That is why I gave you a 10

Recently, several families completed evaluations of their Kindermusik experience with Music Connections.  I LOVED what they had to say – it warms my heart and makes it even more worthwhile to do what I love.

The comments in this posting will be parents who have responded to the Kindermusik for the Young Child program.  I will start with one of my favorites, but will continue to share more over time.

In the following picture, the Young Child students are using the boomwhackers to pound out melodies while they are sitting in the correct note spaces and lines on the floor staff.  We call this the Music Machine.

Boomwhackers on staff

“You are so sincere and full of compassion with your art that God blessed you with. You share that gift with passion and all heart with children that love music.   Music is the best medicine in the world. What parent would not give their child a gift that they know would be so  educational.   That is why i gave you a 10.   I love to hear Toni humming music as she works .”                      –  Laura Pendleton

“My child is happy learning about music and instruments. Kindermusik represents a fun and creative way for a child to “make music!”              – Andrea Dockery

“Debbie is a wonderful teacher and the content is presented in a fun and educational manner.”         – Kathy Hockenberry

“My daughter has just flourished over the years in the Kindermusik program. She is now in the Young Child class and I am amazed at her enthusiasm for learning music theory, practicing her instrument and her overall love of music. Debbie Mondale is a true inspiration.”    – Shelley Robinson

WOW!  Thanks to all for your wonderful thoughts.  It made me cry.  I miss the students already !

 

My Dream of Motherhood

It’s a serious predicament when a woman strongly desires to have children, yet her husband, the desired father wants NO part of it.  Since this occurred with both MY parents, and my father’s parents, I suspect it is far more common than I felt at the time.  But, it is interesting to learn how each individual deals with this predicament.  This is my story, my song, and my way of helping my DREAM COME ALIVE. 

 

My husband and I married quite young, and CHOSE to complete our educational goals and begin our careers before having children.  Or so I thought.  As time passed, my husband somehow came to the conclusion that he was not interested in having children and became quite adamant about it.  I did want children, just not yet, and we decided to agree to disagree and not discuss it  (saves a marriage sometimes, you know.) 

Of course, there came a time when my desire to have a child swelled inside me.  AND, I needed and wanted him to be an active part of the child’s life, and be willing to undergo the sacrifices and changes that come with an expanding family.  Only with his true consent, not forced choice, was I willing to risk bringing a child into this world.

Family Close up 2I decided to write a song to express how strongly I felt about having a child, not just any child, but his child.  Right before Christmas, I brought out my guitar and told him I had a song to share with him. 

Dream Come Alive

By Debbie Mondale

 

Thinking myself to sleep I watch time passing like a breeze,

Been making my childhood dream comes true,

it often puts my mind at ease.

Every step of the way, you’ve been by my side,

going up or down, a roller coaster ride.

There’s one more thing you can help me see through,

I want a child that looks like you.

Please help me

make this dream come alive.

Yes, I’m scared too,

but we will survive.

I know you think I’m crazy,

that I don’t know what I’m saying.

And you’re probably right,

but the feeling inside

is so strong that I’m saying it.

 

I’ve thought about this a lot, its  taken years to decide.

I didn’t know if I wanted it, we lead such a carefree life.

I know it isn’t your goal, quite the contrary,

I only ask because it means so much to me.

(Chorus)

I think that as a father, you will have so much to give;

telling stories, making him laugh, teaching him how to live.

It’s a strange, strange world to grow up in,

but with both our guidance, he’ll be strong within.

All I can see is you and me in the heart and mind of one to be. 

(Chorus)

As soon as I sang the last line of the first verse, his smile vanished, but he listened to the rest of my song and my explanation.

I told him that there was no pressure, he could say “no” and we would continue our lives with our current footloose and fancy free approach.  Or he could say “yes”, and we could start a new strange existence full of spontaneity and learn new nuances to the meaning of love.  He didn’t have to answer me at any specific time, but that I would love to know as soon as he had reached a decision.

Nothing was said about it for several days until we were on a road trip to visit his mother for Christmas.  “Do you want an answer to your question?” he asks.  Knowing immediately what he was talking about, I almost shouted, “YES”.  He quickly spits out, “Yes, and I don’t want to talk about it.”  I smiled.  It was a wonderful … slow … start.

Now, he is a wonderful father of 2.  He does have so much to give – just as the song says, and just as I expected.  The second pregnancy was eight years later, and quite a surprise… to me.  I was quite worried about how he was going to respond.   But, he knew about our second child before I did, as he was having dreams about her during the first few weeks I was pregnant.  When I told him we were expecting, he told me we were going to have a girl.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I know that my true gifts are my loving husband, and my two delightful children, as well as my own caring mother (who also insisted upon becoming a mother) and my father, who also became a great father despite his early reservations).

The following two postings were developed by me last year, but I believe they will always be relevant on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Sing-a-long and Traditions – includes a fun cartoon video of a parent /child relationship, as well as some traditions we have in our family on Mother’s Day.  Telling and singing the above story is part of that.

Songs for Mothers and Fathers   Many of the songs that I recommend are a part of my heart’s memories, they will never fade.  Most all of them were written by parents who had that same strong feeling about being a parent.                       It is powerful.                          It is love.

I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day as well, as a mother, or with your mother.

My Own Version of THE BIG CHILL kitchen scene

In the movie, THE BIG CHILL, family and friends gather at one person’s home to attend a funeral and  reminisce about a friend who just passed away.  Well, no one in my family has passed away, but in the last few weeks, we’ve gathered by the bunches, both here and in Texas, to share the burdens of some of the troubled times of our family and friends. 

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, a local family with 8 children were without power at their home for a WEEK.  Their children’s ages range from 5 months to 17 years old.  They are good friends of ours; both my children have “best friends” in their family.  Of course, we invited them to stay with us until their power was  back on.   Although OUR house was extremely busy, it was joyfully busy.  My children were busy with their friends creating new activities and playing with the things they normally ignore.  My friend and I were able to really talk with each other in ways we hadn’t since the baby was born.  She and I worked side by side in the kitchen (I am usually by myself), and the company and help was a nice change.  And at one point in time, most all of the children (including the two 4 year olds) were dust, dust, dusting my entire house.  (I just love the effect of the DUST, DUST, DUST song).  We had a nice pile of dirty rags for the washing machine – it felt like a real life version of a Milk & Cookies class.

At the same time, Hurricaine Ike was hitting Galveston and traveling through the parts of Texas where ALL of my extended family live, my aunts, uncles, cousins… my mom is part of a LARGE family.  One of my relatives has a beach house on Galveston where we meet each December for a Christmas Party.  It’s been a tradition since I was a young child.  My mother and I were all on pins and needles waiting to hear from our relatives, while they moved inward from the coast and stayed with other family a bit farther away.  Fortunately, most of the news has been good so far; no one was hurt, and other than a bit of flooding damage, the properties are alright.  We still haven’t heard about the beach house.  Although, I did have to chuckle about one scene on the news with a truck sloshing through deep waters on Galveston Island with a huge sheet of plywood attached that read, “Go away Ike, Tina’s not here.”

Power was out for several days, even in the mid-Texas homes where several of our families had gathered.   But  thanks to CELL phones, calling a houseful of relatives allowed me the chance to talk to a variety of people, one after the other, with whom I haven’t chatted with in awhile.  It was good to talk with them and hear their very Texas accents, and how they explain a story in such a different way than the person I just spoke to before.  Hearing multiple perspectives of the same situation is very interesting.

It somehow reflects some of the scenes in the movie, “Big Chill”.  That movie really shows how troubled times can truly bring people together – all staying together in the same house.  Plus, the music is awesome!  I love the kitchen scene, all dancing and working together.  WOW!  I just found that scene on YouTube.  So cool!

Troubled times bring families and friends together, to talk, work, and just BE alongside each other.  It’s amazing how a lack of electricity, or an abundance of people, will get us all outside a bit more, talking in more depth while working side by side, watching the children be more creative than usual, and just being there to support each other.

I SAY, WHY WAIT ?   Getting together with other family or friends for an extended visit is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.   I enjoy visiting my friend in Zephyrhills for a full day, letting the children play for an extended time, and helping her complete some craft she started, or pulling off a gigantic project for her job as a elementary school librarian – she likes to do things BIG.  We put on some fun music in the background and just enjoy singing along with the music together, as we are fixing up a meal for everyone.  Although it has been since mid-summer that we enjoyed such a day.

Real life CAN be that way sometimes!   In troubled times, OR with extended family or friends, OR even just with your own family.  Put on some music and dance around the kitchen, working together side by side.

Mind you, it is very difficult to get much Kindermusik work done when there is a houseful of people for which to cook and clean; when there is a certain 5 month old to keep happily entertained  (it is a combined effort, but she is such a cutie that it is a joy); AND when needing to play referee within the waning good and challenging times that occur when several children (esp. 4 year olds) are around each other for extended periods of time (sometimes that even includes grown ups). 

And it has been hard to concentrate on WORK when my mind is occupied with worries for my family in Texas.  And for the 3 weeks before that, my mom went through heart surgery and two week long stays in the hospital.  Although she needed a lot of hand holding then, she is much better now and regaining her strength – now that her heart is getting a lot more blood running through it!

So I apologize for not blogging, for not being as ready as usual for the beginning of the semester, and for not making as many phone calls and emails.  I appreciate your patience.  I’ll be getting back into the swing of things now.  Matter of fact, I think I’ll put on some swinging music from the Milk & Cookies CD, and get ready for this next week !

Revisiting Potty Training techniques with Music, etc.

Due to further requests on this topic, I have extended the discussion. 

You may find the next posting to be a great introduction to why I think music works.  These are two examples of how this might work.

For my daughter, Cora, the real “hang up” for using the toilet was her “choosing” when to go to the bathroom, without being prompted by someone else (even if it was evident that she needed to go).  So I came up with a Congo Line type dance song, very upbeat, and would just start singing and dancing my way to the potty.  She would fall in line and dance and sing with me.  When we arrived, I simply asked her if she would like to go first, or if she wanted me to go first.  This gave her a choice, and she typically chose to go first.   No stress, all fun!  She was potty trained by 2 years old.  For Grace (a Kindermusik student), the “hang up” was more the actual “doing her business on the potty”.  Her mother, Marcy, had tried books, and singing a variety of songs, BUT the enthusiasm generated by singing THAT particular song SHE LOVES from Kindermusik class was the magic solution to her having a “BM” in the potty”.   

 Just keep trying new things that you think will “spark” the interest of the child, and connect that positive emotion to the process. 

Books, Stories, Role Play and Puppets?

 Some children are more resistant to the idea of “being” potty trained.  It really is such a personal thing, and requires a great deal of self control.  As many relationship experts have said, you cannot make someone change.  But you can set them up to CHOOSE it themselves.   

An excellent way to make it less personal is to have them learn about the skill from a puppet, without being required to follow through at that moment.  When introducing the puppet, make it more like an interesting story than a teaching session.  Once they learn the “details” of the skill, they can teach it to a favorite doll or stuffed friend.  I highly recommend using the same songs or “fun factor” methods with the puppet or doll, that you will be using for their potty training routines.  The more fun it looks to the child, and the more they know about the skill, provides the cognitive and emotional support they need.  Then THEY can figure out, “Hey, maybe I could do this”, and are willing to try.   

It is important to be patient, continue these play times, and WAIT for that A-Ha moment.  Self control comes best from within.  A note of caution, if these play times elicit anything other than a joyful response from the child, it may be better to try another method, or wait for a month or two before re-introducing the idea.  The real benefit of using music, puppets, and role play, is that they provide a lot of “tools” that parents can use to introduce, teach, and support the child through the learning process, pairing it with positive emotions, rather than stressful emotions.  It does require some planning, and possibly adapting the plan – trying different tools – to suit each individual child, but it is well worth the effort.

Total “Momsense”

THIS is hilarious!  I love the way it fits SOOO perfect with the classical music “The Ride of the Valkaries”.  

This video is what got me motivated to learn how to include “YouTube” videos in my postings.  I have also added videos to the Village post and the Young Child post.  Check it OUT!  This is fun! 

 A BIG Thank You! to a fellow Kindermusik teacher, Merri Williams, who find little gems like this and shares them via her BLOG, http://masterworks.wordpress.com

Parents LOVE Kindermusik

At the end of each semester, we request evaluations about the program to help us understand our strengths and areas that need improvement.  This semester, Tammi Haas responded with the following comments.  Tammi has gone through Kindermusik in Winter Haven with both her daughter Emily and her older son, Robby.

Emily and Tammi

I have been attending Kindermusik classes in Winter Haven for four years now and am thoroughly impressed.   I think the curriculum is outstanding.  It has provided my children with a basis of music that they otherwise wouldn’t have received from me.  The classes are upbeat and engaging.  The children look forward to Tuesdays and ask for Kindermusik.  We are careful not to mention that Emily and I are going to Kindermusik class in front of Robby because he would prefer Kindermusik over school any day – now that is saying something – Robby loves school and looks forward to it. 

The Kindermusik materials are fun!  I was recently encouraged to attend a MusicGarden class.   It was offered through a local church for free.  I believe you could buy the materials for a very minimal fee.  MusicGarden was presented to be comparable to Kindermusik but for a fraction of the cost.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Kindermusik is a much better program with many more hands on activities for the children.   After attending a couple MusicGarden classes, I chose to stick with Kindermusik.   At first glance, it may appear to be a bit pricey, but the opportunities my children have had and the love of music they have already developed is priceless. 

I feel very fortunate to have Miss Bernadette as our teacher.  Although I think the curriculum is great, she is exceptional and truly makes the experience a wonderful one for Emily and me.  Thanks!  

WOW!  Thanks, Tammi !  Not only for such great comments, but also for being a great mom, and sharing your family with us.  We love growing together with your family!!

STOPPING is FUN vs. Redirecting Innappropriate Behavior

“STOPPING” is FUN!

Remember that we want to build the idea that stopping can be a wonderfully fun thing. Use the sign for “stop” (as shown in class), as well as the word, as part of your movement activities to indicate the time to stop moving.  It is really fun to watch the toddlers catch on to this idea.  One of the babies in the Village class just laughs and laughs when it is time to STOP!  Some of the older toddlers say “STOP” just at the right time and FREEZE in place – it is a game to them. 

 

In ALL of our classes, through activities such as lap bounces, instrument play, free dancing, and movement activities, such as “Well, You tap, tap, tap, …. And STOP” or  “Walk all around…, and STOP”, we use STOP as a fun way to enjoy the process of stopping, and build anticipation for when we will start again.

 

Let me assure you that the enjoyment of stopping this way will transfer to your child’s positive feelings about controlling their own actions.  This leads to a well developed ability for Inhibitory Control.  It is much better for a child to be able to control their own actions, rather than having the parent in the position to have to help them.  The younger they learn that this is fun, the better!

 

Redirecting Innappropriate behavior without using the word “STOP”

You may consider using a different word or phrase when redirecting inappropriate behaviors so they don’t make a negative connection to the stopping process.  My favorite phrase to use with James was “THAT is NOT an option.”, then we would give him two appropriate choices to redirect him to things that were better options. 

 

I have softened with my daughter, and as she has gotten older and more able to understand, I am more gentle with redirection; I make a SAD face (that gets her empathetic attention), then ask, “Please don’t….. (specific thing I don’t want her to do).  “That hurts…. – or could hurt…” (be specific), or “You could get hurt by …”  (be specific).  I LOVE you too much, and I think we can find a better way to…”(be specific).  Then we talk about better options.  I am telling you that that tone of voice and problem solving attitude have gone a LONG way in my family lately.

 

Mind you, it doesn’t always work.  If she starts crying or throwing a fit because she isn’t getting her way, she is matter-of-factly told, “You are making poor choices and are out of control, you must go to your room until you can calm down.  As soon as you are ready to be helpful and nice, then you may come back out to join us.”  And she usually goes by herself, but sometimes needs assistance to get there.  I do check on her frequently and ask, with hope in my voice, if she has calmed down and is ready to join us again.  After she is in her room, sometimes, she’ll come back out herself, and I’ll ask her if she is ready to be helpful and nice, and she is.  Othertimes, she needs to be redirected to her room.  Othertimes, she just needs me to come in and give her a hug, then she is ready.  Othertimes, she does not want to calm down and will redirect herself to other activities in her room, because she needs a little private time for herself before joining others.  All of these are OK in my book.