August 29, 2011

Eat Carbohydrates Only When the Moon Has Not Hidden Her Face Behind the Clouds

I'm beginning to feel as if all nutrition information is like the medical information from the days when we still thought illness was caused by evil spirits instead of germs. One old woman tells you that if you have a wart you should put a certain leaf on it, then bury the leaf under a full moon; another old woman tells you that on the contrary, you should put the juice of a certain berry on it, then sleep on the non-wart side for a week. Meanwhile, the old man in a hut in the next village over says that the wart is a manifestation of a resentment you have toward a friend, and his neighbor says it's that your blood is full of heat and you need to eat cooling foods.

I think to myself, "I will not try to get all COMPLICATED with Specific Eating Restrictions, I will just start with what I KNOW"---and I am lost first thing in the morning at breakfast. Do I eat a good hearty serving of whole grains? Or do I instead avoid grains and eat only protein? and should it be LEAN protein, or doesn't that matter as long as I'm not eating sugar? Or is it important to eat grains and proteins and fats in particular percentages? Or is what's REALLY important that it be a WHOLE food, not a processed one? a raw food, not a cooked one? Only foods that conform to an arbitrary limit on number of ingredients? readability of ingredients? (Yay, smart people and people who took Latin aren't affected by the same things as other people!) Is breakfast the most important meal, or should I "listen to my body" (what does that...MEAN?) and not eat if I'm not hungry? Should I have a piece of fruit packed with fiber and antioxidants, or is fruit full of sugar that will throw off my whole day? Are legumes power foods that do everything but our taxes, are they not intended for human consumption? Does coffee speed up metabolism and also contain important antioxidants, or is it a dangerous dehydrating stimulant that will make me hungrier when I crash?

I like the "Just do the best you can" attitude and the way it avoids the pursuit of unattainable perfection---but it only works when we know what perfection we're not attempting to fully attain. There can't be a "best we can" when we don't even know if fruit and whole grains are EXCELLENT for us or THE VERY THING KILLING US.

Eat whole grains under the full moon! Eat antioxidants between the spring and winter solstices! Eat proteins but only on days when the goddess's face is visible on the side of the moon, and bury a pear at dusk on the days you eat whole grains! CONTROL THAT BLOOD HEAT. HARNESS THOSE BAD SPIRITS!

August 26, 2011

Weather Emergency Plans; Sock in the Toilet; Lose-Lose

If I were facing a potential weather-related emergency, I don't think I would go to the grocery store, because that's always an anthill of crazy, and because I think I could scrape together enough food for temporary survival out of my stockpiles of cans of foods we used to eat all the time and now never do but still have giant stashes of. I think instead I would do laundry. We can eat cans of pineapple tidbits and fill the bathtub with water to drink, but if the power were out for awhile it would be challenging to re-wear the clothes that have been in the laundry basket under some wet washcloths for a few days in hot weather.

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Speaking of kind of gross, I had to fish a sock out of the toilet yesterday. Don't ask me how it got in there, because I pursued that line of questioning fruitlessly with the children for awhile, and even if I'd gotten an answer it wouldn't have changed the fact that the sock was in the toilet. Luckily, I'd recently read that snippet of trying-to-make-you-feel-bad that's going around Facebook, the one about how the water in U.S. toilets is cleaner than the drinking water available to 95% of the world. I have no idea if that's true (nor, I suspect, do most of the people who repost it), but it made it easier to put my hand into the water and get the sock. I did it quick, like pulling off a bank robbery.

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Do you know where Paul is right now? Washington D.C., that's where. Do you know what day he's scheduled to return? Sunday, that's when. So. He and I have been reading up on Hurricane Irene, trying to figure out her secret plan and whether it involves us. The problem is, meteorologists get so! extremely! excited! about everything that isn't normal boring weather, it's very difficult to tell the difference between something that is actually a problem and something that is just really fun to talk about for a change. Sure, AFTER the fact we can beat ourselves up about how we Didn't Listen, but I think there have been a dozen Huge Important Weather Catastrophes already this year, none of which were ANYTHING AT ALL. If we all evacuated every time a meteorologist peed down his leg, we'd just live permanently in the bomb shelter. But of course if we DON'T Take Measures, we'll feel like idiots if it turns out we should have. WHY OH WHY DIDN'T WE JUST FLEE FOR THE HILLS?? It would have been SO EASY!! Lose-lose.

And I don't even want to give Paul my opinion, because what if I say, "No, don't spend a million dollars and change all your plans and come home a day early, assuming you can even FIND a way home that isn't completely booked," and then he DIES IN A HURRICANE? Wouldn't I feel bad THEN? Or what if I say, "Yes, spend a million dollars and change all your plans and come home a day early," and then there is some rain and some wind? Wouldn't I feel bad THEN? Lose-lose.

[Update: Paul's Sunday transportation has been canceled. This is kind of annoying, since THIS VERY MORNING he called them to reschedule for Saturday, and they told him there was absolutely no need to do that because they were absolutely not going to cancel Sunday plans.] [I am pretty crabby about this.]

[Update on the update: Fortunately my dad found out it had been canceled before even THE TRANSPORTATION ITSELF knew, so when Paul called, the agent he talked to was seeing the cancellations happen right in front of her eyes, and it was early enough to get him in on Saturday morning instead.]

Tonsillectomy Recovery: What It's Like (Days Nine Through Ten)

(Keeping in mind what I said before, which is that the title is based on the search term I used when I was looking for information about different experiences, and not on the silly assumption that it's the same for everyone.)

See also: Tonsillectomy Recovery (Days One Through Nine)

When we left off, mid-Day-Nine, I was about to take Elizabeth to her post-op appointment with the ENT doctor. Luckily, luckily, luckily, LUCKILY, through some sort of LUCKY WHIM or else because she already felt queasy but didn't want to tell me, she brought a bucket with her. And then she threw up all the way there. She's always had trouble with motion sickness, but it's been so long since she actually threw up that I've taken apart the Emergency Barf Kit---and I didn't have a diaper bag with me either. No wipes. Luckily, fast-food napkins in the glove compartment and a roll of paper towels under the seat. But we were almost late because I had to pull over to help her and to empty the bucket in the grass by the side of the road, and then I felt very embarrassed that the doctor would be looking into her non-teeth-brushed mouth after this, and that she was carrying a not-very-clean plastic bucket. But she had a drink at a drinking fountain and she had an Altoid, and I wiped out the bucket with paper towels, and that just had to be good enough. If we'd had more time, I could have washed out the bucket in a hospital bathroom, but we signed the sign-in sheet at 12:59:34 for a 1:00:00 appointment, so there wasn't time.

She saw the doctor, and he said everything looked great. He let me look, and it was not as gross as I'd feared: I could definitely see pinkness/redness and a small (dime-sized) scab, but it didn't look AWFUL or scary to me. I told him that Elizabeth did/didn't want to know how bad it looked like the Day Ten Scab Process would be, and he said "Ha ha ha" but then didn't say anything else. And I felt silly, then, for having been indirect, and too silly/awkward to then follow-up with something more direct, so I hope it's that there really isn't any way to know if the scab situation is going to be worse/better than usual and that's why he didn't answer (rather than it being that he can tell it's going to be bad so he didn't want to scare her worse).

The doctor mentioned again that the codeine could be causing nausea, but the thing is, she's been throwing up MORE when I skip a dose or a dose is due-but-late. And she hadn't been in a car for over a week, and she was scared and upset about the appointment, and she's been eating a lot of dairy and sugar, and she's always had problems with motion sickness, and the chart says ear pain is a common side effect so I'm guessing the area that handles motion sickness is also involved in this. Still, he says to keep it in mind, and that she can switch from tylenol/codeine to just tylenol now.

He also says she's "talking through her nose" and that she needs to practice learning to talk again. I'd noticed she was hard to understand, but I'd thought that would go away with the throat pain and swelling. But no. She has to practice.


Day Ten: We were out shopping (MUST GET OUT OF HOUSE OMG MUST GET OUT) and we stopped at a fast-food place for lunch. I got the kids hamburgers, and I got one for Elizabeth too even though I didn't think she'd eat it and she said she didn't want it: it was only a dollar, and I figured if she took a single bite that was a good step back to normal, and also the other kids would fall like vultures on anything she didn't eat so it wouldn't go to waste. She ate 2/3rds of it. AND she didn't throw up in the car: I gave her benadryl half an hour before we left, and either it worked or else it's that she wasn't upset/scared today, or WHO KNOWS, anyway she didn't throw up.

August 24, 2011

Lying-Awake Brain

I'm gradually learning that if I have wine in the evening, I have trouble sleeping that night. Gradual connections are being made, one night at a time. Last night I had wine, and then I lay awake. First I kept seeing shadows down the hall, made by cars driving by, and thinking they were the shadows of people creeping around in the house. Then, when I'd reminded myself that a cat can't walk across our floors without making a creak with every step, I started thinking I heard Furtive Sounds, perhaps PEOPLE TRYING TO BREAK IN. That went NOWHERE GOOD, let me tell you. At one point I realized that my entire body was tense, including clenched fists, and that I'd spent the last five minutes or so imagining defending myself against intruders with a floor lamp: I could bash them with it for awhile, and there would be pointy glass when the bulbs broke, and if I got the upper hand I could use the cord to strangle them. I'd gone on to imagine that they'd lost consciousness--OR SEEMED TO--and what would I do to make SURE they were either dead or incapacitated until the police could get here? If I have learned one thing from movies, it's that you don't get overconfident that a Downed Attacker is actually down. So would I do something that would stain both my hardwood floors and potentially my conscience (though I think it's highly unlikely I'd struggle with my conscience if it was an intruder in a house with my children)? and what would I use to do it? and would it be easy (because I'd be so scared) or would it be much harder than I expected it to be? and boy, I wish there was such a thing as a gun that would materialize only when needed. Or would I...somehow tie his hands and feet (with what? and I couldn't really leave him to go root around in the dark basement for some rope) and then call 911?

This was when I noticed every single muscle was tightened up and my fingernails were hurting my palms. And also realized that the floor lamp I'd been envisioning grabbing with one swift smooth action-hero-like motion (ha ha, now I'm picturing James Bond wielding an attractive floor lamp) is one we Freecycled a few months back because we never used it. And the other floor lamp in the room is plugged in behind the bureau, so I'd have to shift the bureau, then lean as far as I could and make sound-wave shapes with the cord until the plug wiggled out of the socket, etc.

So I tried to think of something more relaxing, but instead my mind drifted to something that had been bugging me earlier in the day, which was the word "jailbait." I hadn't given the word much thought over the years, since I don't move in circles that have a use for such a word. I started out feeling that the word was mildly icky and wrong, and by the time I'd thought the thing out thoroughly, I was ready to go back and EAGERLY take out some feelings on that imaginary intruder, perhaps by lifting the entire bureau and slamming it onto him. I wish we didn't even HAVE that word. It isn't that I don't UNDERSTAND why we have the word; OH I UNDERSTAND WHY WE HAVE IT. That is the PROBLEM: that I think I see exactly why we have that word, instead of just having the word "teenager." "Bait" implies a trap, a set-up. Men are being LURED by this child, TRICKED into a TRAP by...the child? society? And so they resist the child, NOT because it would be wrong to get involved with a child, NOT because they are personally icked out by the idea, NOT because they are horrified at the thought of accidentally getting involved with someone so young---but because of the potential for jail, and because they are too wily and clever to be trapped. Jailbait. And congratulating themselves. I hate everybody. Please turn me loose on a building scheduled for demolition, so I can gnaw on it until I feel better.

August 23, 2011

Tonsillectomy Recovery: What It's Like (Days One Through Nine)

That title is kind of funny, because as the ENT doctor said, and the nurses said, and all of you with experience with tonsillectomies said, the experience varies WIDELY. But that's the search term I was using when I was anxiously looking for more information, so that's what I'm using as the title.

Day One (day of surgery): We had to be at the hospital at 6:30; the surgery was at 7:30; the doctor was coming out to tell me everything went fine at 8:10; they called me back to see her at 8:25; we were headed to our car at 11:00. Between the surgery and the time we went home, Elizabeth mostly dozed. When she did wake up a little, she was cranky and wasn't interested in the little stuffed hamster I'd bought at the gift shop, but didn't seem to be in much pain. When she woke around 10:20, though, she was saying "Ow ow ow" and crying, so the nurse brought her a dose of tylenol/codeine, and by the time we were leaving the hospital she was even CHEERY, and was able to walk to the car, and sang along hoarsely with a few songs from the Phineas & Ferb CD on the way home.

At home she had some popsicles and watched some TV and everything was going way better than expected. They'd told us she'd likely nap on and off all day, but she didn't. Then she got kind of blank-faced and slumpy. Then she started throwing up. She had three sessions of it: afternoon, early evening, later evening. She was miserable. I was highly fretful and lay awake that night worried that I should have called the doctor about the throwing up, worried that she wasn't holding down either the antibiotic or the painkiller, worried that she would have to go back to the hospital. I felt hugely under-qualified to be handling post-surgical care.


Day Two: She was much better. In my fretful lyings-awake, I'd thought "She HAS to be improved in the morning, or else I'll call the doctor." I woke her around 4:00 to take pain medicine, which was a gamble: it could let her absorb it while asleep and non-barfy---or it could make her throw up all over our mattress and herself. Gamble paid off: she woke up better and held down her antibiotic too, and then I kept right on top of giving her the pain medicine every 4 hours exactly. She still felt crummy all day, but NO BARFING, and a couple of times got off the couch and wandered around for a minute before going back. Refused to nap. No smiling. Wouldn't talk, and would barely shake/nod her head (said her jaw hurt when she moved her head). Ate a little applesauce with flax seed meal stirred in, and maybe 1/4 cup of a non-dairy smoothie I made with banana, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, rolled oats. Also ate popsicles and ice cream. Some interest in Tonsillectomy Presents.


Days Three and Four: Doing prematurely better: up and around, doing some talking, seeming to feel much better, very interested in tonsillectomy presents. Then on the evening of Day 4, two more episodes of throwing up.


Day Five: She woke up crying from the pain but wouldn't take her pain medicine. She is SIX, but she has been acting THREE. When I put a little medicine in her mouth, she let it dribble out; I tried not to be angry at the sick child; when that failed, I tried to at least mostly HIDE being angry at the sick child. I gave her a Sucrets (numbing cough drop) and then she took the medicine---I think because the cough drop let her back down graciously from the stand-off, rather than because it helped, but maybe some of each. She barely ate anything all day, just a few popsicles. At dinner she wanted to try pizza, so Paul cooked it a little less (normally he makes the crust crispy and the cheese chewy, but he went with a soft crust and melty cheese) and she did eat a few bites. At 8:00 she put herself to bed.


Day Six: For lunch she asked for and ate half a peanut butter and honey sandwich and a cup of milk. But it's so back and forth: for even a few hours she'll seem almost normal, but then she'll be weepy and crabby and saying she has a headache, and she'll sit still for hours watching a movie. Her voice is different: a little lower, and she's saying vowels differently, like "hev" instead of "have." Her jaw/throat still look a little swollen. She's very nervous about Day Ten, which is when the ENT doctor said there's usually a setback (because of the scab, and that's probably all you want to know about it).


Day Seven: She woke up crying in the middle of the night but wouldn't say why. We've been using a system for measuring pain: I hold up my hand, fingers splayed, and I point to whatever finger is farthest to her left and I say "no pain," and I point to whatever finger is farthest to her right and I say "the worst it's been so far with this," and she chooses a finger. It's always finger 1 (no pain) or 2 (small amount of pain) now, but she complains of headaches, and she says in calmer moments that when she's crying and won't tell me why, it's because she Feels Terrible---not pain really, not queasiness really, but just feeling really really bad all over. So now when she cries and I can't figure out why, I hold her hand and I tell her to squeeze once for yes, and I ask is it pain? (no squeeze) Nightmare? (no squeeze) Feeling terrible? (squeeze) The squeezing system isn't because it hurts her too much to talk but because she gets in these stubborn mute phases when she's upset, and this is a way around that; we use it when she's not post-surgery, too. This afternoon she went into her room and closed the door, and when I looked in on her later she was asleep.


Day Eight: She doesn't seem to need the tylenol/codeine for throat pain, exactly, but when I skip a dose she gets crumply and weepy and doesn't eat or drink. I'm glad the doctor was generous with the prescription so I can keep giving it to her. (But I am feeling some renewed resentment with my OBs, who have always given me a prescription for 1.5 days' worth of painkiller after c-sections. Thanks, OBs! Obviously it's exactly the right time to apply Just Say No!) I haven't been waking her to take it or keeping her on a rigorous every-four-hours schedule---but I'm giving it to her first thing in the morning, two doses during the day, and one more before bed (she's been sleeping in our room every night, and usually doesn't go to sleep until we do).


Day Nine (today): Today she has a follow-up appointment with the ENT doctor, and she desperately DOES and desperately DOESN'T want to ask him about the status of the scab. The ENT doctor warned us, by the way, that her breath would likely be "like a chain-smoking alcoholic's"---but it hasn't been bad at all. I notice mostly that she smells a little fruity and medicinal.


So! That's how it's been going. I'm feeling a little worn out, mostly I think from being cooped up in the house and from trying to get her to eat something nutritious. I had such a good list of soft/pureed foods, and it seems like she'll eat each one once and then never again. I'm not fretful, because the ENT doctor said he didn't care if she ate nothing but ice cream for two weeks---but on the other hand I think she's a lot crankier when she's subsisting on ice cream. Look, isn't this a good list of liquid and soft food possibilities?

scrambled eggs
applesauce (with or without flax seed meal)
yogurt
mashed potatoes
peanut butter stirred into ice cream
pudding
Jello
macaroni and cheese
canned fruits
shakes
smoothies of various sorts
bananas
ice cream
popsicles
juice boxes


But here is the list she is actually eating:

ice cream

August 20, 2011

CORN

Every time I turn around, this bag of corn startles me:


August 18, 2011

Use the Force...Kirk

SarahLena mentioned on Twitter that some days she gets so sick of things being overdramatized on social media. That reminded me of a tip I'm not sure I've shared with you: when I'm being bothered by someone Pumping Up The Drama, or Manipulating For Attention, I use the Captain Kirk voice to read whatever they've written. You are familiar with William Shatner's Star Trek acting style? And, more importantly, with the way he spoofs his own acting style, which is something that makes me love him with teary-eyed love? Anyway, that's the style I use when I read people's Overblown Drama, and it really helps. Just put Drama Pauses in wherever (they're funnier if they're at unnatural breaking points), speak as if acting woodenly, and look intently at the corner where the wall meets the ceiling.

August 17, 2011

Conflicting Medical Instructions

Elizabeth's tonsillectomy went just fine. She was the first patient of the day on a non-busy day, so she got a lot of attention and everything was done sooner than predicted. I barely had time to have a cafe mocha and a strawberry-cream-cheese danish in the coffee shop before they were calling me back to see her.

Our main nurse was exactly the style I do best with: she told me the whole story in advance, like this: "First I'll do x, y, z. Then the anesthesiologist will come in, and he will ask you some new questions, but he'll also repeat some of the questions I already asked you, for safety. Then the doctor will come in, and he will do the same thing, and also he will listen to her heart and lungs again. After he leaves, that's when you should get dressed in your paper suit."

After we went home, things were pretty rough. Elizabeth threw up a lot, and she tried to cry about how much her throat hurt but couldn't cry because it hurt too much, and I lay awake that night fretting that she wasn't keeping her antibiotic down, and that I didn't know if I should wake her up for her pain medicine or if that would just make her throw up all over our bed, and that she might have to go back to the hospital (the ENT doctor said that if she couldn't keep fluids down he would check her right back in and give her an IV). (A measure of my phone anxiety is that I was just as nervous about the possibility of having to make that phone call as I was about having her back in the hospital.)

Another thing making me nervous was all the conflicting information. The post-tonsillectomy sheet from the ENT doctor was different than the post-tonsillectomy sheet from the hospital. The verbal instructions from the ENT doctor were different than the verbal instructions from the nurses. I didn't know who to follow.

The nurses, I'd think, would be more familiar with the practical effects: the doctor gives his instructions and then is gone like a summer breeze, while the nurses are there caring for the barfing patients. But the doctor is at least in theory the boss/expert of this show, and he's the one I'd have to answer to if something went wrong as a result of me NOT following his instructions, and it's hard for a layperson to tell the difference between the nurses who can wear the "Thank a nurse: we keep the doctors from accidentally killing you" t-shirts and the ones who really shouldn't take that adversarial tone.

Oh, I could ask for clarification when I find differences in instruction? Genius! But often such questions don't crop up until after I'm home and the potential complication mentioned on the sheet presents itself---so I would need to call. And more importantly, ask WHOM? If I ask the doctor, he'll tell me to follow his instructions; if I ask the nurses, they'll tell me to follow theirs. And both will have good reasons!

You know, maybe the professionals could work these differences out among themselves, rather than putting patients in the middle to figure it out and make guesses and "trust their guts" (which I find seems to work only in hindsight, during the self-congratulating/rebuking stage of a decision). I have EVEN LESS of a medical degree than either of the two groups, so I don't really care how much "YOU have to be the ADVOCATE of your HEALTH!!" is going around, I am not QUALIFIED for that POSITION. Which is why the Large Checks go FROM me rather than TO me: I'm paying people with education, expertise, and experience to tell me what to do, because "my gut" doesn't know anything ABOUT tonsillectomy recovery.

(She was way better on the second day, thank goodness.)

August 14, 2011

Spinach Smoothies Recipe; Room

I read somewhere that you could put spinach in a smoothie and not even taste it. And I thought: "Ha ha, yes; I'll bet this is from the same people who told me that tofu is undetectable and that fruit makes a GREAT dessert."

But then I read that Minnie puts spinach and even KALE in her smoothies. I was particularly persuaded by this part of her post:
...the added bonus of making me feel so very accomplished to have eaten 2 servings of leafy greens for breakfast. It’s like I expect some kind of angel of leafy greens to come down, bless me and give me a medal every time I have one.
So I tried it and lo, I will use the word "lo": it was barely detectable, if at all, and indeed I DID feel as if I deserved a visit from an angel of leafy greens.

Smoothies are a "wing it" kind of recipe, but I can't get behind any recipe that doesn't even say if we're talking about 1/8th teaspoon or 2 cups of an ingredient (see also: my late mother-in-law's cinnamon roll recipe), so here is my Winging It Spinach Smoothie (measurements are approximate---but I HAVE approximated them):

2 T. flax seed meal
1/4 c. rolled oats
2 t. sugar
big firm 5-fingered pinch of spinach leaves, plus another 3-fingers pinch
about a third of a cup of yogurt
about a third of a cup of orange juice
something like 6 or 7 frozen peach segments
about a half a cup of frozen blueberries

(sub any frozen fruit for peaches/blueberries)
(you could also use fresh fruit, and then ice cubes)
(bananas work great, but I don't like banana)

First blend the flax seed, oats, and sugar, until the oats are like flour. Then add everything else. The spinach will look like wayyyyyyyy too much spinach---like, practically filling the blender. Be brave! Trust Swistle. Blend it up.

This might make enough for two adult servings in some households, but at my house it makes enough for me to share with a child.

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Elizabeth, with enthusiasm: "The best thing about pillow pets is you can use them EITHER as a pillow OR as a stuffed animal!!" Yes. Welcome to the point of this product.

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I finally read Room. I consider myself more sensitive than average to stories of child endangerment, and yet I got through it fine. I did have one section in the middle where I thought I might have a heart attack, but I reasoned that MANY of us are sensitive to child-endangerment stories, and yet MANY of us had read the book and I hadn't heard any outcry, so it must be okay. I think part of the reason it worked for me is that it was told from the child's point of view rather than the mother's: I didn't have to think much about how SHE felt. And by the time it occurred to me to think of it, I'd finished that section. (I did a little skimming ahead, too, to make SURE.) The thriller part only lasted the first half of the book or so---and more like just the second quarter of it, since the first quarter is "figuring out what is going on."

I did find it thought-provoking, as pretty much everyone who read it mentioned. Lots of interesting issues to mull while doing boring cooking or cleaning or exercising. Even though I'm someone who lies awake worrying about how we'd all get out in the case of a fire, I didn't find that this book gave me fresh material to worry about. Instead, I found it reassuring/interesting: it said, basically, "Look, here is how someone took a terrible situation and made it livable." And then you get to wonder if you would have made the same making-it-livable decisions. (Still, I guess it does make my heart pound afresh if I think about it too intently.)

A complaint: from time to time I felt like it veered into "And a little child shall teach us" territory. The child is supposed to be less than a month past his 5th birthday, and yet his thought processes seem unusually sophisticated/observant, and he makes sermon-quality remarks about how other people waste things, and fail to appreciate things, and consider themselves so stressed and busy. Yes, thank you for that lesson-for-us-all, Author-speaking-through-child. This was fortunately only a SMALL and OCCASIONAL issue.

August 11, 2011

Kid Breakfasts; School Supplies

Popular kid breakfasts at our house:
  • spoonful of peanut butter, cup of milk
  • half a peanut butter sandwich, cup of milk
  • dry cereal (a "compromise" variety such as Cinnamon Life, Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Mini-Wheats), cup of milk (or in Edward's case, orange juice, since it helps to absorb the iron in the cereal)
  • banana, cup of milk
  • cinnamon toast, cup of milk
  • muffin, cup of milk
  • bowl of yogurt, cup of orange juice
  • two hard-boiled egg whites with salt, cup of chocolate milk (this is only William so I'm not sure it counts as "popular"---but on the other hand it's what he eats most mornings so it's popular with HIM)

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My last trip to Target didn't have much in the way of fun clearance (the clothing has been marked down at a snail's pace recently, and when I did buy a few clearance kid t-shirts I noticed after washing them that they're now cotton-poly instead of cotton, so that was a non-score), but I did bring home some things that make me feel happy and satisfied every time I walk past them:


This year I remembered ahead of time that on the first day of school the children will be coming home with piles of forms that need to be filled out with information that is the same as last year's and the same as each other's (could this process not be even SLIGHTLY computerized?), AND a request from each teacher for antibacterial wipes and facial tissues. Then I feel all panicky and frantic, as if the teacher will think that my week-long delay in sending in the requested items reflects badly on me as a parent. Target had both items on nice sales, so I got enough for each child to bring in a container of each and still have one of each left over.

I also got Elizabeth's lunch box for first grade; she chose the owl one. (It inspired this week's Milk and Cookies post on lunch boxes.) I wonder how many of our children are going to school with that cute owl lunch box? My mother is finding it fun to see the owl craze of the 1970s back in such full force.

August 10, 2011

Poor Start; Good Nurse; Erasable Pens

This morning when I woke up I was confident it was a weekend day, and in fact I thought, "I wonder why Paul is getting ready to take a shower already? Oh, well, it doesn't matter, I will just continue sleeping luxuriously, since none of the kids are up yet." And then it emerged that he was in fact done with his shower rather than preparing for it, which meant it was my turn, and anyway that was not a very good start to the day.

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Yesterday the hospital called to assign us Elizabeth's tonsillectomy surgery time for Monday (we need to be there at 6:30 a.m.), and then I ate Nutella right out of the container for awhile. But I did feel better after the call, because it was one of those nurses who is firm and confident and yet caring and understanding, and she had a comfortingly gravelly voice. It made me feel like this whole thing was totally routine and fine and everything was under control---and yet also like she was fully aware that the routineness/fineness from the hospital's point of view didn't mean that it wasn't weird/non-fine for the parents who don't see this every day. Really, she was very good at her job. Nurses make so much difference at times like this.

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We got Rob's school supply list in the mail, and it says he needs erasable pens. Do you have a brand you like? The last time I used erasable pens (back in school, I think), the technology had advanced only to the point of adding an eraser to the top, but not yet to the point of having the eraser WORK.

August 8, 2011

So, We Have Reached the Futile Purse-Rummaging Stage of Life

Last weekend I was at the liquor store buying some wine to bring with me to my brother and sister-in-law's house. Annnnnnd I reached into my Big Bulky Purse, only to remember I'd already switched my credit card to my Small Cute purse. Very embarrassing. Fortunately I live relatively close, so I zoomed home, got my Small Cute purse, and zoomed back to pay for the wine.

Mid-week, I stopped at the bank. We were urgently in need of cash: the last time I'd stopped, the machine was out of cash; the time before, I was sixth in line and I waited more than five minutes and the line didn't move at all, and we had frozens in the car so I had to give up. I was relieved to remember to stop again, and then I discovered I didn't have my checkbook (which has my ATM card in it), so I had to just leave. When I got home, I found I'd absentmindedly put the checkbook away with my calculator after balancing, instead of putting it back in my purse.

This morning, I went to the grocery store, and discovered at checkout my wallet wasn't in my purse. Which I felt pretty stupid telling the cashier, because I was holding a wallet as I said it---but it was my Assorted Stuff wallet (member cards, department store credit cards, coupons) rather than my Absolute Essentials wallet (driver's license, CREDIT CARD). And my grocery store doesn't take checks (I DID have my checkbook this time) without an application process, which I have never done because I never pay with a check. And I kept rummaging with increasing desperation through my uncooperative Giant Purse, because the wallet COULD NOT be gone, and yet it continued to be gone. So I pulled out my bank card, which has a Visa symbol on it, and I've never used it to pay for anything so I hope that hasn't screwed up everything in the world. It said "debit" on it, but she said it wouldn't go through except as a credit. OH WHAT HAVE I DONE?? (My wallet, luckily, was on the floor of the coat closet.)

I don't know if I'm hoping you'll tell me you do the same thing all the time, or if I'm hoping you'll encourage me to check in to a nice quiet assisted-living facility.

August 5, 2011

Gift Ideas for Late-Pregnancy Treats

Katie writes:
I am 36 weeks pregnant with my 2nd son (and therefore destined to be outnumbered forever as we may have one more child, but aren’t sure), and getting to the UGH IS THIS OVER?/WAHHH IT’S ALREADY ALMOST OVER! point, and thought about finding a small way to treat myself to perk me up for the last few weeks. The problem is…with WHAT? I tried wonderful coffee, didn’t do it. I would try chocolate, but it gives me the worst heartburn. I even made a fabulous dinner tonight, complete with from scratch apricot clafouti for dessert…no dice. Clearly food is not working.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money (because newborn clothes…squee!), but would like to do something.

Help!

When food treats don't work, we are indeed in trouble. Have you tried ice cream? That was one of my favorites. Ice cream bars are good, too, or Italian ices.

Cashews, almonds, etc.? I love the Emerald Nuts cinnamon almonds.

I also liked getting nice scented shower gels, and nice oils for soothing the tum skin. Maybe a nice beauty bar soap (I like Dove, or Oil of Olay, or Caress). There are about twenty kinds of each brand, so it's fun to choose: "Hmmm, Summer Revitalization, or Winter Protection? Citrus-Lemongrass Fresh, or Soothing Coconut Vanilla? Vitamin Therapy, or Antioxidant Infusion? Clarifying Glow or Extra Moisturizing?"

My favorite scent at Bath & Body Works is lavender-vanilla: it's marketed as sleep/relax aromatherapy, and I find it very soothing/comforting. They have a candle you can burn, and I like their lotion and body wash too.

A face moisturizer upgrade. One of those jars that's half the size of the regular kind you use, but also twice the price.

Or one of those nice face mask things to use in the shower. I like the Oil of Olay warming cleanser.

If manicures and pedicures appeal to you, now is the perfect moment.

I would recommend a haircut/trim, but I did that in my final weeks and there was a problem or misunderstanding and in any case I ended up with layered hair that had to be styled to look good, and was not long enough to put into a ponytail. Were there tears? OH YES, and also self/hairdresser-recriminations and wishing to go back and change reality. But if there is no problem/misunderstanding, it's nice to get the Needing-a-Haircut Meter set back to zero.

Comfy socks and slippers will be nice now on swollen feeties, and also nice to have in the hospital.

A flowering plant, if you don't mind having one more thing to take care of. Our grocery store has cute ones in the $4-8 range. One for the bathroom where you can see it as you pee every 10 minutes. One near wherever you sit most often, so you see it whenever you glance up.

Books! Especially absorbing ones that will help pass the time.

DVDs! Especially absorbing ones that will help pass the time. And if you get started on a good series, you can continue watching it during night feedings.

Magazines! It can be fun to get a few you don't normally buy.

Tea! Although, if coffee didn't work, tea might not either. But there are so many fun kinds to try.

Things for the hair: deep-conditioning treatments, leave-in treatments, a new pack of ponytail holders, a new barrette.

A new picture for the wall, near where you'll see it while feeding the baby.

Another thing I found happy in the last few weeks was stocking up for AFTER the baby. Buy a bottle of wine, if you like wine, or beer if you like beer, and set it aside. A box of your favorite candy/chocolates, for when the heartburn is gone. Things that are easy to eat while you're feeding the baby, or for times when you feel like you don't have time to even pee: a box of good crackers; trail mixes; pumpkin seeds; Nutella; the kind of granola bars marketed to grown-ups (I like the look of the Planters ones but haven't tried them yet). An expensive unscented hand lotion, for when you don't want to get lavender-vanilla all over the baby. A pretty new water bottle. A pretty new coffee mug. A DVD series you won't let yourself watch until night feedings. Some magazines or light novels for when your brain is too wobbly from low-sleep and high-distraction to enjoy its usual fare. A pretty notebook and pen for the feeding station: I always found I thought of something important the minute I was trapped under a baby. Deciding on and buying these things, and then going and looking at them and petting them, can be very pleasing.


More ideas for Katie?

August 2, 2011

FULs

Hey, do you remember awhile back when Edward had to get blood drawn because he'd lost several pounds in the year between check-ups? Well, a reasonable number of days after that blood draw, we got a call from the nurse saying all the bloodwork came back normal, but that the doctor wanted to see Edward a month or two later for a weight check. I think weight-checks are a little silly if everything is otherwise fine, but I haven't had enough therapy to be able to say, "Hey, why don't I just weigh him at home and call you if there's been a change for the worse?" After thinking it over, I decided it was worth the $20 copay to avoid swimming upstream.

So today was that appointment, and at the appointment it was revealed that the bloodwork was NOT all normal, that Edward is anemic. And I would have been mostly okay with this little surprise, except that I definitely got a "You must have not have been listening when we told you about this before" vibe about it, first from the nurse, and then from the doctor. Not a BIG vibe (they are both VERY NICE), but a definite SLIGHT vibe. Which changes things completely for me: I am as fine as I can possibly be with a no-harm-done misunderstanding (we are all HUMAN; occasional mistakes are COMPLETELY UNAVOIDABLE), but NOT for it to be assumed that I'M the weak link when I'm NOT.

In short: it's good I was too much of a wuss to argue against the wisdom of having a whole appointment just for Edward to use a scale in front of someone with a medical degree, because I also ended up finding out something I was too much of a wuss to make clear to them that they didn't tell me before.

Not that it would have done any good to make it clear they hadn't told me: not only does it change nothing ANYWAY, but also they would have continued to believe that they HAD told me. In my experience, in every job there is a set of things people constantly claim are true, despite them not being true. Pharmacy customers, for example, claim to have spilled their narcotic painkillers down the sink, or to have received too few narcotic pills in the bottle. Occasionally, this is a true claim: it DOES very occasionally happen that a bottle of pills gets spilled; it DOES very occasionally happen that someone miscounts a bottle of pills; and it makes sense that of all those times, a small percentage would involve narcotics. It's odd, then, that almost all of the claims are made about narcotic medications, and only verrrrry rarely about non-narcotic ones.

Similar Frequently Used Lies occur everywhere, and employees of those everywheres do get a bit HARDENED to their own oft-heard sets of them. It is tempting, then, for an employee to assume they are ALWAYS lies, and to act accordingly. Statistically, this is a solid plan. BUT: treating the statistically-unusual person who IS telling the truth as if they are lying is SUCH a bad move, it cancels out any statistical efficiency of treating everyone the same. And yet, I also understand the extreme reluctance to take blame and make apologies in the smug face of someone who KNOWS he or she is getting away with a lie, so I don't know where that leaves us, except to say that it is almost impossible for me to protest the truth of the kind of claim I KNOW is almost always made as a lie to that sort of employee, and so I almost never do, and I didn't do so THIS time, EITHER.

And also, they want to see him back in a month or two for another blood draw. If you have experience making that procedure easier for a child, I would be very grateful for the advice.

August 1, 2011

Sponsored

I have a preference to state, and I would like to emphasize this a little more before I actually state it: that it is a preference. A preference I hope others will share. Not "Other ways are stupid! Everyone should do it the way I think is right!" I have plenty of opinions that fall along those lines, too. But in this case, I realize that what I'm basically doing is hoping/requesting that people change the way they're doing something, in favor of the way I prefer it to be---but fully acknowledging that they needn't, and/or that they might prefer it otherwise, and that it is a big deal to change something for someone else just as some sort of concession to that person's preferences, so it's not something I'm expecting. I won't be all, "WHAT?? This again?? But I SAID I didn't LIKE it!!" There are many people who express preferences in regards to what I write on this blog, and I decline to meet those preferences, so I am familiar with that process.

Nevertheless, here is the preference: I would prefer if a sponsored post said so at the very top of the post, or within the first few sentences.

Here is how it feels to me, when I read a sponsored post without realizing it's sponsored until a little note at the very end: it's like being invited over to someone's house for a fun evening, and then realizing when you get there that it's a "party" selling make-up, or kitchen tools, or candles. Crap, I got suckered. And I feel foolish for not realizing it sooner. And my relationship with the person who tricked me has taken a hit.

I have several local acquaintances who do sales parties, and they would argue with this. I know, because they have argued it within my earshot: "It's not like a SALES thing!" they say. "It's just a fun evening! Friends getting together! No pressure! It's not like you have to BUY anything, it's just for learning about cool new things! And it's been so long since I've seen you guys! It's a GIRLS' NIGHT OUT!" I understand that they might really feel this way about it, but I continue to NOT feel this way about it. And with sponsored posts, I understand that a blogger might say that it's their own content, that they weren't in any way pressured or instructed what to write, so it's the same as a regular post. I understand how they can see it this way, but it's still not the way I see it. My preference is still to know from the start what I'm getting into, rather than getting tricked into it and feeling manipulated and suckered at the end.