Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Introduce Your Kids to Classical Music the Fun Way: Classical Kids CDs

     If you want to introduce your kids to classical music in a fun and interesting way, try the Classical Kids series.  The Classical Kids series introduces kids to composers and their music through dramatized, interesting stories.  Children will learn about the composer's life and work while his music plays in the background.  
     Our absolute favorite is Beethoven Lives Upstairs:  A Tale of Genius and Childhood.  This story chronicles a young boy with twin sisters who is grieving the loss of his dad.  Beethoven moves upstairs in his father's old office.  The boy corresponds with his uncle about Beethoven's demanding, erratic behavior, but in the end, the boy learns to care for Beethoven and his quirkiness.
     Another favorite is Song of the Unicorn:  A Musical Journey Through Medieval Times.  This one is a Merlin tale featuring Jeremy Irons, playing more than two dozen exerpts from the pre-Baroque era.  There are Gregorian chants, Celtic songs, and traditional English songs.  In this story, a young prince and princess must journey deep into the forest to find a unicorn to save their sick mother while avoiding Morgan-le-Fay who wants the unicorn for the power it will give her.
     In Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery:  A Tale of Venice and Violins, young orphan Katarina arrives at the orphanage where Vivaldi is the music director, accidentally breaks a treasured violin, and ends up searching throughout Venice for clues to her past.
     We own eight out of the ten in this series.  We also own:  
*Mozart's Magic Fantasy:  A Journey Through "The Magic Flute"  (Introduces children to opera.)
*Tchaikovsky Discovers America:  A Tale of Courage and Adventure
*Hallelujah Handel:  A Tale of Music and Miracles (features Katarina from Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery)
*Mozart's Magnificent Voyage:  Tales of the Dream Children
*Mr. Bach Comes to Call:  An Adventure in Time and Space

We do not own A Classical Kids Christmas and Daydreams & Lullabies.

     We often listen to these CDs while in the car on the way to the museum, the zoo, or any other location that is about 30 minutes away.  Each CD is about 45 minutes long.  

     I highly recommend this series for all ages because, quite frankly, I like them, too, and it's fun to hear a song, later, and recognize it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Write It Down: Journaling for Your Kids

      The scrapbooking craze began right before my oldest son was born, and I jumped on the bandwagon with all my heart ready to make wonderful scrapbooks filled with journaling in my own hand.  I would create photographic treasures that would live on forever.  I bought albums, pages, special pens and pencils, stickers, templates, punches, rulers, and more.  When he was seven years old, I finished his baby book, and it's truly a work of art.  My youngest son just turned ten, and if I'm lucky, I will start, ahem, finish his baby book before he goes to college.  Can I just say that perfectionists should not be allowed to scrapbook?  However, there is one thing I have been good at -- writing things down.
     I suffer from a bad memory, and I knew I wouldn't remember all those cute little things my boys would do and say.  I wanted to remember them, though, and so I decided to write them down.
     Before both of my sons were born, I purchased blank books to write in.  Each boy has a separate book so someday I can give it to him.  These books were not fancy; in fact, I bought one of them at the Dollar Store and two others at WalMart.  Each of the books begins with the story of his birth.  From there, I have written down lots of firsts -- first cereal, first steps, first visit to church.  I've also recorded their faith journeys which we were able to read to each boy before their joint baptism this past February.  I've written down funny moments galore:  the time my oldest brushed his newborn brother's hair with a toilet bowl brush or scribbled on a stranger's white car with an orange crayon.  I've noted the hilarious things they have said that still crack me up, like the time my youngest was working on his manners and said, "Mommy, I do not like this chicken you made.  Sorry, Ma'am."  I've written about staples in my oldest's head while his dad was in Chicago, and the concussion my youngest got on the basketball court.  I recorded the day my oldest decided to retire the stuffed bear he slept with every night for eleven years, the day I realized his voice was changing, and the day he became taller than me.
     Most importantly, though, those little books are filled with love from this mother's heart:  I love you, I'm so glad God gave you to me, you are so special, I thank God for you, I am so blessed to be your mom, I am so proud of you.
     So, if scrapbooking is not your thing, consider buying a journal and recording all those little moments because over time, they add up to a treasure that will live on forever.  It's not too late to get started!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are All Teenagers Bad?

     A few years ago, my oldest son and I had a conversation about teenagers.  I'm not sure how it came up or what we were talking about, but I remember vividly this comment:  "Well, that's because they're teenagers, and teenagers do stuff like that because they're, well, bad."  I looked him squarely in the eye and said, "Son, you will be a teenager in a few years, and on the day you turn 13, you will not magically turn 'bad.'"  Thus began our children's education on the nature of teenagers because teenagers are NOT all bad.
     However, for some reason, teenagers have gotten a bad rap.   Society has told us that the teenage years are filled with anger, sullenness, rebellion, and irresponsibility.  Teenagers are considered lazy,  mouthy, morally irresponsible, and incapable of being well-adjusted. Is it possible that we get what we expect?  Somewhere along the line, did we allow moodiness and hormones to become an excuse for bad behavior?  Do we expect the worst and so we get it.  "Oh, he's a teenager.  What do you expect?"
     I expect that my son is not going to be that kind of kid, that's what!
     Benjamin Franklin became an apprentice to his half-brother at the age of 12.  At age 17, he left his brother, a printer, and ran away to Boston.  He got a job working for a printer, went to London, published an almanac, retired at age 42, studied electricity, invented things, became a politician, and helped found our nation.  Today, a seventeen year old is still considered a "baby."  When I married at 22, everyone said, "Why are you getting married?  You're still a baby."  When I was teaching high school at age 22, I was told I was a baby.  What have we done turning 22-year-olds into babies?
     Recently, our church held VBS with about 200 children attending and about 60 workers.  Many of those workers were teenagers.  Our youth pastor told the kids that society portrays teenagers as incapable and with that many teenagers helping VBS, something was bound to go wrong.  However, because of them not in spite of them, VBS went well.  They did a good job, and they should be proud.  This "speech" made an impression on our son, and I want to say, for the record,  "AMEN!"  Teenagers are not all bad.
     So what does the Bible say about youth and teenagers?

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.   1 Timothy 4:12  (NIV)

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  1 Corinthians 13:11  (NIV)  Notice here that there is no in between age filled with angst and irresponsibility.  Paul does not say, "And when I was a teenager, I was an irresponsible rascal and talked back to my mother."
13I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.  14  I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.  1 John 2:13-14  (NIV)  (Underlining is mine.)
     Let's start teaching our children that young men and women, otherwise known as teenagers, can be an example for other believers, can put childish ways behind them, can be strong in the Lord because the word of God lives in them.  Teenagers can be self-disciplined, self-controlled, responsible, dependable, and hard-working.  Teenagers can make a difference in this world for the Lord, so let's start treating them that way.
     Oh, and by the way, my oldest son turned thirteen in May, and I am proud to report that at this very moment, he is helping his father unload a moving truck for a single mother and her two children.  Why?  Because teenagers are NOT all bad!  

     For further reading, Dr. David Alan Black wrote a book called:  The Myth of Adolescence: Raising Responsible Children in an Irresponsible Society.  However, I believe this book is out of print.  He wrote an article summarizing his beliefs called Want to Reform Your Youth Ministry? Reject Adolescence!  

     The authors of Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris, have a wonderful blog.  These articles on the Myth of Adolescence are excellent!  
The Myth of Adolescence Part 1 and The Myth of Adolescence Part 2

     Finally, Sheila Wray Gregoire wrote an excellent blog post called The Curse of Low Expectations for Teens.