Winter Happenings

Parker in the Snow

Winter is my least favorite season. I can’t stand the cold and snow, so I leave the house as little as possible from January to March. Luckily now I have the perfect excuse to hibernate, thanks to my little bear.

(I should make it clear that I was not present when this photo was taken; Zach and his cousin Matt took Parker out into the snow for 5 minutes so he could have his first experience in it.  I was happy to stay nice and warm at home.)

We were lucky enough to escape winter and celebrate the New Year in south Florida, where it was 80 degrees and sunny. We stayed with my grandma in Naples for the first part of the trip, and she got to spend some quality time with Parker for the second time since he was born. He’s changed just a little bit since we were last there in August!

Parker and Great Grandma

We left Naples and met Dustin and Kristin and their adorable new baby, Jackson, for brunch. It was so much fun getting to meet him and hang out with both our babies. After that we headed to Deerfield Beach, where we stayed with Sally (one of my best friends from college) and her husband, Enrique. They have two little boys, Ricky and baby Donny, who’s only 3 months old. We had a wonderful time during our short stay, which included a trip to the beach and a nature center.

New Year's in Florida

We ended our whirlwind trip and got home juuuust in time for a huge blizzard and polar vortex…so, that was awesome. More hibernating before getting back into the swing of things with work starting back up. That’s always a little difficult after 2+ weeks off for the holidays, but it was nice to get back into a routine.

And of course, part of that routine is taking Parker’s weekly photos. He is getting so big; he has completely mastered sitting up on his own, and can even pull up into sitting position all by himself. He loves to stand most of all, and we practice his “walking” all the time. He has the backwards crawl down, but is still working on going forward.

Parker Weekly - Weeks 27-31


We Are Music Therapists

I’m excited to be participating in the 4th annual Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month! Check out the posts I’ve shared in years past (2011, 2012, 2013) and then below, you’ll find a special guest post by Judy Simpson.

When I started my career as a music therapist in 1983, it was not uncommon for me to describe my profession by comparing it to other professions which were more well-known.  If people gave me a puzzled look after I proudly stated, “I use music to change behaviors,” I would add, “Music therapy is like physical therapy and occupational therapy, but we use music as the tool to help our patients.” Over the years as I gained more knowledge and experience, I obviously made changes and improvements to my response when asked, “What is music therapy?” My enhanced explanations took into consideration not only the audience but also growth of the profession and progress made in a variety of research and clinical practice areas.

The best revisions to my description of music therapy, however, have grown out of government relations and advocacy work.  The need to clearly define the profession for state legislators and state agency officials as part of the AMTA and CBMT State Recognition Operational Plan has forced a serious review of the language we use to describe music therapy.  The process of seeking legislative and regulatory recognition of the profession and national credential provides an exceptional opportunity to finally be specific about who we are and what we do as music therapists.

For far too long we have tried to fit music therapy into a pre-existing description of professions that address similar treatment needs.  What we need to do is provide a clear, distinct, and very specific narrative of music therapy so that all stakeholders and decision-makers “get it.” Included below are a few initial examples that support our efforts in defining music therapy separate from our peers that work in other healthcare and education professions.

  • Music therapists’ qualifications are unique due to the requirements to be a professionally trained musician in addition to training and clinical experience in practical applications of biology, anatomy, psychology, and the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Music therapists actively create, apply, and manipulate various music elements through live, improvised, adapted, individualized, or recorded music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.
  • Music therapists structure the use of both instrumental and vocal music strategies to facilitate change and to assist clients achieve functional outcomes related to health and education needs.
  • In contrast, when OTs, Audiologists, and SLPs report using music as a part of treatment, it involves specific, isolated techniques within a pre-determined protocol, using one pre-arranged aspect of music to address specific and limited issues. This differs from music therapists’ qualifications to provide interventions that utilize all music elements in real-time to address issues across multiple developmental domains concurrently.

As we “celebrate” 2014’s Social Media Advocacy Month, I invite you to join us in the acknowledgement of music therapy as a unique profession.  Focused on the ultimate goal of improved state recognition with increased awareness of benefits and increased access to services, we have an exciting adventure ahead of us. Please join us on this advocacy journey as we proudly declare, “We are Music Therapists!”

About the Author: Judy Simpson is the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association. She can be reached at

Growing Up and Up and Up

Parker at 7 Months Old Standing in His Crib

Can we just take a moment to process the fact that my 7-month-old baby is STANDING UP in his crib? My brain is having a little trouble with that one.

Zach’s cousin Matt came over today for a quick photo shoot with Parker, so Zach served as his assistant/baby attention-getter while I corraled Sadie in the kitchen. I’ve never seen Parker stand on his own like that before until Matt sent me that photo, and it totally stopped me in my tracks. Who is this big boy and what did he do with my tiny infant?

I have so much to blog about, like Parker’s acting debut on Christmas Eve and our New Year’s trip to Florida. But like everything else in my life, I’m so overwhelmed by it all that it’s easier just to put it off a little longer and catch up on episodes of Parenthood instead.

Reclaiming My Songwriting Mojo

Reclaiming My Songwriting Mojo

Over winter break, I had the opportunity to spend almost an entire Saturday writing and recording music. It was AWESOME. It reminded me of my life before baby, when my weekends were almost exclusively dedicated to musical projects. And while life is a million times better with this guy in it, I do miss having songwriting as a creative outlet on a regular basis.

We jetted off to Florida a few days after that, and spending some time on the beach soaking up the sun was just what I needed to recharge my batteries and clear my head. I thought a lot about my work and priorities while I was there, and came to the realization that my lack of creative output is what has me feeling unaccomplished these last few months.

I returned home to a FROZEN TUNDRA and also an email from a high school friend who had ordered a custom CD from me. She and her husband are expecting a baby girl in a few months, and she chose songs that she could play and sing to her. My friend had so many nice things to say about my music and how she was looking forward to sharing it with her little bundle, and that only intensified my desire to reclaim my “songwriting mojo” for lack of a better term.

Now that my baby is getting a little older, he spends more time playing independently (with close supervision, of course) while I jot down lyrics and record rough takes on my iPhone. It doesn’t hurt that Parker loves my guitar, so practicing new songs also doubles as entertainment for him :)

This is not a New Year’s resolution post, but rather a reminder to myself to choose songwriting over laundry, dishes and dusting when I have the chance. I’m usually so energized after finishing a new tune that I’m ready to tackle all those mundane chores — that songwriting mojo is quite powerful!

Are you looking to reclaim or discover your own songwriting mojo? A good place to start is my CMTE course, The DIY Guide to Writing, Recording & Sharing Your Music. Listening to my friends’ and colleagues’ creations serves as additional inspiration and motivation to keep cultivating my passion.

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