Manners Make the Meal

No matter how hard we strived for pleasantness at mealtime, our four children, aged three, four, six, and ten, managed to make it a time of confusion, frustration, and noise—in short, disaster time.

So father and mother held a conference and developed a plan that has produced one hundred percent improvement. First, we established some basic rules:

1. No children (except helpers) are allowed in the kitchen during meal preparation. This eliminates the frustrations caused by whining, hungry children.

2. No one is called to the meal until all the food is on the table and we are ready to eat.

3. No one can leave the table until all are finished eating. (Children seem to eat more of what they should when they know they can’t hurry outside to play.)

4. Even the youngest child is encouraged to help himself. (This seems to eliminate the impatience of waiting for food and then not receiving the right helpings.)

5. At least one meal each week is served on best dishes with a beautifully decorated table.

Next, we devoted four family home evenings to improving table behavior, and had the children participate. These were our lesson plans:

First week—manners. This was taught partly by role playing. One child took the part of a rude child who grabbed and shouted; another was a well-mannered child who said please and thank you. We learned how to use our silverware correctly, to fold our napkins, to be patient, and to compliment the cook and table setter.

Second week—table setting. Our oldest gave a flannelboard demonstration of a correct table setting, using paper cutouts. Then each of us drew a table setting on paper. We hung them in the kitchen to help the children remember how to set the table.

Third week—mealtime conversation. We discussed pleasant topics of conversation we could use at the table. The children could tell of an experience during the day, or we could discuss some pleasant news item in terms the children could understand. Mom and dad would no longer carry on adult conversation which excluded the children.

Fourth week—reward and review time. We had improved in table manners and mealtime atmosphere so much that we planned a trip to a restaurant to show off our new capabilities. In addition, I prepared a flip chart of vegetables and fruits, a play on words to remind the children of what they had learned. We reviewed it in the car during the ride to the restaurant: Penelope Potato is polite; Cathy Corn makes pleasant conversation; Samuel Squash uses silver properly; Nancy Nuts uses her napkin nicely; and Paul Peas and Tommy Tomato say please and thank you.

We seldom have to remind our children to behave at the table now, because when mealtime becomes fun, the unpleasantness naturally disappears. It has also inspired me to provide better and more attractive meals, and mealtime has become a special family get-together time for us. Carolyn Christensen, Sandy, Utah

Illustrated by Julie F. Young

I Exercise While We Play

After our third baby was born, I began to notice that my girlish figure was not so girlish anymore. In fact, when the baby was three months old, I was still wearing maternity clothes. What could be more depressing?

I had faithfully followed an exercise routine during pregnancy, but after the baby was born it seemed I just didn’t have time for myself any more. The routine regressed to a couple of quick situps each morning before I hurried off to start the laundry or bathe the baby. And even then I felt guilty that I couldn’t spend more time playing with and enjoying my children. I fell into bed each night exhausted, and my body felt absolutely gluggy.

I knew that jogging seemed to be the answer for many. But how does a mother jog with three preschoolers hanging onto her skirts? I thought about getting up earlier, but my husband and I were already getting up earlier to read scriptures, and to get up earlier than earlier meant braving the cold winter mornings in the dark. I knew I’d never make it. There was, of course, the possibility of jogging at night after the children were asleep. But again, that often meant going out in the dark, which seemed neither inviting nor safe.

I tried jogging around the playpen. Literally. But do you know how many times you have to go around the playpen to equal one mile? I got dizzy.

Next I watched our five-month-old lying on her back and then on her stomach, kicking her feet and waving her arms for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time without stopping, and I decided to try that. I lay down on my stomach on the floor and swam, kicking my feet and waving my arms like she did. I lasted one minute and thirty seconds. But while I lay there recuperating, an idea was born.

I remembered the children’s activity records (available through record stores) that I had previously purchased for my little nursery school students. They had been great for getting the wiggles out on rainy days. My own children enjoyed them too. If the activities on those records could wear out those active little bodies, I thought, they would most certainly provide a challenge to my flabby one.

“Come on, kids,” I called, “let’s play your records.” They were delighted. They always enjoyed their games and records more if mom played with them.

The first record we chose was “Train to the Zoo.” Just try sitting on the floor with your legs in front of you, and moving across the floor while rotating your arms like train wheels. That takes energy! And I found an exercise to imitate every animal in the zoo. By the time we got “back on the train” and scooted across the floor again, I knew I had challenged my heart and lungs—and my children thought I was just playing with them! We also went through “Train to the Farm” and “The Circus Comes to Town.” Both challenged every muscle in my body.

I used to think I was too tired to exercise, but I have found that exercising with my children actually relieves aching muscles and tension headaches, in addition to improving muscle tone. Afterward, I’m ready to attack my housework with enthusiasm, the children are content to play by themselves for a while, and we are all in better physical shape. Geri Brinley, Ogden, Utah

A Year’s Supply of Greeting Cards

Once each year a friend of mine buys all the birthday cards she’ll need for that year and stamps and addresses them. Then at the beginning of each month she pulls from her file the ones to be mailed that month, writes appropriate notes in them, and mails them. No more last-minute running to the store for cards, and no more forgotten birthdays! (The idea could be expanded to include seasonal cards—bought at discount prices after the holiday—as well as wedding, shower, get-well cards, etc.) Another facet of personal preparedness. Susan Turnbull, Portland, Oregon

Conserving Your Cutouts

Would you like flannel-board figures that are durable, even among a family of little children? Put a page of cutouts face down on your ironing board and cover it with a square of iron-on interfacing. Iron at medium heat. Then you can cut out the figures or, for added protection, cover them with clear plastic adhesive paper before cutting. Little fingers won’t smudge them, and the stiff figures will hold well to the flannel board. Janis Broadbent, Spanish Fork, Utah

Make Your Own Storm Windows

Three years ago I decided I had to do something about the low thermal efficiency of our home and the ever-increasing fuel bills. Taking a close look at the windows, I realized they were the cold spots. By putting my hand against the wall just below the window sill, I could feel a down draft of cold air.

I had heard a lot about thermo-pane windows, but I decided there must be an easier and less expensive way than replacing the existing single-pane windows.

I planned a plastic-covered frame that would fit into the window casing inside the house. This frame would be surrounded with foam rubber, which would both form a seal and hold the frame in place: easy to put up, easy to take down.

I purchased enough ten-mill clear plastic to cover my windows, one quart of stain, two six-foot sheets of one-inch by thirty-inch foam rubber padding, and two quarts of contact cement. I already had enough pine-board strips to make the frames. (Since then I have discovered that an ideal wood size can be obtained by cutting two-by-fours into one-inch strips.) Then I constructed the frames, leaving a clearance of about 5/8 to 3/4 inch all the way around them for the one-inch thickness of foam rubber which was to be cemented to the outside edges. This actually made the overall dimensions of the frame 1 1/4–1 1/2 inches smaller than the dimensions of the opening into which it was to fit.

I glued and doweled the frames together, later finding that I could have substituted corner pieces for dowels, saving a little time and expense. For the larger windows, I placed a vertical brace made of the same size material into the center of the frame to give it extra strength. Next, I stained the frames, except for the outside edges where the foam rubber was to be glued. I then placed them on a table, carefully stretched the plastic over them, and stapled it down. It takes a little practice to stretch the plastic evenly into place, leaving no “waves”; some restapling may be necessary now and then. Next I cut the foam rubber into strips and cemented the strips to the outside perimeter of the frames.

I then cut more wood strips, stained them, and nailed them to the frame over the plastic. This not only secured the plastic to the frame, but I found I could staple another plastic sheet to those strips, nail on another set of strips over that, and have a double thermal barrier. My daughter appreciated that in her room. (See picture 1.)

For some windows—especially bathroom, laundry, or kitchen—ventilation may be desirable: This is possible by inserting within the frame two horizontal wood strips about six inches apart, into which another frame is set. This smaller inset frame is connected to the lower horizontal wood insert by a simple hinge—a strip of denim or light canvas, glued the full width of the horizontal strip. (See picture 2.) I screwed a simple wood latch to the top horizontal strip and a wood stop on each top corner of the ventilating frame. We open the ventilating frame, letting it hang down, and reach in to open the main window. This allows only a small opening, but on a cold winter day it is quite sufficient.

At the top of each storm window I write the room into which it will go. On each plastic pane I stick a small “Do not touch” sign because the plastic might stretch from too much pressure. (I have to admit, though, that this brings about the same response as a “wet paint” sign.)

Touching the plastic should also be avoided because cleaning off finger marks is a delicate job.

Installing the storm windows is easy. Push them in first at the top, and then, with one continuous motion, push up and in at the bottom. That’s all. The foam rubber makes an airtight seal, and it compresses enough to make room for the fingers, whether inserting or removing the window.

Before storing them, I drive a two-inch nail through the foam rubber and slightly into the wood at each end of the bottom of the frame. The nails support the frame, keeping the weight off the foam rubber so that it will not compress during storage and lose its resiliency. Then I lean the frames against the basement wall with a piece of plywood in front of them for protection. I also drape a sheet over the top to protect them from dust. (The nails are easily removed before mounting the storm windows.)

Our patio has a thermo-pane door, but since a lot of heat is lost through its aluminum frame, I am in the process of building a wooden frame for it also. Since there is no window casing around the existing frame into which to press my wooden frame, I will cement the foam rubber to the bottom of my frame so that it will seal against the floor, and then to the three faces of the frame that will seal against the existing door trim. Then I will screw my frame to the trim; with care and a light touch the screws can be replaced in the same holes year after year. I’ll cover the lower three feet of the door frame with plywood, since plastic too close to the floor would be easily damaged by routine housecleaning or children at play. (See picture 3.)

These storm windows are easy to make, efficient, and economical. Since they are installed on the inside of the house, they do not become weather beaten and should last indefinitely. Besides conserving energy, they have also made our home more comfortable by maintaining a more even heat.

Illustrated by Ron Boldt

Picture 1. I was able to create a double thermal barrier by adding another sheet of plastic and another set of wood strips to the basic window.

Picture 2. In windows where I need ventilation I installed a small frame within the storm window, hinged with light canvas. When we open the small frame we can also reach through it and open the main window.

Picture 3. For doors with no recess to fit the frame into, such as a patio door, I cemented foam rubber to the bottom of the frame and to the three faces of the frame that fit against the trim. When I screw the frame into place a seal is formed that keeps cold air out. Then I cover the bottom portion of the frame with plywood, to keep children’s feet or other objects from going through the plastic.

On Storing Milk

Dry milk may be stored up to one year at a temperature of seventy degrees Fahrenheit, or for two years at forty degrees. Storage areas for most foods should be cool, dark, dry, and ventilated. Noninstant milk retains its flavor and stores better than instant milk. If you purchase dry milk in fifty-pound bags, repackage it in smaller, moisture-proof containers of metal or glass that will hold one- to four-weeks’ supply. Five-gallon cans also make good storage containers if the lids fit tightly, keeping out insects and moisture. Milk will not keep as long at higher temperatures, so do not store it by the furnace or in a warm room. Dry milk in glass bottles should not be exposed to fluorescent lights, as they hasten rancidity.

At forty degrees Fahrenheit and lower, canned evaporated milk will keep up to one year. Turn the cans (or the whole case) over each month. If the milk in a can appears lumpy and watery due to separation of solids, do not throw it away. Shake the can vigorously and it may become smooth again. (Canned milk gets a strong flavor and dark color during long periods of storage. Don’t use it if it has been stored much longer than a year and shows considerable quality loss.)

In a good food storage program, all foods are rotated in normal usage, and new case lots or cans are added as the older ones are used. To store nonfat dry milk just in case of an emergency instead of constantly using and rotating the supply is wasteful. The quality slowly deteriorates during storage time. LaVell Turner, La Verkin, Utah (former instructor in Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University)

Illustrated by Michael Rogan