Category Archives: Family Health

Vacuum Therapy

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This bad boy showed up at my house the other day. Hubs was on the Dyson Website to replace a motorhead for the Animal that I already own and found that the newest model came with TWO motorheads; one for carpet and a soft spongy one for hardwood floors. The motorhead for the Animal was still under warrenty so that was replaced free of charge, but he plurged anyway and got the Absolute to go with it. So yes, now I have an “upstairs vacuum” and a “downstairs vacuum”. I am aware that this makes me nothing but a spoiled brat, however it is still cheaper than therapy and medication to cope with my floor OCD.

I love my Dyson Animal. Just love it. It makes me happy to vacuum the carpet in the bedrooms. There is just something so soothing about those carpet Vs… But the Animal just wasn’t as good on the wood and kitchen floors. I found myself not bothering, just going for the broom or dust mop. My floors were clean, but not CLEAN. And for me it mattered! I tested out the Absolute on “clean” floors. I had swept and mopped the hardwoods and kitchen floors the night before, so they were passable. Then I went over them with the new vacuum as soon as it was done charging.

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That’s how much MORE dirt this sucker was able to pick up! It’s both gross and fantastic. Now I take one pass each night with the Absolute on the downstairs floor and one pass with the Animal on the upstairs carpet and feel confident that I am living in a cleaner enviornment. It’s more than obsessivly cleaning; it’s blissfully cleaning!

Being a Mom Causes me to Live in Fear

This past weekend I stopped into a Barnes & Noble with two of my kids in tow. One of my sons had been invited to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese and we wanted to kill some time in a quiet place until IM & Hubs were done with the festivities. Their little legs were getting tired from all the browsing and became more and more aggitated as we neared the back of the store where the kids’ section was. They sat down at the little Lego table and began to play and build. After a couple minutes of mindless standing around, I stepped over to the closest shelf of adult fiction. Being twenty feet away from my kids didn’t bother me – they were quiet, engrossed,  and happy.

I quickly found a book I wanted and stepped back to the Lego table as an employee approached.
“Are you their mother?” she demanded. After I confirmed I was, she let out a huge puff of air. “Oh thank Gawd! I had someone complain about the children being unattended.”  Wow, that was fast, I thought. She must have been waiting for me to do SOMETHING! I laughed and asked if she was serious. Her face made it clear that she was.
“What are you talking about? I was right there, for like, 30 seconds. I saw them the whole time.”
“Look,” she said with a hint of a snarl beneath her ‘I’m here to help’ grin, “I’m not trying to make it into a big deal. I’m just looking out for the safety of the children.”
“Thanks. They are fine.” I was uncomfortable,  embarrassed. I was being put on the spot in a confrontational manner and I didn’t know why.
“No. You don’t understand.  Anything could happen in 30 seconds. I mean – I’m standing right here and you don’t even know me! I could have done anything to them.”
“They. Are. Fine.” I started gathering up our things.
“Well I had customers complain and I have to take these things seriously because…”
“You know what? I’m a customer, but not anymore. You are ridiculous. ” I shoved the stack of books I was going to buy at her and hauled my kids out to the parking lot.

I was so mad. She basically called me a bad mom simply because I wasn’t looking at my kids. I came up with a whole bunch of things I should have said after the fact:
– “I am not comfortable with your tone. May I speak with someone else, like a manager?”
– “You’re right! A bookstore IS too dangerous for children!” Look around nervously,  then make steady eye contact a little too long. “Especially with all you perverts swarming all over the place.”
– “You’re right; I don’t know you, and you’re talking about taking my children?!” then hysterically call 911 and demand mall security for a woman threatening to kidnap my kids.
– “Fuck off.”

Instead I went to Facebook to vent sarcastically. B&N responded with a number for me to call to make a formal complaint. I had every intention of giving them a piece of my mind.

But, I didn’t call. What was I going to say? What was I hoping to get out of it? While I felt I had certainly recieved blatant harassment, did I really just want to call and bitch about it? What would they even do? Fire her – that’s not really what I want. What I want is to be left alone.

As a mom, I get shit on all the time. People have pulled over on the street to tell me that my kids are playing in the front yard – and isn’t that dangerous – and shouldn’t I bring them inside? I’ve gotten nutrition lessons from ladies evaluating my shopping cart contents – don’t you know that much dairy will make them fat – you are teaching them poor eating habits by giving them whole milk. Are all these children yours – can you even handle that – you’re too young for so many – you do know how to avoid that don’t you? Children really ought to wear hats. I only assume I get this much “advice”  because I look incredibly young, therefore people must think I NEED their direction,  input, or scolding because I’m too young & nieve to know what I’m doing.

Ugg. Go away. Leave me alone!

We now live in a society where parents are jailed for letting kids play in their own yards. Children aren’t allowed to play simply because something might happen. Is someone going to abduct TWO children from a bookstore? That’s 80lbs of squirming, screaming child, so I highly doubt it. Are kids going to be molested just because they are playing in the yard? Maybe, but statistically speaking, no. We are living in a society that is being driven by blind panic. Society needs to calm the fuck down.

I hear, read, and see many comments about “kids these days” & how pathetic they are with their gadgets and their fear and not growing up with mud and jump ropes and rocks like they did back in the good old days before Internet and cable TV. Oh yeah? Screw you. The folks that grew up in the “good old days” were the ones that invented the technology that distracts kids now. They also propagated the fear that keeps them inside. It’s not the fault of children that they aren’t growing up outside, it’s the fault of the helicopter mom who can’t let her kid out of her sight, so it’s easier to prop him up with an ipad. It’s the fault of our neighbors who call the cops if mom doesn’t keep her son inside with an ipad.  More fear = less curiosity about the actual world. If parents constantly hover and micromanage their child’s every breath, then curiosity will be bred out of children. If kids are never afforded an ounce of responsibility for themselves they will grow up needy and afraid. We are so concerned about the safety of children, really? It looks to me as if we are crushing them.

The world isn’t any more dangerous than it was a few decades, quite the contrary, yet for some reason we are so damned afraid. And on top of it we have a nanny society that takes pride in bringing people down and pointing out everyone else’s “mistakes” just to prove that they are doing the “right” thing.

I’m mad because this society doesn’t work together to help parents or families. Instead they go out of their way to belittle & discriminate. I’m mad at that Barnes & Noble employee because I wasn’t viewed as another customer who might need assistance finding something; I was viewed as a young mom doing it wrong. I’m mad because I live in fear too – not of kidnappers, rapists, or danger – I live in fear that some nosey do-gooder is going to call CPS & I’ll be thrown in jail because I turned my back on my kids in a bookstore. We need to break the chains of this fear. We need to stand up for our rights as parents and the right to parent however WE feel is best.

A New Mind Set for a New Year

Happy New Year!
2014 was not the best year for our family, though not the worst. I would say it was rather stagnant,  unproductive,  and fraught with stress.  That is why Hubs and I have decided to actively seek a better life for ourselves and our kids.

We have resolved to make serious changes to our financial situation.  While it won’t be fun, we are prepared to give up all the frills and cut back on as much as we can get away with to apply large chuncks to our debts and to re-build the kids’ college fund.  That means paying off two vehical loans, reducing student loans by almost a third, and settinng aside $500 for college.  It will be tough, but with planning and drive we can do it.

We have also resolved to clean up our mess! We have a lot of stuff, a lot of clutter, and yet we seem to always be wanting.  Wanting more space, wanting more furniture, wanting more storage, wanting more time.  Hubs spent a lot of the holiday break by cleaning, sorting, and arranging the basement and today we went through the living/play room.  A bookshelf was repaired (instead of replaced), storage bins were put together to contain board books and puzzels, and broken toys were discarded.  We plan to go through one room a week to honestly review each and every item we own.  Our goal is to reduce our stuff by about half.  It might not really be attainable,  however, I think that giving ourselves a whole year to do it will give us the time to make decisions and to truly evaluate what we really need and want in life.  We are also adopting an item-in-item-out policy, especially with the toys and clothes.

I personally am resolving to let go of some of my stress, bitterness, nervousness,  and general angst.  My resolution is to embrace the happy and productive person inside me.  One of the tools I’ll be using is a gift from my brother.  I was given a copy of Wreck This Journal. I think this will help me let out tension, creativity, and redefine some rules I’ve set for myself that aren’t necessarily the healthiest. I’ve also taken up keeping a daily diary once again which helps to keep me organized and grounded (bills, chores, appointments, etc), and allows me to reflect on the ordinary and mundane things in life. The last two weeks alone of writing have given me a renewed sense of purpose and worth, so it is certainly something I will continue.

Other things I’d like to get out of 2015:
Read more classic literature (at least one a month)
Run a few more road races
Maintain a garden
Paint the bedrooms

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and relaxing new year!

Phone Call from a Kidnapper

I was cleaning up lunch when my phone rang.  It was a Connecticut number, but I didn’t recognize it.  I answered the phone, unsure if it would be one of my siblings or parents. Instead, it was a voice I didn’t recognize.
Me: Hello?
Voice: Yes, hello? You can hear me?
Me: Yes. Who is this?
Voice: Oh, ma’am, I got your number from your brother to call for help.
Me: What?  My brother?  What happened?
Voice: He’s ok.  He was in a car accident in Hartford this morning.
Me: Oh my God! Where?  Where is he? Where are you?!
Voice: He is ok. I need his name to verify.
Me: Wait, who? Who?
Voice: Your brother. I need his name to verify.
Me: I have two brothers. Oh my God. Is it John or Sean? Where is he?
Voice: Yeah, yeah. It’s Sean! Ya see, my brother was going to the gas station in Hartford and Sean hit his car. Nobody got hurt, but my brother’s BMW is smashed.  The damages are going to be about $6000. Sean started to argue with him about the money and before I knew it they started fighting. That’s when my brother pulled out his gun.
Me: What?! A gun – Are you serious?!
Voice: I know, I know. He’s ok though. I wanted to help, so I convinced my brother to just  calm down and take him here and to call for help.
Me: Ok, ok. What – what do you need? Where is he?
Voice: Ma’am, just stay calm. My brother needs the money to fix his car. He will let Sean go if we can get $1000 up front.
Me: Um, ok. Okay.
Voice: You have that much?
Me: Well, I have some in cash.  I’ll have to go to the bank for the rest.
Voice: Okay. You get the rest – ma’am I hear that you have people around you. Are you not alone?
Me: Yeah. Those are my kids. I have three little kids – toddlers and babies.
Voice: Ok.  You cannot call the police or anybody.  You cannot involve anybody or Sean will get hurt. What I’m going to need you to do is go to your nearest Wal-Mart or Stop & Shop –
Me: I have to take my kids some place first. I have to take them to my neighbor before I do anything.
Voice: Your kids are fine. Just put your phone on speaker. Go to Stop & Shop and get a Western Union –

That’s when my oldest chirpped.
“Who is that mommy?  Why does he have a GUN?!” I tried to quiet him down, but he was very afraid. “What’s happening to Uncle -” I clamped my hand over his mouth.

Voice: Hello? Hello? Are you there?  You cannot hang up or your brother WILL get hurt.

“Mommy! Just turn that thing off!” He reached across and hung up my phone.
It was now time to take my son to preschool, so I ignored the constantly ringing phone and packed up all three kids. My phone alternated between ringing and pinging with text messages. I knew I would have to find a police department. I attempted to calm my frightened kid as I sent him into school. I tried to explain to him what was really going on, but he was clearly scared anyway.

Below are screen shots of my phone with the kinds of messages he sent as well as the numerous ignored phone calls.

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Finally on the last call I answered.
Me: So what’s the deal?  I just spoke with him.
Voice: I know!  I didn’t think you were believing me, so I had him call you.
Me: Yeah, but he’s fine. He’s at work.
Voice: I told him to say that. Look, he is going to die.
Me: I think you’re bull shitting me.
Voice: What you don’t know is I’ve had my gang watching you for days! I know everything about you. If you don’t get me my money, not only is Sean a dead man, but you’ll be shot right in the head. Just watch the news tonight. His body is going to be on it.
Me: Yeah ok. What’s my name then? What town am I in? Fuck, prove something.
Voice: I don’t need to prove anything. You are letting your brother die! And I’m coming to kill you next.
Me: Oh, screw you Jose. This is nothing but a poor excuse for a scam. A very bad one at that. Jesus, you think I’m stupid? You’re a horrible person with nothing else to do except try to lie and scare money out of people.
Voice: FUCK YOU, BITCH! You think this is a fucking game?! I don’t play games. You won’t be laughing when I come to kill your whole family. I’m starting with your kids. You can watch. Then I’ll shoot you in your fucking skull.
Me: Ok dude. I’m home for the rest of the day. Come and get me.

Then Voice hung up and it was silent. I was buzzed, amped up and shaking from adrenaline. The fingers grasping my phone were tingling. The kinds of things people are willing to say to strangers is disgusting. The kinds of things people are willing to do for money is disgusting.

I went to the police to report the calls and the text messages. My town is too small to actually have a police department, but we do have a Resident State Trooper, so I spoke to him. I explained the scam, but he seemed confused.
“How did you know it was a scam?”
Well, for starters, I don’t have a brother named Sean. Also, I did a quick Google search on the phone number and found several links reporting it as a scammer in the state.
“Really? I haven’t heard of that.  Well, just don’t answer your phone next time.”
Gee, thanks Officer. How about you at least take down the information – I’m trying to report a crime here!

The officer didn’t strike me as completely with it, and I’m fairly sure that the wee scrap of paper the details were as scribbled down on were tossed as soon as I walked out the door. The officer clearly didn’t see the point in reporting the scam of I didn’t get hurt or fall for it; which is why I’m writing about it here.

There is a man with a Hispanic accent calling people and telling them their lives ones have been I’m an accident. While he seems concerned at first, his story quickly devolves into a kidnapping stunt requesting a Western Union transfer. Some people have already fallen for the scam, and dozens have reported similar calls.

I knew it wasn’t real from the git-go. I had just gotten off the phone with my father who told me about my real brother’s car troubles and how he had to drive him to work. Also, my brother would never have a reason to be in Hartford, CT. But, my number is a Hartford number and I’ve kept it,  even though I sing live in the area anymore… so the guy was just taking guesses in the dark. I played along on purpose to try and possibly get some information from him and to try to get him on the phone for the police.

(203) 400-5383 is a scammer. No matter how convincing or frightening the caller may seem, they do not have your loved one and are simply trying to extort money. If you end up having to deal with them, or any phone scam, spread the word and the number. Hopefully through word of mouth and networking no one else will fall victim to these thieves.

The Veggie Waffle Recipe

As a mother to two toddler boys, I spend a lot of time thinking of ways to get more vegetables in their diets.  Thankfully I am one of those few lucky moms who doesn’t have picky eaters, so getting them to eat at least *some* of their greens isn’t so bad.  Still, toddlers are toddlers & are notorious for not consuming enough of the good stuff.

I seem to always have a baby around, so I am always making & freezing baby food.  I use the silicone portion tray that came with my Baby Bullet to  freeze large batches of veggies, then store what I call “pods” in freezer bags.  These frozen portions of veggie mush are the main ingredient in a lot of things.  I toss a few into bread dough, soups, sauces, oatmeal, cookie dough….basically everything I make gets an extra dose of pureed vegetable goodness.  It is suprisingly easy to hide all sorts of vegetables in all kinds of dishes.

I make a lot of things in bulk & store in the freezer.  It’s just easier to have several loaves of bread, many servings of pre-made chicken nuggets, and tons of frozen waffles on hand for those last minute dietary changes that toddlers so often make.  One of my favorite things to make in bulk is waffles & I have finally come up with the perfect, healthy recipe!  We top ours with things like local honey, peanut butter or hazelnut spread, or even fruit preserves.  I am proud to serve these for breakfast!

Spinach & Sweet Potato Oat-Waffles *note: this recipe is doubled
3 cups flour                      2 cups quick oats
6 tspn baking powder       2 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn salt                     4 eggs
2 cups milk                       3/4 cup melted butter
4 tbspn brown sugar         1/2 cup pureed spinach, not drained
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes

1. In a large bowl or mixer, combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon & salt.  In another bowl wisk together eggs, milk, butter, brown sugar, & spinach.

2. Add wet mix to dry mix, then fold in mashed sweet potatoes.  Batter will be very lumpy & think.  It’s okay.

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3. Pour batter into a lightly greased waffle iron. Serve warm. No syrup needed!

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I use the waffle iron from Baby Cakes that shapes them into sticks. This is just PERFECT for toddlers because the portions are small & you don’t have to deal with fights about cutting them. They are also super convenient for Hubs to eat in the car on his way to work if he sleeps in a bit.
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I make sure that I let my waffles cool & freeze in single layers before I transfer them to freezer bags. I can put this whole recipe into a gallon size bag when they are in “stick shape”. We reheat them by throwing them in the toaster oven for a cycle on the “toast” function.

*Variations:
I have made several variations to this recipe, though this seems to be my family’s favorite version.
Sweetener:I have used all honey, all molasses, all maple syrup as well as various combos of the sweeteners. They all work just as well…it’s a personal preference to use brown sugar.
Butter: I have used oil in place of butter. Works fine, but isn’t as delicious.
Veggies: I’ve used all sorts of different veggies including carrots, beets, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower. It doesn’t really seem to matter what is used just as long as your proportions are right for the mix. If you use a different veggie that doesn’t have as much liquid as the spinach, you might have to add a little bit of water. We’ve loved them all!

Thankful #19: Prescription Strength

I went to the doctor last week because of an array of symptoms & issues that have been bringing me down.  One of the biggest problems was chronic headaches, possible migraines.  The other main concern was my shoulder/rotator cuff that I strained in a trip down the stairs about a month ago.  Because I am nursing my daughter & refuse to ween at this point, there aren’t any migraine medications that I can safely take.  I was prescribed 500mg of naproxen.  And I was given some physical therapy exercises for my arm.

The prescription did nothing for my headaches, but it did lessen the arm ache.  And that’s a good thing since I still have to hold my daughter to nurse her, and that can be very uncomfortable with a bum arm.  I had tried nearly everything to ease up the muscle pain, to no avail.  Man am I thankful for that prescription!

Thankful#16: My Family

AM had to see the cardiologist for his consultation and I had a lot of questions to ask about the impending surgery.  Right now I’m a very controlled basket-case.  But I know I won’t crack because my husband comes with me & helps keep everything smooth.  Sure, it was a little obnoxious this morning.  Hubs took the day off from work and all five of us trudged into the hospital to meet the staff & tour the facility.  IM kept having to take potty breaks & RM needed to be nursed, but we were all there for AM.  It was suggested that we get a baby sitter for the younger two during the operation (or one of us stay home), but that just isn’t going to happen.  We will all be there for him when he wakes up because he needs us.  IM needs to be there because they always wake up together.  I need to be there to comfort him.  RM needs to be there because I am her food source.  I need Hubs to keep me from getting too antsy when the procedure starts taking too long.  He needs all of us.  I am so thankful that we are a close family.  I am thankful that we can band together, or around each other, and not be just a messy group of five people, but rather a single unit.  We are family.  I am so thankful to be inside of this strong little family.