Friday, April 18, 2008

Recently Heard around Here...

Benjamin (6) came up with the idea of planning a "Family Fun Night." He decided that Wednesday was the day to buy the supplies (balloons) and Friday would be the night to have fun. Lily joined in with an additional idea ("Why don't we light that candle of mine?"). Ben agreed but on the condition that the fun night still be on Friday.


"I get to decide, because this was my idea."

"Yeah, and mine, too," said Lily.


"No, it wasn't! You don't even know what Family Fun Night means!" retorted Ben.


Lily: "Yes, I do! It's about loving your family, so LEAVE ME ALONE!!"


We're off to a good start.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Rash Decision

Finally. A chance to pause.


After what seems like an unending series of colds, bumps, sleepless nights, gray days, and rashes, we are finally seeing sunshine, both literally and figuratively.


It all began about three weeks ago, when Abraham (2) decided to simultaneously cut his molars and come down with a miserable cold. Neither of my boys have ever done well teething. There are fevers (despite what the doctors say: "Babies don't get fevers when they teethe." HA!!! Hats off to Dr. William Sears for actually stating in a book of his that mothers prove otherwise). There are swollen cheeks, open mouths, and drool pools.


It's just gross.


So when Abraham refused to swallow or chew (**extremely** rare for him), we knew he was probably teething. A quick check in his breath of death mouth confirmed our suspicions. We Motrined and Tylenoled him, provided a bedside stack of thick cloth diapers at the ready to be tucked under his ever-drooling mouth as he fitfully slept, and pulled out a collection of new-to-us used videos.


And got ready to wait it out.


Only we waited, and waited, and waited. For days. And then Lily (4) started sneezing and coughing.


And then Miriam (2) knocked herself out. As it was a Saturday and our pediatrician's office was closed, I signed a paper saying I would take her in to be checked on Monday because I was declining the rescue squad's offer to take her to the emergency room.


Monday came. The weekend was long, with Lily still sneezing and coughing, and snorting and sniffling...and then SHE wouldn't swallow. Popsicles and iced drinks failed to entice.


Off to the doctor's office we went for Miriam's appointment. We did not see our regular pediatrician; and during her inspection, this new doctor said Miriam had an ear infection and prescribed Amoxycillin. "Has she been complaining about her ear? Tugging it? Acting fussy?"


"Not a bit," I said. "But this one over here..." and I pointed to Lily, who was sitting there with mouth open, eyes swollen, and cheeks flushed.


"Hmm. Well, I'm going to have Miriam take this Amoxycillin twice a day for ten days."


Irritated at her inability to take a hint, I said, "So what would you suggest I do for someone who won't swallow, has white spots on her throat, and can't sleep because of coughing?" it comes....she said, "Well, if you'd like to make an appointment, I'd tell you."


OH. MY. WORD. Now let me set something straight. If you know me personally, you know I HATE doctors. Not their person, but their, well, medical inexpertise. Give me a country farm vet anyday. We'd probably be a lot healthier. But anyway. Even a doctor-lover (is there such a thing?) would have to be unsettled by that ridiculous answer. I am sitting there with my five children. For almost two hours, my five children and I have been sitting in this tiny little doctor's office (not the large waiting room, mind you, but this itty bitty office with medical equipment everywhere), playing "I Spy" and reading Parenting magazines that you have laying around and trying not to touch anything. These two hours, and none of my children have broken anything or cried or wet their pants. And why have we been waiting these two hours? BECAUSE I MADE AN APPOINTMENT! Which, incidentally, was for TWO HOURS AGO!!!


And you're refusing to give me advice because it's on the sick kid and not the one you're here to look at?


Fast forward two days. Lily is still not swallowing. The breath of death is absolutely stifling. We drive the half hour to the pediatrician's again, only to have the same doctor, who I am sure has no children of her own. Before the doctor comes in, the nurse swabs Lily's throat for a strep test. The doctor comes in and says, "Her throat is the worst I've seen. Let's see if it's strep." This is your fault, I want to say. But I don't. I'm, you know, godly like that. (Ahem!)


The strep test comes back negative. She tells me to try popsicles and iced drinks. AAARGH! She says Lily does have a mild ear infection and prescribes Amoxycillin. "I'm going to prescribe enough that it will kill the throat infection, too." I ask, as guardedly as I can, "But that won't help any, because antibiotics don't do anything for viral infections." And then, to make this a proper question to the expert and not an outright denial of her knowledge, I add, "Right?"


"Oh, I know," she says. "Believe me, I am NOT one of those doctors who like to prescribe antibiotics just for the sake of prescribing them. But if there's any strep hiding (???!!!???), it'll kill it."


If that's the kind of doctor who DOESN'T like to prescribe antibiotics, I wonder what the kind of doctor is like who DOES? Are they prescribing Amoxycillin by the 2-liter?


So, two days after we picked up Miriam's drugs, we pick up Lily's.


And then I understand why people stop antibiotics early.


Because they do nasty, nasty things to the body. When the things the antibiotics do are worse than what the body was handling without them, you go with the lesser evil, right? And in our case(s), the "evil" was an ear infection, one of them being so painless that the child hadn't even noticed it. And after doing some research (which I must have been too sleep-deprived to do before), I found out that 80-90% of ear infections are self-resolving. It's true! This is not some Backwoods Magazine When You Don't Have a Doctor statistic. It's absolutely true. And not all ear infections are bacterial...doctors usually can't tell whether they are viral or bacterial. So antibiotics may not do a thing for them.


So I pull the antibiotics and become very militant about how many sips Lily must take every 5 minutes. She starts getting better.


A week later, Miriam breaks out with a rash and is complaining about her "mouth" hurting. I look everywhere online to try to figure out what the rash is, trying to rule out chicken pox or scarlet fever or measles or viral rash or allergy to dandelion jelly. I am leaning towards scarlet fever, figuring that maybe she did have strep (even though her rash didn't look like scarlet fever pictures). Finally, I talk to my friend Kendra, who during one sleepless winter became very well-acquainted with various maladies among her children. I describe Miriam's rash, and she assures me that it doesn't sound anything like scarlet fever.


And then, finally, finally, finally, I find a picture that looks exactly like Miriam's rash. And? It was a reaction to Amoxycillin, which can show up a week after the child has taken it.


Well, it's almost gone now. Her throat is no longer sore (despite her telling me, "Mama, my mouth hurts. I need popcorn." Your throat hurts, so you need some salty popcorn? "Yes.")


And I am exhausted. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, one of the cats is leaving gifts of dead voles on the back porch. Spring is here.


I think I'll go to sleep on the couch, right after watching a "House" episode. Because THAT is a doctor who knows doctors don't know anything. And even if that doesn't impress you, the fact that Hugh Laurie is really British just has to.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

When Life (or the Yard) Gives You Dandelions...


. . . Make Dandelion Jelly.


It's surprisingly easy and a fun transformation for the kids to watch. Yesterday, in a moment of "I NEED TO GET AWAY FROM YOU!" desperation, I sent Ben (6) and Lily (4) outside to gather a bowl of dandelions (just yellow ones, thank you very much).


I used a combination of recipes found online, only to later flip to "dandelion jelly" in Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living (one of my favorite books) and discover that the combination I so originally came up with was written in easy language in her book. So much for the Internet!


At first, the two children were a little disgusted at the thought of actually digesting something that they picked from the yard. But this gave us a chance to talk about other flowers that we eat (cauliflower, broccoli, cloves, artichokes -- well, OK, we don't eat those but SOME people do).


And come to think of it, some of the things I've seen my kids ingest are FAR more disgusting than a household weed. . .


Friday, April 4, 2008

How to Give a Backrub


A few nights ago, Ethan was away at a night class and I was home alone with the children (yes, an oxymoron, but it makes sense to anyone who plays single parent for any fraction of time). It was after dinner, after bathtime, after picking up...and there was still a good hour before bedtime, when I could legitimately put them in bed with any realistic expectation of them staying there.


As I lay on the floor, watching Edee (14 mos.) rifle through stuffed animals and feeling Miriam (2) crawl on my back, I realized that with all of our homeschooling and parenting, we had been amiss in one crucial area of instruction: how to give a backrub. Contemplating this, I realized that there were four pairs of hands (Edee's hands are better occupied elsewhere) that needed vital practice in this life lesson.


When I asked if any of them wanted to learn how to give a backrub, five little people excitedly yelled, "YES!" (but I ignored Edee's voice, and I am a little suspicious that perhaps she was just mimicking them anyway). Miriam even ran into my room to grab the miniature Body Shop coconut creme (oh, delicious scent!) from my nightstand (which is what you call a file cabinet with a decorative scarf draped on top). They rubbed and squeezed, doing an amazingly wonderful job on this sore back. However, I quickly ascertained that a few ground rules had to be diligently enforced:

  1. It is fine to use the ends of your fingers, as long as you are NOT using the ends of your fingernails.

  2. When Mommy says, "OW!," STOP. Do not continue. Do not laugh. Do not try to figure out how to make her say it again.

  3. It is OK to use the entire miniature tub of coconut creme, as long as you are using it on Mommy's back. It is NOT OK if you are eating it.

  4. I mean it, Abraham (2). Stop eating the coconut creme.

  5. When you run out of coconut creme, do not substitute Watkins Hand Creme. Lemongrass and chamomile do not smell good with coconut (and as a side note, Abraham, they are nowhere near as tasty).

  6. If you ever, EVER, again contemplate aloud using Mommy's back as a slip-n-slide for an Asian Beetle, you will be sent to bed immediately for the rest of your life. The awkward contortions that I had to go through in order to investigate who had the beetle and how close it was to me totally undid any therapeutic work the backrub accomplished.


And I think that's it. I've got to go get another tub of coconut creme, and then I think we'll give it another go. But this time, I'm setting bug traps and fixing Abraham a sandwich.



Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Our Tree


This picture is for my friend Jamie, who is dealing with fresh snowfall in Montana.


It was taken today, where it is a balmy (dare I say almost HOT?) mid-70's. The early morning clouds ceased weeping and dissipated before an increasingly intense sun.


Even the tree in the front yard expressed surprised delight at the change in the elements, this pleasant gentle April Fool's pranking by the heavenlies.


And I figured a little temperate rubbing in couldn't hurt . . .



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