Tag Archives: care

“I Can’t!” ~ Enough Said

a compass and attached chainTransitioning from the baby to toddler years, from a place where you do everything for them to teaching them how to do things for themselves is nothing less than a challenge, in my opinion.  Every time I would push for them to have more independence, they would struggle, and then I would wonder if what I’m expecting of them is more than what their age can handle.

So far my oldest son is just like me, independent.  He’s has taken the reins with maturity and independence and run with them.  So one would think I would have the perfect compass to go by, right?  All I’d have to do is pay more attention to when he achieves a milestone, so I can expect the same from the younger ones.  However, that doesn’t always work either.  For instance, my oldest rolled over at 3 months, sat up at 6 months, and knew his letters at 18 months all without my help.  When my other sons achieved those milestones at different times, that’s when I learned each child is different and what one can do by a certain age doesn’t mean the others will achieve them at the same time.

The words “I can’t” come mostly from my anxiety-stricken middle son as well the baby of the family.  The two of them combine to pose a challenge.  The baby, actually not in the baby stage any more since he’s 4 ½, looks up to his anxiety-stricken brother.  I think he would do a lot better, since he does have a strong-willed nature, to look up to his oldest brother, but that’s something I can’t control, only encourage.  His “I can’ts” come from playing the youngest member of the family cards, otherwise known as the “baby card.”  When the baby card is played, it’s a hard one to ignore because he is my last one. But I do my best.  Seriously, I do!

Then, as I mentioned before, there’s my son who struggles with anxiety.  His “I can’ts” happen on a regular basis, and when they do, I either get stubborn and make him follow through or take another direction to get through his insecurity.  It all depends on the situation in regards to the approach I take.  For instance, I planned for all three of my boys to go through 2 years of preschool since our Kindergarten is a full day.  Due to his anxiety every morning, he cried the two years he attended, which made it hard getting through the morning routine.  Then the last step of getting his shoes on was the ultimate challenge, and these were my stubborn times where I new he could do it and I was consistent in my expectation.  I spoke with the Psychologist about our preschool mornings and was told with a child like him he needs to be pushed, children his age can put their shoes on.

Now that my oldest is in 3rd grade, and has a helpful nature about him, he helps me with his younger brother when it comes to Kindergarten homework and “I can’ts.”  There are times Mr. Anxiety struggles with working with me, when it comes to homework. So I take the big brother approach to get him through it, and it works like a charm.  Thank goodness for my helpful older son.  He was born to be a big brother, just like some women are born to be Moms.

Being the doormat/people pleaser person that I am, I thought I would struggle with parenting, but thankfully my stubborn nature keeps me from doing that, especially when the words “I can’t” are uttered.

by City Chic On A Farm

Photo graciously provided by nullalux, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Reading Food Labels

closeup of a strawberryWhen my son was a little over one year old, we discovered he had a peanut allergy. He ate a piece of chocolate over at my mother’s house, and immediately broke out in a head to toe rash. Over the course of that year, we found out he was allergic to several foods (milk, strawberries, peanuts, oranges). It was then that I started to read the labels on my food in earnest.

I’ve gotten pretty good at getting to know what to look for and being able to pick out foods that are safe and foods to avoid. He’s also excellent at watching what he eats in any new situation and always brings foods he’s been offered over to me so I can read the labels.

My family has a harder time. My son is the first person who’s had food allergies on my side of the family. Reading labels for anything other than calorie count isn’t something we’ve ever done before. Unfortunately, the labels aren’t always about quantifying the contents of the food, but sometimes about hiding behind loopholes. The “processed in a plant that handles peanuts” label tripped up my mother this past weekend as she bought Easter candy for the grandkids.

Mom thought she’d bought chocolate that my son could eat. She read the ingredients and saw no peanuts. I read the same label and saw the dreaded “processing” footnote (written in tiny itallics font) and had to turn down the candy. Everyone was sad. My son bounced back quickly. This isn’t the first time he couldn’t eat what his cousins could because of his allergies, and he’s more than willing to sacrifice the sweets if they are going to make him feel sick (or worse).

But this whole loophole labeling really angers me. As a parent, I am counting on the label to tell me that there are or are not peanuts in something. To say that it’s been processed in a place where peanut dust may or may not have drifted into the packaging isn’t helpful.

I expect the labels to tell me, in a measured way, what the makeup is of the food in the package. That information should be there for me and my family as we make choices in what we can and cannot eat. Avoiding lawsuits with nebulous language should have no place on my food labels.

Until the FDA has straightened things out, I will continue to err on the side of caution and avoid foods which have even the slightest chance of containing things my son is allergic to.

For those of you with children who have food allergies, here are some resources I found on the web:

Allergic Child
About.com: Food allergies
Peanut Allergy.com
How To Read Food Labels.

If any of you have your own food allergy experiences or advice, head on down below and share.

by Rocket Science Mom

Photo graciously provided by *Micky, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Mothering My Grandmother

a tea cup half filled with teaWhen we moved to the UK, one of the many reasons I chose this town as our home is that my grandmother lives here. Margo is ninety-three, (My gran is waaay too young to be called ‘Granny’ to her face. I wouldn’t dare) and I thought that it would be sensible if someone in the family lived near to her. The lady who visited us for months every year of my childhood in Trinidad; taught me to cook, sew and crochet; danced and sang with me… of course I want to be near her!

I just love this town, and when I found a flat just four blocks away from Margo and opposite the primary school I rejoiced. I thought that one day, my fiercely independent, sharp and healthy gran might need a hand. Not for a while, though! I had visions of us on shopping expeditions and throwing grand tea parties for a few years first.

Well, we did have a few months of fun. And then, Margo’s heart started to give out. Six weeks and three emergency room visits later, she needed looking after. She is much better now, and getting more oxygen to the old brain, but for a few months she could not manage day to day activities like cooking. Her short-term memory is still dreadful. I am grateful and happy to be here, but let me tell you: it’s a little like having a toddler! Here is a person who wants and deserves independence, can be as stubborn as a mule, and entertains me merrily in between.

Margo’s memory is going, going… Oh, she can remember the days of yore, all right, but five minutes ago? Not so much. I love to hear her stories of Before the War when she was young, and the time when she wore above-the-knee SHORTS to ride her bicycle to the next town. How her father despaired! Then I ask her how her neighbour is doing, who was visiting when I arrived, and she says that she doesn’t know: she hasn’t seen the neighbour in weeks, she says. Months! Margo wonders if she’s done something to offend her neighbour?

The memory loss might be funny at times, but it’s a little scary too. I have turned up on several mornings and found the electric oven on, the kitchen broiling. I check the pill box every day, and often the day’s pills are still there. Margo will swear that she never EVER forgets her pills, but if I don’t go every morning and check, she might forget them for days. I hand them to her without comment, and turn the conversation to something funny.

Writing lists is a good way for Margo to remember things. She will write a list, and get groceries collected by a lady with a car, and then phone me up to tell me what’s on the list. I go shopping, and find twin groceries in the fridge when I get to Margo’s flat. No problem for me: I just take them home. We can eventually use anything up, I can sneak things in as they are used up, and overstocking Margo’s fridge causes much stress.

Clutter, in fact, stresses Margo out. Anything that is large, messy, or unfamiliar is just too much to handle. It took me a while to realise that a full fridge is bad: too many things to think about! But enough food for just two days, and no more, is perfect. I am used to shopping in bulk for a family of five, so of course escorting Margo to the supermarket for one small bag of meat, potatoes and veg stresses ME out. I’ve found a solution though. I buy for a week and put the stuff into MY freezer, and then sneak salmon, lamb chops and things into Margo’s every day or so. Sometimes she notices, but mostly she just assumes that she bought it, and she eats it for lunch.

Stress is certainly the enemy. If Margo is upset or worried or angry, she immediately forgets everything and becomes infinitely more difficult to deal with. Saying to her, “Oh, what’s up? Why have you taken all of the pills out of their blister packs, aaaargh! Those are the wrong pills, Margo, and you have forgotten to take the blue ones…” begins a battle of wills that I cannot win, partly because I do not want to beat my beloved grandmother in a battle of any kind, and the discussion stresses Margo out so much that she forgets everything for a whole week. But I know what to do, because I have had toddlers: I cry, “OOOOH, look at that!” and when she looks, “What, what?” I swipe all of the pills; blue, white, beige, small, large, round, oval; into my handbag. When Margo looks back, she sees nothing on the kitchen counter but a teacup and teabag and immediately forgets about the pills. “Tea or coffee?” I ask sweetly.

When I get home, I empty the assorted pills with their open blister packs and the mess of boxes and bits of paper out on my own kitchen table and research them online. The blue ones and the beige ones are the same drug, so she’s been double-dosing. I take over all dosing, fill a weekly-supply container all neatly labelled, and keep the extra pills at my house, out of harm’s way. Usually, this system works, and Margo feels that she has some independence because the pills are there. Some of them.
Of course, cousins and aunts come to visit, thank goodness! Last weekend, I went to visit my sister, and my cousin came here to ‘babysit’ Margo. It is important to accept help, and keep the family up-to-date.

Margo’s hearing is going… but don’t dare tell her so! The other morning, a package came through the door with information about hearing aids, and Margo tossed it into the bin with such scorn that I just sighed. What with the short-term memory loss and the selective hearing, conversations become circular and repetitive. Sometimes, Margo needs to say something several times just to fix it in her own mind.

Margo loves to have some repetitive crafty task to do: Her tapestries are beautiful. And my sister sent me an article explaining that those repetitive tasks are really important for forgetful elderly people, and help the brain to process information. A task like that makes Margo feel useful too. She makes lovely things for us all, and we are grateful that we will always have something to remind us of her love and talent.

I call before I head up to Margo’s every morning. “Need anything at the corner shop?”

Sometimes there is no answer. Either the radio’s on and she can’t hear the phone, or she’s forgotten I’m coming and gone to the shop herself. Every time, I steel myself for what I will find when I get there. Margo lives alone, in a building meant for retired people. She’s the eldest inhabitant, and ought to have round-the-clock care, but the last time anyone suggested it she threw herself onto her bed and threw a proper toddler-style tantrum.

I don’t blame her. If someone told me I had to be babysat by some stranger nurse, I’d throw a tantrum too. So, for now, we carry on as though this will keep working. We don’t look ahead. When Margo first came out of hospital, she was very frail, and I cooked and tidied and stayed with her as much as possible. She is much better now and likes to take care of herself: I have to pretend I’m just visiting for a cup of tea at ten every morning, and help without appearing to. If an uncomfortable topic comes up, “WHY do I have to take all of these pills?” it is best not even to discuss it: The discussion will immediately be forgotten, but the cross old lady will remain. I use a time-honoured toddler tactic: “Hey, Pat has one of those little dogs, remember the ones Rosemary had? Weren’t they dreadful?” and ten minutes of merry gossip will ensue.

This is a dance, free and totally unchoreographed. If the old lady is happy and calm and thinks that everything is fine, she remembers to take her pills, and eat a healthy lunch, and sits happily with her tapestry, and chats about her old friends and her job and her grandchildren. The moment she gets worried, things start to go wrong. I get late night calls, “What day is the doctor’s appointment? Is it tomorrow? I need broccoli! How are YOU?” I have to soothe and calm, and make her feel that everything is all right, because if Margo thinks that everything is all right… why then, everything will be all right. For now, anyway. We will see what happens next, when we get there.

by Nan Sheppard

Photo graciously provided by dragonflysky, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Not So Foodie

peeled carrotsConfession: I’m a terrible cook. A TERRIBLE cook. I have been known to screw up things as easy as hard-boiled eggs. And toast. I wish I were joking.

(Things I learned from those two experiences; 1) eggs don’t need to boil for over an hour to become hard-boiled and 2) make sure the toaster oven is on ‘toast’ and not ‘broil’ when you put the bread inside.)

However, I was able to successfully make homemade, organic baby food for my daughter without screwing it up too terribly and she lived through the experience.

I had to use pretty advanced technological tools to make this work for me, but I managed. I did it alone and it felt good to do.


    Ziploc Steam Bags
    Cuisinart Food Processor
    Potato peeler

I would peel and cut the fruit or veggies first and then steam it per the instructions on the bag or until it felt soft. I’d then empty the bag into the food processor, add some water, and mix. It was super easy and everything looked and tasted so fantastic. I was insanely jealous of her applesauce.

by Pocklock

Photo graciously provided by Emily Barney, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

I May Need To Breathe Into A Bag Here

a seagull standing on a plastic bin that is floating in the oceanI was reading here and here about the gajillion tonnes of plastic floating in the sea, and it’s FREAKING ME OUT, MAN! I mean, I am seriously having a crisis here.

I never really researched this before. We lived on a beautiful beach for years, and used to take a pack of garbage bags down from time to time, fill them up with plastic bottles and Styrofoam and the odd can, and whine about the twits who allow their garbage to get into rivers and thus to the sea. Every bit of garbage that finds its way into a drain will eventually get into the sea, if someone doesn’t pick it up and see that it’s disposed of properly.

I was really mad about how it looks, you know? Stinky. And, well, the turtles might eat a bag and get sick or DIE, which is bad.

People of Earth, it is worse than that.

I have often smugly mentioned that my town recycles over sixty percent of our garbage, and that is great, but what good is recycled plastic, really? Have YOU ever bought a recycled plastic anything? I don’t think I have. I hear they use recycled plastic in furniture and cars? Companies like Billabong pride themselves on clothing made from fibres of recycled plastic. The trouble is that the plastic we use and recycle is never re-made into new water bottles or clear food punnets or T-Shirt bags. Products made from recycled plastic are not usually themselves recyclable. And plastic NEVER EVER breaks down.

So every. Single. Plastic. Thing. That I have ever bought or used is still plastiking it’s way around as someone’s backpack or deckchair, lying under a heap of landfill or *shudder* floating in the sea, where it confuses birds, fish and whales who think it’s something yummy. There are so many tiny bits of plastic in the sea that in some areas, if a whale opens wide to gulp some yummy krill, five-sixths of what the whale swallows will be plastic bits.

This doesn’t just give the wildlife indigestion; it causes hormone imbalances, severe blockages and death.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Already I have become fanatical about taking my shopping bag with me when I go out.

Tomorrow, on our day out to the city, I’m taking my thermos so that I won’t have to buy a plastic cup of (inferior) coffee. Saving money AND the Earth while enjoying awesome hot yumminess!

I have been ordering my groceries online and having them delivered: This saves packaging, since the groceries are brought in large baskets (no bags), which are offloaded and taken away. The delivery man will also take any plastic bags I have away for recycling. It’s also really cool to have SOMEONE ELSE carry those groceries up the stairs and into the kitchen… all I have to do is offload them and check the list to make sure nothing’s been forgotten.

I have a plastic-bag-recycling zone: all recyclable bags are dusted out or rinsed if necessary, and added to the main bag. This includes bread bags, salad bags, snack bags, and the plastic that covered my new mattress.

I will buy mayo in glass jars, not convenient squirty bottles.

I will BE AWARE of what I buy, and what packaging it comes in. If those sweet peppers are in a Styrofoam tray, I can do without them.

I am looking into organic farm delivery, where a farm in my area makes weekly neighbourhood deliveries of in-season fresh fruit and vegetables. This may be expensive, so I’m comparing prices and products. We eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and not much meat, so this may be a tasty and healthy option for us.

I will make more snacks from scratch, instead of buying packaged ones. I like to cook, and the kids like my dips, cookies and sandwiches, so it makes sense.

So far, all of my Down-With-Plastic activities have made me feel slightly better. I understand the importance of plastics in medicine and safety, and I do appreciate the good looks and convenience of so many plastic products, but I feel that it is time for the shoppers of the World (That’s us, fellow Mommies) to make a stand. For our children’s future, if there is to be one.

What else can we do to reduce our plastic consumption? Any suggestions?

by Nan Sheppard

Photo graciously provided by KM&G-Morris, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved