Sunday, May 31, 2009

Socks (Free-write from 5.28.09)

Socks have a way of sneaking up on me, hiding there under the dust ruffle of my daughter's bed. There's another pair, dirty and inside-out, beside the grass-stained shoes Loula Belle wore to mow the lawn.

I wonder if socks started the game of hide-and-seek. I can almost hear some ancient, befuddled housewife mumbling to herself, "Now where is the match to this sorry black sock?"

If I were a sock, where would I hide?

At the bottom of a sleeping bag that will soon be stuffed and stored until the next camping trip.

Wadded up at the toe of a soggy snow boot.

Tucked under the covers at the foot of the bed.

Hidden in plain sight at the back of the drawer containing clean and sorted socks.

Or, just maybe I'd start a game of Sardines and slide between the wrap-over cushion at the end of the couch. As one end fills with fellow dingy and worn siblings, some would need to hide together at the other end of the couch.

Those sardine socks stayed hidden for years. I only found them when we sold the house. Needing a better grip when moving the couch, I slid my arm into the wrap-over sanctuary. There were almost a dozen socks. Which, by the way, no longer even fit the boy who had hidden them there.

Did the invention of modern laundry methods increase the amount of missing socks? Or did socks go AWOL before the introduction of the electric dryer?

In societies and cultures that wear only sandals, what goes missing instead of socks? Are there even societies that don't wear socks? Are there mothers somewhere who have never even seen a sock?

If such a place exists, I just might consider moving there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'd Like Your Opinion

My friend, Rebecca Taggart, is on a mission. And I'm helping out. She'd like to see if our local elementary schools can go back to a K-5 format.

I'm posting a copy of her letter below. (I've edited out the specific names of the elementary schools for privacy/security reasons.) I also have a hard copy of the letter that I'm getting signatures on. So here's the deal . . . If you're from my neck of the woods, let me know your thoughts on this issue. If you agree with Rebecca and me, I'll drop by and get your signature. She'll be turning the signatures in to Principal Gary Thomas who will spearhead the discussion with the school district.

Here's Rebecca's letter. My own personal specific thoughts will be posted below it.

We, the undersigned, are in favor of returning to the K-5 configuration at our local elementary schools for the following reasons:

1. Every year between 80 – 90% of a child’s classmates change. This means two or three students from a class will be together the following year. This happens year after year after year for a child’s entire grade school experience. Emotionally and socially it’s almost like moving to a new school every year! This lack of social continuity has been one of the unintended consequences of our present division of grades. If students attended all six grades in one school, there would be half the number of classrooms per grade level. This would mean more peer continuity.

2. Students move to a new school every three years. When a child moves from one school to the other, not only are classmates new (again), but also the principal, secretaries, lunch workers, custodians, librarians and other support staff. This constantly changing environment does not foster stable relationships, feelings of community, or a sense of well-being.

3. Students would spend less time on buses with the K-5 configuration. Buses would not be stopping at both schools for loading and unloading, and more students would be able to walk to school.

4. Siblings would attend the same school. This would not only be more convenient, but would also foster better partnerships between families and school personnel.

Some parents may be concerned about bullying. Well-managed schools have scheduled, supervised recess periods that accommodate different grade levels. Bullying most frequently takes place on buses. A K-5 configuration would reduce bullying by reducing busing.

A K-5 configuration would foster a more stable environment for our children by providing more continuity and reducing time spent on the bus. We would appreciate your consideration regarding this matter.


Remember when I got fed up with my daughter's elementary school making the kids stand outside in lines until 9:05 AM? (Click this sentence for a refresher.) Having our local schools on a K-5 configuration would solve her school's early bussing headaches.

My oldest daughter began second grade in a class where she didn't know any of the other students. The teacher was wonderful, the other students were friendly, and Loula Belle is my most outgoing child. But the situation gave her chronic stomach aches all year. We had her tested for lead poisoning. (We were living in an old rental home at the time.) I took her to the doctor. Nothing turned up. Looking back, I believe the problem was anxiety caused by a lack of friends in her school class.

Rebecca discovered that the K-5 format would eliminate the need for three school buses, saving time and money. I also learned that the third grade will have eight classes next year. Eight classes! The format would also simplify PTA membership (by the way, our schools are the only elementary schools in the state that have two seperate PTA boards for split schools), back-to-school nights, and Parent/Teacher conferences. I'm all for simplicity!

Sure, we'll miss meeting some of the parents and students that currently attend our elementary schools. But that won't last forever, we'll run into them when our children go to middle school. And by then our children will be more mature and ready for not only a new school, but the opportunity to make new friends.

I say lets give our kids the school configuration that is healthiest for them. In my mind that's the K-5 format.

What do you think? If you'd like to sign Rebecca's letter, write "sign me up" somewhere in your comments. And if you've got your own ideas, that's great too. Let us know how you feel.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Toddler Diet

I went to lunch with friends yesterday, and promised LaLoni that I would post this piece. It's part of the "From the Trenches" self-syndicated columns that I wrote between 1997 and 2000. Hope you like it!


Try the Toddler Diet

Moms have it tough when it comes to staying in shape. When pregnant, we watch our bodies balloon to unimaginable proportions. Post delivery we’re left with sagging mid-sections and spreading hips. What’s a mom to do?

We count calories, fat grams and keep food diaries. TV advertisements entice us to drink shakes, eat bars and pop pills to help us lose weight. Some say cutting out carbohydrates is the key. They’ve got it all wrong.

For the answers to weight management, follow your toddler’s diet.

Day One
Breakfast – Orange juice and a bowl of corn flakes. Take two bites of cereal and drink half the glass of orange juice. Spend five minutes picking up the remaining corn flakes and squishing them between your fingers. When finished, wear your bowl like a hat.

Morning snack – Remove the couch cushions and rummage for food. Eat one button, a penny and chew on the pencil that you discover.

Lunch – Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, glass of milk and small bunch of red grapes. Before eating anything, throw a tantrum because you’re not getting macaroni and cheese. When you’re calm again, drink three sips of milk and eat a third of the sandwich. Then, open sandwich and place it face down on the table. Rotate it a few times. Choose one slice and stuff it into your milk glass. Finish by sticking a grape in your ear.

Afternoon snack – While outside, pick up a wad of gum from the sidewalk and chew on it for a while. Find the dog’s dish and eat two pieces of dog food.

Dinner – Steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes with gravy, roast beef and chocolate ice cream for dessert. Show no interest in anything on your plate. Instead, insist on having a drink of milk from Dad’s glass. Pretend to take a drink, but spill most of it down your front. For the next ten minutes, play with the food on your plate, but don’t eat any. Hold out until it’s time for dessert. Eat all of your ice cream and whine until you get more.

Day Two
Breakfast – Two slices of toast with strawberry jam and scrambled eggs. Take two bites of toast, being careful to cover face and clothes with as much jam as possible. Poke and prod your eggs, eating only a small bite. Dump what food remains on the floor.

Morning snack – Eat four dinosaur-shaped fruit snacks. Suck on five more. Spit them out and hide them under your bed. Swallow a red Lego that you find by the book case.

Lunch – Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Throw another tantrum over not getting macaroni and cheese. Angrily push soup away, sloshing most of it across the table. Penitently nibble at sandwich. Insist that you’re full. Once away from the table, eat the fruit snacks from under your bed.

Afternoon snack – Work for twelve minutes to get a fuzzy lifesaver from under the fridge. Eat it and the three crayon pieces that you also find.

Dinner – Linguine with tomato sauce, garlic bread and canned peaches. Drop utensils. Eat your peaches with your hands (this may take a while). Alternate between ripping your bread into small pieces and trying to get the linguine in your mouth. When the pasta and sauce cover your shirt, face, hair and the floor, you’re finished.

Continue in like manner, refusing any new foods offered, until you’ve reached your weight loss goals.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best Father's Day Gift -- At-Home Wife

Today I was checking in at to see who was coming to this blog and from where. Someone from St. Charles, Illinois googled "healthy housewife" and found my blog. When I clicked on their search term, I discovered that I was google's #2 healthy housewife. But best of all, I discovered just how housewives have impacted the health of their husbands.

I came across this article from the Telegraph, a Brittish on-line publication. Click on the "this article" link mentioned previously for a fascinating read on why having an at-home wife provides big benefits for husbands. (You're welcome, honey!)

Hiking to Health #3: Alternate Routes

This write-up ran in my local paper in April. (I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better.) :)

Writing about hiking to health doesn’t guarantee it’s going to happen. Life happens. An underactive thyroid gland happens. Ongoing nausea, fatigue, and a bit of the winter blues happen. Yet my calendar still shows the dates I’ve mapped out as hiking days, and the newspaper deadline must be met. Just how does one try to meet fitness goals when one’s health takes a dip?

The advertisers at Nike tell us to “just do it.” While getting out and moving can help one feel better, I object to the models that Nike uses in its commercials. It’s not surprising to see young, fit men and women out running and sweating. Real people struggling and overcoming real health issues motivate me to keep going. Instead of looking to Nike’s brand of motivational models, I’ve found a few of my own – friends and neighbors whose courage and persistence set an example that says, “If I can do it, you can too.”

I have a neighbor who suffers from degenerative bone loss that leaves her in near-constant pain, but you’d never know it from looking at her. A smile and cheery outlook are her trademarks. I also admire a mother of six children who goes swimming in the wee hours of the morning. She goes because she has found that she’s more patient with her family on the days she goes swimming. Another woman in her 90s goes swimming three times a week and has been doing so for over three years! No doubt you have similar acquaintances.

Perhaps you’re wondering if I completed the two hikes I had planned. Yes and no. I did go on two hikes, but they weren’t to the destinations on my list. During the past few months of feeling sluggish, I had to focus on climbing hills, not mountains. Mountains overwhelmed me, but hills seemed doable. I lightened up on my expectations for myself but didn't let myself quit entirely.

During the short, snow-free thaw in mid-March I hiked the Cedar Ridge jeep trail along the foothills above Hyde Park. I chose it because it was close to home, wouldn’t take too long to hike, and because it looked like it was dry as I scoped it out from my backyard. It was all I thought it would be, plus something else – steep! I was glad that I decided to go this hike alone, as no one had to know how many times I stopped to catch my breath on the climb up. Making it to the top gave me a sense of accomplishment along with breath-taking views of Cache Valley.

For my second excursion I did a little urban hiking. I tried to think of the steepest roads in Logan and then developed a walking route that would take me up or down most of them. I went down the street just north of the Logan Temple, north half a block and then up Temple Avenue. Next I went down a walking path to the south of the temple, along Canyon Road and then up the short dugway. I made my way to the bottom of Old Main Hill and climbed all 124 stairs. Once on campus I walked toward the LDS Institute building and then headed down a path that put me near the entrance to the underground parking terrace. From there I hiked down 600 North to 600 East and eventually returned to where I’d parked my car near the temple. I liked how this urban outing let me get my heart rate up during short climbs, followed by quick recovery periods while hiking downhill. It was a fun way to get a good workout.

Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This especially applies to anyone trying to meet fitness goals during a health downturn. Focusing on single steps has kept me moving forward on the path to health.

Today's Free-Write: Chickens in history

Chickens are under-rated. Sure, we're prized for our eggs and meat, but we're much more than agricultural commodities. We have minds.

We live very balanced lives. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who coined the phrase:

Early to bed, and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, and wealthy, and wise.

Just where do you suppose he got the inspiriation for that much-quoted dictum? That's right, from watchnig Colonial chickens. Afterall, we've long turned in for the night at the disappearance of the sun. And we start the day in the dawn's early light.

Which reminds me ... Who do you think Francis Scott Key had in mind when he wrote the opening lines of the "Star Spangled Banner?" Here's the text. Let's see if anyone comes to mind:

Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

He's obviously talking with fellow early-risers, to those who proudly hailed the sight of the Stars and Stripes still visible in the twilight's last gleam. Who was it? I believe it was, again, chickens. Chickens would have been up at the dawn's early light. Chickens would have hailed their beloved flag at the twilight's last gleam just before going to roost for the night. And chickens were often kept on ships at that time to provide fresh eggs for the troops.

Are there other events in American History where chickens have played a pivotal role? Undoubtedly! Why do you think there's an entire breed of chickens named after Plymouth Rock? Those egg-laying girls were at it again!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Computer Woes

In the past few weeks we've been having computer problems -- crashes, not connecting to the internet, being sent to weird pages when clicking on google search results. Weird stuff. So on Monday morning I took our tower (computer) into a repair place. I had a coupon for $39.95 for a clean-up and tune-up. Only our computer needed more than the clean-up and tune-up.

The guy said that he needed to wipe our hard drive and re-install everything. That alone was $120 or so. Plus if we wanted him to preserve our personal file, that would be another $65 or so. Long story short ... $200 later we have our computer back, but it won't run itunes for me. Doesn't have my Microsoft Publisher program installed or our Microsoft Office suite. Which pretty much means that all the files I've got on it aren't accessible. Needless to say I'm prett peeved. Oh, and the place doesn't open until 10 AM so I can't call to get more fix-it advice.

What I really need is a close friend who knows EVERYTHING about computers and wants to help me out in exchange for, oh, say . . . custom written poetry, creative business slogan ideas, or a new take on marketing angles, or (more realistically) fresh garden produce (strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, peas, sweet corn, etc).

Know anyone like that? Do tell!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Funny phrase about American Idol

Our family likes to watch American Idol. Last night our youngest, Beans, tuned in a little late and asked, "Has anyone been deleted yet?"

I'm certainly glad that I'm not up for getting deleted!

By the way, I thought that Chris Allen should have gone instead of Allion. But as we're not really voters, I can't complain.

P.S. We also like to buy the albums of American Idol alums. We have Daughtery, David Cook, David Archuleta and Jordin Sparks.

Correction (5/8/09)

It was Hubby who was late sitting down to watch American Idol. He asked Beans how things were going. She said, "No one has been deleted yet."

And that's the truth.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Changing up the chore charts again!

The other night I showed Hubby the file I keep of all the past chore charts/cards that we've tried. He was impressed. Honestly, I could probably write a book.

I find that every 6 months or so I have to fiddle with the chore chart system that we're using. Now that my kids are older (10, 13 and 15), we've gone to a money-earning system.

You'll notice that there are a number of important things missing from the pay schedule below. Keeping their room clean, doing homework, helping with the dishwasher -- that's just part of living in our family. They won't get paid for that. I also wanted to reward effort. You work, you get rewarded.

Here's what we're trying:

Bring in the mail $.05
Help make dinner $.50
Weeding, per 15 min. $.25
Write in journal $.25
Read an entire New Era $2.00
Read a Conference talk $.25

Empty and re-line a garbage $.10
Bring in garbage/recycle bin $.05/ea

check off when completed

Total Toilet Treatment: $.50

Clean Sink and Counter: $.20
Laundry room

No-smudge Mirror: $.10
Master sink
Master door

Clean with scrubbing bubbles $.50
Master shower
Master tub
Boy’s tub/shower
Girls’ tub/shower

Vacuum one of these areas: $.25
Down.hall & media room
Recreation room
Sewing and piano rooms
Up. TV & Master bedroom

Vacuum Stairs $.75

Super shake-a-rug (outside) $.10
Kitchen sink rug
Rug by cubbies
Front door rug
Both kids’ bathrooms
Master bathroom rug
Outside front porch rug
Rug on garage porch
Back patio rug

Wipe all upstairs windowsills $.50
Wipe all downstairs windowsills $.30
Mow the lawn $3.00
Mow the orchard (ask Dad 1st) $2.00
Super-Sweep the garage $1.00
Wash the outside of car $.75
Wash the outside of truck $.75
Wash car windows in & out $.50
Wash truck windows in & out $.30
Vacuum car interior $.75
Vacuum truck interior $.75

This past week my oldest and youngest each earned $.80. But my middle child earned a whopping $9.00! She's motivated to earn money towards girl's camp.

They pay 10% in tithing and 20% into savings. The rest they can spend.

I think it's important to teach kids how to work, but it's also important to teach them how to manage money. To help teach them about the value of a dollar, we also give them a larger quarterly amount, with the biggest payment coming in August to help cover school clothes. Then, throughout the year they're in charge of budgeting their money to pay for clothes, candy, presents, etc.

This has done wonders for my middle child. Before we tried this system, she'd ask for everything that her heart desired. But once we turned her share of the budget over to her, she began weighing the importance of name brand vs. second hand clothes. It's made her a much more value-oriented shopper.

Lest you think we're making our kids pay for everything, rest assured that we buy all their food, pay for their sports and activities, and even purchase any socks or underwear. (No teen or tween wants to spend hard-earned cash on socks or underwear!)

What works for your family? In another 6 months or so, I'll be fiddling with our system again and would love having your ideas to draw from. Please share!

Take a page out of Pollyanna's book . . .

A couple nights ago as Hubby and I were in the bathroom getting ready for bed, I was bemoaning the fact that I have to wear special moisture-wicking undergarments to bed to help me sleep through night sweats. I hate night sweats! And I hate having to change my undergarments just to go to bed. (Note: The moisture-wicking unders don't always prevent me from waking up either!)

Hubby, who is so good to try to make me feel better, pointed out that it could be worse. "You could have a bowel leakage problem and have to wear Depends all the time," he said.

Yeah. That would be worse.

We then spent a few minutes coming up with a number of things that would be worse than having to deal with night sweats. Things like:

Having ALS disease.

Losing a leg to diabetes.

Having Parkinson's disease.

Having to wear a c-pap machine everynight.

Having another knee surgery and having to sleep with one leg aching and propped up.

You get the idea.

The funny thing is, after our little Pollyanna moment of finding worse things than what I currently complain about, I felt almost grateful to have recurring night sweats.

Night Sweats? No problem!

Just FYI: I don't really think they're due to an estrogen deficiency. Instead, I think that perhaps my thyroid I'm taking is a bit too much of a dose. When my thyroid levels were low, night sweats were non-existent.