Friday, May 30, 2008

How Not to Raise Wimps

You may not know it, but according to Hara Marano, we’re raising a nation of wimps. She’s the author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting. The product review of her book at says:

“Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the lumps and bumps out of life for their children, but the net effect of parental hyperconcern and scrutiny is to make kids more fragile. When the real world isn’t the discomfort-free zone kids are accustomed to, they break down in myriad ways. Why is it that those who want only the best for their kids wind up bringing out the worst in them?”

Although I haven’t read this book, it has me thinking about my own parenting practices and philosophies.

I’d like to think that I’m not raising wimps. Why just yesterday when my youngest wondered what she could have for lunch, I went down the list: a corndog, ramen, a PB&J sandwich, leftovers – all things unappetizing to her. “Well then,” I told her, “you decide what sounds good and make it yourself.”

She didn’t like that response. She sighed. She moped. I finally told her that she could either make lunch and get on with life or go mope in her room. She chose to make a box of macaroni and cheese.

Believe it or not, macaroni and cheese has had a huge influence on my parenting philosophy. It all started when we had just two kids. They were probably four and two. Hubby and I were headed out to eat and had hired a babysitter, a fourteen-year-old whose mother was our ward’s Relief Society President. I was running through the babysitting basics (this is where the diapers are, here are the first aid supplies, we can be reached at…) and had just explained what she could make for dinner – macaroni and cheese. She had no clue how to make macaroni and cheese. Or even how to boil water.

That’s when I decided that my main goal as an at-home mom was to teach my children how to live without me. I’ve used the making of macaroni and cheese to remind myself not to do for my kids what they can and should be doing for themselves.

Fortunately, I had a great example, my own mother. One of her favorite phrases was, “My mother didn’t do that for me. I’m not going to do it for you.” She used this when I wanted her to, oh … say, do a bit of my homework for me. When I was in elementary school she used the phrase to convince me that it was time to be styling my own hair. In fact, she had a whole little story to tell about a girl she’d gone to school with whose mother was doing her daughter’s hair clear into high school. The moral in all situations was, you don’t want to be needy and dependent on your mother forever do you?

Lately I’ve slipped a bit. I’ve been doing things for my kids (mostly my youngest) that they could be doing for themselves. It’s hard to hold the line and not pamper and spoil. My two oldest kids have very independent natures, but my youngest is a mild, kind, comfort-seeking soul. She doesn’t get mouthy when I refuse to do something for her. She pouts. Acts sad. Puts on her soulful puppy dog eyes and lingers in my general vicinity. As her mother, I want her to be happy. Giving in has been my solution lately. But no more.

I’m going to start labeling her behavior. Possibly saying something like, “You’re pouting because I wouldn’t do your hair this morning. But that’s not going to change my mind. My mother didn’t do my hair when I was nine, and I’m not going to do yours. On very special occasions I’d love to help you, but today’s just a regular old day.”

Hey, that felt good. I can see that my mother’s phrase is going to come in very handy.

Kids are experts at getting what they want from their parents, and because we love them and want them to be happy, we give, give, give. I’m not saying that all giving is bad, but when we start doing things for our kids that they can do for themselves – give them things that they can obtain/earn for themselves, we’re actually enabling. Yuck. Not only is our behavior unhelpful, but it is also damaging to kids’ psychological development.

Kids get much of their self-esteem from doing things, from being and feeling capable and in control. When I constantly do my daughter’s hair, I’m actually sending the message . . . You’re right, you can’t do your hair well.

Just how confident can doing her own hair make a girl feel? Let me illustrate with an unflattering moment from my childhood. I was in a tiff with another girl in my second grade class. We were engaging in the usual playground banter. She might have said, “Oh yeah, well your pants are too short.” I countered with, “Well at least I can part my own hair straight. Yours looks like a lightning bolt down the back.” (I’ve always had a big mouth.)

The truth is, we don’t magically cut the apron strings when our kids go to college or go on missions. It’s a gradual process that starts the day they learn to crawl. We don’t need to me cavalier with our children’s safety – they are precious and priceless – but we also don’t want to create fearful, fragile kids. Encourage your children to do things on their own, try their own wings. Let them fail now so they can learn how to pick themselves up. Most children don’t need you there while they do their homework past first grade. Let them do it themselves. If they don’t do it, give them consequences that don’t involve you holding their hand.

I’ve been obliquely encouraging passive, helpless behavior in my youngest child, but I’m going to stop. I can ask myself, “What hidden message will my action send? Am I doing something for Beans that she can do herself?” And I’m going to stop feeling 100% responsible for her happiness. I can’t make my children happy any more than I can make them behave. In the end, it’s all up to them.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer Reading Lists for Kids

Tomorrow is the last day of school for my kids. Watch out summer, here we come!

I've been busy scheming and planning how to make the most of the coming months. New job charts are hot off the press and include 20 minutes of daily reading. In ancitication of them complaining, "there's nothing to read," I've created recommended reading lists for each of my children. Here they are:

Boy – age 14

Lloyd Alexander -- The Black Cauldron (series)

Isaac Asimov -- Foundation and Empire series

Enid Blyton -- The Famous Five books, also her Secret Seven series

Raymond Briggs -- Fungus the Bogeyman

John Buchan -- The Thirty-nine Steps

Orson Scott Card -- Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide

Daniel Defoe -- Robinson Crusoe

Alexander Dumas -- The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo

Madeleine L’Engle -- A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

David Eddings -- The Belgariad (ages 11+)

David Feintuch -- Midshipman’s Hope (series of 7)

Raymond E. Feist -- Magician

Ian Flemming -- James Bond books (ages teen +)

C.S. Forester -- Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Beat to Quarters is great)

Dick Francis -- private investigations involving British horse racing

David Gemmell -- Waylander (heroic fantasy)

Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey -- Cheaper by the Dozen

Fred Gipson -- Old Yeller, Savage Sam

Chris Heimerdinger -- Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites (series)

James Herriot -- All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All

S.E. Hinton -- The Outsiders, Tex, Rumble Fish (teen+)

Geoffrey Household -- Rogue Male (ages 11+)

Rudyard Kipling -- The Jungle Book

Ralph Moody -- Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

Richard Peck -- On the Wings of Heroes

Willard Price -- Underwater Adventure, Arctic Adventure

Mary Shelley -- Frankenstein

Chris Stewart -- Killbox, Shattered Bone, the Great and Terrible series (1st is The Brothers: Prologue)

H.G. Wells -- The Invisible Man

Girl age – 12

Louissa May Alcott -- A Long Fatal Love Chase

Judy Blume -- Tiger Eyes,

Madeleine Brent -- Moonraker’s Bride, Merlin’s Keep

James Hilton -- Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Madeleine L’Engle -- A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Robin McKinley -- Beauty, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, Door in the

Mary Stewart -- Nine Coaches Waiting

Corrie Ten Boom -- The Hiding Place

Girl – age 9

William H. Armstrong -- Sounder

Avi -- The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson -- Peter and the Starcatchers (series)

Frances Hodson Burnett -- The Secret Garden

Carol Ryrie Brink -- Caddie Woodlawn

P.W. Catanese -- The Thief and the Beanstalk

Gertrude Chandler -- The Boxcar Children

Gennifer Choldenko -- Al Capone Does My Shirts

Beverly Cleary -- The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ribsy,

Eoin Colfer -- The Artemis Fowl series

Roald Dahl -- The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvelous Machine, The BFG

Kate DiCamillo -- Because of Winn-Dixie

Julie Andrews Edwards -- Mandy

Nancy Farmer -- A Girl Named Disaster

John D. Fitzgerald -- The Great Brain (series)

Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey -- Cheaper by the Dozen

Shannon Hale -- Princess Academy

Carl Hiaasen -- Hoot and other books

M.M. Kaye -- The Ordinary Princess

Jim Kjelguard -- Big Red

Kirby Larson -- Hattie Big Sky

Lois Lowry -- Number the Stars

Robin McKinley -- Beauty

Mary Norton -- The Borrowers

Richard Peck -- The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, Fair Weather,
Here Lies the Librarian

Wilson Rawls -- Summer of the Monkeys, Where the Red Fern Grows

Kate Douglas Wiggin -- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Laura Ingalls Wilder -- The Little House on the Prairie series

Happy Summer Reading!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Farm Humor

This is a photo of the chicken enclosure under construction. Won't our four chickens live in high style?

Speaking of chickens, my mother told me a joke the other day that had deep meaning.

Q: Do you know why a chicken coop has two doors?

A: Because if it had four, it would be a sedan.

And, wouldn't you know it, our coop has two doors. Here I thought she had some farm knowledge that she was going to impart to little old me. Tee-hee.

In other news, MEN -- PAY ATTENTION! If your wife steps on the scale and groans, then asks, "Why is it going up?!" It is not a time to play Mr. Fix-it. She does not really want an answer. Saying, "Maybe it's because you're not exercising at all," won't help her feel better. She was just asking a hypothetical question.

The better response is, "It's just a number. I love you no matter what the scale says." And mean it!

Should you get this wrong you just might get a glass of cold water thrown at you over the shower curtain the next time you're showering.

And finally, I've been thinking about what I can do for my next high school reunion's talent show. At our last reunion I performed some corny "magic" tricks that were supposed to loosen everyone up by getting them to laugh. It didn't work. Next time I'll show them my amazing new talent -- swallowing many large pills all at once.

Just yesterday I swallowed four gigantic pills (1 vitamin, 2 supplements, and a RX medication) in one swallow. Top that! Safety Man piped up, "Swallowing too much at once is a choking hazard."

That's okay because I'm not planning to attend any high school reunions until our 60th. I'll be 88. So what if I choke. At least I won't be around to hear the silence.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Newsy Bits of Note

Life is happening at break-neck speed. My blogging has suffered and may continue to do so. Check in periodically for updates.

Some recent happenings:

My grandma, Delva Ewing Kofoed, passed away on Saturday May 3rd. I’ll miss her dearly, but have many, many wonderful memories to cherish. It may sound weird, but I enjoyed her funeral. I’d been helping to care for her as her health took a quick decline and had also been doing her books since her move to a retirement home. Hearing the funeral talks helped me remember Grandma in her younger years. I learned something I didn’t know – Grandma used to exercise to Jack LaLane. I also came to realize that I am my mother and grandmother’s daughter. I come from a long line of outspoken, vibrant and life-loving women. Thank you, Grandma!

In other news, I’ve been released from my unofficial calling as choir accompanist and from my official calling as a gospel doctrine teacher. I now serve with Sister Carter as a teacher for the five-year-olds in the Primary. Yippee! After being set apart, I warned the members of our bishopric that five-year-olds are notorious for telling everything they know, and that I just might find out ward news sooner than they do. While the kids haven’t spilled any sensitive information yet, I did get a few chuckles at sharing time today. The children were shown a girl with men’s hands on her head. Sister Bushman asked, “What gift is she getting?” Luke Lee hollered out, “The priesthood!” (He was serious.) All the teachers chuckled. Later we had a visit from a member of the Stake Presidency. As he passed the chairs where my class sat, a visiting girl asked, “Do you know who he is?” Jacob Meikle responded seriously, “He’s our next President.” (Oh, I wish!) The day’s nugget of truth came from Garret Robinson. When asked how the sacrament strengthens our homes, he said, “The bread is blessed so we can be blessed.” Amen.

In less than 30 days we’re going on a family cruise to the Bahamas. And I haven’t lost a pound since we booked the cruise. But I did order a rash guard shirt, swim tights and a cute skirt from the coolibar folks so that I’ll me modestly dressed at the beach. (Note: All swim suits – even modest ones with lots of coverage – should come with a vinyl cling warning to post on customer mirrors. “Swim suits in the mirror may look larger than they appear in catalogs.” Sigh.)

We’ve planted the garden: beans, potatoes, onions, peas, lettuce, zucchini, straight-neck squash, cantaloupe, acorn squash, corn, and raspberries (which we’ve had for a few years). The girls planted flower seeds: lavender, daisies, marigolds, four o’clock mix and another I can’t spell. Now the weeding begins.

When I took Lou to play in a four-on-four soccer tournament this weekend, I was asked to fill in and coach her team of four players – the Hot Chillies. It just so happened that Kristen’s mother had a sombrero in the back of her mini-van. Before the games we’d do the Mexican Hat Dance around the sombrero and end with, “Ole!” I even wore it for a while on the sidelines. When the girls would score I’d do a Spanish yell: “Aarrrreeeeba! Aiiiiyaiiiiiyaiii!” You know, loud and shrill, rolling my Rs. One time I even threw the sombrero into the air. But the wind caught it and it almost landed on the spectators on the adjacent field. Oops! We didn’t win any of our four games, but we sure had fun! We even won the sportsmanship award. Go Chilies! Taco! Taco! Taco! (Note: You can get sunburned in cloudy, overcast, cold weather.)

The photos in this post are courtesy of my daughter, Lou. She’s a budding digital photographer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Today's Morning Prayer

I’m grateful for today. For the wonderful night’s sleep I had. (No night sweats.) And for waking to bird song. I’m grateful for sunshine, for warmth, for freshly mown grass – especially when it’s cut on the diagonal.

I’m grateful for the fun and excitement the girls and I have had shopping for their room d├ęcor. (Note: The Hobby Lobby isn’t open on Sunday. Will I receive blessings from shopping there?) I’m grateful for my sewing skills, for my mother, 4-H leaders and home ec. teachers who taught me well. Bless them.

I’m grateful that I’m a mother. Please help me to be content with the tasks of motherhood. Help me to not wish away the joys of the moment seeking after recognition or praise from others. It seems that every time I’m contemplating writing/speaking/teaching I find that someone else is already filling the niche I hoped to fill. Help me recognize that no one else can fill my motherhood niche. Help me to recognize it as one of life’s most precious blessings.

While I’m on the topic of niches, please bless me with appreciation for other’s talents. Help me overcome my tendency toward envy and, if possible, replace it with gratitude. Help me to recognize and savor the divinity in each individual I meet and observe. I thank thee for my fellow humans. I thank thee that we aren’t all alike and that we don’t all have the same interests, talents, opinions and fashion sense. Help me especially to savor and be thankful for the differences between myself and my teenager and preteen.

Please help me to find joy in the little things – the everyday blessings that I may be overlooking. Kissing my kids before they head off to school. How they all give me kisses before heading to bed – even my fourteen- and twelve-year-olds. Having a son who wants me to watch him hit a shot with his new golf club. A daughter with a big enough bladder that she never has to use the bathroom at school but rushes down the stairs the moment she walk in the door to use the toilet. (Tee-hee.) Chatting with her as she eats her after-school snack. Watching my youngest and her best friend riding their bikes to elementary school. Listening to them giggle. Having everyone gathered around the table for dinner most nights of the week.

Bless me to find enjoyment in making dinner. My calculations show that if I cook six meals a week until my youngest turns 20, I have roughly 3,400 more menus to prepare. Give me strength! And patience.

I’m grateful for my dog. Do you have a dog? I’m grateful that thou hast given them to us as companions and friends. Annie is a bit of a goof-ball, but she’s endearing, energetic, and cheerful. Help me to be more like her, to have her enthusiasm for meeting new people and going new places. I don’t aspire to being able to catch a Frisbee in my mouth, but I’m grateful my dog can. Her athletic abilities and acrobatics make me laugh. I’m grateful for laughter.

Well, I need to be wrapping up. I need to shower and start my day. I’m grateful to live when I do – in a time of running water and flush toilets. But above all, I’m grateful for Thee. For Thy plan of happiness. For thy Son who made it all possible. Help me to remember Him in all that I do. Help me to be a good example as one of His followers.

These things I say, in His name, amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Living My Dream . . .

I’ve changed my mind. As usual. I was all gung-ho to write and market “Annie Investigates: The Column written by a dog about dogs for kids.” But life is happening, and I don’t want to miss a moment spending it behind the computer under a deadline. (How spoiled am I that I can just make up my mind not to try to earn a living?!)

I’ve realized that I like doing things. Lots of things. Things like de-junking, cleaning and re-arranging the girls’ bedrooms. Then planning mini-makeovers for their rooms by painting a little and sewing a lot. Projects give me a buzz. Especially completed projects. Have I ever told you that I designed and managed the making of a set of picket fence beds? True story. This picture proves it. (I tried to get Better Homes and Gardens to market the plans in their magazine, but never heard back. Their loss. Perhaps you’ll see a future post of picket fence bed plans. Would you like that? They’re fairly inexpensive. I completed them in 2000 for a cost of $75 each – and I paid someone $50 to make the end-posts. My husband, dad and brother helped out for free.)

Notice that this bed has two matching head/foot boards. That’s because Lou decided that she wanted to have a “couch” bed. And she wanted to have the two tall headboards (minus the pickets – which really made me sad) so that she could have an arm rest. Despite making Beans livid that I’d changed her bed without her notice, I think that the girls like the change. And I’m looking forward to painting and sewing up cute “couch cushions.”

I’ll post photos when they’re finished. But don’t hold your breath. I firmly believe that fabric needs aging. I choose fabric, buy it, and then let it sit for an average of 2 years before completing the intended project. But as my girls are also on board for this project, I foresee using young fabric.

I hope you don’t mind – I’m going to engage in a little bit of show and tell. You know how I said that I love projects? I made the bedspread on the picket fence bed (there is a matching set), and I made the bedspread and dust ruffle for my own bed (photo below). The fabric for my bedspread was aged about three years. Hence it turned out smashing!

Speaking of smashing, I dispatched two young roosters this morning. (Okay, it was more ‘wringing’ than ‘smashing.’) It was awful watching them die, but I told myself that my Grandmother Glenna would be proud. You might think I’m crass and violent, but let me explain. We wanted to get four baby hens this spring as future egg-layers. When my neighbor said that her son’s preschool class was hatching chicks and I could have as many as I wanted for free, I jumped at the chance. (A dollar saved is a dollar you can spend later for something better.) Knowing that the hatch would be straight run – roughly equal in males and females – we decided to get six chicks, hoping that we’d get at least three hens.

In the end we have four hens but two roosters. As I’m a penny pincher, I couldn’t stand the thought of feeding two roosters to maturity and then disposing of them. I decided that today was the day. Originally I’d intended to use the French method (Off with their heads), but remembered that wringing their necks would work too. Unsavory and detestable as the job was, I feel tough, gritty, and strongly connected to my pioneer ancestry.

In fact, I’ve decided that if more people lived with a pioneer mentality, we’d have a much healthier society. The environment wouldn’t be today’s hot-button issue. More families could afford to have just one wage-earner. Fewer spoiled-rotten children would populate our schools. All this if most people in America practiced the time-tested pioneer motto:

Use is up.
Wear it out.
Make it do.
Or do without.

Easier said than done, of course.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mindful Eating

This morning the Wall Street Journal had a Health Journal article on mindful eating. I needed the reminder. I clipped the article for future reference, but for today’s blog I wanted to remind myself that when I pay attention to my hunger signals and don’t mindlessly munch, I can maintain my weightloss—even lose a bit.

The following is an entry from my Fitness Journal from March 30th.

I guess you could say that this week was my first week of trying to overcome my desire to overeat with the Lord’s help. So far, so good.

I got on the scale this morning and had lost a bit from last week. But the best thing is, I’m not constantly obsessing about food.

There were three days this week when I knelt down in the morning and asked Heavenly Father to bless me with the desire to do His will and to eat only when I’m hungry and not overeat. All three days were great days!

On the other days of the week I got into a morning rush and forgot to pray. Although I said silent, quick prayers in my heart throughout the day, it was not the same as when I took three to five minutes of time on my knees at the start of the day and poured my soul out to the Lord.

I need to remember that my spiritual needs (prayer) are just as, if not more, important than my physical needs (shower, dressing, breakfast).

Prayer is the ultimate way to start the day!!

Note: It is freeing not to have to measure and write down every little thing I eat. And cooking and shopping are much simpler too. With the extra mental energy I have, I feel better able to focus on my family, fun hobbies and even my writing. That’s certainly a blessing of eating only when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tales of Mother's Day

My friend called last night with the latest laugh from her son, Landon. In their ward’s primary the children created Mother’s Day coupons to give to their mothers. When my friend sat down to read the coupons from Landon, her nine-year-old, this is what they said:

This Mother’s Day coupon good for . . . doing the job of your choice. Love, Whitten

This Mother’s Day coupon good for . . . making your bed. Love, Jade and Shiloh

This Mother’s Day coupon good for . . . making dinner. Love, Dakota

What a clever little boy! My friend got a good chuckle and an idea for what to include in her own mother’s belated Mother’s Day card – coupons! Her favorite one is:

This Mother’s Day coupon good for . . . tracing your genealogy back to Adam. Love, Jody

What Mother’s Day coupons would you make for your mother care of your siblings?

Now for some reflections on my own Mother’s Day. It was bliss. My hubby really worked extra hard so that I wouldn’t have to. (Thank you, honey!) And the talks in Sacrament Meeting were inspiring and non-guilt inducing. In fact, our Sunday School President’s whole talk was meant to serve as an antidote to the usual “my mother is perfect” fare which gets recited on Mother’s Day.

As he was speaking I whispered to my husband, “All mothers have perfect moments.” I followed that up with, “Most of mine are while I am sleeping.” Which is true. Especially now that I have a new, soft mattress.

Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to speak on Mother’s Day. Not only would I share the little truth I discovered – All mothers have perfect moments -- but I would also point out that no mother is perfect. Mine included. But my mother is memorable.

I spent a little time yesterday jotting down some of the things I’ve learned from my mom. I call them Life Lessons from Leslie. Here they are:

1. Save your receipts.

2. Cooking is overrated. Find a few dishes the family likes and set up a rotation.

3. Life is uncertain – eat dessert first!

4. You can never have too much of a good thing. (In her case, earrings and blackberry Jell-O.)

5. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So learn to make your husband’s favorite dessert.

6. Live, love, and laugh! Laughing until the tears roll down creates moments to remember.

7. Love yourself. Mom said, “Whenever you’re running for an office, always vote for yourself!” I also credit her with much of my own self-confidence. Her self-assurance bolstered my own. I knew that because she valued herself, as her daughter I must also have intrinsic value.

Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Recent Pleasures

Just a few things that I have really gotten a kick out of. . .

Hubby reading aloud from Sunday of the Living Dead by Robert Kirby & Pat Bagley in bed last night. I especially enjoyed the chapter featuring Kirby’s suggestions for the next hymnal. Our favorite was These Boots are Made for Tracting – “and one of these days these boots are gonna tract all over Yuma, Arizona.” It was great to watch Hubby laugh out loud.

Home grilled hamburgers.

Calling the kids home from Israelsen Park using our family’s signature call – blasts from an airhorn. Short, short, looooong! (It sure beats hollering.)

Letting our dog in with the growing chicks and having her simply sniff them. And try to lick their feet. But no biting. See, she really is a nice dog!

Chatting with friends on the sidelines of Lou’s soccer games. Kayla helped motivate me to see just how close I am to getting my teaching certificate current. (Thanks, Kayla.)

Nemesis’s blog about biking. (You MUST check it out and read the comments too.)

Spring blossoms: daffodils, forsythia, apricot (popcorn) blossoms, sand cherry trees, grape hyacinth.

Beans coming in from school with yellow dandelion stains all over her face! (What a cute face!)

Looking through photos from my summer in Japan with Lou. Watching her put together her school report on Japan. Taking her to a Japanese restaurant and having her try sushi. (She’ll pass.) Eating tuna sushi with wasabi. Ouishi desu!

Wrapping a few things for myself for Mother’s Day. But also knowing that Hubby has bought me something too.

Looking forward to the kids’ homemade Mother’s Day gifts.

Weeding the front flowerbed with the wheel hoe and feeling like a gritty, tough, pioneer-stock woman!

Friday, May 02, 2008

More on Modest Swimwear

I’ve been thinking about modest swimwear again. Years ago when we lived in Layton, Utah I went visiting teaching with Shirley. She had grown up in a very conservative Baptist household who had Mennonite friends and leanings, but she had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons. Shirley was big on modesty, especially for herself and her girls. The girls in their household dressed much like the FLDS women that we’re seeing so much of in the news lately – long pioneer-style dresses with opaque socks and sensible shoes. Only Shirley and her girls also wore scarves on their heads.

On one of our visiting teaching outings Shirley and I got talking about modest swimming suits. I was curious to know what her girls wore when they went to the local Surf N’ Swim. She explained that they simply wore their dresses. If I were still in contact with Shirley, I’d show her the website for Wholesomewear’s slimmer suits. I think they would have fit the bill for her ultra-conservative modesty standard.

Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to modesty, but I like what Sister Lori Watts taught us in Relief Society a few years ago. She demonstrated modesty by singing, “Head shoulders, knees and toes.” When she sang “head,” she raised her hands above her head and demonstrated no midriff should be showing. When she came to “shoulders,” she pointed out that coverage should come over the shoulders – no bra straps exposed. “Knees” meant that shorts and skirts come near the knees. When Sister Watts bent to touch her toes, she pointed out that no cleavage or midriff should show. I actually use this handy little song when shopping with my kids. If the clothing they’re trying on can’t pass the head, shoulders, knees and toes test, we don’t buy it.

When it comes to swimming suits, I don’t think it’s necessary that they come near the knee. But you can buy ones that do – even modern looking ones. The coolibar website is probably where I’ll purchase my next swimming suit. As someone with a family history of skin cancer, I like the added sun protection that these swim styles offer in addition to modesty.

I was surprised, however to see that some popular Utah-based clothing lines that tout themselves as being modest don’t really deliver when it comes to swimwear. DownEast clothing company and Lime Ricki Swimwear both have belly baring tankinis. The Shade Clothing Company does have tankini tops that are longer, but the bottoms are slung low on the hips – not my definition of modest.

My favorite place to buy modest swimsuits is Lands' End. You can find them on-line at or in Sear's stores that carry clothing. Best thing is, the suits are made to last!

If you want to go ultra-modest (even by my friend Shirley’s standards), check out’s line of Islamic swimwear. Now that’s coverage!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Column-writing dog needs your help . . .

Annie is going to write a newspaper column, but she needs your help. You see, she's preparing sample columns of "Annie Investigates" to send to prospective papers. What we're looking for are quirky questions that Annie can investigate and answer. Questions that children and adults will want to know the answers to.

Annie is currently working on writing up her findings to the question, "Where is it polite to burp after dinner?" Another topic that has piqued her curiosity is how the cyclists on the Tour de France relieve themselves during the grueling race. (Annie loves bicycles!)

If you've got a question that you've always wanted to know the answer to, send it to Annie courtesy of this blog or my e-mail address. We'll do the investigating.

(We'll also let you know when we've got Annie's proposal packet ready, and you can send us the contact information for your hometown newspaper so you can read every tantilizing article.)