Monday, May 13, 2013

Bath Toys: A Scourge on Personal Hygiene?

We are now blessedly free of eye gunk and snot. Hallelujah! But this is the second post in my screed on bleach that I wrote while still in the midst of the deluge. I might as well post it since it's already written. But I can promise that I'm ready to move on to discussing other topics. Like possibly cloth diapers and/or butterflies. Do two more exciting topics exist? (May God bless you people who still consider me a friend even though you know that I also consider household bleach to be a friend of mine.)

We have all these little squeaky, animal-shaped bath toys. If you squeeze them, they take in and spit out water. The kids love them. Generally I'm able to coexist with them in a peaceful manner. But their nooks and crannies inside and out, as well as the small holes through which the water flows, eventually collect mildew and grime. Over time, I begin to leave bath time wondering if we've finished cleaner or dirtier. I ask you, are these bath toys the scourge of personal hygiene? Do the benefits of bath-time fun outweigh the disgustingness of mildew in the bathwater with which I am bathing my children?  Do I philosophize over the most trivial of issues?  (Yes.)

I'll admit, the problem is not just the bath toys. The shower has borne the brunt of a curtailed cleaning schedule that I've adopted as the result of having two mobile children- one of whom naps in our room which prevents me form cleaning the shower during nap time.

Not many guests want to poke around in the shower, or sit in there for a chat. I don't spend a lot of time in their either. My showers have become quite short. Consequently, I clean it less than I'd like. I'm not going to be so transparent as to tell you how often that is (mostly because I can't really remember the last time I did it. But I'm going to do it later today! With a lot of bleach!)

I did take one stand against household grime earlier today when I soaked those squeaky bath toys in a sink full of diluted bleach. Now they are spewing clean water rather than water and small colonies of mildew.

Is there anything that bleach can't do? Are there any downsides to it? I cannot possibly see any from where I sit, adorned with crusted-over eye gunk and surrounded by snot-soaked burp cloths.

So, please excuse me if I'm deriving intense satisfaction from those squeaky-clean bath toys. Bleached bath toys, and a bleached sink, shower and dishwasher won't make the pink eye go away, but at least I feel that there are some places in the house that aren't teeming with diseases. Some areas of my house not teeming with diseases: it's a high standard, but if I aim at all, I aim high. 

Also: bonus! Peter is an ophthalmologist, a person well-suited to deal with conjunctivitis. Though, even he thinks cleaning up all the eye gunk is pretty gross. And I'm all "You're an eye doctor! This is your passion!" And he's all, "At the clinic this is not one of my main responsibilities." And I'm all "This is not the clinic."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Great Gatsby: I just thought I didn't get it

The movie The Great Gatsby opens this weekend. I first read The Great Gatsby in high school. I didn't remember liking it much, but I'm constantly amazed at the insights that flew over my head in high school, so I was happy to give it a second read a year ago for a book club. I still didn't like it that much. I found it difficult to enjoy because all of the characters are vain and careless. It's impossible to have sympathy for any of them because they treat people like trash. Despite that, I tend to agree with the themes that the love of money corrupts and that people are generally prone to act like jerks. Being unlettered as I am in literature, I trusted that it must be a work of genius, since everyone says it is, just not enjoyable one, since it's all so cynical. I thought maybe I just didn't get it. When I went to my book club discussion everyone else seemed enthralled, so I just assumed that I was blinded by my ignorance.

Then I read this article and I learned that their are other people in the world who didn't really like the Great Gatsby that much, some that may even despise it! Like the article's author, I had also wondered how Fitzgerald could condemn the excesses of wealth like he did, when he seemed to aspire to a similar life style of opulence. But that's all beside the point, what made me want to write this post was this little jewel of irony:

"... the new movie opens Friday. (Read David Edelstein's review here.) If you need a place to take your date afterward and have $14,999 to spare, you can head to the Trump hotel, which is offering a glamorous “Great Gatsby Package”: three nights in a suite on Central Park West, a magnum of Champagne, cuff links and a tailored suit for men, and, “for the ladies, an Art Deco shagreen and onyx cuff, accompanied by a personal note from Ivanka Trump.” Car insurance is not included."

On the sidebar of this article was a Tiffany's advertisement for a Great Gatsby "Jazz Age Glamour" collection of diamond jewelry. Pictured was a diamond head pendant (you can have it for $200,000) that matches Daisy's in the movie. Daisy is the main female character in the book, Gatsby's love interest. 

This is a joke, right? I mean listen, to anyone in the market for $200,000 diamond headband, or the Trump Hotel's "Great Gatsby Package", you might consider reading the book first. Find out how all that 20's-era glitz turned out for the characters.  (Hint: Not very well.) 

 The fact that people have created an entire marketing campaign around the excesses that the book criticizes takes me full circle back to wondering if  it was a work of genius after all. It seems to reflect an accurate picture: people dazzled by wealth without looking at the human story underneath. That story in the Great Gatsby is one in which the characters -soulless automatons whose god is their vanity- destroy each other amidst lavish parties and with many friendly exclamations of "old sport".  The End.

Nonetheless, I'm going to see the movie on Sunday with my book club and I'm going to get popcorn. So, that's pretty much all I know for sure about The Great Gatsby.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Praise of the Mandolin

 This is only a very slight reprieve in my treatise on  bleach. Oh, I have more to say about it, I'm like a germophobic Charles Dickens over here, but I felt like a change of subject.

Ever since my initial disappointment with the mandolin, which turned out to be the result of operator error (me, I was the operator, and I didn't get how to use the mandolin), I've really come to appreciate it as a kitchen essential. I don't use it very often, but when I do use it, it works so beautifully!

Besides making ridiculous, Martha-inspired carrot ribbons, and slicing onions (or anything else), you can also shred cabbage, which I've been doing a lot of lately. 

Finely shredded cabbage, at its finest! 

It's for these recipes. Yum! Healthy and delicious, and most importantly, easy to make.

But, as I've said before, you have to be careful because you can easily maim yourself with the mandolin. But, you know, nothing in life is 100% safe. Weigh the risk of (minor) digital mutilation against the benefits of ultra-thin vegetable slices and I think it's obvious which way the scales tip.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Affirmation of My Position on Bleach

A while ago, my sister-in-law made a comment about how much more relaxed I am these days. When I asked her to elaborate, I had to laugh because it seems that she'd mistaken my silence on certain issues for sanity. It has been said that when a fool remains silent, even he may be considered wise. Perhaps I should heed that sentiment sometime... but for now I'm going to go on writing about bleach.

She mentioned that my intensity came across through some odes to bleach that I blogged a few years ago, and also through my penchant for long-distance endurance challenges. Now, it's true that I haven't had the time to pursue any marathons lately, but my ardent love for bleach has not waned. What has waned is the amount of time that I have to write about my love for bleach. So, joke's on them! I managed to convince Peter's family that I was less crazy, simply by virtue of having less time to publish my idiosyncrasies on the interwebs. (Or is the joke on me since I'm still writing posts about how much I love bleach?)

Regardless, I really love bleach. I've made peace with the fact that it's not very green. Household use of bleach is pretty benign, I think. It dissociates into a salt and water compound within 24 hours. I verified this with an actual chemical engineer. So go ahead, bleach it up!

I cleaned out my dishwasher this week. It was horrifying. I never would have thought to clean it out except for the fact that the bottom was growing mold. I'm actually embarrassed by how long it took me to clean it out after I noticed the mold. I was going to post a picture of the before and after. But I decided that I would be shunned by all decent society if people knew how much mold was growing in the dishwasher while I was still using it to wash dishes.

I did an initial cleaning which helped, but underneath the trap at the bottom, I could still see nastiness. We removed the trap only to encounter nastiness exponentially greater than could be seen outside the trap. There was an entire stagnant-water ecosystem under there complete with billowing algae fronds. I'm not a light weight, I can deal with gross stuff. I was a nurse. But this nearly made me gag. I cleaned it out, all the while trying not to throw up. And then I ran a cycle with a cup of bleach inside the top rack. Now that dishwasher is as sparkling white as a snow-capped mountain glistening under a bright winter sun (you might have to use your imagination)!

After a lot of elbow grease and a hefty dose of bleach

Also, Isla has pink eye. Poor thing. It's pitiful. This is new, none of us have had pink eye. Again, I'm not a light weight when it comes to grossness. I can deal and have dealt with nearly every type of bodily fluid common to man. But the ever-flowing founts of green mucus that are my baby's eyes? It's kind of getting to me. So, basically I've run amok with the bleach.

I am so, so thankful for bleach. Really, I'm almost verklemt writing this. Admittedly,  I may be a little emotional at the moment as a result of caffeine consumption and an extended stint during which we've been cooped up inside due to illness- John had a cold, now Isla has pink eye. But to think that some people don't have bleach with which to cleanse ecosystems from their dishwashers and eye gunk from everywhere else- I can't bear it! If that makes me crazy, then check me into the institution! I'm sure such establishments use a lot of disinfectants, so I would probably like it there.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Amendment to My Position on BB Guns

Hi blog friends! This might be an odd topic on which to return from my blog hiatus. But, you know, I don't know... Right! I've noticed that the more children one has, the less one blogs. Yet, there's so much fodder for blogging during these little years- so much wisdom and nonsense out of the mouth of babes, so many scenarios that are simultaneously pitiful and hilarious, but so little time to collect one's thoughts! I'm living that truth!

A few years ago I wrote a post on what you should avoid if you'd like to maintain the integrity of your eyeballs. I believed that I was qualified to write such a post because at the time I was working as a nurse in an eye surgery center, also Peter is an ophthalmology resident. You can read it here, but the things I mentioned that can wreak havoc on your eyes were: BB guns, bungee cords, and exercise bands.

However, I concede that I stand partially corrected. BBs usually intersect with the ophthalmology world in the form of surgeries required to remove BBs that have been lodged in a person's eye socket. However, recently Peter had a case in which a BB gun was actually instrumental in revealing an eye problem! A small boy had gotten a BB gun. While using it, which necessitates closing one eye to focus on a target with the other, he realized that he had blurriness in one of his eyes- something that he was not aware of when using both eyes, as the clear eye compensated for the blurry one. His mother made an appointment at Peter's clinic, and he was diagnosed with an infection. The infection is treated and now all is well.

So! It appears that you should buy your child a BB gun!* If he gets a BB lodged in his eye, who do you call? An ophthalmologist! If, while using the BB gun, some sort of eye deficit is revealed, who do you call? An ophthalmologist! Your kid gets the Red Ryder BB gun that he's always wanted, he might have an underlying visual problem that the BB gun will help to identify, and Peter gets job security! (And by extension of Peter's job security, I get to continue my non-stop bon bon-eating lifestyle.) Everyone wins!

* I'm totally kidding. Do not get your kid a BB gun. Or, at least, don't do it for the sake of his visual health, but if you want to support Peter's job security, who am I to stand in your way?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thank Goodness for the Piles of Laundry

Truth in blogging: Those piles have been there for days

Since I last washed our cloth diapers on Tuesday, they've been heaped in a pile in the den waiting to be stuffed. Every time I've changed diapers recently I've had to remember to grab one before-hand or run to get one mid-change (not recommended!). But that pile of diapers has encouraged me, because this used to be the norm- running to and fro grabbing various diapers, inserts and wipes, sometimes while Isla lay unwiped on the changing pad. But it's no longer the norm. As I've reflected back on Isla's first year, I see the seasons of ebb and flow in our lives. One year ago we were experiencing the total upheaval that a new baby brings. A lot of it is fuzzy, it's gone by in a blur! I don't know when we fell into a routine, but it did happen, we're in a good one now, and it has been months since I've had a load of diapers laying around for this long! Things will change again, there's no avoiding that. There will be more upheaval and more restructuring, and Lord willing, more restored peace to our days. There may be a season in which the loads of diapers are not only unfolded, and ever-present, but also multiplied by other loads of laundry- towels, clothes, bedding - but for now I'm happy that the unfolded diapers remind me that the overwhelming seasons don't last forever, and that God is unchanging during all the vicissitudes of life. One day the diapers will be gone for good, and I know I'll miss them, or rather, miss the little bottoms that they cover!

Also truth in blogging: This is not photo shopped. She is really that cute.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Isla is One

 One year ago

My baby is one. But she's still so chunky and not yet walking, so she's retaining the title of baby- no additional toddlers here yet!

Isla's interests are stuffing her face with food, and chewing on shoes. I'm thankful to have another good eater on my hands! But, the girl loves shoes. Loves them. Of  course she's not wearing them, she loves to chew on them. Some have commented that her shoe fetish may signal some stereotypical girlishness, but combined with her eating habits, I'm wondering if she's actually revealing herself to be a stereotypical billy goat.

As I've written here before, she has two levels: happiness and sunshine, and murderous rage. She doesn't really fuss, she goes straight to back-arching, head-throwing, bloody murder. THANKFULLY, she spends much, much more time on the happiness and sunshine side of the spectrum. In fact she is overwhelmingly a joy to be around. Everywhere I take her she gets compliments on how good she is. She's good at playing independently, but she also readily smiles and interacts with others. She is a delight, until you take a paper octopus out of her mouth and then she becomes inconsolable for a time. Thankfully, only for a time!

She walks holding on to things, and she stands for quite a while on her own. She's taken a few steps, and just within the last few days,  taken a string of steps together.

She goes to sleep between 7 pm and 8 pm, and usually is awake by about 7 am. She takes a nap at 9:30 am, and 1:30 pm. They both take a nap at 1:30 pm actually, and that is really good for everyone around here!

Um, Isla, you've got something in your teeth there.

Her first word is No. Often the two of us just sit and say "no, no, no" back and forth, for fun, of course. Usually she's going for an outlet, and I say "no, no Isla." She turns to me and repeats "nonononono."
I have noticed her mimicking a lot of sounds, so I wonder if she'll be acquiring more words soon.

Yes, right there between those two bottom ones. 

She is in that fascinating phase where, though she can't talk, she can understand so much. She understands "no" which is evident because she'll often stop doing whatever it is I don't want her to do, but she's often not very pleased about it! She also understands, "take that shoe out of your mouth!" Honestly, of all things she could chew on, she picks shoes?!  When asked, she will clap her hands, hug her doll, and point.

Here's some clapping and saying no:

Here's the two of them, to use John's term, "sharing." John describes this as "sharing Isla's cheerios." Notice he has the bulk of them shoved in his mouth. He particularly loves to "share" when it's someone else food, or toys! 

Isla loves John. They love each other for the most part. There are always many moments throughout the day when their sibling charity is overthrown by their shared desire for the same toy, usually a toy that one wasn't interested in until the other picked it up, but I assume by the time they're in their 30's they'll have worked it all out- you know decided who gets the toy cars and who gets the rattle- without my intervention. 

This year has gone by doubly fast. Each year goes by faster than the last it seems, and at this rate she's going to be 18 in about 6 months. I've enjoyed Isla's first year so thoroughly, more than I expected to. Having seen how quickly the time goes with John, I had more perspective this time around. And compared to the busyness and independence of toddlerhood, babyhood can be so sweet and cuddly, and stationary (I love things that are stationary!). I'm still enjoying her, of course, but more challenges come each day now that she's getting mobile. But with the challenges, fun things come as well! I'm sure she'll have a lot more to say this time next year. Happy Birthday, Isla! We could never have imagined we'd love you so much!