Thursday, September 19, 2013

From the archives: Doggy Disposal

Dear GoodJoan, 

Is it appropriate to dispose of a dead pet (too large to flush) in your town trash pickup? We don't have a dead pet, just one of those burning questions! ;)

 If you're dealing with something small, like a gerbil or a parakeet, you can probably wrap it in paper or a trash bag and put it in your household trash and no one would know or care. Something larger, like a cat or dog would be harder to disguise as regular trash. Many landfills will accept dead animals as household solid waste, but your local trash pick up may not want to handle them. A phone call to your garbage service is in order. Some have certain rules for disposal of what may be a bio-hazard. Things like diapers and kitty litter, in my town, have to be double bagged and kept out of the regular trash.

If the animal is something small, like a hamster, chances are the pet owner is a child and in that case a proper funeral is in order! There should always be a procession and a burial followed by short stories about how the pet was well loved. If someone can find black veiling, all the better! Be sure to cover the grave with a few heavy rocks to keep other animals from disturbing Zippy's eternal slumber! Even if the owner is a grown up, many people chose to bury their pets nearby, in a favorite spot or have them cremated and sprinkle the ashes in the pet's favorite place.

Buddy aims to be the favorite.

If the animal in question is road kill, you can call your town public works division or animal shelter and ask them to remove the animal from the road. If you are a Good Samaritan and notice an animal that is likely someone's pet, call the humane society first and report the animal and it's description, as best you can give. (ie "flat" is not helpful, but "a black and white with a pink collar" could rule out many lost pets for an owner that was searching.) A worried pet owner may not like the news that fluffy was found in the road, but knowing for sure what happened is better than wondering and driving to shelters all over hoping to find her. Even if it's not a pet, and something less pleasant like a skunk or a possum, the people who live and drive near it will be glad that it's picked up promptly.

Boomer pretends to be roadkill.

If the critter is larger and not as easily dropped in the trash you have a few options. You can wrap the body up and drive it to your local landfill yourself and pay whatever the fee is for the trunk full you're toting. You can call and ask your local trash pick up and possibly pay a service charge for removal of the animal. You can take the animal, in a plastic bag, to a local vet and pay a fee for them to dispose of the body. If you want the animal cremated and the ashes returned to you, label the bag with your name. You can also donate the critter to science in the way of a high school science teacher, vet school or taxidermist. The thought of Fido being dissected or stuffed isn't exactly pleasant but you don't care, you were just going to throw him in the trash anyway!!

ShopCat is not amused!
(**Please note all animals depicted were, at the time of the photo, alive and well and unharmed. No critters were harmed in the making of this blog post!**)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From the archives. "My MIL won't babyproof!"

Dear Goodjoan.

My mother-in-law's house is not baby proofed at all. My 1 year old son is her fourth grandchild and she has never bothered. I keep a close eye on him when we are there to make sure he doesn't hurt himself or wreck anything but she leaves things on the coffee table and end tables, like candles, vases of flowers and knickknacks, etc. Is it my responsibility to clean up after messes he makes, or if he breaks something? Should I run around and put stuff up out of his reach as soon as we get there, or is that her responsibility?

I know this is a difficult position because you don't want your son to get hurt, nor do you want any of the bric-a-brac getting broken but you'd also like to sit down for a moment during your visit! My advice here is different than if you were just popping over to a childless friends house because I am assuming your MIL's house is someplace you go often and someplace your son's needs should be met to some degree. If your MIL hasn't changed anything yet, she probably feels like it's your responsibility to teach your son to not touch things, rather than her job to protect him from things that are dangerous or fragile. Unfortunately, kids don't start developing what we'd call self-control until they are 2.5 or older! He is incapable right now of NOT touching those things!

 First, start with a phone call before you visit. "Mom, we are coming over tomorrow and I wanted to ask you ahead of time to maybe pickup or put away any fragile things from where Baby can reach them. We are trying to teach him to be respectful and gentle with things but he's still so little that he doesn't really understand that not everything is a baby toy. You have such beautiful things in your home that I would be heartbroken if he accidentally broke something. He's also gotten very curious since he started walking and I know you wouldn't want him to pull a flower vase onto his head or anything like that, that might hurt him. Gosh, I had no idea babies were so fast! You know what? The other day I was at a friends house and I ended up leaving early and not getting to visit very long because her house wasn't baby proofed and the baby was into Everything and I just couldn't keep up!"

Then, when you do arrive, start redecorating. Bring adjustable gates with you and block off hallways or stairs, or trap Baby in one room with you. If necessary for you in-laws, bring the swinging style gates that they can open and walk through. Bring a hand full of outlet covers, they are cheap, and stick them in the outlets as you see them or as your son discovers them. Leave them there when you leave. If there are cabinets he likes, bring some kitchen cabinet locks that go around the door handles. When you have a safe area staked out for him, walk around yourself and pick up anything you KNOW is going to get manhandled by the baby. Flower vases, ceramic birds, and remote controls, whatever and move them to higher shelves or to another room. If your MIL is uncomfortable with you moving things, or asks you to stop, leave them there but FREAK OUT every time he touches one. I don't mean just lean over and take it away, I mean Yelp like someone poked you with a stick, jump up in a flurry of waving arms, gently take the item from the baby (don't yell at the baby or make him think he's doing anything wrong if he's not!) and run with wide eyes to your MIL, hand the item to her and proclaim horrifically "This almost got BROKEN!!" She'll probably start picking up before your visits just so you won't act like such a nutcase anymore!

If she continues to leave breakables around you can do one of two things, let him go wild and break anything he can get his hands on, being careful that he doesn't hurt himself and she doesn't scold him for what is really her own error, or you can remove him from a few things and then just say "I'm sorry, but he's getting into everything and I can't even sit down. We're going to need to go now because he's only going to get more frustrated and frustrating or something's going to get broken." Then pack up and go home. If it's important to your MIL that you come and have fun and stay for a while, she will start being more of a partner in caring for your son's safety and less of a liability. Certainly, as Baby gets older it's important to teach him that the rules are different in Grandma's house and some things aren't for touching. Kids do understand that and will act accordingly, but they have to be old enough to grasp the concept of personal safety and being gentle first and you're not there yet! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Pickle Problem

When I first moved to Georgia, I knew I would miss some things about New England, the smell of crisp fall leaves, snow, my family, the house I grew up in. You know, all the stuff you're supposed to miss.  Turns out, much of that was over rated! I don't miss snow at all!  Especially slush puddles that hide near your car door, waiting to leap into your dress shoes at the first opportunity.  I don't miss I-95 and it's potholes one bit. The beach, eh, it was ok but I'm far too fair skinned to really need to be there frequently.  Plus, sand is scratchy.

What has taken me by surprise over the years is the stuff I never thought I'd miss, but realize when I see it again that I missed it terribly!  Saltbox houses and old barns with fields surrounded by endless stone walls rank high on this list.  Another top contender- Pickles.  Pickles, like biscuits, spaghetti sauce, pizza and other regional specialties and family recipes are one of those things that you develop a taste for as a kid and spend the rest of your life trying to find the recipe that tastes just like Mom's, or just like Vinnie's or just like what you had when you were 8.  When you relocate to a different part of the country, it's even harder to find something that is at least, close enough.  In Atlanta, I can find over a dozen kinds of pickles, none of them are the fat, crunch, kosher half sour pickles my dad used to fish out of the barrel at the Hickory Farms store in the mall and share with me as we waited on my mom to finish shopping. I didn't even realize how much I loved those pickles until I went without them for so long!

Shortly before my wedding, a little bagel shop opened up in my college town. They got terrible reviews. The bagels were hard, leathery, impossible to chew.  The toppings were odd, What's a lox?  They were AWESOME!  They were exactly like the bagels we'd buy in Grand Central Station and eat for the entire half hour it would take us to get home on the train!  The locals here were used to squishy Lenders bagels from the grocery store. They had no idea! Soon-to-be-hubby and I ate there one day and he ordered a sandwich. It came with a pickle wedge that he offered to me. Expecting the typical vinegary dill pickle, I was at first surprised by the salty, garlic deliciousness that I tasted.  Then I realized what I had!  My eyes widened and I started to clap my hands and stomp my feet. I think I made audible YUMMY noises. Hubby thought I was having a stroke. I handed him the pickle and told him to try it.  He did and he made a face and said it tasted weird.  I ran to the counter and asked if I could buy more pickles.  A very confused clerk said "Um, no, they aren't for sale. The owner has them flown in every week from New York." She thought they tasted weird too. She said most people try them and throw them out!  Oh my, what a waste of good pickles!  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the bagel shop didn't last and my small lifeline to half sour pickles was gone. I could never find them in a store and any reference to home pickle making I could find in the library was only for vinegar pickles. Half sour pickles are not 'pickled' in the 'soaked in vinegar' sense of the word, but rather are fermented in brine so they aren't listed in typical canning and storing type cookbooks.  So sad. I gave up on finding those pickles again.

Fortunately, a few years later this nifty research tool became available...the internet!  I found several recipe variations to my beloved half sours and tried a few. As I decided what I did and didn't like about each, I tweaked the recipes into one.  This is the one I use.

My highly technical recipe.

And these are the things you need- A pitcher of room temperature water, a box of salt, pickling spices, garlic, a jar to ferment the pickles in and some cucumbers. If I was a more organized blogger, all of those things would be in the picture :)

Rinse the cucumbers in cool water. Nothing special here, you just want to rinse off any loose dirt. Pickling cukes will work best, but since they only soak for a sort time, larger salad type cukes will work too but the end result will be softer than the smaller, pickling variety.
Dissolve 1/4c of salt (pickling, kosher, coarse, ice cream, whatever is cheapest.) into 8 cups of room temperature water.  If you want to be super special, let the water sit out overnight to let the chlorine dissipate, or use filtered water. All those goodies they put in the water is to kill bacteria, and we're trying to grown bacteria so getting them out helps the process happen faster. For the same reason, hot or cold water can slow fermentation, just go with room temp.

Put your spices (2T) and garlic (5-6 cloves) into the container you're going to use to ferment the pickles. Normally, I use fresh garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife, but I was all out and I really wanted pickles so I used the oil packed. Also, these are just store brand pickling spices. I think these have too much clove so I just pick out about 2/3 of them before adding to the container. If you absolutely must have DILL in your pickles, add a spring or two of fresh, whole dill now. Don't use the really fine, powdery,  dried stuff, or if you have to, put it in a muslin bag first so it doesn't stick to the pickles.
Cut the blossom ends off the pickles. I hate biting into a bit of stem so I cut off the stem ends as well. This also makes them fit nicely in the jar!  This is the time to decide if you want whole pickles, or slices or wedges. Cut them however you want them.  Whole will stay crisp longer but if I know I'm going to use them up fast, I sometimes cut them in 4ths.
Goof alert! I usually mix all my brine and spices into a large crock (below) so I threw everything into the pitcher for this tutorial.  This was my first run with these smaller jars and I didn't use all the brine, leaving me to scoop and scrape the garlic out of the pitcher and into the jar after the fact. You can see the spices in the brine in the pitcher. Ignore that, put your spices in the jar!  The smaller jar probably would have been fine with half the spices and garlic, but having twice as much didn't hurt.  Luckily, we love garlic in our house! If you don't have a mason jar or a big crock, any large plastic or glass container will work, a big cookie jar, or a food grade bucket from a fast food joint. A wide top is useful, so you can more easily submerge the cucumbers. This glass crock was under $10. I think it came from Old Time Pottery or Garden Ridge. 

Pack the cucumbers into the jar. It helps if you can wedge them in enough that they don't float around too much, but you want them loose enough that the brine can get in and around all the cukes.
Right before my craving for pickles, my hubby bought a set of "Pickl-it" fermenting jars. I figured this was a great opportunity to try them out. They come with a glass dunk'r, to hold the food under the brine (visible below) and a nifty airlock to keep anything unwanted out of the jar, including oxygen, while allowing fermentation gasses to bubble off.  In the past, I've had issues with yeast or other less desirable things growing in my pickles, with the pickl-it airlock, I had none of that!  (and they didn't pay me to say that, or give me swag...though I'm not opposed to swag!)

Pour the brine over the cucumbers, covering completely. If you don't have these fancy jars, you can use a smaller dish to hold the cukes down, or a baggie filled with brine.  In my big crock above, I use a plastic needlepoint mesh cut to fit just inside the top, with a small plate or ramekin perched on top of it to hold it all down.
Leave your jar in a room temperature place, out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures, for at least 3 days. The water will get cloudy, even downright murky!  There will be little bubbles. There may even be mold on top. If so, just scoop it off with a spoon. If you aren't used to fermenting your own food, it may look a little scary.  I promise you, it's ok!  These pickles are actually quite good for you!  They do wonders for your intestinal flora!  If you're scared, you can read up at the extension service, or any of the MANY internet sources about fermented foods to be sure you're doing it right. If you're not sure, or the whole thing looks like it's gone way off, or smells way off, by all means toss them and start over. This is supposed to be fun, not give you a belly ache!
After 3 days, move the jar to the fridge. (with the pickl-it, you can remove the airlock and put in the rubber stopper) Give the new pickles a little time to get cold, then dig in!  There are no more pictures because this batch didn't last long enough!  Once they hit the fridge, hubby, who has since developed a taste for the briny beauties, and I devoured them. You can let them sit longer, and they will get more and more sour. In a week or 2, depending on the weather, you'll have full sour pickles.  This is another reason these are so hard to find, the shelf life is so short! Both hubby and a dear friend of mine who knew my plight eventually found a commercial jarred half sour pickle, but they only pop up in stores briefly and then are gone again. It's easier to just make your own!

Do you have a favorite kind of pickle?  Is there a recipe that you grew up with that you've been trying to replicate as an adult? 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Let's revisit- Foster Parent?

2 years ago I posted a story about being asked if I was a foster parent.  I'd been asked so many similar questions (do you do daycare? Are they ALL yours?) that I was curious if it was because of the number of kids I had with me (I only have 4!)  or if there was something about my kids, or my demeanor that suggested we weren't a family. I heard back from other moms of many kids that the daycare thing was almost universal.  Apparently, any more than 2 kids with you at one time gets those comments!  Is more than 2 really that odd?

Similarly, any mom pushing a double stroller is asked "are they twins?" even if the kids are an infant and a toddler!

A few weeks after I was asked if I was a foster mom, I ran into the young man that had inquired.  I asked him why he thought I might have been a foster parent, and not just mom.  He stammered a bit and said "Um, because you always come in with different kids!  One day you came in and one of the kids with you wasn't the same race. The kid didn't look like he could have been even half yours, so I thought maybe you were a foster mom.  My mom used to foster, so I thought it was kinda neat!"  I had to think for a bit and I guess he must have seen my kids playing on the playground with some of their friends.   My kids certainly do have friends all over the spectrum of skin color and race, so the odds of him seeing them playing together were good.  We talked for a while about his mom and what it was like for him growing up with real siblings and foster siblings. I left feeling grateful that I *only* had 4 kids with me, and flattered that he'd asked because he thought I was that cool, and less concerned that he asked because he thought I was weird!  :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Let's revisit- Paper towels!

Wow, it's been almost a year since I started my experiment to stop using paper towels!  Aren't you just dying to know what happened?

First of all, I had opted to buy pre-made cloth diapers instead of trying to make my own from a bolt of fabric.   I'd have loved to go all "little house on the prarie" and make my own, but I realized pretty quick that just wasn't gonna happen!  I know my limits!  Our TV friend, Martha likes to say "It's a good thing!" I'm much more prone to the phrase "Scr*w it, close enough!"

So I bought the diapers and little baskets and set up a little system for myself.  It took a few days for the kids to stop asking where the paper towels were. I found a few dried up spills on the kitchen table and when I asked "Why didn't you wipe this up?" got back "because we're out of paper towels and you said not to use your good bath towels to wipe up spills."  OK, I did say that, good to know that actually got through! It's hard to be upset about that!  I reminded them a few times about the new system and eventually they got in the habit.

What worked?  We still have the 3 basket system, one for clean, one for dirty and one to catch the orphans that appear in the wash outside of the big towel washing day.  The only thing that's changed about that is the location of the dirty towel basket.  I had it next to the trash can but it now lives either on the counter, or, if I don't want to look at it, in a lower cabinet.  I found out the hard way that leaving them by the trash made them too enticing for the dog.  Since we'd use them to mop up food spills and hubby cooks a lot of meat in the crock pot, the towels smelled yummy and the dog tried to eat a few!  Luckily, the dog is fine and only a couple of towels have chew holes in them!  They've held up quite well in the wash and I can foresee getting several more years out of most of the towels.  The chewed ones may not survive but the rest look fine.  Some are stained but I really don't care about that.

What didn't work?  My belief that they'd get washed in the regular laundry and not add to my laundry load went out the window pretty fast.  I do sometimes wash them with socks and underwear, and occasionally one gets in with the regular laundry because it was used for some non-kitchen purpose, but about the same time I started this system, I also started a laundry basket system where the kids do their own laundry.  I no longer have a big basket of socks and underwear to wash on a near daily basis.  Also, because they tend to be pretty grubby, I like to wash them with bleach on the sanitize setting on my washer. Now I just wait until they are almost all dirty and do one big towel wash.  All together they make a decent sized load of laundry!  The good news though, is that 36 towels can last us several weeks so I'm only doing that wash every once in a while.  Typically, we have 2 or 3 towels in rotation at any time.  One clean one by the sink for hand and dish drying. It's not really dirty so much as damp. We hang it on the edge of a drawer to dry.  Another, probably an old dish dryer, used for wiping the counters and wiping the splashed water from around the sink. Not super dirty, but not clean enough to dry dishes.  Then possibly another near the table, slightly more used, that's used for cleaning the table with spray cleaner, or mopping up spilled milk at breakfast (do they ever stop spilling that?) Big spills still call for a handful of  towels out of the dirty pile. Who cares if they get more dirty on the floor?  So one rag might be in use for a few days, advancing to more and more dirty duty before retiring to the dirty basket. 

I admit, I do still have a roll of real paper towels stashed in a cabinet!  There are just some things that require paper. Draining bacon is one. Scraping dog vomit off the carpet is another.  I have to keep them hidden because if anyone sees them, they immediately reach for them instead of a towel!  Keeping them hidden allows for occasional use without wasting them.

All in all, I'd say it's a great system and it's working well.  We've gone from using about a roll a week, 52 a year, to using maybe 2 or 3 rolls a year?  How many trees are in 50 rolls of paper towels?

Friday, July 26, 2013


Dear GoodJoan,

I need a recipe for a great tomato salsa!  Got any?

If you've learned anything from my blog by now, it's that I don't claim to do anything great, or perfect, or properly. I do things cheap and easy. Heaven knows I don't have enough time for perfection!  I do however, have a recipe for salsa that is good, flexible, simple and I think, pretty yummy.

Here's the fun part. If you dice the vegetables and mix them in chunky, you have salsa. If you puree the vegetables and mix them in as a liquid, you have gazpacho!  I know this because this recipe started out as a gazpacho recipe from some vegetarian cookbook that hubby bought when we were in college, but while we were eating it we thought "Hey, this tastes a lot like the mild salsa they serve at our favorite Mexican restaurant!"  I feel safe enough saying this is an original recipe now because the one in the cookbook started with whole tomatoes and had a bunch more ingredients and steps.  The more times I made it, the more I modified it. Now I claim it as my own!

In a large bowl, pour a large can of pureed tomatoes, the kind you'd use to make spaghetti sauce.
If you have fresh tomatoes, use them instead. Dice them up, toss in a bowl and add a little salt, that will make them more juicy.
Dice a pepper, an onion and 1-2 cucumbers and 2-4 cloves of garlic.
If you have any other veggies in the fridge you want to use up, add them here! I just avoid celery because I don't like the strings, and peeling the celery ahead of time is too much effort!  The cucumbers add the same crunchy texture. I usually opt for the pepper, onion, cukes, and garlic because I can get them year round at the grocery store.
Chop some fresh parsley if you can get it, use dried if not.
Some folks love cilantro, if that's you add it here. Personally, I only use a tiny bit or I think it makes everything taste like bug spray.
Add chopped jalapeno peppers to taste. Fresh if you like that, canned if you're as lazy as me! A dusting of dried cayenne pepper if you can't get the jalapeno.
For salsa, dump all of that into the tomatoes and stir.
If you want it very smooth, like gazpacho, put all the veggies into a food processor and puree till it's smooth. It won't be totally liquified, you just want it smooth enough to pour.
Add a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Some folks prefer lemon juice.
A drizzle of olive oil.
Add a bit of salt and pepper (to taste)
Put in fridge and let sit a few hours to chill and for the flavors to mix.

This is definitely one of those recipes you have to try once and then fiddle with to find how you and your family like it best.   Some folks like less garlic, some folks like a ton of cilantro. Some folks like it lumpy, some want it smoother.

When I puree everything, mine has a tendency to settle a bit so it needs a little stir before serving. I like to puree it and store it in a big pitcher in the fridge. A trick I learned watching "Women on the verge of a nervous Breakdown"  that way I can pour a big mug of it whenever I want!   I skip the hefty dose of sleeping pills used in the movie, but it's still refreshing and relaxing to eat!

What are your favorite Salsa recipes?

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Dear Goodjoan,

I have kids that can't swallow pills.  They are teenagers now and still can't manage it.  It makes getting them medicine when they are sick pretty difficult. Any suggestions for helping them learn to swallow pills?

In my house, being able to swallow a pill was right up there with the big milestones like walking and talking and graduating to an oral thermometer!  Some kids took to it pretty easily, others had a harder time.  With my brood, the 2 biggest hurdles were coordinating the balance between breathing and swallowing and simply getting past the anxiety that they were going to choke.

I started with the anxiety factor.  For some reason, my kids felt that pills were 'big' even little tiny ones and if they tried to swallow them, they would surely get stuck in their throats and kill them!  I asked them to start to pay attention when they were eating, because they'd realize that they were swallowing pieces of food that were much larger than a pill and without water, or drama, or choking!  I'd offer them pudding and ask them if they were swallowing it, or drinking it?  The same with gelatin, or gummy bears.  Did that have to be a liquid?  Of course not.  We're able to swallow lots of things that are 'bigger' than liquid!  Sometimes, just realizing that on a logical level made it easier to try to take a pill.

The other place we had trouble was the idea that you can have water in your mouth and still breathe!  For some reason, my kids felt like the moment something was in their mouth, they had to hold their breath. Typically, this is a normal reflex so we don't inhale and swallow at the same time and aspirate stuff into our lungs.  As we get older, we learn to control it better.  Kids sometimes don't realize they can control it.  This made swallowing a pill a race to get the pill down before they needed to breathe again.  Then of course, needing to breathe created another level of anxiety that caused the whole situation to escalate.  I asked them to take a sip of water and spit it in the sink. Then I'd move to take a sip of water, wait a second, then spit it in the sink. Moving up to take a sip of water, and hold it in their mouths while breathing in and out through their nose. Once they could do that comfortably, we were past the biggest hurdle.

Once my kids understood that they could hold something in their mouths and not choke, and that they had the ability to swallow lumpy things without choking, we were ready for practice.  I'd give them a glass of water and some of those mini M&Ms. I'd have them try different ways to swallow the M&M whole. Some kids wanted to put it way in the back of their mouths, then drink it down. Some put it on the tip of their tongues and moved it back themselves.  One liked to take  a mouthful of water, tip his head back, drop the 'pill' in and swallow it all in one gulp.  It didn't always go down on the first try, but if it didn't they could simply opt for plan B, chew it and swallow it, and not panic.  I'd have them practice once in a while, when they were not stressed out.  If they got panicked or anxious, we'd stop and try again another day.  Eventually, they could swallow the tiny M&M and I'd move up to regular M&Ms, or smarties, or gummy bears, anything pill sized but not so scary to chew in case they had to go with plan B!  With one kid, who had to take a fairly large capsule, I'd open the capsule, mix the medicine in pudding, then fill the empty capsule with sugar (to make it heavy) and have him practice with that.  The medicine tasted horrible so he was eager to be able to swallow it without tasting it!

I also found that for some situations, water is not the best way to get a pill down. Some capsules and coated pills can get tacky when they get wet and they want to catch in the back of the throat, rather than slip down.  For those pills, sometimes a spoonful of pudding worked better to coat it and let it go down without a fight.

We still have the occasional medicine problem, especially with particularly large or uncoated pills that start to dissolve before you can get them down! But we have our ways around that too!

If they really can't manage it, many medicines are available as liquids, though the amount an adult or teen needs to take to get the right dose is often pretty huge.  Some medicines can be turned into liquids, trans-dermal patches, or even lollipops or gummy bears at specialized 'compounding' pharmacies. Your pediatrician, or local children's hospital probably has a list of pharmacies that provide this service.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hurry Up!

Dear Goodjoan,

I have a child with an attention issue. Generally it's not a problem, I've learned to adapt to her 'speed' at various tasks, but one thing that still drives me slightly bonkers is that she will NOT GET IN THE CAR!  It's not that she doesn't want to go in the car, or go out, in fact she's usually very eager to go where we are going! She seems to think that she's moving pretty fast but she has to stop and look at every rock, every ant, some clouds, every dog hair stuck to the car upholstery, the interesting weave of the fabric on the car seat get the idea.  When I suggest she keep going, or look at that later, she gets mad and tells me she IS hurrying!  Normally, I leave plenty of time to get to the car, but some days, like when it's raining, or when we're late, I'd kinda like to move her along a bit faster without creating a scene that stops the whole procession in it's tracks! I know you have a child with ADD. How did you deal with things like this?

I found the ideal solution for this problem completely by accident! Many year ago, I had started a work at home type job and one of the company samples in my starter kit was a kid friendly stop watch. Before I could get it out of the box, my oldest, who was probably 2 at the time was interested in it. I explained what it did and he immediately wanted me to time him doing various things!  How fast could he run across the yard?  How long did it take him to count to 10? I saw the benefits of this right away and turned almost everything into a game. How fast could he run to the mailbox and back 5 times? (to tire him out!) How sloowly could he walk to that tree and back? (So I could sit down for a minute!) How quickly could he put away his toys? (he cleans!) How long could he go without talking? (do I need to explain this to anyone with a 2 year old?) How quickly could he put on his pajamas?  One time I even tried to see if I could time how long it took him to go to sleep but he insisted on popping up every 10 seconds to ask "How long has it been now?" but hey, you can't win them all!  Not everything was a manipulative way to speed him up, but when so many things were a fun game with the timer, I don't think he realized when I was using it as a way to hurry him on those pokey days!  I kept that stopwatch in my diaper bag for YEARS!  Get a stopwatch and ask your daughter how fast she can get in her carseat!  Then the next time, remind her of her 'score' and see if she can beat it!  Time yourself getting into the car and see if she can do it faster than you. When you get home and have time, let her use the stopwatch to time how long it takes that ant to crawl over that rock!  Or how long it takes her to read 3 books. Not everything has to be a race.

Remember, don't encourage her to move at a speed that is dangerous, just a little quicker. You want her in the car and not smacked into it because she ran so fast she couldn't stop! And you want her safely buckled, not racing so fast she doesn't get latched properly!  Time her going up stairs or uphill but not down! One is a game, the other is an emergency room co-pay!

Best of all, remember to try not to get too frustrated.  If you are really stressed out, use that timer to make yourself count to 10!  :)  My ADD kid was a handful, but is now the most creative person I know! He's outgrown much of his dilly dallying and now I can see how what used to be aggravating 'attention problems' has grown into a unique view of the world and a fantastic eye for art and design!  He sees light and dark, and motion and form in a way that I simply cannot!  When he talks to me about a picture he's drawing, he points out shading and colors that I didn't notice. I mean, I see them, but not the way he does. The other day he went on for probably 30 minutes in the car about the color saturation and shape of clouds. I had noticed the clouds. I thought they were pretty that day, quite fluffy and poofy.  I don't think I could think up 3 minutes of monologue describing them other than that, he had 30! 30 minutes, non stop, in classic ADD fashion, but the way he was describing the sky made me glad he was the kid that couldn't help but stop and stare at an interesting rock :) I saw a rock. I wonder what he saw?

Hot Georgia Summer Body Scrub

Dear GoodJoan,

My son just came back from scout camp and he's so ground in dirty that even after a shower, I can still see the dirt rings on him! Any advice for getting him clean again?

Certainly! Scout camp is fun but they sure do come back a special kind of filthy!  First, empty his trunk and haul it outside to sit open in the sunshine to air out.  Do not do like I did the first year and tell your scout to unpack his things and them assume that he did it.  6 months later I found a trunk half full of mostly clean laundry, topped with a bag of pool shoes that had been worn in the lake, loosely tied in a grocery bag and left there to fester.  There's not enough febreeze in the world for that!

Next, whip up a batch of this and have him use it in his next shower!

Hot Georgia Summer Body Scrub!

This body scrub feels COOL as it washes away so it's great for showering off after a long, hot day! It'll take off bug spray and sunscreen and that sweaty film that you can feel all over yourself when you've been out in the heat too long!

1 box of baking soda
1 bottle of  body wash or liquid soap (use Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap for Extreme COOL!)
water (amount depends on your container)
a small plastic container with a wide mouth

1) Wash out your small container.  I used an empty gelati tub because it was handy.
2) Fill container about 3/4 full of baking soda.
3) In a separate cup, mix about a tablespoon or so of soap with warm water and mix gently. I used about a cup and a half in my example.  You want to thin out the soap considerably, but not make a frothy mess. For the example in the photo, I used Suave body wash in Sweet Pea and Violet scent. Dr Bronner's is organic if that is important to you.  If you don't want the ultimate tingly sensation, use a scent other than peppermint or tea tree) Any liquid soap would probably work, but I like really stinky ones, so the final product still has a good amount of scent.
4) Slowly pour the soap solution in the the baking soda. When the tub is full, put the lid on and roll it gently back and forth to wet all the powder.
5) Test consistency. If mix is too runny, add more baking soda. If it's too dry, add more of the soap solution.  Eventually, you should find that the baking soda will settle and extra water will rise to the top. I keep mixing and adding until I have the tub mostly full and about 1/4 inch of water remaining on top.  The end result should be a slurry you can easily scoop up in your hand but still has some grit.
6) Place container in shower and enjoy!

This stuff leaves my skin feeling so soft, I just love it. The baking soda exfoliates and the touch of soap cleanses.  A good scrub with this should have your scout Class A ready in no time!

WARNING- This scrub can make the bottom of your tub or shower slippery so be careful!!

Totally aside, my spinal cord injury left me with something called a 'neurologic itch' which is a fancy term for a spot on my body that itches almost constantly. The itching is caused by a glitch in my spinal cord sending the wrong signal, and not something actually on my skin. This scrub is gentle enough to use quite vigorously on that spot on my hip so that I feel like I'm really scratching it, but without damaging my skin like I've had happen with salt scrubs! Then the cool sensation helps calm the itch for a little while!