{Mama Moment} Wanna Build a Snowman?

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

I can tell you that Parker’s answer to this question was a resounding YES. He’s been talking about Frosty nonstop since he made his debut in our home at Christmas time, so seeing him in the flesh — er, snow? — was a pretty huge highlight in Parker’s young life.

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

But Frosty isn’t the only snowman in town these days, thanks to Frozen. We weren’t sure if he would name his snowman Frosty or Olaf, since the latter has been getting a lot of airtime around here lately. Frosty ended up winning out, but his love for Olaf is still strong.

In fact, this song is edging out the almighty “Frosty the Snowman” (which up until now has held the title of the most-sung song at our house).

As we touched down on the runway after a quick Florida vacation yesterday, Parker looked out the window of the plane and exclaimed, “Snow!” He loved the beach and all, but apparently it just can’t compete with the white stuff. He’s in luck, because right now there are 8 inches of it in our backyard.

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

This mama, however, is over it and ready for spring! We’re going to have to find some new songs to celebrate the sunshine, flowers, and birds singing…any suggestions?

{Mama Moment} Letting Go a Little

Mama Moment: Letting Go a Little

I had known all along it was coming, but I wasn’t prepared for just how difficult it would be. And as great as I knew it would be for my little social butterfly, that didn’t make it any easier. But it was time.

Last week, Parker started daycare. We had been planning for this all fall, knowing that one of his daytime babysitters was off to begin her internship in January. And we were thrilled to get a spot in the daycare/preschool on the college campus where my mom teaches, since that meant she could help transport and be close by.

After having the opportunity to be home with Parker much of the time (the rest of which he was here with babysitters) for the first 18 months of his life, that first drop-off was ROUGH. He cried, I cried…it wasn’t pretty.

But his teachers are wonderful, as is the rest of the staff. They have sweetly emailed photos and notes of reassurance throughout his first two weeks, and every afternoon they send out a journal describing their day along with photos.

The drop-offs have gotten easier. There are still tears (mostly from Parker…I hold mine in until I get in the car) but in all honestly, those 3 days a week when he’s in daycare have become sacred to me. Not because I needed a break from him, but because I was starting to burn out trying to juggle the full-time mom/full-time business owner roles.

I spent a year and a half putting some of my attention on any given task, and the result was that I always felt distracted. My time with Parker didn’t feel like quality time, because my to-do list was always in the back of my mind.

But now? I am a POWERHOUSE on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I schedule all of my appointments for those days, spend huge chunks of time focusing and getting into “flow” mode with my writing, songwriting, session planning, and administrative tasks, and even devote a few minutes here and there to self-care.

Parker is starting to enjoy being at “school” (especially playing in the gym, according to his teachers), and I know that eventually he will grow to love it. I love that he is interacting with other children his age and learning new things each day.

And on Friday, I am ready to focus solely on Parker until I leave the house to see clients at work, have a relaxing weekend with my family, and get the week off to a leisurely start on Monday. I thought I had the best of both worlds before, but now that I feel more like my old self, I know this is the best possible arrangement for us.

{Mama Moment} How Being a Music Therapist Prepared Me for Motherhood

Mama Moment: How Being a Music Therapist Prepared Me for Motherhoos

The following is a guest post by Mary Altom, a board-certified music therapist and neurologic music therapist. She owns Sound Starts Music, a private practice in Frisco, TX and Music Therapy Kids, an online resource for parents and professionals working with children who have special needs.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of experience with babies or little kids. My cousins lived far away. I was not one to babysit for extra money. I was never one to fawn over new babies at church, and I certainly didn’t spend time wishing for one of my own. My husband and I were married for 5 years before we had our son Jaxon (he’s now 2 ½). At first I was clueless. I had no idea how to hold a baby or change a diaper. And we went to every parenting class offered by the hospital.

As you fellow mamas know, the “mommy” gig (though certainly full of its share of challenges and frustrations) has turned out to be pretty sweet! AND as it turns out, I was not as completely unprepared as I thought.

Thanks to my career as a music therapist.

Since starting out as a music therapist (in 2007), I have had the privilege of serving children with special needs. In undergrad, I never pictured myself working full time with this population but as it turns out, this work is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I have encountered many great teachers and therapists during this time who have taught me their strategies, what works and doesn’t work, and how to individualize for each child. Here are a few examples:

Developmental Milestones. You can be sure that since the moment Jaxon was born I have been observing his milestone’s like a hawk. Working with many children on the Autism spectrum, I KNOW to be vigilant about observing Jaxon’s eye contact, social interactions, language development, and motor skills. I feel like being a music therapist has given me the huge advantage of awareness. If something seems off, I am ready to call our doctor and early intervention specialists. I am aware of MANY resources available to him should we need them.

Language Development. This is probably my favorite. I work on a lot of communication objectives in my work as a music therapist. Everything from choice making to labeling items to answering WH questions. I took sign language classes in college, and was able to use sign to communicate with Jaxon way before he could talk (who knew that would be so useful!). Now that he is jabbering about everything, I am able to help him develop his vocabulary everywhere we go. I can give responses in a way that helps him to learn new concepts.

Behavior. Many of the classrooms that I serve have a behavior plan in place for each child. It is my responsibility to learn the techniques used in the classroom and apply them to music therapy sessions for consistency across environments. Since entering the “terrible twos” many of these techniques have come in super handy as a mommy. “First/Then” statements help encourage compliance. Simplified wording helps Jaxon understand exactly what is being asked. Knowing that if I place a demand, that I must follow through is a huge help. I frequently ignore undesired behaviors (within reason) and give lots of positive reinforcement! Does this make him a perfect toddler? Definitely not. We still have plenty of tantrums at our house. It just gives me a little more sanity to know that I am responding in an effective way.

Overall, I owe much of my parenting philosophy to my work a music therapist. How about you? Has being a music therapist shaped your perspective as a mom? Or has being a mom changed your perspective and approach as a music therapist? Let us know in the comments!

Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email

{Mama Moment} Joining in the Fun

Mama Moment - Gretchen Chardos Benner

The following is a guest post by Gretchen Chardos Benner, MSW, MT-BC. Gretchen is the owner of Piedmont Music Therapy, whose mission is to engage, empower and accompany individuals to reach their goals grounded in the frameworks of music therapy and social work.

My children remind me of the best ways to get a job done while having fun and learning a lot in the process. Let’s take my recent guitar project as an example. Having my private practice’s office within my home grants opportunities for my children to learn more about the field of music therapy. Replacing the six strings on my work guitar was a long overdue task.

My children’s precious involvement made the routine task more of an accomplishment when it was restrung and tuned. My son (17 months) and daughter (3 1/2 years) transformed a work project into a time of bonding. We counted the strings, pegs and our fingers. We talked about what Mommy does with music therapy at a school or hospital and other children I teach through private music lessons. We compared strings with my primary instrument, the viola, and wove them in with some of their favorite requests, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, Wheels On The Bus and family creations about our dog.

As my children grow and develop, their curiosities and personalities help remind me to include them more often with kid­-friendly projects related to work. They enjoy learning and exploring newly purchased instruments, improvising or working through compositions for clients. We have more time spent with each other while identifying colors, sharing, and being respectful with others’ properties.

Music therapy is the field that I initially joined as a student in 2003 at Duquesne University. A year later my path crossed with my future husband because of our neighboring music instrument storage lockers and experiences through Spiritan Campus Ministries. With our current musical interests and pursuits, there is often music in our home.

I’m enthused that our children have been able to learn about my work by joining in the fun of counting inventory such as egg shakers or sorting visual aides. Our children have opportunities to learn about buzzing their lips to play their “trumpets” (recorders and harmonicas), preparing posters with song lyrics for active music engagement interventions or organizing the materials used for my business.

I am grateful for my children’s curiosities and eagerness to join the fun of preparing items for work and packing instruments for group contracts. They joyfully remind me to be proud to be their working momma.

Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email

{Mama Moment} Baby’s First Musical

Parker at Sesame Street Live

Parker has an obsession with all things Sesame Street. He asks to watch it multiple times a day, and when he hears the theme song he comes running and dances along to the music. He knows the characters’ names, and can identify them verbally. So when we found out that Sesame Street Live was coming to our city over Labor Day weekend, we couldn’t resist.

That being said, I had low expectations for how this would all play out. I mean, how plausible was it for a 14-month-old to sit through a stage show, especially one where life-sized characters were singing and dancing around? Not to mention that it would be dark and extremely loud. We agreed that he would either completely love it…or be completely scared out of his mind.

Parker at Sesame Street Live

Captivated, mesmerized, entranced: those three words best describe Parker’s reaction. This is a boy who does not like to sit still for longer than a minute, but the only moving he did during the show was from one lap to another. He kept his eyes on the action the whole time, and didn’t make a peep.

I noticed that all of the other children in the audience were just as attentive, which leads me to believe that Sesame Street has these kids completely figured out (or maybe they put something in the air in the auditorium, haha).

Parker at Sesame Street Live

I didn’t see my first musical production (Peter Pan at The Muni, an outdoor summer theater here in Springfield) until I was 4 or 5, so Parker has me beat by a few years. I’m so glad we took the chance on attending the show, because he had the time of his life. It was really fun to watch his reaction and experience it through his eyes.

For more mama moments and Parker updates (including an abundance of adorable photos and videos), check out my family blog, www.therambachs.com.

Pin It on Pinterest