Monday, August 31, 2009

Dr. Diary: Part Deux

My son has been interested in guns for some time now. I have not purchased a single toy firearm for the child, and yet everything has the potential to become such. Sticks, mugs, and K'nex are only a few of the items that he has used to "pack heat" around the house. I don't mind so much, but when I am ambushed and shot at point blank range for no apparent reason, I can't help but find it somewhat disturbing. Of course, his understanding of weapons is much different than mine, I get that, but still... I am his dear mother, not his enemy. How could he be so heartless in his dealings with me?
I mentioned in a previous post that I found a diary that I kept when I was 8 years old, and that it has given me renewed perspective of how my child might view me. Here is another favorite entry, dated July 18, that perhaps shines some light on the matter. In its entirety, it reads:


"Mom strikes again. To make our bed"


Perhaps I should design some kind of symbol that I could leave on his walls or toys to mark my dastardly presence each time I ask him to do something. Any suggestions as to what that symbol could look like?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Most Important Work

"Parents need to 'play offense'- to capitalize on the impressionable years of childhood by instilling in their sons the antecedents of character. Their assignment during two brief decades will be to transform their boys from immature and flighty youngsters into honest, caring men who will be respectful of women, loyal and faithful in marriage, keepers of commitments, strong and decisive leaders, good workers, and secure in their masculinity. And of course, the ultimate goal for people of faith is to give each child an understanding of Scripture and a lifelong passion for Jesus Christ. This is, I believe, the most important responsibility for those of us who have been entrusted with the care and nurturance of children."

-Dr. James Dobson, "The Wonderful World of BOYS", Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2003

Friday, August 28, 2009

Design Friday: The Egg Chair

Welcome to my very first Design Friday. This is my opportunity to highlight furniture, architects, and all things "design" that I love and find inspiring. Hope you enjoy it too. And without further ado....

... I would like to introduce you to my favorite chair of all time. Meet the Egg Chair.

photo from scandinaviandesign.com

This is a chair that I one day hope to own- but will probably not anytime soon- as it is the price of a small car. But, isn't it beautiful? I fell in love with this chair while studying interior design in college. It was designed by the Danish architect, Arne Jacobsen, in the 1950's for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. (I love this chair so much, I even wanted to name my first son Arne, but my husband felt differently). Arne was a very successful architect that would also design the furnishings for his buildings: including door handles, lamps, fabric, and even silverware. He is what you would call a "Complete" or "Total" designer.
Anyway, as you can see it has a very sleek, modern feel with interesting, curvaceous lines- obviously named after the shape it is derived from. I have never had the honor to sit in on
e, but It looks like a comfortable chair to curl up in and read a book.
Perhaps you are uncomfortable with modern furniture, because you feel you have to have an equally modern, minimalist home to accommodate it. Not so. The thing about modern furniture is that it has such clean lines that it is actually pretty easy to work into traditional settings.
Take the room below. It is a pretty traditional room. But, can you see the egg chair hanging out in the right hand corner of the room? I think it looks right at home back there, and complements the rest of the furnishings well. I think it also adds a little personality to the room.

photo from "Architectural Digest"


Thursday, August 27, 2009

And The Debate Rages On...

Here is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal, "The Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare". It is an opinion piece written by John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, and has thousands of people boycotting his store.
I think his train of thought is more of how we should direct reform (meaning, less government). He lists 8 ways to revise health care that leads to "...less government control and more individual empowerment." He describes his own company's health plan, and it reminded me of Safeway's plan. I agree with him that health care is not an intrinsic right rather, "... [A] service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This 'right' has never existed in America."
...
Here are the latest documents on Mayo Clinic's suggestions for reform. They believe that better reform means better service for money spent, and that all Americans should have access to health care. Their Point of View describes the path they believe health care reform needs to take and what needs to happen to ensure high quality care for all. Their Leadership Perspective is their current take on health care reform issues (paying for value, insurance for all, Medicare reform, and end-of-life care). They state, "If the "public plan" means a government‐run, price‐controlled, Medicare‐like insurance model, we do not support it because it has been shown over many years that such a model has not controlled costs and has punished doctors, hospitals and others that provide high‐quality, affordable care." Instead, they encourage a "public plan" modeled after the FEHBP. What is the FEHBP? Just read the article!

If you don't agree with Congress and Obama's direction for health care reform, you need to write/call/email your state representatives. Check out my sidebar for links to their sites, and do a search for your state. Let them know what you think.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Your Laugh For the Day

This REAL, German, music video starring David Hasselhoff was introduced to me by some friends. I think you will agree with me when I say it is the most random thing you will ever see. Enjoy, and you're welcome!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Lesson Learned at the Library

Time is a precious thing. So, there is nothing more annoying than when someone wastes your time, right? Especially when, if someone could have just taken the time to take a step back and review the situation before rushing to you for help from their self-created problem, the whole thing could have been avoided to begin with. There really is nothing more annoying. Especially, when that person is... me!
Last week, I went to the library to pick up some books on reserve. I was anticipating a book that I have been waiting for since January, but was alarmed to find it was not on the shelf with my other books. Long story short: I wasted 15 minutes of someone else's time hunting for a book that I was carrying in my arms the whole time (it was rubber banded behind another book)! I wasted 15 minutes of my own time too, but I felt worse about involving an innocent person in my cruel wild goose chase. Especially, since she was trying so hard to help me. The Help Desk Lady was visibly annoyed. Even though I sincerely apologized, I know how this lady felt towards me. I have worked with "the public". I hated being in the role of that person. In the history of my life, I know this is an isolated incident. But, in her mind, I know I was labeled as a "Helpless Time Waster", "Airhead", or "Something Worse".
As I thought about my mistake in the car, the words from a hymn ran through my mind, "
Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?" I find comfort in the fact that moments like this are inevitable for everyone. Somewhere down the road Help Desk Lady will find herself in a similar circumstance, and perhaps she will hope for understanding. I think it's moments like this that keep us feeling human and allow us the opportunity to act with compassion and understanding when we, ourselves, are faced with someone that has mistakenly ruined our day. I'm not saying that it's easy, or our first reaction, but if we can see ourselves in others it just might change our perspective on things.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's That Time of Year



As a nod to the back-to-school season, here is one of my favorite quotes:

"My dear sisters, don't ever sell yourself short as a woman or a mother. ...Do not let the world define, denigrate, or limit your feelings of lifelong learning and the values of motherhood in the home- both here mortally and in the eternal learning and benefits you give to your children and to your companion.
"Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human mind, body, and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation. Lifelong learning is invigorating mentally and is a great defense against aging, depression, and self-doubt."

Elder Robert D. Hales ("The Journey of Lifelong Learning", in Brigham Young University 2008-2009 Speeches [2009], 2, 8-9)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Skim Truth

On a daily basis, I find that I have many opportunities to traumatize my son for life. For example, when my son says something like, "I wish I were a cow so I could make milk. Do you wish you were a cow and make milk?", there are many ways I could answer him. Oh, the power I hold!
I could answer his straightforward question with a "yes" or a "no". Or I could
take the opportunity to dash his pretend world with complete and brutal honesty. I could share with him the fact that, at one point, mommy did get to be like a cow (and can personally testify that it's overrated).

This time, I was merciful and dodged the opportunity to educate/traumatize my son about my experience as a cow. Partly because it wasn't the right time, but mostly out of self interest. I have learned that what goes around comes around, and that anything I tell my son has the very real possibility of being passed on to family, friends, or strangers (potentially when I'm not present to defend myself). As he was not asking a direct question, I didn't want to put myself at unnecessary risk to be embarrassed. Though, he doesn't always need facts to do that either... but that's a whole other story.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Ant/Wasp/Butterfly Garden

One of my favorite places in the world is the Butterfly House in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a huge conservatory filled with butterflies. It is landscaped like a little jungle, and you follow little windy paths as all sorts of tropical butterflies flit above and around you. (If you are lucky, they will even land on you). This place seriously fills me with glee (yes, glee) and makes me feel like a little girl. It's a great place to beat the wintertime blues.

Since I no longer live close to the Butterfly House, but do have a backyard, this summer I decided to try my hand at a making a butterfly garden- meaning planting flowers that attract butterflies. This is something that you could dedicate acres of land to or even just a few containers. I went the container route. Perhaps I can ease my husband into the idea of eventually making our whole backyard a butterfly garden. But then, I would probably never leave our back window.
In planning a butterfly garden, you can plant flowers that only attract butterflies as a food source and/or plants that butterflies use to lay there eggs on ("host" plants). I did some Google searches to find which local flowers are known to attract butterflies in my area. I also learned that milkweed is the ONLY plant that Monarchs will lay their eggs on. So if you want to see Monarchs, plant milkweed. I decided to try one nectar plant and one host plant. So I planted some milkweed and some lantanas in a large container. And I waited. And I waited. And every day I watched my back window waiting for even one butterfly to pay attention. Nothing happened. Upon closer inspection of my milkweed, I found that I had attracted a whole colony of ants to the little blossoms. Apparently, they like milkweed too. A week went by, and nothing but ants. And then one day, I learned that wasps like milkweed too. Another week, and moths had found my lantana. I was attracting all sorts of friendly insects to our back porch, but not one butterfly.
And then one day it happened. I looked outside and a huge monarch butterfly was drinking deeply of the nectar that I had provided for it. It was seriously getting drunk off the stuff! It probably spent 10 minutes floating around the plant and landing to drink. I was so excited. It even allowed me to step outside and watch it.

Since then, a few more Monarchs have graced our yard with their presence. Then we went out of town, and my garden kind of took a dive. But, I am inspired to dedicate a plot of actual yard to my butterfly garden next year. I am hoping to be able to show my son the whole metamorphosis process. This is something I can not get enough of.
If you're interested in giving it a try, here are some websites to get you started: The Butterfly House,
The Butterfly Site, and The Butterfly Website. It's helpful to do a specific search on butterfly gardens including your city or state.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cruel Intentions

Instructions in a letter from my son's preschool: "Please color the attached bear and bring it with you on the 1st day of school."

My Son: (while coloring) "Look, I'm coloring the Attached Bear. I like this Attached Bear. Mom, why do they call it the Attached Bear?"
Me: "That's just another way of saying, 'Color the picture of the bear that's in the letter.'"
My Son: "Mom, when I grow up maybe I can be a teacher."
Me: "That's right. You could be a teacher when you grow up."
My Son: "Then I could say, 'Attach the attached bear,' and confuse all of the children."

I had never considered revenge as motivation for a career choice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Confessions of a Chocoholic

Last night, I was in the kitchen and I heard my stomach say, "Time for a little something." I looked around. The first thing I cast my eyes on was a bunch of bananas. "Bananas would be good," I thought to myself. "I haven't had much fruit today." And then my stomach reminded me of the little something in the fridge that I had indulged in the day before.

Do I realize how pathetic it is that I eat cold, hardened, chocolate fondue from a plastic container by the spoonful? Yes. But then, it is sooooo good. Maybe next time I could dip the bananas in the chocolate...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Best Design Advice Ever Given


When I was in college, I was a T.A. for the "Introduction to Interior Design" class one semester. The teacher was a very successful interior designer, who co-authored the book for the class (which is also used in programs nation wide). She looked a little bit like Lily Tomlin, spoke very quickly, said whatever she was thinking, and was very high energy. I found her very informative and very amusing.
One day, she was teaching the class about the many hats that interior designers must wear- one of which is being a mediator. For example, when working with a husband and wife, both may have completely different taste and strong opinions for what they want. As you can imagine, this can lead to conflict. It is the interior designer's job to find the happy medium between the two, with as little conflict as possible. She shared with us the fact that women tend to like floral fabrics, while many men have problems with floral prints in the bedroom (apparently, sleeping under a pink, cabbage rose comforter can threaten their masculinity?). She then shared with us the counsel she has given to male clients in the past, "If you make your wife feel more like a woman, she'll make you feel more like a man."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Simple Solutions

Charles Krauthammer is a pulitzer prize winning columnist for the Washington Post. Here is a link to his article, "Health-care Reform: A Better Plan". He makes the point that Obama's plan, which includes mandates, regulations, etc., will create "...a Rube Goldberg system that simply multiplies the current inefficiencies and arbitrariness, thus producing staggering deficits with less choice and lower-quality care." He suggests a simple solution: radical tort reform and eliminate employer based health care. Frivolous lawsuits are a huge, expensive, problem with our current health care system. Why not pinpoint and solve specific problems, instead of overhauling the system altogether?

Here is a column from the New York Times called "10 Steps to Better Health Care". It suggests studying communities that are redesigning health care and pursuing ways for the nation to follow.

Also, Denis Cortese, CEO of Mayo Clinic, was on the Charlie Rose Show. Here is a
link to his interview. I love the point he makes that getting a lot of people insured isn't going to solve our problem. There are a lot of insured people that receive bad care. We need to focus on the delivery system.

Friday, August 14, 2009

When the Government Competes, We lose.

Below is a link to an article that I found very interesting. While it might be a bit long, give it a read. It is great. More and more I'm wondering how people can actually think that a government program would 1.) be any good for America (look at Medicare's expensive troubles) and 2.) would at all be "fair" competition. I am not a supporter of the status quo, I just believe that Obama's plan is not the answer.

"How a Public Health Plan Will Erode Private Care"
(by Robert E. Moffitt of The Heritage Foundation).

Below are some excerpts I found to be of particular interest:

"... But while [a new government plan] might look like a prescription for consumer choice and competition, the reality is very different.... In the new public plan, as is the case for Medicare and Medicaid, costs would doubtless be controlled by cutting payments for medical goods and services, thus reducing their availability.

--

"...Given the structure, function, and dynamics of such a combination of proposals, the result would surely be a rapid evolution toward either a single-payer system of national health insurance or, at the very least, a highly regulated and painfully sluggish, centrally controlled system of health care in which private health plans and private medical practice are private in name only."

--

"[A]ny serious market competition would require a level playing field for the competitors. In order to create and maintain this level playing field, any benefit standard established in the public plan would also be applied to private health plans.

Congress, therefore, would have to mandate an equality of benefits at some level between the public plan and the private plans, and that would require either adding or subtracting benefits or fixing the prices for these benefits by legislative action to keep the contest at least superficially fair. As Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has observed, "Private insurance companies would still exist, but they would operate much like public utilities with the government involved in deciding what benefits they offer, what they can charge, and how they operate."

--

"If the rules and standards, financing and benefits, reserve and solvency requirements, and consumer protections and guarantees are all the same for competing private plans and the public plan, then, logically, why should there be a public plan at all? A common set of market rules for insurers would be sufficient to achieve whatever public good is envisioned to ensure affordable coverage and fair competition. Otherwise, it would seem that the only reason to create a public plan would be simply to have a public plan--a meaningless exercise, unless the goal is public monopoly."

--

"Artificially low government payments by Medicare and Medicaid to doctors and hospitals guarantee that the true costs are shifted back to the private sector and generate even higher premiums for individuals and families in their private and employment-based health insurance."

--

"Champions of the government health plan often claim to be sincerely committed to "fair" competition between private health plans and their proposed public plan, but it is impossible to have a functioning national market in which pricing in one portion of the market (private plans) is driven by free-market conditions of supply and demand and pricing in the other (the public plan) is dictated by the government, either in the form of administrative pricing or through a system of price controls. To establish a level playing field, Congress would have to refrain from trying to set prices for thousands of medical treatments and procedures, as it does today for Medicare, and let the market determine those prices equally for the public plan and the private plans that are supposed to compete with it. The government plan and its managers would have to succeed, and therefore profit from their success in offering consumers what they want and need, or fail, lose market share, and absorb losses on their own--in which event, unlike other government-sponsored enterprises, the public plan should be permitted to go out of business without another taxpayer bailout: admittedly an unlikely scenario."

--

"Taxpayers are also being promised that health care reform will somehow pay for itself, based on fanciful projections of future savings from various delivery initiatives. These savings will probably never materialize. Based on a rich history of failed government predictions with respect to health care costs, especially in Medicare, the projected costs of government health programs are almost always much greater than the government officials promise."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Gotta Be Me

This is the cutest/hip-hoppest children's song, ever! The message is awesome. My mom and I found it on XM while we were driving with my son and his cousins. We were groovin' out in the car, singing along to the chorus. The artist is Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Take a listen.

Wiggity-wiggity-whack!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide


I became aware of "The Good Wife's Guide" while in college. (Disturbingly enough, a boy I dated carried a copy of it in his wallet. This is not the boy I married.). Go ahead and give it a read. I'll wait here.

Back? Okay. So, just in case you've gotten your panties in a bundle, you should know that the good people over at Snopes have left the status of this guide as "undetermined". Meaning, they don't know if this was ever real, or just a fabrication to exaggerate the "horrors" of being a housewife in the 1950's.

Real or not, do you think there is any wisdom to be gleaned from the article, or should it be stricken from the earth eternally?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Future is as Bright as Your Faith

Does the evening news, lessons on signs of the Second Coming, or life got you down... or scared out of your pants? Here's a quote from April General Conference that helps me:

"I testify that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith."


- President Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Canoe With Caution

They say that activities such as wallpapering and lighting the Christmas tree together are good indicators of the strength of your marriage. If you and your spouse can make it through those experiences with your marriage in tact, you can make it through anything. Today, I would like to add "canoeing" to that list.
To be clear, things did not get nasty, but frustrations were expressed...repeatedly. In my husband's defense, the last time he's been canoeing was 15 years ago in the middle of a large lake. The route today was narrow and difficult- including many hairpin turns and strong currents. In my defense, after 4 hours of being sent head first into low lying limbs, brush, and trees (even once being knocked backwards out of my seat), I think even the most patient of souls would have lost their good humor. I even began to wonder if there was an undiscovered magnetic attraction between canoes and trees.
On the whole, we did have a good time together and enjoyed being out in the beauty of nature. It felt good to see other people capsizing, while we remained afloat. I feel confident that with experience, this is something that we could really get good at together. But, if you and your spouse are contemplating a fun recreational activity to do together, I give you my warning to canoe with caution.

Friday, August 7, 2009

This is a video that my son could watch all day long. He has such a big imagination, I really think this is how he views the world.



It's a cute message, isn't it?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Monster in Your Closet... and Under Your Bed... and Serving as a Nightstand.

Is it just me, or does food storage seem to be an ever present "boogey man" literally lurking in your closet? Because my mind has a talent of imagining worst case scenarios, food storage has always been an important goal for me. My ultimate goal being the underground "grocery store" in the 1999 movie Blast From the Past. But, the whole thing is a daunting task to figure out, organize, and make happen.
For the first few years of our marriage, our food storage/disaster preparation inventory consisted of canned peaches, canned corn, and a Yankee Candle. Over the last few years, I've gotten more serious and added various long term storage foods available at your friendly cannery. Gifts from our parents like a wind-up radio, wheat grinder, and 72 hour kit backpacks have helped round out our disaster preparation gear. But we still have a long way to go. I feel like my efforts are still a bit willy-nilly. And moving homes has proved that I usually have a false sense of confidence concerning what we have.
Since I assume everybody feels the same way I do (and judging from my recent poll, both of you do), I thought I'd share some helpful resources that have made building my food storage more practical, easier and attainable.
  • "Provident Living" is a resource available from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that focuses on finding self reliance in different areas our life. As you can imagine, this includes Food Storage. Here is an article explaining the basic concept of food storage and how to start it.
  • "Everything Under the Sun" by Wendy DeWitt. Wendy De Witt is a food storage genius. She is a celebrity in my mind. She has not only figured out a very common sense and systematic approach to food storage, but is sharing that approach with everybody! This pamphlet includes her system, instructions on how to bottle meat (No joke. It looks like a pathology lab specimen, but you would have REAL, cooked meat during an emergency. And it lasts up to 3 years on the shelf.), food storage tips, and a ton of recipes using food storage items. (My favorite tip is substituting unflavored gelatin for eggs. No chicken necessary). She also has a very informative fireside that you can find on YouTube.
  • "Food Storage Made Easy" is a website that a friend just recently told me about. It is awesome! It breaks down the whole process into 10 "baby steps" and even has excel sheets to help you work out what you need. You can even sign up to have newsletters emailed to you. Very cool.
Do you know of any other resources or tips to help climb Mt. Food Storage?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Super Friends! Help!

Has anyone even considered that the "Legion of Doom" might be behind our global temperature changes? Their objective is, after all, conquest of the universe.
Here's their evil plot: They have tricked Flash, Aquaman, and The Green Lantern into melting large quantities of ice, putting out mass fires, and moving the Earth from the track of asteroids. This has resulted in releasing steam into the atmosphere, floods, and erratic weather, which is basically producing a planet atmosphere suitable for the people of Venus. (This I learned from a video we rented from the library).
I'm afraid our predicament is even beyond Al Gore's power.