Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

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How To Cure Rosacea – You Can’t – But This Will Help!

This is the story of my ongoing battle with rosacea, including no-no’s, tips and tricks, and my before and after pictures.

Here is my “before” picture of me with rosacea, and without any makeup. This picture was taken recently when my rosacea was at its worst ever. I almost never went out in public like this. People did double takes on me. “Wow, you got really sunburned!” is what I hear and translate as, “Wow, you are really ugly!” Um, yeah, thanks.

Rosacea Before

Rosacea Before

My rosacea started in my 30’s. You can read stories online of people who have rosacea and how the awful redness, blotchiness, and pimples are nothing compared to the true and ultimate horror of growing the bulbous nose. W.C. Fields is often given as a prime example.

Here are some links to pictures from the National Rosacea Society:
https://www.rosacea.org/patients/allaboutrosacea.php
This one shows a couple of bulbous noses: https://www.rosacea.org/patients/faces.php

One trick I learned was to use a cover-up stick ALL OVER my face, not just over small problem areas, and then apply liquid base (you may call it foundation), and finally powder. It works pretty well, but feels heavy and I don’t like having this on my face for long hours at work.
Another trick I tried was to get sunburned. My face will peel and I will have a fresh set of skin, or I will tan over. Nope – don’t do it. You will only look like a nuclear bomb went off in the immediate vicinity.

Yet another trick I discovered was the green tinted makeup. Not Halloween makeup! It is very hard to find. You have to search grocery stores, drug stores, and the likes of Kmart or Walmart and you might find one item. I never found a green tinted base, but I did find a green tinted cover-up stick, and I applied my regular base and powder over this. The idea is that green and red make brown/tan. I thought I looked okay, but my husband told me I looked sick, literally green around the gills. But, I have tried this off and on over the years.

To give you an idea of green makeup and what I am talking about, I am including Amazon affiliate links if you are interested in giving green makeup a try. Perhaps you are better with makeup than I am.

Green Cover-Up Stick

Green Concealer

So finally, I went to a dermatologist. Cureable? No. What to avoid: Stress, coffee, caffeinated beverages, sun, wind, alcohol, spicy food, hot showers, hot tubs, hot baths. Bummer – I like all of those things, except for stress.

I was prescribed metrogel as a remedy. It is a gel you apply to your face. I can’t say I noticed a huge difference. But by today’s standards, my rosacea was still in its infancy so perhaps it worked better than I thought, or at least kept it from getting worse. I’m not sure.

I don’t recall how much the metrogel costs, but you do need a prescription for it. Here is a link to their site: https://www.metrogel.com/

At some point I ran out of metrogel and got sick of going to the dermatologist. So a few years pass and my face continues to redden. Back to the dermatologist who now recommended I get my face lasered.

The laser dermatologist recommended I do one side of my face so that I could see if it made a difference. I wish I had taken pictures. It is said that the laser feels like a rubber band snapping on your skin, but I say it feels like being sandblasted one small area at a time. You end up with a throbbing, aching pain, the kind of pain where you feel each heartbeat in your face. The pain goes away within half an hour or so. Ironically, you are left with a very red, sometimes bruised face. My doc admitted after seeing some dark, purple bruising, that the laser was “up too high” and he turned it down.

I was glad he suggested doing one cheek, because I did notice a difference, but probably wouldn’t have if he had done both cheeks.

The next treatment included both cheeks. I wised up and asked about my Rudolph nose. I thought I had one face, but in the dermatology world, you actually have two cheeks, one nose, one chin, and one forehead, all priced differently. I HATE that!!!! By the way, laser to the nose really, really, REALLY hurts!

I ended up doing the laser treatments 3 or 4 times and my cheeks are still lopsided to this day, but you can’t tell by looking. Laser is not covered by insurance and I found it to be too time consuming (long drive to the big city) and honestly I didn’t have the funds to be this vain. I want to say it was around $140 per cheek? I can’t quite remember, except that it was expensive. However, at the time I thought this was a permanent or at least a long lasting solution. It did make a big difference. I actually could and would go out in public without any makeup, and nobody looked twice or said anything. Unfortunately, this only lasted about 1-2 years.

After some time, and disgust, I thought I would try a new dermatologist. Said new doc was also a newbie doc. He recommended a sulfur cream. Unfortunately I don’t recall the prescription name, but I do recall smelling like sulfur all day, as well as smelling sulfur all day – it burned my nostrils. If it had worked, I would still reek of sulfur to this day.

Years and years pass. My face has become horribly, blotchy red, and now, the pimples . . . so superficial that they come off easily with a scrape of the fingernail. I went back to the first dermatologist. I arrive without makeup and see not only other patients doing a double take on me, but the receptionist herself. The doc took one look at me and said, “You’re a disaster! We can’t have you walking around looking like that!” I agreed.

Luckily, times had changed. He prescribed Soolantra twice daily and Doxycycline once daily. I’m not sure about the theory behind the antibiotic, but it is a low dose antibiotic, not something you would take for a typical infection. The difference was huge. It took about two weeks for me to see great results. I do have insurance so each visit cost me a $35 copay. The doxy was a couple of dollars, and one tube of Soolantra cost $60, which lasted around 3 weeks using it twice daily.

Rosacea Meds That Made A Difference For Me

Rosacea Meds That Made A Difference For Me

After some time, I saw my doc again and he wanted me to stop the pills and do the cream once daily. My “after” pic you see actually looks a pinch worse than when I was at my best with the full initial treatment.

So here are the results, before and after.

Rosacea Before

Rosacea Before

Rosacea After

Rosacea After

Funny enough, when I look at the “after” pic I think I don’t look so great, but in comparison to the before pic, I think, “Much Better!” Perhaps now that I know how bad it can get, I have lowered my standards and am more accepting of my “after” pic look. Maybe I will try some green makeup again.

If you suffer from rosacea, I hope this post helps you see that there is help. Please see a dermatologist. As an endnote, I would like to say I realize that people are suffering from much worse. The bigger lesson learned is to please think twice before you say things to strangers in public.

Wendy Knuth
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One Of The Most Perfect Gifts For A Toddler!

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Everyone has heard the adage of buying presents for children only to find out they prefer the box.  Well, from experience, it is true.  So today, my good friends, I am here to tell you about one of the most cherished gifts your child will get from you:  An item to bond with, to sleep with, a source of comfort, homemade with love.  Yes, you will beam with pride when other parents ask you, “Where did you buy that?”

From me to you:  Make a pillowcase!

Back in the day, I made a Teletubbies pillowcase for my son.  He loved it – he treasured it for a couple of years.  My other son was meanwhile enjoying the store bought 101 Dalmations bed set, just so you know he wasn’t neglected.

Go to your local store where materials are sold such as WalMart or JoAnns, and you will find a whole new world of options:  Animals of all types (real and cartoony), holiday themed prints, fairies, princesses, flowers, specific sports teams, and copyrighted Disney characters.  What did I find for my boys?  Dinosaurs and construction equipment galore.  Jackpot!

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Worried about your sewing skills?  Don’t be.  I’m not an expert seamstress.  Out of all the things one can sew, a pillowcase is probably one of the easiest, even if you don’t have a sewing machine.  If your work is not up to par, your child probably won’t notice.  But just in case, here is a handy tip from me to you:  Don’t sew ALL the edges together or you will be left with a pillowcase malfunction.  Handy tip #2 – buy a “travel pillow” – it is the perfect size for a toddler, and you’ll need even less material.

A yard of material is dirt cheap compared to your limited selection of pricey bed sets, and you can almost bank on the idea that toddlers don’t know that bedding should match, and really, why should it?  Where is the fun in that?  Live a little!

Alternatively, if you are “one of those people” and just can’t function without the matching set, you can take it a step further.  I actually made (er, um, yeah) dinosaur blankets.  Okay – I didn’t MAKE the blankets.  I bought really cheap blankets and then covered one side with dinosaur material and used a plain blue cheapo material on the other side.  In retrospect the plain blue material was more difficult to deal with since it was very stretchable.  Tip #3:  If sewing is not your thing – don’t buy anything too stretchy.

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My dinosaur blankets each have a large seam running down the middle because often material is sold in smaller widths than can cover an adult sized blanket – did my kids notice?  Nope!  However, after a couple of weeks, one son complained of something pointy in the blanket.  Oops – it turned out I had sewn in one of the pins I had used to keep the edges together.  Tip # 4:  (I think you get the point, yuk, yuk.)

That same young man is now an older teenager.  Out of the numerous pillowcases I made for him, he still has (in his closet) what is now an old, raggedy pillow with the construction print pillowcase.  He is not willing to part with it.  It is a keepsake of his.  Oh my gosh, how worth it is that?

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So pick a print, apply your skills and give the gift of a pillowcase!  Tip #5: Don’t forget to include a pillow.

Since you may not always be able to find what you are looking for at your local store, I am including some affiliate links for themed materials that are always available online:

Outer Space Fabric

Unicorns and Such

 
Tell me how it goes. . .

 

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

 

The 20 Year Old Cake, Part II – China/Platinum Anniversary

Presents

Let me tell you how things finally went down.  The old, bald guy had a bad day at work and was kind of grumpy.  He actually went grocery shopping.  While he was away, our boys & I ordered pizza.  I removed the cake which I had hidden in the refrigerator, unwrapped the aluminum foil and left it in a pile on the counter.  It was a big clue in plain sight.  It turns out the boys did know about the cake in the freezer.  I must have told them the story long ago.

So yes, there was a small slice missing.  One red candle went in the center.  I put out two presents.  Traditional rules for the 20 year anniversary say I should buy china.  More contemporary guidelines say one should buy platinum.  So I bought both.

chinaplat

After my initial cake blog, a friend on Facebook sent a “Happy Anniversary” Flintstones clip.  It has proven to be problematic in that I can’t get the song out of my head, even days later.

When hubby came home, the boys and I quickly helped out with the groceries, not letting him into the kitchen.  Then I waited at the computer until one of my boys said, “Now.”  He lit the candle and I pressed play on the music clip where Fred Flintstone and his buddies are singing and Barney is playing a Stoneway piano.

The Flintstones – Happy Anniversary clip

The old, bald guy walked into the kitchen and immediately lit up.  He laughed and then said “Where did you get the cake?”  I was kind of surprised.  Then he said “There’s a slice missing.”  He looked a little confused.  He was just not getting it.  I gave him a weird look, looked at the cake and then at the pile of aluminum foil, and looked back at him without saying a word.  He circled around and I saw a sudden look of recognition come over his face.

“Is that what I think it is?!”  Yes, I told him.  He laughed, and I mean hard, and then he said, “Thank God!  We can finally get rid of that thing!”  How romantic.

upcloseIMG_20160420_202538572_HDR

We both thought the cake was in remarkably good form.  The icing smelled like icing but when we touched the inside where the slice was missing, it felt really dry, like sand.  No, we didn’t eat any.

Hubby enjoyed his presents, the pizza came, and we watched our wedding video.  Our teenage boys had never seen it before.  Pretty weird to see how young everyone looked, including ourselves, and a lot of people have since passed away.  I was feeling sentimental and teary eyed here and there, but that quickly dissipated because boys will be boys and my 3 guys cracked a lot of weird jokes throughout.  Again, very romantic.

What happened to the cake?  Well, this cake is famous now.  I gave it a fresh wrapping of aluminum foil and back into the freezer it went.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies books

We Cut The Cord! No More Cable TV.

I have been complaining for quite some time about getting rid of cable tv, at least for over a year now.   Our bill has gone up, up, up, and so has our commercial viewing time.  Of course, the channel lineup has gone down, down, down.  Why are we paying more and more to watch at least twenty minutes of commercials per hour?  It’s a habit, folks.

I am surrounded by young-ens at my work.  They have no idea why us older folks would pay for cable or satellite tv.  The idea is foreign to them.  Even my own teens who live in the same house hardly ever watch cable tv.  Once, when us older folks were talking about a funny commercial, I actually heard a comment from a gal in her young twenties – “I don’t really see commercials anymore.”  Wait, WHAT!!??

For me, I have come to understand that I am addicted to a scroll bar.  Yes, the scrolling list of junk that is currently available and chock full of commercials.  It’s time to realize I just need to change my habits and so does my hubby, the old, bald guy.

So, we did it!  We cut the cord!  What have we discovered?  There is a lot of great stuff out there.  And, there is a pause button and a rewind bar in case you missed something.  Me personally?  I found that I was also addicted to having the tv on mostly for the white noise it provided.  I was so accustomed to a having programs fully loaded with commercials that my attention faded in and out.  I would often do things around the house during commercial breaks that would cause me to miss portions of programs I was actually interested in.  Why doesn’t the brain behind the program want my full attention?  Isn’t this a contradiction?

An analytical review about this dilemma led me to realize that I have been in an abusive relationship.   For instance, Dr. Phil wants me to watch his program however, he subjects me to more and more commercials, leaving me feeling hurt and unwanted.  Well, no more!  Since cutting the cord, the tables have been turned.  If you want me to watch your program, you had better make it available to me.  As this internet revolution of television grows, maybe one day Dr. Phil will beg me back, only to find I have moved on and developed new habits and healthy relationships with other suitors.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying a lot of Netflix, Rabbit TV Lite and a few other sites.  There are actually many programs available on YouTube.  We now search for these programs that get our full attention and most are sans commercials.  One annoying thing we have found – there is still abuse out there – numerous websites have enticing buttons that say “Watch Full Episodes” which turn out to be entirely untrue, again short clips advertising a longer program, which can’t even then be found.  Gee, thanks for wasting our time with your company logo attached.  Great business plan there, I’m sure we’ll visit again – NOT!

Our new dilemma?  Restricting bandwidth usage.  While our current cable bill is less than half of what it used to be (they provide our internet – can’t ever cut that cord!), our bandwidth usage has gone up, up, up.  So, we might have to upgrade our plan.  It seems we still haven’t gotten the best of the cable company.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies

MooreZombies.com

Thanksgiving – My Family’s Tradition of “Boo”

I blogged a pinch about this last year, but this is a much more in depth blog about the boo subject.  Here goes:

Every time I see a contest for a Thanksgiving story, I think of my grandmother who has long since passed away.  My family has an interesting tradition that stems from a Thanksgiving dinner many, many years ago.  We say “boo” after a good meal.  A good meal means that someone actually put some effort into cooking.  One might say “boo” after a meal they did not enjoy in a show of respect for the chef, however, one would certainly not say “boo” after a fast food meal.  Back in the day, there was no such thing as fast food as far as today’s meaning of the phrase.

The tradition started before I was born.  I have heard the origination story so many times that I feel as if I were there.  I was not.  Now that I think about, I have only ever heard the story from my mother’s perspective.  Yet, I was there for meals with my grandmother and family when we all said “boo” afterwards.  Only now do I wish I had heard perhaps a truer, closer to the source version from my grandmother’s own mouth.

I wrote a wonderful piece on the subject from my grandmother’s point of view.  Envision the daily life of a young mother in the 1950’s and all the differences between then and now, and all the similarities between then and now.  I can picture my mother as a young child at the time, who could not even fathom her own grandchildren as she knows them today who live to carry on this tradition, much in the same way that my children can’t hardly imagine their own children yet to come, let alone grandchildren who perhaps will say “boo” one day after a home cooked meal, maybe a Thanksgiving meal.

As I introduce you to the slightly more dramatic version of this tale, I hope you think of your family’s past, present, and future, and revel in your own family traditions!  Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy. . .

 

Listen To What I Hear

Pay attention.  Listen to what I hear.  I took pride in my craft.  I slaved all day with no help, no offers of help.  I expressed my affection through my work.  My loved ones gathered around, and took part in this, the most intimate of family traditions, a holiday known most for family gatherings and for a day of thanks.  No compliments were heard, no thanks, no giving on anyone’s part but mine.  I was waiting, just waiting for even the smallest something.

As the last family member left the table, save for myself, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was ired by their rudeness.  I heard a voice coming from myself expressing in a disappointed and loud voice the same words I was feeling: “I worked hard all day for this fine meal before you and no one even said boo!”

My family was just as shocked by my reaction as I was by their non-reaction.  The children eyed each other, eyed me, and then eyed their father nervously.  My husband, at first, looked surprised.  His perplexed expression relaxed, and slowly turned to adorement.  A faint smile slowly crept upon his face.  He then said “boo” in the nicest, most loving way.  My children giggled in the moment and also said “boo”, each in turn.

It was the smallest something.  But really it was greater than that.  From resentment and compassion was born this family tradition:  A gift of folklore to the family, from the family, for the family.  My legacy?  Perhaps.  I am no longer here, and yet, this old soul lives on. Boo. It is what you would expect this old ghost to say, but it is what I hear.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books.  MooreZombies.com

Moore Zombies Picture Books Are For All Ages!!

Moore Zombies CoverGimme Noodle Front Cover

Why Placing An Age Range On Picture Books Doesn’t Quite Make Sense

Hello all.  And I mean all!  I don’t care what your age is in the human spectrum of life.  If you are reading to and with children, then a specified age range for a book implies limitations that just shouldn’t be.  This is why I HATE placing an age range on my Moore Zombies books.  Plug, plug.

I am a strong believer in early reading.  When my children were young, I read to them early and often.  Yes, you may enjoy the words and the pictures, but don’t forget about cuddling, bonding, learning, teaching, feeling proud, giggling, etc.  This can be between adult and child, between older child and younger child, or even between children of the same age.  Everyone has fun.

You can’t tell me that a toddler doesn’t read.  Maybe they can’t interpret the letters, but they are certainly taking it all in.  In a way, isn’t that reading?  Don’t we read situations?  Don’t we read people’s emotions?  There is no lettering involved there.

My mom has a story about how proud my brother’s babysitter was about teaching him to read a Dr. Seuss book.  After she left, my brother read the whole book out loud, over and over, without the book.  My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the babysitter.  Somewhere, I have footage of my young son reading a book that was upside down.  However, he had all of the words memorized, and I mean correctly for each page.  I’ve seen online footage of other young kids reading an upside down book.  How cute!!  This is definitely a form of early reading.

As an author, I enjoy placing things in my picture books (meaning wording and pictures) for adults and children, because I know they will be read by both.  So how can I classify my picture books as being intended for ages 3-5 or 4-8 when in reality they are for ages baby to senior.  The years pass quickly, so grab a picture book and read to, or with your kids.  I highly recommend Moore Zombies!

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies Picture Books & Chapter Books

Skewed Advertising, Cell phones / Smart Phones & Screaming Deals

We will get to cell phones in a moment or two, depending on how fast you can read.  But first, let me give you an example of skewed advertising.  Right now, I want you to picture a pair of prescription glasses.  What pops into your mind?  For those of us who have impaired eyesight, we can tell you why your picture is not quite right.

It turns out that a pair of prescription glasses is actually 3 parts: the frames, lens number one, and lens number two.  If you would like to upgrade to scratch resistant, low glare, transition lenses, lightweight, etc., you will pay more.  Seriously?

What about shopping for homes?  New home buyers might think they will pay only the quoted principal and interest price per month.   Not only will property tax and insurance add much to your payment, but you find out about all sorts of processing and document fees.   Those are my favorite kinds of fees.  In fact my husband and I recently bought a used car from a sales lot.  Luckily, we were eligible and fortunate enough to participate (again) in the non advertised processing fee and document fee program.  I think I’m going to start a club.

Let’s talk cell phones.  I found a screaming deal!  And after all has been said and done, I assure you, in my opinion (back off lawyers), it IS a screaming deal!!!  I wish I could say I get a kick back or some sort of payment for my testimonial.  I don’t.  Do I want to pay it forward?  Sure.  Do I want there to be an eventual repercussion on those engaged in skewed advertising?  Yes!!!  Hopefully it will lead to either a lowering of rates, a true reflection of the actual cost involved, or both.

Backstory:  Kids wanted cell phones.  Mom (me) & Dad, (the old bald guy) owned dinosaur flip phones with old school texting for a “low” monthly payment of approximately $60 per month through “major” carrier.  Last Christmas I bought my boys pay-as-you-go cell phones with slide open keypads.  I thought it would be the highlight of their presents.  My boys were thoroughly unimpressed.  They weren’t smart phones. They went mostly unused. . . A waste of money.

So, the talk of the next couple of months was how to get smart phones for the whole family.  My boys and I checked into plans and found some deals.  A lot of major carriers offer some sort of family plan.  Screaming deals!!  So we ran the numbers and finally decided to go with a certain carrier.  I actually went online and started adding things to “my cart”.  The numbers went horribly awry.  The plan was a great deal, but oh, you actually want line access with that?  Um, yes, I would like for the phones to work.  Well, then, that is a different situation.  The stated family plan with phones and plan, and line access was now more than double than the advertised deal.  It turns out that cell phone usage is like buying glasses. There are 3 parts: the phone, the plan, and the line access.  You need all 3 for it to work.

So we checked out a second major carrier who also advertised a screaming deal.  Nope, same problem.  We checked into a third major carrier.  Again, same thing.  Note how I am not naming names.

I can’t figure out why companies pay huge bucks for advertising and for advertising campaigns that just aren’t as advertised.  A company should be creating a feel good, win-win relationship with a customer.  Why in the world would you advertise a price point that you know is not true for the service to work, and set up a resentful relationship with your customer?  I really don’t get it.  Hint, hint.

My quest continued.  I start asking around at work.  What type of cell phone do you own?  What do you like and not like about your cell phone?  Who is your carrier?  Is your service good?  How much do you pay per month?  They are only too happy to answer my questions but I don’t like their answers when it comes to the cost.  As the months go by, my coworkers become annoyed with me.  They can’t believe that in my downtime I am still online looking for a screaming deal.  There just aren’t any.  When will I wake up?

But wait.  I came across a great article.  The link is at the bottom of this blog post.  I researched the plans and decided to go with Republic Wireless for three of us and a separate plan for the old, bald guy who had different needs cell phone wise.  My sons and I are almost always under the wonderful veil of Wifi service either at home, work, or school.  I had to purchase 3 smart phones up front.  I believe they were around $150 each.  Maybe this is part of the way they make money, I don’t know.  They are not the latest and greatest, but they are smartphones, and you can only use the Republic Wireless plan with certain phones.  We did not “port in” our numbers, which means we got new phone numbers.

I didn’t pick the cheapest plan, which is Wifi only at $5.00 per month.  You can make 911 calls outside of Wifi.  I upgraded myself and the kids to the $10 per month plan which includes text and calls over 3G outside of Wifi.  You can upgrade to include gigs if you want.  They now even have a refund program where you receive money off of your bill for not using your gig allowance if you are on that plan.

The part I am DYING to get to:  My monthly bill is $33, including taxes for all three lines.  The fine print?  It is actually in the same size type as all of the rest.  Republic Wireless has a page about how much you will pay in taxes.  There is no line access fee, no skewed advertising in my opinion.  How refreshing!  That is why the $10 per month option I chose X 3 lines of service, plus taxes equals $33.00.

This is a two part plan.  One, buy a phone, two, pay for service.  That’s it.  Really, truly, A SCREAMING DEAL!  Don’t believe me?  Neither does anyone else.  I tell my friends and coworkers about what I finally decided upon and tell them the cost.  The looks on people’s faces would be the same as if I told them about last night’s alien abduction experience.  One coworker even stated, “Well, you really don’t know until you receive your fist bill.”  Another victim of being used to having to pay at least 100% more than advertised per month for that “monthly deal”.

No, really.  My monthly bill, again, including taxes is $33 per month for 3 lines of service.  I have had the service for several months, I have received the bills, and yes, it’s true.  Check it out!

Meanwhile, speaking of screaming deals, don’t forget to download the free ebook Moore Zombies: The Search for Gargoy.  Available online at major retailers for free (Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NUMLXB0 ), or go to http://www.MooreZombies.com

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

 

Article on deals for cell phones:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375644,00.asp

 

 

Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Open Letter to Michelle Obama:

Okay folks, this is not about politics, and I’m certainly not going to reveal mine, but I do have a few words to say about sports and snack time.  In this regard, I feel if my message could go straight to the top, to someone who is trying to make this nation healthier with her Let’s Move Initiative, then maybe more attention will be drawn to my plan, and perhaps it could actually be implemented.  I would love to help Mrs. Obama out in this area with a simple, but great idea.

So here we go.  Attention parents and/or coaches (football, soccer, baseball, t-ball, basketball, etc. and so forth and so on) regarding snack time for post practice and for post games – Get Rid of It!!!!!

That’s it.  Easy enough, right?  Back in my day, I played soccer in elementary school.  For our weekly game, one parent was designated to bring a half time snack.  Soccer, as well as other sports, involves a lot of running.  Did we need a half time pick-me-up?  Yes.  It was called oranges.  There was always a large plastic bag of sliced up oranges, and we also drank water.  There was never any variation.  Week after week, our only half time option was oranges.  If you wanted something after the game, you could eat more oranges, and we did.  Do oranges have sugar?  Yes, of course, but at least you get some fiber.

When I became a parent and my children entered the world of sports, I was surprised at the weekly schedule of a post practice snack.  And, while a healthy snack schedule was incorporated for half time during games (apples, oranges, bananas), there was also a post game snack schedule.  What would parents buy?  Junk, absolute, complete junk.  Me?  Guilty.  The cheapest and easiest things to buy in bulk are junky snack items and questionable “fruit” drinks.  If you read the fine print on many of these drinks they claim to be 10% fruit juice.  At least they are honest.

A parent and I had a conversation about this once.  She had told her father about snack time and he was abhorred.  Great job, kids! You played hard, you exercised, you burned some calories, here’s a bag of sugar.  This parent and I joked about substituting a multivitamin in the place of a snack.  Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.

There are other issues, also.  Believe me, parents know when to schedule the feeding of their children.  You look at practice and game times and determine whether a meal should take place before or after, or if a child needs a snack of the parent’s choosing beforehand.  Often times, my child was all sugared up just before dinner, leaving my other child wondering why he didn’t get the same junk.

How widespread is this practice?  When did it come into play?  I’m not sure.  I hope it’s not countrywide.  Tell me your sports practices.  I would also like to know if professional athletes wrap up their game with a bag of cookies or chips and a sugar drink.

Do we need a federal mandate to ditch this practice?  No.  We need a vote, perhaps at the very first team meeting.  Parents and coaches, please mull this over.  In the meantime, I would just love for Michelle Obama to read this so that she could bring national attention to this sugary situation.  Call me!

Wendy Knuth,

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books.

What Did You Do With Your Christmas Tree and Did It Involve The Fire Department?

So there we were.  Post Christmas and what to do with the Christmas Tree.  I have to tell you that when we first get the tree I am really good with watering it.  I am always amazed at how much water a Christmas tree can drink in the first few days, but as time goes by, it drinks less and less, until there is no loss in water in base at all.  The needles go from soft and pliable to bone dry and brittle.

My husband has numerous stories of burning a Christmas tree and convinces me that it goes quickly and that is an amazing sight.  For some reason, after numerous year of marriage, he decides we will burn the Christmas tree in the yard this year.  Yes, we have a big yard.  No, I have never seen a Christmas tree burn before.

So we happen to have this weird, old, wood burning stove thing with a vent in the top that has been outside since we bought our house.  My husband places the Christmas tree into the vent hole, so now the base of the tree is about four feet off the ground.  Please add 6 feet for the Christmas tree just to adjust your visual picture of this situation.

The old, bald guy takes a match to tree.  Oh my, wow, holy moly.  I watch as the fire catches quickly and burns up one side of the tree, crackling and popping as it goes.  Once the flame reached the top of tree, a HUGE fireball rolled off and went up, up, up, I swear maybe twenty to thirty feet.  Small cinders and ashes are raining down on our immediate neighbor’s home to the north, where the wind took it.  My husband had the forethought of having a hose ready and starts spraying the tree with water.  I’m thinking this is not good, this is dangerous, I’m sure that neighbor would not appreciate this.  Did I mention that we were new to the neighborhood?

So my hubby is putting out the fire, and doing a good job, except I’m still concerned about all the little cinders possibly igniting a fire in the aforesaid neighbor’s yard.  Hubby assures me he is looking around at the neighbor’s yard and making sure that nothing will happen, with hose in hand.  A little time passes, and he is sure all is well, so now it is time to continue with burning the other side of the tree.  Yes, one side of the tree actually did not burn and it is time to finish the job.

Next thing we know, we hear a siren.  I am sure it is for us.  I tell my husband I hope you know that siren is for us.  He blows me off like I am an idiot, a complete idiot.   It is a coincidence.  The neighbors to the west pop up in their upstairs window and yell to us – you scared the heck out of us, we saw the huge fireball and thought your house was on fire.  So then, of course, another siren is heard.  My husband starts to put two and two together while the neighbors do the same and yell with amusement at our expense “here comes the Fire Department!”  And even then, we hear a third siren.

My husband goes into defense mode and says “let’s go inside.  Turn off the lights!!!”  We see a fire engine going down the next street, slowly as if looking for something.  I explain to him that they are most definitely looking for us and we should come clean because every single neighbor will point to our house and then we look really bad.

So at this point there is a fire engine coming slowly down our street and hubby realizes he needs to fess up and goes out to greet them.  He tells them he lit the Christmas tree on fire.  Their first question is did we have a permit?  This question is actually a rouse, because where we live there is no such thing as an after dark fire permit.  (We learned this afterwards.)  My husband apologizes and asks if he is going to be the idiot in tomorrow’s newspaper.  They assure him that he will not, as long as he does not continue with the stupidity.  Now, we live in a small town, or at least it was at the time, so I am kind of surprised that a 3 engine response did not gain the press that it should have.

I have fond memories of the half burned Christmas tree that sat in our yard for months.  Our town now has a wonderful recycling program for Christmas trees which we take advantage of every year, perhaps brought on by pyromaniacs like us.  It was an interesting way to meet some of our new neighbors.  And I hate to say, I would like to see, some day,  what it would have looked like if the whole tree had gone up!!!