Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Holy Interest Rates, Batman!

Our son has been pretending to be super heroes for some time now. Superman, Batman, Mr. Incredible, and Dash are all frequent visitors to our home. About two weeks ago though, a new hero became part of our lives.
While visiting a friend's house, my son and his friends disappeared into the confines of their bedroom and reemerged as super heroes, lining up and announcing their superhero names. We were puzzled by the identity our son assumed that day. While his friends took on names such as, "Awesome Bat" and "Mr. Two Brains", our son proudly announced that he would be known as... "Clark Howard".

My husband and I frequently consult Clark Howard's website for his opinions on financial matters, but we were astonished that our son would pick up on the wisdom that saving money, remaining debt free, and investing smartly could "save the world". We accepted it as it was. After all, we figured Clark Howard was as good a role model as any for our son.
Finally, after two weeks of "Clark Howard" fighting evil in our home, we had a breakthrough. Yesterday, as our son once again announced his identity, I understood everything. Proudly wearing his Superman cape I realized that he meant "Clark Kent". Before I could stop myself, I made the correction.
We don't see Clark Howard around anymore. But we will treasure the short time he was a part of our lives. I mean, he had some really good advice on Roth IRA's.

****Here are some articles I thought you might find interesting. The first is an open letter sent to Congress from 19 healthcare organizations around the country. The second is an article
published in the Chicago Tribune by Denis Cortese (Mayo's CEO) and Jeffrey Korsmo (executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center). It explains how a Medicare like plan would make quality health care unavailable to people (hospitals already lose money on Medicare patients), emphasizes the need for a system based on quality care- rather than quantity, and sites a bill that would reform the current Medicare system entitled the Medicare Payment Improvement Act.****

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dear Diary

Most of the journals I kept during my youth, I have a strong desire to burn. I thought I had them all under lock and key, but recently, I found another journal in my parent's attic. I was 8 at the time, and somehow the excerpts aren't as painful to read as my middle school journal (probably the absence of crazy hormones?). In fact, it is pretty insightful into the mind of a child. Most of the entries are pretty dull- mainly recording the schedule of my day. But there are a few gems of emotional expression. Here's one of my favorites, dated November 30th. The subject is my grandpa, who would frequently babysit us:

"Dear Diary,
today went I got home from school my grandpa messed up everything[.] [F]irst when I got something folded up and put into a bag my grandpa recked it up. Then he recked one of my activity scenes up and was not! minding his own business.
Well bye-bye"

Wouldn't it be interesting to go back in time and see how these events really unfolded? My Grandpa was certainly not a monster roaming the house, leaving mass destruction in his wake. In fact, I suspect he was getting after me to clean up, and I suspect I wasn't obeying. But isn't my perspective interesting? It has made me wonder how my little one thinks of me as I attempt to maintain order in our home.

I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a monster roaming the house, leaving mass destruction in my wake.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's More Than A Flag

A few weeks ago, a TV show I was watching gave a little history on the American flag and an instructional on how to fold the flag. I was surprised to find that each triangular fold in the flag is symbolic of something. I had never known this before, despite my tenure as a safety patrol in the fifth grade. I found it interesting, so I thought I'd share it with you. (I got my information from www.usflag.org). FYI: Did you know that our flag is folded into a tri-cornered hat, in memory of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war of Independence?
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother's day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God we Trust."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day

"My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future, faced it with faith in God and with no less assurance of the ultimate establishment of the Gospel in the West and of its true enduring principles, than I had felt in those trying scenes in Missouri."

-Bathsheba Smith (on the evacuation of the Latter-Day Saints from Nauvoo)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canada Care

Here's a link to an article explaining IMAC (Indpendent Medicare Advisory Council) that would help reform Medicare. In case you care, Mayo is supportive of this effort because it moves Medicare to "value based" payment model. As much as Obama loves Mayo, Mayo is not loving Obama's plan. In fact, here is Mayo's reaction to the Tri-Committee Bill:

"Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill – including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects – the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.

In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient focused or results oriented. Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental lever – a change in Medicare payment policy – to help drive necessary improvements in American health care. Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in American health care will wither. The real losers will be the citizens of the United States."

A dedicated reader of my blog informed me of this video here. It is an undercover look into Canada's health care system, and what the process is like to receive care from a doctor. This is something I've been wanting to see, because I am curious about the reality of it all. I'm kind of surprised there haven't been more efforts like this. Anyway, it gives you an idea of the kind of bureaucracy that government puts between citizens and their doctors, along with the taxes it takes to make health care "free" for all. No thanks!

Here's another blog that another dedicated reader has made me aware of. He has some interesting insights concerning healthcare and Obama.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Favorite Poem

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up
in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin'
in it;
Within the wall there's got t' be some babies
born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women
good, an' men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye
wouldn't part
With anything they ever used--they're grown
into yer heart;
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the
little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb-
marks on the door.

-Selection taken from, "Home" by Edgar A. Guest

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beware of Treacherous Villains

I found this advice at the end of "One Hundred and One Famous Poems", copyright 1929:

"In choosing books for children these rules, recently laid down by an author of books for boys, are worth the consideration of parents:

'Read your children's books yourself. Or better still, get your boy or girl to read them aloud to you. Ask yourself during the reading:

'Does this book lay stress on villainy, deception or treachery?'

'Are all the incidents wholesome, probable and true to life?'

'Does it show young people contemptuous toward their elders and successfully opposing them?'

'Do the young characters in the book show respect for teachers and others in authority?'

'Are these characters the kind of young people you wish your children to associate with?'

'Does the book speak of and describe pranks, practical jokes and pieces of thoughtless and cruel mischief as though they were funny and worthy of imitation?'

'Is the English good and is the story written in good style?'"

I have to admit, at first I was amused by this article because of its use of words like villainy, treachery, and cruel mischief (I don't think we use those words enough these days!).
I had never considered editing books with the influence or example of the main character in mind. Would there be any good children's books left to read if we lived by this criteria? What about Peter Rabbit or Curious George? (As a side note: I can't figure out why the man with the yellow hat continually trusts George in potentially precarious situations over and over again. When will he ever learn?). And does a book being "true to life" eliminate the whole fiction section of the library?
I have been very protective about which movies to share with my child, and as parents, we are very conscientious about movie ratings and so forth. But books? They seem so.... harmless.

If anything, this was a reminder to me that I should be aware of what influences I allow my child to be exposed to, no matter what type of media.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Common Sense

Lately, I have had a desire to read books concerning the founding of America, as an effort to understand the vision our Founding Fathers had for this country. Currently, I am reading "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine. Next I hope to tackle "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith (my college freshman/American Heritage self would be astounded by such talk!). Here are a few captions I have found interesting so far:

"...Government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one..."

"Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security."

"I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered..." (When I read this, I thought of this.)

It is interesting to think about government in this way- as a necessary evil that's sole existence is to offer us freedom and security. More and more I feel our society is viewing government as a parent figure that should be regulating every aspect of our life. And lately I feel the government is more than happy to step in and regulate any aspect of our life that we'll let it.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marriage in 800 B.C.

"There is nothing more nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends, as only they themselves know better than anyone."
-Homer ("The Odyssey")

Isn't that a fun way to look at marriage? This is a quote I found in the back of one of my planners from High School (apparently recorded during some required reading). Who would suspect that such a beautful and tender quote about marriage could come from "The Odyssey"- a story that contains a cyclops and a woman with snake hair? It's significant to me that even in 800 B.C. marriage was revered and admired.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Not Even Funny.... Well, Kind of.

This brochure was mailed to me the other day by a local house cleaning agency.

I thought it captured the horror of my reality appropriately.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Permission to Decorate Freely

As an interior design student, sometimes I would be conflicted over the importance of my field. I spent countless hours (and many an all-nighter) rendering concepts, assembling design boards, and drafting floor plans. Often, I would sit back and wonder if I was channeling my energies in a meaningful direction. I mean, people are starving and homeless all over the world, and I was... choosing fabric for a chair?
Is spending money on our homes a frivolous, vain pursuit that should be battled and put behind bars? Is it hard to justify making purchases for our homes? Here are two passages that helped put my insecurities to rest (and ammunition you can use with your spouse!):

"[The temple is] a place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness." -Bible Dictionary ("Temples")

"As we recall the commandment to stand in holy places, we should remember that beyond the temple, the most sacred and holy places in all the world should be our dwelling places." -President James E. Faust

Now, I realize that there are many reasons why the temple is sacred, most importantly being the work that is done there, but have you ever thought about how the temple's interior effects you? The temple is a place of peace, and I strongly believe the decor and design within the temple strongly contribute to that atmosphere. So it is with any room or place we find ourselves in. Compare how you act or feel inside the temple vs. a warehouse, Nordstrom vs. Wal-Mart, or a fine restaurant vs. McDonald's. Our surroundings influence us and our ability to feel the spirit.
And so, while I'm not promoting extravagance or not budgeting appropriately, we can find meaning and importance in making our homes a home... without the guilt. It is, after all, the second most sacred place on earth.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Healthcare Reform (without handcuffs)

The rate at which we are speeding towards socialized medicine alarms me. Like flies to a fly zapper, I feel that many people are supportive of it because they are attracted to the word "free". Are we really supposed to believe the health care will be free if Uncle Sam is in charge? I'm amazed that we are even considering socialized medicine with examples world wide of the misery, decrease in quality care, and waiting lists in which we would become entangled. Is anyone familiar with VA Hospitals? There's government run health care for you. And let's talk about Medicare. The government decides how Medicare patients are treated when afflicted with certain illnesses. They even dictate, after a certain age, whether or not a patient can receive certain treatments. Who really wants that?
While I know many are opposed to socialized medicine, I have heard no suggestions on what to replace it with. Until now. Here are two examples I have been made aware of as to how we can improve our health care system- without handing the government our rights to quality treatment.

1. Mayo Clinic is one of the nation's leaders in quality health care- even praised by Pres. Obama himself. They are so good, leaders from other nations seek out treatment at their facilities (perhaps they are unhappy with the health care available in their own countries...?). Check out Mayo's Cornerstones of Reform (create value, coordinate care, reform the payment system, provide health insurance for all). What I find particularly interesting is the idea that the individual would own their insurance, therefore, guaranteeing coverage between jobs. You might be interested in their grassroots campaign, Healthcare Repair.
2. I recently became aware of the health care plan Safeway makes available to their employees. Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal giving a summary. It is completely voluntary, although 74% of their nonunion workforce use it, and 70% of the employees that use it rated it good, very good, or excellent. It is modeled after car insurance- rewarding healthy behavior (vs. safe driving) and giving financial incentives. Don't you think that personal responsibility and choice are two things that our nation need?

These are just two examples of reform (sans government) that I have heard of so far. If you know of other alternatives, please comment and let me know. The fact is, is that government is not our only solution. Nor should it be our solution. If this is a matter of importance to you, write your state representatives and tell them to leave government out of health care.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finding A Voice (that's not calling for time-out...)

As a stay-at-home mom, I am pretty much the law in our home for most of the day. I believe I am doing the most important work I can be doing at this time. I hope that my example and teachings will influence my child to be a productive and influential citizen in the future. But, over the last month or so I have pondered over how I can influence our country's future while running our home. What can I do right now that does not distract from my responsibilities to my family (and does not require a law degree)? Perhaps I have discounted or forgotten the power I have as a regular citizen. I can:

1. Vote. Vote. Vote. Not voting is still making a choice.
2. Write and call my Congressman and Senators. Even if your candidate of choice was not elected, you don't have to sit it out until next election. You have a voice in your state representatives. In theory, they keep in touch with the desires of the people and vote for or against laws accordingly. Both are elected directly by the people, so if they want a chance at reelection, they want to keep us happy. If you don't know who your reps are, find them here: www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Let them know what you think about socialized medicine or other issues that are important to you (you still have chance to contact your Senators concerning cap & trade).

While these measures seem small, they are very important. We are blessed to have these available to us. If you have time to vote for (insert favorite reality show here) you have time to vote or make your voice heard concerning things that actually affect your life.

What are other ways we can influence our country while managing our lives?