High tea: Tips for throwing your own tea party


By Rebecca Long Pyper

The forecast is promising sunshine, and the flowers are blooming — it’s the perfect time to celebrate the women in your life with a quintessentially girly tea party. Using found items and second-hand steals, you can craft a memorable get-together, even on a budget. Follow these tips to come up with ideas that will work for your own spring soiree:

>> Just because it’s called a “tea” party doesn’t mean you have to stick with the namesake beverage. Choose a fruity slush (try the raspberry-lemonade slush recipe below) or simply serve water with lemon slices.

Or don’t even serve a special drink at all; instead, serve cupcakes in the teacups — they’ll function as décor and refreshment in one. Pick up teacups on the cheap at thrift stores; those without matching saucers can be found for around 50 cents.

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Classes offered through Bingham Memorial Hospital

Bingham Memorial Hospital offers classes covering many topics; the full list is included here:

Consequences of Alcohol

Substance Abuse and Drug Addiction

Anger Management (Adults, Teens, Young Adults)

Smoking Cessation

Discipline With Love and Logic (Parenting Class)

Divorce and Single Parenting


Financial Management

Super Sitters

Nutrition for a Leaner, Healthier You

Coping With Loss

Know Your Stuff

Prepared Childbirth

Sibling Class

Phlebotomy 101



Bingham also offers these workshops:


Anger Management

Spiritual Journey

Coping with Loss

On the Job Stress

Spend Time Where It Counts

Keep Your Cool

Life’s Worth Living

Whole Person Wellness

Creative Compromise

The ABCs Of Stress


For more information, call 785-3820 for a 24-hour message service or 201-3444 after 5 p.m.

Spring testing: What parents need to know about state testing taking place now

By Sarah Glenn

For the Journal

POCATELLO –– By now, most District 25 students have become familiar with their classrooms, the new Idaho Core curriculum and what to expect each school day.

However, with that new curriculum comes redesigned testing, and before the school year ends parents, students and teachers will have to make one more new friend. The Idaho Standards Achievement Test version 2.0, developed by Smarter Balanced testing, is making its debut this month and bringing with it plenty of questions.

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A smarter way to clean this spring

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For the Journal

Spring-cleaning is prime time to get to all those overlooked or ignored chores, and the byproduct is that your house will look better overall when you’re done.

In fact, celebrity designer Nate Berkus has said that of all the ways to make your home look better, “the simplest is to clean your house — it costs you nothing!” A lot of cleaning can be done without expensive cleansers or supplies. Follow these tips for a smarter way to clean this spring:

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Why buy historic: Five reasons you might consider a historic home in your future

By Rebecca Long Pyper


Homebuyers have two basic options from the start: build a new house or buy an existing one — maybe even one that’s been around for a long time.


And for people wanting a house with character, the best answer might be a historic home, said architect and local Historic Preservation Commission member Latecia Herzog.


She knows first-hand how sweet it can be to live in a home with history — after all, she’s been in her 1949 home with husband Jim for 11 years. And even though their house has needed work (that’s part of the deal when you buy historic), Herzog said it’s worth it.

Here are five reasons to consider buying a historic home instead of new:

1. Curb appeal. “You can typically tell the difference between an older home and a new home straight off the bat,” Herzog said. And that’s because of what she jokingly refers to as “doodads” — the architectural details like custom soffit and fascia, gingerbread trim and gable vents that aren’t simply square or vinyl. “People don’t realize why they like it, but those are some of the things that have some character to them when done correctly,” she said. To get those details nowadays costs a lot of money, especially because most builders want to work quickly and utilize the least expensive methods possible, she said.


2. Interior extras. Historic homes often have perks like specialty cabinetry, even for banal features like linen closets; niches for art or doorbells; built-in hutches; cove moldings by the ceiling and more. “Typically those things are created by a craftsperson, but it takes a little bit of time and a little bit of skill to do, and so they get eliminated (in new construction),” she said.


3. Hardwood floors. “A lot of times when you go to a newer house, you tear up the carpet and there’s nothing underneath,” she said. That means installing hardwood, which means paying for more flooring to replace what came with the house. “In a lot of older homes you tear up the carpet and, boom, there’s the old floors right underneath of them,” she said. Homeowners can finish those for a fraction of the cost of installing new.


4. Some tasks aren’t as scary as they seem. According to Herzog, issues that scare off homebuyers like energy efficiency and outdated electrical and plumbing aren’t usually as big an expense or concern as you’d expect. Changing out windows, for instance, might seem like a must but can be costly because new ones might not fit existing openings — and new ones might mess with the aesthetics anyway because inexpensive options just don’t have the detail of older ones. “If (homeowners) had just either repaired or painted or taken care of their original windows, and then looked at installing storm windows, they can be almost as energy efficient as new windows because new windows don’t actually increase energy efficiency as much as companies will tell you,” Herzog said. The National Park Service offers guidelines and suggestions for keeping original windows in good repair; click here for the link.


Replacing plumbing and electrical also might not cost what you’d expect, especially as plumbers now use PEX piping, which reportedly is quicker to install, lasts longer and is less expensive than copper, Herzog said.


And there’s no real rush to do all the work at once anyway; Herzog said at her house, the electrical panel was updated years ago, but not all the wiring had been. So she and Jim have worked on updates a little at a time and will soon have everything up to current standards — projects worth planning and budgeting for since “it’s something that makes you worry less,” she said. Updating the electrical also increases the electrical load an older home can support — a real necessity for homes running computers, fridges, TVs and more at any given moment.


5. Increased value in the end. If you ask Herzog for her professional opinion, she’ll tell you that the better value lies in buying a historic property, embracing the good stuff it’s got and fixing up the rest. “If you build the same square footage of house, you’re paying significantly more for the new house than you can for something that’s already built and maybe has more character already,” she said. She recommends comparing the price difference of old versus new, then sinking the money saved on buying old into upgrades for a historic home.

Internet safety for kids



• Looking for the link to the University of New Hampshire study on online sexual solicitations of youth? Click here


By Rebecca Long Pyper


From cartoons shouting, “Catch our games online!” to iPads in the classroom, the Internet is needling its way into kids, for good or bad.


The fact of the matter is that computers aren’t going anywhere, and while there is plenty to celebrate about today’s technology, there are lots of online places parents don’t want their kids to visit. But with a little education and high expectations at the front end, families can be computer savvy without wading through murky waters.


Licensed clinical professional counselor John Condron of Healthy Place Counseling offers these tips for keeping kids safe when using the World Wide Web:


>> Be careful not to get carried away. Even though there are danger zones online, opting for a digital playground is “demonstrably safer than the public spaces their parents inhabited in the ’80s and ’90s when they were teens,” Condron said, adding that the rate of sexual molestation of kids has decreased every year since 1992.


So don’t overstate the Internet’s dangers or use fear to keep your kids in line. “When adults overreact and tell kids things that turn out not to be true, they lose credibility,” he said. “I tell parents to ignore much of what they read and see in the media because most of it seems to be intended to gin up fear.”


>> Avoid overgeneralizations. Sexual predators do use the Internet, but there might not be as many out there as you think. “It is not true that the Internet is a wilderness inhabited by predators,” Condron said. And the ones who use an online presence for their dirty work “are the same very small group of teens and adults who were drawn to malls when that was where teens and tweens congregated. They have followed teens to the new public spaces online,” he said.


According to Condron, the widely circulated statistic that 13 percent of youth have been sexually solicited by online predators is misleading; instead, the actual University of New Hampshire study that gave birth to the statistic reveals that “these solicitations did not necessarily come from ‘online predators’ and were not necessarily devious or intended to lure,” he said. “Most were limited to brief online comments or questions in chat rooms or instant messages — many were simply rude, vulgar comments like, ‘What’s your bra size?’”


In the same study two-thirds of participants were not frightened or upset by what happened online, and almost all handled the unwanted solicitations easily and effectively. Importantly, only two of the sample population were actually sexually victimized by someone they met online.


>> Watch out for assumptions and teach them how to use computers properly. Parents commonly assume kids know more than adults about texting, Instagram, Snapchat and the like because they are “digital natives.” But in reality, “most of the kids with whom I interact know very little about how the Internet works. They need to be taught how to use the Internet safely,” Condron said.


Don’t leave kids on their own to figure things out. Encourage your children to trust their instincts — call them “feelings” with young kids — and stay away from situations and sites that feel off. Urge them to come to you when they are confused by something they’ve seen online. And take an interest in what they’re searching and how they’re spending their screen time.


Creative ways to document family life

Put those photos on your phone to good use! Choose one of these projects for incorporating memories into your home


By Rebecca Long Pyper


If you’re like a lot of moms and dads today, you’re a picture taker. You’ve got so many photos stored on your phone or computer that occasionally you run out of memory to support them. And since they represent memories, it’s hard to push “delete.”


But what to do with all the photos? Traditional scrapbooking isn’t a good match for families with schedules filled morning to night. But there are quick and easy ways to document your family’s life and put all those photos to work in your home. Try these suggestions, courtesy of Kandi Rudd, owner of Creative Crafts and Frame Shop:


>> Having photos printed on canvas has become a popular way to display personal art, but you can do the project yourself at home — no need to pay for a place online to do it for you. In the craft store ask for a matte gel medium that allows you to transfer a photo as a mirrored image onto a canvas. This medium “flies off the shelf,” Rudd said. And you can use it for any size canvas and photo you want; just apply the medium to the canvas, place the photo on top and let it dry. The finished product has an aged look, which also complements the shabby chic and farmhouse trends today.


>> “Monograms are really big right now,” Rudd said, so take the first letter of your last name and celebrate it. Buy a papier-mache or wood letter — you can find large ones in craft stores — and decoupage or collage family photos on top until the thing is covered.


>> Wear your memories as jewelry. Look for pendants made from dainty “picture frames” you hang from a chain, strip of leather or ribbon. Slide your special photos inside for a modern take on a locket.


>> Make coasters. Create functional art for your coffee table by adding photos to coasters. Buy square tiles — the kind you’d use in a bathroom remodel — and cut photos to the same size. Apply with Modpodge, let it dry, then add felt or cork to the underside to protect furniture.


If you still like the idea of scrapbooking but can’t dedicate a lot of time to it, create an online photo album. Say goodbye to the days of trimming papers and embellishing with stickers. You can create a “scrapbook” online, and you won’t ever have to worry about acid-free paper or photos falling off the pages. In fact, color scheme and theme won’t be hard to figure either since online companies provide templates with a consistent feel from cover to cover.


Take Shutterfly, for example. Choose a style of book you like, then start plugging your photos into preexisting templates. And you don’t have to be tech savvy to survive this project; if you can upload photos and use a computer mouse, you’ll have no problem using the site.


Once you’re done, click “order,” and in a couple weeks you’ll have a personal photo album dropped at your door. Visit shutterfly.com for more information — and don’t forget to take a look at their coupon codes because there are often an abundance, sometimes dropping the price by 50 percent.

Instructions for transferring a photo to a canvas

Transfer a photo onto a canvas by following these simple steps from Creative Crafts and Frame Shop owner Kandi Rudd:


You’ll need

Jenny Losee (7 of 7)A canvas
– Gel medium, which can be purchased at Creative Crafts and Frame Shop
– A brush
– Furniture Polish
– A Xerox copy of your photo (remember it will be mirrored once it’s on the canvas). It should be the same size as the canvas.


Step 1: Spread a layer of gel medium on the canvas. Be careful to spread it thin enough and as smooth as possible. If there are thick areas, you’ll end up rubbing the photo off along with the paper. Place the photo print side down (yes, down). Smooth out the image and remove any air bubbles. You want the whole image securely sticking to the canvas. Let it dry overnight.

Step 2: Use a spray bottle or sponge to soak the canvas. Once the paper has soaked up the water you can rub gently on the paper with a sponge — the important thing to remember is to rub gently. The ink will rub off too, so go slowly.

Step 3: Once you’ve removed the majority of the paper, I like to use a rough sponge to rough up the edges. Then let the canvas dry out for bit.

Step 4: You’ll notice that once it’s dry the photo still looks cloudy with paper residue. The easiest way to rid the canvas of fog is furniture polish! The oily kind that’s just for real wood furniture works best. Pour a little on a cloth and rub it into the canvas. It clears it right up.

More (free) resources for job seekers

Michael Myers, Idaho Department of Labor supervisor in the Pocatello office, suggests the following resources for those hunting for a job:


>> Try this link for a workbook/workshop that can be utilized in career transitions or finding a job.  It includes info on networking and social networking as well.


>> Check the calendar found here for workshops being held at the Idaho Department of Labor office in Pocatello — they are usually twice a month on Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m.


>> The state’s Career Information System is also a good resource in making career transitions.

Click to win: Your online vote could be worth $100,000 in education funds for one Blackfoot elementary school


By Rebecca Long Pyper


Twenty first graders at Stoddard Elementary in Blackfoot just might have a soon-to-be celebrity their midst, at least where education is concerned, and you can help make it happen.


First-grade teacher Melissa Hunt is one of the top 15 finalists nationally and one of the top three in the Northwest Zone for Farmers Insurance’s Dream Big Teacher Challenge, which invited educators to detail what they’d do with $100,000 in grant money. Hunt submitted her proposal, titled “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow,” in July and found out she was a finalist Sept. 9. The winner will be selected based on the number of online votes made through Nov. 30. (Click here to vote for Hunt.)
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Local service opportunities

Here’s a list, courtesy of United Way, of local agencies and organizations who could use some help from volunteers:


>> Smoke Alarm Installers: The American Red Cross is installing smoke alarms at no charge in select homes on Saturday, November 8. They need volunteers for an eight-hour shift (lunch provided) or a 9a.m.-12:30p.m. or 1:30-5p.m. shift. Training for each of the roles is included in each shift. If you are interested, please contact Christopher Davis at Christopher.Davis@redcross.org
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How smart are you? What you ought to know about multiple intelligences and how identifying these in your children might make for an easier school year come fall

BC (1 of 2)

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Thirty-one years ago psychologist Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences rocked the educational world, and even now anyone who enrolls in an education class will quickly learn his name is synonymous with “differentiation,” or teaching with the needs of different learners in mind.


According to Gardner and his theory, which has evolved over the years, eight intelligences comprise most of the intellectual spectrum. There are linguistic learners and logical-mathematical. There’s musical; there’s visual-spatial. And there’s interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic and naturalist.


But it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that some of these learning styles are largely ignored in schools. Take, for instance, the most obvious: bodily-kinesthetic learners. In a system where students are expected to sit down and zip those lips for most of the day, those who learn best by moving can struggle.


Same goes for naturalist learners. In the English 101 and 201 classes I taught at the university level, I can’t tell you how many kids from farming families were struggling to figure out what the heck they were doing in a classroom — but they could, with great accuracy, predict what the weather was going to do tomorrow.


It’s a shame too because if presentation were varied with different types of learners in mind, there might not be so many struggling students. For two years I taught remedial classes full of students who could not pass the ISAT and thus would not be graduating high school without intervention and completing “alternate” requirements. One of the first activities students did in my classes was a quiz to determine their “multiple intelligences,” and — big shocker — I had a high population of kinesthetic learners with other less common (and more difficult to cater to) intelligences comprising many of the remaining students.


So we learned vocabulary while throwing beanbags to each other. We moved from station to station for assignments, and sitting was largely optional. In my first class all but one student passed the ISAT after two trimesters of catching up. But really, they weren’t catching up; they were just learning in the way most natural for them, and it stuck.


What does this mean for parents? It means all kids are smart, just in different ways. And it means you ought to figure out what types of intelligences your children possess. You can do this by watching them at work and play; you can also try free online quizzes like those I used with my students. This will be helpful because come school time, if your student is struggling in a class, you might be able to help them frame the new content in a way that makes better sense to their brains. Because often the material isn’t too complex or confusing — it’s the way it’s presented.


Want more information? Visit these links for fun quizzes your kids can take to determine where their intelligence lies (and they’ll probably find out they’re smart in multiple areas):


Quiz 1 (click on “Take a Test”)

Quiz 2 (scroll down to “Fourth Grade” and click on the quiz images)

Improving communication with your spouse



By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


It’s no big revelation that communication is key in marriage, but when you get married, you learn first hand just how big a deal it really is.


But if your spousal communication could use some improvement, cheer up: “We are benefited when we stretch our capacity to understand the history and expectations of another,” said licensed clinical professional counselor Tanya Forsman, who has been running an independent practice in Pocatello for 15 years.


With that positivity in mind here are some steps Forsman suggests can improve communication — and understanding — in a marriage:


• View marriage as a learning process. It’s natural for communication to be sometimes stifled in marriage because we all come from distinct backgrounds where we learned different patterns for how things work. Marriage provides a chance to broaden our experiences and our perspectives. “There are a lot of patterns we are still learning about because we haven’t experienced everything in life,” Forsman said. “A loving partnership is a way to learn a lot about what we value, what we expect and how we go about making important decisions.”


We grow when we strive to understand someone else’s history and experience, and until we do, we probably won’t understand where he or she is coming from. So try to see things from your partner’s point of view, and consider upbringing too. If you see little success doing this on your own, a counselor can help couples better understand each other’s backgrounds.


• You can only change yourself, but that can change a lot. If you want to make a difference, take a look at yourself. Do you have self-respect and respect for others? Are you “emotionally wise,” meaning that you 1) are fair, 2) maintain good boundaries, 3) successfully manage your feelings, 4) cultivate self-awareness and 5) remain open to possibilities? Do you demonstrate kindness and compassion to yourself and others? And have you learned how to ask questions instead of assuming your interpretations are correct? If you want to improve your communication, choose any of these areas and work at it.


But if you feel like these characteristics are “blocked,” Forsman said there’s probably a reason. “We can all learn and grow at any time in life, including during a crisis, which may not be of our own making, (like) unemployment, illness, grief, addiction problem of loved ones,” she said. Resolving our own issues is a good first step to improving relationships with others. Working with a counselor can help people develop their own positivity and sense of self-worth and awareness.


• Keep it simple. “For many couples a starting point is kindness, respect and more kindness,” Forsman said. And that kindness needs to come from a place of real intention, rather than just being some superficial action or one-time offering. Also, strive to be as fair as possible when discussions arise, and be curious rather than judgmental about your partner’s point of view.


• Revisit topics later. Once you’ve both simmered down, don’t be afraid to explore the “dynamic exchanges” you have with your spouse, Forsman said. What can you learn from these, and what don’t you understand? “Be clear in your own mind about your fulfilled and unfulfilled needs,” Forsman said, “Then assess what can be done about the situation that is for the good to all concerned.”


What are some signs that a lack of communication is causing major problems for a marriage? Forsman identified the following:


1. Criticism or sarcasm

2. Blaming

3. Being defensive

4. Stone-walling — that’s the “cold-shoulder” or refusing to engage in a respectful way

5. The “roommate syndrome” — a functional but non-romantic life

6. Lack of emotional control or angry outbursts

7. Deception

8. Not really listening

9. No skills to repair connection after disagreements

10. And of course, a cycle of physical or emotional violence is never healthy for anyone

You before the new school year: Use the end of summer to celebrate your kids (FREE DOWNLOAD)


By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


With the new school year about to start, now is the perfect time to take note of your children’s milestones and make mention of traits that make them unique.


Consider asking these questions, and save their answers in a scrapbook, journal or family photo album:

Click here for the B&W version of the questionnaire: btsquestionnairebw

Click here for the color version of the questionnaire: btsquestionnaire






Grade this fall:

Favorite game to play:

Favorite sport:

Favorite food:

Favorite drink:

Favorite treat:

Favorite restaurant:

Favorite thing to do outside:

Favorite color:

Favorite book:

Favorite show:

Favorite song:

Favorite holiday:

Favorite season:

Best friend:

Favorite thing about summer:

What are you most looking forward to this year at school?

What is the best part of school?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A step in the right direction: Fit and Fall Proof classes help seniors maintain their independence

By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


As people age even daily chores can become frustrating. But with a bit of planning and prevention seniors can maintain much of their independence, and with a little training their loved ones can teach them strategies for optimizing their health.


Fit and Fall Proof, a free exercise class offered by Southeastern Idaho Public Health, focuses on functional fitness for those 65 and older — that means maintaining mobility, flexibility, muscle tone and balance for everyday tasks like putting away groceries, bending to hug or pick up small grandkids and cleaning the house, Michelle Butterfield of SIPH’s physical activity and nutrition program said.


The goal of Fit and Fall Proof is not to create weight lifters; instead, it’s intended to keep people healthy enough to maintain as much independence as possible, Butterfield said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults 65 and older falls at least once a year, and falls are the leading cause of accidental-injury death among Idahoans in that same age group. Falling is also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries like hip, spine and limb fracture.

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The midwife difference: How to know if a midwife is for you and your baby


DSCN0965 (2)

Photo courtesy Samantha Mockli. Mockli delivered both her children while in this pool in her bedroom.

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


For Samantha Mockli, natural was better.


During her first pregnancy she saw doctors for the first six months, and “it became apparent that my doctors — I saw three different doctors — saw birth as a medical problem instead of a natural process,” she said. “They began talking about things like induction and staying in bed once my water would be broken. I wanted the freedom of walking through contractions and giving birth in whatever position I found comfortable.”
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An addiction exposed: How to prevent or uncover a pornography problem with your kids


By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Dabbling in porn is more than a “kids will be kids” thing. For a child’s developing mind, any medium that elicits a sexual response changes the brain’s structure through repeated exposure, effectively hijacking emotional and sexual development as it establishes the idea that people should look and act certain ways, said Hope Tree Family Services licensed clinical social worker Trent Turner, who specializes in helping people overcome pornography addiction. He adds that those who view same-sex porn develop unrealistic expectation for their own appearance.

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Summer snacks for hungry kids (and parents)


By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Whoever penned “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” should have saved the line “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again” for a song about summer vacation.


It can be a long 104 days, especially because when kids are bored, they think they are hungry. And parents know that providing snacks to kids is akin to filling a tub with the plug removed — those bellies ain’t ever gonna fill up. Instead of getting frustrated again tomorrow, try these fun and healthy snack ideas from District 6 WIC program coordinator Kathy Puckett — they’re sneakily healthy and tasty enough for parents too:

1. Fruit and cheese kabobs —careful with the skewers!

2. Mini zucchini, carrot or banana muffins

3. Cereal clusters: Mix 3 cups of Yogurt-Burst Cheerios with half a cup dried strawberries (or dried fruit of choice). Melt 1.5 cups white chocolate chips and drizzle over cereal mixture.

4. Stick a plastic spoon through the tin-foil top of yogurt and put in the freezer to make a yogurt pop. Or add granola and fruit to yogurt, then freeze.

5. Snack mix: Combine nuts, pretzels, whole-grain cereal, dried fruit, popcorn and anything else you think sounds good. Or try the Chex Mix recipes.

6. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on thick cut lunchmeat, then roll up a dill pickle spear in it like a blanket.

7. Smoothies (add some spinach or kale to fruit smoothies for extra nutrition).

8. Overnight oatmeal: Mix 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/4 cup nonfat milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 TB peanut butter and cinnamon to taste. Mix all together, cover and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy a refreshing cold breakfast; add in whatever sounds good: berries, coconut, nuts, granola or dried fruits.

And here’s a drink idea:

Watermelon lemonade

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup water

4-5 cups cubed watermelon

3 cups cold water

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Place watermelon in blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Strain to get out any seeds.

2. Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to boil over medium heat until sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups cold water and lemon juice.

3. To serve, put ice cubes in glass, add some watermelon puree, then pour lemon juice mixture over top. Stir gently, then bottom’s up!


For the ladies: How the Lish sisters throw the girls’ retreat of the year, and how you can too

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


For the nine Lish sisters and four sisters-in-law, the highlight of the year is their girls’ retreat.


But this isn’t your average “watch chick flicks” event. For 14 years the women, ages 59 to 82, have taken turns hosting a reunion with a bursting-at-the-seams itinerary, stuff-yourself menu and laugh-till-your-sides-split activity list.


This year’s event will be held at Betsy Howell’s McCammon home next month, and she’s planned every single minute of their three days together — because these Lish ladies know how to throw a party that goes on and on. Here are Howell’s tips for a great girls’ retreat so you can do the same:


  • Select a date that will work for most everyone. All the sisters and sisters-in-laws will be in attendance this year, from as far away as Medford, Ore., and Des Moines, Iowa, thanks to careful advance scheduling.


  • Build excitement for guests by sending out invites, games, contests or things that will hint at the fun and surprises ahead. This year Howell sent out a questionnaire asking sisters to list their favorite drinks, candy bars and treats; when they arrive at her house a gift basket full of those special things will be waiting on their beds. Also upon arrival guests will receive a detailed daily itinerary; each morning they’ll get a new itinerary for the upcoming day.


  • Keep things interesting by keeping a few things secret. For instance, when Howell hosts her retreat, the sisters will participate in a murder-mystery dinner — a spoof of Miss America called “Killing for the Crown.” The sisters have had lots of fun shopping for evening gowns, but they don’t know that when they put them on, they’ll walk their own red carpet where family and friends will whoop and holler like paparazzi, Howell said; later, they’ll watch “Miss Congeniality.”


  • Try to do something that most everyone would enjoy (or would not mind trying). “Remember everyone’s interest and dislikes so that you do not do anything that would embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable,” Howell said. This year Howell is taking her sisters to Ogden, Utah, for a daytrip to ride go-carts at a racetrack; then they’ll go outside and “try to do the barrels and the poles on tame horses,” she said. As a sentimental touch the sisters will also visit their parents’ graves, where they will receive different homemade jams, homemade bread and a letter. “We were a very, very close family, and this will be a special place and a special visit,” she said.


  • Keep costs down so the retreat is not a burden for anyone. Whoever is hosting is in charge of activities, and part of that includes much of the purchasing. In addition to this year’s activities, Howell has planned some “make and take” projects so the sisters can take home something free to them.


  • When planning don’t forget that the ultimate goal of a good retreat is togetherness. “By having retreats it seems to keep us close, and … our mom’s last wish was (for us) to stay close and do things together,” Howell said. And that’s what they’ll be doing this summer and for many summers to come.


Money matters: How one financial expert and his wife are teaching their kids about finances

Connections Credit Union financial advisor Brian Singleton shared these details about how he and his wife Shauna are raising their kids to be financially responsible:


• Our kids, like every other kid goes to the store and instantly wants everything, especially toys and candy. So Shauna and I decided that we would begin a process that would allow the kids to have their own money to buy things at their discretion. We thought that we wanted to give them some real life money experiences, so we implemented a “chores for money” program at our house.
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New summer recipes to try

Potluck barbeques are a favorite summer staple, and since you’ll likely be invited to a few, try these new recipes sure to please a crowd.


Tortellini salad


One package tortellini (buy it frozen and you’ll get a better deal)

One cup pesto (make your own or buy it already prepared)

Four string cheeses

Two large tomatoes, diced, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

Four chicken breasts

Olives (optional)

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Goodbye, Big Orange ‘I’

By Billie Johnson

When I was a kid I engaged in all sorts of dialogue with inanimate objects. They came to life in my busy, only-child mind. I talked to Angel, our Christmas tree topper. I greeted the Abraham Lincoln bust atop our TV console each day with a “Good morning, Abe.” And, when we moved to Pocatello Mom introduced me to the Big Orange “I.” In the days before she enrolled me in ISU’s Early Learning Center she took me to Red Hill and told me the “I” was there to watch over me. Kids are never too young to learn about puns.
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Turn a T into a bag



With the cold weather (hopefully) behind us, now is the ideal time to sort through kids’ drawers and replace worn-out and outgrown school clothes with summer duds. But you can do more with those old shirts than donate them to a thrift store. Based on an idea found at sulia.com, you can turn a t-shirt into an easy, stretchable bag for packing around treasures found this summer, from favorite books to produce at the farmers’ market.


1. Cut the sleeves off your shirt, keeping fairly close to the seams.



2. Cut open the neck. Make this hole large enough for stuffing books or veggies inside. You’ll be cutting an oval that extends about four inches lower than the collar.


3. Stitch up the bottom. After turning the shirt inside out, sew straight across the bottom. You can zigzag it with a sewing machine, but if you’d rather, go ahead and stitch by hand — just consider doing a double stitch if this is your option of choice.


You’ll be surprised how much these little bags can hold. They would be perfect for your kids to take to the library or to t-ball practice.


List of free yoga classes

Here’s a list of all the free yoga classes being held in conjunction with Idaho Health and Yoga Awareness Week:

Wednesday June 4 0700-08000910-1015


Yoga Free

Teacher Julie Dustin 251-8677

Pocatello Community Recreation Center

144 Wilson



Wednesday June 4


Beginner yoga Free

Blue Feather Healing Arts

310 E. Center

Teacher Nichelle Scoggins Labrum



Wednesday June 4


Vinyasa Flow Yoga   Free

Teacher Jessie Call-Feit

ISU gym #237 or outdoors on field North of Reed Gym



Vinyasa Flow Yoga  Free

Teacher Jessie Call-Feit

ISU gym #237 or outdoors on field North of Reed Gym


Wednesday June 4

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Intro to Yoga

Teacher Stella Sandquist

Mind Your Body Studio

234 S. Main



Wednesday June 4

Yoga for Healthy Living

5-8pm Women’s Prison

Teacher Kath Olsen


Wednesday June 4


Family yoga  Donation

Levitt Center

1030 East Sublette

Teacher Shannalee Hansen


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Pocatello Sewing School classes

Pocatello Sewing School

Textile Crafts / Fiber Arts / Sewing Camps

Note: Each week is a separate camp.

Ages 7-11, Mornings

9 AM to Noon

Monday through Friday

Ages 12-15, Afternoons

1 PM to 3 PM

Monday through Thursday

Week of June 9 Intro to Sewing

  • Beginners
  • About Fibers & Fabrics
  • Simple hand sewing
  • Use sewing machine
  • Make simple projects
Clothing & Accessories

  • Beginners or intermediates
  • Skirts, shorts, tops, aprons, belts, hats, bags, hair ornaments
  • Bring favorite fabrics or use those available
Week of June 16 Bags & Boxes

  • Sewing machine beginners & experienced
  • Using the sewing machine to make cloth bags & boxes


Recycle-Upcycle Fashion

  • Any level sewer
  • Use old items to create new ones
  • Use fabric to update old items
  • Students provide items & fabric according to materials list
Week of June 23 Critters

  • Sewing machine beginners & experienced
  • Make animals & monsters
  • Make pet toys & accessories
Intro to Piecing & Quilting

  • Beginners or intermediates
  • Putting together colors & patterns
  • Basic piecing
  • Using piecing in other projects
June 30-July 11


Week of July 14 Yarn Craft

  • No experience need
  • Simple knitting and crocheting
  • Tapestry on plastic mesh


Home Dec: Bedrooms

  • Beginners or intermediates
  • Make pillowcase, decorative pillow, and dresser scarf
  • Students provide fabrics according to materials list
Week of July 21 Fabric Painting & Dyeing

  • No experience needed
  • Color theory
  • Using crayons and fabric paints
  • Tie-dyeing


Fabric Painting & Dyeing

  • No experience needed
  • Color theory
  • Putting together colors & patterns
  • Decorating fabric with crayons and fabric paints
  • Tie-dyeing
Week of July 28 Intro to Weaving

  • No experience needed
  • Weaving on simple looms
  • Make simple projects
Yarn Craft

  • No experience need
  • Loom knitting, knit & crochet
  • Tapestry on plastic mesh
Week of Aug. 4 Easy Clothing

  • Some machine sewing experience needed
  • Choose from aprons, skirts, shorts, tops etc.
Intro to Weaving

  • No experience needed
  • Weaving on simple looms
  • Potholders, placemats, belts, hatbands


Pocatello Sewing School, 1342 Jane Street, Pocatello 83201  

208-240-6807       www.PocatelloSewingSchool.com

Crafty comprehension: Why kids should learn textile crafts

By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


In today’s world kids are learning how to handle technology, but as a result they might not learn how to make things with their hands.


While many little ones are handed a tablet or iPhone at the first peep and are signed up for this activity or that, they might miss activities that can stimulate their senses and help develop intellect and motor skills too — skills they’ll need to use in daily life as they grow older.

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Classroom placement: Find out how to make the best kind of request for next year’s teachers

GetInline 07-52-57

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


When it comes to classroom placement, it’s a balancing act.


Administrators are trying to strike the perfect blend for each class. High, middle and low ability. Boy-to-girl ratio. Students with special needs and who are on an individualized education program are dispersed as evenly as possible across classrooms.


Principals have another special weapon when determining classes: input from last year’s teacher — because who better to say “these two kids shouldn’t be together” or “this kid needs structure” versus “this one needs a teacher that’s nurturing and creative.”
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A short list of common behavioral disorders

Licensed clinical professional counselor John Condron of Healthy Place Counseling identifies a few common behavioral disorders and provides short descriptions on each:


Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder has always been a controversial diagnosis. It was first described in 1902, and stimulant medications for its treatment were developed starting in the 1930s. The best known of these medications, Ritalin (methylphenidate) was first licensed in the US in 1955. It is also marketed as Concerta, Methymin, and Equasym XL.  Another, similar medication, known as “Adderal” (amphetamine mixed salts) came along in the early 1960s. It should be noted that amphetamine medications were widely used by both the Allies and the Axis during World War II to enhance the alertness and performance of soldiers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html), the percentage of children 4-17 years of age with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. This, however, depends on whose numbers you use, as several studies found the rate of ADHD to be almost 16% in 2001.

Boys (13.2%) are more than twice as likely as girls (5.6%) to be diagnosed with ADHD. This might be at least partially because boys are more likely to have the much more noticeable and annoying “primarily hyperactive” variant of the disorder, while girls are more likely to have the quieter “primarily inattentive” version.


We’ve probably talked enough about ADHD, but a few comments about Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD) are probably called for. The difference between these is a matter of degree. The first is typically diagnosed in younger children, and represents “a pattern of negative, hostile and defiant behavior” that doesn’t cross the line into “behaviors which violate the basic rights of others.” “Conduct Disorder” is the psychiatric label for delinquent behavior. It can be diagnosed in young kids, but it does not bode well for the child’s future when we see this kind of behavior prior to adolescence. These kids may be physically aggressive to both people and animals, destructive, dishonest (stealing, lying, conning). They violate rules such as curfew. These kids are not pleasant to have around, but it is a mistake to think that they are simply “bad kids.” Many children diagnosed with ODD or CD have experienced severe trauma earlier in life. This could be physical or sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, severe bullying, or a myriad of other traumatic events. They may have also experienced what some call “Developmental Trauma,” which is long-term exposure to “sub-clinical” traumatic events; that is, events that don’t meet the formal criteria for trauma, but take a  cumulative toll on the child’s psyche. Just punishing these kids for their misbehavior is likely to make the worse in the long-run, especially without specialized treatment for their trauma.


I’m going to end with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Though this diagnosis is supposedly rare, I see it quite often in my practice. It results from “pathogenic care” during the first 1000 days of a child’s life (including gestation). This might result from a child being separated from his “primary attachment figure” (typically mom, but not always) for an extended period, spending a long period of time in isolation for medical reasons, frequent changes in caregiver, etc. We find that neglect is often more damaging to a child than abuse. Children with RAD have a difficult time trusting – both themselves and others – and have a hard time with intimate relationships. They can be quite friendly and outgoing, but when relationships start to get close, they get scared and push the other person away. The thought process seems to be “I’ll reject you before you have a chance to reject me.” This is most commonly seen in current or former foster children, but can occur in children from “typical” homes, as well.

On another spectrum: What to do when your child’s behavior is outside the norm but isn’t autism-related

Editor’s note: Last week’s article introduced two important questions parents should ask if they think their child has behavioral issues (read the full text at pocatelloparents.com). Today’s piece discusses how families can find help

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


So you think your child has a behavior disorder. It can be devastating, overwhelming and guilt inducing too. But rather than nosedive into the negative, a proactive parent and some professional guidance can help children right their course and learn self-control too.

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Two questions to ask if you suspect your child’s behavior isn’t typical


behaviorBy Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Kids have energy, and kids do unexplainable things. So how can parents tell when something beyond the norm is impacting their children’s behavior?


Since “normal” isn’t a single standard, there is a lot of deviation in what behaviors might be typical. The better question to ask, according to licensed clinical professional counselor John Condron of Healthy Place Counseling, is if children are functional — that is, can they function at home, at school and socially?


If so, the behavior isn’t getting in their way or yours. If not, there are some professionally recognized standards for certain aspects of human behavior. One is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which a behavioral specialist would be familiar with.


But for the unschooled parent, there are some signs that things might be amiss behaviorally. And one of the best ways for identifying these issues is a simple two-question test, developed by a researcher at the University of British Columbia:


  1. Is your child more shy or anxious than other children his or her age?
  2. Is your child more worried than other children his or her age?


When these questions are answered in the affirmative for kindergarten-aged children, they are highly accurate in identifying kids who will later be clinically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder — as high as 85 percent accurate, according to psychcentral.com. Such disorders might be more common than you think: according to Condron, one in 10 children is affected by a mental-health disorder, the most common being anxiety disorders.

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On the brink: Pocatello Zoo to highlight endangered and threatened animals at family event Saturday

By Rebecca Long Pyper

Idaho State Journal


If your kids love animals, plan to attend the Pocatello Zoo’s Endangered Species Day on Saturday for an up-close look at animals needing some TLC from people living in the same locale.


May 17 is National Endangered Species Day, a chance for Americans to become educated about and committed to protecting endangered species and their habitats.


To celebrate locally zoo docents will highlight threatened species, meaning the population is on the decline but has not yet reached endangered status. The Pocatello Zoo is home to several threatened animals, namely the grizzly bear, desert tortoise, bull trout, bald eagle — which was endangered but has been delisted — and Canada lynx. “These are animals that are found in Idaho and need protection,” Pocatello Zoo curator of education Cory Coffman said, adding that the hope is that by educating people, the situation can improve for these animals.


The zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho Fish and Game will offer activities about the importance of species and habitat protection. Visitors will be encouraged to follow an endangered-species passport around the zoo, getting a stamp at various locations as they see specific animals; upon completion, games and a craft station will be available. All activities will be included with zoo admission.


“Learning and fun always go hand-in-hand — at the zoo at least. It’s a fun place for kids to explore this information hand-on; they get to see the actual animals, and hopefully that helps them make the connection that this is the animal you want to help protect by protecting its habitat,” Coffman said.

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Zoo volunteer information day May 17

Adults and youth (ages 14-17) who are interested in volunteering at the Pocatello Zoo this spring and summer are invited to attend the Pocatello Zoo Volunteers Information Day, May 17, 2014, 10:00AM-12:00 PM, located at the Zoo Admin/ Education Center, across the street from the Pocatello Animal Shelter, 3101 Ave. of the Chiefs.


This is an open house – meaning you do not need to attend the entire time. During this open house session, volunteer candidates will have the chance to fill out Zoo volunteer applications, and have any questions answered.  All applicants accepted will need to attend a Volunteer Training Date, time TBD. Youth applicants will need to supply a copy of their most recent school report card (C average or better) and adults will need to complete a background check. Volunteers chosen for these positions are expected to make a minimum spring and/or summer commitment of 60 hours volunteering after training. There is a $40 training fee for youth and a $60 training fee for adults, which helps to off-set the cost for the training, uniforms, and background checks for adults.  There are benefits for volunteering at the Zoo. If an individual volunteers 60 or more hours in a year, they receive a Pocatello Zoological Society membership.  This allows individuals free entrance to the Pocatello Zoo and free or discounted admission to over 55 other zoos across the United States. Volunteers will also have continued training opportunities in the form of seminars, workshops and lectures. For more information, please call Cory at 234-6264.

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Grill and get fit: Time to dust off that grill and get healthy this summer

By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


Spring is the time to fire up the grill, and in addition to easy cleanup, cooking meals this way equals health benefits for your family.


“I love grilling because it’s just easy,” Karen Donaldson of EXCEL Weight Loss Solutions said. “You don’t have to do dishes, the flavors are amazing, and it can be a lower-fat option.”


Here are a few grilling options that can help you get fit or stay healthy this summer:


>> Start with the basics. You want a protein with all meals, and most any meat will grill well, Donaldson said. Try salmon wrapped in foil with pesto or parmesan on top. Chicken is always a good option and a crowd pleaser, and so are pork chops.

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A chance to get ahead: Summer-school offerings for those needing a boost — and for those who want to excel

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Summers were made for more than sleeping in. Thanks to the summer-school program provided by Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25, students who are behind have the chance to catch up before fall arrives, and those with extra ambition can surge ahead during the months that some kids use for down time.

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Full list of summer-school offerings

The complete summer-school brochure is available by clicking on the link below; the full text is also pasted in this post.

2014 Brochure Summer School Schedule

High School Classes Offered



Grade 9 …. Physical Science/Physics/Chemistry

Grade 10 ………. Biology Cells/Biology Systems



Grades Ten through Twelve



Algebra 1A, 1B & 1C

Geometry A & Geometry B

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How to train for your first half

Fam Pg-5

David Niehans runs a trail by City Creek. Running hills is a good way to cross train when preparing for a half marathon. Photo by Jenny Losee.


By Rebecca Long Pyper

Idaho State Journal


It’s one thing to run a few mornings a week; it’s another to train for a 13.1-mile race.


But it’s definitely doable and can even be enjoyable if you’re ready to tackle your first half marathon the right way. Here are some tips for making the most of your training time before the race:


  1. Follow a schedule and allow enough time to adequately train. Consider a site like halhigdon.com; the training guides here vary based on your running experience thus far and will have you ready for your race if you stick to the schedule. This will not only help with physical preparation but with mental too, as you’ll be more confident knowing you put in the necessary time to do your best come race day.
  2. Be committed to extra time exercising. It takes many extra hours of running to train for a half, so make sure you are willing and able to dedicate the necessary time.
  3. Remember to cross train. Experts suggest that once a week runners cross train; this will help prevent injuries and can add some novelty to the monotony of running, running, running every day. Cycling is a good option; so is swimming. Continue reading

Yo, attorneys!


By Billie Johnson for Idaho State Journal


At a recent fundraiser dinner I met some debate students from Century High School. I regarded the debaters during my high school years with a solid “I’m not worthy” whenever I heard them speak in classes, the halls or on field trips. My peers in debate were smart and articulate all the time. These kids evoked that same marvel.


With an auctioneer’s cadence they introduced one of their topics to me along with arguments. I had to pay close attention to catch it all. This was a Saturday night with less than two weeks left of the school year, and these students were excited and engaged.


I mentioned how I’ve seen pleas from area debate coaches on social media to round up volunteer judges on the day of competitions. With an exasperated sigh one girl countered “…which is so unfortunate when you consider how much work and preparation we put into it.” I agree. These kids deserve knowledgeable judges.

I’ve encountered the need for good judges in Science Olympiads, Lego League and Robotics competitions and school science fairs. Students’ experience is more authentic and enriching when they present to judges who are familiar with content or procedures. Engineering and technical society list serves light up in the weeks before events like these to find volunteers and many professionals answer the calls.


So who might fill the need for speech and debate judges?


It’s simple. Trained volunteers with a personal interest or history or paid certified judges can do it.


Sports referees are certified and get paid for sporting events, why wouldn’t our schools pay speech and debate judges? Oh boy. This look into school debate judges could turn into a debate on school funding, which is not at all my intent. My intent is to get the word out about this concurrent need and opportunity.


During my 20-year high-school reunion planning and scheduling I learned that at least three of the debate students in my class became attorneys. One is now an administrative law judge in California. One is a patent attorney in Oregon, and another specializes in securities litigation in Washington. Aha! Area students and coaches might shout out, “Yo! Attorneys! We could use a little help. “


Speech- and debate-judge clinics and certification are available each year, and while I can’t imagine my classmates above have a lot of spare time at the height of their careers to volunteer, they might when they retire. Another option is to put your money where your heart is because the ability to pay certified speech and debate judges depends on individual program funding, and many programs are simply short.


I’m guessing many current and retired attorneys in our midst were once on a debate team. The high- school debate scene could set the stage for what you’ve always wanted: a trained, knowledgeable and unbiased judge. But instead of drawing one, you could be one.


I’ll follow up on this topic in the fall when the 2014-2015 speech and debate season begins, at which time you can expect a more formal request.

Make mealtime family time

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


People gotta eat, so mealtime is the perfect opportunity built into every day for families to get together. Ellen Sharp, a dietetic intern with Idaho State University, offers these reasons for eating together as a family:


>> When families eat together, the entire family is more likely to eat more produce. Even though fruits and vegetables are essential parts of a healthy diet providing vitamins, minerals and fiber, most people do not eat the recommended servings per day. But families who share meals tend to eat more produce, according to webmd.com.


When shopping for produce, buy a variety of colors; this will ensure your family is getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. And it doesn’t matter if you’re eating fresh, canned or frozen — just steer clear of those canned in syrup or with added salt. Fruit canned in water or 100-percent juice is best, and opt for canned veggies low in sodium.


>> When families eat together at the dinner table, children are less likely to be overweight or obese. “Overweight and obesity are an important problem to combat because they may lead to an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and emotional problems in children,” Sharp said. Preparing meals at home gives parents more control over these issues because they can control the types of food children are served.

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More on Deleta’s history (and summer hours too)

Here’s a little more history on the rink, courtesy of current co-owner Art Foulger:


Deleta first started in Montpelier, Idaho. Shortly after its construction, the owner, Dell Holland, saw that there was far more activity in Pocatello than in Montpelier, so he dismantled the entire structure and rebuilt it at its current location at 520 Yellowstone. At that time is was known as the Deleta Ballroom. They did dances on the weekends and skating during the week. Big band was the sound back then, and Deleta hosted some very big names. Among those who performed at the Deleta Ballroom was Louis Armstrong. His is probably the biggest name that I recognize. We have several old posters advertising the various artists. They also had professional wrestling matches on a regular schedule.

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On a roll: What you didn’t know about Deleta and why your family ought to drop by

Fam Pg-1

Deleta Skating and Family Fun Center is a Pocatello institution, but just because the rink has been around for decades doesn’t mean offerings have stayed the same. And just like anything that’s stood the test of time, Deleta has a storied past. Here are a few things about the rink you might not know — and that might make you want to strap on a pair of skates soon:


• Deleta first started in Montpelier, Idaho, more than 70 years ago but soon after it was built owner Dell Holland realized Pocatello was a better location. So the entire structure was dismantled and reassembled at its current location at 520 Yellowstone.


• Famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong performed there, back when it was known as the Deleta Ballroom. At that time there were dances on the weekends and skating during the week. The place also hosted professional wrestling matches.


• The name Deleta pays homage to original founders, Dell Holland and his wife Leta.


•  Deleta functioned as many things in its earlier years — a bar, a grocery store and an army-surplus store, for instance. Virginia McCloskey, the Hollands’ daughter, and her husband John assumed ownership, and Virginia dreams of restoring Deleta to a skating rink. She realized her goal in the early 1970s.

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The perfect place to climb

By Lance Clark for Idaho State Journal
Ross Park offers a unique opportunity for Pocatello residents to recreate. Pocatello Parks and Recreation allows access to more than 100 climbing routes on the basalt cliffs in the park.

The routes are fairly short by climbing standards, but the easy access, quality rock and high-quality anchors make it a popular destination for both avid climbers and families. The two cliff sections are known as “the sunny side” or “the shady side.” The shady side is adjacent to 4th and 5th streets. The sunny side is off of 2nd street just south of the zoo.

Pocatello Parks and Recreation offers both youth and adult climbing classes for beginners and intermediate climbers. Youth classes run in June, July and August in four-week sessions for $32. Adult classes are in June and July; three weeks costs $45. Every class includes equipment and instruction. Registration is open online at http://pocatelloparksrecreation.sportsites.com/.

The ISU Outdoor Adventure Center has long been a partner in maintaining the climbing areas and hosts the Ross Park climbing guide on their Web site. Each climb is numbered, and the relative difficulty is listed in the guide.

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The homeschool difference, Part I


Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series about homeschool in east Idaho. Today’s article focuses on the reasons why some families choose homeschool; next week’s article will address resources available for those new to homeschooling


By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


As the school year winds down many parents are evaluating how things went in their children’s classrooms this year — and not all end-of-year assessments will be encouraging.


That’s what makes this time of year ideal for considering other education options, one of which is homeschool. Though homeschooling parents suggest it’s a good option regardless any extenuating circumstances, here are some reasons you might consider teaching your own kids:


>> You don’t miss a single milestone. “For me, one of the greatest advantages includes seeing a young child develop and master concepts first hand,” said Lisa Swanson, who homeschools her 7-year-old daughter. “Typically, no one is as excited to see a baby go from completely helpless to sitting, crawling, standing and walking as the parents.” The same holds true as children reach educational milestones.

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Finding time for one-on-one time

Swim & Park-7

By Rebecca Long Pyper; photo by Jenny Losee
for Idaho State Journal
If you’re a parent, you’ve likely heard about the importance of giving children one-on-one attention.


It’s a must for little ones because it impacts all aspects of development, said Kim Baumgart, education manager with Pocatello/Chubbuck Head Start, a federally funded preschool program for families of low income, designed for getting children and their families ready for school.


One of those aspects is social-emotional skills, and kids get a boost when they spend regular time with parents. “Interacting with parents helps children to have a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem,” she said.


Cognitive development is also important, and one of the best things parents can do to help kids be ready for school is to foster an interest in reading, Baumgart said. An easy way to do this is to talk with them — a lot. Don’t hesitate to use your entire vocabulary, and avoid baby talk. If parents connect new words to familiar ones, children can learn lots of ways to say things so they have many ways to express themselves, she said.


But if you’ve got more than one child at home, a job, a spouse and a household to run, it can seem near impossible to isolate 10 minutes a day for each son or daughter.


It doesn’t have to be so difficult. By engaging children in activities you’re already doing, you can give them some individual time while crossing off another task on the to-do list. “It’s helpful that (parents) try to build things they do with their kids into their routine, not add things to do,” Baumgart said.

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31 hours, 32 square feet

By Celese Sanders

for Idaho State Journal


For Thanksgiving my family and I traveled to Idaho and Colorado. Well, to clarify that, I drove myself and my children. By myself. To Idaho and to Colorado. (Just as a side note I would not recommend voluntarily shutting yourself in the car with three children who are overly excited to see their grandparents and overly bored with your choice of Redbox videos.)

It was a long, long drive. The first day was a mere six hours. The second day was a monster 14 hours. I honestly don’t blame anyone for being cranky after being in the same 32 square feet for that long.

My kids actually were pretty good. There was the usual fighting that goes with any car trip. There were a couple of scary moments when I would be glaring at a child in the rear-view mirror only to look back just in time to take a curve.

And in all fairness to my children, I was most absolutely the crankiest of us all. I had these plans about stopping every two hours to do something fun together or to see something new and to make the car trip as calm as possible, but that all flew out the window with my patience at the third bathroom stop in three hours. I finally decided that looking around each bathroom and gas station was a perfect compromise between having a fun scenic stop every two hours and getting there before Mommy has a meltdown.

Another secret to having a calm(er) drive is to isolate the child who is the source of all sibling disagreements. My middle child absolutely loves to aggravate her siblings and make an argument last as absolutely long as possible. She even gets this mischievous smile on her face that makes me want to jump out of my skin and run in circles screaming at the top of my lungs (which is further compounded when stuck in the same seat and speeding down the highway at 80 miles an hour). I found, though, that if I stuck her in the back seat by herself, all three children were content and happy and sang and played and read books in nearly complete calmness. Wow, I wish I had figured that out at the beginning of the trip rather than halfway through Wyoming.

After we spent a few days in Idaho with my family, my kids and I begrudgingly climbed back in the car for the trip to Colorado. The stress of the whole trip was getting to me, and by the time we stopped for dinner I looked like I had just stepped out of the middle of a horror show. My mascara had begun to smear underneath my eyes, I had the fearful breath of Cheetos and carrot sticks from munching on anything to keep myself awake, my hair was sticking out of my ponytail in multiple directions, and my eyes were glazed over.

We stopped at an greasy little restaurant connected to a gas station for some dinner. I was too desperate for the kids to fall asleep after a meal to drive on in search of a good place to eat. There was nobody in line for food, so we decided to stop by the bathroom. By the time we had all little hands washed more than 10 truckers were in line; I could have cried. So we waited, and I wrangled all three kids who just wanted to run and tried to add up the cost of three kids’ meals.

While we were sitting there with the kids complaining about their food, one of the truckers (who I truly believe was trying to be kind), came up to me to tell me I have cute kids and to enjoy special moments like these. My bloodshot eyes glared at him, and I tried to smile around my snarling teeth. I thanked him and  mumbled under my breath about enjoying it while I cleaned up the ketchup packet that had exploded, thanks to my daughter. It was a relief to get back in the car and have all of the kids fall fast asleep (two movies later).

With the quiet breathing of my darling kids and a little less traffic on the road I called my husband (who had flown to Colorado to meet us there) to tell him that when I got there, he would have the pleasure of taking the kids in, unloading the car and putting the kids to bed all by himself.

I was going to take a hot bath and not talk to anyone under of the age of 21 for at least an hour.

The crazy thing about that whole trip, though, was that after watching my kids squeal with excitement about seeing their cousins and snuggling with their Grandpa made it all worth it. I’m even considering a trip to Idaho and Colorado again next year — by plane.


Celese Sanders is a wife, a mother of three, and a syndicated columnist. Please feel free to write to her with questions and comments at celese@gmx.com.

A multicultural experience at home: Interested in hosting an exchange student? Attend an open house this weekend to have all your questions answered

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


For Marlo Jones, who hosted her first exchange student in 2010, the reasons are simple: she loves her country, and she loves learning about other cultures.


Which is why her family has hosted six exchange students so far, one for a full school year and five more for part of a year. “I am so impressed that a teenager would have the motivation to leave their family, friends and country to come experience America,” she said. “I love my country, and I love sharing it with families across the globe. I love sharing my community and my family with these foreign kids, and I love learning about other cultures. I believe this is a great opportunity to expose my children to other parts of the world while still in a controlled environment, since they are so young.”


If you’ve considered hosting an exchange student but needed more information, attending the annual “graduation” for local exchange students is a chance to get all your questions answered. On Saturday, April 26 more than 45 students who’ve been staying in east Idaho as part of EF High School Exchange Year will celebrate at Dora Erickson Elementary School in Idaho Falls; following the graduation ceremony, an open house will be held for the public to learn more about hosting.


According to Maureen Tyczka, international exchange coordinator, hosting a student from another country is an ideal way to expose your children to and energize them about other cultures; for Marlo it means her four kids “gain a lifelong friend and new member of our family,” she said.


And for empty-nesters or those without children, hosting an exchange student provides a chance to connect with the community in a new way. But the biggest perk is creating “life-changing, lasting friendships,” Tyczka said. “More than 30 percent of our host families enjoy the experience so much that they host multiple times.”

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A multicultural experience at home: Interested in hosting an exchange student? Attend an open house this weekend to have all your questions answered

By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


For Marlo Jones, who hosted her first exchange student in 2010, the reasons are simple: she loves her country, and she loves learning about other cultures.


Which is why her family has hosted six exchange students so far, one for a full school year and five more for part of a year. “I am so impressed that a teenager would have the motivation to leave their family, friends and country to come experience America,” she said. “I love my country, and I love sharing it with families across the globe. I love sharing my community and my family with these foreign kids, and I love learning about other cultures. I believe this is a great opportunity to expose my children to other parts of the world while still in a controlled environment, since they are so young.”


If you’ve considered hosting an exchange student but needed more information, attending the annual “graduation” for local exchange students is a chance to get all your questions answered. On Saturday, April 26 more than 45 students who’ve been staying in east Idaho as part of EF High School Exchange Year will celebrate at Dora Erickson Elementary School in Idaho Falls; following the graduation ceremony, an open house will be held for the public to learn more about hosting.

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Tips for starting seeds

According to Wayne Jones of the University of Idaho Extension, gardeners should keep these things in mind when starting seeds indoors:



>>  You need sufficient light. Usually a windowsill won’t cut it. Using a grow box of some kind can be helpful if you get the light source as close to the plants as possible. “Cool white florescent bulbs are sufficient for growing seedlings for the garden if they are kept close to the plants,” he said.


>>  You need a good growing medium. Garden soil isn’t idea for starting seeds because of potential disease issues. Instead, buy a good-quality potting mix.


>>  You need warm soil. “The soil should be at least 65 degrees so the seeds will be warm enough to germinate,” he said.

Plant a family garden


By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


Now is the time to start planning your garden. Even if you’re a newbie to gardening, it can become a fun family activity that will yield results in more ways than one.


“Gardening is therapy for a lot of people. There is something about tending to plants and taking care of them that soothes the soul. When the whole family is in the garden, there are ample opportunities to talk about nature, plants (and) the interactions we have with our surroundings,” Wayne B. Jones of the University of Idaho Extension said.


Jones offers the following tips for gardening success:


1. Choose seeds that will succeed. Some vegetables most likely to thrive in southeast Idaho are radishes, lettuce and spinach; beans will also do well when the soil has warmed up a little more.

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Extra-important nutrients for kids five and younger

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According to District 6 WIC director Kathy Puckett, WIC foods are chosen to provide iron, protein, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which are essential for children of all ages. Here is a list of good sources of each of these nutrients:


IRON: meats, beans, fish, fortified breakfast cereals

PROTEIN: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, beans, tofu/ veggie burgers, nuts

CALCIUM: Dairy products, calcium fortified cereal or orange juice, spinach, soybeans, white beans

VITAMIN A: eggs, milk, leafy green veggies, orange and yellow veggies, tomato products, fortified cereals

VITAMIN C: oranges, broccoli, kale, bell peppers, strawberries, pineapples, kiwi, papaya

The WIC Program is an equal opportunity provider.

Food for thought: When mealtimes with little kids become a nightmare, follow these tips for getting things back on track

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Picky eaters can ruin the healthiest (and tastiest) meals. And sometimes parents might start to worry that their littlest kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.


But maybe things aren’t as bleak as they seem. According to the Mayo Clinic, just because a kid is a picky eater doesn’t mean he will have nutritional deficiencies; many common foods are fortified with necessary nutrients and minerals, so things might be better than you think.


And not every food little kids love is bad for them. Reduced-fat chocolate milk, for instance, is actually a good drink option in moderation, District 6 WIC director Kathy Puckett said.


With so many vitamins designed for kids, beware of relying on these for nutrition. According to mayoclinic.org, “Multivitamins aren’t necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally. Foods are the best source of nutrients. Regular meals and snacks can provide all the nutrients most preschoolers need.”


But of course, parents still want their kids to eat and develop a more diverse palate. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for making the most of early childhood nutrition:

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An introduction to multilevel marketing

By Daris Howard for Idaho State Journal


I know you won’t believe this, but it’s true: I had never even heard of multilevel marketing until I was nearly 30 years old. Oh, once there was a guy where I worked that got caught up in an illegal pyramid scheme. But even with that I had never truly seen any kind of multilevel marketing. Multilevel marketing is actually a legal and effective system for selling. I have purchased many products from MLMs, but I had never been approached to sell them myself. All of that was to change one day, and life would never be the same.

It happened a few years ago. I was teaching a class on networking. We had established protocols for data transfer between computer systems. Each student had to build a client program in the Microsoft Windows environment and a server program in Unix. These programs had to communicate with each other according to the protocols we designated in the course.

For the final I randomly drew a partner for each student, and the two had to show how their programs worked with each other. It was a hard class, but most everyone found it fascinating.

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Emotional upset: Teen sex hurts boys in ways different than girls

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By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Early sexual activity for boys might be more damaging than you think, and they too are susceptible to emotional damage — just in a different way than girls.


For years this myth has been circulating: Guys think about sex every seven seconds. While there is no evidence to support this, according to a study cited by Psychology Today, this archetype is the measuring stick by which many a male has measured himself.


This has more to do with young men than you think because boys are often trying to live up to perceived societal expectations. “If a boy has been told that he is ‘supposed’ to think about sex ‘all the time,” but he ‘only’ has sexual thoughts once or twice an hour, he is likely to think something is wrong with him. Worse, he might try to compensate for his perceived lack of manliness by acting more macho (or) aggressive,” licensed clinical professional counselor John Condron of Healthy Place Counseling said.

It can also mess with a boy’s psyche if his girlfriend is more interested in intimacy (and willing to experiment with it) than he is. “If he’s been told that normal boys want sex more than girls, what is he to think if his girlfriend wants it more often than he does? What if he wants to wait, but she doesn’t? The truth is, it is entirely possible for a girl or woman to have a stronger sex drive than a boy or man,” Condron said.

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Tree care: when to call the pros

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


Mature trees increase the curb appeal of many homes, and with those good looks come maintenance. But that doesn’t mean you have to do the work yourself — or that you even should. Hiring a tree service can definitely be worth the cost. “We’re certainly cheaper than the emergency room,” Anna Morris of Limb Walker Tree Service said.


Here are some prime times for hiring professional tree care:

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Love is in the air at Marigolds

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Photo by Jenny Losee


Friday and Saturday are date nights at Marigolds Wine and Delicacies, but the weekend offers more than a chance to drink some wine.


There’s live music and appetizers and desserts — and on Saturday, if you buy one dessert you get one half off “in hopes that a special guy will bring his special lady, listen to some great music and share a wonderful dessert,” Marigolds co-owner Jean Christensen said.


Consider making a reservation so your spot is saved; the number is 237-9463.


It’s common for the restaurant to be brimming with couples come the weekend, and there must be more than music in the air. The restaurant has also seen two couples get engaged, and one couple that met at Marigolds later got married there too — “super cool in our book,” Christensen said.


Heather and Dan Mihlfeith were that couple. Music was on the restaurant’s calendar, and Heather turned up to listen. Things weren’t quite ready when she arrived, and when Dan showed up with guitar in hand and took a seat, she told him she’d be happy to be his audience if he wanted to play.


When Dan started his first song — Alison Krauss’s “When You Say Nothing at All” — Heather said, “I about fell out of my chair, it was so charming, and he had a marvelous voice.”


Hoping to start guitar lessons herself, Heather tracked down Dan and asked him to be her teacher, but “we didn’t do a whole lot of guitar,” Dan said. The couple frequented Marigold’s on date nights, and five months after that first night, they were engaged. When it came time to choose a wedding venue, Marigold’s got the nod.


According to Heather, during one conversation, “(Jean) said, ‘I love love,’ and it just squeezed my heart. Ultimately it just seemed like the perfect place to get married. She had all these ideas, and she fit within our budget,” Heather said.


For Dan, the big draw was the food; he wanted Jean to cater, end of story. He suggests people stop by Marigolds for their own date nights because the atmosphere is laid back, there’s always live music, and the food is good. Heather said that even though music is ever present, it isn’t so loud that you can’t have a conversation, making it ideal for a night out together.


And all this atmosphere isn’t coincidental, as Jean likes to play matchmaker and works hard at her craft. “We like to think of ourselves as changing lives one couple at a time,” she said. “We are a quiet non-smoking, low-key and inviting establishment. Marigolds wants everyone to enjoy a great night out,” Christensen said.

Making blown eggs for Easter

With Easter right around the corner, it’s time for all things egg. And if you’ve always decorated hard-boiled eggs, you might think about changing things up this spring and blowing out eggs instead. It’s fairly easy to do, and your kids will undoubtedly want to help. It’s also less stinky than dealing with dozens of boiled eggs.



1. Take a fresh egg, and use something sharp to make a small hole in each end. You can use the point of craft scissors as pictured or a needle. Making a hole is most successful when you chip, chip, chip away at one spot rather than twisting the sharp tool, which is more likely to crack your shell.

Don’t worry, however, if you do end up with a small crack; if you decorate your hollowed eggs with glitter, as seen here, the glue with help shore up the weak spot.



2. Once your hole is big enough, insert a skewer several times; this helps break up the yolk so it can exit the tiny hole at the opposite end. Rinse one end of the egg and blow the white and yolk out the other end. Allow to dry.




Now that you’ve got a hollowed egg, it’s time to decorate. You can dye the shells or paint them, but this tutorial shows how to coat them in glitter. Using a paintbrush, brush the shell with school or craft glue. You don’t need a very thick layer, and a thin layer will look better when dry. “Paint” where you want one color of glitter to be.



Roll the eggshell in the first color (sprinkling glitter on top will also work). Once dry, add more glue if you want another color of glitter; apply glitter the same way. Allow to dry fully, then add the eggs to your holiday decorations.

Do you qualify for WIC?

Here are the WIC requirements, courtesy of District 6 WIC director Kathy Puckett:


WIC is not an entitlement program as Congress does not set aside funds to allow every eligible individual to participate in the program. WIC is a Federal grant program for which Congress authorizes a specific amount of funds each year for the program.

WIC’s guidelines for income eligibility are higher than most people think.  To be eligible, applicant’s gross income must fall at or below 185% of the US poverty level guidelines.  For example a family of 4 could make up to $43,568/yr to qualify.  Let’s compare that to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) income guidelines.  For SNAP benefits, most families gross income must fall below 130% of the US poverty level guidelines, so a family of 4 would only need to make $30,624/yr to qualify (granted there are many factors that go into determining SNAP income eligibility such as allowable deductions that are determined on a case by case basis).

Conflict resolution: tips from a counselor

Kids can be taught to resolve minor issues on their own. Tricia Harvala, Chubbuck Elementary School counselor, said most issue kids face can be resolved on their own or with a little help from a teacher, counselor or administrator. When kids know how to do this, it’s empowering.

“Having the confidence in their abilities to solve their own problems is an important life skill for all children to have in order to be successful throughout their lives,” she said.

At Chubbuck Elementary students are taught to first identify whether the issue is a conflict or a bully situation. If it is conflict, students are asked to attempt to solve the problem using at least three strategies. Here are some strategies:

Walk away


Share and take turns

Say, “Please stop”

Stick with others



Apologize if you made a mistake

Ask for advice from friends, family, teacher, counselor or other trusted adults


If students are not able to resolve the issue on their own or if the conflict is recurring, they need to seek help from a trusted adult.

Problems at school: How you can help your kids when issues arise

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


When your kid comes home with quite a story from school, it can be easy to panic. Bullying aside, some days aren’t easy, and life isn’t always fair, but there are ways for parents to help children through minor rough patches during the school year. Chubbuck Elementary School principal A.J. Watson offers these tips for parents:

>> Your first reaction is key. “The parent should avoid discrediting or overacting at first. Listen to the story and then ask the child additional specific questions regarding the incident. Usually, you can get a good understanding of what took place and how serious the issue really is,” Watson said.


Also, find out if your child actually witnessed the incident or if he or she heard about it from another student. After finding out, contact the teacher, counselor or principal if you still feel it is a serious issue, Watson said.

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Pick your poison: For teen girls who are sexually active, there’s more at risk than an unwanted pregnancy. What parents can do to protect their kids and help them if they’ve already walked down that path

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series about the emotional impact of sexual activity on teens. This week’s article will address girls, and next Sunday’s will discuss the effect on boys.

By Rebecca Long Pyper

for Idaho State Journal


The effects of sexual activity for girls are often emotional, but you wouldn’t know it from viewing popular media. While some would say pregnancy is the worst that could happen, the emotional impact can be just as damaging and longer lasting too.


There’s more at play than hormones when girls start seeking male companionship. “Girls are typically looking for different things than boys when they start dating. Girls are more likely to seek a ‘relationship,’ while boys are socialized to try to ‘get laid,’” John Condron of Healthy Place Counseling said.

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Building a stronger family: Lego Night is a chance for families to play together

By Rebecca Long Pyper

For Idaho State Journal


For Carrie Williams, the initial draw to Portneuf District Library’s Family Lego Night was convenience.


On Mondays the Williams try to have a family night, but with six kids — and the youngest just a baby — it’s not always easy to get a meaningful activity planned.


“It helps me not have to come up with something for family night because I don’t always have time to do stuff on Monday,” she said.


So Carrie and her husband packed up all six kids and headed to the library, where the children got to play with loads of blocks and even put their creations on display in the library’s teen area.


What started out as an easy activity turned into a meaningful experience for everyone. “They worked together to try to find parts for everyone’s creations,” Carrie said. “They were excited about it.”


The first Monday of each month, Portneuf District Library hosts Family Lego Night at 6 p.m. Legos are the material of choice because the library is very interested in the trendy STEM program — short for science, technology, engineering and math. “Because of the medium that they are, you can do a lot of creative STEM-type learning objectives with them,” Jezmynne Dene of the library said.


Those who attend Lego night at the library are provided with building blocks, and creations are put on display in the teen room for a week.


According to Dene, attendance is through the roof, and when participants arrive, they are usually presented with an objective, like “build a vehicle.”


That was the prompt the Williams children got, so 10-year-old Callie chose to build an ambulance “because I had all the stuff, and I thought it would be cool to build an emergency vehicle,” she said.


“I like playing with Legos; my brother has quite a few sets,” Callie said. “It’s really fun, and it can get kids to be more creative about what they can build with Legos.”


STEM activities and clubs are becoming more and more popular across the country, and the approach is ideal for a Lego night because it meshes creative thinking with logical guidelines.


And while a STEM-related objective is always provided, if it’s just not working for a family, that’s okay too. “The overarching objective is to get families to play together and to think outside of TV and movies and to interact on a greater level,” Dene said.


Check out the next Family Lego Night at Portneuf District Library, 5210 Stuart Ave., on April 7 at 6 p.m.

Personalized birthday bunting


For this bunting I used birthday photos from every year of my son’s life. Print your photos as 5X7. I opted to have mine printed on cardstock at the copy shop, but you could also have 5X7s printed at a photo center.



Make a template of the size and shape you want each photo to be. I thought about cutting my photos into triangles with the point at the bottom, like little pennants, but by cutting just a notch out of each one, I was able to retain more of the photo.


Before cutting anything, use the template to make sure your shape won’t interfere with any essential parts of the photo. If things look good, trace the part you are going to cut, then start cutting.


Growing up my mom taught me that when it comes to posters of any kind, the pieces always look best mounted on other paper. That’s true for this bunting too.



If you are making yours from 5X7s, cut another template for the foundation pieces for mounting photos. I made mine 6” X 8.5” so I would have a decent border around each photo. Cut a notch in the bottom of your template so there’s a half-inch border there too.


Glue photos into place.


Use clothespins to hang photos from a piece of jute, rope or ribbon. One of the best things about this project is that it can grow with your child; store the photos in a file until next year, then add a new photo from each birthday as they get older.

School supplies you ought to have at home

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If you’ve got school-aged kids, they’ve got homework — and so do you. To make homework a daily habit (and less of a drag for everyone), parents ought to stock a few essential supplies at home.


But not everyone has extra funds for providing these supplies. Evelyn Robinson, 26-year principal at Lewis and Clark Elementary, offers the following list of must-haves and a few tips for getting supplies for less — or for free:


For grades four and five, students need a calculator. “We still want (students) to know the basic facts — multiplication, addition, subtraction — but even on our new assessment, they have tools that are going to be provided for them on that computer. We need to expose kids to those tools, and what better way than at home?”


The state’s adoption of Common Core requires students to “show their work,” so since evidence is expected, the answer alone is not enough. Having a calculator at the ready allows students to see if they’ve got the right answer but will still require them to demonstrate how they got there, Robinson said. If you have questions about whether or not a student should be using a calculator for math homework, contact the teacher.


Load up on pens and pencils. For each assignment, consider which is best: If students are writing a draft they will need to go back and correct, pencil is easier. If they will rewrite the draft, either a pen or pencil will work. In that case, let them choose, even if you’ve got first or second graders, because they like the novelty of using a “sophisticated tool” when they can, Robinson said.


Paper is a must, and it’s probably best if it’s in a notebook, where it can’t get loose or lost as easily. Notebooks also are best for journal writing, something that can help a student’s writing improve.


For younger kids, provide the supplies for projects. “With primary kids, they need to have the opportunity to cut and paste because it develops fine-motor skills,” Robinson said. Opt for kid-sized scissors, which will be easier to manipulate but still strengthen little hands. And as for glue, it doesn’t matter if it’s a stick or a paste.

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Positive-parenting classes

Healthy Place Counseling offers free positive-parenting classes Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m.


Their classes include:
• Building positive parenting skills
• Improving communication
• Developing self-esteem
• Child development
• Any topics of interest to the group


To sign up, call 208.233.1276 or email hpcpocatello@yahoo.com. And learn more about Healthy Place by visiting their Web site here.

Five things to do with pompoms

Once you’ve made a batch of pompoms using the tutorial in the paper today, have fun choosing what to do with them! Here are five cute ideas from around the Web:

1. Make a garland (photo and instructions here)


2. Stitch them to a blanket (inspiration here)


3. Make an burlap bunny runner for Easter (tutorial here)


4. Add them to a pillow (instructions here)


5. Top a present with them (okay, this isn’t from the Web; it’s from my Christmas tree 2012)


First-aid essentials

Portneuf Medical Center trauma program manager Greg Vickers recommends these four musts for every first-aid kit:


  1. Examination gloves. Keeping yourself safe should be the first step when helping an injured person.
  2. Gauze and roller bandage, or a combination dressing/bandage such as Israeli bandage for more serious wounds. These can help manage life-threatening bleeding, he said.
  3. An Epi-Pen. For any family members having severe allergies, these doctor-prescribed syringes are essential.
  4. Antiseptic hand cleaner for keeping germs at bay.

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Big fish, little fish: Community Rec Center parent/child swim classes fun for the smallest soon-to-be swimmers

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Christina Silda swims with daughter Keeley Dunn at a parent/child swim class. Photo by Jenny Losee


At the age of 2 and a half, Benjamin Hess has quite a jump on most kids his age when it comes to the swim time.


Hess first started lessons at 6 months, with his parents as his partners, and by the end of the current session will have logged 40 swim lessons so far.


Starting young was a must for this little guy. “Some of our family members have not been very comfortable with water, and we wanted our little boy to be comfortable and enjoy it. From a safety standpoint, we have a boat, and it’s really important that he know how to swim in a scary situation,” mother Peggy Hess said.


The Hess family are repeat participants in the Community Recreation Center’s parent/child four-week swim classes, where for a half hour, parents and their babies or toddlers work on what recreation manager Stacie VanKirk calls “water adjustment” — how to get into the water and how to become comfortable with water getting on their heads.

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Feed the birds three ways

Spring is in the air, which means the birds are too. Spend an afternoon with your kids making birdfeeders three ways. With just a few supplies, you can craft with children of varying ages and abilities.


Pinecone birdfeeder:


This is the classic — and the least expensive — bird-feeding option.


Send your kids outside to find pinecones — big ones.

Put about four tablespoons of peanut butter into a small dish; that way you won’t contaminate the entire jar with the knife that’s touched the pinecone.

Using a butter knife, help your child spread peanut butter all over the outside of the cone. Don’t worry about getting peanut butter inside all those scales; you’ll get plenty of seeds to stick to the outside.


Roll your cone in a bowl of birdseed.

Tie a string on top and hang from a tree.


Juice-carton birdfeeder:


Rinse an empty juice carton.

Using sharp scissors or a craft knife, cut a circle in one of the sides. Also cut a small notch where you can place a popsicle stick; this will act as a perch for the birds.

Let your kids paint the outside, if desired. We went with a simple white. Let dry.


Place the popsicle stick in the notch you cut previously.

Using a funnel, pour birdseed into the carton through the spout where the juice was poured.


Poke a few holes in top of the carton and string some yarn through the holes.

Hang from a tree and watch the squirrels try to get to the seeds.




Popsicle-platform feeder:


This is a great project for older children because they can do most the work themselves.


Cut a cardboard square 4.5” by 4.5”.

With the square lying flat on the table, glue a popsicle stick at the top and at the bottom of the square with school glue.



Glue a popsicle stick on the left and right sides of the square. The ends will rest on the sticks you already glued on, not on the cardboard square.

Keep gluing layers of sticks, top and bottom, then left and right. Continue until you have at least seven layers of sticks. You should then have a nice “box” for filling with seed.


Use yarn for hanging, as seen in the photo.


Add as much seed as desired, and hang outside.

Natural squirrel deterrent

Spring is here, and so are squirrels. Because they like to eat little treat like apples and berries, they can become a real pest to those hosting a dray of squirrels. Several sites online suggest mixing Murphy’s oil soap with natural squirrel repellents like cayenne pepper or hot sauce; others suggest grating a bar of soap and using the shavings in places where you don’t want squirrels.

Stop being a spectator

The Von Busch family of Pocatello has chosen a life free of TV; instead, they spend much of their time together outside. Photo by Doug Lindley

Is your family spending lots of time on the couch this winter? Why it’s important to evaluate all that TV time

By Mary Keating for Family Living

January is a time for reflection, renewal and reorganization. As we transition from one year to the next, we tend to review the positives and set goals to change the not-so-positives from the previous year. For the vast majority of people, there is a desire to get fit, lose weight, manage debt, change behaviors, save money, learn something new and spend more quality time with family and friends. According to some experts, turning off the television can help families meet many of their New Year’s goals.

Two local families have chosen to avoid the expense and time-consuming world of television and are experiencing the benefits of spending more time together doing things beyond the couch.

“Not having a television positively affects our children in that they are not overexposed to senseless programming,” Julie Jackson said. “We play more games, play outside and live more productive lives because we do not have TV. We have discovered that we actually interact together more, and our home is quiet and relaxing.”

The Von Busch family has discovered that life without TV has many positives as well.

“Our kids enjoy doing many things like games, puzzles, books and creating endless building projects with Legos, blocks, Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs. We spend time listening to audio books and playing card games,” Teresa Von Busch said. “Since we live in the country and have animals and acreage, our kids have chores to do and will often choose to play outside even after the chores are done.”

Without TV these two families have taken the opportunity to shape the world their children experience without the constant distraction and negative side effects of constant media.

“Today’s programming is brainwashing most children today,” Jackson said. “So many people wonder about what we do with our time. We never struggle to find something to do without TV. We keep busy reading, playing sports and games, having play dates, doing library time, as well as hiking, baking, cooking and enjoying the outdoors.”



Statistically, mobile and online media have fueled a huge increase in media exposure in recent years. In fact, TV viewing is at an eight-year high, and exposure is increasing as rapidly as technology. Media is a guest we invite into our lives. However, we often overlook its potential to significantly shape our development.

According to commonsensemedia.org, “Due to multitasking, the average kid packs a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes of media content into 7 and a half hours.”

The reality is that children are spending time not just in front of the screen watching TV or playing video games, but they are doing many things at once, like watching TV and surfing the Internet simultaneously, allowing them to cram more media exposure into their waking hours.

Many experts feel that people expose themselves to media without consciously thinking that the goal of most media is to hustle us for money, sell us fancy cars, bribe us with unhealthy snacks, reinforce aggressive behaviors and rob us of precious time.

“We have chosen to avoid the expense, the time wasting, the commercials and the overall negative atmosphere such as language, stereotypes and disrespectful behavior that is so often portrayed in programs,” Von Busch said. “We often tease the kids and say that watching too much TV will turn their brains to mush — and the research actually supports that premise. “

Nowadays adults and children are creatures of media and technology. Television is a part of everyone’s life; even if you are one of the few who choose not to watch, you are surrounded by those who do. Due to large audiences, media has the ability to shape societal development. While enjoying favorite shows we absorb the political, social and economic messages assumed in programming.



“Media acts like a super peer — thus, tweens and teens aren’t simply enjoying the mindless entertainment, they’re absorbing messages about life that may not be the ones you, as a parent, want them to hear,” states commonsensemedia.org.

Let’s take a page from history to see how written media has shaped society. In previous generations fictional writing served to entertain, instruct, inform and improve the audience or readership. Fairy tales were passed down from one generation to the next as a vessel for passing on cultural ideas, thoughts and values. Literary art has shaped and reshaped philosophy and culture for centuries.

In this century, stories are not just read or heard but acted out across the media landscape. Although the relationship between what is seen or read and what we do is complex, it does appear that TV, like books, has the ability to change the culture in more ways than we can imagine.

In its third study on media’s impact on children, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “kids age 8 to 18 spend more time with media than they do with their parents or in school…more time than they spend sleeping.” The study leaves the public asking the question who, or rather what, has the biggest influence on our youth.

A great deal is known about children and television because there have been thousands of studies on the subject. How TV affects kids’ sleep, weight, grades, behaviors and more have been studied. Some studies link early TV viewing with later attention problems, such as ADHD.

Since the 1950s, thousands of studies have looked at the link between exposure to media and violence and violent behavior, as it is estimated that the average child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by the age of 18.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares and fear of being harmed.”

Dale Kunkel, a professor of communications at the University of Arizona, has studied media issues for 20 years and is one of several researchers who led the National Television Violence Study in the 1990s. This project is widely recognized as the largest scientific study on media violence.

Kunkel reported on the American Psychological Association Web site that “after reviewing the totality of empirical evidence regarding the impact of media violence, the conclusion that exposure to violent portrayals poses a risk of harmful effects on children has been reached by the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and a host of other scientific and public health agencies and organizations.”

There is strong consensus among researchers that exposure to media violence is a significant public health concern. Violence is widespread across the television landscape, presented in a manner that increases its risk of harmful effects on child viewers, and the overall presentation of violence on television has remained remarkably stable over time.

However, violence is not the only concern. Studies address the risks of watching aggressive and disrespectful behaviors. And countless studies document the link between media and achievement in school. As media consumption rises, achievement appears to decline.

Researchers at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons concluded in 2007, for example, that 14 year olds who watched one or more hours of television daily “were at an elevated risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades and long-term academic failure.”

Numerous studies conclude that increased time spent watching television during childhood and adolescence was associated with a lower level of educational attainment by early adulthood. But negative effects are not just impacting education. Children who watch TV are more likely to smoke, be overweight, suffer from sleep difficulties and have high cholesterol.

It is thought that advertising plays a significant and influential role in behaviors. Advertisers target children, and some children see tens of thousands of TV commercials each year, including ads for unhealthy snack foods and beverages, not to mention beer and wine ads.



Television and other media, like everything else, combine the good with the bad. While media can be used to promote aggressive and negative behaviors, highlight negative and inappropriate role models for children and spur consumption, it can also be entertaining as well as educational. The possibility for it to open up new worlds and allow children to explore the globe and learn about different cultures and encounter ideas they may never encounter in their own communities is certainly a good use of media. It has the ability to unite people and provide information to foster positive cultural, social and environmental change. How we use media shapes what we get from media.




Parental involvement matters, as studies show that children whose parents set rules or limit access spend fewer hours with media than their peers. By watching together parents can help children understand the messages they get from popular entertainment and teach them to use the technology in productive and responsible ways. But with portable devices and busy schedules, many parents struggle when it comes to limiting consumption. The Von Busch family has found a way to make their TV work for them.

“While we choose not to invest in cable or satellite — and we do not receive local channels because of our rural location — we do have a TV with a VCR and DVD player so we can enjoy watching movies,” Von Busch said. “When you choose a movie, you have a specific starting and ending time, plus you don’t have to watch endless commercials. We can also be very directive, proactive and specific as to the content of the programs we watch, thereby teaching our children to become discriminating viewers. With so many shows filled with stereotypes, violent solutions to problems, and mean, bullying behavior, we are able to select what is positive and educational for our children.”

Life without TV is something most segments of the population find hard to comprehend. Both the Jackson and the Von Busch families have experienced some comments regarding their absence of cable or satellite-TV access.

“Most people are just surprised,” Von Busch said. “Some say they don’t know what they would do without their favorite shows and sporting events. I feel that children are young for such a short time, and we have the privilege and responsibility of helping them interpret the world: what is real versus fake, what is important versus trivial, what is truth versus a lie. I know I will wish for more time with my children, but will never wake up one day and wish for more TV time.”

The Jackson family does not feel like they are missing out.

“I have found that our children don’t have as many wants because they aren’t constantly bombarded with commercials,” Jackson said. “They aren’t even aware that they may be missing out. Constant TV noise is distracting, whether people realize it or not. Children love to come to our house to play, and they actually interact with each other. I think people are addicted to TV and don’t even think about how little quality programming is available and the amount of time they waste. I encourage families to turn it off for a week and find how much more life has to offer than television. It is not really that hard to live without it.”


As the New Year starts, it is important to reflect on how media is used in the home. Is it a source of information and entertainment? Is it left on for background noise while no one is really watching? Are you knowledgeable about what programs your children are watching? Do you discuss what is seen in the media and how it may be influencing thoughts as well as behaviors?

Continual monitoring and interacting with media with your children is important. From toddlers to teens, it is always the right time to help them select, discuss and understand messaging in programs. Spend some time to ensure that you are getting the most educational time from media, investing in your children in positive ways and growing as a family. As you invite the media to be a guest into your home, look for content that provides a positive impact on cognitive and social skills.




What Parents Can Do

            Oklahoma State University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department suggest the following ways you can direct the impact TV viewing has on your family. Use this checklist to identify what you are doing, what you may want to do and what you might consider in the future:

  • Monitor what your child(ren) see on the television. Decide together (as a family) which programs are suitable for viewing.
  • Turn off the TV during meals. Having the TV on during meals establishes poor eating habits and can lead to overeating. It interferes with discussions too.
  • Do not use the TV as a babysitter. Help your youngster find interesting things to do and ways he/she can be helpful at home.
  • Talk about programs that are being watched. Whether it is a sports program or a series, talk about what is happening and who the characters are. Discuss also the theme of the story and whether you agree with the content of the program, language used or plots in the story. Children will learn what to value from you.
  • Encourage your children to do other activities throughout the day. Playing outdoors and with friends, helping with chores around the house or reading a good book can pull children away from the TV and make them less dependent upon it for filling their time.
  • Be a role model to your children. Read, walk, jog, have friends over for a visit or become involved in projects or a hobby. Let your children see that you do not have to have the TV on all the time for company or to be entertained.

Costume contest winners

Thanks to all who submitted photos for our Halloween costume contest. Here are the winners:

First place: Captain America

“I made this Captain America uniform for my son Harrison using red, white and blue duct tape over cardboard (and) random items in our junk drawer. The mask and white Under Armour shirt were the only store-bought items. The shield was made using a 16-inch pizza pan, some spray paint and reflective construction paper.” 

All we can say is, What a cool dad!

Submitted by Scott Nelson

Prize: Two free passes to the Swore Farms maze and a 25-pound pumpkin from the farm. 

Runner-up: Nacho Libre

“This is my boy Jax as Nacho Libre! Such a great costume. Sewed a cape together, attached it with Velcro.  Then just combined pajamas (added iron-on letters) and underwear and a little paint. Voila, Nacho.”

Submitted by Sharen Caldera

Prize: One free pass to the Swore Farms maze


Runner-up: Dorothy and the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz

These cute kiddos, Anna and Ethan, are the grandkids of Verlyn and Jodi DaBell of Pocatello. Who doesn’t love a costume that represents a classic movie?

Prize: One free pass to the Swore Farms maze

Runner-up: Indian chief

You’ve already seen this shot; it’s one of our favorites — in fact, we loved it so much we used it for our Family Living cover! Local photographer Nema Blanchard shot it; check out her work and contact information here.

Prize: One free pass to the Swore Farms maze

Special thanks to our sponsor, Swore Farms. Take your family to their pumpkin patch or maze for a fun fall activity.

Cake from carrots and cream-cheese frosting

By Jenny Welsh for Family Living

During our “just friends” years, my now husband came up with a great ritual for attracting my interest.  Anytime my unsuspecting self mentioned a food I liked, he would stock up his small dorm room fridge with things like watermelon or chocolate, just so I would visit.  When he found out what my favorite kind of cake was, I was surprised with a scrumptious, homemade carrot cake for my birthday, which I kindly shared with him. While he had long since won my heart just being his charming self, that cake won over the rest of me, that is, until his roommate accidentally stepped in it.

As I celebrate another year of growing in wisdom this month, I have learned how to not only keep feet out of my cakes, but how to get those perfectly flat tops.  For this, I suggest using a set of cake strips.  These metallic-lined strips of cloth can be found with cake decorating supplies in some stores or online, and for years they never seem to stop doing their job.  Wrapped around each cake pan, they insure that the cakes cook more evenly to avoid a domed-shaped top.

Carrot cake is still my preferred birthday cake, and this recipe is flavorful, not only for the sweet carrots and various spices, but for the use of butter instead of oil.  When creamed with the sugars, the butter also adds air to the mix that results in a fluffy, moist cake.  There is so much butter in this cake that you may just have to look the other way, because the finished product is worth every extra mile you will need to run, trust me.

Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)

2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.

Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.

Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second cake. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press coarsely chopped pecans onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Cream-Cheese Frosting

1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.  Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated.


What did you do at school today?

By Mary Keating for Family Living


The average student spends six hours a day at school. But often when asked, “What did you do at school today?” the answer is, “Nothing” or “I forgot.”

But there are ways to get the answers you seek.

First, be sure to ask open-ended questions. Questions that begin with “why” or “how” or phrases like “what do you think about this or that?” encourage creative thinking and problem solving and often get to the real answer lurking just below the “nothing.”

Cathy Stevens of Greenacres Elementary suggests that parents ask their children the following questions on a daily basis:

  1. What was your favorite thing about the day?
  2. What did you like least during the day?
  3. What did you learn in math, reading, science, etc., today?
  4. Who did you play with?
  5. What kinds of things did you play?
  6. Did you have any moments of frustration? What were they?
  7. Is there anything special coming up at school that I need to know about?
  8. Did anything special happen today?
  9. Did anything out of the ordinary happen today?

10.  Did your teacher do or say anything funny today?

Positive communication is not just about sharing good news or saying positive things; it is also about being able to talk about all kinds of feelings, even about anger, embarrassment, sadness or fear. It means really listening when someone wants to tell you something.



Sidebar: Test drive these tips to help build a trusting, positive communication platform with your child.

Actively listen. Tune in to what is being said and how it is being communicated. Notice the emotion and body language behind the words.

Make time. Set a time when you and your child can talk uninterrupted. Good times are usually just before bed or after dinner.

When needed. When a child comes to you to talk, try to drop everything and let them know what they have to say is important.

Eye to eye. Looking someone in the eye while they are talking lets them know they have your full attention.

Listen and repeat. When you repeat back to a child what you think they are saying and feeling, it helps to clarify the message, making them feel respected and comforted. Then follow up and ask if they want your advice or opinion.

Always be honest. Children are very bright, and if they know parents or adults are lying to them, they lose trust in what is communicated.


Sources: powertochange.com/students/people/listen and thinksimplenow.com/relationships/how-to-really-listen-to-someone


Thyme in the yard

By Mary Keating for Family Living



Rising gas prices, soaring airfares and increasing food costs are squeezing the travel and food budgets for many families. Consequently, many in our area are opting to spend more time in their own back yards this summer.

Growing a garden, sipping ice tea under an umbrella and running through the sprinklers are just a few pleasurable adventures just the twist of a doorknob away. There are also stems, creepy crawlers and imagination aplenty outside, all of which can be enjoyed by the whole family. With a little digging, an assortment of seed packets, a splash of water and an investment of time the imagination and even edible treats will grow — and soften the pinch at the store.

Whether on a big or small scale, summer offers a unique opportunity to share a little “thyme” with family, plant an adventure and experience growth not only of plants but also of the mind.

The beauty of gardening is that it offers something for everyone ages 3 to 100. Elements of math, science, art, reading, recess, imagination, physical education and even lunch are waiting beneath the soil.

The youngest gardeners may unearth a fairy garden or a frog habitat. Little biologist explore the world of small creatures who call the dirt home.

Elementary children take pride in reading the planting instructions on seed packets, graphing gardens on paper, waiting for sprouts and journaling experiments. Budding photographers find many brilliant and fleeting images worthy of capture.

For some, gardening morphs into a competition with calculated plans to grow the biggest pumpkin or the best fruits for the fair. For health-conscious mothers, gardening serves as a nutritional, organic opportunity.

Here are a few things to remember when starting a family garden:

Size does not matter. A garden can be as big as a farm or as small as a container. Filled with flowers, abundant with fruit or overgrown with vegetables, gardens need nothing more than a space filled with good soil, sprinkled with water and large enough to accommodate the plant selections. With the increasing popularity of container gardening, seed houses are developing plants specifically designed for pots.

Plan the space. It is wise to plan the space or at minimum a theme for each area, big or small. It could be something general such as a vegetable garden or a simple pot filled with flowers for cutting. Perhaps a butterfly garden?

The space could be designed with texture, color or scents. Limited only by the imagination, vines could be lines to the moon and tall stalks could lead Jack to the goose that lays golden eggs. About three years ago there was a growing trend to build “forts” by planting mammoth sunflowers in rectangles large enough to accommodate a child chair and table in the center.

Think extreme. Southeast Idaho has a short growing season; enjoy it while it is here. Huge flowers like the classic sunflower or small treats like grape tomatoes are fun to raise and harvest. Surprising colors like purple carrots, striped beets, rainbow chard, purple beans and Easter-egg radishes bring conversation right to the dinner table.

Have fun. Once planting is done, seedlings are sprouted and daily watering is a habit, there is still much fun to be had in the garden. Small bags of concrete make memorable hand-stamped stepping stones. Popsicle sticks that once acted as plant markers can be used to form teepees and to build forts and fairy structures. Or take weekly photos of children next to growing sunflowers and mark the progress and growth of your fun family-thyme adventures.

The public library has books and magazines on gardening to aid in design and implementation of a garden. Local gardening centers are filled with ideas and guidance. Nurseries and the community-education center offer classes and camps to foster a budding interest in bringing life into your yards this summer.


Mary Keating is a monthly contributor to Family Living, a national award-winning feature writer, editorial analyst for She Writes out of New York, a wife and mother of two children. Please visit her at marykeating.com.



Pond maintenance

This water feature is the highlight of Jean Christensen's backyard getaway. Photo by Joe Kline

By Mary Keating for Family Living


Keeping a garden pond looking great requires regular maintenance. Follow these guidelines for everyday and periodic maintenance:



  • Remove protective screen or netting
  • Clean up any debris that has entered the pond
  • Clean and replace filters
  • Clean pumps and lights
  • Split and repot plants as necessary


  • Prune plants
  • Remove dead plants
  • Top off water
  • Skim off surface scum
  • Feed fish
  • Monitor algae levels and treat with pond cleaner if necessary


  • Disconnect pump
  • Add a de-icer
  • Place netting or screen over pond
  • Remove any dead plants


  • Every three to five years completely drain pond
  • Remove all plants
  • Place fish in buckets (treated with dechlorinator if using tap water)
  • Clean sludge from bottom
  • Repair liner if torn








Bright Tomorrows Barn Dance and Auction

Mark your calendars: The fifth annual Big Pig Gig, Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center’s dinner and auction, happens on June 16 at the Booth Barn in Pocatello. The evening’s festivities will begin at 5:30 with dinner, music by Almost a Band, a silent auction as well as a live auction sponsored by Prime Time Auctions.

Tickets for this luau and big pig event can be purchased in advance by calling Bright Tomorrows at (208) 234-2646 or can be purchased at the door the night of the event.

“We have great auction items again this year,” said Melissa Nelson, Chair. “To name a few, we have a getaway to Mack’s Inn Motel with dinner Playhouse tickets, a couple’s night with a limo, a terrific golf outing at Juniper Hills, snowboards, massages, a highly coveted catered tea party, a tailgate Bengal style, a Ruger 10-22 rifle, a fun and festive table top torch from Doug’s Fireplace and one hot wine tasting event. In addition, the silent auction features many baskets and items to appeal to all ages and interests.

Tickets for this event are $15. All proceeds from the dinner and auction will benefit the Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center and will go a long way in helping to reduce the trauma of child sexual abuse in our community.

Bright Tomorrows is a non-profit 501c3 agency in Pocatello that provides child interviews for suspected abuse, mental health counseling for child sexual abuse victims, crisis intervention to families when abuse is discovered, educational outreach and sexual abuse prevention to our community. Bright Tomorrows has provided clinical services to child victims since 1984.

In 2005, BTCAC became an Accredited Advocacy Center, which formalized our involvement with the investigative process, which includes law enforcement, child protection, prosecution and medical professionals responding to reports of child abuse in Bannock County. From services at Bright Tomorrows, children and families heal from the trauma surrounding abuse and rediscover the joy, hope and dreams of childhood.

Nationally, studies indicate one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before  the age of 18. The effects of such abuse can last a lifetime. Cumulative effects of abuse not only cost the individuals affected, but also our communities.

“The Pocatello community has been so generous these past years in helping our center and the children we serve,” said Kathy Downes, Executive Director. “We invite everyone in the community to come to the dinner and auction. If you know a child or if you want to help children, you are invited.

The event is sponsored by Portneuf Medical Center, Pocatello Children’s Clinic and the Pocatello Women’s Health Clinic.

See you at the Booth Barn on June 16 starting at 5:30 for entertainment, dinner and loads of fun.

Your outdoor spaces

Spring (and summer) are coming — I just know it! — and our next issue of Family Living will feature the loveliness of outdoor spaces.

We’d love to see your patios, hammocks, porches, gardens and ponds all gussied up for the warmer weather (I’d personally love to see a few treehouses too, my very favorite kind of outdoor space).

If you’ve got photos, please e-mail them to contests@journalnet.com — maybe you’ll see your place in print and win a prize while you’re at it. And get those kids in the photos too because they’ll love to see themselves in a magazine. :)

Free parenting class offered to community

Pocatello-based mental health clinic ALLIES Family Solutions will offer free weekly parenting classes to interested parents and caregivers. The 8-week class will meet on Tuesdays from 7-8:30pm, beginning on January 11. The class is free, but space is limited: call ALLIES at 208-234-2094 to reserve a spot. The class curriculum will include parenting tips, helpful behavioral principles, and education for parents and caregivers on common childhood problems. The class will be staffed by graduate students in clinical psychology supervised by Cheri L. Atkins, Ph.D. ALLIES provides psychosocial rehabilitation, counseling, intensive behavioral intervention, developmental therapy, and service coordination. Classes will take place at 850 E. Lander in Pocatello.

A planner for Christmas

A few weeks ago my sister mailed me a Christmas planner, and I have been packing it around ever since I got it. Here’s what she did:

* Bought an inexpensive notebook and covered it in cute paper. Hey, a little aesthetic appeal always helps.

* Pasted a complete December calendar in the front. Each week merited its own page, so I have plenty of space for writing notes.

* Added tabs to the rest of the pages. My tabs are labeled “Christmas list,” “Don’t forget!,” “To do” and “Everything else.”

* Pasted a small manilla envelope labeled “receipts” on the inside front cover; pasted a similar envelope labeled “coupons” on the inside back cover.

Holiday recipes from Love&Butter’s Lynda Homer

In a couple days our holiday issue of Family Living will be delivered, and in it we feature Lynda Homer’s last installment of Love&Butter. We have enjoyed having Lynda on our team and wish her the best!

For the holidays Lynda is sharing a few sweet recipes; here are two you won’t see in the magazine:

Fast fudge  

18 oz. (6-oz. package X 3) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, or a combination of the two

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts


Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe glass bowl. Melt chips in microwave for one minute at a time. Stir until smooth, about two minutes and 30 seconds total. Add all ingredients. Stir until smooth. Turn into waxed-paper-lined 8” X 8” X 2” pan. Cool. Cut. Store in airtight container.

Scottish shortbread  

1/2 lb butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 cup flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter and sugar. Stir in flour until combined. Pat into 8” X 8” X 2” pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges barely turn golden.


Roll out to half-inch thickness and cut into bars or shapes. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until done. This improves with age. Store in airtight container for one to two weeks.

And the NEW winner is …

The original winner of our Christmas music giveaway has not claimed his prize, so our new winner is ANGIE! Here’s what she wrote:

“I think the best Christmas album of all time would have to be the Carpenters Christmas cd. LOVE IT! Brings back all the sentimental memories of my childhood.”  

I love that CD too, Angie — just bought it a week ago. Congratulations! Please e-mail your mailing address to rpyper@journalnet.com.

Don’t miss these lights displays in Idaho Falls

With the Holiday stresses that are found at this time of the year, here is a great way to help relieve some of these pressures.  Take the whole family out and see a great Christmas light show.  This show features 130,000 lights with synchronized music that you provide through your own FM car radio.  This show took over a month to put out in the yard, trees and bushes.  The lights are connected to various locations with nearly five miles of extension cord.  This show has been expanded this year to include three of the surrounding neighbors.  Hundreds and hundreds of man hours were required to put this light show together as a gift to everyone to see.

The light show will run from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 3453 N. 55th. E., Iona. through January 1, 2011.  The operating show from last year can be seen on YouTube.  When you are at home, do a search on “Belnap Christmas Light Show,” and four different songs will come up.  Last year’s show had 110,000 lights. If anyone has any questions they can call LoAnn or Evan Belnap at 529-9057 (home) 520-2135 (cell). Please forward on to others who might enjoy seeing this light show!  

While you’re in Iona, drive a couple blocks west on Iona Road, turn on Barnes Way, and you’ll see the Klinglers’ great house at 3075 Barnes Way — it’s also worth the trip! 

How about you, readers? Know of other light displays in our area? Leave comments here.

Giveaway! — The BEST Christmas music of all

Everyone has a favorite Christmas album; mine happens to be Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” — with classics like “O Holy Night” and his timeless rendition of “The Christmas Song” (you know, “Chestnuts roasting…”), it’s a winner. It’s also got sentimental value since we listened to my grandparent’s old album every Christmas Eve. It was my favorite day of the year, even better than Christmas itself.

What’s your favorite Christmas CD or album? What makes it so great? The first 30 people who leave a comment mentioning their favorite Christmas CD and a few details about it will be entered into a drawing for a Frank Sinatra Christmas CD. Because who can resist Old Blue Eyes? Really. Good luck! Contest ends Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Service: It’s a win-win kind of thing

By Michele Courville for Family Living  


I’m not really sure why I initially signed up to do volunteer work at a therapeutic horse-riding center. I suppose it was a need to be part of something bigger or maybe it was just a desire to give something back.  It seemed like such a great opportunity that I even signed up my two teenage boys to join the adventure. When I got off the phone and began to share my excitement, my middle son calmly said, “Next time you sign me up for volunteer work, ask me first.”  


“Hmmmmm,” I said aloud and rather sassily. Then I reminded him that I was the mom and moms don’t have to ask permission before signing up their kids to do the right thing.  I had been waiting decades to use this line, so just for the heck of it, I added, “And some day when you are a mother, you can do the same.”  I am quiet certain that if I did have eyes in the back of my head, I would have seen his furrowed brow and confused look while he attempted to decipher what I meant. Then I heard my daughter say, “But Mom, he won’t ever be a mom.” She sounded a bit confused, so I added,  ”Yep, that’s my point.” My oldest son managed to keep his mouth shut.  (He is either growing wise beyond his years or had just stuffed a donut in his mouth.) 


When that first Friday of our volunteer commitment rolled around, I was raring to go. The drive to the horse ranch was long and quiet.  I could tell my middle son was still a bit miffed.  My oldest son had recently gotten his driver’s license, so this was just another driving adventure for him.  To see my middle son annoyed and acting selfish was a strange thing because he is such a nice kid.  In fact, people tell me all the time how nice both my boys are.  Discovering their somewhat less-than-excited attitude about giving back to their community truly surprised me.  So I came right out and asked them both why they were acting so selfish and what all-important activity they were missing at this exact moment in time. 


After a brief moment of thought they both replied, “Nothing really … I guess.”  I think this was all the nudging they really needed because after that they seemed to be on board, but we had about a 30-minute drive left, so I took the opportunity to make a speech emphasizing the virtues of being thankful and doing the right thing.  I talked about a community being the sum of its parts, and I reminded the boys that we are all part of the same planet, the same community and the same neighborhood. I admit I probably went a bit too far when I started humming the theme from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood


Once we got to the ranch the boys dove right into their duties. (I think they were relieved to get out of the car before I made it to the second part of my speech.)  Their first big job was some heavy lifting, a perfect job for two teenage boys.  A guy named Harlan took them under his tutelage and showed them exactly how to lift a 12-year-old girl out of her wheelchair and onto the horse.  Then he explained how to walk right next to her to help her keep her balance while she rode.  Afterwards, my boys safely delivered her back to her chair.  Their next adventure was with the cutest, tiniest, frail 4-year-old little girl learning to walk with the aid of her cane.  She had been visibly impaired since birth, and horseback riding was helping her gain confidence.  


That day my boys — the two that did not want to volunteer — volunteered for an extra hour simply because another little girl requested them.  She now calls them “my boys,” and her mom and dad say she talks about “her boys” more than she talks about riding the horse.   To this day, every Friday my boys stay that extra hour to work with the little girl who asks for “my boys.” 


Turns out my boys needed to be a part of something bigger too; they just needed a bit of nudging to show them that they had something worth giving.  It is a win-win situation.  I am not sure who really gets more out of our experience — the riders at the therapeutic center or two teenage boys who learned the value of giving their time unconditionally because it’s simply the right thing to do.


As for me, their mom, I know I did the right thing too because the other day, while driving home from the riding center, my middle son said, “That’s a good thing, Mom. Thanks for signing me up.”

Recipe: Slow-cooked Oriental chicken (and a feel-good story too!)

By Jenny Welsh for Family Living

Many of our family’s favorite foods are tied to a memory, and each time they are made, the aromas bring back a special moment. This recipe carries with it a favorite, life-changing memory that came to us four years ago through a swaddled bundle. 


Wanting a large family, we tried and waited for years and had finally chosen to adopt. Thus began another wait as we completed our paperwork and sent it off to China, where so many children wait for their families to begin, just as we were waiting. At times the waiting seemed never ending and unbearable, but we relied on our faith for comfort and guidance, a faith that bonded us with friends who became like family to us, friends who prayed as fervently as we prayed for patience, peace and a child to call our own. 


One friend named Joe shared that as he prayed, he had a vision of us holding a baby boy. Surely this must have been a wishful vision, as we were set to adopt a baby girl like most Chinese adoptees. We went about our waiting by keeping busy, distracting ourselves from the daily longing. Then, in a moment of distraction, a baby practically fell into our lives. One day we were childless, the next we were not, and sure enough, the baby was a beautiful 2-day-old boy. 


Joe and his amazing family came to our home two days later to celebrate with us, and they brought along a pot stewing with this slow-cooked oriental chicken, served along with rice and steamed broccoli. Any new mom can tell you that a meal she didn’t cook herself is the only kind she gets to eat! We were so thankful for all they had done for us, for opening up their family and home to us over the years we lived near them. As they cradled our new little one, we realized that the family we had longed for was already with us.  


Slow-cooked Oriental chicken


3 ½ to 4 pounds chicken, bone-in or boneless (we use a variety of pieces) 

2 TB vegetable oil 

1/3 cup soy sauce 

2 TB brown sugar 

2 TB water 

1 garlic clove 

1 tsp ground ginger 

1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional) 


Brown chicken in oil. Transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 hour, then low 4-5 hours. Sprinkle with almonds prior to serving. 

Family Snapshot: the Ursenbachs

Ursenbach family file

• Clint (dad) — Co-owns Three Trees Construction and builds furniture on the side.  He loves spending time with his family and outdoor recreation. He has summited the Grand Teton three times.

• Mandie (mom) — Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and has previously worked as a CNA, doing hospice work and working with disabled children. She dabbles in belly dancing and loves the outdoors.

• Chloe: (daughter) — The 13-year-old “can throw a football farther than most grown men” and also enjoys basketball. She has a special bond with her sister Oaklie, dislikes math and loves gum.  

• Zachary (son) — The 11-year-old loves to skateboard, music and ice cream. He is also a “genius” with computers and all things technology.

• Oaklie (daughter) — The 3-year-old loves the Disney Princesses and Barbie. She also loves reading, music and being read to.


By Jenny Hopkins


            School, work and hobbies keep the Ursenbach family busy to say the least, but somehow Clint and Mandie always make time for what is most important in their lives: Family.  

            The couple have three children, 13-year-old Chloe Annabelle, 11-year-old Zachary Kohl and 3-year-old Oaklie Drake. Almost all of their favorite activities involve spending time together outdoors.

            “As a family we do a lot of camping in the spring, summer and fall. We like to ride our four wheelers and go on family hikes. Most of our weekends are spent with good friends and family.”

            Clint, dad, is the co-owner of Three Trees Construction in Pocatello and builds furniture on the side. He is an avid outdoorsman who loves hiking, fishing, camping, archery, hunting, mountain biking and hiking. In fact, he has summitted the Grand Teton three times.  

            Mandie, mom, is currently seeking a bachelor’s degree in psychology through the University of Phoenix online. She has previously worked as a CNA, helping disabled children and doing hospice work.

            “I loved my work and look forward to completing school and returning to working with people with special needs again,” she said.

            Chloe is in the eighth grade and has a natural athletic talent. She enjoys playing football and basketball, and, like most kids her age, enjoys playing video games. She and her younger sister Oaklie share a special bond.

            Zachary also enjoys playing video games and has a knack for computers and technology. While he is not a big fan of Justin Bieber, he does not mind being told he looks a lot like the pop superstar.  

            Oaklie, the youngest member of the clan, is the family’s little princess. She loves the Disney Princesses and Barbie, especially the movies. She also loves music and watches and dances to her favorite (girl) singers’ music videos on YouTube each morning. But she’s still a kid who loves to play in the dirt — as long as she looks cute doing it.

            “She loves to play in the dirt and do all the things her daddy does, but not without first applying her lipstick and putting on her high heels,” Mandie said.  

            Mandie and Clint hope to instill a strong sense of family in their children, but at the same time encourage them to be unique and express themselves.

            “I want my children to always know the importance of loving themselves, regardless of who does or doesn’t love them. They should never let others define them, but seek to define themselves. I want them to embrace their uniqueness and make a point to do great things with who they already are and with what they already possess, rather than bending over backward to blend. People come and go, always, but what never leaves us is us. I believe our relationship with our own selves is most important- and I hope my kids never lose sight of that. In turn of loving ourselves, our connections with others will always fall into place just as they are meant to.”

Lynda Homer’s recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds

Separate the seeds from the fibers. Rinse away the stickiness and drain the seeds. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place 1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter in a large shallow pan and spread the pumpkin seeds until each one is coated with butter or oil. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt, onion or garlic salt or seasoning of choice.             

Love&Butter: Lynda Homer’s spinach recipes

In our September issue of Family Living, we featured Lynda Homer’s lovely ways to serve spinach — and she encourages everyone to take a trip to the farmer’s market Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning to see what ingredients are available locally. Here are all three of her recipes:


Spinach Chicken Salad 

2 quarts washed, torn spinach leaves 

3 green onions, sliced thin 

2 chicken breasts cooked, cooled, cubed

1 can mandarin oranges 

1 pkg uncooked ramen noodles, broken (discard flavor packet) 

2 oz cashews or sliced almonds 



1/2 C olive oil                                                

2 TB soy sauce                                                

1 tsp salt                                                            

1/2 tsp ground ginger                                    

3/4 C white vinegar 

1 tsp minced garlic 

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper 

1/4 C brown sugar 


Mix together and add 2 teaspoons sesame seeds.  Dress salad and serve immediately. 



Summer Spinach Salad


2 to 3 quarts washed spinach leaves 

1/2 lb bacon – cooked, cooled, crumbled 

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced 

1/2 red onion, diced 

Toss together and dress with your favorite poppy seed dressing. 


Self-Crusting Spinach Quiche                                                

Preheat oven to 400° F. 

In 9” X 9” X 2” pan, melt 2 TB butter in oven.  Remove and set aside. 


Mix together: 

6 eggs                                                                                    

1/2 tsp baking powder                                                

1 C grated cheese                                                             

1/4 C flour 

1 C cottage cheese 

1 to 2 cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped 


Mix ingredients and pour into buttered pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set and golden.  Remove from oven and serve hot or cold with a crusty loaf of bread.

Jenny Welsh’s Italian potato salad

By Jenny Welsh for Family Living


Summer has finally arrived, and in my kitchen that means it’s salad time!  As soon as the weather warms up, I crave fresh produce, and we will have a bountiful crop to choose from, thanks entirely to my husband’s expert gardening.  The Portneuf Valley Farmers Market is also a great resource for getting fresh, local produce.  Here I share with you two recipes that make great use of commonly grown backyard produce and go well with whatever is thrown on the grill.  May your garden inspire and comfort you from the inside out.


Italian Potato Salad  

2 pounds potatoes (about 6 medium potatoes)  

1 tsp salt  

1/4 tsp pepper  

1/4 tsp paprika  

1 tsp dry mustard  

1 16-ounce bottle zesty Italian salad dressing  

6 slices of bacon, cooked extra crispy and diced  

1/2 C chopped onion, I prefer green or red  

2-3 hard cooked eggs  

1 green pepper, diced  

1 red/orange/yellow pepper, diced  

3 TB snipped fresh parsley  


When choosing potatoes, pick those low in starch that hold their shape better for salad, such as Yukon Gold or a red potato variety.  Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces, leaving skins on.  Place in pan, adding water to cover.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until just tender, being careful not to overcook.  Drain well and cool slightly, seasoning with salt, pepper and paprika.  Once cooled, add remaining ingredients, save the parsley, and gently toss.  Garnish with parsley. This salad is best served at room temperature or even slightly warm and is great for outdoor picnics where there is less worry about spoiling. 

Lynda Homer’s "scratch" cakes

Toasted Coconut Oatmeal Cake

To 1 1/2 C boiling water, add 1 C quick oats, and one stick (1/2 C) butter. Mix and add the following:

2 eggs

1 C brown sugar 

1 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg (optional – add one-half tsp cloves) 

1/4 tsp salt 

1 C sugar 

1 tsp soda 

1 1/3 C flour 

1 tsp vanilla 

Mix well, pour into greased 10” X 15” pan and bake at 350° F for 35-40 minutes (check at 25 minutes). Remove from oven. Pour topping on hot cake, broil until golden. 



 4-6 TB melted butter 

1 C chopped nuts 

 1 C brown sugar 

1 C coconut 

 1/4 C evaporated milk 

1 tsp vanilla 



Almond Cake 

2 sticks butter                        

2 C sugar 

4 eggs 

2 tsp almond extract 

2 C flour 


Mix like brownies and spread in a greased 9” X 13” pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350° F. Pour glaze over cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. 



2 C powdered sugar                          

1/4 C milk                                                                                      

1 TB butter                                      

scant tsp almond extract

International Babywearing Conference planned in Rigby

Rigby, Idaho, will be the babywearing capital of the world June 9 through 12. 

The free conference will include afternoon lectures featuring health and family professionals. A representative of the Denver, Colo., Mother’s Milk Bank is coming and will be working with our area hospitals to set up a possible milk bank depot for breastfeeding mothers to donate extra breast milk to benefit babies who need it. 

“The entire international conference was put together by stay-at-home mothers who love babywearing enough to take 18 months of their lives and plan this conference. We want to help parents around the world, and this is how we are doing it,” organizer Kimber Tower said.

The conference will be happening during Rigby’s Stampede Days, which means there will be a parade and park fair June 12. One hundred babywearers will be walking the parade route.


For more information, contact Tower at 2010ibcidaho@gmail.com.

Free gynecological seminar in Idaho Falls

Knowledge is power – and we’re sharing it for free. 78,000 new cases of gynecologic cancer are diagnosed in the US each year, and nearly 28,000 women die annually of ovarian, cervical, uterine and other forms of reproductive cancer. Dr. Karen Zempolich is a Gynecologic Cancer Specialist with EIRMC and will speak about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for women. The event is free, and we’ll be serving what every woman loves: dessert.  

Event: Free Gynecological Cancer Seminar with Dr. Karen Zempolich 

Date: Thursday, May 20 

Time: 7 – 9 p.m.

Location: EIRMC Cancer Center, 3245 Channing Way in Idaho Falls 

Pre-registration is recommended. Call 227-2778. 

Respect and self-esteem-building retreat

On June 5 at the Fort Hall Replica on Upper Ross Park in Pocatello, Shantyl Betty, a local teen and founder of Equality/Respect, will be serving as Service Unit coordinator in Pocatello for Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council. Shantyl is putting together an event for girls’ age’s kindergarten – 12 grade featuring community members hosting sessions including:

  • Dealing with bullies
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Jewelry making
  • Nutrition
  • Self-Defense

 All girls are invited to come and join us for a day of fun and learning! $15.00 includes lunch and door prizes.  Deadline to register May16.  Call 208-234-9076 for details.

Curveball Cupcakes


1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix

1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

1 tube red decorating frosting


Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Frost cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Use red frosting to pipe stitch marks to resemble baseballs. Yield: 2 dozen.

Recipe courtesy Taste of Home

Salt Lake City hosts four genealogy meetings in April

JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Even after almost 30 years of research, Jan Alpert still gets goose bumps when she discovers a new branch on her family tree.

“The biggest surprise is how much you can find out,” said Alpert, who was bit by the genealogy bug in 1981 after helping her father pursue his own interest in family history. “When you know what your ancestors went through, you have a greater appreciation for why you are the person you are.”

Now the chair of the National Genealogical Society, Alpert’s pursuit has led her on dozens of trips across the U.S. to locate records and pieces of her family’s story.

“There are millions of people like me out there doing it,” she said.

Beginning April 26, thousands of family history buffs are expected to descend on Salt Lake City to hone their skills — or begin their journeys — during a unique week featuring four conferences focused on genealogical research and technology.

Anchored by the 2010 National Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference, the week also includes the Brigham Young University’s annual Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, BYU’s Family History Technology Workshop and the FamilySearch Developer’s Conference for software developers.

Because the four events take place at the same time, Alpert, a retiree with homes in Michigan and South Carolina, said she believes it “will be the largest genealogical event ever.”

Dozens of workshops will be held daily to provide beginners and experts alike with tips on everything from basic research and organizational skills to locating resources, deciphering records, understanding DNA testing and writing and editing family narratives. Special technology workshops are also planned to aid in understanding and using various genealogy-specific databases and programs.

The week also includes several special events, including a genealogy “kids camp” for youth in grades four through 12 and a Celebration of Family History concert featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and author David McCullough. McCullough’s books include biographies of Harry Truman and John Adams.

Recent annual NGS events have drawn about 2,000 people, but Alpert said early registration for the Salt Lake City conference is “exceeding expectations.”

The response could be due in part to Salt Lake City’s unique resource: The Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has been collecting data since 1894.

The library is a well-known destination for genealogists. Considered the largest genealogy collection in the world, its database contains well over a billion names drawn from thousands of original records, including births, deaths, marriages, census data and patron contributions.

The library also has more than 300,000 volumes of data, including published family histories, county and city directories and transcripts or abstracts of other documents with genealogical significance, said David Rencher, the facility’s chief genealogical officer. The records are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. A staff of 80 professionals and 600 volunteers are on hand to help individuals with their research.

“You can bring your box of stuff and you can lay it out and say ‘Help! What do I do next?'” said Rencher. “And that’s the hard part.”

About 700,000 curious lovers of family history from around the world visit the library each year, said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs.

“They just have this yearning to identify their ancestors because it’s part of who they are,” Nauta said.

Another factor driving interest in the conference may be several new television programs — including PBS’ “Faces of America” and NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” — that show celebrities discovering their family trees with the help of trained genealogists. Most of the programs have used the services of the Family History Library, Rencher said.

“These shows are wonderful because they are hitting an emotional nerve and that’s what’s getting people excited about family history,” Alpert said.


If You Go:

GENEALOGY WEEK: Four events are scheduled April 26-May 1 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 West Temple, Salt Lake City.

—BYU Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, April 26-27, http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwgeneal/.

—BYU Family History Technology Workshop, April 28, http://fht.byu.edu/

—FamilySearch Developer’s Conference, April 27, http://www.familysearchdevnet.org/DC/index.html.

—National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, April 28-May 1, http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/.

WORKSHOPS AND EXHIBITS: Workshops cover all aspects of genealogy research and technology. Exhibit hall includes hundreds of vendors and product demonstrations, April 26-May 1.

SPECIAL EVENTS: Mormon Tabernacle Choir with author David McCullough. A concert and multimedia tribute to family history, April 29, 7 p.m., LDS Conference Center, 60 West North Temple, Salt Lake City. Free tickets online beginning March 23 at http://www.LDS.org/events.

FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY: 33 North West Temple, Salt Lake City. Open Monday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sundays. Some extended hours during conference week to 11 p.m. Free, open to the public, no appointments necessary.

REGISTRATION: Fees vary for each conference and range from $25 for students to $245. Some day rates available. Details on conference Web sites.

SALT LAKE CITY TOURISM: Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, 801-534-4900 or http://www.visitsaltlake.com/visit/.

PepsiCo cuts sugary drinks from schools worldwide

EMILY FREDRIX, AP Food Industry Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — PepsiCo plans to remove sugary drinks from schools worldwide, following the success of programs in the U.S. aimed at cutting down on childhood obesity.

The company said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft drink producer.

Both PepsiCo Inc., the world’s second-biggest soft drink maker, and No. 1 player Coca-Cola Co. adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006.

The World Heart Federation has been negotiating with soft drink makers to have them remove sugary beverages from schools for the past year as it looks to fight a rise in childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes, heart problems and other ailments.

PepsiCo’s move is what the group had been seeking because it affects students through age 18, said Pekka Puska, president of the group, a federation of heart associations from around the world. He said he hopes other companies feel pressured to make similar moves.

“It may be not so well known in the U.S. how intensive the marketing of soft drinks is in so many countries,” Puska said in an interview from Finland. He added that developing countries such as Mexico are particularly affected by this strong marketing.

Coca-Cola this month changed its global sales policy to say it won’t sell any of its drinks worldwide in primary schools unless parents or school districts ask. The policy does not apply to secondary schools. The World Heart Federation wants all drinks with added sugars removed from schools with children through age 18.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, did not immediately return a request seeking comment Tuesday.

PepsiCo’s policy requires cooperation from its bottlers, vending companies and other distributors who take the company’s products to schools worldwide. The company said it did not have exact figures for sales in schools around the world but said they did not make up a major portion of sales.

In primary schools, PepsiCo will sell only water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and juice with no added sugar. In secondary schools, it will sell those drinks along with low-calorie soft drinks, such as Diet Pepsi. Sports drinks are permissible when they’re sold to students participating in sports or other physical activities.

In the U.S., the industry has swapped lower-calorie options into schools to replace sugary drinks. Sales of full-calorie soft drinks fell 95 percent in U.S. schools between fall 2004 and fall 2009, the American Beverage Association reported last week.

The industry voluntarily adopted guidelines in 2006 as part of an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of former President Bill Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association.

Puska said defeating childhood obesity isn’t as simple as just removing sugary drinks from schools. Students must also exercise and eat better, not just at school but at home as well. Students should learn these habits at schools, he said.

Turn St. Patrick’s Day meals a little greener

(MS) — On St. Patrick’s Day, have a little fun in with a traditional Irish twist. Whether you’re Irish or not, enjoy the festivities with some entertainment and food.

* Tint milk green, whether in a glass or in a bowl of cereal. (Serve with “Lucky Charms” perhaps?)

* Channel your inner Dr. Seuss by turning scrambled eggs into “green eggs and ham.”

* Make a green smoothie with yogurt, juice and a banana, with a few drops of coloring added.

* Butter toast with green-tinted butter.

* Make pizza or pasta with a green pesto sauce.

* Serve olive loaf instead of bologna in a sandwich. It has circles of green olives throughout.

* Make sure kids’ juice boxes are a green-colored variety.

* Create a fruit salad with mostly green fruits, such as green grapes, kiwis, honeydew melon, and green apples.

* Baked potatoes topped with green-tinted sour cream and chives will be a winner.

* A vegetable medley of green veggies, like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and more can be served as a side dish or mixed as a casserole.

* While corned beef and cabbage are traditional Irish dishes, tint the cabbage green for a little more flair.

* Green food coloring added to mashed potatoes can liven mealtime up.

* Make a homemade Irish soda bread or another bread to serve at dinner and add green food coloring to the dough.

* What would St. Patrick’s Day be without a green glass of beer? For the kids, tint ginger ale or a lemon-lime soda green.

* Create a green cocktail using Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.

* Turn ice cream or milkshakes green using mint-flavored ice cream.

* Add green sugar sprinkles to cookies and cakes.

* Bake chocolate chip cookies using green M&M candies, instead of chips.

* Fill cream puffs with green-colored cream.

Tips and tricks for fitting more fiber in your child’s diet

(MS) — Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet, keeping the digestive system moving smoothly. Too often adults and especially children are lacking in the amount of fiber their bodies need.

For years, “Age Plus 5″ was the standard for determining the daily grams of fiber recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) adopted this simple guideline to help parents navigate the grocery aisles and plan healthy meals for their families. With the old fiber formula, a 5-year-old needed 10 grams of fiber while an older child, say 10-years-old, needed 15. Now, however, new guidelines, recently adopted by the AAP in their 2009 Pediatric Handbook, significantly increased the recommended daily fiber requirement — a move promoted by the multiple health benefits of fiber including improving gastrointestinal function and creating a feeling of “fullness.”

Age / Gender Fiber (grams)

2-3 years: ………. 19

4-8 years: ………. 25

9-11 years

Female: ………. 26

Male: ………….. 31

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods that humans cannot absorb or digest. According to Liz Weiss, MS, RD, co-author of The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers, “Foods that are rich in fiber include things like fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, beans, and nuts. The challenge that many busy moms face, however, is actually getting their kids to eat these foods happily and without complaint.”

A recent survey found that while nearly 90 percent of moms know fiber is an important component of a healthy diet for children, over half don’t know how many grams of fiber children are supposed to consume each day. The new guidelines are designed to clarify that issue, but what’s a parent to do when their child refuses vegetables or freaks at the sight of whole wheat bread? Weiss offers eight mom-tested, kid-approved tips and tricks for filling in the family fiber gap:

* Opt for whole grain ready-to-eat and hot breakfast cereals. If the kids say, “no way,” preferring refined cereal instead, compromise by mixing the two together. You’ll be halfway to better nutrition and more fiber.

* Offer fiber-rich fresh or dried fruit before the usual carb-based foods make their way to the table. Kids often wake up hungry, so present them with naturally sweet fruit first when their stomachs are growling.

* Give your kids an extra fiber boost with new Pedia-Lax(TM) Fiber Gummies. Just three penguin-shaped Fiber Gummies add 4.5 total grams of fiber to a child’s diet, which is equivalent to a half cup of broccoli. Fiber Gummies taste great and are easy to include as part of the daily routine.

* Pasta salad for lunch is a fun change of pace for kids. Prepare with a whole wheat blend pasta, your child’s favorite salad dressing, and nutritious and high-fiber ingredients including beans, chopped nuts, diced bell pepper, sliced carrots, and/or green peas.

* Add crunch to morning and afternoon snacks with popcorn (it’s a whole grain), whole grain crackers with cheese, trail mix made with nuts, dried fruit, and cereal, or whole grain fig or fruit bars.

* Shred a carrot or dice up a red bell pepper and saute with ground beef or turkey for tacos or sloppy Joe’s.

* When baking, replace half the white flour with whole wheat flour.

* Add beans to soups, casseroles and salads. They’re the highest fiber vegetable out there.

For more fiber tips and recipes, visit www.fibergummies.com.

According to Weiss, “The new fiber guidelines don’t need to be daunting nor do parents have to walk around with a calculator! By choosing fiber-rich foods and incorporating them into everyday meals and snacks, kids will be well on their way to a great tasting, high fiber diet.”

Spring break travel: Airfares up, hotel rates down

NEW YORK (AP) — Average airfares for spring break are up from last year but hotel rates are down, according to data from Bing Travel and Travelocity

Travelocity found average airfares are up 9 percent compared to last year, with the average domestic roundtrip flight at about $351, while hotel prices are down to an average nightly rate of about $156, a 3 percent decrease from last year.

Travelocity also crunched data for spring break for this season and came up with this list of top 10 destinations based on actual bookings: Orlando was No. 1, followed by other South Florida destinations, then Las Vegas, Phoenix, Cancun, New York, Fort Myers (Fla.); Los Angeles; Tampa-St. Petersburg; and Washington.

Bing Travel found that the week of March 22 is the most expensive time to travel between the end of winter and early April, but Tuesday-to-Tuesday and Wednesday-to-Wednesday trips are cheaper than traveling on Fridays or weekends.

Bing Travel also looked at airfare and hotel data for individual spring break destinations and found that average airfare from the U.S. to Cancun is up 23 percent over last year, from $346 to $427, but average hotel rates are down year over year, from $220 in 2009 to $198 a night this year.

Total average cost of a trip to Cancun with airfare and seven nights in a hotel for two people, according to Bing, is up just slightly this spring, to $2,243 versus $2,231 last year.

For Miami, Bing Travel says fares are also up, 21 percent this year from last year, to $292 versus $242. For travel to nearby Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airfares are up about 15 percent year over year, $257 from $224. Average hotel rates for Miami-Fort Lauderdale are down, however, to $200 a night this year from $248 last year.

Bing estimates that total average cost of a trip for two to Florida, including airfares and seven nights in a hotel, is down 12 percent, from $2,188 to $1,917.

If Maui is your dream destination, airfare to the Hawaiian island is up 3 percent this year over last, according to Bing Travel, to $571 from $553, but again, hotel rates are down, this time a substantial 20 percent, from $321 last year to $257 this year. As a result, total trip cost for seven nights and airfare for two is down 12 percent from last year, to $2,944 from $3,354.

Stack your way to a healthier diet

JIM ROMANOFF, for the Associated Press

Studies have found that if you think your meal isn’t filling, it won’t be. Combined with the effects of Supersized restaurant portions, this can leave people disappointed when they try to limit themselves to healthy portion sizes.

But with a little creativity in presentation, a healthy portion can look and feel like a satisfying feast.

One easy trick is to avoid serving small amounts of food on large plates. Instead, serve meals on smaller plates that make healthy portions appear larger.

Another way to trick your brain is to heap healthy whole grains and vegetables on the plate before adding any of the protein or main course. This gives the feeling of an oversized serving without all the fat and calories.

You also can borrow a trick from restaurants. Stack and arrange foods in a way that gives them height and suggests greater volume.

These garam masala-spiced shrimp and asparagus towers are a good example of this technique. Healthy, low-fat shrimp and asparagus are sauteed in an curry-like sauce, then stacked in alternating layers with crispy, baked wonton wrappers.

Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that can vary in the heat level it delivers. Curry powder can be used as a substitute.

Look for wonton wrappers near the tofu in the produce section of your market.

If you like, you can deconstruct this entree and serve the shrimp, asparagus and crisps separately to dip in the spicy sauce. Making a dish more interactive like this is another way to slow down a meal and make it feel more satisfying.



Start to finish: 50 minutes (25 minutes active)

Servings: 4

12 small (about 2 inch) wonton wrappers

2 cups low-fat milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons butter

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 300 F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the wonton wrappers in a single layer on the baking sheet and lightly spritz the tops with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low, heat the milk.
In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil and butter until the butter is melted. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and garam masala and cook, stirring frequently, for another 3 minutes.

Gradually stir the hot milk into the onion and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a strainer and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the shrimp and saute until firm and pink, about 3 minutes.

To serve, set a wonton crisp on each plate. Top each with an even layer of asparagus. Set another wonton crisp on top, followed by a layer of shrimp, then another wonton. If desired, repeat layering. Serve with the garam masala sauce for drizzling or dipping.

Alternatively, the shrimp and asparagus can be tossed with the sauce before assembling.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 313 calories; 97 calories from fat; 11 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 143 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 3 g fiber; 997 mg sodium.

Cupcake addicts feed their sweet tooth at ‘camp’

TERRY TANG, the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — There’s no hiking, canoeing or singing by a fire. But there might be marshmallows.

At CupcakeCamp, the focus is on sweet eats.

Devotees of the classic — and oh-so-hip — dessert have found a new way to congregate and consume dozens of cupcakes. The gist? Get lots of people and cupcakes together in one spot. Do a bit of swapping and a lot of eating. That’s as complicated as it gets.

Ariel Waldman, a San Francisco digital anthropologist, first tossed around the idea as a joke. She and her friends love cupcakes and love enjoying them together. So, why not get organized about it?

That was in 2008, when Waldman and a few friends launched the first CupcakeCamp in rented office space. The only rules — bring cupcakes, share cupcakes, eat cupcakes. All for free. They expected about 40 people.

About 300 showed up.

A camp they held six months later was even more packed.

“Everyone reached in and grabbed them before they touched the table,” said Mia Armas, who was attending her second camp in San Francisco. “We pictured it as the Black Friday of cupcakes. We were kind of scared.”

Since then, CupcakeCamp has taken on a life of its own. Last year, there were 15 camps held everywhere from Philadelphia and Seattle to Sydney and Montreal, and future events are planned for Seattle and London.

“I think it’s a very San Francisco-Silicon-Valley thing to constantly be coming up with crazy, random ideas,” Waldman said.

Waldman and her friends quickly learned that the events are only as good as the organization behind them. Now, participants must detail in advance the quantity and flavor of cupcakes they will bring, as well as whether they will be homemade or store-bought.

This way, organizers can come up with a schedule and bring out a batch at a time. They’ve also added a bake-off element, with best in show type contests.

When people started asking Waldman how to organize their own camp, she and her friends launched a how-to Web site at cupcakecamp.org. Group members, all of whom have other jobs, hope to keep CupcakeCamp going as long there’s demand.

“I love going through photos of CupcakeCamps around the world and seeing everyone smile and enjoy themselves,” Waldman said.

Waldman’s last camp was in October along San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront. The gathering hit an all time high with 730 people devouring 3,000 cupcakes in three hours.

To control the swarming crowds, Waldman and other organizers set up six stations and handed out tickets worth five cupcakes each.

The huge attendance also brought out the experimental side of amateur bakers. S’mores, mole poblano and coconut with lavender were among the flavors that had cupcake connoisseurs torn about where to stand in line.

David Rajan, a software engineer, and his friend, Jennifer Ng, a Web designer, held taste tests for friends before settling on mojito cupcakes. Her second time attending, Ng decided she’d feel better contributing something this time.

“Last time I think we ate a lot of cupcakes. So, we wanted to kind of off-load that guilt,” said Ng, while setting up her cupcakes.

At Waldman’s camps, most attendees are 20- and 30-something professionals. And many of them are men.

“My friends don’t know I’m here,” said Sam Yoo, while waiting in line with his girlfriend at the San Francisco camp. “I would lose a lot of man points if they knew I was going to a ‘CupcakeCamp.'”


On the Net:

CupcakeCamp: http://cupcakecamp.org

A cause for celebration: Girl’s party inspired by her father’s fight against cancer

By John O’Connell for Family Living

POCATELLO — The decor of Brittany Nysted’s recent 18th birthday party — pink balloons and ribbons and a piñata shaped like a pink purse — was inspired by her father.

He found out last February that he had colon cancer.

In turn, Nysted could think of no better birthday gift than funds to go toward battling cancer. The pink party theme was in line with the official of cancer awareness.

A friend contributed his Pocatello home for Nysted’s cancer-themed party, hosted Jan. 15. Everyone who attended was asked to pay a $2 cover charge to be given to the American cancer Society. Nysted also asked for donations in lieu of gifts. Her mother, for example, pitched in $250 for cancer research. In all, she raised $500.

Everyone who received an invitation to her party was allowed to bring two people. More than 30 people attended the gathering.

“I lost head count. There were people I didn’t even know,” said Nysted, a freshman at Idaho State University going into the nursing program.

Nysted admits the theme was a last-minute decision as the idea came to her in an instant.

“We were just making invitations an thinking of what we could put on their to design them, and I thought of the cancer ribbon, and I thought about donating the money to cancer,” Nysted said.

The party was low-key; guests mostly ate snacks and visited with each other. Nysted said those who attended were impressed by the party concept and reported having a good time.

“I think it’s a good cause, and I like it when people have fun,” she said. “Everybody had fun, too. I got so many texts the next day saying how much fun they had.”

Though the party is over, Nysted has decided to continue the fundraising effort. She continues to solicit “birthday gifts” through Valentine’s Day and invites anybody seeking to help bolster her tally to make checks payable to the American Cancer Society and mail them to 1597 E. Elm St., Pocatello, Idaho, 83201.

“We’re thinking about doing a bake sale, and my friend is talking about starting a fundraiser at Century (High School),” Nysted said.

Creating a party outline

By Mary Keating for Family Living

Scheduling activities for any party is a very important step. Although there are no hard and fast rules for what a party must look like, Vicki Lansky of “Birthday Parties: Best Party Tips & Ideas for Ages 1-8″ outlines a loose schedule that may help plan the timing of party activities. Be sure to keep in mind that the time suggested for refreshments includes serving time. The act of eating cake and ice cream usually takes only a few minutes.

Below is an outline for a 2-2 ½ hour party:

Arrival: As guest are arriving, schedule 15 minutes of free play or a game or activity that newcomers can easily join as they arrive. Balloon tossing or freeze dancing work well here.

Special activity: Take about 15 to 45 minutes for a major craft project or to have an entertainer, such as a storyteller, clown or magician, perform for the children. Assembling macaroni necklaces, making ice cream, crafting puppets or sculpting with play dough are other great activities.

Refreshments: No party is complete without cake and ice cream. On average, plan to spend 15 to 30 minutes, depending on what is served, rounding up the children, dishing up food, singing and blowing out candles and eating.

A Movement Activity: After eating, engage the children in a movement game. Spend five to 10 minutes getting them from the food and back into the party mode. A hunt of some sort is effective here.

Games: After a hunt or simply as a continuation of the movement activity, spend 30 minutes playing between four and 10 games. Alternate activity levels when planning games — from loud to quiet, from lots of movement to games played in a circle.

Presents and goodbye: Spend the last part of the party, about 20-30 minutes, opening presents, gathering individual crafts and party treats together and thanking guests as parents arrive.

Pan-fried apples in maple syrup

Recipe by Lynda Homer for Family Living

Lightly brown 3 to 4 TB butter in a skillet. Add two cored and sliced apples (Fuji, golden delicious or gala varieties are good). Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until soft, then add 1 cup maple syrup. Heat through and serve over the warm pancake. Yummy!

The impact of a cake: A custom cake makes a birthday bash extra special

By Rebecca Pyper for Family Living

Paula Ames of Cake Creations knows custom cakes are pricier than making your own boxed variety at home, but besides saving parents time, a special-order cake can save the party.

“There’s always the ‘wow’ factor. When you bring in a birthday cake that’s professionally done, and it’s a sculpture of something that’s meaningful, not only is your child the center of attention, but everybody is really impressed by the cake,” Ames said. “It really adds that extra something to a party.”

Customers tend to order cakes representing the personality and interests of the birthday girl or boy. The current trend for girls’ cakes is a hot pink and lime color scheme, and boys tend to choose a sports theme. Three-dimensional sculptures are popular and can even be done with moving parts and lights — though the cost increases with orders for those. “Almost anything can be achieved in sugar. If you can dream it, it can be done,” Ames said.

Ames, who recently competed on TLC’s series Ultimate Cake Off, makes her cakes from scratch, so flavor isn’t sacrificed for artistry. But maybe the biggest perk of a custom cake is the memory; everyone will remember the year Junior had the cake with the waving Elmo, she said.

“Everybody wants things that are more personal. They want things that are a direct reflection of themselves. They’re no longer satisfied with a sheet cake that says ‘Happy birthday,’” Ames said.

Want to order your own custom cake? Call Cake Creations at 709-3033.

Ticket invitation

Here’s the ticket invitation mentioned in the March issue of Family Living. Click on the photo, save it to your computer (or drag it to your desktop if you have a Mac), open it and print. You can also place it in a Microsoft Word document to resize and print from there. Let me know if you have questions: rpyper@journalnet.com.

Girl, 7, gets OK to be samba queen in Rio Carnival

BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press writer

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A family court judge ruled Wednesday that a 7-year-old girl should be allowed to samba before a crowd of thousands as a Carnival drum corps queen, a coveted role normally reserved for sultry models.

Little Julia Lira is scheduled to perform for the packed Sambadrome stadium — and for millions more around the country via live television — early Monday morning when the Viradouro samba group parades.

“We received the news this morning that the judge will let Julia parade,” Viradouro said spokeswoman Joice Hurtado. “The group is ecstatic that she will be able to samba.”

The Rio state agency for child protection confirmed the ruling and said it would appeal to the Justice Ministry. Calls to Judge Ivone Caetano, who decided the case, were not immediately returned.

Viradouro’s plan to make Julia its Carnival queen has created a stir in Rio and made headlines around the globe, with some child’s rights advocates saying it’s inappropriate for a young girl to be in such a traditionally sexualized role.

“The decision sets a negative precedent that will have implications across Brazil,” said Carlos Nicodemos, who as director of the Rio de Janeiro state Council for the Defense of Children and Adolescents had asked the court to block Julia’s participation.

Nicodemos said he worries about what message it sends to a nation that has long had a problem with sexual exploitation of children, especially in the lawless Amazon region.

Julia’s father, Marco — who is also the president of Viradouro — has said concerns about the girl’s well-being are overblown. He says the girl will wear a costume that is not too skimpy for a 7-year-old, and both he and his wife will watch her closely to make sure she doesn’t get too tired during the 80-minute parade.

More than just a massive street party, Rio’s Carnival parade is also a fierce competition between 12 top-tier samba “schools” whose winner is hailed by fans across Brazil.

Viradouro, which won the title in 1997, is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, a judge blocked the group from putting a dancer dressed as Adolf Hitler on a float loaded with naked people representing Holocaust victims.

Experiment takes aim at genetic learning disorder


WASHINGTON (AP) — A pill to ease a type of mental retardation? An experiment is under way to develop one, aimed at a genetic disorder that might unravel some of the mysteries of autism along the way.

Chances are you’ve never heard of the target — Fragile X syndrome — even though it’s the most common inherited form of intellectual impairment, estimated to affect almost 100,000 Americans. It’s also the most common cause of autism yet identified, as about a third of Fragile X-affected boys have autism.

Now a handful of drug makers are working to develop the first treatment for Fragile X, spurred by brain research that is making specialists rethink how they approach developmental disorders.

“We are moving into a new age of reversing intellectual disabilities,” predicts Dr. Randi Hagerman, who directs the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, a study site.

Fragile X, more common in males than females, ranges from learning disabilities to severe cognitive impairment, along with emotional and behavioral problems. The genetic defect disrupts a basic foundation of learning: How brain cells respond to experiences by forming connections between each other, called synapses. Those structures aren’t destroyed — they’re too immature to work properly.

“The process of learning is just that much more difficult but not impossible, because there’s nothing wrong with the synapse,” says Dr. Stephen Warren, an Emory University geneticist who led the discovery of Fragile X’s mutated gene.

The experimental drugs have an unwieldy name — mGluR5 antagonists (pronounced EM-gloo-ahr). But they aim to get the brain back on track by simply blocking an overactive receptor that plays a key role in weakened synapses. The goal is to strengthen synapses, to make learning easier and behavior more normal.

These are early-stage studies, beginning in adults to look for side effects. Specialists expect, if they work, any effect would be bigger in children’s still-developing brains.

Scientists are watching closely because “this looks like a really promising pathway” for some types of autism, too, says Dr. Andrea Beckel-Mitchener of the National Institute of Mental Health which, along with the patient advocacy group FRAXA, helped fund the underlying research.

Researchers don’t expect a cure: Drugs can’t turn back adults’ decades of cognitive impairment, Warren cautions.

“I would be very surprised if this has some overwhelming rescue,” he says, “but I think you can hope for at least some improvement.”

In Alpharetta, Ga., 27-year-old Shawn Helbig is Emory’s first test patient. He can read only small words, but first thing each morning Helbig races to swallow the experimental pill and cross off the day’s dose on a special calendar. He’s excited, his mother says, to be helping.

“I’ve always pushed him to be everything that he could be,” says Sandy Britt, describing her son as higher-functioning, holding a part-time job at a pet store, for example.

Britt hopes for an easing of Helbig’s ability to express himself, saying parents watch that frustration boil over into Fragile X’s hallmark meltdowns.

“You look at anybody that’s got Fragile X and you know they’re there. It’s like you ask them something and they kind of get lost in their thought,” Britt says. “You still have people in this world that, when they see an adult that looks normal … but they still have very childlike behaviors and sometimes very childlike responses, they poke fun.”

What goes wrong in Fragile X? That mutated gene on the X chromosome shuts off production of a brain protein called FMRP. Boys are usually more affected than girls, because they have only one X chromosome while girls have two.

FMRP puts the brakes on other brain proteins. Among other things, its absence allows too much activity by that mGluR5 receptor. Some drug companies already had been exploring drugs to tamp down mGluR5 because it may play a role in anxiety, too.

Now in the Fragile X pipeline:

—New Jersey-based Hoffman-La Roche just began a Phase II trial at Emory, UC-Davis and three other hospitals comparing its candidate to a dummy pill in 60 adults with Fragile X.

—Hagerman says results are due soon from Swiss drug maker Novartis’ similar study in Europe.

—Massachusetts-based Seaside Therapeutics — co-founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Dr. Mark Bear, who made the mGluR5 link — is testing one drug thought to indirectly affect mGluR5 and will open trials of a more targeted one soon.

What’s the evidence? The approach worked in mice bred with the Fragile X gene. More startling, when Hagerman gave a single dose of one experimental drug to 12 patients, she measured brain or behavior changes that lasted until the dose wore off in half of them.

Eye contact and language improved, Hagerman recalls; one young man even asked the nurse for a date. “That got us pretty jazzed.”


EDITOR’S NOTE — Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.

Low-fat, easy, impressive — a perfect chicken?

JIM ROMANOFF, for the Associated Press

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be great nutritionally speaking, but they can fall pretty flat when it comes to flavor.

Consider that a plus, a healthy blank canvas on which other flavors can shine. And there are two techniques that can make that easier — cooking them quickly to avoid drying them out and using the cooking process to create a flavorful pan sauce.

Quick and even cooking is easiest when the chicken breasts are thin. Thick breasts take longer to cook and are more likely to become dry. While you can buy thin-sliced breasts, it’s cheaper to buy regular breasts and pound them thin.

To do this, place the chicken breasts on a clean surface, cover them with plastic wrap, then pound them to a uniform thickness using the flat side of a meat mallet, a heavy skillet or a rolling pin.

Next, take advantage of the cooking process to make a sauce. When chicken (or any meat) is cooked in a pan, browned bits stick to the bottom. Once the chicken is done, those bits are easily turned into a sauce.

To do this, dredge the flattened fillets in flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute the seasoned chicken breasts in a nonstick skillet using olive oil blended with a small amount of butter.v
After the chicken breasts are golden-brown and cooked through, transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Now return the pan to the heat and add liquid — wine, broth, juice or water. This is called deglazing. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer.

You also can add other ingredients to the sauce, such as mushrooms, diced onion and herbs. Simmer the sauce until thickened (or add a bit of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon or two of cool water).

In this recipe for chicken breasts with pineapple and jalapeno chilies, the fruit is caramelized with brown sugar before garlic and minced hot peppers are added. To finish the sauce, the pan is deglazed with a blend of pineapple and orange juice, then thickened with cornstarch.



Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

12-ounce package fresh pineapple chunks (1 3/4 cups)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer on a work surface and cover with plastic wrap. Using a heavy skillet or a rolling pin, pound them until flattened to about 1/2 inch thick.

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of each breast in the seasoned flour.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil and butter. Add the chicken breasts and cook until they are well browned on both sides and no longer pink at the center, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Do not clean the skillet.

While the chicken breasts are cooking, drain the juice from the pineapple into a measuring cup. Add enough orange juice to total 3/4 cup. Stir in the cornstarch, then set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove over medium-low. Add the drained pineapple and brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pineapple begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chilies and garlic and stir until the garlic is beginning to color, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the reserved juice. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, then serve, spooned over the chicken breasts.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 268 calories; 70 calories from fat; 8 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 76 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 1 g fiber; 133 mg sodium.

Activists want makers to come clean on cleansers

JENNIFER PELTZ,Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the mystery under the kitchen sink.

Exactly what’s in floor cleaner? What’s stain remover made of? And what effects, if any, might they have on human health or the environment?

Environmental advocates want to know, and they asked a court Thursday to use a 1971 New York state law to force such manufacturers as Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive to reveal just what makes up such household staples as Ajax, Ivory soap and Tide.

The cleanser industry — which recently ramped up voluntary efforts to unveil product ingredients — says that the legal case is unwarranted, and that fears about health risks are misinformed.

But groups including the American Lung Association and the Sierra Club want the public to know more.

Members “want access to the information so they can determine the kind of chemicals that they are introducing into their homes and whether there are any risks associated with them,” Keri Powell, an attorney for the environmental firm Earthjustice, told a state judge at a hearing Thursday.

A victory in the New York case would require companies to report their contents only to the state. But the advocates hope it will fuel nationwide reform of regulations on chemicals in cleaners and other products.

The case comes amid growing concerns about potential toxins lurking in consumer goods, from the heavy metal cadmium in jewelry to the chemical bisphenol A in baby bottles. While lawyers argued the cleaning-products case in New York, a Senate subcommittee in Washington held a hearing to examine current science on the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

Some studies have linked cleaning product components to asthma, antibiotic resistance, hormone changes and other health problems. The industry’s major trade group, the Soap and Detergent Association, assails the research as flawed, says the products are safe if used correctly and notes that cleaning can itself help stop the spread of disease.

Federal environmental laws don’t require most household cleaning products to list their ingredients, though there are congressional proposals to change that. The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires hazard warning labels on some cleansers, and the National Institutes of Health offer some health and safety information for hundreds of cleaning products, drawn from data gathered for industrial use.

Cleanser industry groups unveiled their own ingredient-listing initiative last month, offering information on participating manufacturers’ Web sites. New York-based Colgate-Palmolive Co., Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. and several other industry heavyweights are participating.

“We think we’ve done it in a meaningful way that provides more information than ever before,” Soap and Detergent Association spokesman Brian Sansoni said.

Environmental advocates welcome the disclosures but say they are too selective and vague — some components can be listed simply as “fragrance” or “dye,” for instance.

“We must be careful about exposures for all household chemicals,” said Joseph A. Gardella Jr., a Sierra Club member from Buffalo.

The activists say only regulation can insure full disclosure, and they hope the New York law can serve as a model.

The law and subsequent regulations authorized the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make manufacturers detail household cleaning products’ ingredients, as well as any company-led research on the products’ health and environmental effects.

The DEC, and the companies fighting the lawsuit, say the law allows but doesn’t require the agency to collect the data. The companies have said in legal papers they would make the disclosures if required but haven’t been officially asked.

“The DEC has never enforced these regulations,” John J. Kuster, a lawyer for New York-based Colgate-Palmolive, told the judge Thursday.

The companies — also including Church & Dwight Co. Inc., Procter & Gamble and Reckitt-Benckiser Inc. — asked a state Supreme Court judge to dismiss the case. There’s no definite timeframe for a ruling.
Reckitt-Benckiser, a British company with its U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., makes products including Lysol and Woolite. Princeton, N.J.-based Church & Dwight makes Arm & Hammer cleaners, among other items.

Some other companies have sent ingredient lists to the DEC since Earthjustice and other organizations began asking in 2008.

Seventh Generation, which prides itself on its environmental bona fides, already listed ingredients on most of its cleaning products’ packages. But the Burlington, Vt.-based company said it released more detailed information to the New York environmental agency, including the percentage of various ingredients within cleaners.

“We thought it was the right thing to do,” said Dave Rapaport, Seventh Generation’s senior director of corporate consciousness.

The DEC is looking at ways to publicize such information for consumers who want it, spokeswoman Maureen Wren said.

Right at home: Valentine’s gifts for the hip guy

KIM COOK, for the Associated Press

Valentine’s Day gift shopping for the man in your life?

New, guy-oriented Web sites such as Ploomy, Gent Supply Co. and Ask Men offer some ideas — as well as advice and information for the modern man on everything from

managing money and dressing to impress, to learning about classic films, cleaning a bathroom and choosing a quality libation.

Anthony Doctolero, who founded Ploomy (“real solutions for men who want to arrive — ahead of schedule”), suggests this gift for the young and hip: “Even the most spartan bachelor pads we’ve been in lately had at least one piece of artwork up,” he notes.

“Artwork’s a great gift to express individualism and taste,” says Doctolero. “Get him something on canvas. It’s a major step up from all those movie posters he’s got rolled up in the closet from his dorm room days. If you opt for a printed poster, then get something with style and frame it.”

Chicago-based graphic artist Jenny Beorkrem designs striking posters depicting the neighborhoods of several cities, at a price that leaves room for a great frame.

Gent Supply Co. is the new brother site for online gift retailer delight.com. It offers “classic goods for the modern gentleman – who cooks, cleans, plays hard and understands a bit of style.” Among the goods: Anthony Chrisp’s Dart coat hooks in chromed steel. Oregon-based Resource Revival has a Bike Chain Bowl and Cog Desk Clock made of recycled bicycle parts, with a modern industrial vibe.

Eco-conscious fellows might appreciate RuMe’s water-resistant tote bags. Sold in sets of three, in solids or patterns such as a keypad, pinstripe or necktie, they’re perfect for Saturday shopping.

Gent’s also has a Scottish leather Dopp kit with water resistant liner that would make a lasting gift. Chances are your dad or grandpa had one of these, reminiscent of the toiletry kits handed out to servicemen during WWII. Add a nice badger hair shave brush in a clever blue, anodized travel case that twists closed. Very Don Draper.

Got a game buff on your hands? Clear the room of clutter and wires with Brookstone’s X-rocker wireless pedestal chair. It has 65 feet of wireless reach, headrest speakers and a comfy seat. Get the TV positioned in style with Restoration Hardware’s new easel stand, which allows a 42-inch or larger TV to be mounted at different heights, within a small room footprint.

Doctolero also suggests giving wine. Uncommon Goods has a sleek, wall-mounted, steel wine rack that would fit even tiny apartments. Lumens stocks the Wine Knot, a compact, practical and great-looking table rack molded of birch and walnut plywood.

And finally, for the man locked to his laptop, Imm-Living’s nifty PVC USB plugs come in fun styles like feathers, spectacles and clenched fists. Lorena Agolli’s Byte laptop cases play off the Apple logo with different food motifs with a man-sized chomp taken out of them.



www.gentsupplyco.com – Indiana Leather Dopp Kit, $98.50; Bike Chain Bowl, $86.50; Cog Desk Clock, $29.75; Dart Coat Hooks, $29.50; Premium Badger Shave Brush $74.50, travel version $39.50; RuMe Bags, set of 3, $28.50

www.brookstone.com – X-Rocker Wireless Pedestal Chair, $199.95

www.restorationhardware.com – TV Easel made of hardwood, holds up to 60-inch TVs, $995

www.lumens.com – Wine Knot Rack made of molded birch and walnut plywood, $128

www.uncommongoods.com – Flow Stainless Steel Wine Rack, $50.

www.imm-living.com – PVS USB plugs in various shapes, from $29; Byte laptop case, $45



www.orkposters.com – 18-by-18-inch and larger map posters with the names of neighborhoods in over a dozen cities, also available as screen prints, $22 and up

This product image released by Gent Supply Co., shows a Recycled Bike Chain bowl.(AP Photo/Gent Supply Co.)

Girl’s odyssey shows challenge of fighting obesity


CHICAGO (AP) — Paris Woods is hardly a poster child for the obesity epidemic. Lining up dripping wet with kids on her swim team, she’s a blend of girlish chunkiness and womanly curves.

In street clothes — roomy pink sweats or skimpy tank tops revealing broad, brown swimmers’ shoulders — the teen blends in with her friends, a fresh-faced, robust-looking All-American girl.

That’s the problem.

Like nearly one-third of American teens, Paris Woods is overweight. Her doctor worries her weight will creep up into the obesity range. One out of four black girls her age is obese.

The more than 11 million U.S. teens who are overweight or obese face an increased risk for diseases once confined to adults, like diabetes, artery damage and liver trouble. Those problems along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are showing up increasingly in kids.

Paris’ pediatrician urged her to take part in an intensive experiment. The goal? To see if a yearlong program of weekly sessions with a nutritionist, exercise trainer and doctor, all preaching major lifestyle changes, could keep the 14-year-old from becoming obese.

It’s the kind of intensive help that the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said last month can work for teens.

Through successes, setbacks and even a bout with swine flu, Paris tried sticking with it. Skipped sessions stretched the program from 12 months into 20, but she didn’t quit.

Did it work? Stay tuned — her experience is a reflection of many families’ struggles with obesity.

During Paris’ endeavor:

—Burger King introduced a 1,360-calorie triple Whopper sandwich; McDonald’s profit climbed to $4.55 billion; and KFC introduced its Kentucky Grilled Chicken “for health-conscious customers.”

—Torrid, a nationwide chain of clothes for plus-size teen girls, opened its 156th store, up from six in 2001.

—First Lady Michelle Obama — who grew up a few miles from Paris Woods’ Chicago home — made fighting childhood obesity her pet project. “We have a chance to change the fate of the next generation if we get on it,” she said recently.

The options in Paris’ middle-class mostly black South Side neighborhood are limited to a bounty of fast food. Paris has a taste for fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and Snickers bars, and sometimes little willpower. Swimming helps her fight that. The sport has been a passion since she was a little girl.

Her parents, Dinah and Parris Woods, wanted their three daughters to be active, to keep them busy and out of trouble. “You can’t just do nothing,” says Dinah, 47, a former fitness instructor.

In Paris’ tween years, her weight started to creep up. She developed early and classmates made fun of her blossoming bust and swimmers’ shoulders.

“They started calling me fat,” Paris says softly. It made her very self-conscious.

So she wears two suits to swim. They are a drag on her swimming times, but help camouflage her curves.

Pulling on a blue swim cap and stretching goggles tight over her dark eyes, Paris shallow-dives into the pool where her club team practices.

With smooth, strong strokes, she glides effortlessly through the water, where no one comments on her size or tells her to watch what she eats. In the water, she says, “I stay calm. It takes all the stress away.”

Paris’ two college-age sisters ballooned into obesity in their teens. The family’s pediatrician, Dr. Cathy Joyce, says that often happens — teens put on weight, go off to college, and come back obese.
So she asked Paris to join an obesity prevention study at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. Because shedding weight is tough if the people in charge of filling the fridge aren’t on board, parents must enroll, too. Paris’ parents are also overweight and with borderline high blood pressure. They readily signed up.

That’s unusual. Joyce has had a hard time recruiting. Her goal is 50 patients; she has only 31. Some parents aren’t willing to change the family’s lifestyle, others don’t think their overweight kids are fat.

Joyce says parents often don’t notice until teens are very obese — weighing 50 pounds or so too much.

“Reality shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ definitely have not helped,” she said. They’ve skewed the public’s perception of what overweight looks like, featuring people who are dangerously obese. The show’s 2010 cast — including a 526-pound Chicago-area DJ — is its heaviest ever.

At 5 feet 4 inches and 158 pounds, Paris started the program about 20 pounds overweight. That was April 2008, just before her 15th birthday.

One of Paris’ sisters had become a vegetarian, so the family decided to do the same. The hospital program doesn’t require a specific diet, but recommends healthy grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding unhealthy fats. Patients also are taught to read food labels and to eat three meals a day.

The idea is to choose a lifelong healthy way of eating.

It was all new to the Woodses, a tight-knit, busy family who used to skip breakfast and snack on the run.

Paris’ mom likes to cook and the new regime lets her experiment with tofu, nuts and soy cheese. It also means shunning old family favorites, including ham and macaroni and cheese.

Their diet sometimes requires a trip to Whole Foods eight miles from home, and it’s costlier, but Dinah Woods says she’d prefer paying now, rather than later with her health.

The change was drastic, but also seemed exciting. Paris loved the avocado sandwiches and veggie burgers her mom packed for lunch, even if some friends turned up their noses.

At their weekly group sessions at Dr. Joyce’s office, the Woods family weighs in and gets eating tips and encouragement from a nutritionist.

In the waiting room, there are half-hour workout sessions. Trainer Scott Mathews leads kids and parents through lunges, sit-ups, leg lifts and other exercises they’re urged to do at home.

The Woodses usually come on Wednesday evenings. It’s not a perfect time — everyone’s bushed after school and work. Dinah is a sales counselor and Parris, 46, a technician for hospital TV systems, attends night school. But they all gamely roll out exercise mats and dive in.

A fall 2008 session has Paris on her back, pedaling her legs and breathing hard. She rolls her eyes when Mathews asks if she’s getting tired.

“I know you’re tired. You just have to push when you’re tired,” he says.

Besides swimming most days, Paris likes to run with her two dogs, and tries to walk, instead of ride, when she can. Her parents walk a few miles several mornings before work. It’s pretty easy to stick to the regimen during that first summer and fall.

By October, Paris’ weight is down 8 pounds, to 150 and she’s lost 3 inches from her waist. Her parents also have shed pounds, and all three say they have more energy.

Paris has lost her taste for meat. “I’m just like, ew, it’s so nasty,” she says.

Thanksgiving is the first big test. No turkey, ham, biscuits, cheesecake or chocolate cake like Dinah used to make. Instead, Paris says, it’s “tofu everything,” plus lots of vegetables and wheat rolls. Could Dinah’s lemon cake made with egg substitute possibly taste as good as her traditional desserts? “No, not really,” Paris says laughing, “but I had to eat something.”

The Woodses are nervous before the next weigh-in, but the scale shows good news: No one gained weight.

By mid-December, Paris felt really proud. She bought new pants and belts. And looking in the mirror, she says, “I don’t see a face around fat. I just see, like, my bone structure … my features in my face” are more visible.

It’s a face full of youthful softness and a grown-up beauty in her sparkling eyes and arched eyebrows. Paris is starting to tell herself she looks pretty.

Still hovering around 150 pounds, she hopes to weigh 140 by her 16th birthday, April 13. “If I reach that, I’ll be pretty happy,” she says. Her birthday would mark the end of the yearlong effort.

Chicago’s 2008-09 winter is harsh, snowy and cold. Paris feels little motivation to venture outside to exercise. It’s dark when she gets home from school and homework keeps her busy until bedtime.

Her friends alternate between encouragement and saying she’s wasting her time. Her dad says Paris “is fine as long as she’s at home. She pretty much sticks to the diet. When she’s with friends, they go out to burger places. She struggles with that a bit.”

At school lunch, friends reach over and grab bites of her veggie sandwiches, and Paris thinks it’s unfair that their food is off-limits. Sometimes she takes a few bites, anyway.

By April 2009, it’s clear Paris will miss her birthday goal. In fact, she’s put on about 5 pounds. Wearing a tight magenta tank top accentuating her tummy bulge, she says, “I just want my stomach a little flatter.”

But she acknowledges “getting a little tired” of the food.

Since they began a year ago, the family has missed several sessions because of busy schedules, but they’ve vowed to complete the program and are allowed to continue for several more months.

Then Paris is sidelined with swine flu. She skips a few more program sessions, and then a few more because of training for a lifeguard job, but also loses a few pounds.

During the summer, lifeguarding interferes. Instead of swimming, it means long hours sitting in a perch, watching other children swim. By the time she gets home, she’s too pooped to work out.

The fast food at the pool proves tempting. She pushes the diet out of her mind, and pigs out with her friends at the pool on tacos, burgers and gyros.

There’s no place to refrigerate the lunches her mom packs — sometimes boring leftover tofu burgers from the previous night’s dinner.

She skips several doctor sessions, because of schedule conflicts and because she knows she’s gaining weight. She’s never been so disappointed in herself, and considers quitting for good.

Looking back, she says, “It was horrible. I was like, I couldn’t go back because I gained so much weight.”

But she returns to the medical center when the summer job is over.

Fall 2009 is stressful for everyone. Dinah has to work long hours, arriving home too late to fix dinner. She and her husband still eat vegetarian. Paris does too, at home, but continues to eat fast-food away from home. Now a high school junior, she’s stressing out over college admissions exams and much of her free time is spent studying for them.

When Thanksgiving arrives, it’s another tofu turkey day. But everyone falls off the wagon during a family vacation to Disney World after Christmas. Along with fresh seafood, there were funnel cakes, ice cream bars and cookies.

Finally, the Woodses’ last program session arrives — Jan. 19, close to two years. Paris seems tense. You can almost hear a drum-roll as she steps onto the scale — 170.6 pounds.

That’s 12 pounds heavier than when she started. Her waist size is the same, 33 inches.

There are no tears, but she looks dejected and is thinking “failure.”

Dr. Joyce doesn’t see it that way. Disappointing, yes. But she has overweight patients who weren’t in the study who gained at least twice as much over the same time frame.

The success is that Paris didn’t become obese — and she looks far from it — even though she’s a mere four pounds away from that.

Paris’ dad ended up a few pounds heavier too, but his waist shrank an inch. Her mom dropped 6 pounds and 5 waist inches.

Joyce says skipped sessions might have been a factor; continuous professional feedback is motivating although too costly to last indefinitely. A research grant paid for the Woodses to participate; otherwise the counseling and checkup sessions likely would have cost well over $4,000.

Paris Woods’ results show what everyone knew at the start: Losing weight and keeping it off is tough, and life sometimes gets in the way.

Dr. Ned Calonge, chair of the preventive services task force, which recently reported that comprehensive programs for kids can work, said conquering the obesity epidemic also requires changing cultural norms: making healthy food more available than fast food and encouraging physical activity.

Joyce says it’s too early to declare her program a failure or a success; some teens haven’t finished the program and she’d like to track them afterward.

She says kids must realize it requires a lifestyle change, and that “it’s not the McDonald’s, it’s not the Burger King that’s pulling you in. You’re choosing to go there.”

Dinah Woods says her family learned that lesson, and more.

For her, it was the first time in a long time that she went an entire year without gaining weight.

Raised to think meat was required at every meal, Dinah says she learned “that it’s OK to eat just vegetables for dinner,” or even a peanut butter sandwich.

“The beauty of it all, that all of us learned from it, is the importance of our health, that we’re in control,” she said.

As for Paris? Despite her disappointment, she says the program changed her for the better.

She knows she has to control her eating and keep active; she’s even thinking about training for a triathlon.

“I know what I’m supposed to do,” she says. And she knows that if she works hard at it, everyday, she can succeed.

“I believe I really can.”

When is one more gadget just too many?

JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Kira Marchenese works in online communications, and so she arrived on a business trip to New York earlier this week equipped with all the gadgets you might expect: personal smart phone, work smart phone, laptop, iPod touch.

Problem is, her hotel room didn’t have enough outlets to keep the darned devices charged. “I unplugged the lamp and still couldn’t do it,” she noted ruefully. “At least half the things I’m carrying right now are just dead hunks of metal.”

And so, though communications is her world, Marchenese has no plans to rush out and buy the iPad, Apple’s new tablet device unveiled with much fanfare on Wednesday. She just doesn’t see the need for yet another gadget.

Nor does Ray Bowman, a self-described “techno-junkie” who lives on a farm in Kentucky, raising sheep some 60 miles from the two nearest Apple stores.

Bowman spent Wednesday eagerly following the news of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ presentation, via Twitter, Facebook and wherever else he could find it. “I can’t wait to see what this puppy is capable of,” he enthused beforehand.

And yet by Thursday, he’d decided not to jump in, even though he still plans to swing by the Louisville store when the iPad is in, just to examine it in his own hands.

“I’ve seen the hype and the afterhype,” said Bowman, 58, executive director of an agriculture-oriented nonprofit organization. “I’ll stick with my netbook. Right now, I can’t see making the switch.”

Marchenese and Bowman use at least seven devices between them. Are they indicative of a cultural tipping point, a sense of general gadget overload? Steve Jones, a historian of communication technology, has seen signs of it, and believes it’s at least partially connected to the state of the economy.

“I think we’re at the point where we’re getting a little more mileage out of our old gadgets, being a little more budget-conscious,” says Jones, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“There’s a significantly growing culture of people tweaking their old technology to keep it useful,” Jones says. “For some, it’s actually a point of status now to get more mileage out of their gadgets.”

How many gadgets do we own, anyway? The average teen has 3.5, according to figures compiled in September by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and provided to The Associated Press. Adults between 18 and 29 averaged nearly four gadgets, those between 30 and 64 just under three.

Seen from another vantage point, the average household owns about 24 electronic gadgets, according to the Consumer Electronics Association — a figure that includes TVs, mobile phones, computers, and home receivers.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that consumers are getting harder to convince with each new gadget that comes along.

“The last decade was defined by mass adoption,” says Sean Dubravac, the association’s director of research. “We loaded up on gadgets. The next decade will be defined by refinement, and a refocus on usability and functionality.”

Debby Abbott sees it both ways. “I’m a techno-geek,” confesses the 48-year-old college administrator, who also followed Apple’s presentation on Wednesday, and pronounced herself “salivating” over the iPad.

Make no mistake, Abbott says: She plans to own it. Well, eventually. First, she wants to wait for the second generation, when the kinks have been worked out and the price, now $499 and up, may be lower.

She’s also decided to wait until her 8 1/2-year-old iBook finally crashes — something she expects (and maybe hopes) to happen soon. Finally, she’s awaiting this year’s income tax refund.

“I’m frightened that I want this,” says Abbott, who works at Harper College in Palatine, Ill. “With the monthly fee for my iPhone, and the monthly for this, it’s getting to the point where the average person can’t afford this stuff.”

For others, it’s also a matter of scarcity, not of money but time — time to set up and really learn how the things work.

“Every new device is an investment in time,” says Marchenese, 36. “The whole power of the device is that you can set up all these apps — but that doesn’t happen by itself. And if you’re not going to make the most of it, why have it?”

That’s all part of a general feeling of conflict many have about their devices, says Lee Rainie, director of Pew’s Internet project. A December 2007 study, he says, showed that “Lots of people have conflicted views about their gadgets. On the one hand they can be expensive and time-consuming … on the other hand they help people navigate their social and information worlds and can make life easier or more exciting.”

And it’s the excitement that takes over when a cool new toy emerges, says Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California.

“Yes, we are really deviced out, tired out, overburdened,” Cole says. “And all that goes out the window when a must-have device appears. We still fall for this stuff.”

Matt Scatchell seems to have already fallen hard for the iPad.

The high school senior in Avon, Conn., was in school Wednesday but received constant text alerts of the Apple presentation on his cell phone, via a Web site for Apple enthusiasts. He scoured them even as he traveled with his hockey team to a game. Nothing surprising for someone who waited 13 hours on line to buy an iPhone — for someone else. (He had sold his spot in line on Craigslist.)

“I was getting more and more excited as the press conference went on,” Scatchell says. “I think the iPad is excellent. Apple has the most efficient touch screen around.”

But youth’s impetuosity has not carried the day. He, too, is not ready to buy the device.

“Most kids my age aren’t pragmatic enough,” says Scatchell, who obviously is. “I want to see if I can really use this. I don’t want to get carried away just ’cause it’s the next cool thing.”

Valentine’s: An easy and impressive cheesecake

ALISON LADMAN, for the Associated Press

Cheesecake isn’t a terribly difficult dessert, it just requires a bit of attention to detail. This recipe is perfect for those that love sweet-tart desserts. It has a classic graham cracker crust and a rich and creamy berry cheesecake, all topped with a sweet-tart blackberry lime curd.

The recipe for the curd makes more than what you need for the cheesecake. That’s because it’s easier to make it in quantity. Leftovers are delicious on toast or waffles in place of jam, or spooned over vanilla ice cream.



Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (1 hour active), plus cooling

Servings: 6

For the crust:

2/3 cup (2 ounces) graham cracker crumbs (about 5 whole crackers)

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the cheesecake:

16 ounce-package frozen blackberries, thawed 30 minutes at room temperature, divided

3/4 cup sugar, divided

16 ounces cream cheese (2 packages), room temperature

2 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the curd:

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

Finely grated zest from 2 limes

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut up

Fresh blackberries and mint leaves, to garnish

Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 6-inch springform pan with baking spray.

In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

Reserve 2/3 cup of the semi-thawed blackberries.

In a blender or food processor, combine the remaining blackberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Process or blend until pureed. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Set aside the puree.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the flour. Mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix some more. Do not mix any faster than medium-low; you don’t want to incorporate air into the mixture.

Add 1 egg, mix thoroughly and scrape the bowl. Add the second egg, mix and scrape again. Add the vanilla and mix one more time. Fold 1/2 cup of the blackberry puree and the reserved whole blackberries into the batter.

Transfer the batter to the crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature of the oven to 250 F and bake for another 30 minutes. The top of the cheesecake should be slightly puffed and spongy-firm to the touch. It should just jiggle slightly in the center when the pan is tapped. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely chilled.

While the cheesecake bakes, make the blackberry-lime curd. In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine the eggs and sugar with a whisk. Add the remaining blackberry puree, the lime juice and lime zest.

Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water. The bowl should rest on the top edge of the pan without touching the water. Whisk the mixture continuously until it reaches 170 F. Remove from heat and add the butter, one piece at a time, whisking to combine. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cool.

When ready to assemble the dessert, remove the springform pan sides. Run a spatula under the crust to remove the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a plate. Spoon the blackberry lime curd over the top of the cheesecake. Garnish with fresh blackberries and mint leaves and serve.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 672 calories; 383 calories from fat; 43 g fat (26 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 208 mg cholesterol; 64 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 4 g fiber; 318 mg sodium.

This photo taken Jan. 13, 2010 shows Blackberry lime cheesecake. An impressive desert is always a welcome ending to a Valentine’s Day dinner. Blackberry lime cheesecake will impress with a lot less effort than you may think. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe) Photo: Food Valentine~s Dess_Wixo

Girls may learn math anxiety from female teachers


WASHINGTON (AP) — Little girls may learn to fear math from the women who are their earliest teachers.

Despite gains in recent years, women still trail men in some areas of math achievement, and the question of why has provoked controversy. Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.

Young students tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, and having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls, explained Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago.

Beilock and colleagues studied 52 boys and 65 girls who in classes taught by 17 different teachers. Ninety percent of U.S. elementary school teachers are women, as were all of those in this study.

Student math ability was not related to teacher math anxiety at the start of the school year, the researchers report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students — but not the boys — were to agree that “boys are good at math and girls are good at reading.”

In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes’ boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.

“It’s actually surprising in a way, and not. People have had a hunch that teachers could impact the students in this way, but didn’t know how it might do so in gender-specific fashion,” Beilock said in a telephone interview.

Beilock, who studies how anxieties and stress can affect people’s performance, noted that other research has indicated that elementary education majors at the college level have the highest levels of math anxiety of any college major.

“We wanted to see how that impacted their performance,” she said.

After seeing the results, the researchers recommended that the math requirements for obtaining an elementary education teaching degree be rethought.

“If the next generation of teachers — especially elementary school teachers — is going to teach their students effectively, more care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators,” the researchers wrote.
Janet S. Hyde, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the study a “great paper, very clever research.”

“It squares with an impression I’ve had for a long time,” said Hyde, who was not part of the research team.

Hyde was lead author of a 2008 study showing women gaining on men in math skills but still lagging significantly in areas such as physics and engineering.

Girls who grow up believing females lack math skills wind up avoiding harder math classes, Hyde noted.

“It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology,” she said.

Beilock did note that not all of the girls in classrooms with math-anxious teachers fell prey to the stereotype, but “teachers are one source,” she said.

Teacher math anxiety was measured on a 25-question test about situations that made them anxious, such as reading a cash register receipt or studying for a math test. A separate test checked the math skills of the teachers, who worked in a large Midwestern urban school district.

Student math skills were tested in the first three months of the school year and again in the last two months of the year.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

On the Net:

PNAS: http://www.pnas.org

Want to feed a Super Bowl crowd fast? Think subs

RYAN KING, For The Associated Press

If you’re looking to feed a Super Bowl crowd fast and cheap, giant subs are the way to go. Depending on how much other food you plan to serve, one 24-inch sub can make as many as 12 servings. And it takes just minutes to assemble.

Alternatively, and for even less effort, set up a sub buffet — a variety of rolls, deli sliced meats and cheeses, roasted and fresh vegetables, and a bunch of condiments — then let your guests assemble their own. You even could turn on the oven for guests who want their subs heated.

Consider these easy recipes for giant Italian and pastrami subs just a jumping off point. Head to the deli, buy whatever meats and cheeses inspire, then head home and create.

If you have a little extra time, you also could marinate and roast some vegetables the night before. These make a great addition to warm or cold subs. For an easy marinade, use a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing.



Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 12

24-inch baguette, halved lengthwise

8 deli slices ham

8 slices prosciutto

8 slices mortadella

8 slices salami

8 large slices pepperoni

2 large tomatoes, sliced

1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sweet banana pepper slices

8 deli slices provolone cheese

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

3 tablespoons oil and vinegar salad dressing

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Arrange one half of the bread on a baking sheet. One variety at a time, layer the meats over the length of the bread. Top that with layers of sliced tomato, bell pepper, red onion and banana peppers. Top with provolone cheese.

Toast in the oven until heated through and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lettuce and the salad dressing, then top with the remaining half of the bread. Cut into 12 slices.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 355 calories; 145 calories from fat; 16 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 42 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 19 g protein; 2 g fiber; 1,251 mg sodium.



Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 12

24-inch baguette, halved lengthwise

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

10 slices pastrami

6 slices cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Arrange one half of the bread on a baking sheet. Spread the mustard evenly over the bread. Top with pastrami, then cheese. Toast until the pastrami is hot and the cheese has melted. Top with the remaining half of the bread. Cut into 12 slices.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 214 calories; 56 calories from fat; 6 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 18 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 1 g fiber; 560 mg sodium.

Jenny Welsh’s sauce recipe

As promised, here’s Jenny’s tried-and-true sauce recipe referenced in our February issue. Enjoy!


In a medium saucepan combine:

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 7-½ oz. can undrained whole tomatoes, cut up (fresh tomatoes from your garden that have been frozen and peeled can also be used)

½ finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon pepper

Bring to boiling, reduce heat, let simmer, covered for about 10 minutes or until the onion is tender. Enough for one pizza.

Teens don’t ring bells, they TOA (text on arrival)

BETH J. HARPAZ, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Planet Teenager, where I unfortunately live, is a busy and surprising place.

On this planet, kids come and go at all hours, but nobody ever rings a bell or knocks on a door. Nobody calls to warn, “I’m on my way.” Nobody beeps a horn to say, “Your ride is here.”

Instead, teenagers suddenly appear in my living room (often around dinnertime), only to vanish again without so much as a “Sorry for barging in” or “So long, it’s been good to know ya!”

How do they manage to infiltrate my house without my knowing it?

Simple: They text on arrival — TOA — and another teenager lets them in.

To tell you the truth, it used to freak me out. Suddenly my 17-year-old would bolt from the table and open the door without a word, and to my utter astonishment, another teenager would be standing on the threshold.

“But … but … how did you know he was here?” I was foolish enough to sputter the first time I witnessed this practice some months ago.

The answer, of course, was that texts had been silently exchanged, rendering obsolete the ridiculously old-fashioned routine of ringing a bell, knocking, or even phoning to say that one’s arrival was imminent.

Now my only hope for anticipating the appearance of guests is the dog. Dear old Buddy, whose extraordinary hearing and Doggie ESP can detect the lightest footstep, still twitches an ear and sometimes even pads over to the door if someone is about to enter. Since I am never the one receiving the “I’m here” texts (or more likely “Yo”), Buddy is my beacon, my four-legged head’s up.

I’m not saying TOA is a bad thing. I’m just saying, for a mom who lived most of her life in the 20th century, it takes a little getting used to.

As my niece who’s in college pointed out to me, teenagers aren’t the only ones who TOA. But based on my observations, the practice hasn’t yet caught on among grown-ups — uh, I mean, old people. (Actually I mean middle-aged people, but I’m sure to a college student, middle-aged people are old people.)

Yes, I still ring the bell when I go to someone’s house, fuddy-duddy that I am, and my friends (not that anyone under the legal drinking age believes I actually have friends) still ring the bell when they come to visit me.

But I have to admit, TOA has its advantages, especially for city-dwellers. How many times have I rung the bell to get into an apartment building, only to realize that the bell wasn’t working. In the old days, you either had to slip into the building behind someone else who had a key, or find a pay phone on the corner to call your friend. Nowadays, of course, you could call your friend on your cell — or you could just TOA.

Another advantage to TOA: Nobody has to sit in the car in front of a house beeping the horn to show that Cinderella’s coach has arrived. (Or if they did, you’d be well within your rights to open the window and scream: “Lay off the horn, will ya! Can’t you just send a text that you’re here?”)

Still, the way teens appear and vanish thanks to TOA reminds me of the old TV show, “Bewitched,” where the witchy housewife Samantha’s supernatural relatives were always conjuring themselves up in her living room, without using normal means of access like the door. Naturally this annoyed her mortal husband no end.

But now that TOA is the new normal, I predict the day will soon come when children watching a classic movie or old sitcom will be unable to understand the cliched line “Don’t you ever knock?” — usually said in an angry tone of voice when neighbors, roommates or nosy relatives barge in at awkward moments.

In fact, in sitcoms of the future, when someone barges in unannounced, instead of asking, “Don’t you ever knock,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the characters instead say, “Don’t you ever text?”


Beth J. Harpaz is the author of several books including “13 Is the New 18.”

Hungry no longer

Regardless of what you’ve got in your kitchen, there’s a good chance you can find something tasty to make with items on hand, thanks to a host of recipe blogs and Web sites available online. Here’s a list of some of the best; if you know of others, please add them in the comments section.














How the West was worn: From Wild West to modern rodeo, the look is new

DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) — Thousands of cowboys and cowgirls will be decked out in their Western finery at the National Western Stock Show in Denver this month. But if an original cowboy from the late 1800s somehow stumbled in, would he recognize anybody?

“He wouldn’t even recognize the cows,” said Steve Weil, president of Denver’s Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Western wear today doesn’t look much like what the legendary young cowhands wore from the 1870s through the 1890s, designers and historians say. The clothing has adapted to meet changing styles, just as cattle have been bred to meet evolving tastes.

In the 1880s, Texas cowboys often wore battered, floppy hats and loose pants made of wool or canvas. Cowboys from California or other parts west of the Rockies more likely wore tighter pants made of denim and a red sash, a carry-over from the Mexican vaqueros.

Or a cowboy’s clothes might be a chaotic mess with no discernible style at all, said Don Reeves, a curator at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

“In earlier times, you had such a mismatch of people and the clothes they wore. They looked more like refugees than cowboys,” said Reeves, who holds the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture at the museum.

An event like the National Western, with 16 days of rodeo, livestock contests, auctions and Wild West shows, draws hundreds of thousands of people with a noticeably tidier look.

Today’s well-dressed cowboys and cowgirls are more likely to wear a clean hat with a carefully creased crown, maybe in a style called “Cattleman” or “Montana” or “Gus.” They might also wear a brightly colored shirt and heavily starched jeans.

“My dry-cleaning bill is through the roof,” said Keith Mundee, vice president for sales and marketing for Rocky Mountain Clothing Co. of Denver. “Just this weekend I spent $140 on starched jeans.”

Cowboy boots may have changed the least over time. Such embellishments as high heels and decorated uppers appeared early as cowboys tried to set themselves apart, Reeves said.

“Even in the 1870s, they would try to show that ‘I’m a Texan, I’m a cowboy, I don’t walk behind a plow,'” he said.

It wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s, years after the cattle drives that made the cowboy an American hero, that the style we recognize today as Western wear began to emerge, Reeves and Weil said.

That had as much to do with Hollywood and the music business as it did with working cowboys.

“Western fashion as we know it really came into its own with the movies, the Western movie,” Weil said. Before the 1920s, “Western fashion as we know it did not exist.”

The look hit its zenith in the 1940s with the fancy outfits of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, the singing cowboys and movie stars, Reeves said. “The Lone Ranger” and “Hopalong Cassidy” TV Westerns carried the look in the 1950s.

Reeves once saw an original Lone Ranger costume, including stretchy blue tights. “It was, ew-w-w, kind of scary. You looked at the suit and it was kind of like dance class,” he said.

But the Lone Ranger’s hat, boots and gun belt were enough to convince audiences that he was a cowboy.

“Even though the rest of it had more to do with leotards than what cowboys wore, we said, ‘Yeah, that’s a cowboy.’ We made that cognitive leap,” Reeves said.

Rodeo performers in the early 1900s had an underrated influence on the Western look, Reeves said. They started wearing bigger hats and brighter colors to get noticed, and teenagers in the audience began to imitate the style when they dressed up for a dance, if not when they went to work in the saddle.

Western wear has evolved into a hardy industry, if a relatively small one. Sales figures are hard to come by, but Mundee of Rocky Mountain Clothing estimates the segment accounts for about $500 million a year in sales. The overall U.S. apparel market is about $200 billion a year, said Beth Boyle of NPD Group, a market research provider.

People in the Western wear business say it’s relatively stable, even during the recession.

“We’ve always done well through the downturns,” Mundee said. “They may not buy a new truck, or horse, or saddle, but they always want to look good.”

Weil said one of the industry’s strengths is that it embodies the West.

“That was the whole point when my grandfather went into business, to make something for a Western identity which was emerging,” Weil said.

His grandfather, “Papa Jack” Weil, founded the company in 1946 and is credited with developing such signature Western looks as snap-button shirts and pockets with a sawtooth pattern. Jack Weil, who died in 2008 at age 107, went to work daily until a few days before his death, his grandson said.

Rockmount is now known for putting its Western shirts on the backs of everyone from guitarist Eric Clapton to actor Hugh Grant in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”

It’s a look that never goes out of fashion, Steve Weil said.

“Who doesn’t long for what it represents? Wide open spaces, rugged individualism, the myth of the cowboy,” he said. “It’s something that people universally understand and respect.”


On the Net:

National Western Stock Show and Rodeo: http://www.nationalwestern.com/nwss/home/home.php

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org/

Rockmount Ranchwear: http://www.rockmount.com/

Rocky Mountain Clothing Co.: http://www.rockymountainclothing.com/