Saturday, June 28, 2008

Holy Berry

I went strawberry picking with Katy last week. It seems fun enough, reaching under the leaves for those beautiful red summer jewels... First one berry, then two, plop into the basket, and then, well, maybe a few don't make it to the basket...munch, munch...yum. I like to go early in the morning, and Katy's old enough now where she's okay with a 7:30am drive to the farm ( occasionally I have to bribe her with a stop at Dunkin Donuts for a bagel!!!)

The dirt road hits my feet as we emerge from the car. Ahhhhhhh. Nothing but birds, bugs, and everything is so greeeeeeen. I take a deep breath and savor the aroma of farm. Yes. Not-huge-piles-of-cow-poop-farm, just the smell of Mother Earth as she invites us to pick our first share of summer fruit. And I am transformed- called back to a place and time where cars and cell phones didn't exist- where birds sing and the warm breeze kisses my face. I am home. I take Katy's hand and we stop at the chickens and goats and say hello. They're perfectly content pecking, chewing, laying about. I am jealous :). I am blessed that my daughter knows about goats and chickens, how they live and what their contribution is to us.

The blessings continue as we walk down to the strawberry fields. Maybe a handful of people are there, early risers who, like me, enjoy the world before 9am. And I feel like I have entered a sanctuary in a church. There is minimal noise. People nod hello to us, and I nod back, acknowledging that this is a beautiful place and the earth has been so good to us this year with all of these delicious strawberries.

We pick away- or at least I do- Katy finds many reasons not to pick ( see "Drama" on a future post!) but she helps me look for the ruby red berries and weaves a story about having a berry party, with shortcake and berry juice. I pick in record time- 4 quarts in 20 minutes, because we have a commitment later in the morning and we need to be home for 9am. But as I'm picking, I'm acutely aware that each berry I pick is a gift. A gift from a source that is beyond our capacity to grasp fully- a source that moves in cycles, in seasons, in death and life- THE source. I have a feeling that this event is not so removed from going to church. We are worshipping and revering the Earth-, and each berry reminds me that I must give, too. Not only should I share these berries with friends, but I should share the experience of the farm, I should share my time with my daughter, I should share good things with everyone because the Earth has shared with me.

So thank you, Parlee Farms. Thank you to all of the farmers and people who till the soil, who grow berries and vegetables with love and attention. We'll make our pilgrimage back for blueberries. And raspberries, and apples, and pumpkins, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dum, ditty, dum, ditty, dum dum dum

Spike Jones knew what he was doing. I remember listening to his songs when I was little ( on a....gasp...record player!) and cracking up. There were so many different noises that the man could make- it was amazing! And hilarious! Of course I had to try the razzberries, finger/mouth popping, and hiccup-gulps. My friends thought I was from another planet....BUT... they were laughing!!! The point here is that sounds, especially funny human-made sounds, get a reaction. And when you're playing with a baby, reaction is a very good thing.

Are you utilizing your "silly potential" with your kids? With babies, it's as easy as making simple sounds like ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma, da-da-da, la-la-la. There are endless combinations to these simple syllables ( called "phonemes").

Phonemes are the simplest forms of language- simple syllables that when strung together, form words. By presenting phonemes to your baby in a rhythmic way, you are teaching her language skills that will last a lifetime. Try this with your baby:

ba-ba, ma-ma, la-la, da ( repeat, in rhythm. Watch for your baby looking at you, looking at your mouth, and give yourself a few minutes of silence in between to see if your baby responds.)


ma-ma-ma, da-da-da, la-la-la, ba ( like a waltz beat- 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1)

And maybe you thought you weren't musical! Ha!

Make up your own syllable games! Get creative! Your child will enjoy all of the different sounds and combinations and they may try a few of their own.

You can also find phonemes in rhyming books. Sandra Boynton's book, "Moo Baa La La La", and Al Perkins' "Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb" are great books that emphasize syllables and repetition.

Studies prove that music and language are vital to a baby's optimal growth and development. So shoo-bee-doo to your heart's content- your baby will love it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Squishy, ishy, just deliciousy!

Mmmmmm....mud. I love the way it feels between my toes- and chances are, your child might, too. Playing with wet textures like mud, wet sand and dough gives your child the opportunity to explore their world through the sense of touch. Whatever medium you may be using, encourage your child to talk about what they feel- is it wet? Is it squishy? What could we do with it? Could we paint with it? Try adding water a little bit at a time and see what happens to it! Get messy! You can always hose em' off later ( even more fun!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why I'm Here

Once upon a time I had a little baby. I loved her, fed her, played with her, laughed with her. She was the best thing that I had ever experienced in my entire life. So tiny, so fragile, a miracle.

One day when she was a few weeks old, a friend told me, "There's this music class that's happening in town. You should go with her!"

I love music ( and who doesn't?) and I thought, "Wonderful! Another experience that I can share with her!" And off we went. We danced, we sang, we played with instruments and colorful objects. I was a sponge- I wanted to learn as much as I could about what I could do for my baby to help her grow. And our teacher was warm, caring, and offered suggestions in class that I had never even considered. She spoke from her heart and made a lasting impression on me. I made new friends- other moms that were seeking the kind of support that only new moms can appreciate.

My baby grew. And I grew, too. Our weekly music visits were fun, educational, and they opened my eyes to new ways to teach my daughter about the world and about her endless potential. As I grew, I realized that I too, had endless potential. Maybe I could offer this kind of music class to other parents, too! Maybe I could share all the information that had been so helpful to me! Maybe I could run my own part-time business AND be at home with my child! ( Flashback-prior to having my daughter, I was commuting to Boston full-time to a job and a career that I knew was not for me.) I had a music degree that was gathering dust on the shelf and it was time to take it down, dust it off, and explore this new facet of my life. Luckily, we were blessed to be in such a position that I could pursue a part-time career.

When she was two, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore the "other side" of Kindermusik and I became certified to teach. I could teach in the morning and be with my daughter for the rest of the day! It was perfect! Two classes became four, then eight, then ten. My love, my passion for not only my own daughter but for children everywhere had been kindled by this Kindermusik experience.

Four years later, my passion and love remain- bigger and stronger than ever. I am dedicated to helping children and families share time, music, and love with each other. The future depends on our children. By planting the seeds of love now with them, we can assure a better future for our world.

I am writing this blog to share all that I know about music, education, and resources that can help us all become better parents for our children. You will see links for events, developmental articles, and musical songs and activities for you and your whole family to enjoy. Feel free to submit your questions and comments! I'd love to hear from you.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008