve. Actually we still do. And since my five siblings and I are now all married with children it's quite a choir!

What about music makes it so special? Emotion. Joy. Peace. Hope. Remembrance.
Music evokes emotion. The dynamics, the modes, the tempo, all of that speaks to our emotions. A loud uptempo song may make us want to dance and a soft slow minor song may make us want to cry. But music also captivates our memories. When you chose the song for the first dance song of your wedding why did you choose it? When you hear that song now, how do you feel? When you hear a song from the first concert you attended can you almost hear the crowd? When you hear the Star Spangled banner do you picture fireworks? Music reminds us. It reminds us of people and places, sounds, smells and feelings, of love and of loss. With a simple melody we are taken back in time.

And so it is with Christmas music. Every Christmas memory for me is wrapped up in a song. So every November-December I take a journey. When I hear Christmas music I think of running around with my cousins at Grandpa's house, of riding in the car to pick a tree, of caroling to the neighbors, of Christmas parties, of ridiculous pageant costumes and cracking up with friend's backstage. I'm reminded of family and friends. If I was ever asked whether I would rather never receive another Christmas gift or never hear another Christmas song, the answer for me would be easy. I don't need gifts, I'd much rather have music and the precious memories that come with it.

What are you doing to instill good holiday memories in your children? It just takes time and music. This season share your favorites songs with your kids. Play music while you decorate cookies or sip apple cider. Stop a minute while you're out shopping and listen to the carolers as they stroll by. Take your children to a concert. Many church concerts and community tree lightings are free and fun. Take time with your kids to make special memories and incorporate music to help them last.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kids and Concerts

Music is important to our children's development, listening to it and experiencing it. But why take our kids to a concert when we could just turn on the iPod? Lots of reasons.

First and foremost is the experiencing part. When a child can see, as well as hear, how the music is being created it adds a whole new level to their understanding. Combining the skills of watching and listening creates numerous brain connections. A drum makes a sound by being hit or tapped, while a flute makes a sound from being blown into. Seeing this happen helps children put the instruments into categories and learning to categorize is a crucial lifelong skill. Taking children to concerts opens their minds to different music, allowing them to enjoy it in a new way.
Aside from the musical education received at a concert there are other benefits. One of these is that taking your child to a concert is an excellent time to instill manners and etiquette. Dress up for a symphony, dress down for a concert in the park. For young children it's about sitting still, knowing when to speak, when to remain quiet. When they get older it can be used for other lessons. In our family we like to use concerts for dates. I love going on dates with my husband but sometimes he takes our daughter instead. It's great one on one time for them. I help her get ready, finding the appropriate thing to wear, and then he treats her like a lady, taking her to dinner, holding the door for her. She learns how to behave in a social setting, treated like a lady she behaves like one and will expect that same treatment with dates in the future. Every child will need to know social etiquette, know how to behave at a wedding, an award ceremony, or unfortunately a funeral. Taking them to concerts beginning at an early age will prepare them for these social situations with grace. It may not occur to us but knowing when or when not to clap is a good skill to learn!

Santa Clarita has not been named “Awesometown” without merit. We have here a huge selection of concerts and a wonderful appreciation for the musical arts. Even our children's schools have the rare gift of music education. The Newhall School District Music Makers PTA provides chorus and orchestra opportunities to our children. And there are numerous concerts that you can attend with your child without breaking the bank. There is an “Almost free Family Events” series at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center including an upcoming musical based on the popular children's book “Click Clack Moo”. The Santa Clarita Symphony Chamber Ensemble provides a “Free Stimulus Series” and a Children's Instrument Petting Zoo around town. The Santa Clarita Master Chorale holds concerts including an upcoming event directed toward children titled “Fairy Tales, Fables and Creatures”. You can catch a show like Peter Pan by ESCAPE or a concert by the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra, both for children and by children. There are monthly free children's concerts at Christ Lutheran Preschool and free child-friendly concerts at Undergrounds, a donation only coffee shop on the campus of Real Life Church, on Friday evenings.

If you're already enjoying concerts with your kids please share with us your favorites. If not, check some out! Spend some one on one time with your little pumpkin, introduce them to the beauty that is music. Not only will you have a great time but you will encourage their essential development. And it wouldn't hurt to do a little research first with a great book like "The Story of the Incredible Orchestra". Now go ahead, and enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nothing at all about kids or music

So in April my husband and I decided to get serious about our health. This is my husband's first diet/exercise plan. My bazillionth. I don't actually remember any season of my life when I wasn't on a diet. It has been great to work out with my husband. I've lost 24 pounds and 5 inches off my waist (Yea me!) but have a long way to go. Tim has lost 30 pounds and has met his goal weight. He's continuing the workout but pretty much done with the diet. Sometimes, okay often, I get tired of making different meals for everyone in the family. The other day I went to a local sandwich shop to grab lunch for the kids and saw a grilled veggie wrap on the menu and decided to get it for me. Grilled veggies=healthy, right? A spinach wrap instead of big roll=healthy, right? I asked them for a nutritional fact sheet (my new best friend) and they were out but said it was online. I checked when I got home and to my horror this healthy choice turned out to be a monstrous mistake! It had more fat and calories than the meatball sub!!! It was my entire day worth of calories and more than my day's worth of fat. I can't even describe how frustrating that was. How many other times have I unknowingly done that??? I'm glad that places are now making their nutritional content available I guess I just need to read it before I go. Have you ever thought you were eating something healthy that turned out to not be?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday... The color of beauty.

This is my daughter's artwork. She took the picture at Venice Beach, CA and named it "The Color of Beauty". My heart is warmed by my daughter's love for variety of color, in sunsets and people. Life is not about being color blind but rather appreciating all the different colors that make up our beautiful world.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the award goes to.... ME!

I always dreamed of winning an award, perhaps a Grammy or a TONY but "understudy", and "runner-up" were more my reality. I did win a pie baking contest once. I was the only one entered in my division. I've discovered that not winning awards is okay with me.

I don't need to be THE best, I need to be MY best. Not winning gives me space to improve and takes the pressure off. That's one reason I got into Kindermusik. Previously I was teaching private voice lessons where everyone wanted to be the next super star. They weren't enjoying the music, they just wanted the awards.

Kindermusik is about the learning and the fun. Instead of "good job" we say "thank you for playing for us". We learn about music and through music, how to sing, play, move and listen. We learn about ourselves and how to work together. Life skills. Maybe some day one of my students will win a Grammy or TONY. If they do I hope they remember Kindermusik with Ms B  when they give their acceptance speech. That would be better than any award I could win on my own.

Oh but wait... the title is about me winning an award. I have at long last won something and have been given the honor of a Bloggy Award.

Liz, at http://twirlsncurls.blogspot.com/ has given me an award! It's the Sunshine award, and you're supposed to 1) post it on your blog (I saved the image and uploaded it), and 2) pass it on to 5 people who have brought sunshine into your life by listing them and a link to their blog.  Here are the people in my list, do stop by and check out their cute sunny blogs:

1. http://www.musicforspecialkids.com/
2. http://thetatamimat.blogspot.com/
3. http://mavieetmajoie.com/
4. http://kiboomu.blogspot.com/
5. http://a-latte-talk.blogspot.com/
 and a "runner-up", because I think runners-up are awesome ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vacation...from posting ;)

Ok, I've been on vacation so I apologize for the lack of recent posts. And apparently my brain is still on vacation as I can not find anything of extreme value to say right now. Hopefully my brain will return from whatever sunny spot it is in and I will have a new inspiring post up soon!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July 4 in DC

America is a tune.  It must be sung together.  ~Gerald Stanley Lee

Happy Birthday America!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Alazar!

Four years ago today we mailed in our application to the adoption agency. Unknown to us on that same day on the other side of the world our son was being born. One year later we were in Ethiopia holding him. And today surrounded by Star Wars and Toy Story toys we celebrate his turning four. What a joy he has been and continues to be to us. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Ethiopia, One Pic is Not Enough...

 Three years ago this week we were on a life-changing trip to Ethiopia, an extraordinary country.

The housing

The faces

The scenery

The housework

The market

The reason

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kindermusik for math, literacy, and social skills

The initial view of a music class is that it is directed specifically at children whose parents aspire for them to become accomplished musicians. While musicianship is certainly obtained, Kindermusik actually focuses on teaching math, literacy, and social-emotional skills and it does so through the three different learning styles- audio/verbal, visual, and kinesthetic.

Your audio/verbal learner in music class: Your little singer is given many opportunities to learn and express themselves in Kindermusik class. Each semester your child receives a CD with the entire semesters repertoire. This will probably be their favorite part of the take home materials. They will be introduced to early math skills through singing counting songs musical scales and hearing the complexities of classical music. They will be introduced to the very important skill of active listening by learning about sounds and then listening for them. Active listening and repeating of rhymes is a building block to childhood literacy. Listening to a wide variety of music including music in different languages prepares your child for multilingual literacy as well. Socially your child learns through the ensemble effort of singing together. They also learn the turn taking skill through call and response. The skill of your child's actual singing is secondary to these important life skills.

Your visual learner in music class: Your reader will particularly enjoy the story time in Kindermusik class and their favorite part of the take home material will most likely be the book. They will also like the bright posters on the walls and the colored scarves we dance with. As we sit, stand and move in class your child will be observing visually and will be introduced to early math skills and even geometry as they begin to understand spacial awareness. They will see numbers as we count on our fingers while singing and will notice the patterns as we shake shakers up high for four beats then down low for four beats. In story time they will enjoy looking at the pictures and words in the book, beginning to define the two. They will enjoy matching pictures to sounds and they will learn the early literacy skill of reading left to right. Socially your visual learner will learn to relate with others through turn taking with instruments and having the opportunity to watch other children interact. They will learn social cues like standing when they see the teacher stand and clapping when they see others clap. Important building blocks to your child's success are found in such a class.

Your kinesthetic learner in music class: Your tiny dancer will love all of the hands on time they have with scarves and instruments in Kindermusik class. In fact the instrument they are given as part of the take home materials may be their favorite. Dancing patterns and clapping steady beats are both early math skills your child will enjoy. Counting on fingers, hopping three times in a row, all to fun music instills these math skills. Literacy will be learned through understanding the meaning of words through movement. Up, down, fast, slow will make sense to them as they are actively involved, enriching their vocabulary. Socially your kinesthetic learner will thrive from turn taking, circle dancing, holding hands with other children, and partner dancing. All of these will help your child relate to others in an enjoyable environment. High energy children with a great need for movement are well respected and appreciated in class while learning essential skills.

Kindermusik is an international music and movement program for children ages 0-7 and is the originator of the mommy and me style class. They combine years of research with modern discoveries to create an ideal learning space for your young child. For more information or to enroll in a Kindermusik class go to www.KindermusikwithMsB.com.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Tim in Uganda

This is my husband Tim. He has been at an orphanage in Uganda for the past two weeks. I miss him dearly but when I see pics like these, I get it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Does your child feel loved by you?

I love my children wholeheartedly. With every fiber in me, I love them. But, and that's a big but, I don't always think they know it and definitely don't always think they feel it. So I've been doing some studying on the topic and I'll pass on what I've discovered.

It seems there are some ways that show love to all children and then there is also a breakdown of ways, referred to as love languages, that are more individualized. Every child needs certain things to feel loved and our responsibility as parents is to continually use these. Children who feel loved are more likely to succeed in life and relationships than children who are loved but don't feel it.

One of the things crucial to all children is eye contact. Looking your child straight in the eye and maintaining that eye contact shows your child that they have your undivided attention. Also, eye contact conveys honesty. Children also need one on one time. This one is harder.  And the bigger your family, the harder yet. Finding individualized time for each of our children is going to take time and sacrifice. I'm willing but don't always feel able. I'm going to have to work hard on this one. The third crucial part for all children is discipline. Discipline is training and setting boundaries. It includes punishment but that's not the main focus of discipline. The idea of discipline is to eventually lead them to self-discipline, self-control. We all know how important that is in our lives. It's our responsibility to direct our children in that and, amazingly, doing so helps them understand that whee love them. So eye contact, one on one time, and discipline are the foundations.

Beyond those basic are the five love languages. Each of us, including our children, speaks and understands a different love language. The five languages as laid out by Gary Chapman PhD and Ross Campbell MD in the book "The Five Love Languages of Children" are quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Though each of these ought to be expressed, one of these speaks loudest to each child.  A child whose language is physical touch will love hugs and kisses, patty cake, tickling, spinning and dancing together and riding piggy back. The child whose language acts of service will really appreciate you making something for them or even doing their chores one day for a special treat. Quality time speakers will really feel loved by the one on one time all our children need. Mommy and me classes are great for these kids. Children who feel loved by words of affirmation will love the cheerleader in you. Saying "I love you" and "great job" or "good try" will mean more to them  than the other languages. A child whose love language is gifts places great meaning in gifts, showing love by giving and feeling love by receiving gifts. Figuring out your child's love language can be done by asking "would you rather" questions. "I have some free-time next Saturday. Would you rather I cleaned your room while you got your nails done (acts of service) or would you prefer we go buy that cute pair of earrings you saw last week (gifts)?" "Do you want me to read you a story (quality time) or play horsey ride (physical touch)?" "Would you rather I told grandma all about your ballet recital (verbal affirmation) or do you want to take the new tutu you received to show her (gifts)?" "Do you want to make cookies for your class together (quality time) or shall I make them while you play outside (acts of service)?" After asking these types of questions over a period of time you ought to know your child's language of love and you'll be more apt to follow through showing it, realizing how wonderful it is to have your child know you love them. I'm excited to get started on figuring out my kids. I have some guesses already but we'll see. What do you think? Do you know how to make your child feel loved? For that matter, do you know your own love language? I'm certain you love your children as I do so let's see what we can do to make them know it!

Suggested further reading:
"The Five Love Languages of Children" 
"How to Really Love Your Child"
"Boundaries with Kids"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Fabulous East Coast Adventure

This was a very educational trip a few years back to New York, Philadelphia, Virginia, Maryland, and DC  but clearly we had some fun too. This is our favorite pic from the trip. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where Should My Child Go to School??

We all want what's best for children. Choosing a school may be one of the most important factors in giving our child the best. So how do we choose the right school?

Everyone has an opinion (sometimes a very vocal opinion!) on what the best school setting is. Public school, private school, home-school, and charter school all have advantages and disadvantages. There is no BEST school, only what's best for YOUR child. So what are some of these advantages and disadvantages?

Here are the advantages/disadvantages as listed in Vicki Caruana's "Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge".

1. Public schools are good at reaching out and helping the below-average student.
2. Public schools are driven by common standards and goals.
3. Public schools are free. (Big determining factor IMO)
4. Public schools offer students a variety of social experiences based upon diverse populations.
1. Public schools are overcrowded.
2. Public schools often lack funds.
3. Public schools do not effectively address the needs of gifted students. (Not certain I agree with this one)
4. Public schools have more saftey concerns than the others.
5. Public schools can be more "forward thinking" than many parents might prefer.
6. As is common in politics, "reform" can often mean a previously failed approach repackaged under a new name.

1. Private schools are often church-affiliated and may support your desire to impart faith in your child's education. (Depending on your beliefs this could be an advantage or a disadvantage)
2. Private schools typically have a higher level of parental involvement.
3. A community atmosphere can encourage greater solidarity and discipline among students.
4. Accelerated curricula for gifted students is usually offered.
5. Although some private schools can be over-crowded, they generally have a smaller class size.
1. Although private schools must undergo an accreditation process, some schools and teachers have not earned accreditation.
2. Private schools that have earned accreditation will be more expensive.
3. Problem students sent from public schools may derail opportunities for creativity and classroom innovation.
4. Parents must often transport their own children to school.
5. If a private school is church-affiliated, it may support a denomination with differing doctrinal views from the parents.

1. Because they are publicly funded, there is no tuition cost.
2. They typically offer smaller class size.
3. They may target a specific need of your child.
4. They allow for greater parental input.
5. Due to high parent involvement and visibility, they may have fewer disciplinary problems and safety concerns.
1. They may not be conveniently located, and the parent is usually responsible for transportation.
2. Waiting lists can be very long.
3. With such a high level of parental involvement, disagreements can sometimes disrupt programs.

1. Homeschooling best meets the individual learning needs of children. (This depends on the parents, of course)
2. Home-schooling can create or strengthen the family bond.
3. Parents can set their own schedule and choose their own curricula.
1. Parental burnout can frequently occur in the absense of a strong support system.
2. The financial sacrifice of changing to a one-income family is too great for many.
3. The choice to home-school is still criticized and questioned by many.

When choosing a school for a child you need to know yourself and your child.
  • How much involvement can you afford? 
  • What is your child's learning style? 
  • Does your child need special attention? Ahead? Behind?
  • In what kind of environment will my child succeed? 
  • Do you desire to have input on your child's curriculum? 
  • Is diversity of race and social status important to you? 
  • What are my options if I disagree with something at the school?
 My husband, children and myself have attended all of these different types of school. And each of us has attended at least two of the types. There is no "right answer". And the answer may not be the same for each of your children. While clearly it is more convenient to send all of your children to the same school, this may not be what's best for them. Research the options. Make an educated decision. The remember whatever school your child attends, YOU are still their best teacher! What you do and say in their presence (and out) will make a greater impact than anything else in their lives. If you cannot afford the time or money or driving distance (or whatever hindrance may arise) to put your child in your first schooling choice - don't fret. Your influence and involvement will help your child become the person they are going to be more than any school.

For more questions about choosing a school for your child be certain to see the Department of Education's website.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Happy Birthday to my fabulous husband! Yes, June is birthday month in our house. Three out of five people in our home have a birthday in June. Busy, expensive month here. Add in graduations and Father's Day and I'm beat. Add in that tomorrow my amazing husband leaves for three weeks to Uganda, London, and Berlin and wow I'm exhausted already. But right now it's time to celebrate my husband. He's wonderful, a wonderful husband, father, role model, hard worker, all around great guy. I love him dearly. Happy Birthday babe.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Disneyland Tips

This year my family participated in Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Day" program. They gave out 1 million tickets to people doing volunteer service and we signed up, completed the service and yesterday, for my daughter's 12th birthday, headed over to Disneyland. So here are my tips...

Tip number 1: Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen. Non-negotiable!
Tip number 2: Dress your family in something easily identifiable. We went with yellow because it's my birthday girl's current favorite color. I advise against red because it's too obvious, every other family there is wearing red. While wearing matchy-matchy outfits may seem super dorky to some (cough cough-my husband) and did get us named the Banana Family by the Jungle Cruise guy, we were thankful to be able to quickly spot each other.
Tip number 3: If money is a concern - bring your own lunch. Despite what the website says, you are able to bring in food and they have lockers in the park to store it. Though I was pleased to see fruit for sale in the park.
Tip number 4: Measure your children ahead of time and check the website for height restrictions. Most ride cut-offs are 40 inches. My youngest is 41 inches so we spent lots of time having him measured. If they are close, teach them ahead of time how to stand up straight, but not tip-toes, for being measured.
Tip number 5: Check park hours. I generally think of parks opening around 10am. We were prepared for this trip and it opened at 8, which gave us two hours to hit up all the big rides before everyone else realized it was open!
Tip number 6: This tip is brought to you by the number 6. Six is the perfect number of members in your group to go to Disneyland with, especially if it's 3 kids and 3 adults. In almost every ride you are seated in either twos or threes. With 6 people it always divides evenly. (There are only five people in our picture because my mother-in-law was taking it.)
Tip number 7: If your kid is into Star Wars, which includes about 97% of you, then be aware of the recently added Jedi training. They do this throughout the day, they pick about a dozen participants and they get to do Jedi Training. I'm not a Star Wars buff but to my almost 4 year old boy this was amazing. Well at first it was tragic because we came half way through. Lots of tears followed so we waited for the next one. Okay, my son and I waited while everyone else went on another ride. We sat right up front. There were already the competitive soccer moms lined up teaching their kids how to best get the attention of the Jedi master in order to be picked. they were practicing clapping and raising their hands. I kind of laughed at them but I also whispered to my son to do what they were doing. Then I found myself actually praying that he would be picked because I didn't want the rest of the day to be ruined. They came out, he clapped and yelled, and right off the bat he was picked. The family behind us apparently did not pray and their unpicked kids cried for the remainder of the show.


Tip number 8: Make a ride plan. Pick everyone's 1st choice and make a sensible plan around it. Let everything else be added fun. Pick calm rides like the Jungle Cruise around usual nap times. Don't force kids to go on rides they think will be too scary. My daughter is terrified of Space Mountain but thinks the Matterhorn is boring. I just have to decide that's okay. My 9 year old was game for anything. My almost 4 year old loved Space Mountain but screamed in terror on the Snow White ride so you never really know.
Tip number 9: Pick a spending amount on food/souveniers  ahead of time. Let your kids know in advance what those guidelines are. If they know what to expect they will be begging for less.
Tip number 10: Have fun! Our last few amusement park trips were disastrous. We really had a great time on this trip. I think having guidelines and expectations discussed in advance makes everyone happier. After all, it's supposed to be the happiest place on earth. And yesterday, for us, it was.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baby Genius!

Is your baby a genius? Your very own future Albert Einstein? We all want our children to be intelligent, maybe not genius, but certainly intelligent, right? Is it all in their genes or can we do anything about it?

Many studies have shown that playing music, reading to your child, and appropriate loving touch all impact their future intelligence. Each new experience, sound, movement creates connections in our children's brains and repetition helps secure these connections. I have just recently begun reading a book titled "Your Child's Growing Mind" by Jane M Healy, Ph.D. and found in it a great list of "dos" to help your child's brain stimulation. Here are some of the items on the list...
  • Childproof your home for safety
  • Keep playpen time to a minimum
  • Repeat repeat repeat
  • Help baby focus on one sense at a time-sight, smell, taste, touch, hear
  • Place toys just out of reach so they must actively grasp them
  • Bring in new toys one at a time
  • Talk to your child, link language with other senses
  • "Your overall goal should be not to teach your baby, but to help her discover how to organize experience for herself."
With today's pressures remember that our children also need plenty of down time. They need to learn how to relax. Be a good example and learn to relax yourself!

What do we do if we think perhaps our child is not measuring up in their intelligence? First, keep in mind that children develop in a vast variety of time frames. Don't stress over the charts and graphs that say when your child should be able to do such and such. However there are a few things of which to be aware. If your child shows any of these, consider it a warning sign and have your child evaluated by a professional.
  • Always "good", sleeps all the time
  • Consistently poor eye contact with parents
  • Failure to respond to voices and other sounds
  • Right and left sides move unevenly
  • Noticeable delay in many or all of the typical milestones
  • Delay in social responses- doesn't wave goodbye, play peekaboo
  • Failure to develop language
  • Abnormal response to light, sound, touch
Each state has an Early Intervention program and children 0-3 years old showing these warning signs can be tested free of charge and, if needed, receive free learning programs. Our youngest son showed a few of these signs and has been receiving free programming for the past year and a half. The improvement has been remarkable. At a year old he could not yet crawl. Now at almost four he runs through mountain trails without a second thought. He continues to receive speech therapy but everything else is completely up to (and beyond) "normal".  If your child is progressing normally in their brain development encourage new stimulation. If your child is struggling there is no shame, get the help you need and continue being the wonderful parent that you have been striving to be.

For more information about early intervention programs please go to ECLKC.
For an in depth study of childhood brain development check out "Your Child's Growing Mind".

Monday, May 31, 2010

My baby's all grown up

This is my baby Abigail. She's a sweet, bright, cuddly girly-girl. Oh wait this picture is a bit old. This Thursday my sweet baby turns 12. Next week she graduates from the 6th grade and officially becomes a junior higher. Today we bought her graduation dress - in the junior section! No more little girl. I can hardly believe how time has flown by. She no longer wears pink. She prefers bright yellows and oranges. She no longer cuddles but does tolerate a kiss goodnight. She is definitely still bright. She reads at a very advanced level and has tested into algebra. She has her life planned out. She intends to go to fashion design school in New York and become a famous designer. Abigail is a typical first born independent spirit. She is logical and creative. She is a visual learner. She is a loyal friend. And she never ceases to amaze me. Delivering Abigail was a horrible experience with 24 hour labor, a failed epidural, a nurse I couldn't understand, and an emergency c-section. And every minute was worth it. Abigail is amazing and I am so proud of her. I love her with all my heart. Happy birthday baby.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What is Kindermusik?

Kindermusik is a community of families and educators passionately committed to bringing music to children's lives through developmentally appropriate curricula, CDs, books, instruments, and activities.

Kindermusik's philosophy is founded upon rigorous research and our fundamental beliefs:
A parent or loving caregiver is a child’s first and most important teacher.
All children are musical.
The home is the most important learning environment.
Music nurtures a child's cognitive, emotional, social, language, and physical development.
Children flourish in a child-centered environment where activities are developmentally appropriate. Educators value the learning process—not the performance—of music making.
Every child should experience the joy, fun, and learning that music brings to life.

With 30 years experience in developing early learning curricula and products, Kindermusik is the world’s most trusted name in music and movement classes for children newborn to seven. Kindermusik curricula are based upon the principles of early development applied to developmentally appropriate practice as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Plus, the Kindermusik philosophy is rooted in the work of early childhood development experts like Piaget, Montessori, and Greenspan. Our full curricula offer your child seven years of musical learning that involves every aspect of your child’s growth and development: language, motor skills, social skills, cognitive development, emotional growth, and musicality. Throughout the Kindermusik experience, a trusted and trained Educator will guide you and your child through every musical and developmental milestone and help you understand what is happening all along the way. Each semester, a new set of At Home Materials brings the experience out of the classroom and into your every day routines and rituals.

The above paragraphs are taken directly from the Kindermusik website. To find out more vist their website at www.kindermusik.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birth Order

Figuring out what makes your kid tick can be really useful in parenting. Did you know that your child's personality is heavily influenced by their birth-order??

First-borns are typically well organized, driven, motivated, reliable, critical and don't like surprises. When parenting a first-born remember that they like to know the rules. Always be very clear with what you expect from them. They are also very hard on themselves. When you teach them how to make the bed and it's still a bit wrinkly don't redo it or tell them they should have done it better. Odds are, they really did their best. Encourage them instead. First-borns also feel left out when you spend more time with younger children. Be certain to spend some one on one time with them.

Middle children are typically peace makers, loyal to friends, diplomatic, unspoiled, and secretive. When parenting a middle child remember that they may not instinctively tell you what's going on in their life. You will need to ask and watch to know what's going on. Make certain that your middle born isn't always stuck with hand-me-downs and really make certain they show up in the photo albums and scrapbooks as much as your first-born or new baby and make sure pictures of them are at least sometimes solo pics, not always with other siblings.

Last-borns are typically charming, attention seeking, affectionate, tenacious, and blame others. Last-borns get away with everything! Don't let this happen. Last-borns still need discipline and responsibility. They need their awards and projects displayed on the fridge as much as the older ones. Read to your last-born, involve them in mommy and me classes and even when life gets crazy with all the kids make certain your youngest is not neglected.

Only children are typically thorough, deliberate, high achiever, fearful, self motivated, and interact better with adults than other children. Parenting your only child is similar to parenting a first born. Make certain they understand that failure is allowed. Also be certain to set your only child up in playgroups or classes with children their own age.

There are, of course, many exceptions particularly when death, adoption, and parenting styles come into play. But knowing your child's current and potential traits can certainly help your parenting. In fact understanding your own birth order will probably help your parenting as well.
For more information on birth order read Dr Kevin Leman's book titled "The New Birth order Book".


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - PEACE


Children of all ages love to move. Babies squirm and wiggle, they reach for loved ones. As they grow they learn to turn over, crawl, stand, bounce, walk, run, hop, skip, and dance. They move forward and backward, to the right and to the left. Children explore life through their movements. They learn what their body can do and what it can not do. They learn fast and slow, high and low.
It is wonderful what children learn on their own. It is even more wonderful what we can teach them. Here's where labels come in. When children move they need to know what it is they are doing. When my three year old was two he had to take an early childhood assessment test. One of the things they asked him to do was to walk backwards. Now I had seen him walk backwards hundreds of times but on this day he would not do it. The lady kept asking and he kept refusing. Then a light went off. He didn't understand the term. He knew how to walk backwards but I had never told him that was what he was doing so he could not do it on command. I neglected to label. I felt horrible at that moment but have since learned much more about the importance of applying labels to his movements. Labels enable children to associate words to things, actions, and concepts and to recall them later. Labels are crucial.

The most obvious labeling we do is teaching body parts. We teach our children to point to their nose, their eyes, their belly. Labeling movement is also important. When you move with your child, narrate the actions. "Let's reach up high. Let's reach way down low." "Let's hop to the left. Now let's step to the right."  Children will learn to identify the movements and the directions. Keep it interesting and build their brain connections by adding new and fun movements. Don't just walk and hop but skip, sway, slide, shake, march and gallop. As they learn add descriptive words and body parts. Instead of "let's reach up high" say "let's slowly reach our hands up high". Doing the movements in opposites will help them even better understand (see my post "Compare and Contrast"). If you are holding your little one while labeling be certain to label in their direction. If they are facing you and you are going forward remember that they are going backwards.  Moving and labeling with your little one can be a lot of fun and will make your child smarter. Take a few minutes each day to do some intentional movement and labeling but also do it casually throughout the entire day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!


Mama thank you for who I am
Thank you for all the things I'm not
Forgive me for the words unsaid
For the times
I forgot

Mama remember all my life
You showed me love,You sacrificed
Think of those young and early days
How I've changed
along the way

And I know you believed
And I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
I miss you, I miss you

Mama forgive the times you cried
Forgive me for not making right
All of the storms I may have caused
And I've been wrong
Dry your eyes

Mama I hope this makes you smile
I hope you're happy with my life
At peace with every choice I made
How I've changed
Along the way
And I know you believed in all of my dreams
And I owe it all to you, Mama

Mama by Il Divo

This is for all moms but especially for 4 special moms.
To my mom for every dress you made me in the middle of the night so I would have something cute to wear.
To my mother-in-law for raising an amazing son. Clearly you did something right.
To my step mother for not being evil, way to break tradition.
To my youngest child's first mom for the greatest gift I could ever have received. I hope you're looking down and seeing what an amazing boy he is.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Glory Baby

For many, because of infant death, miscarriages, and abortion, Mother's Day is a difficult time. This is dedicated to you.

Glory Baby, You slipped away
As fast as we could say baby, baby
You were growing, what happened Dear,
You disappeared on us baby, baby
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe
Until we're home with you
Until we're home with you

We miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there's a day
When we will hold you, we will hold you
And you'll kiss our tears away
When we're home to stay
We can't wait for the day
When we will see you, we will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘Til mom and dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
You'll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little baby, it's hard to understand it
Cause we are hurting, we are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we're stronger people
Through the growing and in knowing
All things work together for our good
And God works his purposes
Just like he said he would
Just like he said he would

I can't imagine Heaven's lullabies
And what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing
Heaven is your home
And it's all you'll ever know
All you'll ever know

"Glory Baby" by Watermark

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Talkers, Watcher, and Doers

Do you know your child's learning style? Did you realize your child, no matter how old, even has a preferred learning style? For that matter do you know YOUR learning style?? There are three basic categories of learning. Auditory- those who talk, Visual- those who watch, and Kinesthetic- those who do.

My oldest child is my 11 year old daughter Abigail. She loves to read. She loves to do word puzzles. She loves to do crafts, make things pretty, decorate, and color coordinate. She does best with written assignments and lists. She enjoys television. Abigail is a Watcher. Watchers, or visual learners, notice when you get a haircut, notice when something is different in the classroom, are good at faces but forget names, love picture books, graphs, and diagrams, and are better at chores when given a list. Watchers may struggle with oral instructions. Teaching your visual learner early on to write things down will help with them and index cards and sticky notes will be invaluable when it comes to homework. A fun game to play that a preschool Watcher will enjoy is looking at an object then having them close their eyes and describe it. This will help build your little visual learner's brain development, strengthening their core style of learning. Is your child a Watcher?

My middle child is my 9 year old son Josiah. He talks. Non stop. Literally. We call him our narrator because he is always talking. The other night he had a sore throat. He got out of bed and came to tell us that he couldn't talk. We kind of laughed because how ridiculous is it to complain that you can't speak when you're supposed to be sleeping?? But for him that's a serious issue. He talks himself to sleep. He talks in his sleep. I mean seriously he talks all the time. You guessed it, Josiah is my auditory learner, my Talker. A Talker can easily follow oral instructions, loves listening to music and stories read aloud. They can remember phone numbers by repeating them a few times. They often move their lips when reading silently or solving a problem. They love pretend play and show and tell, love music and drama but are bored with tv. They best learn to read phonetically. They may have very messy handwriting and become easily distracted by noise. They need a quiet place to do homework. Digital recorders will be key to help an auditory learner with homework. A preschool aged Talker will love singing and rhymes. This will not only be a great source of fun for the auditory learner but will continue to strengthen their personal learning style. Is your child a Talker?

My baby is three. His name is Alazar. He lives for running, jumping, sliding, swinging, climbing. He is my kinesthetic learner, my Doer. He loves blocks and trains. He loves throwing things and kicking things. He loves to touch things and notices immediately if they are cold or fuzzy or soft. He loves hugs and kisses and snuggles and gets ornery if he doesn't get them. He loves to watch tv but acts everything out. Shows with dancing like the Backyardigans are a favorite. Kinesthetic learners learn by experience, by trial and error. Doers will be good with fine and gross motor skills. They will excel in rhythmic movement. However, Doers have a hard time sitting still which makes school and homework a challenge. Manipulatives (counting buttons, sorting colored blocks, dividing sandwiches) will help out with homework. Also let them have playtime BEFORE homework. Getting the wiggles out will help with concentration. The preschool Doer HAS to get out and play. Playing and hugs will strengthen the kinesthetic learner's personal learning style. Is your child a Doer?

All three learning styles have pros and cons. None is better than the other. Each person has a blend of these, one being dominant. Figuring out your child's dominant learning style and working with it is essential to their success. So is your child a Watcher, a Talker, or a Doer?

To learn more about these learning styles read Cheri Fuller's book Watchers, Talkers, & Doers or attend a free Kindermusik preview class.