a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts ---- 'Till We Meet Again . . .

On our second date, Dave brought me a long-stemmed single red rose that he had plucked from the garden on his way to pick me up. To me that was more romantic than a florist-arranged dozen roses.  And, that has nothing to do with my being cheap and everything to do with him being creative.

For some unknown-at-the-time reason I saved that rose. Today, more than 50 years later, the simple single rose, now dry and brittle but still red-ish, is in a small clear plastic box, among other treasures tucked away in a brown cardboard box labeled with a felt tip marker:  Mom and Dad's Treasure Box.

Simple things of priceless value.

As I write this, our 50th anniversary is nine days away, the wedding of our first grandchild to be married is seven days away and on the 29th our only daughter (Siera is their only daughter) and her husband will celebrate their 23rd anniversary.

As you read this, along with celebrating the sacred birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, our family will be all together* for the first time in a long time --- celebrating the many simple things of priceless value that make our family who it is. When our kids told us, a few months ago, what they were planning we knew it  would take a lot of coordination and effort to bring this to pass. They couldn't have given us a greater gift!

It is my prayer that, wherever you are, whatever circumstances you are in or how complicated your life is, you will seek and find peace and joy in simply pondering the wonder of His birth and all the great and simple things that He has given to and for us.

When we count our blessings, one by one, we will be amazed at what the Lord has done.

I am Simply, Gail and I will check in again as we enter a new year.

May God be with you 'till we meet again.

*except for one grandson who is serving a mission in Chile (and who will call on Christmas), and the new bride and her husband (who probably won't!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Purrfect Gifts for the Kitty Cat

T'was two nights before Christmas and all through the house,  
The cat was napping after catching the mouse

When suddenly the lady awoke with a start
Her mind was racing; sorrow filled her heart

She'd forgotten the kitty when she bought all the gifts!
Her dear little hunter, how could she have missed?

Off to her computer in middle of night
To read Simply Gail who'd answer her plight

This rhyme is sooooo dumb---but the message is such
the creative cheapskate tries to be, always, in "touch" ----

at just the touch of the other mouse.

Sock it to 'em
Next to the stalking of a real mouse, catnip is high on the list of cat favorites and is a totally safe and long-lasting treat.  Want to keep your cats frolicking for hours and days?  You can buy catnip toys but since you are visiting this blog that is probably not your usual way of doing things. So, sew little pouches yourself  or, simply fill baby socks with catnip and sew the opening securely shut.

Blow 'em a gift

Never in my wildest dreams (or cat naps) would I have thought anything like this existed! When I was "mousing" for catnip information it took me to this Wal-Mart site.

I tried to capture the picture but that didn't work.  I tried my scanner and that didn't work.  So, the best I can do, if you want to see and read about  the "pure frantic fun" Kookamunga Catnip Bubbles, is direct you to the site. And, you may want to check out the reviews.  I can't guarantee it but it sounds like lots of good clean fun.


Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Creative Cheapskate Discovers a Sham . . .

is good for more than covering pillows!!!

My last post showed you (literally) our dog Puppy's new-to-him              t-shirt to help keep him warm on cool days--- and how to simply and cheaply create a cool shirt to warm your pet.

But, like I had mentioned in the t-shirt post, since the hair on  his lower back and belly has thinned so much and the temperature keeps dropping we knew he would need something more than just a shirt for his time outdoors.

This past fall we bought a king size quilt from the thrift shop to protect plants in our garden at early frost. The $5 quilt came with two pillow shams which we didn't want --- but neither did the thrift store. 

I looked at the shape of dog coats at the store and made a paper pattern using Puppy's neck-to-tail and around-the-belly measurements from the t-shirt project --- remembering, this time,  to cut the thigh area higher to avoid accidents when he lifts his leg.

I cut the coat from the quilted top of the pillow sham, covered the raw cut edges with seam tape, and sewed lengths of velcro-type hook and loop strips to the front neck pieces and the straps that fasten over his middle.

For some reason the color doesn't show up here
as the maroon it really is.

Pillow shams are large enough to make a vest or simple coat or a robe for a toddler or even slippers for a larger child or adult.  These are the times (or finds) where . . . 

This is Puppy several years ago, and the first (and up to now)
only wardrobe piece he owned.
putting on your thinking cap comes in handy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quick Do-it-Yourself Dog T-Shirt for Cooler Weather

Our neighbor Linda  has a very small dog, Lucky Lady, who has very short hair and gets cold easily.  The little Lady is lucky to have a big wardrobe.   One day last week she was wearing one of her coats and what appeared to be leggings on her front legs.  When we questioned  Linda she told us that she bought "onesies" at our local Wal-Mart for $3 or $4 and they made perfect dog t-shirts.

Our dog Puppy is a Lhasa Apso mix --- 
rescued from the dog pound about 
11 years ago, when he 
was three or four years old.

And, as you can see, clothes were not needed! (and this picture was taken when he had his summer haircut!)

That was then----

Now Puppy is, with what we consider quiet dignity, 
living with the hair-loss consequences of profound hypo-thyroidism  and he gets cold. 

And his previously long and bushy tail is just a few scrawny strands.

The Light Bulb Went On!
I'm not called the creative cheapskate for nothing

I measured him from neck to tail and around his somewhat ample belly (the medication has helped eliminate some of the weight) and headed to the local thrift store with the tape measure and a handful of change.

He is a perfect Toddler 4-5!

He was amazingly patient as we dressed him, even lifting his paws for the sleeves, and didn't try to get it off. He appears to be quite comfortable in it, even in the relatively warm house.
                                                                                                                                                                                         A little later, after a trip outside,  we discovered one problem that Lucky Lady didn't have because . . 
she squats and Puppy doesn't.

It only took a moment to shorten the belly-side of the shirt.
This starter piece for his wardrobe cost 50 cents!  He can have an entire wardrobe for the price of one onesie.

The forecast is 28 degrees for tomorrow.  My next post will show him simply decked out and ready.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

At this Beautiful Christmas Season I am . . .

                                                                              “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ. 

It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart – and our neighbors as ourselves.       
It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much; he who gives time gives more; but he who gives of himself gives all.

Christmas isn’t just tinsel and ribbon, unless we have made it so in our lives.  

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. 

It is happiness because we see joy in people. 

It is forgetting self and finding time for others. 

It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. 

It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. 

It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others.”
May we, as did the Wise Men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us to our Christmas opportunity in service to our fellow man. 

May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior, and may one and all have a joy-filled Christmas.”

The above is part of the 2012 message given at the annual LDS Christmas Devotional, as a gift to the world, by President Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Go here if you would like to watch the entire devotional and hear the beautiful Christmas music provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Delicious One Bowl/One Fork Coconut Cookies . . .

in a minute, using a cake mix.  It can't get much easier than this!

1 package  coconut,  white, or  yellow cake mix                                                  
1/3 cup water 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted  
1 large egg
1 tsp. to 1-1/2 tsp.** coconut extract                                 
1 cup large coconut flakes* or shredded coconut

Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. 
Add water, egg and extract and stir with a fork until combined. 
Stir in cake mix.  
Stir in coconut. 

Drop walnut-sized mounds of dough, spacing about two inches apart on an ungreased or parchment-covered baking sheet.

On ungreased or parchment-covered baking sheet, drop walnut-sized mounds of dough, spacing about two inches apart.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 11-13 minutes until cookies start to turn light brown (watch closely).  Let cool on baking sheet for one to two minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.

*I buy my coconut flakes at a health food store that sells spices, etc. in bulk.  They are so light they weigh next to nothing. I like how the big flakes protrude from the cookies and get a little toasty.  

**When using  a white or yellow cake mix I increase the amount of extract.

Note: The cookies taste yummy but aren't very pretty, looking somewhat like a drop biscuit.  If you want to dress them up a little bit you could drizzle them lightly with melted chocolate chips (but that would require another bowl!)

'till we eat again,
       I am Simply, Gail


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Sad Commentary on What Has Happened to CHRISTmas

If you follow this blog you know I rarely forward things  I receive via e-mail, but for the second time this week, something came through that deserves serious consideration ----
and this time it is how increasingly, very special and sacred things to the vast majority are being successfully eliminated by a very vocal minority.  

How can we just stand by and            let this continue to happen? 

After all, Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say

December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa

In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

not Happy Holiday !

Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet


Friday, November 30, 2012

What If. . . ALL You Had Was What You Had on Hand?

Emergencies of all kinds that disrupt many or all things can happen anywhere at anytime without much or any warning!  

Dave and I have been involved with helping people with preparedness for over 40 years but there is always something to learn. 

The following is making the Internet rounds following Hurricane Sandy on the east coast of the United States. If you haven't read it, it is worth a read. 

If you are not prepared for emergencies please look over this article. If you think you are prepared, please look over this article. 

Additionally, you may want to check out my posts under the What If . .  . ?  heading  for basic information on the whys, whats, and hows of gathering some basics to have on hand. Most are simple and inexpensive --- and there may come a time when they are irreplaceable and priceless.

My thanks to Frantz Ostmann  for taking the time to share his discoveries with others. 

Sent: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 2:28 pm
Subject: Things learned from Hurricane Sandy

Things that I learned from Hurricane Sandy
by Frantz Ostmann <http://www.facebook.com/frantz.ostmann>  on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:13am ·
1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day 3
2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water etc. Never!
3. Yes it can happen to you.
4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.
5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.
a. A couple of cases of bottled water is “NOT” water storage
6. Should have as much fuel as water
a. Propane
b. Gas
c. Kerosene
d. Firewood
e. Firestarter, (kindling, paper, etc)
7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up.. (spark plug for the generator, BBQ lighter, etc)

8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.
10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing)
11. Stored water can taste nasty.
12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold
13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks
14. Kids do not like washing their face in cold water.
15. Your 1972 Honda Civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade… but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump, you get the idea..
16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape, a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, tequila, etc. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after day 3.
18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power or you are the guy whose Master’s degree in Accounting suddenly means nothing. (Love you Steve!)
19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it.
22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
24. Your town, no matter how small is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else you could be without for a long time.
25. In an emergency Men stock up on food, Women stock up on toilet paper.
26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!
27. You can never have enough matches.
28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be Bob the guy who shares on Day 3, not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.
29. Give a man a fish he eats for that day, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.. Now I get it.
30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
31. Same goes for shoes… Love you Honey!!!!
32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems,
33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not avail anymore.
34. Quote “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty” hahaha
35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That is it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of poptarts. That will be your neighbors supply. (especially if you live outside of Utah)
36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if your kids are hungry.
38. You really do not want to be the “Unprepared Parents” The kids turn on you pretty quick.
39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well it seems.
40. Most things don’t take much power to operate.
a. Computers,
b. Phones
c. Radios
d. TV
e. lights
41. Some things take a ton of power to operate.
a. Fridge
b. Toaster
c. Freezer
d. Hot plate
e. Microwave
42. When it gets dark at 4:30 pm the nights are really long without power.
43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make your home the semi warm place to come home to.. not the cold prison that you are stuck in.
44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.
45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time.
a. Fuel, of all kinds
b. Matches, lighters of any kind etc.
c. Toilet paper
d. Paper plates, plastic forks and knives
e. Batteries, didn’t really see a need for them. (flashlights??? I guess)
f. Milk
g. Charcoal
h. Spark plugs (generators)
i. 2 stroke motor oil, (chainsaws)
j. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house.
k. Extension cords
l. Medicines (Tylenol, advil, cold medicine etc)
46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.
There were also many things that were not learned from hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support, especially my lovely wife, that my Heavenly Father is really in charge, period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am .. Wherever that is…hahahaha..
God Bless!!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Family's Simple End of Year Traditions

I have mentioned family traditions in several recent posts.

Traditions can revolve around many occasions or maybe even non-official occasions, but Christmas and New Years really lend themselves to their creation.

My growing-up family had three. Even thought they were never discussed or even mentioned as tradition  they were a regular part of our Christmas and their impact has stayed with me all these many years.

Memories are priceless

Today, as I write them, I have realized for the first time that they all revolved around my dad.

1. He made egg nog from scratch.  It was really, really rich---and I have never been able to duplicate it.

2.He had the ornament from his first Christmas --- a tiny glass bugle (he was born on an Army post) and he was the one that hung it on the tree each year, even when it became tattered and battered and even taped. After his death, by a drunk driver, when he was 81 years old my mother sent it to me --- a most prized possession --- and now our family insists I am the only one to hang it.

3. He passed out our presents, one at a time, as we sat around the tree Christmas morning ---- each one watching one another as they opened their gifts.

Most traditions don't start out as such. . .

Measuring Up

From the time each child could stand up we measured their height on January 1st.  Years later we started adding our grandchildren's. We marked their names and the year directly on the wall. When we moved we carefully transferred the information to a long sheet of paper, and painted the wall. At our new home we would tape the paper to the wall, and with the help of a ruler, rewrite the measurments.

If you rent, move often, or if writing on the wall is not your style, you could make a hanging growth chart. A heavy non-woven fabric interfacing (like Pellon) is durable and you can write on it. 

Years ago, after our kids had started having theirs,  I came across fabric printed as a colorful grow chart. I bought the material, narrowly hemmed the bottom, and made a deeper hem in the top  (enough so a curtain rod or length of dowel would slide through it for hanging).

I made one for each of their families----transferring the information from our wall to their wall hanging. Their children really liked to see how they measured up to their parents.

Loading Up . . .

on the snacks and goodies! I didn't cook on New Year's Day but we sure never went hungry. I squirreled away many of the candies and food gift-packs we receive as gifts during the season and prepared everything else beforehand. 

Usually the week between December 25 and January 1 is pretty slow, at least in comparison to the previous week, so this was easy to do. I didn't worry about the nutritional balance of the menu. I put all the food out on the table early in the afternoon, along with paper plates and cups. From there, it was up to them. They ate whenever hungry, although graze was probably a more accurate term---during half times or time outs of the televised football games. 

But, for them, no matter how good the food or how exciting the various bowl games, the highlight of the day was something --- you probably won't want to do at home --- I had to include here.

Teaming Up. . .

for their own football game.

A page from my 1996 bookette "Help! for the Overworked Mom"

Young Families:  I am sure there are many things that you do in your own family that will become traditions and treasured memories as the years go by.  And trust me, the time goes by faster than you can imagine. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Combating the War Against the Family Part 4 continued

Applying Consequences --- Teenagers!

If you think dealing with teenagers is a whole different ballgame, it really isn't----- 
or doesn't have to be, if you take the time to establish clear ground rules and follow through with clear consequences.

If you haven't read last Tuesday's post, please take the time to read it first as the basics are all there and are basically the same for all ages.


If you want responsible children you need to give them responsibilities. Part of giving them responsibility is they have to make choices. If you give them responsibilities and they do not make the correct choices to follow through, you must be prepared to follow through with consequences.  This is how we all learn.

It is important to recognize the difference between discipline and punishment:
  • Discipline helps a child learn
  • Punishment helps a parent who is mad or has been hurt to feel better
When dealing with any child at any age it is important to remember that you are the parent, not a peer or friend.  This does not mean you should be a dictator. Parents should be loving, respectful, and fair, not vindictive or judgmental. 

When implementing consequences, parents should focus on 
  • being in control of their own behavior rather than on controlling their child
  • telling the child what they, the parents, are going to do, not what the child will do (which is beyond their control
  • being consistent

"Watching television (or playing a video game) is a privilege that is earned by being responsible. If you do not do your chores (or finish your homework, etc) you are not being responsible so you lose that privilege."

"Use of the family car is a privilege that we give to family members who get their jobs done. If yo choose not to do your chores, the family car will not be available to you."

We were quite strict with our children (maybe even too strict) and the three boys in a family they were best friends with had parents that were very lenient.  While totally different in our parenting methods, we were each consistent.  Their children and our children knew "what to expect" when discipline was necessary.  On the other hand, with another friend's parents there was no consistency. John never knew from one time to the next how his behavior would be handled by his parents.  This left John in a constant state of uncertainty and confusion. 

Some of the most effective steps in setting up rules and establishing consequences is to have the family together to discuss them.  Isn't everyone more willing to comply when they understand the rules and even more so if they help establish them?

It is vitally important for parents to be in agreement.  If something comes up where the parents are not immediately "on the same page" they, the parents, need to take a time out to discuss the matter and hopefully come to full agreement, before they hand down their decision to the child. 


Chad was a fun-loving, headstrong, impulsive child. While his  parents taught him about, and respect for, family and societal rules, he had trouble adhering to them.  

The family lived in the country, a long way from town and Chad loved to make those trips with his family. Returning home after one of the outings his mother discovered some playing cards and three pens and asked 9-year-old Chad about them.Chad admitted that he had stolen them. 

The mother and father privately discussed the situation and agreed on the following:
  • Chad's father took Chard and the merchandise back to the store  with the understanding that Chad would tell the store manager what he had done, return the merchandise, apologize for his actions and accept whatever consequences the manager would require.
  • The manager listened intently and thanked him for returning the merchandise and admitting what he did. He said he hoped Chad had learned a valuable lesson but took no further action.

  • For the next two weeks, Chad's parents left him at home whenever they went to town, asking him to think about what he had done and assuring him they would take him to town again, allowing him further opportunity to show that he could obey.
Many other infractions came over the years, such as fighting with siblings, experimenting with tobacco and alcohol, violating curfew, and skipping school. In each instance, Chad's parents imposed logical consequences to help him learn from his misconduct. Finally, after time, Chad began to follow the rules.

Over the years, on several occasions Chad thanked his parents for the discipline they provided; discipline that helped him become a responsible, law-abiding adult and good parent.
                                                                                            from Strengthening the Family

Parents need to make sure family rules are clear and that rewards and punishments are consistent and prompt. Teenagers will question many things they formerly accepted.  In discussing curfew you may want to explain that a midnight curfew on Friday’s is based upon parental knowledge and judgment, not upon opposition to dating or social enjoyment. It is important, and very helpful to all involved, to have these rules in place before a situation arises where they are needed. But if that didn’t happen, it is never too late.

Karen was asked to go on a double date on a Friday night, 50 miles from home. The dance ends at 11:30 so the teenagers cannot get home by midnight, Karen’s usual curfew, unless they leave early. Karen is frustrated and the following lively family discussion takes place.

Karen: You don’t trust me. I go to church. I don't smoke or drink or do drugs. I get good grades in school. I do what you want all the time. Now, when I want to do something you won’t let me!

Mother: You are a fine person and we are proud of you. We trust you enough to let you go so far away on a date. The problem is the curfew. Didn’t we all agree in family council that midnight was fair for weekends?

Karen (grudgingly): Yes, but this is special. I have earned it.

Father: You have earned many things and we appreciate your efforts. But you are arguing about something different. It is your safety we are concerned about.

Karen: Dan is a safe drive. You’ve never objected to his ‘safety’ before.

Father: It is the other drivers we worry about. Late on Friday night there are many drivers who are on drugs, or are drunk. It is them we fear. They could harm you.

Karen (sarcastically): Anytime I go out there is danger. Why don’t you just ground me from all fun?

Karen’s tone hurts her parents, but they weigh her usual cooperation against the emotions of the moment and do not become upset. 

Mother: Karen, I can understand your disappointment. It is too bad there are ugly things in this world.

Hoping that her mother’s obvious sympathy is a breakthrough, Karen asks Just this once, please? Responding for both, since Karen’s parents have previously discussed this privately, the father replies.

Father: There is too much risk, especially on that narrow road. We love you too much. We will take the chance of agreeing to the date as long as you are home by midnight.

Karen(a little calmer now) Isn’t there some way?

Mother: Your father and I are in agreement. You agreed in family council to this rule.

Father (with humor): Karen, you are in a tough spot. We’ve been through this with your older brothers and sister. We’ve had a lot of practice discussing this kind of thing.  (Then, turning serious) We love you too much to change this family rule.

Karen leaves the room unhappy but with her self-respect intact. Even in her frustration she cannot deny that her parents care. She cannot ignore the fact that she had previously full discussed and agreed to the curfew rule in a pleasant, calm family council. Remember to be honest and objective in your parent-child discussion and hold your children responsible for rules they have already agreed upon. 
                                                                                           from Strengthening the Family 

Unfortunately, it is a fact, no matter what we do our children don't always respond like the two examples above. At least not immediately. When a person chooses to disregard the rules the very best help we can give them is to let them be responsible for their actions---to let them be accountable.

"Lance, a young adult living at home, was doing just about everything wrong. He lied, stole, cheated, and used drugs and alcohol. He was unchaste and seemed completely indifferent to how his actions affected his parents and other family members. His mother and father had tried everything they could think of to help him. For several years they had been patient and forgiving. Next, they convinced him to see a profession counselor, but after a session or two he refused to go back. He would not meet with his church leader. Finally, Lance was arrested.

The phone rang at Lance's home, and his mother answered. "Hi, Mom. this is Lance. I'm in jail, and they won't let me out until you come and get me. Please hurry!"

Lance's mother was shocked, even panicked, but didn't say anything. Lance pleaded again, "Mom, please hurry! This is not a nice place!"

She didn't say anything for a long time, then quietly asked, "Lance, are you guilty of the charges?"

"Well, Mom, I really wasn't as involved as the police say I was."

"Lance, are you guilty?"

"Well, Mom, I guess I am."

Then, with all the courage she could muster, she replied, "I'm sorry that you are. I guess you will have to work through this by yourself. Call me when you get it all worked out." She hung up the phone and fell apart.

Two very long days passed. Finally, Lance called and his parents went to the police station to pick him up. A few more days passed and the phone rang again. Lance's mother answered, and this time it was a attorney.

"Hello. I am Mark Johnson. I helped Lance with his legal problems while he was in custody. I just wanted to speak with you to see how you wanted to work out my compensation for helping Lance get out of jail."

At first Lance's mother was troubled. Finances were tight and the call took her by surprise. She paused a moment, then said, "Mr. Johnson, I appreciate what you did to help Lance, but you are talking to the wrong person. I did not hire you. You did not help me, you helped Lance. If you want compensation for your efforts, I think you ought to talk to Lance."

Some time later, Lance came to his parents asking for help to pay his legal bill but the help did not come. Lance had to go back to the attorney and work out a pay-back plan. After many months of payments, Lance paid his attorney in full.

Lance will tell you today that the actions of his very brave and very frightened mother helped him turn his life around.

excerpted from an article in the Ensign magazine and included in The Best Help is No Help written by my husband

Parenting is the most expensive - in time, money and effort -- activity in the world. It will do more to take your energy away than anything. Why? Because it is the most important and the most rewarding.

Perhaps you've made many mistakes or for years have done the wrong things, but the very next breath you take, the very next word you say, the very next step you take can be in a different direction than the ones you took previously.

  • Do not give on on each other. 
  • Do not give up on yourselves. 
  • Do not give up on your child. 

                                                                                                    from Family Answers DVD

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Your Kids a Priceless Weekly Gift

OR . . .

How to have an "only" child

When you have several children it is difficult, and often seems impossible, to find time to spend with each child individually. Yet we felt this one-on-one attention was extremely important and looked for various ways to accomplish it.

We came up with simple ways to recognize each child on special occasions and I'll post those another day.
But, for on-going "only" child time we settled on. . .

Night's Up!  

During the week (Monday through Thursday) each child had an assigned day where they stayed up one-half hour later than usual, spending time with either both parents or mom or dad (usually their choice). When they were all young, this was time after the others had gone to bed. As they grew up the older ones would read, bathe, or do their own thing while a younger brother had his night up. When we had more than four kids, the ages were such that we could have the time with the younger one --- and then the older one would reappear for their turn. Occasionally, because of an activity or because of a meeting or other adult commitment, only one parent spent time with the night-upper but usually it was both of us.

During this time we played or did whatever that particular child wanted to do on that particular night. We have played many games, innumerable times, sometimes over and over and over. (I do not like Chutes and Ladders---you are finally almost finished and BAM!, back to the bottom to start over! Naturally, and probably for the very same reason but with different motives, they loved it!)

We crawled around the floor playing with Fisher Price farms and garages and castles and hid tiny green toy soldiers behind books and chair legs. We colored, we painted, we played with clay and silly putty. We read and we played Atari. Heidi learned the basics of putting on make up and fixing hair when she selected that activity. She usually wanted to be the beautifier and I was always the willing model. All I had to do was sit!


Our children really looked forward to their night of the week. We tried very hard to not let anything interfere with those times. We knew it was meaningful for them when they wanted to continue it well into their teens, until they got so busy with school activities and jobs that it was no longer possible.

We learned just how important years ago when we came home to find the following on our answering machine. We are guessing that our then 22 year-old son called when he knew we wouldn't be home. We are not a real demonstrative family and this was an easier way for him to say what he wanted to say:
"Thanks you for night's up, soccer games, (teaching us) tithing and missionary savings, helping us clean the club, alligator bread with chocolate chip eyes.     I love you guys."

We couldn't have received a more meaningful gift!

 I am Simply Gail and over the past 50 years I have learned that little things really do mean a lot.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Combating the War Against the Family...Part 4

Applying Consequences ---The Importance Of, and the How-To of --- beginning with: 

when dealing with toddlers and children

              Note: This post is part of an ongoing series on the war that is being waged against families and family values--- and what we can do to strengthen and protect ours. I teach a Sunday School class on strengthening the family and parenting skills.  The lesson manual is terrific, the points "right on" and the suggestions doable. I am including, in my blog some of  the information from that class.                                                                                                                                                  

Beginning at a very young age, children learn as they make everyday choices and experience the consequences of their choices.Parents can apply consequences in ways that help their children learn responsible behavior.

Interestingly, studies have found that parents who have more financially, often have a more difficult time saying no to the demands of over-indulged children. Children of these parents run the risk of not learning important values like hard work, delayed gratification, honesty and compassion.

The actions of many parents actually encourage their children to be self-centered and irresponsible when they attempt to bolster their children's self-esteem by telling them how terrific they are without requiring anything substantive from them.  Unmerited praise often results in lazy, demanding, disrespectful, undisciplined children and teenagers. Permissive parents require very little of their children, providing few or no consequences for disobedience or failure to perform.

While it requires their time, responsible parents provide guidance, rules, and discipline within the context of love and caring. In the homes of such parents, rules make sense, and consequences are logically connected to the misbehavior. Children in this type of environment learn from their mistakes and feel that consequences are fair --- even if they don't always like them.

Recognize and Acknowledge Appropriate Behavior

Consider this: Children tend to repeat behaviors that draw their parent's attention.  Do we tend to pay more attention to our children when they are behaving or misbehaving? Is our answer "sad, but true" to misbehaving? When parents mainly respond to negative things, no one should be surprised when the children misbehave.

Parents can reinforce desirable behavior by showing interest in what their children do and by interacting with them in a positive way, such as  smiling, expressing specific gratitude, or giving a pat on the back.

This: " I appreciate when you help me clean the kitchen. I enjoy the time together, and the work gets done much more quickly. 

Or This: "I appreciate you" or "You're such a good child." 

See the difference? Generalities may come across insincere or even manipulative.

Allow Children to Experience Appropriate . . . 

Natural consequences are consequences that automatically follow actions---
What is the usual result when a child doesn't study for a test?

Individuals learn quickly from natural consequences because the consequences occur in spite of protests or arguments against them.  If parents protect their children from natural consequences they deprive the children of valuable lessons. 

Important Note: Natural consequences may harm children who are too young to understand them. For example a toddler must be protected from touching a hot stove or walking alone by a stream of water or playing in a busy street.

However, parents can allow a younger child to experience minor natural consequences ---like breaking a toy by defiantly banging it against the sidewalk or ruining a marker by refusing to put the lid on it, causing it to dry out.  In such cases, young children can learn best from consequences if they have been taught the rules and understand the natural consequences that will occur as a result of  breaking the rules.


Logical consequences are imposed by parents in a way that is logically connected to the child's behavior. For example, a child who acts up during dinner may be asked to leave the table until he or she is willing to eat quietly.

Logical consequences work best when they: 
  • make sense to the child
  • indicate respect for the child
  • require the child to pay a price

Example: A child is often late for dinner, so the parents put the food away and tell the child the next meal will be served in the morning. This consequence makes sense to the child as it is directly connected to the misbehavior and requires the child to pay the price by  missing a meal for being late for dinner. Although the child will probably not like the consequence, the consequence is respectful if it is firmly applied by loving parents who are not vindictive and judgmental. 

It is important that each consequence represents what one should expect for committing the infraction.

Using LESS LOGICAL Consequences

Some consequences may seem less logical but the key here is the consequence has to do with work and privileges.  Example:
Watching television is a privilege that is earned by being responsible. If the child has not done their work, they are not being responsible and they lose a privilege --- in this case watching television.

Again --- It is important that each consequence represents what one should expect for committing the infraction.

Parents should impose consequences in a firm and friendly manner --- not in anger --- or the consequences will invite resentment.


  • When implementing consequences, parents should focus on being in control of their own behavior rather than on controlling their child.  
  • Parents should tell the child what the parents are going to do, not what the child will do.  Do you see the difference?


Before imposing a consequence, it is often wise to discuss the problem with the child, asking how he or she is going to correct the problem. This question is important because it allows the child to take responsibility for solving the problem. Children are more likely to improve their behavior when they felt identify the course of action they should take.

  • When parents apply consequences, children sometimes react with anger and want to argue. The best learning occurs when parents say little but follow through.
  • If the connection between the infraction and the consequence is clear, the child is more likely to  feel responsible and learn from the experience. 
  • If the parents impose a consequence and then argue about it with the child, the child will focus on winning the argument and will lost sight of the reason for the consequence.
  • Yelling and moralizing usually won't work but will provoke resentment in the child. 
Again, let the consequences do the teaching. 


Mother: It’s time to get the room picked up. We have some friends coming over in a few minutes.

Child: I don’t want to. I want to watch cartoons.

Father (calmly): You can pick up the toys now, or I will pick them up. If I pick them up, you won’t see them again unless you do some extra work to earn them back. Which do you choose?

Child: You pick them up.

The father calmly picks up the toys and puts them in a bag, and places the bag in storage. The following day:

Child: Where are my toys?

Father: I put them away.

Child: I want to play with them.

Father: You remember yesterday when we asked you to pick them up and you didn’t want to? Well, they’re gone just like I said.

Child: Well, I want them back. I want to play with them.

Mother (respectfully): I’m sure you do. They are your favorite toys.

Child: I want them back. Give them to me.

Mother (with empathy): We can see you feel really bad. (Pauses, as if considering what to do.) Maybe we can think of some jobs you can do to earn them back. Would you like that?

Child (yells in anger): I don’t want to earn them back. Give them to me right now!

Father: I’ll tell you what, when you can talk calmly, without yelling or getting angry, we’ll see if we can find a way for you to earn them back. But right now we have some other things we need to do.

The parents walk off. An hour later the son approaches his father and arranges to do some extra chores to earn back his toys. In the days that follow, he willingly complies when asked to pick up after himself.

This scenario illustrates the many benefits of imposing logical consequences:
  • The child learns that his parents mean what they say.
  • The child experiences the consequences of irresponsible behavior.
  • The consequences teach the message that the child has to be responsible if he wants to enjoy privileges such as playing with toys.
  • By remaining calm, the parents teach that problems are worked out peacefully and cooperatively instead of through manipulative displays of temper.
  • The parent's calmness keeps the focus on the inappropriateness of the child's behavior. A scolding or an argument would have drawn attention to the parents.
Consider this:  While it will take more time for you, as parents, to put these concepts into practice in the short run, think of the  long run --- imagine the peace and tranquility that will follow.
Even very young children are smart --- they will catch on fast when you learn to patiently and lovingly hold your ground.

A personal example: As I have mentioned before, our first two children share the same birthday --- one year apart!  Heidi had been going to bed peacefully and sleeping through the night for over nine months before Romm arrived.  Very shortly after his birth, she started crying when we put her to bed and kept it up until we let her get up. We were going crazy.  Our pediatrician recommended we put her to bed as usual and then let her howl. He said we couldn't even open the door for a peek, as that would indicate to her that "she won." 

We tried it and it was horrible that first night when she
 cried for 1-1/2 hours straight (and I cried most of that time myself!)  The next night she cried for one-half hour. Beginning the third night she was back to her pre-brother routine.  

Part 5 will address The Importance Of, and the How-To of Applying Consequences when dealing with older children and teenagers

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jack Frosted Our Green Tomatoes!

So what to do with gobs of little green tomatoes? 

Exactly what every modern woman does . . .
(and if you are reading this post --- you are a modern woman!)

thanks to
for this perfect-for-my-blog-topic photo

Search the internet!!!
And, pardon the pun, it was a very fruitful search.  Yes, a tomato is a fruit even though we consider it a vegetable.

I discovered recipes for:  
  • Green Tomato Pie, which they claim tastes just like apple
  • Fried Green Tomato Pie which a tomato-hater loved anytime--       breakfast, lunch and dinner!
  • Un-fried Green Tomatoes for the health-conscious
  • Green Tomato Oatmeal Bars whose claim to fame is they taste like fig bars
  • Curried Green Tomato Sauce that, while not tasting like chicken, is great with chicken
  • and
  • Green Tomato Salsa Verde 
and finally decided to try the first recipe I came across . . .

Green Tomato Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes* 
1-1/2 chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired

* green tomatoes are firm so all you need to do  is wash them, slice off the stem end, slice them and chop them up. I used my small food processor to do the chopping part.

Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in center. In small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork and stir in the oil, water and vanilla. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in the tomatoes and nuts.

Spoon batter into  2 greased and floured 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pans. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour --- the bread will have pulled away from edges of pan and if you poke a toothpick in the center it will come out clean. Cool bread in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on the wire rack.

It is really good!and tastes similar to zucchini bread.  The fun part is the bright green little chunks.  One person wrote that  she took a loaf to work and everyone loved it but no one could guess the "secret" ingredient.

'til we eat again,
         Simply, Gail