The Benefits of Date Night: For a Couple, Single Parents, and the Kids!

Everyone has heard that date nights strengthens a relationship, but at Miss Christa’s Music Studio, it doesn’t only benefit the parents, but also the kids! Miss Christa’s Music Studio offers an opportunity for parents to go on a date night the 2nd Friday and/or Saturday of every month with educational babysitting for only $25! The babysitting is available from 5:00pm – 9:00pm, and a discount is available for siblings! The best part about the whole thing is the babysitting is educational, fun, and offers an opportunity for a night out for the parents!

The benefits of this opportunity are endless! The situation is a win-win scenario for everyone and here’s why:

For the Couples:

According to the National Marriage Project, there are 5 benefits for couples to go out on a date every once in a while.

  1. Date nights offer a chance for the couple to communicate, which is key in a relationship. People are continuingly changing, and by having time to talk to one another, couples are less likely to see problems dealing with change down the road.
  2. Researchers are discovering that “couples who engage in novel activities that are fun enjoy higher levels of relationship quality.” Therefore, date night = better relationship.
  3. For couples who have been together for a long period of time, dates can “rekindle the fire” and let each other remember why they love each other.
  4. Regular date nights have shown an increase in a couple’s commitment to each other, decreasing the chance of infidelity.
  5. Having date nights helps relieve stress, and enjoy time together away from everyday stress.
    9In Athens, 9 Tables is a great place for couples to enjoy an elegant and relaxing meal, while you are able to go to any restaurant, 9 Tables is highly recommended.

For the Single Parents:

Having a night off of parenting, from going out with friends or enjoying some alone time, can impact not only you, but your children. You’re a single parent, you do a lot, and you deserve a little time off here and there. You need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of your kids. This opportunity can help you de-stress, relax, and essentially, be a better parent. According for, “This (a stress free environment) is what will ultimately help their growing brains wire normally, without having to accommodate for some vague sense of impending danger as they develop, which may or may not exist.” This doesn’t only go for single parents, but all parents.

Comparing the benefits of a night out, and the benefits for children living in a stress free environment shows enough reason to take up this opportunity. Not only do your kids benefit from how date night affects you, but the babysitting is a wonderful chance for the kids!

For the Kids:

At Miss Christa’s Music Studio, the babysitting service for Date Night, isn’t the typical babysitting you would expect. This isn’t a local teenager watching TV while your child plays in the other room. Miss Christa’s Music Studio offers a different kind of babysitting every parent will love because of these reasons:

  • Education! While at the studio, your kids will be surrounded by an environment that encourages learning. Music is a great way to educate, and will be available at the studio.
  • Friends! The studio takes up to 12 children, allowing your child to intact with his/her peers. This allows for friendship to be made, which is never a bad thing!
  • Dinner! Though the studio does not provide dinner, if you bring dinner with the child, the studio will gladly feed him/her. This way you can go out to dinner, and keep your child on their regular eating schedule.
  • Clean and Safe! Babysitting is provided by adults who are constantly around children and provide a clean and safe environment.
  • Fun! Babysitting at Miss Christa’s Music Studio is so fun, you won’t feel guilty for leaving your kids with a babysitter!

Don’t waste anymore time and get signed up! Don’t forget, if you have more than one child, ask about the discount available!

To see more about Christa’s Music Studio:
Phone: (740) 854-4011
Website: http://www.misschristamusic.comFacebook:


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Tuvan Throat Singing

Tuvan Throat Singing.


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Tuvan Throat Singing

I have always been interested in music and instruments from around the world. Last week, while on vacation, my husband and I had an opportunity to see Alash at Jackie O’s in Athens. Alash are Tuvan throat singers. Tuva is part of the Russian Federation in the far south of Siberia.


The type of singing they do produces interesting overtones based on a fundamental pitch. The Tuvans  are very focused on nature and the objects of nature and feel that there is deep spirituality in these objects. Much of their music is based on mimicry of these nature sounds. Thursday night, one of my favorite numbers was a song about a waterfall. I could have listened to it all night as it had the same soothing, relaxing effects of sitting and hearing the water splash down over rocks and into a pool. They also use traditional instruments made from animal skins and objects found in nature, as well as Western European instruments such as the guitar and accordion.

One of the neatest instruments they played was a Schoor. In this video it is the flute like instrument that is played vertically. I was, and am, fascinated with how it is played and interesting sounds it creates.

One thing that always strikes me when I see groups such as this perform is the continued importance the family and community play in making music together and passing on the traditional songs and techniques of the region. I do not know for certain, but my guess is these fine musicians did not go to a Conservatory or an Academy and receive degrees to make this music. They listened to and sang with their elders and learned the traditions by making music together.


I had a family that enjoyed singing and making music together. We went to concerts and explored musical genres on the radio, and LPs (yep I’m that old). In Kindermusik, we are able to continue the traditions of making music together as a family, learning traditional songs from the United States, around the world and exploring many different genres as well. Children and parents are encouraged to play the instruments, dance the dances, and sing the songs together in a very process based way with no performance expectation. The only expectation we have is that you will have fun. We guarantee your child will learn and his development will be enhanced while you are enjoying your time together.

You can get more information by visiting our website

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Or Follow us on Twitter – @athenskmsm


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Establishing Christmas Traditions – Not so hard

Christmas Traditions — to me this sounds lofty, idealistic, thoughtful. There are traditions and memories from my childhood that I still strive to maintain. Having an advent calendar, putting the tree up to be enjoyed the entire month of December, my ornament that is a half walnut shell with a tiny nativity scene inside, Grandma Nadine’s ceramic tree. I also continue to make certain foods for my family (though I am much more circumspect about consuming large quantities myself any more). Homemade salami, white chocolate bark with pretzels and peanuts, homemade ham salad, and sugar cookies are a must. Watching certain programs – White Christmas, Christmas Story, Rudolph, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and at least two cheesy Lifetime movies. Drinking Millstone Peppermint Stick Coffee. These mean the holidays to me.

But, this year has awakened a new revelation in me and one I hope I can pass on to parents of younger children. You are establishing Christmas traditions and memories without even trying. 

My children ages 18 and 12 have proven to me this year. I did not realize that by hosting a couple tree decorating parties for my husband’s work study students through the years, I established the tradition that we MUST have homemade cookies and mulled cider to decorate the house. It is also a MUST that I buy cranberry flavored ginger ale for the Sigman Christmas party that is always at our house. And, the girls’ stockings cannot hang on just any hook or any way. Each of them has  preferred side of the doorway. (We don’t have a chimney so they are hung on either side of the passage from the dining room to the living room. 

All of these things were done in all innocence and without thought to establishing memories and traditions. I was living in the moment and doing what was fun and important to me. But, what I have discovered is I have made an indelible mark on the girls and these are traditions they may continue or modify as the grow and move away from home. 

One other tradition that was started by my mom and dad for me, and Greg and I have continued with the girls is to buy a special ornament for each of them every year. Some years they end up getting way more than just one. When I got married, and moved out of my mom’s house, my ornaments came to me and now, year after year, get placed on the big tree in the living room. As I have gazed at the tree this year, I realized we may only have this many ornaments for a few more years. Sarah is already in college and will probably move out in the next few years. She will get her ornaments to take with her and continue to enjoy them in her own house with her own traditions. 

One tradition I miss is driving around looking at Christmas lights. For some reason, my children do NOT enjoy this the way we did when I was a kid. But, maybe someday I will have grandchildren who will want to go with Grandma to do that. 

Whatever you are doing in love with your children, is making an impression and creating memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy the process, don’t try to hard – you don’t have to – it is all important to a child. 

Don’t forget to listen to music, dance around the kitchen and read a book. 


Have a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you in the New Year!ImageImage

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The blog post I never thought I would write – potty issues

Okay – since the beginning of my Kindermusik Educator career, I have repeatedly, REPEATEDLY said there are two issues on which I will not advise – sleep issues and potty issues. All I can do is commiserate with the parents who are still going through this.

Last week, in endeavoring to find new topics on which to blog, the suggestion came from a parent that I discuss getting her son to poop in the potty. He does the pee thing fine, but the poop is elusive. SIGH . I said I would write about what was suggested. There were no other suggestions. So here is my (pardon the pun) dirty story and what little help I can provide.

Here is my story about Hannah (our younger daughter who is now 12). She was still pooping in her pants at age 9. Yes, that is correct, I had a child who still pooped her pants in the fourth grade. Now do you see why I do not feel qualified to give advice? However, I feel the situation we went through with her, may actually have been given to me so someday I could share this blog post.

When Hannah was around age 2 – 2.5 years old we started to potty train her. The pee thing went fairly well as far as I remember, though perhaps I have psychologically blocked the trauma I felt by potty training both of her girls. However, she was still inconsistent about pooping. For many years, I believed she did it as a control issue with me. Some children throw tantrums when they want to convey a point, Hannah would poop because she knew it frustrated me. I tried everything – bribery in the form of candy, stickers, treats, movies, undies – you name it. I punished her by taking away her t.v. time, sitting her on her bed, putting her back in Pull Ups (Very bad idea). Nothing worked. I suffered the personal mortification of motherhood embarrassment of having poop fall out of her pants at church, Girl Scouts, the grocery store. I suffered having the teachers from school call and tell me they needed another change of pants or that I needed to take her home. I often felt that her poop was an indictment on my qualifications to be a successful mom. ALL of this time, I did not believe it was physical but more an emotional, mental response she had.

Around the time Hannah was seven we began to realize that she had some attention issues. If something engaged her creatively or academically and challenged her mind, she could stay focused for long periods of time. But, mundane things such as chores, math facts, spelling words, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom seemed not to even trigger a response to her. I began to make waves at school but because her grades were always very good, and she tested brilliantly – no one wanted to listen.

When she was 9 and headed into the fourth grade, and still pooping her pants, I finally took her to our family doctor. As I described what we transpiring, he put her on a laxative, and had us created a schedule (read on for more details about this) for bathroom time. He also advocated taking her to Children’s Hospital in Columbus to be tested for ADHD. When we had her tested, we discovered that she has a very very high IQ and that, I was on the right track with my mom gut, that going to the bathroom was too ordinary to interest her. It was suggested that she didn’t even realize she had to go and didn’t notice the discomfort in her pants or the odor – though everyone around her did. I, to this day, do not understand how this is even possible, but Hannah says as much herself (before the testing) so I have to believe it. We ended up putting her in counseling and creating a bathroom schedule.

I was adamant that we had to take care of this problem once and for all before she reached middle school. I was terrified that other children were going to start teasing her, ostracizing her, and being horrendous. It may have already started, but Hannah seemed unaffected.

I am happy and proud to say that Hannah is no longer in  counseling, we were able to avoid going the medication route for the ADHD through behavioral modifications, and that her bathroom issues have been resolved.

I am not saying that every case of refusing to poo in the potty is as extreme as ours. But, I can tell you I learned a few things through this situation with Hannah.

1. Giving your child a little Bene-Fiber every day will not harm them. Check with a doctor or the pharmacist for dosage for your child. But, we found with Hannah she couldn’t taste it and didn’t even know it was there.

2 Make a set time to sit on the potty and train the body to go. This can take a LONG time both while sitting on the toilet and over the course of weeks to adjust. First track and see if there is an approximate time that your child has a bowel movement every day. Start by trying to make that the potty time. For us, we did it with Hannah before she left for school in the morning and upon returning home. Provide entertainment while they are sitting there. Hannah was able to read to herself or color, but a younger child may need someone to read to them or play a game or something. At first, she would some times sit as long as 15 minutes – we had to plan it in to our mornings.

3. If the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better, see a doctor. It is possible the stool is too hard or too large for your child’s bowels. Also there is a condition called, Encopresis which can cause bowel movements to happen – or not happen – without the child being able to control it.

4. DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP AS A MOTHER – every child has an issue. Any mother who doesn’t admit this is lying to herself and others. Food, sleep, tantrums, biting, hair pulling, soiling, crying, etc – all children have something that is a challenge for themselves and their parents. Be gentle with yourself and know that – no matter what others might say or how you might feel judged – you are doing the best you can.

5. Children do not all potty train at the same time, in the same way or on the same schedule. It is a developmental issue and all we can do is provide the instruction and the guidance to get them through it.

6. Though harder to clean up sometimes, real underwear is the only way to go (in my opinion) for potty training. Pull ups, training diapers etc give a child a mixed message about what we expect. If the child is a big boy (or girl), then put him in big boy underwear consistently with the expectation that big boys go in the potty.

7. Gretchen Rubin’s in her book  The Happiness Project has 10 rules of adulthood. One of them is “make water any time you have an opportunity” (That may not be phrased exactly word for word the way she says it – someone has my book). I have adopted this as a rule for our household. If there is an opportunity to visit the bathroom – we have to go.

I still don’t have the answers. Every child is different and what we went through with Sarah was different than with Hannah – even within the same family. I do feel your pain if you are in this awkward developmental area, but I can assure, now that one daughter is in college and the other in seventh grade, they learn to go to the bathroom and this stage will pass (again sorry about the pun). Find a friend or call me – if you need to talk – someone to whom you can bare your soul and dirty little frustrations.

A couple good books I have enjoyed:

Everyone Poops Taro Gomi

All By Myself (Emile Jadoul)

The Potty Train (David Hochman)




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How things change quickly…. 10 things to do without power.

When I posted last Thursday about playing in the mud, I had no idea how challenging our coming weekend was going to be. Who could have imagined the gale force winds, trees falling over, extended power outages etc that occurred on Friday night. As I write this, I am very thankful for the crews that got our power working by middle of the night Sunday, and I pray for peace and comfort for those who are still waiting for their comforts to be returned.

I have seen many people post about how frustrated their children are by the lack of television. Fortunately, my children are much older and can understand why it won’t work. We are a family of readers so we all had a constant companion of a book while we were without power (I haven’t read that much for extended amounts of time in years – it was actually the most enjoyable part of the whole ordeal.)

While I am not an advocate of NO television, it gave me pause to realize just how much we rely on screens (video games, televisions, computers) to entertain us. I have to admit to charging my cell phone in my car a couple times a day so I could check the news websites and Facebook for updates.

So, this morning, since I had to cancel classes due to the challenges of no power, I thought I would generate a list of things to do when the power is out:

1. Make up your own story – even the youngest children, if verbal at all, can contribute to making up a story with the older children and adults in his life. Perhaps an adult could scribe it to save it for later review, or an older child could illustrate it.

2. Collect things – go outside – find rocks, leaves, sticks (there were plenty of these around). Arrange them by size or color. Count them. Group them. My sister and I used to color on rocks with crayons and then sit them in the sun to watch the crayon melt together (we always thought we could sell them but no one bought).

3. Clean out the toys – I bet by going through them you will discover ones that haven’t been played with in weeks, months, or years, that will present new novelty  – at least for a while.

4. lay on the floor quietly and just listen – make a list of what you hear after 2 minutes. What was the loudest sound, the quietest one? Can you reproduce that sound with mouth or body percussion?

5. SING – it doesn’t matter what you sing, it doesn’t matter what it sounds like or if you have all the right words. Make up new words to old tunes. Make up a sad song about not having t.v. Families singing together is an important heritage and one that isn’t encouraged or thought about in the rush of a normal day.

6. Play cards or a board game. Even preschoolers can play Memory with a regular deck of cards (match black numbers and red ones). Candyland, Chutes and Ladders etc.

7. Play active games – remember Simon Says and Mother May I? What about Red Light/Green Light? If you don’t know these games look them up (if you are reading this blog I know you have internet)

8. Catch fire flies.

9. Learn to catch and throw a ball. If you don’t have a ball, make one out of crumpled paper, or rubber bands, or duct tape.

10. Blow bubbles – it isn’t the greatest solution in the world, but my grandmother used to mix dish soap in some water. We would dip our fists in the solution and blow through our hands. This is a cool activity too – keep those hands and wrists cool and your body will be too.

One bonus – READ – read magazines, read the Bible, read the instructions off food packages in the pantry. Reading anything at all builds vocabulary. Have young children identify letters. Cut them out and arrange them in alphabetical order.

We will all survive this. And before long, everyone will go back to watching t.v., playing video games, and hanging out on Facebook. Just don’t forget – it can be fun to be unplugged once in a while.

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Tomorrow is Play In The Mud Day!

Tomorrow is International Mud Day! This is a day to celebrate getting dirty, enjoying digging and messing in the mud and having fun while learning. According to mud play benefits children in the following ways:

Mud play benefits children in three crucial ways:

  1. Squish, squirt, squash: Mud play offers unique tactile, sensory experiences that are vital to a child’s developing brain.
  2. As children run mud through fingers, scoop mud from containers, and create mud pies, they develop their hand-eye coordination and learn about cause and effect.
  3. Hold the hand sanitizer: Research shows that kids who play in dirt (including very wet dirt) develop stronger immune systems that can pave the way for better health throughout their adult lives.
  4. It’s Fun! 
For some practical mud play suggestions and tips, check out the Play-Based Classroom blog. These teachers have some great ideas.
Now I know in Southeastern Ohio it is supposed to be excruciatingly hot tomorrow. I say we take a lesson from the pigs and do some mud wallowing. According to, pigs roll in the mud to stay cool. Humans sweat to stay cool, but pigs don’t have very many sweat glands. Did you know that children do not sweat as much as adults and can get overheated because of that fact? They also choose mud because it protects from sunburn and bugs. AND, water in mud evaporates much more slowly than straight up water so it cools for longer. So, to enjoy some outdoor play, why not make a mud hole and have some fun? I do suggest still using sunscreen just to be safe.
After all your mud play is over, and everyone is squeaky clean again, how about a muddy meal for lunch or dinner. Try refried beans spread on corn tortillas (plant a “garden” by sprinkling on some lettuce and tomatoes – perhaps it could “rain” cheese), carrot stick shovels digging through hummus, and for dessert, chocolate pudding finger paint. Serve chocolate pudding on a plate and squish in it before licking it off fingers and palms. If you are really creative, and have lots of time make a dirt cake for dad or mom to enjoy when they return home from a long, boring day at work.
We won’t be able to play in the mud in class tomorrow – I don’t think the dance studio would like that much, but I hope to get dirty by weeding my flower beds after work.
Until next time – have fun!

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