Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Think About It Thursday October 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:21 pm


“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven,”  Henry Ward Beecher


It’s the end to another week in my preschool class and the week was a good one.  I just love all my little buddies and cherish all the things that come out of their mouths…well most of the things!   Just this year one little girl quietly said to herself “Boomer, that’s a good name for a dog,” as we talked about my dog during Learning Circle.  A few years ago a darling little boy nonchalantly told a classmate who was complaining about a tummy ache that she probably just needed to poop because it always worked for him!  They are so honest and so unfiltered.  Sometimes what they say is funny or slightly skewed, but they simply tell the truth and you can’t argue with the truth.  Just try.  I dare you.


“Great Truths From Small Children”

When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.

If someone hits you, don’t hit back.  They always catch the second person.

It’s hard to unlearn a bad word.

A pencil without an eraser might as well be a pen.

Sometimes the best one in the play has the fewest lines.

Twelve is a lot older than eight.

Don’t expect your friends to be as excited about your 100 as you are.

Your room gets smaller as you get bigger.

You can’t start over just because you’re losing.

It’s easier to act like a princess when you’re dressed like one.

You can’t be everyone’s best friend.

A snow day is more fun than a vacation day.

All libraries smell the same.

If you really want someone to listen, whisper.

Don’t say “last one’s a rotten egg” unless you’re sure there’s a slow kid behind you.

Never ask your three-year-old brother to hold a tomato.

You can’t trust a dog to watch your food.

Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

Puppies still have bad breath after eating a Tic Tac.

You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

Don’t wear polka dot panties under white shorts.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize a cat.




Sunday Scripture October 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:48 pm


Forgive pic



Do not judge and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. 

Forgive and you will be forgiven.  Luke 6:37


My husband.  Sometimes he aggravates me beyond words, sometimes he impresses me beyond belief, and sometimes he actually makes me laugh.  This morning he did all of the above.


He walked in our room as I was watching “CBS Sunday Morning” and asked me, “Do you what today is?”  I solemnly answered “the day after the Sooners embarrassed themselves, me, and the entire state of Oklahoma on national TV?”  (Yes, I am still bitter!)  Instantly sensing that I was in no mood for riddles and games, he tried to make me feel better by saying something about maybe not being so angry about the Sooners losing but instead being happy about the pouring rain outside.  What????  Are you kidding me??????  I’d rather live in a drought the rest of my life than ever lose to Texas you dumb Yankee!


Oooops…let go of the anger Carla and go to your happy place.


Incredibly, what I thought was such a ridiculous attempt at making me feel better actually did because it made me laugh…out loud!  I felt like Carrie in the first “Sex and The City” movie when she asks her friends if she will ever laugh again and then finally does when proper and prissy Charlotte poops her pants.


“When God forgave me, I figured I better do it too.”  Johnny Cash


The point of this whole story is that somehow we got to talking about forgiveness.  It’s something Jesus himself taught us in “The Our Father.”  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…”  There’s also a philosophy that truly happy people do certain things different than not so happy people.  One of them is learning to forgive.  It’s also been said that when you forgive someone who has wronged or hurt you, you take away their power.


Smitty loves the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, as I’ve blogged about before, and he mentioned the line in it about pardoning others.  He then asked me if I was aware of a major act of forgiveness that’s happening in sports today.  People in Norman have had an examination of conscience and aren’t going to hang their football team from the goal posts at Owen Field?  Nope.  Come to find out that Scott Norwood is carrying the flag at the opening of today’s Buffalo Bill’s game.  Scott who you ask and why should you care?


Stay with me.  I think you’ll like this.


The Buffalo Bills have a history of not winning championships, but there they were in the 1991 Super Bowl and one field goal away from beating the New York Giants as time ran out.  Scott Norwood was the Bill’s beloved and dependable field goal kicker so as he approached the 47-yarder to win it all, we, and the sports world in general, knew he would make it.  He didn’t.  The ball went wide right and the Giants walked away Super Bowl XXV champions.  (moment of silence here.)  To this day, the mere uttering of “wide right” is unthinkable in our house and amongst Bills fans everywhere.  Some things are just hard to forget.  And forgive.


But today, the city of Buffalo and all of its fans are ceremoniously forgiving Scott Norwood for a loss that really was the fault of the entire team, not just his.   Somehow he unfairly became the scapegoat.  Today he will be rightly exonerated.




Will I ever forgive my Sooners for yesterday’s tragedy?  Not sure.  Will I forget it?  Probably.   Life will go on and like all those Bills fans I will continue to support my team even when they let me down.  It’s all about forgiveness and if Jesus, who’s last words were “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do,” can do it as he lost his life not just a game, so can I and so can you.


Think About It Thursday October 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:43 pm

Mind Your Manners





“Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”  Arthur Schopenhauer


I could have easily just used the above quote for today’s “Think About it Thursday” blog, as its meaning is only evident once you think about what it is saying.  If you are nice to someone, they melt.  It’s a simple as that.  But I, being a lover of words, want to expand on the thought.  Of course!




Today in my class the lesson was all about manners.  Yes, my kiddos are only three and four-years-old, but one is never too young to learn good manners.  Many of the things we talked about effortlessly pertain to adults too:  saying “please” and “thank you,” “not wearing hats at the table,” “sharing,” “not talking with food in our mouths,” and my favorite, “not interrupting mom when she’s on the phone.”   Manners are a big deal at our school, so big in fact that a new afterschool offering this year is a manners class designed just for preschoolers.  It’s offered right alongside the always popular gymnastics, dance, and sports options.


But, are manners dead, like many fear?  Yes and no.  In fact, some believe the prevailing sociology idea that every generation rebels against its parents but embraces its grandparents’ generation is somewhat coming true.  Take for example the huge popularity of “Downton Abbey” and “Mad Men,” television shows centered around time-honored grace and style.  It’s nice to see Generation Y making old-fashioned manners cool again.


It’s Generation Y that has, at the same time, killed off long-standing good graces by their usage and obsession with social media.  It’s not necessary to shake one’s hand when you “meet” them on Twitter and E-vites sent over Facebook don’t require the same effort in RSVP’ing.  Still, “netiquette” is big business  and maybe that’s because when all is said and done, good manners really never go out of style.  (can someone please relay this fact to Miley Cyrus?)


It wasn’t too long ago that Emily Post was the etiquette queen.   Today her successors face both published and on-line competition, which is actually quite a good thing when you think about it.  The issues may be different, ranging from whether it’s okay to keep your cell phone handy at dinner if your child is home sick with a baby sitter or what is proper etiquette at a gym, but the values are often the same.   (Ms. Post would probably say if your child is that sick, you should stay home!)




It’s all well and good that books and websites are anything but scarce when it comes to etiquette and manners, but the teaching of them really needs to start at home.  Parents must be the examples.  Dads should be gentlemen so their sons grow up to be one and their daughters marry one, and moms should be ladies.  Both Smitty and I fail often in these quests, but we try our hardest and continue to do so even with Kristen away in college.  Ask her if written “thank you “ notes are a must, and she will roll her eyes but reply “yes!”  You’ll get the same response from her if you ask her if a man should open the door.  On the other hand, calling a grown-up by their first name only?  Uh, no ma’am!  I’m Miss Carla thank you very much.  I love the fact that in the south “yes ma’am” and “no sir” are common utterings (even on Duck Dynasty!) and that respect is still given to elders.


Perhaps life in the 21st century  has taken on a more casual form and we’re all becoming desensitized to the horrible swearing that is regularly expressed on TV and in music.  But, there is hope.  I love those like interior decorator Barrie Benson of Charlotte, North Carolina who, when asked by “Southern Living” magazine what she considers the must-have for every Southern lady and she replied, “Her manners!  Before my kids step out the door I ask them if they have their manners in their pockets.”


Great advice we could all stand to abide by.


Allergic to Health Food? October 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:03 am



True story: a friend of mine told me she was in the grocery store and overheard a child asking his mom if he could bag some fruit. Yes, she says, but make sure it has an “O” on it. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to realize she meant “O” for organic, the only type of food many people are eating these days. If it’s not organic, then it needs to be gluten-free, free-range, farm fresh, full of probiotics and certainly none of that horrible other stuff found on grocery aisles. Suddenly we should only eat Greek yogurt and green tea has been trumped by black and white tea. It’s as though we’re living in a world of “food fright” and it’s scaring me to death!


“Health nuts feel silly one day lying in hospitals dying of nothing?” Red Foxx


Just tonight I saw a news story on the whooping cough epidemic-in-the-making in which a mom was interviewed after making sure her children were only using organic foods in a juicer. This mom, however, refuses to vaccinate her children. Instead, she’s counting on a probiotic-rich diet to prevent them from contracting certain diseases. Sadly, it’s many of those unvaccinated kids who are getting whooping cough and spreading it in schools coast-to-coast. Hmmmm…


The Organic Craze
So you want to “go organic” but get a serious case of anxiety just walking into any natural foods store? Don’t worry, there’s a lot of confusion out there, mostly about the difference between organic and natural.


According to the Mayo Clinic, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. You may see “all natural” and other terms such as “cage free,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels, but don’t confuse them with the “organic.”


Organic foods must adhere to strict standards that prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics or GMOs. In addition, “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process their products. “All natural” on the other hand, is somewhat meaningless as the FDA doesn’t regulate the claim.


So, is organic better for you and worth the high prices? Most experts agree that two groups who benefit most from organics are pregnant women and kids, but keep in mind that “organic” junk food like cookies, chips, and candy still have lots of sugar, fat, and calories, they just don’t have artificial ingredients. In addition, “organic” seafood isn’t required to meet any specific standards (most recommend eating only fish caught in the wild rather than farm-bred or farm-raised fish) and many organic labels are owned by giant corporations that also manufacture other foods. (If you want to avoid anything having to do with non-organic foods, you’re best off only buying locally grown items.)


Since organic food is often much more expensive than non-organic food, here’s a simple check list of what most experts agree you should buy organic, and what you can feel safe knowing non-organic is just fine:


Buy organic: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, summer squash, and leafy greens like kale and collards.


Okay to buy non-organic: corn, onions, pineapples, avocadoes, cabbage, sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, egg plant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms.


But I’m Allergic to It!
So, if we are eating so much healthier, why is there such an increase in food and skin allergies?


When I started my job some 10 years ago working at my church’s preschool, allergies amongst our students were rare. Today, they are common. Some experts go so far as to call it an epidemic of food allergies. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies rose in kids alone 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. In addition, 15 million adults and children in the U.S. have a food allergy and an increasing number of kids have more than one.


I find it mind boggling how many allergies little kids have…and I’m talking kids no older than five…especially because I see what those buddies are eating for lunch: mostly organic and healthy foods! But yet, we have egg allergies, peanut allergies, wheat allergies, and dairy allergies, just to name the most common.


It was once peanut and tree-nut allergies that were the biggies, nowadays it’s also gluten. Commonly referred to as Celiac Disease, which is actually a hereditary autoimmune disease and not a food allergy, gluten sensitivity resulted in a $4.2 billion market in 2012. Sadly, in some cases, “gluten free” is slapped on items that didn’t contain gluten to begin with!


So why are the allergy alarms going off? There are as many hypothesis are there are allergies, from how food is processed to an imbalance of folate in our diets. One leading theory is the fact that society is perhaps overly hygienic.


“We live in too clean an environment so our immune systems are not being exposed to and stimulated by bacteria the way they once were,” Dr. Robert Wood, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, told “Family Circle” magazine. Amazing, right?


Could it be that our obsession with being germ-free is causing a backlash, and not just an increase of allergies? Federal regulators are right now actually deciding whether triclosan, the germ-killing ingredient found in 75 percent of antibacterial soaps and washes is harmful. It’s been around for more than 40 years, but recent studies have announced precautionary approaches regarding safety issues and the use of it.


Parents today are also reporting more and more skin allergies in their children. Again, many experts suspect today’s kids are growing up in such clean environments they are more sensitive to things that can trigger allergies.


Healthy Halloween


Is Anything Safe?
Go to any dinner party and you’ll run into people who are all about healthy foods and healthy eating…some might even be (gasp!) vegan. If these are people who have always been health nuts, are extremely fit, don’t have an eating disorder, are not doing it just to lose weight, or are simply jumping on the organic bandwagon, I applaud them. It’s all the other Dr. Oz wannabees that are beginning to annoy me…the ones who make everyone else feel totally fat, unhealthy and just downright dumb!


Take quinoa. As recent as one year ago you probably hadn’t even heard of it. Today, it’s the hot “super food,” somewhat replacing poor little but equally difficult to pronounce endamame. But what exactly is “ke-nwa,” and is it really all that super? What about soy milk? Let’s take a look.


Although referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets. It was forever a main diet staple of the ancient Incas, and contains an amino acid called lysine, which makes it a complete protein. (The World Health Organization equates the protein levels in quinoa to the amount found in milk.) Quinoa will also give you a daily dose of vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, potassium, and riboflavin and is a great source of copper, zinc, magnesium, and folate. It is a complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index, making it good for weight management, and since it’s not related to wheat or grain, it is gluten-free.


It’s a bit tough to cook and it’s somewhat bitter taste takes getting used to. In addition, quinoa is coated with toxic chemical called saponin so be sure to rinse it thoroughly. Finally, moderation is key, even with so-called superfoods, so it shouldn’t be eaten every day. A few times a week is said to be plenty.


Soy milk

Then there are all the milks: soy milk, coconut milk, skim milk, organic milk. Truth be told, a recent study found that drinking any kind of skim milk, organic or not, is your best bet. Still, many are going the soy milk route.


Soy milk is the liquid residue of cooked soybeans. However, many types of soy milk are not made with real soy beans. Fresh soy milk is best, as is whole-bean soy milk. Avoid soy milk made from soy protein or soy isolate and you should also check the label for hidden or added sugars such as “brown rice syrup” or “evaporated cane juice.” One cup of this kind of soymilk can easily wind up being 100 calories more than a cup of skim milk. Your best bet: eat endamame instead and drink skim milk.


Coconut milk is another popular drink today and is often a staple for anyone following a Paleo diet. From a nutritional perspective, it’s an excellent choice. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily burned as fuel by the body. However, coconut milk often contains somewhat dangerous Bisphenol-A (BPA), guar gum, Fructose malabsorption…look them up if you’re big on coconut milk.


Let’s go back to The Paleo Diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, since it is based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that cavemen ate during the Paleolithic era. It consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.


Whew! So much info and so much to choose from and all I really want to do is eat! I like to think of my mom as being a health nut before being a health nut was cool. She drinks whole (non-organic) milk, uses real butter, eats meats in moderation, loves breakfast, drinks hot tea, brews her coffee, and uses half-and-half in it or drinks it black. She’s always prescribed garlic for colds and her green chile will cure the worst of your aches and pains. But, she’s not a vegetarian nor does she shop at Whole Foods. Still, she is a healthy 83-year-old who enjoys a nice meal and good glass of wine. Maybe we can all learn as much from “Dr. Ama” as we can from Dr. Oz.