Thursday, October 11, 2007

Misguided war on drugs

Today, in a week when another handful of toys has been recalled for containing lead paint, cold medicines for infants under 2yo have been pulled off the drugstore shelves. Hmm...this bothers me. I've slept on the sofa with a severely congested, feverish 9-month-old on my chest, praying that he continues breathing through the night. And I've felt the rush of relief that comes when a 106-degree fever comes down 2 degrees after a dose of Tylenol. While I understand the argument that some parents overdo it, in the words of this article "poisoning their children," I feel that we parents should be allowed to make the decision about whether to give the child a decongestant or watch as he sits lethargically on the floor because he can't catch his breath.

Is this another case of the "save us from ourselves" epidemic that grips us these days? Ban McDonalds because my child is obese, don't put a goalie in the soccer net because it creates too much pressure, get the cold medicine off the shelves because someone might overdose their infant.

When did this country stop trusting parents to make decisions for their children? Probably around the same time we started hiring China to produce all our toys...hmmm, wonder which is worse: unknowingly, slowly, and steadily poisoning our babies via Thomas the Train, Elmo, and Dora toys that they play with every single day and night, or reading the directions on the medicine bottle and administering cold medicine on occasion to ease a child's discomfort, taking the chance that the medicine has an adverse side effect that will most likely wear off in a few hours? Interesting dilemma.

Or, let me pose this to indulge my inner conspiracy theorist: Is this a case of big pharmaceuticals trying to make a buck? I mean, if Tylenol Cold isn't available for $5 at your pharmacy, will AstraZeneca come up with a similar formulation that doctors then prescribe in mass quantities, at say $40 a bottle?

Consider this: My son has tested negative for allergies and asthma, though he has occasional seasonal-allergy-type runny nose and coughing bouts. I was advised NOT to put him on children's Benadryl because it could make him groggy. However -- and keep in mind, he has tested negative for all allergies and asthma -- his allergist has prescribed a daily dose of Nasonex nasal spray (side effects may include irritability, nosebleeds, headaches, etc.) AND a twice-daily dosage of Flovent, which is a steroid inhaler with side effects that include all of the above PLUS extreme aggression, mood swings, and a number of internal discomforts that a toddler would not be able to communicate. With my prescription coverage, each of these medications costs $40 a month...can't imagine what the non-insurance cost is.

So you tell me---otc Benadryl, at $6 a bottle, could probably take care of Hayden's sniffles, and ensure that he sleeps through the night when he has that annoying post-nasal cough. Sure it may make him drowsy during the day, but that may be a decision I, his mother, has to make: Do I let him suffer the drippy nose, cough, and headaches, or do I make him sleepy?

While he does take the Nasonex (it helps his runny nose, and doesn't seem to affect him adversely) my husband and I have decided not to put Hayden on the inhaler; he does not have asthma, and introducing him to a medication that has such adverse documented side effects as a preventive measure does not seem like a wise idea. But a doctor at a reputable children's hospital prescribed it. If I didn't have access to the internet, or have ways to research this medicine, I would probably trust the doctor, much like the mother of a 20-month-old who told me the other day that her son takes prescribed asthma and allergy medicines 21 times a day. Is that baby being poisoned any less than a child whose parents give him a dose of Tylenol for fever and a dose of Robitussin for cough over the course of 3 days, just to get him through a terrible cold?

This really bothers me. If you want to help our babies, take a stand on the products being sold in toy stores, or better yet, bring that business back into this country to create jobs and ensure standards. Don't spend time limiting parents' rights to ease their children's cold symptoms...talk about misguided energy.

beisbol

OK, now that my beloved Phillies brought us all to the edge of euphoria then dropped us into the pit of baseball despair, I have been trying to figure out how to remain a part of post-season baseball (which I always like to watch, but this year just feel sad about). Stumbled across this blog post on NYTimes.com, and it's cleared everything up for me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Snap, crackle, and pop

I did something new today: I went to a chiropractor appointment (just in time for National Chiropractic Month...who knew?)

Going to a chiropractor has always scared me -- you're gonna crack what? -- but I found it to be remarkably soothing while I was lying on the contortionist table-bed thingy, then totally exhilarating when I stood up and felt no more back pain. (Even more pain left my body when I learned that not only does my insurance cover this treatment, but it allows me 30 visits per year at only $20 a pop...literally.)

I don't think she did much of anything I haven't tried already, other than two bendy-twisty sideways stretches, so maybe it's all mental. But, today I've had more energy and enthusiasm than I have in weeks. I enjoyed playing with my son more than I have in a while, and I was able to do the daily tasks that have been so overwhelming lately. I even had a more productive work day! All this after just one visit... I now know why people say they can't live without their chiropractor. It's a whole new definition of "addicted to crack." I'll be going back for my second hit next Friday. (Spine-health.com gives some interesting tidbits on why chiropractic feels sooo good.)

Another benefit of visiting a back pain center is you get to look around and realize that your own life ain't so bad. What's a little lower lumbar discomfort, when you compare it to the old man who has such severe muscle spasms that he can't control his bowels, or the young woman on permanent disability because she can't move her neck from side to side? Seriously, what a wake-up call. My life is so good.

Anyway, as far as a diagnosis: The chiro lady tells me that my "hamstrings and my hip flexors are playing tug-of-war with my pelvis." Awesomely ironic, when you consider the theme of our household conversations lately has been "play nice," usually because the 2yo is banging his Matchbox cars off the cat's head or crashing his teddy bear into his TMX Elmo. Now I'll have to direct that same "play nice" vibe to my back and leg muscles, as well.

Time for stretching...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hi Aunt Robyn!

We took a few Bachmania family photos for you, so you can remember how pretty we are. (Eek...look at all those chins!)
Pitino needed to get in on the action, too...he's part of the family, after all. Too bad he refuses to smile for the camera.



Mommy looks a little scary in this one, but darn, Hayden is cute, ain't he?

Hayden wanted to play a little concert for you. Imagine he's plunking away on the piano, singing his Sesame Street medley of "Rubber Ducky," "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood," and "Elmo's Song" all mashed together.

Here's our little Mousekateer, modeling his favorite "hat." He doesn't get it when we call them ears, and he insists on wearing them backwards...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Splendid suns

i have to tell you about the book i'm reading, a thousand splendid suns, by khaled hosseini. it's amazing. has completely opened my eyes to what's been happening in afghanistan over the last 30 years.

i am feeling totally humbled, blessed, fortunate to have been born in this country -- for no other reason than dumb luck. and i am wondering if i would have the strength to endure what the women in that country have endured and endure every single moment of their lives.

i feel small and insignificant and spoiled rotten. i feel embarrassed by my tendency to dwell on petty inconveniences such as tight budgeting and out-of-style blouses.

and i feel really angry with myself for being so ignorant and naive about what has been happening in afghanistan while the world didn't really notice, and that i've been so trusting that just by watching the news every day, i'm in the know. (truth is, what appears on the news has already been happening for far too long to even be considered news anymore.)

read it. you'll be changed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It takes a village...or a circle

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: My job rocks. The work is interesting, the people are friendly and intelligent, the flexibile schedule is amazing. Today I was reminded once more why I'm so fortunate.

Because I work from home on Tuesdays, I can now attend the Elizabeth Circle meetings at my church. For those of you who aren't familiar with Presbyterian Women's Circles (as I was until this morning), Circles are intended for groups of women of similar interests, lifestyles, age, etc. to get together once a month to talk, work for the community, pray, support one another. I have always been a tentative joiner of all things churchy -- it took us almost 5 years just to join this church, even though I attended fairly regularly -- and now that I'm a deacon, I'm counting the days until that particular service is over. So, I was skeptical about getting involved in the Elizabeth Circle: Are they going to be asking me to devote time every week to one cause or another? Will I have to donate money to some mission or another each time? Is this going to be all about Bible study?

However, in about 3 minutes this morning, all my skepticism melted away. I felt as accepted and cared for and supported by a group of people as I have ever felt in my life. No exaggeration. I have met these women before, but didn't really know them until this morning, yet after just an hour and a half with them, I realized that this is what I've been missing.

It's always been hard for me to make new friends; I wait for people to come to me, I tend to feel awkward starting conversations and finding connections. I don't have many true friends like Amy S., Marcia, and Amy B. who know me well an understand my heart and head. I do have a lot of acquaintances in our home area now -- neighbors, coworkers, people in my book group -- all people I like to chat with and drink wine with and laugh with -- but not anyone I've really felt I could count on in a tight spot, or someone I could call for parenting advice, or someone I could trust with "hey, this particular thing is really bothering me lately, and I don't know how to pray about it" knowing that she would not only pray with me, but would hold my hand or hug me because she knows that's what I need most. I've been looking for that kind of a connection with other women, and I thought I'd found it earlier this spring and summer...but that hasn't worked out so well.

Not that I feel I'm instantly BFF with this group; they've known each other for 10-20+ years and I know it will take time for me to feel totally part of the group. That said, it's hard for me to describe the feeling of belonging that I felt this morning.

Throughout the last couple years, as I've moved into this crazy adventure called parenting, I've learned that the old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is definitely true. But it also may be true that it takes a village to raise a woman, and today I'm feeling hopeful and grateful that perhaps I've found my village. My circle.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Adore My Husband

10. He calls to ask if he should pick anything up at the store on his way home.
9. He rubs my feet or shoulders, if I ask nicely.

8. He does all the laundry -- including folding and ironing.
7. He makes me laugh without really trying.
6. He buys me little presents for no reason at all, except to let me know he was thinking of me.
5. He plays cars or reads books with Sweet Boy whenever possible. And he lives for tickle-time.
4. He encourages my girls' nites out, and makes extra effort to get home early to be with the boy while Mommy gets ready.
3. He has a gift for settling Sweet Boy down to sleep at night, and even more importantly, he can quietly get Sweet Boy to go back to sleep on a Saturday morning (like pushing the snooze button on the toddler).
2. He reminds me not to worry about things I can't control.
1. When he kisses me, I know he means it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Brave Daddy

This weekend my dad did the bravest thing I've ever imagined a parent doing: He took my younger sister, Robyn, to the airport and kissed her goodbye, then drove off while she boarded a plane for Sierra Leone. She'll be there for 5 months, working with a migration organization. She's done so much legwork up to this point, informing us all as she goes, to reassure each of us that she'll be safe. Dad has been dreading the day for months, but when it finally came, he bravely let her fly.

Robyn's only 20 -- old enough to make her own decisions, young enough to take on the world without trepidation. She's the baby in our family, and Dad has raised her on his own for the last 10 years. Their relationship is much stronger and deeper, I think, than the one my brother and I share with Dad; their battles are much more intense, of course, but their rapport is remarkable. Truth be told, I think they're best friends, which is why this had to be the most difficult thing Dad's ever done. But, knowing how much this trip has meant to his daughter -- to her education, to her spirit, to her development of an adult identity -- he allowed her to go, to experience life in an unknown, dangerous, poverty-stricken, civil-war-torn country. He let her go on the adventure of her life, knowing that he would suffer extreme anxiety each day until she returns safely.
When I think about it, I am awed. I have a hard time leaving my son at his church daycare each morning; the idea of watching him board a plane for a faraway land is unfathomable. Yet this is not the first time I've seen my dad wave goodbye to one of his children. He hugged me goodbye at the airport more than once -- first to Kiev, Ukraine, for a two-week school trip; then to Moscow, Russia, for a month-long study-abroad trip; and another time for a three-month stint in Glasgow, Scotland. But these were all relatively safe, stable countries. The biggest challenges I faced were cockroaches in my room in Moscow and heroine addicts at the bus stop in Glasgow. In Sierra Leone, just drinking the water can kill a person (we won't get into the bugs, the snakes, the disease, or the humans wielding machetes).

I know this is our ultimate goal as parents, to raise our children steadfastly and securely enough that they dare to venture out on their own, whether to soccer practice or college or Africa. I'm so proud of my father, for his bravery in this challenging time, but mostly for his parenting. He has raised a brilliant, self-assured, adventurous young woman. Robyn's not afraid to go so far away because she knows what she has to come home to. Of course Dad never gives himself any credit, but my husband and I look to his example each day as we raise our little one. While I pray that I never have to be so brave as this, I hope that if the day ever comes, my son will have strong wings, too.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Can you tell me how to get,

...how to get to Sesame Street?

A new season of Sesame Street started this week. This is very exciting in my house, especially for my son, who is 100% in love with "Sessee." The first thing out of his mouth in the morning is "Big Bird?" and he can spot a likeness of Elmo from at least a 1/2-mile away. When he walks past a black, turned-off TV set, he stops and tilts his head to the side, and says "Ernie? Bert?" as if they live inside that box, and they've just been waiting all day for him to come and play. When the show is on, Hayden sits rapt, eyes glazed, lower lip slightly drooped --- and now he even mouths along trying to copy what the characters are speaking or saying. I never imagined a 2-year-old could have this kind of attention span; he will sit for 2 hours straight watching Sesame, if we let him (which I try to avoid, of course). Recently we discovered the 1985 movie, Follow That Bird, and "Follow Big Bird!" has become the rallying cry when it's time to take a car ride. He sits staring out the window, looking for Big Bird and occasionally asking, "Where Big Birg go?"

There are many reasons, I know, for not allowing my toddler to watch TV at all, and I should be concerned about my toddler's love of a television program. However, I know that he's picking up good things from Sesame: He can count to 14 on his own, he can sing the ABC song, he understands a few Spanish words, he knows that "cookies are a sometimes food." I'm impressed with Hayden's loyalty and all-out affection for these characters, too. In his mind, Elmo, Ernie, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster are his friends, and he loves them. What's wrong with that?

Truth be told, I too love Sesame Street. This season marks the 38th (show premiered in November 1969), and I have very fond memories of singing along with Grover and Big Bird and Oscar as a child. How awesome that I can share these same characters, songs, and silly phrases with my own son? The show offers occasional chuckles for grown-ups, too: spoofs on popular prime time shows like "Law and Order," "American Idol," and "24"; subtle social commentaries with one-time characters like Donald Grump, the trashiest grouch in the world; and characters with punny names, such as Dr. Feel (Dr. Phil), Polly Darton (Dolly Parton), and Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.

I appreciate the positive messages this show communicates -- to kids and adults alike: Be kind to others. Accept people for who they are because we're all different, and we're all special. Celebrate your own uniqueness. Embrace and learn from cultures other than your own. Play every day. Read as often as possible because books take you anywhere you want to go. Sing when the mood strikes. These are all that I want my son to embrace.

While rejoicing over new episodes the other day (thank you, CTW!), I started thinking the other day about the words to the theme song -- "Come and play, everything's A-OK./Friendly neighbors, yeah, that's where we meet" -- and I started to wonder, how do you get to Sesame Street? And are there any available apartments? Because I really would love to live there. Think about it: Playful furry animals and friendly monsters to visit, sunshine every day, celebrities stopping by to sing and dance each week, kids playing in the street because there's no traffic or noise whatsoever, grown-ups who own fix-it stores and small grocery markets and meet outside to sing about the alphabet and the weather. It's utopia.

At least we get to visit from time to time through the magic of television.

Funny things that happened today:
  • The cat is snoring.
  • A Canada goose walked right up to Hayden at the park and said "Honk!" and kept on walking. It cracked us both up.
Something I learned today:
  • Smuckers grape jelly is just not as good as Welch's grape, and store brand low-fat peanut butter is just lumpy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bloggin' A, here I am

So here I am. Blogging. On the blogosphere. I blog. Does anyone else have a problem with this word? I realize I'm like 3 years behind the trend, because that's usually how long it takes me to jump into any new techno-thingy; I'm usually just getting started when everyone else has very much moved on. I s'pose I'm old-school. (And someday, remind me to return to the point raised on page 4 of the Britannica article linked above, about whether blogging will replace traditional forms of media. God, I hope not!)

But I've put off jumping on the blogwagon because, frankly, the word blog is just ugly and I don't really like it. However, I was thinking about it today -- I often think about words; it's my job, really -- and it's starting to grow on me. In fact, it's starting to crack me up. For instance, when I told my husband, Chris, that I was going to start blogging, without missing a beat, he said "oh, you're full of blog, all right." It's starting to remind me of another ugly word that has become a People's Choice award winner: The Big F. Someone once told me you can use the Big F as any part of speech (though I haven't thought that through too carefully...I'll let you know if I ever do.) But it made me wonder, Can we use the word blog as all parts of speech? Maybe not, but I can think of a lot of ways to use it that will continue to crack me up: I'm going to blog that tomorrow (I personally love verbing nouns); That's blogalicious; He's a blogophile.

There's another reason, too, that it's taken me a while to get my bloggy on. Does anyone really care about what I have to say? Probably not. And for someone like me, who talks to anyone in the listening area, that's a tough truth to admit. After all, my life is not so thrilling that I have amazingly creative or inciteful things to say. I'm a wife, a mom, a book editor, a friend, a church deacon. I swap zucchini recipes with the women in my neighborhood, and I take my son to the playground to dig in the sand. A big night out for me lately is my book club, which meets at a different house every month, but always within 3 blocks of my home. (These are fabulously fun, smart, women, by the way, and I'm sure I will blog about book club from time to time; we're currently reading The Quickie by James Patterson.) I spend most Sunday afternoons pulling weeds out of my (pitiful) flower garden or mopping the floors in my house. This is not exciting, folks. But it's life, and I bet the majority of people in the world are living this same kind of suburban stupor. So maybe the interest in my blog lies in the fact that there's commonality among us; maybe someone will stumble on my words one day and think, "hey, I can relate to this woman!" But really, it doesn't matter if anyone ever reads this. I'm hoping it'll be fun to just spew my thoughts onto a page, albeit an electronic one.

And maybe blogging will get me back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. I'm embarrassed that my younger brother and sister have both beat me to Blogsville. I'm supposed to be the writer in the family, people! But they're both really good bloggers -- interesting, funny, thought-provoking -- so I'll take some notes on their style, and hope to do the family proud. If you're curious, my sister's blog can be found at Life in a Mello World, and my brother is at Nate Mello dot com. My siblings are amazing, and I'm so proud of them. They're the people who have seen me at my best and at my worst -- and they still love me. I am a very fortunate girl, for many reasons, but most of all because I'm surrounded by love. (But I like to think that I give love pretty willingly as well. You reap what you sow, after all.)

So read on, blogophiles. Here I am, blogocizing, bloggerating, blogginating, gettin' bloggy wit' it...ok, now I'm also showing my age...and my dorkiness...