Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Meet Up With Janice & Susan from 5 Minutes for Mom

Pin It While we were on our vacation I had the super-fun experience of meeting up with Janice & Susan - the fabulous twin bloggers from 5 Minutes for Mom!

We got our 3 families together for a meal and it felt just like I was meeting up with old friends- but it was actually the first time we all met in person. Janice & Susan are just as delightful in person as they are on 5 Minutes for Mom. They are most certainly women who I would be friends with "in real life" if only we lived closer!

That is one of the things I love about blogging- the friendships we make online are REAL!! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise :)

We all have children in the same sort age groups - between us there were 7 kids and they all played together so well. Janice and I even have daughter's almost the same age with the same name- Olivia. :)

My sons have asked several times when they get to see Janice's son Jackson again!

Here is a little video I made up with pictures of the kids playing together.

I have been reading 5 Minutes for Mom for over 3 years now- if you haven't checked it out before now you really should. And if you are ever reading their blog wondering what they are like in real life? Well, they are just as I imagined them. Fun, real, and great to spend time with.

Thanks so much Susan & Janice for meeting up with us! I truly hope we can do it again soon :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Living Life with New Goals *guest post*

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This is a guest post written by Lorrie at 150 By 40. Thanks for guest posting Lorrie!

I'm on a weight-loss journey, but instead of doing like I did in the past, I am setting myself realistic goals that I can meet . I will be healthy and be a new person in my own time; not others time or because it's the IN thing. I will get myself on the right route and be happy with who I am. I will not let others discourage me or steer me away from my goals. 

Instead of the route in the past which was get it done in so many weeks and when that fails go back to my old dieting patterns. You know the ones I mean, go see what's in the cupboards or fridge, eat off your plan and forget the exercise. By setting a weekly goal it's is setting up for disspointment when we don't meet our expectations. I created my new goal which is to be at my high school weight of 150 by age 40. 

This gives me 8 more years to reach this, sure this may sound like a long time but it's gradual weight loss that stays off. My first goal is to get below 200. that would seem so good to me now that I am stuck in the 220's and the last time I saw below 200 was in college ( that was 6 years ago). I fiqured this is a good goal for the big 40 and when I reach that goal I will be celebrating. 

But celebrations aren't just for the big milestones, we can celebrate at the little ones too. Like when we do an extra workout in the day, meet our water goals or drop a few lbs. Just don't beat yourself up when you gain it back. I'm taking one day at a time and striving toward my goal.  Thanks for reading and I would love feedback and support, have a great week. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bubble Bashing

Pin It I am beyond overwhelmed with all I have to do... apparently when you go away on holidays for a few weeks you pay for it for several weeks after you get home. It's like being punished for taking time off or something.

Anyway, our first stop on our vacation was at my friend Becky's house. While we were there my daughter Olivia and my friend Cecile's little boy had a great time playing together. At one point Doug was blowing bubbles and they were bubble catching (and I was taking pictures of course). It was very cute. And since bubbles are light and airy perhaps looking at some pictures of them will make me feel a little lighter and happier today.


I still don't feel light or airy.

It was worth a shot though :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- ready for battle?

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You can find more Wordless Wednesday posts at 5 Minutes for Mom !

Pop On Pals *review*

Pin It Thanks to Team Mom we were sent a Pop On Pals Amusement Park Playset to review.

Pop On Pals is geared to ages 2-4 so my daughter Olivia (age 3) fit the bill perfectly. She was very excited about her new toy as soon as I took it out of the box.

This is Olivia showing me "the guy" (her words) that came with the set...

The set included the one character, 3 pop on rings and the amusement park playset. There are 5 different "activation points" where you can put the pal to produce lights, sounds and music. Olivia really enjoys all the sounds but I must admit they drove me crazy after a bit!

This toy would have been better if it had included more than one pal and more rings. I understand that the idea is to get parents to buy more stuff by not including more in one package but I think most parents would agree with me - that is just annoying. Olivia is much more likely to play with a set that has two characters because she enjoys making them "talk" to each other in typical girl fashion.

Pop On Pals did amuse my daughter quite a bit since it is bright and colourful and fun. Plus it hasn't broken or fallen apart in anyway since we got it last week. Always a good sign.

Olivia has barely touched the pop on rings though. They look a little weird and after trying them a couple times she abandoned them completely. She seems to prefer playing with the pal on his own. I think she would enjoy it better if the character had some movable arms or something similar.

Overall Pop On Pals is a decent toy but I highly doubt we will be purchasing anymore of them. I think they would be ideal for the 2-year old age group though.

Thanks so much to Spin Master for sending me this toy to review!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Return

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We arrived home last night and even though it is nice to sleep in my own bed I am not sure I am ready to be immersed back into real life yet.

Wow do I ever have a lot to catch up on! Yikes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What NOT to Say ... *Guest Post*

Pin It This is a guest post written by my fellow blogger and friend Ruth from Mom's Musings. I think Ruth is fabulous and I think you all will too! Thanks so much for guest posting on my blog Ruth :)

I am a mom of 5, 1 of which has special needs.  She has been diagnosed with a brain injury and that has resulted in a significant developmental delay.  However, if you look at her, you would expect that she was just as "typical" (normal, whatever that means) as any other 2 year old. I am learning to navigate this new journey of raising a child who has an "invisible disability".

I am the first one to see the glass half full.  I almost always look at the positive and just try to enjoy this little life.  It can be really taxing at times, and I frequently feel like I am at the end of my rope.  There are a few very close friends who seem to know what to say to make me feel better during those times, or I blog and work it out like that...

There are some things though, that people may say.  I know that they mean well, and don't realize how their comments can make me feel.  So I just wanted to share some of the things that can really irritate me, so when you are in a situation similar to this and want to be helpful or encouraging, you can be without the irritation - LOL!!

When I have tried to share what the latest doctor reports are, and the new roads that we are heading down, we hear a lot of "Oh, but look at her, the doctors don't know what they are talking about".  So, while I understand the desire to make us feel better and to try to turn a situation positive, what I generally hear is "Doctors don't know anything, and I know more - she will be fine".  The problem is that doctors have studied, the doctors helped to save her life, without our doctors, I don't know where we would be.

Another comment we get when we talk to others about some of the delays is "My kids were like that too" or "I wouldn't worry about that, my kid didn't do that until they were older".  Again, people meaning well, I know.  It is just that I know that there is a delay, we have been through numerous testings and observations, we have a real diagnosis and we expect even more diagnoses down the road.  My older kids were all so different, one talked in sentences by a year, and another talked in their own language until they were 3...I know that there is a varied line of growth.  However, this child has a real brain injury, and what we are seeing is in direct relation to the injury.  These are the expectations that we took her home with, we were prepared for this (and worse).

One other one we get is "but she looks normal, I don't really see anything wrong with her".  I agree with this comment, there is nothing wrong with my daughter, there is nothing wrong with any of these exceptional kids.  Life would be no fun if we were all the same, and normal is totally overrated!!  There are differences though, and we do focus on them a lot.  Especially when we are exhausted from dealing with behaviours that may seem normal for a 2 year old, but they are just a little more intense since it is not just because she is 2...

You may be wondering what that leaves for you to say!!  I know that it is all meant for the better, these things are said to be encouraging and I appreciate that.  It is why I have not verbally exploded on anyone for saying things along these lines...however, I usually walk away from these conversations double guessing myself.  Being a Christian makes it even harder to hear.  Sometimes I have felt like my faith was being questioned, or I have felt like I am wrong for feeling the way I have felt.

It is nice to have people who can just listen to you.  I love it when people ask questions because sometimes that helps me work through a new situation.  We have also had some people give us great ideas on how to deal with some of our issues - and those are great, they are helpful.  Some people who know us, and who have spent some time getting to know us, and my daughter, are amazed to see how busy she really is, and the emotional outbursts that she can have - and they acknowledge that.

Most of all, we love having people around us who accept where we are and don't feel like they are the ones who are responsible for giving us hope.  We have hope, we know that where we are is amazing and what has already been overcome is huge!!  We definitely live with a miracle and we celebrate that - and remember that when we feel like we are raising an out of control child!!  We have been given the awesome responsibility of raising this child!!

And we know that God will continue to give us all we need to continue through these circumstances...

About the Author:

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I am a 34 year old mother/student/teacher/etc...Mr. Hockey is 14 now, Princess is 12, Cutie Pie is 8, Pooky is 4 and Faith (Chunky Monkey) is 2 years. I have been married for 14 years and life is going pretty well...we have seen many miracles in our house and we continue to believe for many more...come along with us as we enjoy our journey !!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Coming Out * guest post*

Pin It This is an anonymous post written by an anonymous friend of mine. Thanks so much to my friend for their willingness to share their heart here on my blog today.

I am getting closer and closer to coming out.

Yup. That kind of coming out.

I'm really tired of carrying this secret and this is the first place I thought I could maybe say it aloud. I thought maybe if I start saying it anonymously, when the time comes to tell people face to face, I'll have more nerve.

It would be fair to tell you, at this point, that I'm not actually gay, I am just tired of the attitude the Christian church generally has towards gay people. I am tired of keeping my mouth shut. I am tired of seeing gay people that I know and love shut out of the church, and certainly shut out of full communion in many churches.

I know all the verses, so you don't have to quote any of them to me. I also believe that there are several ways to interpret those verses, just as I believe that there are several ways to interpret verses that encourage women to refrain from braiding their hair.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin." Oh dear God, I am so tired of that trite phrase.

I am born and bred in the church, a conservative one at that. I have a husband and several kids. I wouldn't look out of place at your average Southern Baptist Convention, provided most of the people there were white and average. I'm average in just about every way--weight, height, income, education--I almost have 2.5 children. Isn't that the national average now, or is it down to 1.6? I'm not sure.

Anyway, I have friends. Friends who are both openly gay and friends who are still at the stage where they feel they need to hide it. Friends who have left the church and friends who are struggling to find a place. Friends who feel they need to hide. Afraid that if they come out to their brothers and sisters, they will be singled out, condemned, stoned.

They have great precedent for believing this could happen. We are quick with the platitudes but afraid of real love. Afraid of the potential messiness. Afraid, perhaps, of our own sexuality.

My own fear of coming out, of saying that I no longer believe that homosexuality is a sin, is that I will be condemned for this. That people, my people, my church people, will shun me, label me a liberal, question my belief in Jesus and in the truth of God's word.

And my own fear makes me realize how frightening it must be for my dear friends who have come out to me, told me they were gay, waited for my response. So to honour them, to honour their journey and their courage, I know the time is coming for me to come out.

I just pray that none of you will throw stones.

This is Tara: Unkind comments will be deleted so if you can't say anything nice you are invited to say nothing at all. Seriously. Don't be a jerk. No fighting allowed on my blog. And thanks again to my wonderful friend for writing from the heart- love you!!! And I'm with ya!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are You Dreaming? *Guest Post*

Pin It This post was written by my dear friend Shash. She is a fellow blogger and pastor's wife and she also happens to be my boss! She is a work at home mom with 4 kiddos and an all-around fabulous woman. Thanks for guest posting on my blog Shash!

I woke up early early one morning a while ago with this thought, "In order to create, you must first be able to dream".

I love to dream and I'm not talking about the dreams you have most nights after eating too much pizza either!

The first kind are those godly dreams and visions you have about the future and/or reveal things. For me, they usually have to do with increase and growth. Bigger and better. Sometimes they are warnings. They also almost always have to do with change. When I have these kinds of dreams I wake up with "that feeling" and I can't describe it very well, at times I feel like I've been pressed deep into the middle of my mattress. The images and even the sounds are so vivid. I can remember these kinds of dreams, verbatim, forever.

The other dreaming I like to do can be classified as a typical daydream, where you allow yourself to think of yourself in another job, home, country, etc. I can see myself living in that house, or moving to that country, or working in that job. I don't just think about it, I can actually place myself into it in my mind's eye.

I'm married to a man who dreams even bigger. The sky's the limit. We're talking BIG BIG!

As a pastor, at times this gift has not been a blessing... some in the church have said that he needs to come down to earth, "live in reality" and some just don't "get him" when he shares his dreams with them. You can actually see their minds revving up, whirling around and trying to grasp all that he is saying. Usually it has to do more with figuring out how exactly he'd do it and how much it would cost, or cost them more like, then just listening and imagining along with him. In my opinion... this is because they themselves do not or cannot allow themselves to dream. (If you want to grow, increase, enjoy all God has for you, fight the urge to rationalize all the reasons why your dream can't happen!)

Then there are those who you know are seeing what he's seeing or are at least getting just as excited as he is. A grin begins to form, their eyes start to sparkle and their head can't help but nod.

I have to admit... at different points in my life... I have fallen into both categories.

I believe that dreaming is vital to our lives - dreams can help restore our body, our mind and our spirit. Daydreaming has been proven that it relieves stress, improves attitude, fosters creativity and refreshes our triune-being. Many successful people utilize positive daydreaming in their day to day lives.

God is a creative God who has created us to be creative. I believe the link between being able to create is being able to dream. They are intricately entwined - like the strands of DNA.

I truly believe that dreaming about our future helps create our future.

In order to create... you must first be able to dream!

What kind of future are you creating for yourself?

You can find Shash here...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tips for Helping Families and Individuals Dealing with Alzheimer's‏ *guest post*

Pin It This post was written by Donna Brown- an online friend of mine who also happens to be a pastor's wife. Thanks for sharing your heart and words of wisdom with us Donna.

The life of our family was altered with when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's after suffering 2 strokes. I would like to make some suggestions for those of you who have friends, family or acquaintances who are struggling with the reality of Alzheimer's.

A-Attend. I use "attend" as it would be used by those in the educational world. In other words, pay attention to the individual with Alzheimer's and the family as you can. Take the time to try to follow my dad's conversation and if you are confused, just nod your head and smile. Do nice things for my mother. Give her a call. Invite her over for coffee. If I tear up during a normal conversation, give me a hug. We need your support.

L-Laugh. You don't have to act as if it's the end of the world that my dad is sick. Give us something to laugh about. Tell us a joke. Recommend a funny book. Laugh with us-it helps keep us from crying as we witness the decline of a great mind.

Z-Zip in and zip out. Maybe you can only stay a minute and maybe we only need you to stay a minute, but please come see us. We still enjoy visiting with friends who stop by.

H-Help. Volunteer to help and let me know what you can do. Are you willing to pick up a few groceries? Are you willing to sit with my dad while I get out of the house for an hour? Let me know.

E-Eat. Eat with us. Sometimes mealtimes are very hard for my dad and my mom. Mom is sometimes embarrassed that Dad can't manage his food as well and sometimes makes a mess. Can you overlook that and eat with us? It would be good for my mom to talk to someone else and let me help Dad manage his food.

I-Initiate conversation. My dad can't initiate conversation very often, but if you will talk to him, he will usually respond. Don't talk too softly or too loudly. Talk about concrete things-things you can see. Talk about old times-my dad can probably talk to you about days gone by---he certainly CAN'T talk to you about what he had for lunch 20 minutes ago because he has forgotten that he had lunch.

M-Meditate about what your life will be like if your mental capacity should fail and plan for it. Make a will. Make a living will. Be proactive. Don't leave your family in a legal or financial mess if this happens to you.

E-Excuse. Excuse and ignore my dad's comments that are inappropriate. He would never say these things 4 years ago, but his brain doesn't tell him that certain things are inappropriate in conversation. Believe me, my mother and I are appalled at some of the things he says now, but there is nothing we can do about it. We can chastise him, but he will forget it.

R-Risk. Risk being out of your comfort zone. Spend time with those folks with dementia and/or Alzheimer's. You'll learn a lot. You'll develop true patience.

S-Serve those with disabilities and serve their families. You and your family may face these same needs down the road. Your service will be rewarded in some way and will certainly be noted by our Father in heaven.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
Donna Brown

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fiddling For Friendship *guest post*

Pin It Discovering Humanity’s Richness Through Music
By Laura Yeh

In teaching kids to play classical music, I am sometimes asked by parents why their children aren’t practicing as much as they would like them to. Sometimes I find it is because for certain students, classical music is just not their first love. They need variety in their musical diet.

For just about all the kids I teach, learning musical styles from other nationalities is a great addition to their classical training. Music helps them begin to understand the history, culture and customs of people from around the world.

Exposing kids to various musical styles helps them appreciate our differences as well as the things we all have in common. Their eyes light up and their ears perk up when they hear the variety of styles that can be played on instruments common to folk traditions, such as the violin and ocarina.

The pocket-sized ocarina is truly a world instrument. It belongs to a family of wind instruments called vessel flutes that developed independently across ancient cultures worldwide, from China and India to South and Central America.

The word ocarina comes from Italy where the instruments were introduced to Europeans from the Americas in the 1800s. The ocarina was very popular in Italy and developed as part of the culture with a very distinct Italian sound.

The ocarina was popularized in the United States during the first and second World Wars, when servicemen were often issued the instrument. Later it fell into obscurity as other wind instruments took center stage. Today the ocarina is being discovered by a whole new generation.

The fact that the ocarina is easy to play and indigenous to many cultures makes it a great instrument for introducing kids to music. In developing instruction books for the ocarina, I include simple folk tunes from the United States, Japan, China and other countries.

At the St. Louis School of Music, I teach not only classical violin but also fiddle using the Mark O’Conner method. This provides a great way for kids, especially our many students from Asian and Indian backgrounds, to get introduced to American music and culture. By fiddling jazz, blues and even rock, they are exposed to the richness of our music and heritage.

Many students seem most excited when they are learning music of other cultures. This may be because they are used to classical music while folk music from around the world is new to them.

So we play a little jazz, some blues and a lot of celtic music, along with Jewish folk music, tango and mariachi. Our fiddle group gives kids a chance to really mix it up as they play styles from around the world, often with kids from different cultures.

Youngsters who have mastered the precision of a classical minuet love cutting loose with the rhythmic bowing in Irish and Scottish jigs and reels. It can even become a great motivator for students to stick with the classical lessons.

I have a couple of students who probably would have quit classical violin lessons years ago if we hadn’t gotten into fiddling. One student, for instance, got stuck trying to learn a minuet for about six months. Then I realized that what she needed was a change of pace.

We worked on music reading and got into fiddling and that lit the fire under her. Today she does a lot of fiddle playing and has even gotten back into classical music, playing violin at her church. She just needed something different to spark her interest.

Learning music together also gives kids a chance to make friends with people from backgrounds different from theirs. It is fun and sometimes surprising to see which kids form friendships.

These are valuable lessons as our opportunities to interact with people from around the world increase through the Internet. Kids learning to play ocarina in the U.S. swap lessons via YouTube with other young people learning in the Netherlands, England, Australia and China. They form communities even though they live in completely different parts of the world.

It is wonderful to see young people coming together worldwide from completely different cultures, playing for each other, giving each other virtual pats on the back. By teaching kids music in its many varieties, we open doors for them to build new friendships and to begin to experience the richness of our shared humanity.


About the Author: Laura Yeh is a performer and music educator trained in the Suzuki method of instruction who teaches violin and ocarina at the St. Louis School of Music to children as young as 3 and adults. Laura and her husband Dennis have collaborated with ocarina makers around the world to produce new models of the ocarina, an easy-to-learn wind instrument with ancient roots. They have designed and produced many unique and innovative ocarinas sold by STL Ocarina

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Magic *guest post*

Pin It This is a guest post from my friend Tanya - mom of two little ones. She is fabulous and I am so happy she agreed to guest post here today! Welcome Tanya!

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. 
 ~John Lubbock

Isn't summer magical?
 It's the season that most of us look to with hope and longing during those long winter months when the sunlight hours are few and the temps dip frigidly low...brrr!

Summer is different as a mom. It's special and there are lots of memories being made...and it's really cool and fun to watch summer~time discoveries through the eyes of two toddlers. The summer thunder storms, the sand box, the sprinkler and...the ice cream :)

BUT...remember summer when YOU were a kid? LONG it seemed?
Remember...the FREEDOM!?!?


As with all memories, I time moves on...the less desireable and not-so-nice things seem to lose their sharp edges and fade to the background. And as they become foggy...the good things seem to be brighter, shinier and more vivid...which isn't all bad!

Here's what I remember...

I remember feeling like the last day of school was in the middle of summer...I remember thinking that the principal must plan the last day of school really late in the summer just to dupe us out of some of the best weather. I remember  the smell of new sandals! I remember living in a newly built subdivision and the canteen truck would come around everyday for the construction workers and my mom would leave us money so we could buy a chocolate bar. I remember riding bikes for hours with my friends...roaming the streets of the neighbourhood...only stopping for a popsicle or a the dickey-dee cart :) I remember family road trips where I would DEVOUR novel after novel as my parents continously shook their heads and sighed that I was missing all of the "scenery". I remember picking my grandmas raspberries and the hot soil burning my bare feet...

When I became a teenager...summer always represented staying up crazy late....wandering our neighbourhood, in our barefeet, until the wee hours of the morning...and then crashing until about 11 the next morning. I was never one for suntanning or baking in the sisters and I were much more "mall and A/C girls" than sun worshippers! We rented a cottage at the same campground for MANY summers and we always knew when summer came we would see the friends we only ever saw in the summer and we always secretly hoped there would be some new guys kickin'! We had our mile~high bangs super hairsprayed just to make sure we looked our matter how humid it got!

When I got my licence we would pile in my mom's Subaru station wagon and drive the main drag of our city...which was pretty lame! I don't know what we thought we'd find or who we thought we'd meet doing this..but the hot summer nights and the unending freedom of those 'school-free' months made us want to stretch every day out as LONG as we possibly could. Sometimes we would park in a field on the outskirts of town and stare at the night sky and try to see falling stars and the big dipper...talking about how no one understood us and how the next school year was going to be so much better because....

Sigh...if I close my eyes it's like I'm all these different stages...smelling the summer air, drinking a Slush Puppie, and planning a sleep over. It seems like a million years ago and just yesterday all at the same time :)

I'm glad I have these memories and pictures in my mind that no amount of time can change...and I am happy to watch... now as my kids grow... and build their own memories and pictures...and I get to continue building mine right along with them :)

Breathless, we flung us on a windy hill, laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
-- Rupert Brooke

Saturday, July 17, 2010

making friends wherever we go...

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Aiden made a friend at the park and they had so much fun together... of course when we had to leave Aiden was so sad. I just keep reminding him that we are going camping with my friend Amanda and her family in a couple days and he will have kids to play with soon!
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Friday, July 16, 2010

the best kind of gun...

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Taking a ride on a... bear?

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We went to the park here in Kelowna and it had this statue of a bear and it's cubs and Owen spent a good half hour just lounging on top of the bear. He told me the bear was nice and warm and comfy.

As long as he never decides to see if a REAL bear is the same we are good to go :)
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuning Up Muscles and Mind *guest post*

Pin It
Health Benefits of Music Education
By Laura Yeh

My husband is a very fine musician, and as our business has grown, he has had less time to devote to practicing the violin. When he was able to start regularly practicing again recently, he soon found he had lost several pounds.

How could that be? Violin is a very physical instrument. He wasn’t doing any other exercise or diet, so we know his weight loss was from the extra activity of playing.

One of the often-overlooked benefits of playing a musical instrument is how it helps improve overall fitness and health. In my experience teaching music at the St. Louis School of Music, this is one of the wonderful side benefits I see kids getting from music education.

Learning to play violin is not like running a marathon, but it helps kids stay active as they move and use their muscles. Learning a musical instrument requires good posture and the ability to keep certain muscles relaxed while controlling others. Music students strengthen muscles and gain flexibility, both of which contribute to overall health.

With childhood obesity rampant, the added activity kids can get in music lessons can help counteract all that time they spend sitting around eating, playing computer games and watching TV.

Learning an instrument is also great for fine helping students, especially little ones, improve their fine motor skills. As young violin students learn to isolate the muscles to move their fingers independently, for instance, they are building strength that can help protect their hands and fingers from injury.

Another key benefit of playing an instrument is learning how to relax the muscles. I have had several violin students come in with their arms so tense they have been unable to correctly use their bow. We have worked and worked until they are able to relax and loosen up.

Playing a musical instrument won’t do much good for fitness if kids only practice a few minutes a day. But an hour spent playing music every day will help kids stay healthy. At our school we teach group classes along with the private lessons and after two hours of playing, the kids are pretty tired. It has been a workout for them.

Following are some of the health benefits associated with various instruments:

Stringed instruments: Violin and viola are particularly physical instruments as students stand and bow, often moving their bodies a great deal as they play. Even instruments such as cello that are played sitting down help kids to hone their fine motor skills and strengthen their arm and back muscles.

Piano: Although it is played sitting down, the piano can be a very physical instrument as players stretch and move from one end of the keyboard to the other. Learning to play the piano also greatly improves arm strength, dexterity and fine motor skills.

Wind instruments: The main benefit of these instruments is how they improve children’s ability to control their breathing, in addition to improved finger dexterity. Kids who play in a marching band get the added benefit of physical exertion as they play.

I teach and write instruction books for the ocarina, a palm-sized wind instrument that is easy to learn and well-suited for young children. Even though it is usually small, lightweight and can be played anywhere, the ocarina has shown me some surprising health benefits.

With ocarina you have to be able to control your breathing. Lower notes require lighter air flow and higher notes require harder air flow. The lower notes actually require more strength. Just being able to change the air flow takes a lot of control and helps develop your stomach and core muscle groups. In playing the ocarina I definitely can feel those muscles working even though I am not moving around much.

I also find when I am playing ocarina my hands get tired if I play for a really long time. But the more I play the more I build up stamina, enabling me to play longer without fatigue. That to me is proof the muscles are getting stronger.

Learning to move fingers independently of each other, strengthening and relaxing muscles and improving posture are a few ways playing music regularly can help improve health and fitness. There are many other health benefits, including relieving stress and improving memory and concentration.

Playing music is not strenuous exercise and won’t by itself make an overweight adult or child lose a lot of weight. But it is a great way to enjoy regular physical activity that can help improve posture, breathing, dexterity, muscle tone and overall fitness. Those are big added benefits for an activity that is fun, stimulating and enjoyable for life.


About the Author: Laura Yeh is a performer and music educator trained in the Suzuki method of instruction who teaches violin and ocarina at the St. Louis School of Music to children as young as 3 and adults. Laura and her husband Dennis have collaborated with ocarina makers around the world to produce new models of the ocarina, an easy-to-learn wind instrument with ancient roots. They have designed and produced many unique and innovative ocarinas sold by STL Ocarina. For more information, visit

Wordless Wednesday: new friends

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you can find more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom

our vacation so far...

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thursdays are My Sundays *guest post*

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This is a guest post from my friend Tanya.

People always seem to swoon over the promise of Sunday arriving. It's so "lazy-daisy", it's so relaxing, it's the perfect family day...

 I read an article in a magazine about how Sunday is the IDEAL day to start some family traditions. Like...after having a leisurely story time and cuddle in Mom and Dad's bed how about a traditional family pillow fight!..
 I get all of that, and it sounds LOVELY.

However it's not that way for me. It's not my reality. My husband is a pastor. Sunday is game day.

On any given Sunday he is up around 6:45am and has left the house by 7:30, at the latest, and because of facility constraints we offer two morning services at our church. That's right folks, it's a double-header every Sunday. I don't begrudge this because it's our life, our chosen path. Clearly we understood when we signed up that Sundays were mandatory. It's kind of "key" to all of the work he's doing throughout the week...

 It's just that... I can very much identify with single mothers on Sundays! I am responsible for preparing both of the toddlers in cute, clean outfits. Getting them fed so they don't have major behavioural issues in the nursery.Packing the diaper bag with enough diapers, extra clothing, snacks, bottles and drinks...oops don't forget the wipes!! get us through until we return home again...also on our own.

Then trying to make myself look as if I'm still capable of effortlessly pulling it altogether in the few remaining moments I have before my lovely, wonderful friends come and pick us up for 9am. Yep... these are the moments where being a 1 car family is a...challenge...forced smile :)

Every once in a blue moon I'll end up having a car to get us to church on our own... at our leisure. Ahhh...I breathe a happy sigh Saturday evening thinking..."okay, no car seat transfers required, no under-the-gun moments trying to be ready for our ride as to... not keep them waiting"...

 Then the morning comes. Oh, getting there isn't as challenging as the trek from the parking lot to the check-in window of the nursery. First, maneuvering through a busy parking lot with a 2 yr old, a HEAVY 8mth old in a car seat and a gaping, open diaper bag that is slowly sliding down my I'm sweating...not attractive. I'm SO glad that the entrance to the church is on an inclined parking ramp! That's awesome!! It's SUPER easy to climb the hill in heels with all of my appendages. At this point I've had to pick up Mr.2 as he's proved to be a flight risk. No free arms now...very heavy...sweating. I get in the side door - closest route to the nursery - and face the flight of stairs looming before me. I literally HOOF it up the stairs...there are sound effects. I stumble to the top of the stairs and grab the door to the lobby...that's NEVER propped open...with my baby finger and pivot through. The diaper bag is as close to being on the floor as it can be...oh something's going to fall out...great now I'll have to go back and pick up a such luck, because it's...a tampon that falls out!

I flee with reckless abandon, no one saw it, someone will just see it in a minute and wonder how it got there. I realize I'm now galloping like a wounded horse and slow down...this is church! Mr.2 is still in my arms now being held only by his belt loop and his left ring finger...that can't feel good. Some well meaning soul passes by and cheerfully observes - "looks like you've got your hands full there!". I give a friendly smile and say something like "Yep, looks that way!" What I'm thinking though is...

"Actually I really enjoy this weekly balancing act that rivals the talent of any Cirque du Soleil contortionist...I wish I could do it EVERYDAY, because it really challenges my physical strength and ability and makes me feel young at heart".

 I know, clearly, not a good church attitude. The 15ft stretch I've traversed to reach my final destination - the nursery - is in sight. I breathe a sigh of relief. I check my children in. I leave instructions. I offer to stay if they need help. They ask how I'm doing and I say "Great!"It's almost as if I've won "The Amazing Race". I walk away with my parent security number in hand and go to catch what's left of the service I have worked so tirelessly to be present at. It's inspiring, challenging and uplifting as it always is. And although we are leaving, still minus a husband and daddy, I am glad we went. This is not a story that doesn't have a happy ending though...

Sundays are not "OUR" day, and we've always known it would be that way. It's challenging and different than what most people do on Sundays. BUT, I have Thursdays, where my hubby is off all day, and if we want to enjoy the spoils of what most people indulge in on a Sunday, like a leisurely breakfast out, we don't have to fight weekend crowds. Usually it is a very restful, laid back, lazy-daisy day. I ALWAYS look forward to Thursdays!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Words from a Pastor's Wife

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This post was written by an Anonymous Pastor’s Wife (not me). I want to say thanks so much to my anonymous friend for sharing her heart with you all on my blog. I am posting her words exactly as she gave them to me and even though they are not mine I certainly agree with her! 

Pay your pastor.  

Most pastors have attended at least 4 years of college, and many have also gone onto seminary, some even have their doctorates.  Your pastor has the equivalent education of an attorney and other professionals.  Yet he willingly serves you, your family and congregation for not very much money.  Pastors have bills, too, including school bills, doctor bills, car payments, and even some stupid tax (as Dave Ramsey puts it).  In my mind, pastors should be paid enough to live comfortably in the community in which he and his family serve.  And he should be paid enough to have savings and be able to invest some in a retirement fund.  And he should have some “margin” for emergencies.

Granted, God provides, and He has for our family.  But churches should be ashamed that their pastor’s family cannot afford to get regular haircuts, that they have to rely on friends and family, and their children’s jobs, to put clothes on the backs of their kids.  Truly, that is shameful.  (The irony here is that some churches expect the pastor and his family to be well-dressed and coiffed.)

And it’s bad for the pastor.  A man’s identity is partially bound up in his ability to provide for his family.  Of course, he relies on God.  But it would certainly be nice if the man could feel that he is providing the basics for his family.

Cut them some slack.  Cut their kids some slack.

Pastors are human, and are not perfect.  They are just like you, people who need God, and are striving to follow His dictates in their lives.  And our children are just like yours.  They have good days and bad days, some are outgoing and some are terribly shy.  Some are rambunctious, and some are quiet as church mice.  Some are smart, some not so smart, some are talented, and others are just paddling as fast as they can to make it through each day unscathed – actually, we’re all just paddling away. 

Extend the grace to your pastor and his family that you expect from them.


Know that if your pastor is an extrovert, his wife is probably an introvert.  There’s that old opposites attracting dynamic at work, and it’s difficult, especially in social situations.  The introvert often gets “peopled out”, especially on a Sunday.  Add a potluck to the mix, and the pastors wife is “done”.  And it’s not that introverts don’t like people, and they may not even be that shy, but people drain introverts. 

And if your pastor is an introvert, he’s probably totally beat by the end of the day , and needs his rest, too.

In practical terms, this means don’t be angry if your pastor’s wife leaves a function early,

A great book to learn more about this is Introverts in the Church  by Adam S. McHugh.  There’s also an Introverts in the Church Facebook page.  

Don’t talk about them, talk to them.   

‘Nuff said.

Vacation is a very good thing...

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm still here... sort of.

Pin It I have very limited internet access right now since I am on vacation... maybe a couple minutes every other day or so thanks to Starbucks and free internet!

I haven't disappeared- I'm just enjoying a break!!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Perception *guest post*

Pin It Guest Post by Shasher's Life


"becoming aware of something via the senses"
Have you ever noticed that a memory a friend shares - and you were there - most of the times isn't remembered by you the exact same way? Have you ever had a memory from your childhood and when you shared it with adults that were there... it was nothing like you remembered? I have memories from my childhood like that. Why? It's because of perception.

We each have our own filters... developed by our own experiences, our personalities, the different stages of life we're at and the understanding we had at that moment and of course our imagination,
the mind is a tricky thing and the Bible calls the heart wicked. They all play a part in how we think we're being treated, how we perceive the event and how we remember what went on.

Have you ever said to your child, "No, you can't do that!" and they react, "You don't like me, you never want me to have any fun!". Did you as the parent actually say... "I don't want you to have fun so I'm not letting you..."? No, but because of their childish mind... they hear you say another thing.
Have you ever used a stern voice and they think you're yelling at them? Have you ever said to a teenager something that they totally misunderstood, took the wrong way and reacted from it, determined they were in the right and you weren't?! Why? Perception... "becoming aware of something via the senses"... based on the mental discernment of a 9 year old or a teenager... hmmm. Get my point?! Did you know that the part of the brain that controls reason, doesn't develop until around the age of 21?

Does that mean you don't believe a child or a teenager when they tell you something happened to them, NO! that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm not talking about violence or abuse in any form. I'm talking in specific about what people in our lives have said to us in our past, etc. Words and not actions. I think before we share our memories of our childhood/teenage years... we should ask the adults that were present... just for some clarification in case our perception was a little off. Perception and reality can be two different things.

The same thing can be said of adults at different stages and walks in life... do you remember first hearing about tithes and offerings and thinking, "He just wants my money" but through time and you digging into the Word of God for yourself, you suddenly have the revelation that what the pastor was saying was truth. Suddenly the next time the offering plate goes by... there's a different thought in your head followed by a different response. Your perception is based on your senses and the knowledge/revelation you have at that particular moment in life.

Perception effects every area of our life, from our conversations on email to the way someone looks at us across the room. Our filters are always in play.
This is why it is so important to fill up on the Word, have accountable relationships, continue to walk in love, to never react - Selah - and then respond, and never take offense to anything - ever. You never know... it may have just been you!

Shash is a dear friend of mine and fellow pastor's wife. She is a work at home mom with 4 kiddos and an all-around fabulous woman. You can find her at . Thanks for guest posting on my blog Shash!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Vacation: Travel Unplugged

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We have done a whole lot of traveling so far on this vacation of ours... the kids have been relatively good in the car although we do have to stop far too often. It seems to take us forever to get to our destination! Driving through the mountains was amazingly beautiful. I really love the mountains.

Currently we are in Kelowna, British Columbia visiting my Aunt & Uncle and another of my cousins and her family. It is lovely. We found summer finally!! The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom, the sky is rain-free... gorgeous. We went swimming this afternoon in a wonderful outdoor pool and it was glorious.

Tomorrow we are heading out to White Rock, BC to spend a couple of days basking in the glory that is the Pacific Ocean. Oh how I miss the ocean!! We will also be seeing some dear friends and I am excited for that too. Then we will return to my Aunt & Uncle's house for a week to just relax and visit with them.

Our internet access has been rather sporadic and it is causing me some serious withdrawal angst but I seem to be surviving and enjoying my vacation unplugged as it were.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far!
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Monday, July 05, 2010

Family Reunion

Pin It I have had very limited computer time since our vacation began... and yes, I am going through a little bit of withdrawal... but on the upside I am really enjoying our time away!

We just spent the last day and a half with my cousin Doug and his wonderful family. It has been 4 years since I last saw them and that is just far too long- they hadn't even met Olivia yet!! We've had so much fun reconnecting again. My kids adore them of course.

This is a picture of my cousin and I ...

and here is a picture of my family, his family and some extended family thrown in for good measure...


Tomorrow we are off to Kelowna, BC. It is about a 10 hour drive so we aren't sure if we will make it all the way there in one day... we'll see how the kids do. Either way I get to see the mountains tomorrow!! YAHOO!!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Vacation Friends

Pin It We spent the last few days with my very dear friends and their families. I loved seeing them again. We left this morning and I miss them already.

I forced them to agree to some group pictures... I really did have to force them too!!

Aren't we all just delightful?


And here is a picture of just us girls...

I love you guys!!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Vacation: Day 4- Happy Canada Day!

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Happy Canada Day to you all! We are currently in Tisdale, Saskatchewan and it happens to have the WORST welcome sign EVER. Seriously.

Can you read it?

It says " Welcome to Tisdale: LAND of RAPE and HONEY".

That's right. Rape.

Now technically it is referring to rapeseed as in Canola- the stuff for farming. Ya.

Anyway, we are really enjoying our time with my dear friends Becky & Cecile and their families. We are going to have a BBQ today to celebrate Canada's Birthday. My kids are having a great time playing with Becky's son Aaron and daughter Angelle. Aaron is 18 and there is some serious hero-worship going on. Angelle is 13 and Olivia adores her because she knows how to play dollies and tea party AND paint!

Tomorrow we head out once again on our trek to BC!
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