Saturday, February 23, 2013

Piano Lesson Progress (or lack thereof)

Piano Lesson Progress (or lack thereof)

I have a bit of an admission to make.

Hunter, who will be eight next month, still doesn't really know how to play the piano. Pretty much not at all.

It has little to do with his skill or ability and everything to do with my pitiful lack of commitment or consistency.

It kind of hit me hard when, looking through my beginner's piano book (that I used as a child) I realized that I was the exact age Hunter is now - a month short of eight - when I finished that book.

Kind of sad when I have theoretically been "teaching" Hunter since age two and he is still not even a quarter of the way through it.

Piano Lesson Progress (or lack thereof)

I guess my problem has been that music is generally the last thing on my list of things to do in the day.

It is, supposedly, our "last" thing to do, sort of an "after school" activity, and the truth of the matter is that by the end of the day I am usually just, well, done.

Even though I know how important music is to brain development and academic learning, and what a wonderful skill it is to have, I only have so much energy in a day.

And when I consistently prioritize music as "last" and "after everything else is done" (which usually even all of that doesn't get done) it is just simply not going to happen.

Piano Lesson Progress (or lack thereof)

So, I am certainly not content with this. And instead of just convincing myself that I will "try harder," I have instead decided that it is less about trying and more about changing the way I have been doing things entirely.

The whole concept of waiting until the end of the day to do something of the nature of piano lessons was a bit absurd in the first place.

I mean, sure, in a perfect world, by late afternoon I would still be bursting with energy and enthusiasm.

But in reality, by the late afternoon I am tired. Mentally and physically. And sometimes even a bit short on patience. And the house is in need of some tidying and dinner in need of cooking.

So the new plan is to actually start each day with our music lessons. Immediately after breakfast.

It really only takes but 10-20 minutes and it is so silly that is doesn't get done every day. But timing is everything and I am firmly confident that by a simple timing switch (and "priority" upgrade) we will be able to see real and genuine progress.

The program we have is Alfred's Basic Piano library. I have a great many books in the first few levels of the program and going through them will get him to be able to play the piano and play it well.

I am also planning on creating some flash card videos to help accelerate his note reading recognition, pitch, key finding and grasp of the basics of music theory. Will certainly share them on this blog when I am finished.

"...and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever..." 2 Chronicles 5:13

Hunter is currently 7 years, 11 months old

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Puzzle Complexity, 20 Months

New Puzzle Complexity (20 Months)

I recently put away all of these "baby" puzzles that didn't seem to interest Damien (20 months) much anymore. They have been sitting on the shelves untouched for a while now.

In exchange I laid out a few of these:

New Puzzle Complexity (20 Months)

A bus puzzle, alphabet puzzle, and number puzzle.

He is really interested in puzzles again!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Free Weekly Menu Planning Form: The Organized Doman Parent

Free Weekly Menu Planning Form that includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, side dishes, treats, and snacks. Plus spaces for planning ahead steps to dinner prep.

I get asked a lot how I manage to "do it all" - that is, how I find the time to teach my children many things (and all the preparation and planning that it requires) as well as managing all the endless household duties that steal so much time.

Meals are a big item on that list. The prepping and planning, the cooking, the shopping, the cleaning up.

And one huge time saver for me is to menu plan.

Not just dinner menus (although that probably the most important one to have). But I, preferably, write out a complete "weekly eating plan": everything we are going to eat for every meal (noting side dishes as well), plus snacks that I want to have available, and treats we want to have.

This saves me time (and money) because when I have all of this planned out:
  • I spend less time brainstorming, searching, and worrying about what to make each day.
  • I spend less time in the kitchen cooking (because I can do a little simple prep at the beginning of the week or day to make time in the kitchen easier).
  • I spend less time running to the store to get last minute ingredients, since I have all the meal and snack plans made, I can note all the needed ingredients.
And when I spend less time on all of these things, I am able to spend more time interacting with my kids, as well as planning and preparing learning activities for them.

Besides the actual minutes it frees up, it frees up my mind as well, which in my case is even more important.

When I know that this particular aspect of life (meals) is covered and accounted for, I am free to set my mind towards other more important things: free to get lost in playing with the kids, free to work on projects, and not always having to think about what I am going to do when 5:00 rolls around.

There are tons of weekly menu planning forms available all over the internet: some simple, some complex, some fancy, some plain.

But because I my family's specific preferences, I created my own, which will hopefully be helpful to some of you:

Click here to download

What makes this menu plan unique is:

1. Has all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

2. Has a place for writing down side dishes for dinner (I all too often forget about side dishes when I plan dinners, seeing an empty box reminds me)

3. Has a place to write down a treat for each day (I love having something sweet after dinner, this helps me plan healthy things like fruit salad or all fruit smoothies!)

4. Has the specific "fruit tray" and "veggie tray" that my family uses for snacking (I cut up a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies every week and keep them in covered trays in the fridge: this is pretty much all we snack on during the day and we also bring out the trays during lunch as side dishes)
Menu Planning

5. Also has "extra snacks" tray because sometimes we do have something a little different. 6. For dinners, has little note taking places so I can note things I can prepare the night before (moon symbol), note if part of all of the meal is in the freezer (the thermometer symbol), and checkboxes to note it I am planning to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to freeze for later.

Dinner Detail Planning
7. Cute little graphics that I love!

So this is my long thought-out weekly menu that I have been using for the last year or so.

I hope this menu will be helpful to some of you so you can spend less time at the store, less time worrying about what to eat, less time preparing (since you will know what things you can make ahead), and more time learning and playing with your children.

"Thou preparest a table before me..." Psalm 23:5