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Moving Expenses

Q.    We are moving in three-four weeks from New Mexico to Ohio with three kids, a dog, and two cats.  I have always used rental trucks and loaded and driven myself when we’ve moved in the past, but with gas prices what they are, I was thinking that by the time I pay for the truck and insurance and gas, I may spend about what movers cost.  Can anyone out there shed some light on movers?  I have no clue what to expect other than what Gary Foreman wrote on the link you gave.  I want to pack my own stuff, and supervise (at least) the loading and unloading to protect my stuff.

Also, to add a little extra challenge to an already overwhelming thing (to me), the local truck rental facility tells me they are unsure of exactly when they could promise me a truck because most are on location at fire clean up sites in the national forests.  I think its great, but I need to know when I’m moving.

A.  Just a thought about hiring movers – this isn’t to say that ALL people are dishonest but….when my mother in law moved a few years back, she decided to hire a moving co (granted they weren’t a big co like Atlas or something but they were a legit moving co) She decided rather than having all the kids (all adults) move her she would do the co. Anyway, she was moving only a few hours away. The truck left BEFORE us – we made the mistake of NOT following it….we arrived quite awhile BEFORE the truck (we never saw it on our way there) When her things were unpacked we found several items missing that we KNEW had been put on the truck – of course we couldn’t prove a thing and she was afraid since they knew where she was now living she didn’t want to contact the co. She felt it was over and done. I have to also admit, I work in a small town in Massachusetts – I had seen many times a big moving truck (like Atlas or some other big name co) in a field loading/unloading items – don’t think it should have been done. We have always moved ourselves. A lot of work but when you do it you KNOW your things are being delivered.

A.  Unfortunately one of the most stressful things in life is moving.  I know first hand from moving myself after 13 yrs. in the same house AND because I used to work for a moving company.  A couple of words of advice… if you pack yourself – the moving company will usually NOT take responsibility for anything that is in a box that gets broken.  Maybe have them pack just your kitchen jazz and any breakable valuables you have.  Also please know that summer is peak moving time and if you do not have enough belongings to fill an entire truck (its called LTL – less than a truck load), your stuff will be combined with one or more other "loads" going in that direction.  And you will be at the mercy of the "load" as to when your goods arrive.  (I have seen 1/2 a truck full take two weeks to get from one state to another.)  Things are probably really bad right now with gas prices being so high.  The problem is the drivers DO NOT drive empty trucks!!! An empty truck makes NO MONEY.  So he may sit in the same area for an extra day or so to pick up enough to fill his truck…. I know it is all very complicated but that’s the way it is.  Supervising the loading & unloading is not a bad idea but be prepared to encounter some hostility.  This is what these people do for a living and they usually don’t like the implication that they don’t KNOW what they are doing and that they are not going to take great care of your STUFF. Make friends with the driver as soon as you meet him.  Let him know your questions and how nervous you are etc… get him on your side so he thinks as much about your stuff as you do.  Let him know about Grandma’s antique dresser that came over on a covered wagon… or what ever your most cherished items are and ask (very nicely) if he would please take "EXTRA" care with it… and any thing else you have.. You know what to do — you get a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, so lay it on thick and make him your new best friend.  If your loading takes all day – buy the driver & helper lunch…  this always makes brownie points… Keep in mind he came in an 18-wheeler and can’t exactly run to Micky D’s and get burgers… Another word of advice is to buy the moving insurance… It is not that expensive and if anything of value gets broken you are covered.  Also make sure you get "replacement value" coverage.  Your fridge may only be 2 years old but if you got a "frugal" deal on it you won’t be able to rush right out in your new town and get one. A couple of other points – pack an OPEN ME FIRST box… this needs to be the last loaded and the first unloaded when you get to your new home.  Put in it stuff you need for your first night – like the coffee pot for breakfast… sheets for all the beds… towels for showers … get the picture…?  There is no way you will unpack everything the first day but you need enough to get by.  Depending on the age of your kids you might include games or toys or whatever is age appropriate. And of course add pet food.  (Have you talked to your vet about the best way to get them across country… sometimes a mild tranquilizer is best.)  I hope this info helps you.  I know I don’t envy you at all.  When we moved, it was only 2 miles but we had been in our old house 13 years and had collected tons and tons of "STUFF".  After we were in and the last box had been unloaded… my husband looked at me and said – "I hope you love this house ’cause we will NEVER move again until one of us dies!!!" (And we are relatively young… so……) Good luck And God Bless You and Yours…

A.  I’ve moved twice and it can be very frustrating. My most satisfying move was with Graebel Van lines. They did a great job of packing, moving and unpacking. They were very punctual and worked with me in every way possible to make sure it was a pleasant experience. Trust me, moving is stressful enough so let them do the packing and you can still supervise. They pack very good and nothing was broken when we arrived at our new home. Good luck . Cindy

A.  When I was very poor I had to move all my belongings to another state. I looked into moving vans, but it turned out that UPS was cheaper, even for my many books! As you have an established household and probably have large furniture, you can’t send everything by mail, but you may be able to greatly reduce your costs by mailing everything you can and getting a smaller truck. You can even look to buy a used small bed trailer out of a trade paper, which you could sell on the other end.  The magic number for mailing is 108 inches. This is the maximum total of height, width, and depth which you can mail through the U.S. Post Office or U.P.S. without paying extra for large dimensions. Even fragile things can be mailed safely if they are packaged right. I use bubble wrap first, and then at least 2 inches on all sides of newspaper or peanuts. It’s simple and it works. Don’t use a box too small for fragile items or you’ll be sorry! If you use used boxes, make certain they do not already have weaknesses, like dented corners. Look for double thick reinforced boxes at grocery stores and restaurants (for canned goods), and computer stores.


The Trouble With Singing

by Brett Manning

Throughout the last decade and a half, I have found a new hobby. This hobby has nearly driven me mad at times. It is not golf, fly fishing or songwriting. I’ve done a little of all three and found that they are difficult, but not impossible.

Singing has got to be one of the biggest mysteries known to mankind! Please allow me to defend my position. Music is about the one thing besides food, clothing and shelter that we can’t, as a society, live without. Music is everywhere and inescapable. So, what happens when you get a hold of the only musical instrument that is clothed in flesh, has a nervous system and is a direct reflection of the soul of its owner? What happens when you get a hold of the least visible, least predictable, most flexible, most stubborn, yet the most distinct and unique of all musical instruments?

The trouble with singing is that there are 6 billion opinions on the approach to singing and few are taking into account that each voice is distinctive, though the mechanism is basically the same for all voices.

Taking into account that we’ve only been looking at the vocal cords for the last hundred years (most of this time through a dental mirror placed at the back of the throat), we’ve only just begun to understand how the voice works.

Observing how Tiger woods swings the golf club and understanding how to teach his golf swing are two totally different things. In my pursuit of vocal excellence, I have to acknowledge that God has given me the gift to simply see what is going on inside the throat and then prescribe the exercise to accomplish the desired vocal coordinations.

This method has increased my range from 2 octaves to 5 octaves of vocal range. I now sing up into Mariah Carey notes and down into the low bass range. I never dreamed this would ever be possible. Now I know that sounds a little too incredible, but even more incredible is to be teaching peopl over the phone in my Nashville studio from one city of the U.S. to the other.

Students throughout Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Puerto Rico and a bunch of other countries I can hardly keep up with. To be working by phone and getting many of these people to add a full octave to their vocal range in such a short time, is the most incredible experience for me. The one thing they all had in common was misconceptions that singing is rocket science.

Many singers think that it takes 4 years of college to extend the range just a few notes. The key is not in the force, but in the finding of the flow. It’s mind over muscle. It’s a decreasing of vibrating vocal cord (mass) until the vocal cords eventually begin to dampen (zip up), decreasing the vibrating (surface) of the cords. This is the simple secret to singing higher, easier, longer and with a tone quality that melts in your mouth and not in your throat. The key is in training the musculature to obey the artistic desires of the mind.

Editor’s Note: My wife ordered this course and has been so very impressed with it. She had taken voice lessons and felt that she was making weekly payments and not learning fast enough. After researching online for an "at-home" course, she ordered this one. She is absolutely thrilled with the results.

Read more about Brett Manning and his incredible singing course at Singing Success.com .

Donating Band Instruments To The Right Place

There is no doubt that being a part of band or orchestra can greatly enhance a child’s life, both now and in the future. Recent studies from many sources indicate that kids who study music generally have higher test scores, watch less TV, and are much more likely to go to college.

It’s a shame that for some children, the opportunity to participate in band or orchestra is severely limited by their parents’ inability to pay for a quality instrument, as well as by their schools’ inability to keep up with the ever-increasing numbers of program enrollees.

Dayna Barnes wanted to make a difference. A band mom who started Horns For Kids (Horns4Kids.org), a website project devoted to linking donated instruments to the school programs that need them.

We believe that kids thrive when given the chance to learn and play music. Putting an instrument into their hands improves the quality of their education and their lives. The window is brief and all kids deserve a chance to play music in school!

Additionally, The Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation (mhopus.org) has a similar mission statement. Here is what they have on their site

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in our schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, helping them to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music.

If you would like to donate your instrument to a school in need without the worry that it will end up on an auction site, this site can help. Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what school or program is benefitting from your donation? This site is dedicated to linking donors directly with needy school music programs, with no middleman.

Visit http://www.mhopus.org/Get-Involved/Donate-an-Instrument

Toddler’s Activities

Q.  Anybody have suggestions on keeping a toddler busy so I can have time for the new baby in the home and have time to spend with my older girl so she’s not glued to the TV?

A.  I have a 21 month old and it can be a challenge.  I’m also due in December with #2. : )

A.  The first and best suggestion I can give is to get and learn how to use a sling.  Once you know how to use it with confidence, you’ll have both hands free to do other things.  You can even nurse virtually hands free!  I know my toddler loves going outside for walks or collecting fall leaves in a basket (baby kept warm and happy carried next to you in a sling).  You could also sling the baby while coloring, building with wood blocks or mega blocks, reading books, or finger-painting (1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt, and food coloring).  My toddler also likes "helping" with sweeping the kitchen floor, vacuuming, and putting toys away.  We bought her a toddler sized broom ($6) and vacuum ($10) ….you can do almost any stand up chores (except dishes) with the baby in a sling.  A lot of malls have toddler/preschool play areas that you could go to during the day (they are less busy during the day…so safer for younger toddlers) and the sling would let your hands be free to help your toddler climb around.  See what I mean about it being so helpful?

A.  My two children are 14 months apart, now 4 and 5.  You expressed concern about keeping your older girl occupied and not glued to the TV set.  What I have to suggest may sound severe but I firmly believe that it is one of the best things I ever did for my family…..  GET RID OF THE TV.  I never thought I was the kind of mother who used tv as a babysitter until we got rid of ours.  Several times a day I would find myself thinking, "Is Dragon Tails on yet?"  This only lasted for about a week.  Without the television draining energy from my children they PLAY.  I don’t need to furnish anything more than the boxes of crayons, stencils, and papers that are under the coffee table.  They will play with play-dough for literally hours at the dining table.  All of these things I get at a dollar store.   When mine were that little I used to put dried beans in different sized containers in the high chair and hand the children a spoon.  They would sit there developing their hand-eye coordination and other skills by transferring the beans from one container to the other.  Muffin tins are great too. 

A.  If the idea of not having a TV makes you feel isolated keep in mind that the internet is a much better source of up-to-date news than TV.  We do have a video card in our computer and cable internet service so we can actually watch TV on our computer.  The children don’t know anything about it and we can still watch the news during emergencies. -Mary

A.  I used to take my granddaughter to all the free outdoor activites that were appropriate for her age, symphony concerts by the lake at the local University, feeding the ducks at the lake, free activities at the outdoor theater in the local area. Not only did we enjoy the music, there were other children with whom she could play. Free items at the local radio station mobile van, free audio tapes, free hot dogs, free pizza, etc. They announce in our area where the van is each day. There is usually a list of public activities in the newspaper. The local colleges and universities have some of the most interesting activities. At the same university that has the symphony concerts by the lake, free, they also have the military bands during the year inside, free. Children love music and can really sit through such a concert as they have breaks. If you sit in the front row, they are fascinated by the performers playing the musical instruments and will be unbelievably quiet during the performances. The public library also has many activities for toddlers, story hours, etc.  Playing in the local park is also something we’d do. Although you can play at home, it is fun to change the place where you play. There are also other children with whom they can play. May The Angels Watch Over You, Betty G.

A.  I don’t know if this site will help you but I got this in a newsletter I get today.  It’s the Kellogs activity site.  Hope it’s useful. http://www.kelloggs.com/ From  CSinbad

A.  Check out the perpetual preschool (one word) website.  It’s got all kinds of themes that are easy so you should find something there.  http://www.perpetualpreschool.com –Shelly

A.  My older boy was 19.5 months when little brother was born. One craft idea is to make edible finger paint. Simply make a flour paste of the right consistency then add food coloring. Can be used on freezer paper or just regular paper.  Another idea is put clear contact paper on the refrigerator, sticky side out, then give her pictures, yarn, fabric, different papers to stick on it. To save, cover with another piece of contact paper, or I leave it up for a while and Jonathan rearranges things at will. –Dawn

A.  Music!  Invest in some tapes/CD’s geared for children.  Our personal favorites are "The Donut Man", and the "1st, 2nd,etc Sunday School Songs". Not only are these entertaining, they instill our faith into our children’s minds and hearts.  Your little one will be dancing and singing all over the place!  It’s amazing how fast she will absorb the songs.  While she is listening to the music, just let her play with her toys and explore on her own.  Always be close at hand for hugs and kisses!  We parents want our children to be able to play/learn by themselves.  We aren’t here to "entertain" our children.  We are here to raise them to be responsible adults.  Our culture emphasized "entertaining" too much.  And you are right about limiting the TV!  If a child watches too much TV, she/he loses her natural creativity and has to be spoon fed entertainment.  It doesn’t matter if it is educational or not…the TV is NOT good for our precious little ones.  My husband and I have 4 blessings ranging from 16 years, down to 10 months.  Enjoy every moment!  This time goes way too fast!  Lori

A.  I had 3 children in less than 4 yrs – for the far distant future – encourage hobbies – keeps them busy and with mine, they still have the same hobbies. –Pat

A.  Have you thought about taking another child in two days a week? You can make some extra money and your 19-month old daughter will have a playmate.  They will parallel play but kids are fascinated by other kids.  I recommend a playmate who is a little older who she can learn from. Also, I recommend story time at your local library or bookstore. You can advertise as a caregiver for free on Yahoo classifieds or contact a non-profit organization like 4Cs. –Kimber

A.  Here’s a good website for toddler activities and crafts.  I hope you can use it for your little one.  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/toddler/  God Bless,  Joyce Steinmiller

A.  I want to let you know that I understand fully how difficult it is to care for two babies.  My grandson is also 19 months old and his new sister is one week old. Luckily, I live in same apartment bldg. with my son and his family so a built in baby sitter helps.  My grandson likes household items better than toys.  He is so very active and nothing holds his interest for long. He loves empty thread spools, plastic food containers and looks at catalogs for hours especially those with seasonal items, pumpkins, skulls, Santa, etc.  He is also into the big crayons and we all have a "masterpiece" on our walls.Since money is so tight for most of us, these "toys" are worth their weight in gold.  The good toys are for the times he is really fussy. Take care and have fun with the precious little ones.   Bobbie

A.  This was an idea I got from a preschool teacher. Take dad’s shaving cream and put big globs on the table Let them write in it, draw in it or just squeeze it !! It’s very safe, it’s just soap. But I wouldn’t want them to think it’s frosting and just eat it :-) Lisa

A.  From the ideas listed here, though it may seem like it is only for young children, you will find something for every age — from the smallest toddler up, including parents and grandparents.  Those who babysit could also use many of these activities.

A. When my children were little, trying to have a telephone conversation was almost impossible without constantly running to see what they were doing. My boys liked to play office so I decided to make up a ‘telephone’ purse (I called it a briefcase).  In the ‘briefcase’ I put plastic spoons, plastic measuring cups, junk mail papers to play office, small toys. The rule was that when the phone would ring,  they were allowed to pull out the ‘briefcase’ and play with it if they stayed right with me. When the phone conversation was done, everything went back in the ‘briefcase’ until the next time the phone rang. Occasional little surprises from the dollar store would be added periodically that they could ‘keep’ after the phone call was done. –Burnice

A. I am not a parent but I have learned some things by doing a lot of babysitting.  There is one single mother in particular I admired, because her children were so sweet, capable, and responsible.  Her trick was to get the children helping her with the housework as early as possible.  A child who helps with housework from two years old will take to it more enthusiastically than one who is asked to help out for the first time when they are ten.  A two year old may not be able to do much, but they WANT to help.  Her two year old could set the table for dinner and loved doing the "important job."  He could only carry two plates at a time (which I would take down from the cupboards for him), and sometimes the spoons were on the wrong side, but with praise and encouragement and gentle suggestions rather than criticism, he could feel proud and happy with his work and everybody benefited.  He could also make his own bed and pick up his toys and put them in the toy box and on the lower shelves.  Her six year old would help me make dinner. About the only thing she could not do was use a sharp knife on her own. I never knew the kids to argue about helping out, because they understood that every family member pitches in, and that’s just the way families work.  And I think her children had about the healthiest self-esteem of any kids I know. Just a thought. -Holly

A. One of my favorite projects for little ones was to acquire a large roll of paper. Cut off a large piece  and let them color or draw to there hearts content. Then later when a little older with scissors that have round points, they love to cut , cut, cut, making their own designs and shapes, and their hand and foot prints. "Oh such beautiful shapes." I felt this teaches them coordination and control and confidence in using their hands and fingers. "Besides what child doesn’t love to make snips." I hope this helps and congratulations and have a nice day. Audrey

Article:  Ideas for a Fun and Productive Summer With Your Children

Say "I Love You" For Valentine’s Day

by Jeffrey Strain

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the one you love. Whether you are looking for something special on a tight budget or would simply like to add on something special to another gift, there’s no better way to express your love than by saying it in a variety of languages.

Find a nice jar and cut different colored paper into heart-shaped pieces. Write "I Love You" in a different language on each heart and place it in the jar. Continue doing this until the jar is full. Add a nice ribbon around the jar and you have a wonderful jar of "Love" to give.

If you want Valentine’s Day to last longer, write each "I Love You" in a different language on a colored, heart-shaped piece of paper. Then place each heart into a separate envelope. For the next two months, each day you can place a new envelope somewhere where your partner will find it making your love – and Valentine’s Day – last a couple of months rather that a single day.

If you are in a more playful mood, cut out the heart-shaped pieces of paper and write "I Love You" in a different language along with a hint where your partner can find the next envelope. Have your partner do a scavenger hunt to find each envelope until they come to the final piece where "I Love You" is written in English with whatever Valentine gift you have decided to give.

No matter how you ultimately decide to give the gift of "I Love You," it’ll be a gift long remembered and cherished by the person who receives it.

***** Different Ways To Say "I Love You" *****

1. a) Arabic — Ana behibak (to male)
1. b) Arabic — Ana behibek (to female)
2. Bavarian — I mog di narrisch gern
3. Bengali — Ami tomake bhalobashi
4. Brazilian (Portuguese) — Eu te amo
5. Bulgarian — Obicham te
6. Burmese — Chit pa de
7. Cambodian — Bon sro lanh oon
8. Chinese (Cantonese) — Ngo oi ney
9. Chinese (Mandarin) — Wo ie ni
10. Croatian — Ljubim te
11. Czech — Miluji te
12. Danish — Jeg elsker dig
13. Dutch — Ik hou van jou
14. Esperanto — Mi amas vin
15. Estonian — Mina armastan sind
16. Filipino — Mahal ka ta
17. Finnish — Mina rakastan sinua
18. Flemish — Ik zie oe geerne
19. French — Je t’aime
20. Gaelic — Ta gra agam ort
21. German — Ich liebe dich
22. Greek — S’ agapo
23. a) Hebrew — Ani ohev otach (to female)
23. b) Hebrew — Ani ohev otcha (to male)
24. Hindi — Mai tumse pyar karta hoo
25. Hopi — Nu’ umi unangwa’ta
26. Hungarian — Szeretlek
27. Icelandic — Eg elska thig
28. Indonesian — Saja kasih saudari
29. Irish — Taim i’ ngra leat
30. Italian — Ti amo
31. Japanese — Kimi o ai shiteru
32. Javanese — Kulo tresno
33. Korean — Tangsinul sarang ha yo
34. Lao — Koi muk jao
35. Latin — Te amo
36. Latvian — Es milu tevi
37. Macedonian — Sakam te
38. Malay — Saya cintamu
39. Mohawk — Konoronhkwa
40. Navaho — Ayor anosh’ni
41. Norwegian — Eg elskar deg
42. Persian — Tora dost daram
43. Polish — Kocham cie
44. Portuguese — Amo-te
45. Romanian — Te iu besc
46. Russian — Ya vas liubliu
47. Serbian — Lubim te
48. Shona — Ndinokuda
49. Sioux — Techihhila
50. Slovak — Lubim ta
51. Spanish — Te quiero
52. Swahili — Naku penda
53. Swedish — Jag a’lskar dig
54. Tagalog — Mahal kita
55. Thai — Ch’an rak khun
56. Tunisian — Ha eh bak
57. Turkish — Seni seviyo rum
58. Ukrainian — Ja tebe kokhaju
59. Vietnamese — Toi yeu em
60. Welsh — ‘Rwy’n dy garu di
61. Yiddish — Ich libe dich
62. Yugoslavian — Ya te volim
63. Zulu — Ngiyakuthanda

Copyright (c) Jeffrey Strain – InexpensiveDating.com is a website dedicated to sharing fun and inexpensive dating ideas.

The Good Mother

by B.G. Markstad

My son did everything but hand out cigars when he got his new Ford. He has devoted the last five days to making this used vehicle distinctively his.

First the sound system of course, then the blue interior lights for a night-time ambiance I don’t care to know about. Then the seatcovers, then the hole drilled in the back seat for skis to fit through. And today’s project- the felt on the dashboard which he measured and cut himself and velcroed down – a project of at least two hours as he sat in the driveway listening to his tunes at about 50 decibels.

He has given the family the tour of the car after each accessorizing addition, curtain calls obligatory and when his sisters’ eyes started to glaze over,  roped in the neighbor, random passersby and at least one dog.

Soon he was left alone to his hobby and I, in a surge of motherly devotion decided I would help sew the felt.

My contribution would be a surprise, a cover for the stereo accessory which looked very stealable exposed whenever the trunk was open.

So as he sat in the wind sewing in his vehicle, I secretly worked away in the kitchen cutting, stitching.  This story in any other mother’s book would have a Normal Rockwoman type ending where I would beamingly place said stereo cover on to the delight and grateful embrace of my son.

And so it does.   I dragged out my 1940 Singer sewing machine, placed it strategically on the hallway floor,  the only place it reaches the electric outlet, and sat in front of it, leg extended to hit the power since my hands were aligning fabric and turning the wheel. After twenty or so threading attempts we were off and I got in at least ten stitches before the thread snapped.  This pattern repeated itself with annoying predictability for the next hour, despite bobbin changes, rewindings, unwindings, tension adjustments and putting on my glasses. But that was normal. My Home Ec mark had always been my lowest mark and one time I had had to write lines for not filling the double boiler base with water before I put the heat on.

I had forgotten, since last making curtains with this sewing machine five years ago that it knows when I am in a hurry. We discussed, I tried to look calm. I even took a break to let the dog out. But it was not deceived. And ultimately, as it often does, it won. I resorted ultimately to hand-stitching with the one needle I could thread since I now could not find my glasses.

The idea was to make an elasticized cover over the front of the stereo. Simple enough. I cut an approximate square of fabric and had an inspiration of using pre-elasticized sheet edge for the elastic. I used  all the corners from the sheet and then sewed these bits together to avoid having to sew corners.  I sewed the fabric over the elastic all around  but not being sure how much to stretch the elastic to do this, ended up with a doll-size stereo
cover.

Generation two of the cover took another square of  fabric but this time I was more generous. I guesstimated bigger. And this one not only fit over the stereo cover but over half the spare tire..

Generation three of the cover was my inspiration as dinner hour fast approached and I should be cooking. I opted to forego sewing completely and move directly to stapling. I’d make the whole thing just a nice three sided flat cover. I turned the fabric over in my hands about 30 times trying to visualize which way to fold things over so that all the ‘wrong’ sides were on the same side. I was fine until I got to the edges and then was not sure how to do the 90 degree fold. I opted to just fold and staple and hope.Staples were flying and the dog wandered into the kitchen and started to limp so I knew she’d found at least one staple.

Meanwhile my son had entered, hungry, and noticed the disarray of the house, sewing machine, thread and needles out but not in use, fabric all over the floor and table, the dog limping and me stapling. I told him, "Don’t even talk to me" and he slumped back outside.  As he sat in the front seat I sneaked to the trunk and spread the cursed rag again over the stereo. It kept slipping off until I stretched the extricated elastic from version two over it. That somehow fit though now it looked like a sheet with a white girdle over it.

Generation four of the cover was made by hand-sewing again, this time using a gathering stitch I recalled from school. I made this stitch  all around version three, and then laced the elastic all around the circle using a diaper pin to pull it along.  I gingerly stretched the fabric along the gather hoping it would not rip the stitching and sure enough it did rip, but just in each corner. To my surprise as I stretched the whole thing over the stereo, it fit!  Of course it fit!  Has anything I ever turned my hand to failed? Well, except that .

Easy enough and it only took me  three hours. We had beans for supper and anyone who wasn’t grateful for them could go hang.  My son looked at the cover, threads dangling off the top, white elastic peeking out at each corner, put his arm around me and said, "Aw mom… That’s very nice"

He drove off for the evening.  I suspect the cover will be removed shortly. But I don’t care as long as I don’t know about it.  After all, I am a good mom.

B. G. Markstad

Understanding the Pressures on Your Husband

by Susie Michelle Cortright

Article provided courtesy of MediaPeak, www.mediapeak.com

We hear a lot about the supermom syndrome, but rarely about our superdads.    We place higher expectations on fathers in today’s society than ever before.  Unlike previous generations, dads today are expected to take a proactive role in caring for the children physically as well as financially.

Gone are the days when a man arrives home from work, loosens his tie, slips off his shoes, and reclines in the Lazyboy with his newspaper, which he thumbs through as he waits for his dinner to be served.

Today, many dads don’t get that decompression time after a day at work. Some of the dads pick up their children from daycare on their way home. Others are immediately struck with the hassles of the day, while they struggle to make the instant transition from professional to father.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have often wondered why my husband sits in the car for a few moments after he pulls into the driveway. Until, that is, one day that my husband watched our one-year-old, and it was my turn to come home exhausted from a busy and hectic day. How I wished I had stayed in the car just long enough to take a few deep breaths.

Today’s dads, much like many of today’s moms, must juggle the guilt of not spending enough time with the family with the guilt of not giving it their all at work.

But women seem to have more support with their struggle. Magazine articles, support groups, and websites warn moms of the risks of burning out and the importance of taking care of themselves. They dole out advice on balancing life and relationships. Fathers don’t often band together like moms do.  

Even while men are expected to independently take on a more nurturing role, they are slammed in the media. We watch television shows that too often portrays fathers as bumbling idiots, scared stiff of changing their own baby’s diaper and incapable of anything other than watching a ball game and slugging beer. We sit through news reports of deadbeat dads and women who have beaten the odds despite, not with the help of, the men in their lives. 

As natural nurturers, women have long taken on the social stereotype of being the dominant parent. Sometimes–and I hate to admit that I’m guilty of this, too–we may subconsciously sabotage their parenting efforts to make ourselves feel more important.

It’s important for us to recognize that dads interact with children differently than we do. These techniques are neither better nor worse. Just different. Dads may tend to allow the child to reach a higher level of frustration than a mother would, which may be an important lesson in resilience.

The role of a father serves an integral part in a child’s life. Spending time with both parents helps children develop an understanding of separation, transition, autonomy, and gender roles.

Let us applaud all of the great dads out there, and all of the men who strive to be great dads.

Here’s to my husband, who would make a better stay-at-home parent than I. He is much more patient and more experienced with children. He never gets bored, even on the afternoon’s eighth reading of Green Eggs and Ham.

In his downtime, he does a load of laundry and whips up a heaping platter of Beef Stroganoff when all I see in the fridge is pickles and ketchup.

I’m going downstairs to interrupt Dr. Seuss and to tell him how much I appreciate the work he does. Maybe it’s time we all spent just a few minutes thinking about the pressures on our husbands, and to applaud them for all the things they do.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder and publisher of Momscape, an online magazine devoted to nurturing the nurturers. Visit her at www.momscape.com, where you may read more inspiring articles and essays and subscribe to Momscape’s online magazines.

Come to Tea: An Elegant Garden Gathering

By Debbie Rodgers

Perhaps nothing says "garden party" like having afternoon tea outdoors. It’s a charming reminder of bygone days and childhood make-believe. Outdoor spaces of all kinds, including balconies, can be successfully adapted to a tea party.

Tea parties span generations and will be enjoyed by your most sophisticated women friends or all the giggling little girls of your acquaintance.

What makes an elegant tea party? Look at these factors.

Flowers

Plan to hold your tea party when your garden is in its fullest bloom — perhaps it’s lilac time, June roses, or peony season. Be sure to cut some of the blooms for the tea table vases. If you don’t have a garden, buy an armful of flowers at a farmers’ market or stop by a country ditch and pick bunches of wild daisies and Queen Anne’s lace.

Invitations

Send handwritten notes by snail mail. Your guests will recognize your party as an elegant affair and dress accordingly! Typically, tea is held around 4 p.m. — perfect for day-blooming flowers. Include an invitation for the little ones to bring along a doll or teddy friend.

Table Setting

The more elegant, the better. Stash the paper table covering and the plastic glasses just for today. Instead, use a crisp linen tablecloth, pressed cloth napkins and your best bone china cups and saucers. If it’s a little girls’ party, you might want to invest in two or three miniature tea sets.

Try to have adequate seating for everyone. Consider setting your straight-back indoor dining chairs outdoors. They can add an elegant touch, whether left unadorned or covered with flowered chintz.

Hats

Encourage all of your guests to wear hats — big-brimmed, floppy and flowered. If the party is for little girls, collect old hats, scarves and silk flowers at a thrift shop, yard sale or discount store. Make decorating the hats a fun activity at the party. You can also include a box of flowery cast-offs for dressing up. Include "grown-up" shoes and old jewellery — anything that will make the little ones feel elegant. Tea time is a fun way to introduce young ones to "elegant party" manners.

Food

Other than teaspoons, no cutlery should be required at tea. All sandwiches and sweets should be dainty finger-food. Try sandwiches of watercress, cucumber, or egg with the crusts removed and cut in quarters. Sugar cookies and petit fours are traditional sweets. You can substitute mini-cupcakes or tiny tarts.

Tea

One of the first things that I learned in seventh grade home economics class was how to brew a proper pot of hot tea, but that was many years ago. I suspect that tea-making is becoming a lost art.

Tea is actually the common name of one plant: Camillia sinesis. The three basic types of tea — black, green and oolong — are distinguished by the amount of oxidization that the tea leaves have undergone. The more than 3,000 varieties of tea in the world are all derived from those three basic types.

Herbal teas — more properly, tisane or infusion — are made from a wide variety of flowers, herbs, barks, berries, fruits and spices.

At a minimum, offer your guests a traditional tea and a caffeine-free herbal choice. Have milk (not cream!), sugar and fresh lemon wedges available.

So, dust off your teacups and your manners and sit down with your girlfriends for a proper tea party. It’s a lovely summer interlude!

Debbie Rodgers, the haven maven, owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture and enrich them. Her latest how-to guide "Attracting Butterflies to Your Home and Garden" is now available on her web site. Visit her at www.paradiseporch.com and get a free report on "Eight easy ways to create privacy in your outdoor space.

Using Simple Remedies for Sick Children (or Adults)

by Donna L. Watkins

1) Insist on lots of rest. Help your child feel as comfortable as possible, but in a resting position. Don’t allow books, games, or TV that will stimulate the body which produces stress on the immune system.

2) Simplify and lighten the diet. Lack of appetite is natural and remember that it takes the same energy to digest a meal as it takes to ride a bike 5 miles, so don’t feed unless hungry and then only small portions of food without much fat or protein.

3) Give plenty of water, especially if there is fever. A child with a fever must be pushed to drink at least a small amount of water or herbal tea (1/4 to 1 cup) each hour or two. Water is needed for the body to ‘flush out’ the dead bad guys.

4) Address any infection that might be present with the appropriate treatment. Treatment will be quickest and easiest if you begin at the first signs of illness, but you can begin using the herbs at any time during the course of illness.

We’ve used herbs for our family. We have personally followed the above guidelines. We would give only water, watered down non-citrus juices, and herbal teas to drink and withdraw food for 24 hours. We would set the timer hourly, through the night if necessary, to feed the soldiers of the immune system.. They are fighting a war with the virus or bacteria present that is causing the illness, so they need to be given ammunition on a regular basis or they will lose the war.

Often people lose the battle when using herbs and nutritional remedies because they administer them just a few times during the day, while trying to maintain the normal schedule without enough rest, and eating foods that weaken the immune system even further.

It takes a common sense approach to make herbs work and also common sense to know when to go beyond using herbs. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Get more information on using herbs for children here

Ways To Save Through Free and Low-Cost Medical/Health Services

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Medical and health services costs continue to escalate with no cap in sight. But here are a few tips on making use of free or low-cost services that could save you a considerable amount of money:

1. If your employer makes available certain free medical care and medicines to employees (and maybe spouses and dependent children) through a "Company" nurse or doctor, then take full advantage of this benefit. You could cut your medical expenses by a tidy sum.

2. If you are a veteran, find out what medical benefits you could be eligible to receive. Call or write the nearest Veteran’s Affairs office for information. The benefits might make a big difference in how much money you must be out for medical care.

3. If you are a college student, take advantage of free or low-cost medical care and prescription medicines offered by the campus student health services.

4. Check to see if you or your family members qualify for Medicaid (a free medical assistance program). Call or go to your local social services office for information.

5. Call or visit your county and/or city Health Department to see what services are offered free or at a reduced cost. Some services which may be offered are medical examinations, immunizations, well-baby care, prenatal care, and TB (Tuberculosis) testing. If the services you need are not provided by the Health Department, ask where you might receive the care at the least cost.

6. See if you qualify for free or low-cost medical services from various charitable organizations, civic clubs, and other groups. Call your county or city Health Department, local office on aging, and local social services office and ask for information on where you should go for the particular help you need. For example, some Lions Clubs provide free eyeglasses for needy children.

7. Contact the business offices of your local hospitals to see if you are eligible to receive free medical care. Some hospitals offer a certain amount of free care, for example, for indigent persons.

8. Take advantage of free tests. For example, some offices of the American Cancer Society provide free colorectal cancer testing. Some national chain department stores offer free hearing tests at various times throughout the year. Some pharmacies located in national chain grocery stores provide equipment within the stores for free, do-it-yourself blood pressure tests. Getting free tests cuts down on your outlay.

9. Watch the newspaper for upcoming Health Fairs and similar public events where a variety of free tests, screening, and information may be available. The following are a few examples of what might be offered: information on alcohol and other drugs; birth control information; blood pressure checks; dental screening; fitness testing; glaucoma screening; nutritional information; stress management information; vision screening; bone density tests; and hearing exams. Not having to pay for these will lower your medical/health expenditures.

10. If you, a family member, or a friend has a drinking problem, call Alcoholics Anonymous for free help. Locate the number in your telephone directory.

11. If you are unsure of where to turn for free and low-cost medical help, call or visit several local churches. The ministers and other church personnel usually will be able to direct you to appropriate places which provide the help you need.

12. Check with your local Health Department and social services office for information on where you can obtain free or low-cost mental health counseling.

13. Inquire at your community mental health services to see if you are eligible for free or reduced-cost mental health counseling. Charges usually are made on a sliding scale.

14. Talk with your minister to see if he or she provides mental health counseling. Such counseling normally will be free.

15. If you are a college student, check with the Psychology Department, Counseling Center, or other appropriate department or office to see if mental health counseling is offered free or at a low cost to students.

*Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself – ca******@di*****.net