Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kisses that Heal

I don't remember ever telling my son that a kiss would heal his pain.  I know that at times, when he's crying after a tumble or because of a small cut, I have offered him a kiss.  I never thought of the kiss as a band-aid, only as a reminder that I love him and that I'm here to offer him comfort whenever he needs it.

Yesterday, I mentioned to my son that I was feeling sick.  "It's okay," he told me.  "It's okay mommy.  Don't worry."  Then he turned and kissed me two times.  "It's okay mommy.  Now you're feeling better."  I couldn't help but chuckle to myself.  I'm feeling better, am I?  That was a quick and easy remedy.  If only it were that simple.  It made me wonder as to where in the world he got this idea--that kisses had some kind of magical healing powers.  Certainly, he must be aware that when I kiss him, the pain doesn't go away.

So I walked away smiling at the wonder of children, at how their small minds process things like kisses and healing.  But the more I thought of it, the more I thought that my son was kind of right.  Kisses may not be able to heal the physical aspects of my sickness, but what does it do to the emotional aspects of my sickness?  When I'm sick, I'm often tired, impatient, annoyed and miserable.  What can a kiss do to those feelings?   I imagine you know the answer to that question.  When my son gave me two kisses, I feel a little less tired, impatient, annoyed and miserable.  And while I was still coughing and pulling tissue after tissue out of the box, my heart was a little lighter.

I know that in my own life, I seek out comfort when I'm in pain.  When I was in labor for both of my children, I had no delusions that my husband would ease my burden.  Yet, having him there was an emotional comfort that I couldn't do without.

I'm realizing now that my son's way of thinking about a kiss isn't that far gone from the reality.  Sometimes being comforted in our pain is just as important as the release from the pain itself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

To Sleep

"In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan...."  So has my three year old, ailing with a runny nose and itchy, gooey eyes.  Anguish has come upon this house, weeping and gnashing of teeth.   (Him weeping, me biting my nails because I can't handle the stress of the constant high-pitched whine sounding throughout the day and night.)  Every ten minutes in the night comes a plea for help and comfort, a plea that, at times, I long to ignore.  Oh to replace the chill of the cold air and the wetness of a snotty nose for the serenity of warm flannel sheets and a down comforter, guiding me to a night full of dreamful bliss.  If only one sweet song or one loving kiss was enough to quell the pain and sorrow of a small child in the midst of an internal battle.  If only I could send in my own troops to vanquish the enemy, or at least, to remove the voice box of the despondent so that even one of us could get sleep.  So little sympathy you say?  And yet in a battle, does not one soldier rest while the other keeps guard, so that not everyone will be too exhausted for the war?  Think of the benefits of a well-rested mother!

Hopefully this war will not rage much longer, because my energy is dwindling with every passing hour.  Oh germs, have mercy!  Have mercy on a weary mother!  For with one wailing child, always comes another.  How tired my arms are from carrying one needy child all day while attempting to nurse another.  Let darkness come over this night that we would not wake but for morning light.  Let us wake with renewed energy, and opened sinuses for all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Super Cooling

Yesterday morning I was putting the kids in the car and noticed a full bottled water lying on the car floor, yet liquid.  At about 4 degrees outside, this caught my attention.  There were three other containers of water, partially full, perfectly frozen on the floor next to this one.  I thought it might be my eyes playing tricks on me, so I leaned over and poked the bottle to see if somehow, it might have frozen clear.  No, it was unfrozen water inside.  Yet, seconds after I discovered this, the water turned to ice.  Starting from the point where I touched it, the once clear water almost magically changed to a white frozen slush.  It traveled from my poke all the way up to the bottle neck within seconds.  I thought I was going crazy.  I'd never seen anything like it in my life.  I started poking the bottle again--what in the world was going on?!  It still wasn't solid ice like the rest of the bottles, but it was definitely harder and was now fully white.

Turns out, I saw an event called "super cooling."  I had never heard of it, but now that I've seen it, I'm amazed that it's possible.  My husband was almost jealous that I saw the process, knowing right away what it was when I told him what I had seen.  He ran to the computer and googled "super cooling."  The whole thing still doesn't make perfect sense to me, but I can grasp the basic elements: pure water, untouched bottle, slowly cooled to below freezing.

I would encourage anyone looking for a fun experiment, and especially those homeschooling, to check this out.  It is unbelievable to watch, but, surprisingly, it seems possible to replicate.  Here are some youtube videos showing the basic idea:

Unbelievable, right?  That's what I thought.  But I saw it with my own eyes!  Now go, try it for yourself and be amazed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going to New Zealand

My three year old would like to take me and the family to New Zealand.  I'm not sure exactly what the draw to New Zealand is, except that he might have heard me mention the place on occasion as I did a study abroad there in college.

First, he offered to drive me there in a couple years when he's older.  I informed him that we'd have to go over water and a car would be less than sufficient to do such a thing.  "Don't worry," he said.  "I will drive a boat."  I told him it would take a very, very, very long time.  "It's okay mom.  I will take you there."  Obviously, we have nothing better to do with our time.

Almost daily for the past week, he has made mention of our upcoming voyage to New Zealand.  I'm not sure what he expects to find there, but he is definitely excited for whatever it may be.


There it is.  Forgotten even on most world maps I see....  Our desination.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Simple. Quick. Delicious. One of our favorites.

There are a lot of us out there who are somewhat carbohydrate obsessed.  Or at least, I like to think I'm not alone.  I would take a soft, bready treat over candy any day.  When it comes to my meals, there is almost always a disproportionate amount of carbs to proteins..... quarter plate of protein....quarter plate of veggies.... half a plate of carbs.  Yep.  That's how my dinner plate usually looks.  For those of you who also like to chow down on the carbs, I have a wonderful, simple and quick meal that may  just become a favorite in your house like it is in ours.

Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

You'll need:
-1 lb. pasta, your choice
-2 crowns of broccoli
-two cloves of garlic
-half a package of chicken sausage (we like the roasted red pepper, or spinach and mozzarella for this meal, but you can choose whatever you think sounds good--that's the benefit of chicken sausage!)
-olive oil
- 1c. romano cheese

To make:

1) While heating the water for the pasta, cut broccoli into bite-size pieces (not too small)
2) When water is ready, put in pasta.  Set timer.  Cut chicken sausage into 3/4 inch pieces. Put 2TBS olive oil in a skillet and add crushed garlic cloves; set on medium.
3)  When pasta is at about 6 minutes left to cook, get it to a rolling boil.  At five minutes, add broccoli and cover.  (Keep a boil going to cook.)
4)  When oil in skillet is hot and garlic is translucent, add chicken sausage.  Cook until browned.
5)  When pasta is cooked, drain, and add 1c. romano cheese, and olive oil to desired taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste as well.  Add sausage.

Here are some pictures of when I recently made the recipe, but note that this is a double batch.  We had a lot of broccoli to use up (5 crowns I think!) and since my family gobbles this stuff up, my husband recommended I just double the batch.  I couldn't stir everything together well at the end, so I ended up just putting the cheese on top instead of into the bowl.  And this was the first time I'd used linguine--usually we use shells or radiatore or penne--and I will say it's a lot more difficult to stir when all is said and done!

(This is my son enjoying his reflection in the pot!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Picture Guide to Breadmaking

I know growing up that I rarely got the chance to see bread made by hand.  And, sadly, those times I did get to see the process, I was too young to etch into my memory the crucial points necessary make a mouth-watering loaf on my own.  I've tried to learn from trial and error how to make a delicious bread, but I have definitely failed numerous times along the way.  None of my creations were ever inedible.  But some of them certainly wouldn't have been described as "amazing" or any synonym thereof.

I do know that early on, it would have been helpful for me to see some of what the process looked like.  I am a visual person and when I read something, I have to see it in my mind before I really feel like I can understand what I'm reading.  So, in an effort to give you a little more insight if you're a beginner, or, to give you some motivation if you haven't tried it yet, here is my picture guide to breadmaking.  Do bear in mind that some of these steps don't hold true for certain breads (like gluten-free breads for example), but most breads would use this same process.  Once you get these basics down, you'll be able to make almost any bread you want!  Is your mouth watering yet?

This recipe is an herb bread based on this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Signs of Maturity

There's been a lot of snow here lately and you can see people out shoveling their walkways.  You can also see people dusting the accumulated snow off their cars in order to get to where they need to be.  I hadn't thought much of this until I passed a couple of cars on the road the other day that looked like they should still be parked on the side of the road.  Unlike the rest of us doing major snow-removal, on their cars, just one or two small circles were carved out of the blanketed snow on the front windshield.  They could only see the outside world as much as that small disk uncovered.

I live a stone's throw from a college campus, so it certainly didn't come as a surprise to see such a car.  It did make me realize, though, that somewhere along the line I must have gotten a little more mature and responsible.... because gone for me are the days of only carving out one tiny circle directly in front of the driver's side window.  I actually go through the trouble of trying to get as much snow as I can from all sides of the car.  On top of that, I make sure that the front and back windshields as well as the passenger and driver's side windows are completely cleared.

I'm not sure if it's parenthood to blame on my maturity, or just growing older.  I am over a quarter-century old now.  Guess it should count for something.  Whatever the cause, maturity has definitely been taking hold of certain aspects of my life. Removing snow from my car is just one sign of the change.  With maturity, though, also comes expectations..... I can't imagine what others would think of me if they saw me driving around in what looked like a gas-powered snow monster with one cyclops eye!

There it is, my Pyrite Mica Rav4 all cleaned off and ready to ride.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hookers at the library

We all love hearing those hilarious things that children say that make so much sense to them, but mean something entirely different to us.  At least, sometimes we do.  At other times, we wish our children would choose better places in which to share the way they see the world.  Today we were at the library and my son was working hard at putting a train together.  He even had a new little friend there to help him.  She would find a train piece and pass it to him, and he would get them all buckled up and straight on the track.  At one point, my son looks up to me and says, "where are the other hookers?"


"Mom, where are the other hookers?"

"Ummm, excuse me? I'm not sure I understood what you said."

"Where. Are. The. Other. Hookers?"

Oh dear, I'm thinking.  Either this girl has just informed him about a corrupt and terrible concept in our world, or at the least, my son is ranting about hookers to all of the children section of the library.  Whispering, I tried to ask him again, "I'm not exactly sure what you mean.... could you quietly tell me what you're talking about?"--looking around to make sure no one else was grimacing at my son while he talked about not-child-appropriate occupations in the play area.

"I'm looking for the pieces that hook on to these train pieces.  See, like this one...??"  And as he shows me a train piece that clearly is intended to fit another piece, I suddenly understood.  Sadly, I had no better name on the top of my head for the piece that would connect.  "Hooker" seemed suitable.  And yet not.  Very not.

So, I did all I could do, I told him there were no pieces that I could find that fit on to that piece, but that I would look for it.  In the meantime, he should focus his energy elsewhere--to the pieces that didn't need anything attached to them.  Hopefully that would prevent any more discussion of hookers in the library.

I think we escaped any potential problems unscathed, though, I'm not 100% sure.  The father of the girl did come up to me soon afterwards and gave me an awkward introduction.  In fact, his entire conversation with me was extremely awkward.  My thinking is that either he overheard my son's mention of hookers, or, he's just an awkward kind of guy.  I'm not sure which option I'd rather be true.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Happy Mediums"

You know that concept of a "happy medium"?  Somewhere middle-of-the-road where you are in your comfort zone, not too far to one side or the other in a particular situation...?

I've been thinking about it recently, and I feel like I'm rarely "happy" when I find my "happy medium".  It may be my comfort zone, but I'm still so often wondering if I'm making a good choice.  I find I second guess myself and compare my situation to someone else's.  It leaves me wondering if I'm being a wimp by staying in the middle or if I'm doing it just to keep from having to make a real decision.

Now, of course, no decision is a decision.  So, I am inevitably making a decision one way or the other, but is it the right one....?

Perhaps it's my constant pessimism that keeps me at a despairing median instead of a happy medium.  Or, I like to think that it's the fact that our culture gives us so many options for every single choice in our lives that there is no way I could ever be sure I was making the right choice.  This doesn't apply in all things, but there are certainly a lot of situations where this applies.  Do I stay home with my children or work, or maybe just work for a couple of hours a week?  Or work from home?  Or have my husband stay home while I work. (HA! not likely!)

Do I go to the store that generally sells the cheapest products, or do I go to the store that has a better reputation and employee standards? Or, do I divide my time between them?  Or do I go to the more expensive store and spend my time at home clipping coupons to ease the spending?

I could probably spend an hour listing frequent dilemmas I come against--trying to find my own happy medium and ultimately still feeling unsure and unhappy.  I can't actually spend an hour listing them, though, since even just the five minutes it's taken me to write this much has my preschooler in tears screaming and me wishing I was headed out the door on a tropical vacation.  Oh, to dream.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Healing Eczema

Back in 2008 I read an article about eczema in the New York Times.  It was months after my son developed  eczema on his legs and back.  We had tried a couple of remedies to no good result, and I was ready to just leave it as it was.  It wasn't very severe nor did it seem to bother him much.  But, the article mentioned the idea that a bath of bleach water, highly diluted (it gives the ratios in the article), could be a way to kill the bacteria causing or inflaming the eczema, even the worst cases.  Another article, this time in Time Magazine, came out almost a year later touting the same research.

Now, I am not always the wisest of moms, so at this point, do as I say, not as I did.  While I would recommend talking to your doctor about this, I took matters into my own hands.  I used the prescribed amount of bleach and added it to my sons bath water.  I didn't do this for every one of his baths, but I did it at least once a week.  Quickly, his eczema was gone.  The yucky red patches on his legs and back had completely disappeared.

I was shocked.  I was also elated.  What a simple and inexpensive solution!  I soon felt like an advertisement for bleach baths whenever a conversation turned to the struggle with eczema.  But no one ever seemed to take me seriously....  Am I that unbelievable?  Or is the remedy that unbelievable?  Well, let me tell you straight up that it works.  Believe it.  But, if you're nervous about the idea of using bleach in a bath (either for you or your child), like this woman is, I'd encourage you to take the time to at least educate yourself on the theory and process.  It can't do anything but add to your knowledge at the least.

Now certainly this is not the end-all cure for eczema.  As the article mentions, this is not a cure for eczema itself as much as a cure for the bacteria possibly causing the eczema (or, making it worse).  And, as the anti-bleach-solution mother explains, bleach can be harmful, so you must be cautious.  Use your brains, my dear friends, use your brains.

As we start this new year in hopes that it will be even better than the last, I thought I'd just send you along with a tidbit of information that I've found to be helpful in my life.  So, if you or someone you know is suffering from eczema, consider this simple solution.  Maybe it will bring someone you know a little more joy in 2011.