introducing kids to music {a podcast follow-up}

You know those people who give you a chance even though they haven’t seen you since you were 19-and-something-of-an-idiot?  Cintia is one of them for me, and I like her.  Social media reconnections are boss.

Cintia and I had a conversation today about introducing your kids to music, and it streamed live on YouTube.  If you didn’t see it live, boy did you miss out!  I’m pretty sure she’s already edited out the part where my dog peed on the chair behind me.  Regardless, you can check it out here.  I apologize for the poor sound quality on my end.  I didn’t realize my webcam mic was so bad.

podcastwithcintia

Anyway, I had a few more thoughts after we finished chatting…

On simple ways that parents can introduce music to children:

  • Put a CD player in the bedroom that the child can operate.  It’s better than an iPod at younger ages, and the concrete experience of getting a new CD (even if it’s one you burned from your iTunes) is thrilling for them.
  • Take the kids to as many concerts as possible!  Duh.
  • Keep an eye out for musical toys that don’t do all the work for your child.  If you push one button to hear a song, that’s not really learning anything.
  • Take out your earbuds, Momma.  Play it for everybody!

On children’s ability to sing:

  • Don’t ever tell a child she has a terrible voice or “can’t sing.”  Most parents aren’t that accurate in judging their own abilities, anyway.  The point isn’t always to be the best.  It’s to enjoy.  And, by the way, if we judged how great a cook you were going to be based on your mudpies…
  • The more they sing, the better they sing.  This is not a hard-and-fast rule.  If you make your child sing 6 hrs a day, they are not guaranteed to sell more records than Whitney.  But, singing is the ability to recall and make your body reproduce what you recall.  It’s imitation, and it usually becomes more accurate with more attempts.

On tips for parent-guided interactive musical play:

  • Use your sing-song voice to give instructions.  (Think of the “nanna nanna boo boo” tune and sing “Run and get your shoes on!”)  Betcha the child sings back to you.
  • Be a broken record.  That may go against lots of parenting book advice, but I’m not thinking of nagging.  I’m thinking of the way we have said “I_____ love_____ youuuuu!” thousands of times to my children in the same rising-rising-falling tones.  My youngest began filling in the final high-pitched “youuuu” long before he was really talking.  That’s musical.
  • Get silly.  If you can possibly muster up just a little bit of leftover magic dust from deep in your feet, shake it back out and make up a song about what you’re doing right now.  Or, even better, when your child is doing this (magically unprompted!) join in.  Add to the song.  When you get stuck, just repeat stuff you already sang.  It’s like… magic.
  • Pay someone to teach you how.  Music Together, Kindermusik, Musikgarten, and the Learning Groove are music teacher-led classes that involve both parent and child.

On the benefits of introducing music to kids:

  • Letting music be part of our lives connects us to the human experience throughout time.  There has never existed a culture that didn’t have music.  In my opinion, it’s a gift given to us through which we were all meant to worship.  It’s so unfortunate that our competition-driven culture has relegated music to “the experts.”

PS – I don’t have a dog.

what i learned this week #6

whatilearnedthisweek

1.  The Zombies, Run! app has to be the most fun C25K (Couch to 5K) app ever.  Armband + earbuds + this app = me having fun running for the first time in my life.

2. Kale chips don’t save well overnight.  Eat them immediately out of the oven.  You’ll be happy.

library23. A trip to the library is the equivalent of me climbing into a Delorian with a flux capacitor.  I’m not making a statement about books being antiquated; I’m saying that being among gobs of paper covered with cardboard reminds me that once I was a bookworm, and I still like books very much.  Dear Books, Will you be my friend again?  Check yes or no.

4. There seems to be nothing more the neurologist can do for me right now.  He’s run all the tests he finds appropriate, and his parting words were pretty much, “Well, you seem to be getting better.  See you in 6 months.”  He’s a good doctor, and I think maybe what’s going on with me isn’t going to be addressed by his field.  I doubt I’ll go back unless something drastic changes.

5.  My kids are so full of grace toward me.  At the same bedtime in which I’m kicking myself for being a sorry, impatient, selfish mom, my kids are thanking God for me in their prayers and snuggling up to me.  The way they love me so fully in spite of my failures reminds me of the verse that says, “His kindness leads us to repentance.”  You can’t help but want to be better when you’re the recipient of such an undeserved gift.

graduation6. People are so weird when it comes to ceremonies these days.  We complain if it’s too long, we complain if it’s too short.  Some people wouldn’t mind if it didn’t happen at all, because “it doesn’t change anything,” even though others would pay more than $1000 to suffer in coach for 15 hours just to attend.  Some of us get dressed up in our best duds just to show up and chat with a neighbor the whole time. We are weird, y’all.  (I still think they’re important.)

what i learned this week #5 {a family health-related edition}

whatilearnedthisweekIt was after I’d written all these down that I realized they were all about food and exercise.  I may have learned other things this week, but I think I’ll save those for a blog post that will stay trapped in my head for a good two weeks.  Maybe this Summer I’ll be able to write more frequently.

  1. Don’t bake with colored toothpicks.  The dye will come off around the holes where you punctured your newly Pinterested pesto-chicken-roll-up recipe, and while confetti cake is awesome, unintentional confetti chicken is not.
  2. Zumba makes me feel like one of the cool kids.
  3. This stuff should not go in your eye. bugrepellent It’s not the worst thing you can imagine, but it was probably the worst part of my Thursday.  It’s important to make sure that the pump spray is pointed in the right direction.  Oh, you knew that already?
  4. I’m the only one in this family of five who really, really likes kale.
  5. My husband likes golf enough to play during the same week that he breaks down and visits a doctor for a shoulder issue.  Hmm.  This I cannot relate to.
  6. My middle child’s love language decidedly is quality time. 5lovelanguageskidsWe rode our bikes and ran around the block together a couple of times tonight, and twice he looked up and said unprompted, “I love you, Mom.”
  7. Two of my kids are old enough and strong enough to help me train for a 5k.  My oldest can run like crazy, and she shocked herself – and me – with how easy it was for her to run 1.3 miles tonight.  She’s come a long way since February.  Now instead of thinking I can’t exercise because I’m with the kids, I should think I can exercise because I’m with the kids.  Hallelujah!

what i learned this week #4

1. In order to pop a 6 in the game of Trouble, one should “talk smack in your head,” according to my daughter.  “It didn’t work,” I said.  “Welllp, it works for me on my journey,” said my oh-so-wise 7 year old.

2. Clear, hanging shoe organizers are the answer.  I’ve had a clean countertop all week!organized

3. “Super Duper Pooper” is even funnier performed in a spot-on cockney accent by my oh-so-wise 7 year old.

4.  I really long to celebrate Easter in a much bigger, completely uncheesy way.  The Easter Bunny didn’t come to our house, and my eldest noticed.  “It must have been the rain.”  And that’s a story too long for this type post.

4. Among the many, often short-lived, usually unwanted nicknames that I have received in 3 decades, “Bag Lady” should have been one of them.  In my dejunking (let’s not fool ourselves here with the word “clutter”) frenzy, I went through 4 large tote bags full of teaching stuff.  Each one was like a time capsule.  My favorite was apparently from 2005-2006.  Here are some of the more remarkable items I rescued trashed.dejunking1. My husband’s license that expired in 2006.  Pardon the mustaches to protect his identity.  I prefer them not on his face.  2. Eight-year-old lip gloss anyone?  3.  Cassette tapes!!  YES!  I showed them to my kids and they were like “Wha?”  4.  A birthday card for Megan.  I hope I called.  5. Phone cards and a NetZero CD.  Doesn’t that seem ancient?!  6. Two of the three hole punches I found.  No need to trash those!  7. My husband’s lanyard ID for summer camp when he was a youth pastor.  8. These are still cool, right?  No, they didn’t work.  9. A mini cassette! I guess I love all forms of media.

about a guy named loonis

Aside

As the credits were rolling on one of my children’s DVDs today, I began laughing so hard that the kids followed me down the hall asking, “Mommy!  What’s funny?”

Loonis McGlohon.  That’s what.loonis2CD

In junior high, my one-of-a-kind, they-don’t-make-’em-like-that-anymore principal gave the most glowing introduction I can remember for a performing artist at our annual Fine Arts Festival.  My principal was passionate about the arts, and he was passionate about the difference between artists and entertainers, too.  As a young pianist, I was riveted — especially when he slammed Elvis.  Old school, y’all.

He told us all about Mr. McGlohon’s accomplishments as a jazz pianist and composer and how he was a gem belonging to the state of North Carolina.  I did a good 30 minutes of research tonight, and yeah – he was awesome.  Played with Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra and lots of greats most of us have never heard of.  You know, I don’t even think Mr. McGlohon was at the festival that year, but I think he and my principal were buds or something, so we got to hear a speech about why he had to cancel.

Anyway, here I am 20 years later, and who has composed the original music for “It’s Potty Time”?  Yup.  And if you’re a Dave Letterman fan, you might already know this one:

How great is it to know that someone successful enough to have a really, really beautiful theater named after them would be willing to write songs to tell my son how to pee?!  I laughed really hard at first, because of course, the whole video long I’m wondering:  Who had to write this?!  Were they not cracking up the entire time?! And whyyyy are they so catchy?  So yeah, the irony of a celebrated composer sitting in that [potty] chair really made me grin.

Without a drop of sarcasm I tell you: I am even more a fan of Loonis than ever before.  Thanks, Loonis.  You rocked.  And may your works have great impact on my children.

what i learned this week #2

whatilearnedthisweek

ikea1. I wouldn’t want to decorate my entire home with Ikea products, but I could surely spend 6 hours and several hundred dollars there!

2.  I do have enough willpower to walk in a really cool store and emerge with nothing.  Take that, all you hipsters in the very, very long lines.

3. Riding a bike is still a lot of fun.

4. My 4 year old may know how to manipulate my phone into doing a back handspring double back tuck with a twist, but he still needs help learning how to capture a picture.

bike

5. I’ve been a bit naive about why many of the students I teach ended up at my school.  I usually imagine that someone pushed a principal’s buttons too many times, got suspended too many times, went off on a teacher, had too many absences… Hearing the word “probation officer” from a middle school student still makes me pause.

freezer6. It feels really, really good to be ahead of the ballgame.  These bad boys are ready to thaw for a day, get dumped in a crockpot, and be consumed by my hungry crew. If you want to learn what preparedness feels like, check this out.

7.  Earbuds are not for wearing while children are awake.  More like, The Eleventh Commandment:  Earbuds shall not appear in thine ear whilst Lutz the Youngest might possibly be inclined to stir.  My 19 month old made it clear that he is The Adventurous One when he was discovered by a neighbor in another neighbor’s yard — and I had no idea that he’d left the house.  I was cooking and listening to Dave Ramsey, the boys were playing in their rooms, and then… There he was.  In muddy socks.  Holding a basketball. 30 yards away from my door.  So now we know that he can hold the storm door open and get over the threshold.  Sliding chain locks will soon be placed up high on both doors.

what i learned this week #1

whatilearnedthisweekI’m hoping to turn this into a weekly post, sometime during the weekend.  Um, don’t mind that it’s Monday, and I forgot to finish editing before today.  Other than the title, I haven’t set any other boundaries on this post, so it may be 50 words, or it may be 900.  Still interested?  Read on.

  1. I should have bought a wax-based eyebrow pencil a long time ago.  It takes me from  15 to adult in about 12 seconds.  (Far off, that is.  Up close in the mirror, it’s quite obvious I’m past 30, cleverly disguised brown marks or not.)
  2. Deciding that your biggest professional moment to date is not all about you becomes a professional strength.shoes
  3. The 20 year-old stories you were told may not very well represent the person standing in front of you.  In fact, they’re more likely to be inaccurate than not.
  4. I love how my husband prioritizes.  Playing in a basketball tournament so he can hang out with people he would like to feel more included takes priority over a long-time dream of running a marathon, even though he’d trained as far as 16 miles this time.  Mr. Point Guard strained his calf muscle twice, ending his dream for this year, and yet he doesn’t regret it.
  5. I need a new toothbrush.  My toddler just walked into the living room with it in his mouth.  And that’s not the first time this week.  Maybe I really need a bathroom door handle that works instead.
  6. When you’re memorizing Jesus’ sermon on the mount, his claim that his “yoke is easy” a few chapters later stands out like an open patch of carpet on my kids’ bedroom floor.  You just want to stand still on it.  You spend a couple of months trying to remember his words intensifying the Law of the Israelites, making it further impossible to keep, and then he says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  And that reminded me…
  7. Jesus is all about grace.
  8. Scripture Typer is my favorite new tool for memorizing.
  9. Jay Bilas is my favorite Dookie, and I want to read his new book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On and Off the Court.
  10. Sixth graders still do not understand my sense of humor, but eighth graders and I are on the same plane.  Sorry, eighth graders.  That’s not good news for you.

appendixless. {and how i learned what i’m worth to my child}

In 5 hours, we will have been in this hospital for 5 full days.IMAG1135bWell, my daughter will have been here all that time. I’ve taken three breaks, the longest being a 12-hour overnight stay at home while my mom took my place. You start counting these kinds of things a lot, trying to bring some kind of qualitative perspective to a seemingly infinite experience.

I’m not a big fan of taking self-portraits.  It’s not always an insecurity thing.  It’s a battle against narcissism thing.  But this one I needed to take:

IMAG1148bI will need to remember this week and that I was here with my chipped nail polish and desperately cheerful sweater for Gabby.

When she was born, my 24 year old self actually wondered, “What if she doesn’t love me?”

When she was 4, I asked my Sunday School class to pray for our relationship, because I felt it was too distant.  (Yeah, we’re old school.  No small groups.  Just old-fashioned Sunday School.)  As I grew as a mom, I learned how to connect with her better.

My girl is an independent thing, and she’s so mature and intelligent for her age that it’s easy to leave her alone too much.  She doesn’t show signs of needing Mommy as much as I’d think a 7 year old would.

This week (and the 5 days of sickness prior to them) have proven that even a girl like her needs Mama deeply.

It turns out that taking that night off at home caused me to miss the worst (read: most painful) moment of the week.  No one told me they were going to remove the drain from her side.  While they were snipping the suture holding the tube in and then pulling the tube through her incision, I was at Walgreens buying a card on behalf of her little brother.

I arrived to find my little girl sitting in a chair next to my mother, holding a scrap of paper to her chest on which I’d colored her name ombre style.  Through tears, she’d asked my mom to get it down from the bulletin board.  “Did your mom make that?” asked her Nanna.  She nodded.

IMAG1142b

I know it’s not my fault, but it still hurts.  Yes, I needed a solid night’s sleep to function better for her.  Yes, it’s okay for her to rely on other people.  Yes, it was great for my mom to get to be a part of the healing process since she lives almost 9 hours away from us.  It’s true that I had no heads-up that it might happen that day.  But knowing that you weren’t there when she really needed you? That sucks.

I’ve since promised I won’t leave the hospital until she does, and I mean I’m not even leaving the unit.  She’s stuck, so I will be, too.  Whatever we need can be brought in by someone else.

There have been other ways to learn that I’m still needed.  Her head rested on my shoulder while we sat in the bed together and watched TV.  She let me rock her when she was so frustrated that I wondered if she’d spawned another personality.  My girl’s eyes dart to me when someone is getting on her nerves and she doesn’t want to interact with them.  She looks for me first when she wakes up.  Her breath deepened when I told her I wouldn’t leave her again.

This is not only my experience.  This is much of what it means to be a parent.

There are times that one parent fits the bill of the day a little better than another.  I know there will be times when she leans more on her daddy, but I don’t ever want to forget the emotional lesson I learned this week.  I’ll need to have it rooted in my heart if she decides to go all “Leave me alone. I just want to listen to my music” when she’s 14.  Maybe I’ll be needed in a different way at that time, but I’ll be there.

..ee-yi-yo //an embarassing post//

Video

A few days ago, I upped my nerd points by tweeting Reeve to ask what to do when your toddler sings in a lower key than the one you set.. Yeah, I’m really getting picky here, but please, Popular Kid, don’t abandon me next to the lockers just yet.

We briefly went over vocal development of infants and toddlers in a music ed class I had back in the day.  I remember, because we held that class at Carribou Coffee.  (Dr. Huff, you’re my fave.)  We probably had more than one session on it, but I don’t know, because no coffee.  Children’s voices are a little higher than adult voices.  I start twitching a little when I hear adults leading kids too low, but I’ve already said too much about that.

We frequently hear our son busting out an “ee-yi-ee-yi-yo” from his crib, and all the pitches are in right relationship to each other. In other words, he’s in tune.  When I sing the first line and he responds, sometimes he matches me.  Sometimes, he completely ignores whatever key I’m singing in.  Is this the new rebellion?  Sing in F-sharp when Mom is in G?  For real?

So I set out to make a video to capture this phenomenon to show Reeve, whom I’ve never met in person.  My nerd points just lifted the roof off the gym.  (I fully intend to get to one of her shows and you should, too.  March 15th, maybe?)

Please note that I am not auditioning for Y’all Got Talent via this video.  This is my “singing with kids” voice.  My “singing for other people” voice may or may not be different.

Clearly, this is not what I was going for, but I knew someone would appreciate the uber-cuteness of my son.  AND – did you catch that?! It’s like he knew I told people he sang lower than me and decided to overshoot on purpose.  Pray for me.  My child is extra-rebellious.

Bottom line: Should you worry about how in tune your toddler is?  No.  Just sing.

Gymnasium roof, you may now return to your rightful place.

the quinoa martyr

I’ve come a long way in my cooking, but I still get nervous when people come over for dinner.  Last night, I made the kind of meal that I think, “I wish Rachel or Megan was here right now.”  You know, so good that I would even be proud to share it with people who care deeply about what they eat.

I tried not to cry when my family hated it.

white wine sauce“Mom, did you put wine in this sauce?  I don’t like it.” [whiny voice:] Martha Stewart would have been proud of my roasted salmon and sauce.  (She wrote the recipe.)

The baby screams, shoves food around his tray, screams some more.

The improvised, perfectly seasoned Cheesy Broccoli & Mushroom Quinoa is tasted. Chins pivot this way and that. Eyebrows lift and then scrunch.

“I don’t like broccoli.  I’m. not. eating.”

I leave the table.

While in my room, I pout and sort my thoughts.  I pray for wisdom. I resolve to act maturely. I open the door, and there is my husband, apparently coming to smooth things over. Never mind the maturity. I have one last burst of 7 year-old and push past him without making eye contact.

Finally chilled out, I share at the table why my feelings were hurt.  It’s a big deal to me when I cook what I think’s going to be a delicious, healthy meal. (This does happen more than once a decade, contrary to how it sounds.) My emotions are high because a) I’m proud we’re not eating out and b) I’m really wanting them to enjoy the meal.

After I explain why I’m upset, my husband says, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t like quinoa.”  Oh.  He’s kind of shocked that I thought it was so yummy, too.  “Can’t we just have salmon the way you used to make it?” he asks.

This brings me to back to the wisdom granted in the hallway between the bedroom and the table:  I ask for help.  We brainstorm menus and get enough down for about 3 weeks.  Hallelujah!  That’s the hardest part of cooking!

idontlikeitI’m so, so glad I didn’t pretend their response didn’t bother me.  What would my kids have learned from that?  Not that I was thinking, “How can I model emotional honesty and healthy conflict resolution?” when I was walking away from the table, but hey – I’ll take them learning an alternative to unnecessary martyrdom any way I can get it.

Is there something that you chose to deal with head-on instead of pouting about it? Please share!