The Eyes Have It

Do you wear glasses?  Does your spouse wear glasses?  Is it your children’s fate that they will also need glasses?  Have you ever considered that there may be something you can do to protect and preserve your child’s vision?  There is.

I began wearing glasses for near sightedness while I was in sixth grade.  The week before I started high school I was fitted with contact lenses.  I recall as a teen deciding that I would not marry a man who also wore glasses because I was afraid our children would all have serious vision issues.   As is the case with most of our nonsense prerequisites for true love, when I found Mr. Right his vision was not important at all.  Yes, he was wearing glasses, and had been since he was six years old.  Our combined genetic pool was not promising.

Homeschooling is not the answer to vision issues, but it was through this medium  that I learned about the neurological development of vision.  An early proponent for home schooling was Dr. Raymond Moore.  I first heard him speak on Focus on the Family in 1983. My initial response was not positive, but that is a story for a different blog, not this one.   Dr. Moore believed there are neurological reasons for delaying formal education until at least age 7.  He promoted daily outdoor, physical activity for younger children.  He wrote “children’s eyes are usually damaged by too much close work” on page 151 in his book Home Grown Kids, in 1981.

The answer is outside playtime.  Recently I found this same advice from other sources.

big wheel

In the April 2016 issue of Parents Magazine on page 44 in the Kids Health News section was a brief article titled, Eye Opener.  It stated nearisghtedness (myopia) is the number one reason kids need glasses.  A Chinese study found “children who had an extra 40 minutes of outdoor exercise each school day were 23 percent less likely to have developed myopia three years later than kids who didn’t get extra outdoor time.”

My local paper printed on April 15, 2016 the article, Outdoor play does a young, growing body plenty of good, by columnist Claudia Quigg.  She reported on the increasing numbers of young children needing corrective glasses and the AMA’s report of the recent study suggesting an additional 40 minutes of daily outdoor activity.

My children needed no coaxing to play outside.  The bigger struggle was to get them inside.  As we homeschooled pre-school through second grade, I alternated up-close /book work with activities that allowed for physical movement and distance vision.  I think it was a wise plan.  Did it make a difference?  It didn’t hurt. Only one of our five adult children wears glasses.  He started needing them in his high school years.  bikes

The wives of our three married sons all have vision needs.  So far three of our eleven grandchildren also wear glasses, at least some of the time.  One was born with vision issues.

Conclusion: Turn off the screens, close the books, and go outside to play. Hooray, for kids and hooray, for parents.




Child Proofing

Is your home child-proofed?  Did you make lots of changes before your child was born or did you do it on an as needed basis?  Safety is not a big issue until baby becomes mobile.  Then it is a big issue.  The following are a few issues to consider.

Closets: In the ranch-style suburban home where we raised our children, we had ample closets.  One of the best closets was in the hall outside the main bathroom.  I called it the linen closet.  This closet reached from the floor to the ceiling.  It was only 10 inches deep, but was nearly five feet wide.   The top 2 shelves held 90% of all the household cleaners.  There were none under the bathroom sinks and only dish washer detergent under the kitchen sink.  There were some laundry products in the laundry room.

The third highest shelf, which was at my eye level, was where I stored the oral thermometer, medicines and all things first aid.  The lowest three shelves actually held linens such as bedsheets and towels.

The linen closet was the focus of my child proofing.  It was my hazard zone.  The linen closet was in the only hallway and could be seen from the main bathroom and two of the three bedrooms.  Posted on the back of the door of the linen closet were first aid articles, such as what to do for chocking, burns, cuts, or ingesting poison. 1024px-Poison_Help.svg

Poisons: I called poison control only once.  My daughter, at age two and a half, managed to open a child proof bottle and swallow about 20 children’s chewable Tylenol.  She survived without any lasting effects. My nerves were shot.  Many children do drink unsafe liquids.  Kids will swallow household cleaners, medicines, toiletries, and even air fresheners.  One of my grandchildren tried a couple of those.

When our youngest child was preschool age, we received a free package from a poison control center that included educational materials and lots of various size Mr. Yuk stickers.  He enjoyed helping me stick these in various places in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and the linen closet.  He never caused me to need to call poison control.  Did the stickers prevent poisoning or was he just not that curious? I don’t know.

Electrical Outlets: We did use outlet covers.  We still do.  We have a grandchild and a nephew, who were fascinated we putting things in outlets.

Helmets: Our first four children all survived childhood, as did we, without wearing bicycle helmets.  Our bonus child wore a helmet, when he was little.  My husband and I wear helmets when we ride our motor scooter, too.

As a child I was a climber.  It seemed to be my nature. I was climbing out of my crib before I was a year old. Later I loved to climb trees outside and furniture inside.  I was probably on the kitchen counter every day of my childhood.  I could even climb hallway walls.  This proved disastrous for my cousin, who tried to do the same.  His foot went through the plaster.   Only one of my children was an extreme climber like myself.  I used a special harness to keep him sitting safely in shopping carts.12661886_1028021680604519_5512961061780225872_n

Don’t Touch: We taught our children that not everything in the house was theirs.  They learned to respect others’ property.  They learned not to touch everything when they were guests in others’ homes.   When they were very little we never left priceless or irreplaceable items where they might be accidently harmed.    There were items they were not allowed to touch but were within their reach.   This is not only a respect issue; it is a safety and a courtesy issue.  Even preschoolers can and should learn these things.

Safety is important.  Precautions can and should be taken.  However parents cannot protect their children from everything.  One day I was sitting three feet away from my daughter and watched her suddenly fall down and break her arm.  She was two years old and was not doing anything except standing when she suddenly fell.  It was not a long distance fall, but the arm was broken.

Deb broken arm

cast on her right arm

Yes, she was a challenging child, but she was no match for her rambunctious brothers.  They caused each other countless breaks and stitches.   It is impossible to prevent all accidents and some children need more protection than do others, but children cannot thrive in bubbles either.  Find a balance.

What do you consider critical child proofing in your home?


10 Things to Know About Resale Stores

I live in a city with a population of approximately 76,000. We have seven resale stores where I shop plus at least five more resale stores where I refuse to shop. Creepy, overcrowded, disorganized or unclean stores get moved to my refusal list. Furthermore, I do not know why most of the resales shops here close at 3 p.m., but it annoys me. Only 2 of the 7 where I shop are open until 4 p.m., which seems a more reasonable hour to close, but it is still an hour earlier than most businesses.


containers from a resale store, which I use for plants

I have bought a diversity of items from resale stores.  The dress I wore to my third son’s wedding came from a Good Will store.  Two weeks ago I paid .50 for an excellent John Grisham book to take on a vacation and then throw away rather than bring it back home.  Last Christmas I bought 80 individual Christmas cards at a penny a piece.  Other purchases have included planting pots, dishes, linens, fabric, wrapping paper, greeting cards, craft supplies, books, costumes, playtime dress-up clothes, adult and children’s clothing, coats, boots, candles, seasonal decorations, sports equipment, furniture, puzzles and toys, jewelry and even gifts for others.  Furniture is great to get second hand especially if you have children, are a young couple just starting out, move a lot, or just like unique pieces.  Refurbishing furniture is also very trendy right now.

tjwed 3

mother of the groom, standing next to the bride, wearing  full length, $10 formal dress from Good Will

I asked my smart and savvy #3 daughter-in-law, Jackie, (mother of 5) to share some of her thoughts on resale shopping.  The following are her 10 ideas:

  1. No one will ever know where you purchased your clothing from or how much you spent for it unless you are walking around with the tag on it. 🙂
  2. Thrift stores use to have more of a negative connotation years ago than they do today. Today it’s trendy to shop at one!
  3. Kids grow so fast that resale shopping can save a lot of money. If you are saving money on clothing, you could be spending it on other things; vacation, sports, groceries.
  4. Babies don’t care if they are wearing Baby Gap, Gymboree or Children’s Place clothing. A lot of older kids don’t care what brands they wear either.
  5. Here’s a fun experiment for your teen who only wants to shop at the mall. Give them $25 and tell them to go buy clothing at the mall. Give them another $25 and take them to a thrift store (even better go on a sale day) and let them see how much more they can buy!
  6. One of the best things to buy at thrift stores is books!! A board book for a child runs about $10 new. At a thrift store most books are under a dollar.
  7. Special occasion clothing and shoes are often worn once or twice by a child (or an adult). Buying these things second hand is often an excellent money saver.
  8. Check to see if your thrift store offers coupons or discount days for even more savings.
  9. Some thrift stores are better than others. If you go to one and are unimpressed, try another. Ask around for recommendations.
  10. Some people shop at thrift stores to make money. You can often find new, like new, antique or one of a kind items at a very high discount. These items can then be sold for two or three times what you paid on E-bay or a Facebook selling site. Before you head this route though, do your research to find out what will sell. If you purchase things and are not able to use or sell them, you are wasting money.


    Can you guess how many of these pieces were purchased at resale stores?

I like that many resale stores are fund raisers for charities in my community. Some of my favorite stores are supports for the local hospital, a Lutheran school, Catholic Charities and the crisis pregnancy center.   Shopping at these stores definitely benefits my community. All of them accept donations, which is a great place to donate your stuff if you are purging or decluttering and do not want to have your own garage sale.

I prefer resale stores over garage sales for the following reasons: 1. Weather is not a factor. 2. The season is not a factor. 3. Bigger selection of merchandise and better variety all in one location.

Resale stores help stretch a budget.  Buying slightly used at a deep discount off new items helps us be content with not having the latest and greatest.  Contentment is hard to find and keep in our culture.

Disclaimer #1.  Just because an item is offered at a low, low price does not mean we actually need it. This situation does provide an excellent teaching moment for your child to learn the difference between wants and needs.

Disclaimer #2.  If you purchase too many items, your home will soon look like one of those messy and creepy stores I mentioned in the first paragraph.  Shop wisely.

What’s the best thrift store deal you have found?


As a child did you play in a fort? Was it made from a box or a blanket or in a tree?  Did you make it yourself or did an adult make it for you? Was it temporary or permanent?  Did it melt the next warm day?


A red cloth crawling tunnel is my first memory of a “fort”.  It was my private place where my imagination could soar.  It was whatever I wanted it to be.  Maybe it was a castle, or a submarine, a teepee or the North Pole, my own apartment, or maybe just my own bedroom.  I would pretend to be the character appropriate for the dwelling.  I also remember my mom draping a blanket over a clothesline and sometimes over chairs.

fortsForts can be built out of various materials depending on whether the fort is just for today or to last a childhood.  The simplest forts are made with blankets, pillows, sofa cushions, appliance boxes or anything you wish.  Even though there will be frustrations when forts fall down and fail, and there may be fights with siblings, the benefits outweigh the detriments.  Fort building exercises problem solving skills and creativity. Independent, unstructured play time is valuable for children. Some physics and logic may even be discovered.

My children had many forts inside and outside.  In the winter they loved mounding snow and hollowing out their igloos and even had multiple roomed igloos with connecting tunnels. Under a blanket spread across two twin beds was a great space for playing.  Stuffed animals, books and pillows pilled on the beds held the blanket in place.  Playing beneath the low-hanging branches of a huge spruce tree was a favorite hide-out from which they could see out, but passers-by never looked in. Our youngest son was heartbroken when the tree was trimmed up.

My husband had the unique privilege as a child of having a three-storied tree house.  The tree which held it was so large that its trunk circumference was greater than two men could reach around.  Even adults are enamored with tree houses and will spend lots of money building elaborate elevated homes or just places for escaping everyday life.fortcastle

Sometimes parents build forts for their children.  My eldest son built a castle façade for his little girls.   My brother-in-law and nephew dug a hole in their back yard.  This hole was eight feet wide by eight feet long and four to five feet deep.  It had a sump pump and electricity in it.  A childhood neighbor built an eight foot by eight foot by six foot high fort for his sons, which was perched on two ten foot tall telephone poles.  It was awesome.  I recall one time when we girls were allowed to sleep in it overnight.  It did not have electricity, but we had flashlights.

2010 Easter 010For our children we had an elevated platform above a covered sandbox. It had a plastic/cloth cover and a ship’s wheel from a closed Long John Silver’s restaurant. Later our youngest son slowly enclosed it.  He paid for the wood for the walls and other “improvements” he eventually made.  He took ownership of it.  His fort became headquarters for lots of imaginative play.

Yes, fort building can be messy and maybe even costly, but endure the mess.  Let them play and have mysterious adventures at home.  When the siblings argue and fight, let them learn to negotiate and compromise and take turns getting the best and sharing.  They aren’t just building forts they are building memories, friendships and skills for life.