Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is from a schoolteacher who claims students lack discipline:

“Dear Heloise: For over 20 years, I’ve taught school and seen a number of policy changes that were enacted to help students but have had the reverse effect. Students come to class without homework and tell me they didn’t feel like doing it, or hand in sloppy work with grammatical errors and terrible spelling. With poor grades and a lack of self-discipline, they’ll never make it in college. “How can we get parents more involved with their children? How can I stress the importance of spending time (NOT money) with their children?” - Lenore N. in Michigan

Lenore, parents need to put down the cellphone, turn off the TV and computer, and spend time with their kids. Our children are the only truly important thing we will leave behind. - Heloise


Dear Readers: Here are a few safety measures for the kitchen:

• Always pat dry the foods you plan to fry. Hot grease and water cause splattering, which can be both dangerous and painful.

• Never leave cooking food unattended.

• Always turn the handle on a pot away from the front of the stove to avoid anyone knocking it off while walking by.

• When taking a lid off a pot, always tilt it away from you.

• Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have real wood paneling in my new home, but I’m worried about cleaning it. I don’t want a waxy buildup from furniture polish. What do you suggest? - Vera W., Harwood, Md.
Vera, I have a solution that cleans fingerprints, mild dirt and dust off wood paneling, but as always, test on an inconspicuous place first.
Mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Dip a clean rag in the solution, wring it out to remove excess water and wipe the surface of the wood. Dry and polish with a clean cloth.

If you want inexpensive cleaning ideas that work well without using harsh chemicals, then you’ll enjoy my pamphlet Heloise’s Homemade Cleaning Solutions. To order a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at FYI: Vinegar alone also works great for removing price tags, cleaning the barbecue grill and loosening burned-on foods in pots and pans. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: My job requires that I stand for long periods of time. By the time I get home, my feet are killing me. I take a tennis ball and place it under my foot while I’m seated and roll it back and forth. This is an easy way to give my tired feet a massage. - Bernadette V., Manchester, N.H.


Do homework on renting or buying

Dear Readers: TO RENT A HOME OR TO BUY? That is the question. Here are some factors to think about:
How long will you live in the home? Less than three years? Rent. The fees associated with buying a home (inspections, closing costs, appraisals, etc.) stack up and can easily eat into any equity you might build.
Affording a $2,000 rent payment doesn’t necessarily mean that you can afford the same amount for a house payment. Again, in homeownership there are added costs of insurance, taxes, fees, maintenance and utilities. On the other hand, buying a home can protect you from rising rents.
Experts agree: Practice saving and amassing cash for several months before looking into homeownership.
Talk with a financial adviser to figure out the better choice for you and your family. - Heloise  


Dear Readers: Have you ever wondered why, in English, for words that contain the letter Q, U is always right next door? Let’s take a look:
The sound that these letters together make, a “kwuh” sound (like in “quarter” or “queen”), is called a digraph - two letters that together make only one sound. Q and U appear only before other vowel sounds, like in “quote,” “quit,” “quaint” or “quilt.”

Of course, there are exceptions. The word “qi,” for example. Can you think of other exceptions? - Heloise


Dear Heloise: I put puffy stickers on my desk. They ensure that my keyboard and mouse don’t slide, and they are a conversation starter, that’s for sure. - Katie A. in San Antonio

Katie, this is a fun idea. Make sure the stickers don’t leave residue on the desk. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: I am recovering from a broken bone in my foot. My pants and tops have no pockets for a phone or tissues. I popped on a perky little kiddie apron with pockets, and now I can maneuver anywhere in the house. - JoAnn B., Troutman, N.C.


Dear Heloise: I recently saw in your column some other uses for pool noodles. Here’s one more: I cut pool noodles and insert them in my tall boots to keep them standing upright in the closet. - Faye S., Florence, Ala. 


Dear Heloise: I’ve cleared my desk of the stand that was chock-full of business cards. I’ve taken pictures on my phone of all of them, front and back, so all my contacts can be easily found. - Dean M. in Arizona


Dear Readers: When you have a minute, check out my new, fresh, redesigned website, It’s full of hints, helps and, of course, pets. Order one of my helpful pamphlets or books! - Heloise


Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. (c)2019 by King Features Syndicate Inc.