Category Archives: Family Life

Bring back those amazing plastic bags!

In our household with four kids and a zillion pets, a plastic grocery bag was a treasured thing. I don’t think one ever went to waste.

I never understood the plastic bag recycling container at the supermarket. I always wanted to raid it.  How could people relinquish their bags?  We never had enough of them.

And each one usually went through several uses, before it was finally relegated to its final use—usually something pretty rank.

Lining the diaper pail (the old-time cotton diapers, folks.) Lining a trash can. Cat/guinea pig/bird/hamster/gerbil/rat/ferret refuse.

Kids’ muddy clothes, needing to get from Point A to the laundry room without making an ultra-used car’s interior worse than it already was.

The only thing more valuable was a shoe box. They would be tucked away for those inevitable sad days to come.

They would become the final resting home for small pets that, having breathed their last, would be carefully placed in a ziplock, which would be solemnly zipped shut, then put in a carefully saved shoebox (with tearstained letters), then sealed with duct tape.

Then Steve would dig the latest grave, in the presence of weeping. Once he had carefully laid the box to rest, I would urge him to say some words of comfort. He always gave me That Look…then sighed and proceeded with his latest eulogy.

Big families, tight budgets

We represented that entity that, long ago, used to be the standard bearer of American life and culture.

A large, messy, rowdy, cluttered, busy family—somehow making it work on a budget. Continue reading Bring back those amazing plastic bags!

Winter Clean Up Time in Your Vegetable Garden!

It’s so hard to think about going outside this time of year!  The days are so short and gloomy.  Everything is so wet and any of last summer’s decaying vegetable plants can be so gross and slimy.  Sometimes the occasional rose hip is the most cheerful thing to see.rose hips

But winter clean up and maintenance will make your spring and summer so much easier in your vegetable garden, and more productive! Continue reading Winter Clean Up Time in Your Vegetable Garden!

Car Games, Car Songs, Old Fashioned Car Fun

eaglesQuit texting, facebooking, surfing the net in the car.  Put away those video games and tablets!  The world is rolling by, in all its glory.

And the beautiful scenery around southwest Washington can take your breath away, no matter how many times you see it.

So, kids of all ages, why not have some fun with it?

Easy Car Games

“I Spy”

What could be better than “I Spy”?  The faster the car is moving, the higher the skill level!i spy 2

As an indoor game you start off with “I spy with my little eye” — but who has time to spit that out in a moving car, when the object will be quickly gone from view?

This guessing game was preceded by an 18th century British game called Hy Spy–a twist on Hide and Seek.  The “History and antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1789” stated:  I spye is the  usual exclamation at a childish game called, ‘Hie, spy, hie.’

So hie, spy or I spy…it’s all easy.   One player is the spy.  The spy sees something out the window (or in the car, during long stretches) and says, “I spy something….” and gives an adjective.  The others try to guess.   You’d better make it easy if the object will be behind you in a few seconds.

That’s it.   Either the eventual winner becomes the next spy–or if you have little kids playing, you’d better give them a turn, or they’ll mope.

“Alphabet and Numbers”

You can play this with road signs, bumper stickers, license plates, anything.aberdeen sign

Just start with “one” and “A.”  Go in order.  It’s up to you if you feel like starting over with “one” after hitting “nine”– or whether you want to venture into the teens and beyond.  And good luck with “Q” and “Z.” Continue reading Car Games, Car Songs, Old Fashioned Car Fun

Learn Fingerspelling (You May Need it One Day)

Are the kids stuck indoors, in the car, or just plain bored?

Have them learn “fingerspelling”–the one-handed American Manual Alphabet.  It’s an important part of American Sign Language.manual alphabet snip 1

It’s lots of fun, and it keeps kids occupied.  They also learn something useful that they may need someday, to communicate with someone who is deaf.

Isn’t it great to teach your kids something that they could later use to help a stranger?  Or help them chat with a deaf friend?

And it’s always fun to learn a special new code.  It’s really great for those times when kids need to keep quiet. Continue reading Learn Fingerspelling (You May Need it One Day)

How Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt the Elderly and their Caregivers

The corner drugstore still means life or death

In simpler times, it was called the corner drug.  In both small towns and urban cores, it was a lifesaver.  Neighborhood pharmacists knew their customers and their idiosyncrasies, and doled out sage advice along with brown bottles.old time pharmacy

Fifty years ago, little kids could buy penny gumballs and ride coin-operated broncos at their local drugstore.  Big kids could hang out at the soda fountain and sip real cherry Cokes.

Ladies could browse tidy aisles stocked with talcum powder, hair curlers and Toni home perms.  Contrite husbands could slink in and buy last-minute cologne spritzers and boxed chocolates for forgotten birthdays and anniversaries.

The trinkets and novelties have changed over the years, but the critical role of  the neighborhood pharmacy has not.  It has been a lifesaver for many, particularly the elderly. Continue reading How Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt the Elderly and their Caregivers