Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Okay, I am a huge music freak! I've sung and played the piano for as long as I can remember, and I graduated college with a Bachelor's in Music, so I love to sing and dance with my kids. And I have a firm belief that there is power in music.

I know I've mentioned Kindermusik before, but this post is dedicated entirely to the subject. I first heard of Kindermusik when my oldest sister certified to be a teacher. I learned from hearing her talk about it what fun the classes are, but I didn't understand just how fun and beneficial they are until I finally got my kids enrolled last fall. I can attest firsthand to the validity of this quote from the Kindermusik website:

"...All the research in the world can’t accurately capture the look of pure delight in your child’s eyes when she experiences the sights and sounds of Kindermusik, both in the classroom and at home."

Here are some reasons we love Kindermusik:
  • they get fun CDs for home that they love to listen to. C lights up as soon as she hears the first note of the first song.
  • they get fun instruments to play with at home
  • as a Mom, I learn fun ways to teach my kids to use their ears and hear the music all around them
  • the classes also suggest fun activities for parents to do with their kids at home
  • the classes are fun learning and social experiences
  • Kindermusik has greatly helped N with his speech issues
  • C started when she was less than a year old, and it has made her very aware of the world around her. I really think it's made her smarter!
  • I love how they encorporate music in everything. It's not JUST about music. N learned about cities this semester, and the semester before that they learned about weather. The kids learn how music is everywhere, like the sounds of a busy city or in the wind.

These are just some of the things we love about Kindermusik, but you really have to experience it because I think there's a magic about it that you have to see for yourself. That might sound cheesy, but I really do think it's magical.

I highly recommend Kindermusik, especially if you're not musical but you want your kids exposed to music. You can enroll kids as young as newborn all the way up to 7 years old. I could probably blab on and on about it, but I'll spare you. Instead, go to the Kindermusik website and you'll find answers to all your questions. You'll find info on classes, you can find a teacher near you, and you can also shop for instruments. But, if you decide to enroll your kids, you probably need to get in contact with a teacher ASAP because classes fill up fast. One last thing I will say is that you might think it a little expensive, but it is worth every single penny!

Also, N and C's teacher has a blog with some fun suggestions for activities and things. Click here if you're interested.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teaching Kids Healthy Eating Habits

I happened upon this article on the LDS Church website. I admit I'm a horribly eater, which makes it hard to teach my kids to eat healthy. I'm glad I found this article because I think I really needed to be given some guidance in this arena. Here's a little bit (okay, a lot) of the article I'd like to share with you:

Let’s take a look at some of the things we may be doing wrong as parents and what we might do to change them.

1. We use food as a reward. From the time our children are small we are inclined to make them feel happy when they are sad by administering a “spoonful of sugar” in some form. If Doug falls down and skins his knee, we make it better with bubble gum. If Marty’s heart is breaking because Daddy went to the store without him, we placate him with a Popsicle. Children soon learn that feelings of discomfort or sadness can become happiness through eating. Such an early association between food and good feelings may well extend into adulthood as a self-reward habit involving a trip to the refrigerator every time a case of the blues arises. What the food-as-a-reward tradition lacks in quality it overcomes in simplicity. Most parents prefer the 30 seconds required to administer a candy mood-changer to the 15 minutes required to reward Johnny with a story about David and Goliath. Imagine the impact we might have on the lives of our children if we substituted rapture in the scriptures for contentment in cookies. Perhaps the child would even realize that there is more love involved in giving time than in giving substance. Or if time is short, a few moments of closeness and a few expressions of love might adequately attend the situation. Even a ten-cent balloon might be a healthier reward than a confectionery.

2. We use food as a punishment. When John doesn’t want to eat his dessert, his parents will probably be unconcerned. But if he balks at his broccoli, look out! Mom and Dad are likely to make such an issue of the matter that the mere sight of broccoli incites anger. Some parents will compound the problem by saying, “If you don’t finish your broccoli, you can’t have any pudding.” Then broccoli becomes the evil obstacle between John and that wonderful experience called dessert.

If you want your children to like carrots, don’t bully them into eating them. Why not try the more successful emotional approach used on television? Commercials on television associate foods with fun things like cartoons and toys. Why not develop some associations between good foods and happy, fun experiences like picnics and family home evenings? How about a pioneer dinner in the park featuring raw vegetables and fruits? Or let the little ones experiment by dipping vegetables in a variety of sauces and dressings in a fondue-style dinner.

3. We encourage snacking. To add to the conviviality of such occasions as watching television, reading, or socializing, we too often engage in snacking. And as an after-school ritual, the habit is probably firmly entrenched in most of our homes.
Children do get hungry between meals. But learning to live with that little bit of hunger, especially while yet young, may be healthier than eating at every urge. (Any Latter-day Saint knows that fasting becomes easier with practice.)

It would be best if we never developed the snack habit. If you don’t think you can accomplish that in your home, perhaps snacking could be shifted from cake and cookies to the less fattening fare of low-fat milk or fresh fruits. Of course, there is no guarantee that a well-established snack habit involving milk and fruit will not change for the worse when the child is on his own, but at least the youngster has been taught the proper principles.

Complete elimination of the well-embedded bedtime snack is also desirable, but if you can’t eliminate it, how about a glass of low-fat milk instead of a heaping plate of ice cream?

4. We eat opulently. A lavishly set table has become a symbol of success. “We always had more than we could eat at my home,” may be a braggart’s phrase, but that stuffed look is certainly testimony that it is not an empty boast.

“Waste not, want not” is a desirable ethic for frugal folk, but it might produce less obesity if it were applied at the time the plate was loaded up rather than at the time it is “cleaned up.” “Clean up your plate” is the prelude to dessert in so many homes that it’s no wonder a child feels he must eat till the food is gone, including what’s left in the serving bowls. Perhaps tables could be less sumptuously set with meals more carefully planned according to the basic food groups.
And when the food is gone, it’s gone. Some recent evidence suggests that less food will be consumed, and thus less need be prepared, if you can teach your children simply to eat more slowly. Is there really any sense in eating at each meal as though there was never going to be another one?

5. We serve too many desserts. I hesitate even to mention this last item. In many homes I’m sure it will be tantamount to heresy. But are desserts really necessary? In some homes they are so commonplace, they become ordinary and even a little dull. Reserving rich treats for special occasions would not only enhance the appreciation of both the treats and the special occasions, but would do much to eliminate obesity. If the dessert habit is too firmly entrenched, switch to fresh fruits. You may be surprised at how much your family will enjoy them.
The scriptures tell us that deathbed repentance is impossible. If we have a problem in our lives, we need to start as early as possible to resolve it, since repentance may take some time. And how much better it would be if we just never developed the problem in the first place. Poor eating habits, like all others, are hard to repent of, and prevention is infinitely more satisfactory than treatment. Therefore, start right now to try to correct your family’s bad eating habits:

  • Prepare less food.
  • Use more fruits and vegetables in your meals; cut down on fried and high-fat foods; serve desserts sparingly, using more fresh fruits.
  • As for snacks, particularly the highly processed varieties, a few days of standing firm against those pleadings for goodies might help extinguish that habit. Not having snack items around the house may reduce their consumption to almost zero.
  • Try to make meals a more leisurely and conversational experience.
  • Let’s help our children learn to eat the right amounts of the right foods for the right reasons.

I want to add my own two cents to that last sentence. By "right reasons" I think the author means that our body is a temple and we need to take care of it as best we can. We defile our body when we fill it with foods that aren't good for us. When I think about eating healthy with that kind of perspective it is much more motivating because I know my body is a gift from God, so I should respect it and take proper care of it, and I need to teach my kids to do the same. But I can't teach them to do something that I don't do myself. I'm going to be better!

I liked the suggestions in this article. What do you think? What are some of your tips for teaching your family to eat healthy?

By the way, if you'd like to read the full article, click here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Do Something Fun

Where we live there is an elementary school right behind us. All day every day N begs me to go over there and play, but every day I remind him that we can't go over there while the kids are in school. The kids are more than half the reason he wants to go in the first place. But, we usually end up going over there later in the afternoon just about every day. I do love having a park in walking distance.

Today when we went we were the only ones there. Most of the time I had to entertain C and try to keep her happy, which isn't always the easiest thing with Miss Attitude. But when we were just about done, I had a burst of energy. I strapped C in her stroller and started up a game of tag with N on the playground. He, of course, was thrilled with the spontaneous game. He squealed with delight as I got down and dirty, chasing him over monkey bars, crawling through tubes, and going down slides. After he'd get tagged by me, I would try to run away from him, which turned out to be harder than I thought. Not only did he love it, but I was happy to find that I had a ball too. It was so much fun. I felt like a kid again. Isn't that one of the great things about being a Mom? Being a grown-up can be so boring sometimes. It's nice that Moms and Dads get to revert back to their childhood now and then.

Usually, I'm one of those boring grown-ups. I'd rather sit on a bench for some much deserved rest while I watch N run around and get tired. But today I heard a voice in my head suggest getting off my lazy you-know-what and actually playing with my son. Hmmm, what a novel idea. I knew that doing that would make him feel happy and loved, so how could I resist doing it?

Doing something fun with your kids that you BOTH enjoy doing is so important. It makes them feel special and it strengthens the bond between you. I stressed the fact that it be something you both enjoy doing because I think that's major. Frankly, when N asks if I'll play dinosaurs with him, I can think of about a million other things I'd much rather do. Likewise, sometimes N doesn't want to do what I want to do. Having that kind of playtime with your kids only creates resentment, which is hardly condussive for a loving relationship. So, make sure you choose activities you both enjoy. Another other good thing about that is I think it will teach your kids not be selfish- that they need to respect other people's likes and dislikes.

Wow, this post is getting longer than I intended. My main reason for posting was to challenge all of my readers (and myself, of course) to get up and play with your kids when you usually just observe. Get really into it too, and you'll be surprised how much fun you'll have.

By the way, at dinner I asked N what his favorite part of today was (he had a fun-filled day of playing with neighbors, looking for bugs, splashing in puddles, and "shooting" with his toy gun), and he said "playing tag at the park." Aaaaah, that was good for my heart.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Jesus Book

There are some nice religious children's books about Jesus, but I haven't seen one that I absolutely love. So, I decided to make my own. I bought the mini pictures at Deseret Book, took them home and wrote a simple book about His life and what His life means to us. When it was done I had it laminated and spiral bound so it would last a long time. It's really simple, but that's what I wanted.
Here are some of the pages and what they say (sorry the pictures aren't very good):

"Jesus once was a little child like me."
"Mary is his mother.
God is his father."
"Jesus loves little children."
"He loves me."
"Jesus suffered and died for us because he loves us."
"Jesus lives! He was resurrected that we might live again too."
"Jesus gave us temples.
Inside temples we make promises to Him, and he blesses us."
"Because of Jesus I can live with my family forever."

"Someday Jesus will come again!"

"I love Jesus. And I know He loves me."

I didn't make this right before Easter on purpose. It just worked out that way, but it was great timing. I read this to my kids for our Easter FHE. They loved it, and I think it's going to be a great book for sacrament meeting.

It was fun making it and really easy too. Try one of your own.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Have A Hoe-Down With Your Kids

Yesterday I was driving in the car with my kids and they started getting restless, which means N started bugging C to get a rise out of her. So, I turned on the radio to the classical station (89.1 FM around here) to distract them with music. I've found they do better when there's music playing, and I've also found that they love the classical station (Hmm...could that possibly be because I'm a big nerd and that's pretty much all I listen to?) To my delight, they were playing the final movement from Aaron Copland's Rodeo. Most of you will recognize this as the "Beef- it's what's for dinner" song from the commercials that used to be on T.V. It's one of those songs that makes you want to get up and dance and wish you lived in the 19th century American West.
I cranked the volume, and we had our own little hoe-down in the car (don't worry- my driving was fine). The kids LOVED it! I looked in my rear view mirror and saw big smiles on their faces, and when it was over C clapped her hands to show her approval. N wanted me to play it again, which I would have gladly done if I could have.
I decided that Copland's Rodeo is a definite must to my classical music collection. Not only is it wonderful music, but it's great for kids. If you're interested in adding it to your collection I found a very good and inexpensive recording on Amazon that also includes Copland's Billy the Kid. Your kids will love it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preparing Our Children for General Conference

It's General Conference time! Yay! It's so wonderful that we have this opportunity to be spiritually fed by our leaders, but how in the heck do we teach our little ones to sit still and listen? I always look forward to general conference, but I also dread it a little just thinking of how I'm going to keep my crazy four year old entertained through it all. I don't have the magic solution, but here are some ideas that hopefully you'll find helpful.
  1. Have a bowl of yummy treats you don't usually keep in the house (like mini candy bars). You get to eat a treat after every talk you/your child listens to without falling asleep or being irreverent. This one's great for adults too! I know I'm looking forward to some chocolate!
  2. Print off some LDS coloring pages for your little ones to color. Here's a link that will take you to the church's free coloring pages.
  3. I found a cool blog called LDS Coloring Pages. One of the posts had some fun conference activities.
  4. Make some fun family traditions that help make general conference something to look forward for the kids. My family used to have a big breakfast of Swedish pancakes on the Sunday morning of conference. We only had them twice a year, so it made conference really fun and exciting. I'm going to start that with my little family this year.
  5. For FHE teach your kids about the Prophet and Apostles. Click here for the lesson on prophets in the nursery manual. Teach them "Follow the Prophet" from the primary songbook. If you had your FHE lesson on something else this week, just have another one. There's no rule that says you can only have one family night a week.
  6. There was an article in March's Ensign on preparing children for general conference. Some of the ideas included: having older kids write what they learn in a journal, talk to your kids every day about how exciting it will be to hear the prophet, complete chores the Friday before, look for conference games and activities in the Friend, and more. Click on the link for the full article.
My final tip is to remember that the best way for kids to learn the importance of General Conference is through your example. You don't have to feel ike you have to prepare a million activities, so don't get too overwhelmed. If they see it's important to you than it will be important to them. I know this from my own experience. My parents didn't really do much. Aside from the Swedish pancake thing, the only other thing they did was turn conference on every T.V. and radio in the house, so you could here conference from almost every room in the house. We knew we couldn't play with friends. We knew it was important. I remember one conference when I was very little, probably four or five. I was playing with a toy, and my mother asked me stop playing for a minute because the prophet, President Benson then, was speaking. I remember thinking that he must be important for me to have to stop playing with my toy. I think that's when my testimony of the prophets began to grow, and it was because my mother's example.
Please share any other tips for preparing our kids for general conference, and I hope you all have a wonderful conference weekend.