Archive for November, 2006

Are you frustrated and frazzled, trying to cope with an unhappy, crying baby, and don’t know what to do?  What is this baby trying to communicate?  What is the problem?

Crying newborn 

 Well, Priscilla Dunstan may have the answer for you!

Priscilla Dunstan

 When Priscilla was a toddler, her parents discovered she had a photographic memory for sound. At age 4, she could hear a Mozart concert on the piano and play it back note for note. Priscilla says her gift has helped her hear a special “second language” beyond English, allowing her to detect moods and even diagnose illnesses! “Other people might hear a note but I sort of get the whole symphony,” Priscilla says. “So when someone’s speaking, I get all this information that other people might not pick up.”

That mysterious second language took on an astounding new meaning when Priscilla became a mother to her baby, Tom. ” Because of my gift for sound, I was able to pick out certain patterns in his cries and then remember what those patterns were later on when he cried again,” Priscilla says. “I realized that other babies were saying the same words.”

After testing her baby language theory on more than 1,000 infants around the world, Priscilla says there are five words that all babies 0–3 months old say—regardless of race and culture:

  • Neh=”I’m hungry”
  • Owh=”I’m sleepy”
  • Heh=”I’m experiencing discomfort”
  • Eair=”I have lower gas”
  • Eh=”I need to burp”

Those “words” are actually sound reflexes, Priscilla says. “Babies all around the world have the same reflexes, and they therefore make the same sounds,” she says. If parents don’t respond to those reflexes, Priscilla says the baby will eventually stop using them.

Priscilla recommends that parents listen for those words in a baby’s pre-cry before they start crying hysterically. She says there is no one sound that’s harder to hear than others because it varies by individual. She also says some babies use some words more than others.

As part of her appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s nationally syndicated show on November 13th, Priscilla met with eight new mothers, along with their nine newborn babies, to help them understand the universal language their children speak.

Each mom says they cope with their crying child differently. “My husband and I have a list,” says Jessica, the mother of twins. “First it’s diaper change. Feed. Check the clothing. Put the pacifier in the mouth. Give them a bath. … In the end, nothing works.”

The constant crying creates a lot of stress and frustration for these moms. “You just feel absolutely helpless. You want so much to be the one to comfort them and to kind of shelter them from whatever they’re feeling,” says new mom Danielle.

After Priscilla explains the cries, the moms are shocked to learn their babies are actually talking to them! After two hours with Priscilla, all nine babies are comfortable, happy and quiet.

“Who would have thought that all of our babies are trying to tell us something and we just didn’t know it the whole time,” says Erica, another new mom. “So it’s amazing.”

View this video *HERE* to listen and hear babies “talk” for yourself!

From the Oprah show: The Secret Language of Babies – televised November 13, 2006

Thanks, Molly, for sharing with us!

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Every year, for the past 17+ years, we have made a trip to Lithonia for the specific purpose of exploring a hillside covered in Leyland Cypress, Virginia Pine, and Blue Spruce Christmas trees, trying to make the difficult decision as to which one would be the *absolute* best tree for our family.  🙂

Farmer Red’s Christmas Tree Farm

 We don’t know exactly what year we started coming to Farmer Red’s, but we have a photo of our now 16yo daughter, Rebekah, as a 3mo infant, being carried in my arms, as we walked through the fields, trying unsuccessfully to keep up with her older brothers and sister as they raced across the hillsides to reach the far fenceline and then down to the creek.  So, we know from that photo that we were definitely here in 1990 and probably several years before. 

Last year, when we arrived and greeted Farmer Carl “Red” Moore for our annual visit, we were dismayed to hear that this year (2006) might be the last, due to a heart attack and the amount of hard work it entails to keep a tree farm like this in operation.  So, today, as we again made our way to the tree farm, we couldn’t help remembering days gone by.

Another year - another walk down the hillside

The tree farm actually sits in a valley just off Highway 124, a busy major thoroughfare from Snellville to Stonecrest Mall.  If you didn’t know where to look, you wouldn’t have a clue of the beauty to be found there.  

When we first began coming to Farmer Red’s, the hillsides and bottomland of the valley was planted in row upon row of seedlings.  All you could see from the top of the valley where the road ends and you park your car were fields of young evergreen trees.  Our three oldest children would jump from the car and charge down the hill, racing to see who could reach the far side of the valley first.  David and I couldn’t possibly keep up with them, but we trusted that as long as we could hear their shouts, we knew that they were okay, running in and out of the trees.    🙂

David, Rebekah, Sara Beth, and Faith

This year, our oldest son, Matthew, who lives in Tennessee was unable to stay long enough to go “tree-hunting” with us over Thanksgiving.  Our second son, Timothy, elected to stay home.  Instead, our daughters, Rebekah, Sara, and Faith all went with David and I to find our special tree for this year. 

As I looked down the hill at their smiles, I reflected that we have a heritage in these fields, not only of Christmas trees, but family and love as well.  While this may indeed be the final year for Farmer Red’s, I think these fields will always ring with the shouts and laughter of many children, many families that chose to escape and take time away from the rush and bustle of metro Atlanta’s busy lifestyles to just spend time outside as a family.

Is this the right tree?    Farmer Red cuts down our tree    The tree gets a royal ride home, tied to the roof of our car.

As we thanked Farmer Red for all the years we’ve enjoyed his farm, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of bittersweetness.  This lovely gentleman has provided joy and happiness for so many families over the years and doesn’t really want to stop, but his health and his family are all steering him to slow down.  This valley has grown beautiful trees over the years that have created beautiful memories of holidays past.  My girls, now 24, 16, and 11, don’t know of any other way to find a Christmas tree.  

 Bekah, Faith, and Sara Beth

A trip to Farmer Red’s has always signaled the beginning of our Christmas celebrations.  I guess we’ll have to start a new tradition next year.  But if you’re wanting to have some of our same kind of fun this year, don’t hesitate to drive out Highway 124 (Turner Hill Road) from Interstate 20 East just north of Lithonia and watch for the big sign on the right side of the road after you cross the railroad tracks.   After you turn right, you’ll think you’re really way out in the country and wonder if you’ve missed another turn somewhere.  Then you’ll come around the curve in the road and see the valley dropping out before you with a sweeping vista in the distance of tall pines, cypress, and spruce, some 30 – 40 feet high, that were never bought years ago, and this year’s crop of Christmas trees right there in front at the edge of the road.   Don’t just stop there at this year’s trees.  Keep going down the hill and further out across the fields.  I think you’ll probably hear the shrieks, giggles, and laughter of generations of families there.  

Thank you, Farmer Red and the Moore family, for the beautiful memories.

Hours of Operation

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New for 2006! 

Jingle Bell Jam

A new favorite for all ages, Jingle Bell Jam features bright holiday arrangements with impressive music quality—and hilarity. Come take a ride on the new version of Sleigh Ride! 

Limited quantities are available now for purchase at $15. I will have these at class, or you may email me at Kindermerri@yahoo.com

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Ruth D. Anderson Children’s Fund which provides scholarships for children who otherwise might never experience the joys of Kindermusik. Several students of Masterworks Studio have benefitted from the Anderson Children’s Fund, thanks to compassionate, caring individuals who give freely from their hearts.

Listed below are links for audio samples of the songs on the CD:

1. Jingle Bell Rock

2. Feliz Navidad

3. Fum Fum Fum

4. Sleigh Ride

5. Winter Wonderland

6. O Come All Ye Faithful

7. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

8. Go Tell It on the Mountain

9. Do You Hear What I Hear?

10. Joy to the World

11. Carol of the Bells

12. I Saw Three Ships

13. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

14. Holly Jolly Christmas

15. Away in a Manger

Treat your family to Jingle Bell Jam and help another child experience Kindermusik at the same time!

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Can you imagine the surprise on your son’s face when he hears his name sung in “Roll That Ball”?   How big will your daughter’s eyes be when she hears her name sung out in “If You’re Happy and You Know It”?

Music Just for Me!

      500 of the most popular children’s names have been recorded on a personalized CD with nine of Kindermusik’s most popular songs.  All 9 tracks feature your child’s sweet-sounding name, tucked snug inside the kind of high quality, musical recording that you have come to recognize as uniquely Kindermusik’s own. 

The track list features Kindermusik class favorites and lovable new arrangements.
Hello, How Do You Do?
Our Time Hello
Sally Go Round the Sun
Let Everyone Clap Hands
It’s Time to Clean Up
Roll That Ball
Lukey’s Boat
If You’re Happy and You Know It
Old MacDonald

You can order them from me for $15.95 plus taxes and shipping.  I will be placing the order on December 7th so be sure to let me know ASAP. Please click HERE for a list of available names and to hear their pronunciations.

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As an early childhood education specialist, I subscribe to a variety of daily educational feeds.  This just in from ChildCareExchange.com:

Young Children and the Media

Date: November 24, 2006

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.
Woodrow Wilson

The article “Digital Technology and Preschoolers” in Work & Family Life (October 2006; workfam@aol.com) observes that…

“Since the early days of television, researchers have been asking whether technology has a positive or negative influence on young children.  Their findings in a nutshell, are both.  Content is the key to whether the impact is good or bad.

“Ellen Wardell, the author of Children and Television: 50 Years of Research, describes the research as ‘highly consistent.’  That is, children learn violence from media, and as a result, develop a predisposition to anti-social behavior.  At the same time, TV can teach pro-social lessons and cognitive skills.  For example, Wardell reports on studies showing that young children who watch Mr. Rogers’ interactive approach on TV are more considerate of their peers, play well together, and share with others….

“Even so, Wardell urges parents to limit young children’s exposure to television and other digital media — because preschoolers need ‘real experiences with objects’.”


One CCIE reader commented:

“This comment didn’t go far enough. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two, partly because exposure starts an early addiction to hectic, disjointed entertainment that’s not as real or helpful to growth as interaction with real people and objects. Commercial exploitation begins early and has lasting, negative effects on external vs. internal exploration and gratification, greed, and vulnerability to suggestion. The huge amount of time that children and adults devote to the tube takes away from meaningful interactions, play, learning, and physical health and growth.
Where is today’s equivalent of Mr. Rogers. Can you find it?”

John Surr
Bethesda, MD, United States    11/24/2006 05:21 am


I agree with Mr. Surr – as a parent of five children whose births span over 17 years, I can attest to the fact that media for children has changed dramatically over the past 28 years.  Regretfully, I can find no “Mr. Rogers” figure in the media today.  Going back even further to my own childhood, there is nothing like Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Greenjeans or Dancing Bear.  Yes, there was some violence in Popeye, but it was always seen as Bluto suffering the consequences of his own rash choices. 

If anyone has a suggestion or a good recommendation for viewing, please email me: Kindermerri@yahoo.com and let me know.

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It is my prayer that you all have a wonderful, joyous time of Thanksgiving, filled with love and family – not to mention the  *great* food!  😉

Happy Thanksgiving to All!


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Five Little Turkeys!

Five Little Turkeys

A fun little fingerplay for you and your child to enjoy this week, looking toward Thanksgiving Day!

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Because it’s been proven that repeated, not sporadic, enrollment makes all the difference!

In early 2005, Beth Frook of Little Hands Kindermusik (http://www.littlehands.com/) in Clifton, Virginia, shared a granddaddy of a Foundations of Learning (FOLs) in her Kindermusik class. A local university had recently conducted a study on 3-and-5-year old children in her program titled “The Effects of Kindermusik on Behavioral Self-Regulation in Early Childhood.”      *See editor’s note at the bottom of this column.

It proved what Beth—and many other Kindermusik Educators—already knew:

The longer you stay in Kindermusik, the better.

Specifically, the study showed:

“Children currently enrolled in Kindermusik showed higher levels of self-control than those never enrolled and those previously enrolled.  This suggests that in order for children to reap the benefit of increased self-control as a result of Kindermusik participation, it is important to have repeated and recent Kindermusik experiences and remain enrolled in the program.”

“Four-year-old children who had been exposed to Kindermusik for longer periods of time are better off in terms of self-control—namely a child’s ability to plan, guide, and control their own behavior—than similar children with less Kindermusik history.”

“These experiences, stop-go, high-low, fast-slow, short-long, and loud-soft, whereby children’s motor behavior is guided by the music, appear to be good exercise for young children’s emerging self-regulatory skills.”

Below, Beth shares her reaction to the study and the role that research plays in her Kindermusik classes.

Why do you think this research was important for your parents?

I think it adds impetus to a parent’s decision-making because it’s more than just saying, “Okay, we’ve done Kindermusik, let’s try something else.” It encourages a parent to go beyond the smorgasbord approach to children’s activities. A lot of times parents will say, “We’ll do art, then soccer, then swimming.” A study like this encourages families to look at the value of re-enrolling. Repetition is vital for a child’s learning, and currently in our culture, it’s not viewed that way.

How did you share this information with parents?

I walked into class that day and said, “Guess what?” Lots of parents knew about the study because Adam Winsler—who led the study—is also married to Kathy, who teaches with us.

Editor’s note:

Study results were made available to Kindermusik in May, 2005. The study was conducted by Adam Winsler Ph.D and graduate student Lesley Ducenne in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University.

The 15-month study included 91 children between the ages of 3 and 5 who were split into three groups: 23 students currently enrolled in Kindermusik, 19 students previously enrolled in Kindermusik, and 49 students of similar family backgrounds from local preschools who had never had Kindermusik.

The children were observed doing a variety of tasks that required self-control such as slowing down their motor behavior, delaying their gratification, refraining from touching attractive but forbidden toys, quietly whispering, and compliance with instructions to initiate or stop certain behaviors. Parents also completed surveys.

The study, supervised by Adam Winsler, Ph.D, Applied Developmental Psychology in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University, will likely be presented at national conferences and published later this year.

Many thanks go to Lori Burkhardt of St. Louis for sharing this with us.

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A while back, I blogged a wedding video of a young couple dancing their first dance as husband and wife.  I thought they were a cute couple and they sure pulled the wool over their guests’ eyes with their “surprise” dance.  🙂

I thought I’d share a wedding story today of a different couple. 

November 16, 1974

On this date, thirty-two years ago, on November 16th, 1974, this young man and this young woman were married in a red-brick church in Decatur, Georgia.  They celebrated their wedding with family and friends in attendance.  Musician-friends were members of the wedding party as well as providing music for the ceremony.   Music was a very important part of their wedding as it had always been an important part of their lives. 

You see, they had known each other since she was 10 and he was 12, when they played in the same elementary band – the East Atlanta Elementary Band, directed by Charles I. Bradley.  (Native Atlantan musicians from the 60’s will remember that name.) She was a flutist and pianist; he played euphonium and later trombone in high school and college.  Their lives interwove through high school and college, both deeply involved in music.   Their first date was after the marching band season ended in November of 1969.  Their engagement even began on a stage band tour of Europe in June, 1970! 

They have been blessed with five children who all love music and are or have been involved with musical groups.   This couple are still actively involved in music today – he as a middle school band director and church musician; she as a Kindermusik educator and church musician as well.  By now, I’m sure you’ve figured out who they are.  And if you haven’t?   Well,  let’s just say that I’m not putting up a current picture beside that one!  😉

Happy Anniversary to my beloved, my husband, David!  I love you more today than I ever thought possible all those years ago, but not near as much as I will tomorrow.

All my love always,

Your Sweetheart

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This week completes our semester of ABC Music & Me at the Church of the Apostles in Buckhead.  We have visited the Carnival of Music , ridden the carousel, played with Barley Bear, and learned all about “Shoo-Fly Pie“.    We have hopped with Little Frog, stomped with Elephant, and rolled all *over* our room with Pig in Animals A-Dancing.  We even had Mama Frog visit us in class! 

Along the way,  we have developed our inhibitory control by learning to stop playing our instruments when the music told us to stop.  “Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, aaaaaannnnnnd *STOP*!  (That helps you out, parents, when you need your children to respond to your voice in an situation that requires immediate obedience to avoid injury, such as in a parking lot or grocery store.)

 We developed our listening skills by listening closely to examples on our CD’s and identifying what kind of animal it was or what kind of sounds we heard at the carnival.  This skill is called “attending” and, as a parent, I know that I want my children to “attend”, or, listen closely, to what I say.  You might try extending these activities at home simply by listening with your child to one of the CD’s and asking him or her, “What did you hear just then?  Did you hear the roller coaster?”, or “Was that the big elephant or the little elephant?”  I have loved each and every minute spent in class with the children.  Their imagination is only exceeded by their energy!  🙂

For your enjoyment, here are some photos that were snapped in class.

September, 2006 - The Carnival of Music     Two sisters     Palmer, Brown, and Sarah Grace

Where is Miss Merri?      Even our newest and youngest in class got involved!

Peekaboo, Miss Merri!

Thursday’s Class      Thursday’s Class

                  Tuesday’s Class - “serious” pose                 

               Tuesday’s Class            

It is my hope that you all have a blessed holiday season, filled with awe and wonder.   See you on January 15th!   

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