Friday, May 31, 2013

Pop Music Suggestions

It finally happened.  My 7 year old discovered pop music. 

My children are pretty familiar with a diverse range of music.  They listen to opera, classical, showtunes, religious music, Doo-wop, and kids' music.  But we don't listen to much pop music.  I confess that if the music/singer came around in the past 20 years, I'm probably not too familiar with it.  I'm old.  I know.  Even in high school, I listened to classic rock as much as I listened to pop music.  I can name a couple of popular singers/groups these days, but I can't usually match the names with music I may hear on the radio.

My 7 year old has done karaoke in her music class at school a couple of times, and frequently the kids will choose artists like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry or One Direction to sing.  My daughter has decided she really likes Taylor Swift.  Part of this is because she can understand lyrics like "She wears high heels, I wear sneakers" or "I hate that stupid old pickup truck".

I decided I would help her out by checking out some CDs from the library for her to listen to.  All the Taylor Swift CDs were checked out, so we got two "Now That's Music" CDs that had a Taylor Swift song on them.  I'm not sure I can adequately express my shock at the album covers that they had inside the CDs showing all the artists on the compilation. Half of them looked like the type of pictures you used to only find covered up behind the counter at 7-Eleven when I was growing up.  Once again, yes, I know I'm old.  Most of the music on the CDs also all sounded the same to me, and the lyrics weren't all that great.  My daughter also discovered that she could pull up Pandora on the computer and listen to a Taylor Swift station, where they show the lyrics to a lot of the songs so she can sing along.

So, here's my dilemma.  I have no idea what artists/singers/groups I should have my 7 year old listen to.  I'm one of those out of touch moms. I have no problem with my daughter listening to appropriate pop music, I just don't know which way to steer her.  So, I'm asking for suggestions.  Anyone have any ideas of music my daughter would like that I wouldn't be embarrassed for her to read the lyrics and sing along with? Any help would be appreciated so that my child knows more than the music from 1960's Broadway shows.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Repetitive phrases

There are certain repetitive phrases from my childhood that I still hear in my head. To this day, if I'm running around in my socks, I'll hear in my head "Either put your shoes on, or take your socks off". When my children ask "What's for dinner?" I respond as my mom did by saying "Pickled pigs feet and sauerkraut." There are other phrases I repeat to my children, that I wonder if 40 years down the road, they'll still hear in their heads. Phrases like the following:

"Shoes and coats!" "Hair and teeth!" "Wipe, flush, wash your hands."

Or these:

To my 7 year old: "Coat, shoes, backpack away." "Feet down." "Stop shoveling your food."

To my 5 year old: "Sit on your bum. No perching." "Don't throw a fit. Just ask for help."

To my 4 year old: "Just be patient." "Do you have any underwear on?" [Really. I say this one quite a lot.]

To my 2 year old: "Don't throw [insert an object here]." "Where are your pants?"

To my baby: "Read a book, sing a song, take a nap." "Double duty diaper duty!" [This is when I'm changing two kids at once. Which happens frequently."

Most importantly, though, I hope that 40 years down the road they still hear in their heads "I love you!"

Friday, May 17, 2013

The smiles make it all worthwhile

I love it when my babies finally start smiling and laughing.  It makes it all worthwhile.  I feel like I must be doing something right, because my child is happy.  Here's a little something to share that makes me happy.
How can you not smile at such a thing? This is one of those things I'll return to periodically and watch just when I want to smile.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thanks to mothers

"When I grow up, I want to be a mother, and have a family. 1 little, 2 little, 3 little babies of my own..."  When I was a little girl, this song by Janeen Brady was one of my favorite songs.  If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell you I wanted to be a mom.  I had other things I would say I wanted to be, but always a mom.  Even in high school, I remember having a conversation with friends asking what we wanted to study in college and be "when we grew up".  I told them I wanted to be a mom.  They kept saying, "But what do you really want to be?" My answer was "a mom".  I still planned on getting a Masters degree in Accounting and probably working as a CPA, but I really wanted to be a mom. 

Time went on, I graduated with my Masters in Accounting and started working as a CPA.  By the time I was 32 or 33 and still single, I started thinking maybe I wasn't ever going to get married and have children of my own.  I remember hearing and reading talks, like this one from Sheri Dew, that helped me realize that I can still be a mother figure to others.  I was also blessed to have a wonderful Great Aunt, Aunt Gladys, who never married or had children of her own but truly is the greatest Aunt ever to all her nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.  I thought, "If I can't be a mother, than I can be the world's greatest aunt like Aunt Gladys".  I still had that great desire to be a mom, but figured maybe it wasn't going to happen for me.

Then I met my husband.  I fell in love with him almost immediately, we were married 6 months after we met, I was pregnant a year after we met, and less than two years after we met we had our first child.  I was a mom.  And it was hard. And wonderful.  I remember thinking, "I'm not really young anymore, maybe this is it.  One child. I have my chance to be a mom and I'm grateful for it."  Well, here I am 7 years later and the mom of 5 children.  I'm a mom.  And sometimes I'm still a little amazed by it.  I'm grateful for the chance I have to be a mom and all it teaches me.  I don't know why God chose to give me this responsibility and opportunity, but I'm thankful for it.  I have plenty of friends who have not had the opportunity to become mothers yet who I know would do an amazing job being moms.  Maybe that gives me a little more sense of the responsibility and a little more gratitude for the opportunity. 

For whatever reason, I'm now a mom.  I love it.  My children at times are loud, obnoxious and drive me crazy.  Or other times, like today at church when my 5 year old wants to climb on my lap and sing the hymns with me as I point to each word, or as my 7 year old gives me a tote she decorated herself to give to me for Mother's Day, I'm overwhelmed with the love I feel for my children.  I think of the words by Robert Louis Stevenson "Thanks to our Father, we will bring. For he gives us ev'rything."

Thanks to a loving God who has given me the opportunity and responsibility to be a mother.
Thanks to my husband who helps me be the best mom I can be and without whom I would not be a mother.
Thanks to my own mother and her amazing example of selfless service and how to be a mother.
Thanks to my sisters and their examples of motherhood shared with me even before I became a mother, and for letting me "mother" their children before I had my own children.
Thanks to my sisters-in-law for mothering children with my brothers.
Thanks to my friends at church and in my neighborhood who help to be mothers to my children and set such great examples to me.
Thanks to my friends who are not yet mothers and yet care for my children as they would their own.
Thanks to my children for allowing me to be their mother and for learning with me as we go.

To finish in the words of the song "When I grow up, if I can be a mother, how happy I will be. 4 little 5 little 6 little blessings of my own."

Friday, May 10, 2013

I want to raise children like that.

I was reading an article in the newspaper the other day about a local high school student who was held up in his golf game by a group of high school girls golfing in a competition and sharing a single set of golf clubs.  He learned that a lot of girls high school golf teams had this same problem of only having a single set of golf clubs, which made it difficult for them to practice and compete.  He decided to do something about it.  He wrote some letters, made some phone calls and flyers, and started collecting equipment.  In the end, he outfitted seven different high schools with several sets of clubs and lots of other equipment.  All of this, because he saw a need and acted on it. 

As I read this article, I thought "I want to raise children like that". I want my children to grow up to become adults and even teeanagers who see a need and act on it.  I want them to have that Christ-like love for others and look for ways to help others. I then realized that if I want to raise children like that, I need to be like that myself.  Most children are not going to automatically be able to identify someone else's needs and know how to help.  They need examples and the best way to teach them this is to show them myself.  It would be fairly hypocritical of me to tell my children "You need to help others", if I am not doing it myself. 

So, I'm trying.  I'm looking for ways to help my children learn to look out for others.  A woman I had gone to church with as a young single adult recently passed away as she gave birth to her sixth child. A fund has been setup to help her family deal with medical costs, the cost of raising 5 children as a single father, etc. I explained this to my children and told them I was going to put $10 into this account and that they could put some of their money in two.  My two daughters each said "I want to give $1 to them", so we're going to the bank to deposit this money.  My 5 year old son didn't want to, but I'm not going to force him to.  I'm just trying to get in the habit of looking for how we can help out when we hear about someone who needs help.  Hopefully I can develop this quality better in my life and raise children like that.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Scheduling my stress

There are plenty of things in life to stress about.  I won't list them all here, because that would just add more stress to see them all written down in one place.  This past month, I rediscovered one way for me to deal with that stress.  I say rediscovered, because this is something I use in personal finance instruction but forget to apply to the rest of my life. 

With 3 weeks left in tax season and a new baby, I was feeling more than a little bit overwhelmed.  Something had to give. There was no way I could get everything done.  I made a conscious decision to not exercise or worry about going to bed on time for those 3 weeks.  This was different than just not doing those things for 3 weeks.  If I had just not exercised, I would have felt guilty that I was supposed to be exercising and it was just one more thing I didn't have time to do.  I decided to just not stress about it.  I knew I would start up again after the deadline with exercising and trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but I wouldn't schedule to do it until then.  It was such a stress relief to not even worry about exercising when I woke up tired in the morning. For a lot of people, I know that probably seems like a basic principle, but for me it was kind of eye opening. 

In advising people in their personal finances, I will talk to people about setting up a debt reduction plan.  This involves putting a schedule in place to pay off debts one at a time.  It's a long road to pay off those debts sometimes, but if you're following a plan, you don't worry as much about the large sum and how it should be paid off today.  Instead, you know you're dealing with it and you have a schedule in place for when it will eventually happen. You can deal  with making this month's payments, rather than the full payoff. The same thing can apply to other personal stresses.

My husband is much better at scheduling his stress than I am.  I create task lists that show everything I need to get done for work.  Sometimes I look at that list and wonder how in the world I'll get all of those items done in the day.  My husband will instead schedule specific tasks to get done each day. He won't stress about the other tasks, because he knows he's scheduled them to get done on a different day. Let's hope I can keep relearning this principle and scheduling which things I will stress about on a given day instead of letting myself get overwhelmed with trying to accomplish everything all at once.