The Single-Sock Blues

Is there a household that doesn’t fight the battle of the bulging sock box? In my box are dozens of mismatched and holey socks that I have accumulated over twenty-two years of family life—they seem to reproduce themselves when I leave them alone. But the problem would be much worse if I hadn’t discovered some ways to keep the sock box contents under control.

Odd Sock Up

It is surprising how many loose socks will turn up in snow boots, under beds, or in closets when you offer a reward of a penny a sock. Try a sock hunt every so often, but be forewarned: after a few rounds of this game, one begins to suspect that the children are now saving socks for the penny-sock hunt!

Another remedy is to invite your neighbors to your house for a “Great American Sock Exchange.” Put your single socks on a large table and have your neighbors bring over their clean, single socks. Everyone can return home with several matched pairs plus the bonus of a visit. (It’s not uncommon to find several mates during these exchanges because you probably shop at the same stores, and some of the socks were left by their kids after a slumber party anyway.)

If you just can’t find mates for socks, there are many ways to use the “orphans.” Cotton socks make great disposable cleaning mitts. A dab of furniture polish on a soft sock makes a good dusting mitt, and washing crystal chandeliers and dusting furniture with sock mitts are a snap.

Make hand puppets from socks by attaching artificial eyes, nose, mouth, and ears that you have purchased or made from felt. Make the puppet “talk” by inserting your hand into the sock so that the four fingers in the toe form the upper lip and the thumb in the heel becomes the lower jaw.

Recycled Socks

Perhaps your problem is not single socks, but holey ones. Socks can be recycled by cutting off the tops of colored socks with a tight weave to use as cuffs for coats, shirts, mittens, or children’s pajamas. Cut the tops from the socks, fold them in half, and sew the right sides of the cuff and sleeve together.

The tightly woven tops of knee-hi’s make leg warmers for little girls.

Nylon panty hose can be recycled in several different ways. When camping, you can put a bar of soap in a discarded hose leg and tie it to the water tap to keep the soap from getting in the dirt. Nylons cut into three-inch squares make good stuffing for handicraft items.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best solution to sock problems, of course, is prevention. Pinning mates together before laundering cuts losses as well as saves time sorting and folding. Buying several pairs of socks in the same style and color helps, too. When socks are worn out or lost, you can still mate the remainders.

After you have tried as many ways to reduce the size of your sock box as you care to, the best tip of all is to throw away the socks that you know you will never use.Kaylene A. Griffin, Logan, Utah

“Star of the Day”

When my husband and I had our first baby, we decided we should make things as equal as possible for each of our children. But several years later, we found that our five children were becoming very competitive and were demanding the same privileges at the same time as their brothers and sisters. Trying to be fair exhausted us. We realized that matters would only get worse as our family grew. Equally disturbing was the fact that we realized we were trying to homogenize four unique individuals.

Things changed when we decided to designate one of our children, on a rotating basis, as “Star of the Day.” On a child’s “star” day, he or she gets to—

  1. 1.

    Sit in the front seat when we travel in the car.

  2. 2.

    Answer the telephone.

  3. 3.

    Help with meal preparation and dishes.

  4. 4.

    Run errands, such as getting the mail.

  5. 5.

    Say family prayer in the morning and lead us in a scripture and a song.

In addition to these privileges, at night we all gather and take turns telling what we like about that day’s star. The star also gets to tell what he or she likes best about himself or herself.

“Star of the Day” was easy to implement, and it has brought bounteous rewards. Not only has it helped us to establish more harmony in our home, it has also helped the children to feel that they are important members of our family.Lori Naef Schall, Tehachapi, California

“What Do I Say to Someone Who Is Dying?”

Several years ago I found that I had cancer. The diagnosis turned my life upside down: I had to quit a rewarding job at a children’s hospital and endure endless painful tests and treatments. Though many people were concerned and wanted to help, I found that many of them felt uncomfortable and unsure of just what they could or should do. So, based on my experience, here are several things you should consider when you are wondering how best to serve a terminally-ill person.

Find out what the family really needs before you inundate them with lemon pie. A life-threatening disease takes time to deal with, so give the person and his or her family a chance to adjust. Perhaps they won’t need assistance at first, but do let them know that you care.

Check with the person or family to see what kind of service will be most helpful. I appreciated those people who were willing to give of themselves—to truly visit with me, give me hugs, and cheer me on.

When you visit, be yourself and treat the terminally ill person normally. Many people were at a loss for words when they came to see me. But I was still the same person as I was the day before I was diagnosed. I still had the same basic needs for love, understanding, acceptance, and support as before—but I needed those gifts even more.

I know that people meant well when they asked me how long I had or tried to “reassure” me with “Well, you know where you’ll be going.” What they didn’t know was that I was fighting to live! I didn’t want sympathy; I wanted strength and encouragement.

I also wanted and needed to know what was happening around me and to still feel part of it all. I wanted to share in my friends’ and family’s feelings and concerns just as I always had.

Share your sense of humor. Laughter really is good medicine. After lying in the cesium unit for many long days, unable to move and isolated in a bare room behind closed lead-lined doors, I felt like a prisoner convicted of a crime I didn’t commit. It was then that our oldest daughter came to visit. She sat down behind the lead screen that separated us and proceeded to take off her boots and socks. She slipped her socks on her hands and pretended they were puppets and spoke through them. I laughed for the first time in months. That simple act brightened my outlook instantly.

Don’t forget to share home teaching and visiting teaching messages with the terminally-ill person. I enjoyed feeling the love of my home and visiting teachers, but I particularly liked hearing their monthly messages. I needed the spiritual uplift of sharing gospel ideas, particularly since I often wasn’t able to make it to church meetings.

You might also want to consider taking the patient audiotapes of Relief Society, priesthood, or Sunday School lessons or even spending some time reading and discussing the scriptures with him or her.

There are many things you can do to support a terminally ill person. The keys to success are to be yourself, treat the person as normally as possible, and tailor your service to meet the person’s needs.Emily Farmer, Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia

Home Evening Scripture Parties

To reward our efforts and emphasize what we are learning from our Book of Mormon study program, we celebrate with a family home evening scripture party whenever we finish reading a book or a group of smaller books. We give the party the name of the finished section. We have had, for example, a “First and Second Nephi Party,” an “Alma Party,” and a “Mosiah Party.”

During our parties, we play a question-and-answer game that focuses on the section we have just completed. We vary the difficulty of the questions so that everyone—from Mom and Dad down to our two-year-old—can enjoy the game. We also vary the teams: Mom and Dad might play against the children or we may challenge another family in the ward who is also reading the Book of Mormon. We’ve even included Grandma and Grandpa and the full-time missionaries.

We conclude each party by discussing our favorite parts of that particular section, then previewing the book or section we will read next.

The whole affair is simple; making up the questions is the most time-consuming part. But the idea of having a party creates a lot of enthusiasm among our children for scripture reading, and the actual event helps us all review and remember what we have learned.Brenda Hulse Burr, Las Vegas, Nevada

[photos] Photography by Craig Dimond