Monday, December 12, 2016

Teaching All The Things! (Well, Some of The Things)

There are things I know that I can teach you! Right now! In this blog post! I know it seems weird to do this, but today is December 12th, and the #LightTheWorld service idea at is this:

So, tonight at FHE, I will teach the kids something (still thinking on it) and I figured, why not have a blog post extravaganza, where I can teach you, dear reader, several things that I've learned how to do that have made me happy?

Whaddya think? You may already know everything I'm about to write, but what if you don't? It's fun to learn new things! 

Here are some tips on cooking for large families (and how to get picky kids to try new things!): 
*Make DYI meals. Tacos, salad bar, pasta bar, tacos, tacos, and tacos. We also do wraps (tortillas and a bazillion ingredients that don't always match to tacos). This way, you have a lot of choices, you have a lot of food, but it won't break the bank! 
*"One polite bite" and "eat some salad or these vegetables in order to earn another roll" are things we often use at the table. I have tried, as much as possible, to have at least one food on the table that everyone will eat. In our house, this is usually bread! But my kids also know that they need to eat something else to get more bread. I've also put out oranges or apples to go along with things that I know some of the kids won't be too excited about. 
*You'll be tempted to use paper products as much as possible, but try to use real dishes (saves the Earth and your budget!) and get your kids involved with all the kitchen chores at mealtime. I know some families where the mom only has to cook 1 week out of 6 because her older kids all take turns cooking! I know some families with rigid, rotating, really organized dishes chores (I envy this). For us, we got rid of the chore chart and now every night, people get to choose a chore. But everyone is always helping! 

In our kitchen!

I'm going to teach you how to read a staff! A musical staff! Are you so excited, you non-musical people!? I can't promise you'll understand it right away (teaching in person is always better, I think), but maybe it can help you identify what you're singing in church. 

First, you need to know that there is a staff. This, dear reader, is a grand staff. It is very grand! It is where the music is written. Think of it as the background to another language: 

Image result for grand staff

The top part of the grand staff, with this symbol

is called the Treble clef. It holds the higher notes (pitches). It is played with the right hand (on the piano). 

The bottom part of the grand staff, with this symbol

is called the Bass clef (pronounced "base"). It holds the lower notes (pitches). It is played with the left hand (on the piano). 

All musical pitches, for voice and any musical instrument, read up and down. If the note is high on the staff, the pitch is higher. If the note is low on the staff, the pitch is lower (on the piano it goes from left to right. Left = low, right = high).

We also read music as we read books the English language (and many others, of course): left to right.

The musical alphabet is thusly: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. That is all! Just 7 letter names, 7 tones, 7 pitches, 7 notes, and then they repeat, over and over and over. Each letter represents a note. Each note represents a tone. Each tone/note/letter name is written on the staff either on a line or a space. Understanding this is not too difficult. It becomes tricky because on the Grand Staff before you, an "A" in the treble clef may be on a different line or space than an "A" in the bass clef. Confused, yet? Don't be! There are some cheats that help students memorize which line and which space equals which letter name.

In the treble clef, starting from the bottom and going up, the letters on the lines are E, G, B, D, F (obviously, they skip letters, and as they repeat, and the alphabet is an odd number (7), this means letter names will not always land on spaces nor lines, but will change, and thus the need to memorize). I have kids memorize the phrase, "Every Good Boy Does Fine" in order to learn these lined notes. As for the spaces, we start from the bottom space (between the two lines, not below the bottom line), and the letters are F, A, C, E. That one is easy because it spells a word, eh? FACE. When put together, you can see that going from line to space to line to space to line to space equals the alphabet: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F (it always starts over after G!). 

The bass clef is similar, but the letter names on those lines and spaces do not match the treble clef. Starting form the bottom line and going up, the letters are G(reat) B(ig) D(ogs) F(ight) A(lways) (or good boys do fine always). The spaces (starting from the bottom space and going up) are: A(ll) C(ows) E(at) G(rass). (Or all cars eat gas). So, starting from the very bottom line it goes G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. 

However, we're missing three letters in the middle. The bass clef top line is an "A," and the treble clef bottom line is an "E." So, where is the B, C, and D? Well, in the space above the top line of the bass clef is that B. The space just below the bottom line of the treble clef is that D. As for C? Well, we call this middle C! (Because it's in the middle of the Grand Staff) and a long time ago, there was actually a line there.

Many centuries ago, the Grand Staff had another line right in the middle (where the C goes), but it got so confusing to read music (there was no space evident between the treble and bass clefs!), they decided to get rid of the line and just leave a little line in the C (it's technically called a ledger line, but we won't discuss those at present). 

Middle C is the lodestar of the Grand Staff. It's usually the first note a child memorizes both on the music and on the piano. It's even in the middle of the piano! (I keep talking piano because that's my expertise, dear reader. In case you forgot!). What's great about this little guy is that he is played with the left and right hands (either, or!). We love Middle C.

One other cool thing to know: The bass clef is also called the F clef because the two dots surround (and the big dot on the swooshy symbol is on) the line that represents F. The treble clef was called the G clef because the circle and dot swoosh around the line that represents G. Fun stuff! 

Now, you need to know that every note has a different time value (rhythm) and it's best described in fractions (and named that way, anyway, so there you go!). Whole notes are hollowed out and have no stem and are (usually, but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves) worth four counts.  Half notes are hollowed out and have a stem and are worth 2 counts. Quarter notes are filled in and have a stem and are worth 1 count. Eighth notes are filled in, have a stem, and have a flag and are worth 1/2 a count. Here's a pyramid showing the different values and what these notes look like:

All together, these notes on lines and spaces and with differing counts equal music. Music! Because really, music is just different pitches moving at different speeds, sometimes with other pitches at the same time (like with hymns, you'll have four parts moving together at once; four separate notes being played or sung at the same time. This is called harmony!). Once you know how to read music, you can create it! (Well, you create better music and more of it!) At the very least, you can understand it. That's always the first step, eh? 

Here's a quick tip on hanging photos or pictures. Use odd numbers --groups of 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. It looks more appealing, this way. Also, the pinwheel look is great for groups of photos. It usually looks like this (sorry for the bad photo quality): 

See how the different sizes and direction (landscape vs portrait), which are parallel to each other, create a pinwheel look as they rotate around the smaller frame in the middle? Looks nice, eh? 

I've been writing for a long time (although only semi-professionally at times). Here are a few things I've learned from writing, as well as from reading things people write. If you read a lot, you learn to recognize good writing! That should be my first thing --read, read, read. To be a good writer you need to read. Here are some others:
*Don't describe every detail. That's what they mean about showing and not telling! 
*When you do describe something, use a thesaurus. But use it wisely. 
*Share your stories! Sharing from personal example makes a bigger impression than just talking about others. Also, write what you know. 
*Edit, edit, edit. Read it out loud. Read it as if your greatest critic is reading it. Then edit it, again. 
*Write every day. Even if it's crap. Write in journals. Write on your blog. Write letters, essays, stories, and work on your novel. Write poetry! But write every day. 

Social Media:
Here are some rules that are good to follow when traversing the landscape of social media: 
*Remember that every word and photo you post will live forever. 
*Before you post something, think about the possible ramifications --will this offend a lot of people? Is this true? Is this fair to others who may be affected by it? 
*If you have a public platform (FB, Instagram, blogs, etc) or use hashtags, remember that anyone can see your stuff. ANYONE CAN SEE YOUR STUFF. Even if you have a private account, if you use hashtags, anyone can see that one post. I didn't realize this about the hashtags, and 18 months ago, I hashtagged the crazy out of our 6 week trip across the country. I've since stopped using hashtags unless I WANT my photo to be public. 
*Consider going private. If not, refrain from using your kids' names and never use your address! I still try not to do this, even though I'm strictly private on almost everything, now. 
*Remember to consider the age of your audience. Are you friends on FB with teenagers? Is what you're posting influencing them for the better or teaching them about things they're not ready to know about? 
*This is important: you do not (YOU DO NOT) have to be friends with people out of obligation or guilt. If you have friends or family members who have crossed too many boundaries in your life, who hound you, or who have been mean to you on social media, you have every right to block them, unfriend them, etc. You would never tolerate friends or family members coming into your home to berate you, tell you you're stupid, walk all over you, use your information to manipulate you, etc., so why in the world would you let them do this online? Just because it's not in person doesn't mean it's okay. 
*Don't be offended. If you can't stand something someone says, consider hiding that post or scrolling on by. If it's something you feel needs to be addressed, wait a few days before commenting --or at least a few hours! (This is the one I need to work on the most!) It's also okay to hide people, stop following people, or just ignore people. They may be grateful to you for not commenting on their things, anymore! 
*Remember what the kids learn in school about online activity: 

Image result for Acronym for kids on social media

A long time ago, I was a nutritarian leaning towards raw veganism (and was fully vegan for a few months). I felt amazing, dear reader. I honestly don't think I had been healthier (physically) in my entire life! I had energy, my skin and hair looked great, I slept better, I digested better, and I had the motivation to keep my body moving. Unfortunately, time (and many more babies) have taken their toll on my resolve (and my body), but I have a goal to eat this way again (maybe not completely hard-core, but at least better than where I am, now!). 

Here a few truths about nutrition and exercise that you need to know to be healthy (not necessarily lose weight, because honestly, dear reader, that's not the end-all of happiness. I was just as miserable thin as I was fat. It has nothing to do with your body but with your mind). These are only a few things, but I feel they can make the biggest impact: 

*Eat vegetables. Lots of them. Lots of colorful ones! (FYI: corn is a grain and peas are legumes. They are not vegetables! They don't count!) A good friend recommended this in order to get in all her veggies (and to fill her up with the good stuff so there wouldn't be room for the bad stuff): Eat three full servings of vegetables at every meal. Seems impossible? Here are some ideas:
Breakfast: scramble an egg with raw spinach, diced onions, diced tomatoes, and serve it next to sliced cucumbers and some toast. 
Lunch: Salad! With chicken, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, green onions, etc. or Soup! Vegetable soup is filling and yummy (and oh, so great during the winter!).
Dinner: Pasta that has zucchini and bell peppers, with sides of bread, broccoli, and another salad.

*Drink water. Lots of water. Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, difficult digestion, lack of focus, dry skin, and all kinds of other problems. There are some things that can hydrate you (other than water), but water is free (ish). It's right there, in the tap! When I was pregnant, I would drink a full glass of water after I went to the bathroom (every time). And as all pregnant women know, that means a lot of water because we go to the bathroom a lot! But just trust me on this: water, water, water! If you can drink nearly a gallon of water a day, your body will love you for it! Sure, you may have to visit the bathroom more frequently, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, dear reader. If you can't stand the idea of water, just add some lemon or lime to it. Or just drink it really fast! (Just not when it's super cold because that hurts.) 

*Along with the water thing --don't drink soda. Period. I had a Dr. Pepper last week, and even though I like it in the moment, I hated how I felt afterward. I would avoid coffee, alcohol (well, since I"m Mormon, that's a duh!), all energy drinks, and even Naked Juice (or Odwalla). Honestly, if you're going to drink something outside of water, I would recommend herbal teas. Herbal tea is not only good, but it's good for you! There are all kinds of fabulous kinds ready and available. Throat Coat is my favorite for when I'm feeling a cold coming on. Peppermint always lifts my spirits and gets me going. Warming teas, like apple cinnamon spice, are nice when it's cold. They're medicinal and mostly water! 

*Avoid all processed sugar and fake sugars. If you can't, keep it to less than 30 grams of sugar a day. Is that hard? You better believe it! One small Naked Juice (which is just fruit and veggies) has 27 grams of sugar in it. Some have 48 grams! The more raw, fresh, and homemade you go, though, the better your chances of eating things that have little sugar (and little sodium, unhealthy fat, and GMO's). 

Just do it. I'm a horrible, horrible example for this because I have fallen off the wagon more times then I would like to admit! But honestly, there's no perfect way to exercise. I used to think that if I wasn't walking/running 4 miles every day or exercising for one full hour where I'm panting and sweating like crazy, then I wasn't exercising. And then what I was doing wasn't good enough, so what's the point? It was all or nothing for me. But I discovered that even a 30 minute walk could change so much --even just 20 minutes of jumping jacks, push-ups, and crunches every day! You don't have to be a marathon runner or tri-athlete to move your body. Do some stretching! Do some dancing! Go for a walk! Clean your house vigorously like someone is coming over to judge your entire character based on the cleanliness of it! Just move your body. 

There you go! Stuff to learn that you may or may not have already known! Cool beans. I left out many other subjects (like teaching, public speaking, easy chair upholstery, and self-care that isn't selfish), but this post was already way too long. If you found it fun or informative, maybe I'll do another one. If you think it's stupid, maybe I'll do another one, anyway. Ha! Happy Monday, dear reader. 

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