Thursday, April 19, 2012

Down The Hatch!

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA....that is the sound of me covering my ears and making the LA LA sounds to block everything out! Is it just me or are we constantly being inundated with information about all that is bad for us? Pink slime, organic vs. chemically enhanced foods, sun exposure, hormone injected meats and heaven forbid lactose issues and gluten! I know people shutter at the mere mention of high fructose corn syrup!

All I want to do is make good choices for my kids during the years that they are too young to do so for themselves. Hopefully, as they mature the foundation for making good and healthy decisions will have been laid and they will be better protected from illness, obesity, the sun and all the other things we run from. That said, I also hope they will not be paranoid or obsessed by these things, but rather make informed decisions along their way of enjoying life.

I am not poo-pooing those who have become impassioned by these things. In truth, I have become confused looking for that happy medium. Moderation...if you will. In trying to find a balance in all of this I am led to contradiction and hypocrisy. I even find myself buying one product because of it’s short and concise ingredient list and then choosing another item with type so small my super duper high powered specs can not decipher the code. Then I am left pondering if one product is good for me and the other not so good, do they cancel each other out?

Luckily, my girls still think that dessert and fruit or yogurt are synomymous, but with Devi entering kindergarten this next year, I know that the lid is about to be blown off that secret. This is not to say that my girls do not know the word “candy” but to date, they most often will still choose apple slices or carrots over the temptation of Laughy Taffy or a Starburst. Being one of the biggest sweet tooth’s known to man with a weakness for any baked good, I secretly find this phenomenon mind boggling.

Though I’ve tried to wade through the slew of nutritional gobbily gook on the internet I find myself feeling over saturated with information and feeling perplexed about what to serve my kids–all the time, only now and then, or what products should just go straight from pantry to trash bin. If budget did not have to come into play...I would grow my own everything, hire a chef to prepare it - who would let me lick the spoon over their shoulder (and a personal trainer for myself). Dreamer....I know. So realistically, when I enter my grocery store, armed with my own bags (washed, I might add), my preplanned grocery list and my coupon notebook, these are the foods I try to provide my girls. I purchase organic milk, buying extra to freeze when and if I ever have a coupon or it is on sale. Fruits and vegetables with a skin that is eaten, I try for organic. I try to avoid purchasing items with high fructose corn syrup and will pay a bit extra for my Hunts ketchup, knowing that it does not contain it. No sugary cereal enters the house because they are nasty and no one under our roof likes them anyway (or knows they exist except at resorts on vacation) and the girls are not aware that bread even comes in a white variety. We don’t eat much meat, but when I stock up on sale, I try to get no hormones, no plumping, no additives...what I like to refer to as happy meat, again LA LA LA LAing past the truth about how some of it is processed.

We liberally apply sunscreen and lotion to both girls, though I have heard recently that out of the average seven personal hygiene type products that a person uses daily, nearly all of them can cause cancer, pollute the water or do something else bad for our bodies or environment. And now, after Dev’s accident, we have added, zinc oxide, Mederma and Vitamin E capsules to our all ready full shelf of products used.

One of my greatest fears is that I find that in my efforts to protect the little soles we hold dear, that I am actually poisoning them or causing harm. Guidance people...I am searching for some sensible guidance. I would love nothing more than to adapt some rules to live by that might bring a little comfort to this confused consumer. Help! I am asking for your help by way of comments, how do YOU go about making these difficult choices? I am ready to become educated and stop feeling guilty every time I fill my hand with lotion or pile something high on a dinner plate.

And until your help comes...we continue on with old traditions. Yesterday, to take full advantage of one of our first warm days (slathered with sunscreen), we headed to Frisco Freeze for the first spring picnic in the back of the mini van. With just a teensy pang of guilt we dined on our greasy cheeseburgers prepared on a grill “seasoned” by 61 years of use, fries AND onion rings, deep fried in oil that no doubt has not been changed out since the dawn of time. Nothing helps all that slide down easier than a root beer shake (unlike some it does contain real milk) shared by all four of us through a single straw! MmmmmYummy!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

So, A Needle Pulling Thread

Though not my typical read, I am currently midway through a parenting book. This one is different, in that it offers suggestions to one’s parenting style based on medical science, exploring what is going on in the minds of our children at various ages and using this as a method of discovery and solution to better nurture them. I believe it is in the introduction of the book that the author blows the cover on the theory that parenting is instinctual. What a relief, as I often have felt that there is nothing instinctual about the floundering feeling I sometimes have when caught flat footed by one of my children’s statements or actions - completely stymied on how to respond. Thankfully, what does seem to be instinctual, is the ability to assist in times of urgency.

Last Sunday we decided to have Indian for dinner...not a feast, but a simple Indian meal. The girls, dressed-up in princess finery and were playing princess wedding in the hallway, occasionally flitting in and out of the kitchen for a nibble or a taste as I cooked. Devi would ask, “ Are we having curry?” When I would reply yes, she would smile broadly and announce, “Yay! Mmmmm, I love curry!” And Treya would throw in her two cents with a “Me too!” We shared this same conversation all afternoon as the cooking commenced over the samosas and chutney, the cucumber pickle, the lassis and even the naan. By late afternoon, we all were prepped and ready for a tasty meal.

Almost an afterthought, I had invited our neighbor Carol to join us for dinner minutes before placing the dishes on the table. Pat had dashed upstairs to change from his outdoor work clothes and I busied myself adding another setting to the table, when I saw our guest approaching up the side walkway toward the front door. A competition began when I asked the girls to greet her. In a dash of giggles, they bolted toward the door. The next thing I heard was a loud bang and Devi’s cry. Rounding the corner it looked like she was holding her leg, so I scooped her up on my hip and as I asked if she was all right, I took the final 2 or 3 last steps to the door to let Carol enter. Pat met all of us, Carol, me and the girls, at the front door landing and caught a glimpse of Devi’s face over my shoulder. “Holy crap, Julie....Devi is hurt!” That's when I saw the huge gash in her cheek - split open wide - the size of a quarter.

2 Days Post Accident

Split in that moment into two personalities, my heart raced internally with a screaming fear as thoughts of the damage of the injury swirled in my head. Outwardly, God’s guiding hand provided a sense of calm as I carried Devi into the bathroom, seating her on the counter top. Grabbing a dark colored towel to hide the sight of blood, I dipped it into cold water and then applied pressure to the gaping wound. The laceration was so deep that no blood came. This was serious.

A united front, it is times like these where Pat and I perform at our best. Without uttering words, our mental plan was formed in unison. Pat stayed with Devi, readying her with coat and shoes, while I turned off the oven and stove top and asked Carol if she could sit with Treya (and feed themselves) while we took Devi to the ER. I gave a very concerned wide eyed Treya a kiss and told her to have good listening ears.

Yanking Treya’s car seat out of the car, I occupied the back seat beside the pumpkin pie so I was able to continue to apply pressure to her cheek. I could see her teeth chattering and she began to moan letting me know just how much it hurt. Singing! I would sing....every song I knew until we arrived at the ER. You Are my Sunshine, I’m a Little Teapot, The Cannibal King, Oh Gee How Happy I Feel, Alice the Camel, Monkeys on the Bed...on and on I sang, each tune helping to calm her a bit. Swiftly, we made it through triage and then took our place in the crowded waiting area. Devi sat in my lap and melted right into me, soaking up as much of my maternal composure as she could take in as I silently prayed for strength and a positive outcome. After awhile she managed to get herself together and even watched the fish tank and slightly inappropriate TV. Long past dinner time by now, she was starving, so we got a snack out of the vending machine, which is when Dev saw her reflection for the first time. She looked up to Pat and said, “I really hurt myself, didn’t I?” We also pieced together what had happened. Apparently, she had caught her foot on the hem of her princess dress-up gown while running to the door. Tripping, she fell into the leg of the tall sofa table adjacent to the door.

An hour later, we found ourselves in our own room with the RN explaining the procedure. A thick clear gel on cotton was applied directly to the wound and held in place with a pressure bandage that would disinfect and eventually numb the area. During the 1/2 hour it took to take effect, Devi kept adamantly complaining that she did not like this place and wanted to go home. I agreed. Me too. Dr. Paula returned to stitch her up, reassuring us that tables reach out and bite little girls all the time. So I held her hands for comfort, the RN held her head steady and daddy kept her antsy feet still and the doctor took her place at Dev’s head. Devi was sort of whining, but never once cried and was able to answer all their questions about what she likes to eat, where she was born and what she likes to do, while watching the curve of the fish hook needle pull at her tender skin, entering and exiting, sewing a total of five stitches a mere half inch from her right eye.

Devi was very brave and handled things really well and was rewarded with a purple otter pop. Because her eye looks like one of us cold cocked her...just about everyone we came in contact with asked her what happened, and told Pat and I to let Devi tell the story. I suppose that is protocol, but it sure did feel awkward or rather sad that that has had to become the protocol. When the stitches were complete we could see just how long (over an inch) the laceration was and were informed that there would most likely be a scar on her beautiful face. Hearing those words, felt like I had just been stabbed with a dagger.

4 Days Post Accident

Exhausted, we arrived home at 10:00pm and were met by a very concerned Treya, offering big hugs to her injured sister. By morning, the swelling in Devi’s black and blue cheek had moved up to her eye, swelling it nearly shut and leaving her with a shiner too! She looks like our little prize fighter.

Left with a fridge full of a partially eaten Indian meal, we are quite done with ER visits, awaiting the removal of the stitches on Friday. Reliving the event, I can’t help but question if we did right by our child. Should we have consulted a plastic surgeon? Should we have asked more questions? Perhaps taken her to a different facility? These questions only further convince me that parenting is not instinctual. In the moment, we just wanted our girl to be fixed immediately, actually wishing we could just rewind time, giving me one last opportunity to yell “No running in the house!” Outside of the autopilot tendencies that take over in times of urgency, we are just two parents bumbling along, gaining a bit more confidence with each experience we encounter. As far as this type of experience is concerned? I would gladly like to consider myself all done. Thank you very much.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Snow White!

As of late, the girls have taken to putting on small dance performances for Pat and I after dinner. While the grown-ups linger at the table the kiddos make a beeline for the dress up closet, soon emerging having completed the transformation into prima ballerinas, fairies and princesses. No choreographing is required, as what ever poses Devi strikes, Treya soon invariably will copy, giving the illusion that a true plan is in place. Typically, Treya loses interest in the dance after a time and retires to the play kitchen located directly behind the dining table to offer Pat and I wooden refreshments as Devi continues to flit about to whatever music may be playing at the time. Naturally, we clap wildly at the end and Pat even throws in one of those high pitched whistles for emphasis.

Squeals of delight abounded from both of them, one evening when I announced during their performance that daddy and I felt they had earned tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet Schools performance of Snow White. (once again, compliments of my good friend DiAnna). Not yet able to sit through a rented movie, I’ll admit I was a bit concerned about Treya’s attention span or ability to be quiet when appropriate, but figured we had to give her a chance sometime and since this performance was intended for kids, we may as well give it a go.

Treya doing daddy's nails

Spa night was declared the evening before the show, complete with the soaking of little feet in special buckets, the painting of both finger and toe nails and foam rollers to sleep on, to give the ringlet look. It was great fun with even daddy joining in the pampering. Once their services were complete the girls pretended to give Pat and I the royal treatment as well. Devi brushing my dear feet to near raw with a brush and pumice stone, and Treya painstaking pretending to delicately apply polish to daddy’s knobby toes, while sternly telling him to be still.

The finished ringlet product

Met with the excitement of our veteran, Devi and the complete and utter confusion of Treya, DiAnna paraded the girls like royalty backstage at Benaroya hall, showing them the Snow White sets. Watching the rigger adjusting the lights on long ropes, seeing the glittery poison apple poised in the basket, sitting in the queen’s throne and actually laying down and pretending to sleep in Snow White’s bed had the girls grinning from ear to ear.

Devi laying in Snow White's bed

Treya sitting in the queen's throne

Di Anna and the girls at the dwarf's cottage

Surveying our middle-of-the-row seats and devising the best exit plan, should one be necessary, we settled into position with a parent flanking each of our star struck girls sitting atop the extra seat cushions added for height provided by DiAnna. She thinks of everything, including spoiling these children further rotten with gift bags to open while we waiting for the show to start containing Snow White polly pocket dolls and signed posters from Snow White herself!

Up to this point, I think Treya, though going with the flow, was completely dumbfounded. But as the lights began to dim, she crossed her feet at the ankles outstretched in front of her and reaching over, laced her tiny fingers through mine, pulling my giant hand into her lap. Her mouth began to gap open as the spotlights caught the twinkle of the enormous glittery red velvet curtain and prelude music began. I vividly remember this same moment with Devi witnessing her first live performance, and once again I became all emotional. Something about sharing something that Pat and I love with our girls and witnessing their love of it too, gets me all misty.

In the darkness, I could make out the sheen of their ebony hair reflecting the stage light and the bright whites of both girls’ eyes leaning left than right, craning their necks to follow the flittery footsteps of the dwarfs as they Hi-Ho-ed their way about the stage. They were captivated. Soon thereafter, with so much predictability, Devi abandoned her own seat to find daddy’s lap so they could further whisper the details of what was going on. It was obvious, that the audience had disappeared for Treya – in her mind, she had become the only one there, watching intently and losing her breath the moment Snow White took the stage.

Only once did Trey lean over and politely ask in a whisper, “Movie over, momma?” but she settled right back in when I explained just a few more minutes. As the curtain fell, both girls clapped heartily, me breathing a sigh of relief that we did not have to upset the people on either side of us to make a quick exit. The performance was delightful on all counts, very enjoyable and a real treat for the whole family.

Onto the final leg of our family day out, we strapped ourselves, all dressed up and hungry, into the car and headed toward the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, all the way reminiscing about the performance. Devi liked the wicked witch because her costume was purple and her crown was sparkly. Treya liked Snow White and the Prince. As we drove, Pat mentioned to me that Devi was not her usual animated self, describing her as even being quiet. Soon thereafter, she announced, “I’m hot”, which after the India trip, we now know is the precursor to being sick. Sure enough, as we pulled into the restaurant parking lot she did get sick and immediately began to cry, giving reason for a sudden change in plans. Piecing the story together, she awoke from nap time not feeling well, but didn’t tell anyone as we dressed to leave for the ballet, because she didn’t want to have to miss it. Poor baby held it together all that time thinking we would all be mad at her if we had to stay home. Thankfully, it was nothing serious, no fever and no lasting effects. She immediately started feeling better and by the time we got home,was able to down some dinner and was no worse the wear.

Tucking the kids into bed that night, I asked Treya if she liked the ballet. Reaching up with her little hands on either side of my face, she pulled me in close and whispered, “Go again, momma, go again!”