Friday, February 22, 2013

Vegetable Broth Revolution!

Every Sunday is “make meals for the week” day.  In the winter, the majority of the meals involve beans, which require soaking before cooking.  I have the routine set now.  I wash the dried beans, boil, and cover them before we leave for the Ethical Society.  Occasionally, I’ll also start the bread maker.  Off we go to Ethical, and when we come home we have fresh bread made and beans ready to cook.  I spend the next 3-4 hours chopping, sautéing, and cooking, with multiple meals ready by 5 p.m.  We have a feast that night and then we box up the leftovers for instant dinners the rest of the week.  Devoting one chunk of time to cooking is so much better than a little bit each day, especially with clamoring children who start complaining about being hungry before we’ve walked into the house each evening.  I’m saner with this strategy. 

Along the way I realized all my food scraps should go somewhere more purposeful than the trash.  We composted for a few years, but the Whomptons don’t do enough yard work to manage the overwhelming amount of soil that produced.  So we stopped composting.  (I feel very guilty admitting this publicly but not guilty enough to start doing it again.)  To make up for it, I started collecting all the food scraps – all the ends from celery, carrots, and onions, and all our white and sweet potato peels – and tossing them in a big pot.  Once a week, I convert that gigantic pot of vegetable scraps into a gigantic pot of vegetable broth, which immediately gets used to support Sunday cooking.  All the new veggie scraps get saved and then become broth the next weekend. 

It’s a remarkably glorious system.  I initially thought that we’d be overrun with vegetable broth, but I manage to use it all by the next Sunday.  We’re saving money since I’m not buying 3 quarts of vegetable stock a week and I have further encouragement to make wholesome food for my family.  Happiness! 

Overall, I never imagined that I would become the person who would 1) enjoy cooking so much and 2) advocate for make-it-yourself meals.  I clearly am not the same person I was 15 years ago. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lola's Stitches, Take 2: A Guest Post by Samantha

My day started innocently enough when I casually volunteered to take Lola to the doctor for her stitches removal. A minor scheduling snafu with a relatively easy fix was my thought but oh, how wrong I was! Aunts and Uncles everywhere, heed my words - Think before you speak and for goodness sake, don’t (for even a second) believe you are more capable than you truly are!!!!

With those warnings in mind, let’s recap the trip: Pick up from daycare was fast and efficient. Lola was thrilled to chatter about her day, especially her field trip to watch a Dental Show. Next, we talked briefly about what would happen at the doctor’s office: little scissors, a little pain, and then freedom from stitches and an ear as good as new.  We were ready! After a slight detour to the wrong building (I forgot to write down the actual street address), Lola and I arrived at the doctor’s office happy and nerve-free. The first hint (okay, let’s be honest, the second hint – see above) that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought came when the doctor asked when the accident happened. I honestly couldn’t remember and Lola’s memory is even worse than mine so she was absolutely no help.  With a shrug of the shoulders, I guessed Monday or Tuesday (the wrong answer in case you were wondering). The doctor wasn’t all that worried about the timeline and after handing me a lighted magnifying glass he proceeded to remove stitches. The first few came out easily enough with only a couple of whimpers from Lola but then disaster struck (okay, I’m exaggerating).  He wasn’t able to remove the stitch in the inner curl of her ear so he called in backup from a nurse.

To set the scene: Lola was on her side facing a mirrored wall; I was in the middle with the nurse on the left and the doctor on the right. The doctor asked the nurse to hold Lola’s ear in a certain way so he could remove the last stitch. She gently grabbed Lola’s ear and asked, “Like this?” Imagine my horror as I watched Lola’s ear start to re-tear and blood start to flow. The doctor shouted, “No, you’ll split it open,” Lola started crying, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” and I started sweating. We continued to work on the ear but I kept getting hotter and sweatier, my throat started to tighten, my eyesight grew blurry, and I realized that I was going to faint if I didn’t sit down immediately. I feebly said, “I need to sit down, I don’t understand, I don’t usually have a problem with blood.” The nurse took one look at my face and forced me into a chair and gave me a glass of water. The doctor graciously attributed my almost faint to heat and heightened emotions and asked for the door to be cracked open for fresh air. Lola continued to cry and the doctor decided to leave the last stitch in for a few more days.

To conclude the story: the doctor tells me to make another appointment for Thursday, wraps a small band aid around Lola’s ear with instructions not to remove it, and sends us on our way. He does warn me that Lola might or might not need plastic surgery when she is older to repair the small dimple created by the original stitches. (He thinks it will depend on what kind of parents she has; I think it will depend on whether or not Lola’s ear actually re-tore or if I’m truly exaggerating how bad it was.) In the end, Lola’s tears were cured by two princess stickers from the nurse and I mentally prepared myself for the upcoming conversation with Krystal and Eric all the while hoping that I didn’t get lightheaded again on the drive home.  

P.S. Lola is fine and seems relatively unfazed. I, on the other hand, will remain worried (and mentally scarred) until I hear how the follow up appointment goes on Thursday.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lola's Big Boo-Boo

I am a klutz.  Raina is a klutz.  Lola, on the other hand, has great awareness of her body in space and she is destined for great hand-eye-body coordination sports.  (I can run in a straight line.  And that is all.)  She’s never really hurt herself jumping around or running in circles or whatever roughhouse craziness she devises.

But.  Wednesday night, after her bath, Lola was jumping up and down in the living room and she tripped.  And fell forward.  And slammed her head on the end table.  And her head ricocheted off the top of the table to hit the bottom shelf on the table. 

It was horrifying to see.  I shouted “Oh my god!” and Lola immediately replied, “I’m okay, I’m okay!” as I grabbed her and hugged her.  Then the pain set in.  Lola started screaming hysterically and all adults ran to the scene.  (Having three adults in the house is fantastic.  I cannot stress this enough.)  I identified that Lola’s ear was injured; Samantha stayed with her while I assembled all the items needed to stop the bleeding; Eric started grabbing all the items we’d need for the hospital.  And there was no question that a hospital trip was in order.  Imagine having an earring and then someone rips it out by pulling down through the ear’s flesh; this is the injury that she had.  Yikes.

We left Raina with Samantha – again, three adults in the house is a wonderful thing – and headed out to the ER.  We waited and waited and waited.  Lola read books, drank complimentary apple juice, watched the Mizzou basketball game, ran up and down the halls, and chattered.  Her energy and spirits were up, she didn’t complain about her ear hurting anymore, and Eric and I started wondering whether a hospital trip was really necessary.  We suddenly had uncomfortable visions of $500 band-aid hospital bill.

Then the ER doctor started cleaning her ear and we saw the injury was even worse than we had thought.  The ER doctor was very frank with us.  The hospital did not have the capacity to put Lola to sleep and he was worried that she would jerk around and be unrestrained during the stitches surgery.  He thought we should switch to a different hospital where they could anesthetize her with more than a local anesthetic.  We convinced him that we could distract Lola during the procedure so we stayed.

Then we started prepping Lola.  We described that her ear would be sewn back together and told her that, at the hospital, the doctors are the boss and she had to do what the doctor said.  She agreed with us, but we knew it would take more than a verbal agreement to keep her calm.  So we sang songs and read books and waited patiently for the procedure.

Lola got the local anesthetic injection; 20 minutes later, she got another local anesthetic swabbed on her ear.  Then it was time to get the stitches.  Lola lay on her side and I read a story to her.  Then she pitifully said, “Ow, it hurts!” and whimpered and cried but never moved her head.  I kept reading the story but we started hearing more “ow!” statements and we could see that she was breaking. 

Luckily, we had an ace up our sleeve.  Eric pulled out his cell phone and started showing Lola her favorite kitty video.  Supercats to the rescue!  She was transfixed by the kitty antics, actually cackled with glee multiple times, and was mostly distracted for the rest of the procedure.  (It helps that our kids have not been desensitized to television.  Also, smart phones are awesome.)  They wrapped her head like a mummy and she cuddled her hospital bag of medicine all the way home. 

All in all, Lola was a champ – very brave, very cooperative, and very spirited.  She was absolutely remarkable and we’re still amazed by her resilience. 

Lola and MICDS

I joined the MICDS faculty in 2000; Samantha permanently joined the staff in 2008; Raina became a student in 2009.  The three of us carpool together to and from school and share stories about our collective days.  I cannot fully express how wonderful it is to have my sister and my daughter spend their days in the same place that I love so much.  Once we fully realized how wonderful the school was for Raina, the real panic set in about Lola.  Of course we wanted Lola to attend MICDS; we want her to start at JK and continue all through 12th grade!  And she wanted it too – she wanted to make “Raina, Mommy, and Sammy’s school” her school too.  But it wasn’t our decision.  So the Whomptons engaged in another school admissions process this fall / winter, as we desperately tried to convince MICDS that Lola was the right fit. 

Well, if you know Lola, you know that she’s incredibly sweet, loving, energetic, active, athletic, fun, strong-willed, spirited, stubborn, independent, and assertive.  Lola is a good match cognitively for MICDS; we have no doubts about her future academic and athletic performances.  However, we had real concerns about her behavior.  A head-strong Lola is a formidable foe and we worried that she would show her darker side during the interview and observation process.  And she did.  Apparently during the interview Lola decided that she did not want to perform a fair number of actions required, so she just stopped.  In Lola’s words, “She told me to jump this way and it was wrong and I didn’t want to do it.” 

Lola showed all sides of herself during the interview – she was sweet and compliant, she was intelligent and savvy, she was mule-headed and forceful – so MICDS got the full picture first-hand.  Eric, Samantha, and I were very honest during our MICDS interview as well; there’s no easy way to sugar coat a kid’s oppositional stubbornness.  We just crossed our fingers that the school would appreciate our forthright information and take her anyway. 

We found out Tuesday that she was accepted and she’ll start JK in the fall.  Woooooooooohoo!  We’ll have one (or multiple) transitional meetings this spring / summer / fall to ensure that Lola doesn’t pull a full year’s worth of oppositional behavior on her teachers.  (This is not a meeting that we had with Raina.)  Goodness, we’re so happy to do it.  We’re grateful that the school will partner with us to help make Lola successful next year and that they granted her the chance to shine.

Yay for Lola!