Monday, December 8, 2008

Week V -- Day I --

Happy Monday!!

I hope everyone's excited about being your family's personal home economist this week. If you're lagging in motivation or are feeling under the weather, re-read one of our earlier posts about motivation. Julieann's would be a good one. Then, just dig in and do the best you can. You'll probably find your spirit lifting as you work. Remember, we are working on consistency and tackling things bit by bit. The purpose of studying all of this information together is simply to give us tools to work with. Work at your own pace and choose what works for you.

Thanks to all who have signed up for the blog roll. I will be putting the names up soon so that everyone can follow along with each other and encourage each other in our progress. Remember, if you have some expertise in one of the subjects we've covered, feel free to post along on your blogs so that we can all benefit from your experience. Also, we'd love to hear about your experiments and exercises in any area -- your failures and your successes! We're all in this together.

Have you had your desk time today? Have you planned out your week? Your menu? Taken care of a little business matter that relates to your home? Do you have any appointment cards in your purse that you need to record on your calendar? For many of us, December is busier than usual, so be sure to keep track of all your invitations and appointments. Also, be sure to say yes or no to a request for your time as quickly as you can determine if you and/or your family will be attending a certain event. This is only kind to the person organizing the party or event. It will keep unanswered invitations from piling up, giving you the vague, uneasy feeling that you have a lot going on, but you're not sure when and what it all is. If you decide firmly whether or not you are going as quickly as you can, you can rest easier about the matter. If you are like us, you will have to say no to some things -- even invitations from dear friends. It's better to do it early than to postpone saying no out of a fear of hurting the other person's feelings.

Are you staying hydrated? Are you making sure your loved ones are staying hydrated?

If you live in a semi-tropical or tropical clime, or you live in the Southern hemisphere, you may be fighting over-humidity. Check back with us in a little bit when we discuss this problem. In the meantime, your main concern may be to ensure that you and your family drink enough to support their bodies during summery activities. You may also find that you need to switch to lighter skin and face lotions.

If you are in a clime that is having cold weather right now, your house may be dryer than usual. This is particularly true if you -- like our family -- do not have a special humidifier on your central air system. You may find that your hair, skin, and nails are dryer than normal. Also, you and your family may suffer with stuffy noses, sore throats, and even nosebleeds.

Optimum humidity in a home is between 30 to 50 percent, according to Cheryl Mendleson's book, "Home Comforts." This is a range at which the human body functions well, and also the range that helps prevent certain moisture-loving biological contaminants from growing. Keeping this balance is not always easy in our day. We have such tightly sealed homes; we spend so much more of our time indoors; and we use more artificial air and heat. Also, some rooms -- such as bathrooms and kitchens -- produce humidity, while other rooms tend to be drier. Striving for a right balance of humidity in your home's air can greatly improve or maintain your family's health.

If you want to be precise about the humidity of your home and your heating/cooling system does not provide you with a reading of your home's humidity, you can buy a device called a hygrometer. This measures your home's humidity. You can find them in hardware stores and home improvement centers. Lacking that, your senses probably tell you when it's dryer or more humid in your living spaces. The symptoms mentioned above -- drying skin, drying sinuses, etc. -- are good indicators, too.

Note: Does your home have a vapor barrier -- waterproof material inserted in a wall behind the plaster that prevents moisture from penetrating and condensing inside the wall? If not, a vaporizer or humidifier can over-humidify your home. This can damage your walls and cause fungi to grow. It can also contribute to plaster breaking off. If you aren't sure, see if you can find out.
If you the air in your home feels stuffy and dry, here are some things you can do.

1) Keep your thermostat below 70 degrees F, the temperature at which the humidity in artificially heated air drops dramatically. Seek a doctor's instructions for members of your household who are elderly, newborns (especially those under eight pounds), and those with any unique health conditions. 68 degrees F is a figure usually quoted as being optimal for saving on your energy bills, as well as being fine for healthy adults and children. As low as 60 degrees F is considered to be a comfortable sleeping temperature for your household, though I find that to be a bit chilly. Again, check with your doctor regarding your family's individual needs. Also, make sure that these temperatures are ones at which you function optimally. It's easy for people who spend more time in an office or at school than at home to turn their thermostats down during the day, but if you and your children are at home and in the house, you must find a temperature at which you can work comfortably.

2) Obviously, you should be drinking enough to help keep skin, eyes, and sinus tissues moist. Over the last few years, doctors and scientists have changed their minds about how much water the average person should drink. Since it's difficult for one person to tell another how much to drink, I'll let you read this article by the Mayo Clinic and reason it out for yourself.

It is my non-expert opinion that God gave us thirst for a reason, and I consider that a good guide. However, many people, including myself, do two things: 1) We get busy and ignore the first signs of thirst and 2) We mistake thirst for hunger. If you are like me in this, you may want to fill a pitcher with six to eight glasses of water in the morning and remind yourself to drink from it often. Or, you may want to use some other reminder to help you tune into your thirst. Some medical conditions are accompanied by a change in your thirst level that is unrelated to an increase in activity or a change in the weather. If you experience either a large increase or decrease in your thirst level, check with your doctor. Also, generally speaking, if you are drinking enough, generally your urine will be on the clear end of the spectrum. If you are not drinking enough, it will be darker.

If you are taking care of an elderly person in your home, be sure they are drinking enough. Often, their thirst and hunger signals are not as accurate as a younger person's. Consult your physician. On the flip side, many older people are on restricted liquid regimens, particularly if they have a tendency to collect fluid around the heart. Again, consult your physician.
3) Moisturize your skin and condition your hair for comfort's sake. If you have seriously cracking skin, consult your physician.

3) Use a humidifier or vaporizer in bedrooms at night. Consult your doctor. Some respiratory conditions improve with the extra moisture of a humidifier or vaporizer. However, in the case of chronic allergies, this may or may not be so. You do not want to introduce so much moisture into the air that mold and dust mites thrive on it.

Challenge for the day: Do you have a couple of different half-used lotions, creams, shampoos etc. Commit yourself to using up a hair or skin product or some other type of cosmetic over the next few weeks. If you find some reason why you don't want to use it, get rid of it.

Second challenge for the day: When was the last time you cleaned brushes, combs, makeup tools, curlers, caps, hats, etc. What about your hubby's and you children's winter hats? For obvious reasons, it's great to keep the items that touch our hair and face clean, fresh, and sanitary. Are you teaching your daughters (and sons) to keep these items clean? Also, have you talked to your children about not sharing brushes, comb, makeup items, and hats?

Here's are some videos about how to clean hats, caps, etc.



Wenonah4th said...

One other trick for keeping hydrated is to make a rule (for when you're out and about) never to pass a drinking fountain without making use of it.

Elizabeth said...

Good idea!

topaztook said...

I have been following along, but haven't really had the time to commit to the studies/challenges right now (which is why I haven't added my blog to the blogroll).

One comment I have about winter and dry skin, though, is to remember to sufficiently dry off your hands after washing them -- several years ago, I ended up with the skin between my fingers cracking in the cold weather because I was washing my hands so often but not getting them sufficiently dry and/or moisturized before going out in the cold. I've been a thorough dry-er ever since.

Elizabeth said...

Good point, Topaztook. It's true for feet, as well.

KarenW said...

Hi! I just found your blog and I am excited about following along with your home economics course.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for joining us. If you'd like to be mentioned in the sidebar I'm going to put up, just leave your link.

Wenonah4th said...

Hi again, Topaz! (I'm armybride40304).