Thursday, November 19, 2009

Protect Your Child's Teeth

Recently the children and I went to the dentist’s office for our six-month teeth cleaning. (I didn’t take a picture of them there – but most of them are showing their ‘pearly whites’ in this picture.)

I have to say, I can’t remember being so excited to visit the dentist when I was a kid. My children looked forward to our appointments all week!

I sat in the reception room, waiting my turn while my children ‘visited’ each other as they had their teeth cleaned. (Did I mention how much we enjoy our dentist?) While I waited, I noticed a bulletin board with information about xylitol.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed it, except that I’ve heard a lot about xylitol recently and was interested that my dentist was promoting it.

Something I found quite interesting is that xylitol was first extensively in Finland during World War II. They were facing serious sugar shortages, so they took wood sugar from their birch & beech trees and converted it to xylitol (which literally means “wood sugar”).

After the war, Finnish dentists realized the children using xylitol during the war had exceptionally strong, healthy teeth. So, they started researching xylitol, and using it especially in their chewing gum.

Since then, researchers have discovered that xylitol ‘starves’ the damaging bacteria in your mouth which causes cavities… leading to healthier teeth. But that’s not its only benefit.

Xylitol is also a great low-calorie sugar substitute for diabetics because it doesn’t mess with glucose levels.

And researchers are looking into the possible benefits of xylitol in preventing osteoporosis and ear infections.

Of course, Shaklee scientists are keeping current with all this research, and Shaklee’s chewable children’s vitamins, Ocean Wonders, have had xylitol as a natural sweetener for years.

Incredivites, Shaklee’s newest children’s chewable, contains even more xylitol than Ocean Wonders, plus added Vitamin D and lactoferrin, both of which help support your child’s immune system.

And with winter officially arriving next month, Incredivites or Ocean Wonders are a smart investment in your child’s health.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

This year, my older two children and I are studying the Eastern Hemisphere in school. I was very excited to finally start this year's curriculum - I'd been looking forward to studying the Eastern Hemisphere since I first decided on using Sonight curriculum in our homeschool six years ago.

We've already studied Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and Japan - now we're working on China. The books that Nathaniel and Anna read on their own for Language Arts incorporate the same countries we're studying in History.

I used to read all the books, but with four students at home now I don't have time to read every single one. The older two know this, and so Anna made a special point to bring me Sadako and the Thousand Cranes when she had finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and told me to read it.

"It's really good, Mom," she said. "You need to read it."

I found it last week when I was cleaning off the kitchen counter, and thought I'd take some time to sit down and read it. It's a thin book, written for upper elementary students, so it's a quick and easy read. I think it took me about an hour at most.

And Anna was right. It is a very good book. She asked me today if I had read it and I said that I had.

"Did you like it?"

"Oh yes, I did. In fact, it made me a little teary."

Anna nodded sagely. I think she felt the same way after she finished it.

Sadako is based on the true story of a little girl in Japan who was a baby in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb exploded. Her family thought they had escaped the dreaded 'bomb sickness', until Sadako was sent home after a bad dizzy spell at school. Her best friend tells her that the gods will grant her wish to get well if she makes 1,000 paper cranes, so she decides to do it.

It is very thoughtfully and gently written, so I believe most older elementary students will enjoy reading or listening to it. However, if your child is especially sensitive, I'd suggest reading it first so you can decide if s/he is old enough to handle it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Motivated

I have to admit, I'm a skeptic when it comes to motivational books. I've read quite a few, and it seems like they all say the same thing, just in a different way. Plus, most of the techniques feel very 'new-age' to me, and in reality some are.

Last month, my friend went to a motivational seminar produced by Tamara Lowe, the author of Get Motivated. I think she knew I am skeptical of those types of events, because we didn't talk about it much. However, our mutual friend filled me in when we were talking about my experience at the Shaklee national convention.

She told me about Lowe's book, Get Motivated, and the motivational DNA test you could take on her website. I was intrigued - mainly because I thought something must be wrong with me.

Why would I think that? Because the most valuable part of the national convention for me was reconnecting with people with whom I mostly interact on the phone. Otherwise, the focus on making the 'big money' in Shaklee during the convention meetings made me uneasy and uncomfortable. I was left wondering why I had taken the time, and money, to attend. (After sitting back and thinking objectively about what I had heard at convention, I realized that if someone is motivated by money and performance, that person could make a lot of money with Shaklee. It's amazing, really, but not motivating to me.)

During our discussion, she mentioned it sounded like I am motivated by relationships, and said a few words about what she had learned from reading Lowe's book. I immediately got online and requested it through inter-library loan.

Lowe's personal story is quite amazing, and her drive is impressive. I almost hate admitting that I enjoyed reading this book. Her idea of Motivational DNA is a new one to me, and it makes sense. I discovered my Motivational DNA is CSI (not like the TV show, but Connection, Stability and Internal). DNA, by the way, stands for Drives, Needs and Awards. Yes, a bit cutesy, but it is memorable.

I was looking forward to reading the section about motivating children, but after I read it I felt a little let-down. It was a very, very quick overview - mostly anecdotal of her relationship with her oldest son - of childhood stages. She mostly recommended reading certain authors for a better understanding of parenting techniques. They are authors I enjoy reading, for the most part, but I was hoping for a little more direction from Lowe about applying her theories.

Overall, if you're wondering why you're having problems getting motivated, or trying to figure out how to motivate employees or children, I'd suggest reading this book. It might even be worth purchasing, so you can have her run-downs of each motivational type.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Missed Opportunities

I missed an opportunity yesterday afternoon to take my Sunday afternoon nap. Actually, I made the choice to miss it - it was a beautiful afternoon and the sun sets so early these days. I figure it was the last beautiful day I'll see until probably April, so I wanted to take advantage of it.

Instead, I chose to sit outside for a few minutes and chat with my friend who stopped by to drop something off after church.

Then, I chose to take the boys to the forest preserve for an hour or so. I was planning on a hike, but then the girls decided not to come. The boys were dying for some time at a place they dubbed "Frog Falls" in a part of the preserve we normally do not frequent.

And I missed my opportunity to take pictures. I saw the camera on the counter, and decided not to take it.


Camera or not, I will forever remember my boys, eleven and six years old respectively, tromping alongside the creek with their sticks looking for frogs. Enjoying each other and enjoying the beautiful weather. Isaac, tromping through the woods, and coming out full of little sticky seeds all over his clothing. Then promptly stepping in the creek up to his ankles, and begging me please, can we stay? because it was an accident Mom!

Nathaniel, laying on a rock, diligently clearing leaves out of the waterfall so it will sound pretty Mom, and then realizing his actions always have consequences I didn't realize the water would start flowing so well, then ruin the little pond of still water where the frogs like to stay. Do you think they'll find a new place to hang out Mom?

I sat in my chair, soaking in the sun, reading my book between watching my boys be boys.

And you know what? I'm glad I missed my Sunday afternoon nap.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This book turned out to be nothing like I thought it would. The title, Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family From Disasters, implies a sort of self-help book, helping you prepare for such disasters as you may face in your part of the country.

The book is far more interesting than that. It does have information on what supplies to have on hand - but that information is in the appendix.

Apparently, I didn't pay enough attention to the Hurricane Katrina coverage, or I would have been familiar with the author, Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré. He became the 'face' of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Apparently, he was all over the news. He explains his official role and job title in the book.

Survival is more like Honoré's autobiography - with "Lessons Learned" at the end of each chapter. He is certainly confident in who he is, if perhaps a bit egotistical. But, he makes some interesting, and good, points, even if I don't necessarily agree with all of his "Lessons Learned."

There are several things I appreciate about this book. First, for a military newbie, he has a semi-understandable explanation of the difference between the National Guard and the Army. He mentions the Posse Comitatus Act several times, which limits what the Army can do on US soil. I point that out, because when I was watching season seven of 24, one of the characters mentions it, and I knew what he was talking about - which I wouldn't have if I hadn't been reading this book. The complicated structure of command is still a bit confusing for non-military people, but I have a better understanding of the difference.

Second, Honoré continually stresses a culture of self-reliance and preparedness. Preparing my family for disaster is my job, not my government's job. Preparing the community for disaster is the job of local government officials, not the federal government. Honoré makes this point when he describes touring southwest Louisiana with President Bush after Hurricane Rita.
"It was obvious from [the local mayors] conversation with [Bush] that they were expecting miracles from the federal government. He wasn't responsible for not having enough gasoline or generators or high-water vehicles. He wasn't responsible for their lack of planning." (pg 188)
Third, Honoré advocates a culture of planning ahead for disasters, instead of scrambling to respond to them.
"The present disaster response system is based on the "pull" model of operations. An event happens, local authorities ask for help, and that help is pulled into the area. We have to base our response more on the "push" model. If we see an event about to occur we push resources into the area ahead of it. ... It's a basic concept of good planning and preparation." (pg 195)
Honoré admits this costs more money, but if this model had been followed, Hurricane Katrina wouldn't have been so devastating to New Orleans. It is especially ludicrous that experts knew what kind of devastation a hurricane could bring to New Orleans, but local officials didn't prepare for it. A great many people have suffered because of their own lack of planning, and that of their local government.

It reminds me of the difference between 'responding' and 'reacting.' What we saw with Hurricane Katrina was a 'reaction' to a disaster, instead of a 'response' - at all levels. A response is more planned, less emotional. A reaction is quick, chaotic and emotional. I prefer to respond to people and circumstances, rather than react to them. So I could relate quite well to Honoré's points in his book.

I also realized that Glen and I have some work to do to make sure that our family is prepared for disasters we might face here in the Midwest. Thanks to Honoré's clear outline in Appendix 5, we have a good starting point.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Fall Days

We are serious about reading at our house!


Our neighborhood is not the best for trick-or-treating. Not many kids and the neighbors are far apart. For this reason, and a few others, we choose to take homemade treats to our immediate neighbors at Halloween. The children dress up in whatever costumes they can find around the house, and we go to four houses, carrying our cupcakes. They still get lots of candy from those four houses - and then we all go to Chuck E. Cheese for our annual outing there.

Isaac as a 'sheriff', Lydia as Mulan, Anna as Little Bo Peep, and Nathaniel - um, as himself.


This week, the older two have gotten into making "Homework Forts" in the living room during school.
They crawl in them and work on their school work while I read to the younger two.
Sometimes, I read to the younger two as they 'hide' in the forts with their siblings.
Today, I read to the older two while they 'hid' in their forts.

I love teaching my kids at home!

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