Author Archives: Meli

Apple Cider Vinegar – Just Like Windex

I loved the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Way back when, I thought it was hilariously funny. And now I swear I am working with one of the characters from the movie; the dad, only my coworker is female and younger. In the movie, the dad had this fixation on Windex. Whenever anything went wrong, he was certain Windex could fix it. And my coworker is the same way. Only her fixation is not Windex, it is on apple cider vinegar. I swear any time I mention an ailment or inconvenience, her solution is apple cider vinegar.

My conversations with her go something like this:

I have a headache – use apple cider vinegar

I have a clogged shower head – use apple cider vinegar

I haven’t been sleeping well – use apple cider vinegar

I have baked on grease on my cookie sheets – use apple cider vinegar

I have killer crampsuse apple cider vinegar

I have thinning hair – use apple cider vinegar

I forgot to put on deodorant – use apple cider vinegar

I need to lose some weight – use apple cider vinegar

When it comes to her, every problem has one simple solution; apple cider vinegar. No matter what the topic of discussion is, I know what the response will be and even though it is funny, I never really took her seriously. I am sure apple cider vinegar is good for some things, I don’t believe it is the cure all she claims it to be.

Until now.

I went to get some of the lotions the dermatologist recommended for Maks’ Keratosis Pilaris and ended up speaking with the pharmacist about some natural options to treating Maks’ skin. She even suggested apple cider vinegar scrub in lieu of the lotion I went in to get. According to her, she has seen better results in children when an apple cider vinegar scrub is used instead of the Salic acid solution.

So I am jumping on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon. (My coworker would be proud) I have put together a brown sugar apple cider vinegar scrub for Maks to try out. The hardest part of the scrub was finding the organic apple cider vinegar with “mother”*. I use apple cider vinegar when I make pasta salad but apparently, I couldn’t use the same kind of vinegar for the scrub because it is not organic. Organic apple cider vinegar with mother wasn’t something I could find at my local Walmart. After some searching, I ended up finding the vinegar at a local bulk food / health food store.

Then came scrub assembly. It is a super easy recipe; equal parts brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. Voila! You have a scrub to combat Keratosis Pilaris. I was super excited to try it out and so was Maks until he got into the same room as the concoction and smelt it. The scrub smells horrible. According to Millhouse the vinegar smells like fart, Maks says it smells like feet and Mats says it smells like farty feet. It really is an awful smell and Maks was put off when I told him it would have to be rubbed onto his skin. He was a trooper about it. He plugged his nose and used it last night. So far, nothing has changed with his skin and I really didn’t expect it to after the first application. We are going to try it out every other day for the next couple of weeks and see what happens. If there is no change then I will head back to the pharmacy and just pick up the topical ointment I went there to get in the first place.

*mother is the important part of the vinegar. It is a specific molecule chain that makes the vinegar cloudy and effective.

Keratosis Pilaris

Ever since he was born, Maks has had these little bumps all over his arms, torso and parts of his legs. In the summer, the bumps even spread to his cheeks and forehead. They don’t change shape, itch or ooze anything. They just seem to exist as part of his skin.

As an overanxious first time mother, I took him to the doctor and was told the bumps were perfectly normal and they would eventually go away on their own, I was not to worry. But after about a year the bumps were still there so it was back to the doctor we went. The second visit to the doctor was during the height of summer, the bumps were clearly visible on his flushed face, so much so they made the doctor take notice. This visit proved more productive than the first and it resulted in Maks being diagnosed as allergic to sun screen. We were told to use sunscreen sparingly on his body and not at all on his face.

OK, that’s a start. But not using sunscreen didn’t prevent the bumps. In fact, even when no sunscreen was used, Maks still had the bumps and he was starting to get self-conscious about them. The other kids were starting to notice them and the obnoxious ones started to make fun of him and his bumps. So it was back to the doctor we went and went and went over several years. Each visit resulted in being told that what Maks had was normal and he would eventually outgrow it. I was never actually told what the bumps were or if there was anything, I could do to them. After many visits, I convinced the doctor to refer Maks to a dermatologist, at least that way we could get a second opinion and some sort of formal diagnosis as to what the bumps were.

We waited close to six months before Maks could get in to see the dermatologist. The dermatologist ended up telling us more than our family doctor did though. Maks has Keratosis Pilaris; a common skin condition. The bumps are supposed to start in your teens and eventually disappear by the time you are 30. Maks is one of the few kids who got it before he hit puberty. While there is no cure for Keratosis Pilaris, there are loads of treatments. Most of them are topical solutions made up of Salic acid you apply right to the bumps. These solutions help to get rid of the bumps, and in some cases, the bumps disappear altogether. All of the ointments were available over the counter. None of them required a prescription. And the best part? The ointments could be used on kids as young as two. So Maks would totally be able to try some of the treatments and hopefully find one that worked for him. With summer coming up this is great news.

Yay for progress!

Say No To Flash Cards

At the meeting with Mats teachers, they suggested some ways to incorporate word games into Mats daily life. It is to help him recognize letters and numbers and encourage him to write them in the right order and direction. They didn’t recommend flash cards because they didn’t feel Mats would respond well to having letters flashed in front of his face. Mats teachers wanted me to get creative when it came to word games because Mats tends to get bored so easily and trying to cram in a list of words into a short period just won’t work.

They gave me a lot of suggestions and I picked a few to start out with. We started playing the games almost right away and I have found that both boys have benefitted. I can adapt either game into French and English and for Maks, I have even started incorporating math into the games.

Here are two of their favourites. These work really well for either English or French, not so much for math.

Memory:

This one seems obvious but it never occurred to me to give it a try until Mats teachers suggested it. To make the game I repurposed some old business cards. I flipped the cards over to the blank side and wrote out one word on the back of each card. Then I wrote out the entire list again on another set of business cards so there were two pairs of each word. When we play, I pick out 4 to 10 pairs of words and mix them all up. Then I lay the cards, word side down, on a table and the search for matches begins. All the participants have the say the word they flip over and when they make a match. If Mats doesn’t recognize the word, then we spend some extra time sounding out the letters but otherwise the game moves along quickly. Both boys are competitive and they each want to find the most matches so it is in Mats best interest to learn the words as fast as he can so he can beat his brother.

Lego Blocks:

This one requires a large amount of Legos, which I have stored in what feels like a bazillion boxes all over my house. The Lego blocks take a while to set up but once it is all put together, Mats can spend some quiet time putting them together. You use one long piece of Lego for the entire word then Mats has to put the word together using smaller pieces of Lego. It’s a Lego word puzzle. It helps Mats learn to sound out letters and put words together but he can also work on family words. This game best suits his personality, he gets to put things together and he gets some quiet time. Both of those things are important to him.

So far, I see the games helping Mats. He is getting better, the backwards letters and numbers are still there but they are getting to be less frequent. I am hoping this gives him a more exciting perspective on reading and writing.

Hello April!

So far, no snow!  Hooray!

I am in full spring cleaning mode.  I am slowly decluttering the house.  My pack rat ways are finally starting to catch up with me and that needs to be change.  So I actually throwing away stuff this time around.  I mean I kept a audio technica turntable at Guitar Center .  Who does that?!  I do, I guess.

But not anymore.  I am going to become a minimalist.  Or at least try to be.

Excelling with difficulty

At the beginning of the month, Mats teachers called Millhouse and I in for a parent/teacher interview. They had some things they wanted to discuss with us about the way Mats was progressing.

Before I go on, I should be clear on something, when it comes to formal education Mats has been able to adapt and thrive faster than his brother ever did. Maks took several years before he became comfortable with the elementary school curriculum. He and I spent many nights working through his difficulties and he is now very comfortable with learning in a school environment. There are still some times when we do need to step up the work he and I do at home but for the most part, he is doing leaps and bounds better than he was.

With all that being said, Mats has never had the difficulties his brother had. In fact, he is the opposite. He has always excelled so getting a call from the teachers asking us to come wasn’t something we expected. We ended up arranging to meet Mats teachers after school on a Friday. They were super nice but they presented a very unique situation. Mats is displaying all the signs of a gifted child. He is excelling in just about every subject, orally, but when it comes to the written word, he is far below where he needs to be. This isn’t something new to me. I have been noticing Mats writes his words as the mirror image of what he sees. It is not just backwards words and numbers, the entire words are a reflection of what is written in front of him. His teachers suspect that along with being gifted, Mats also has a learning disability. According to them, it is not uncommon for a gifted child to also have learning difficulties especially given Mats medical background*.

Now Mats is still really young and his troubles could go away in time. His teachers were quick to say there is a possibility he does not have a learning disability, he could just be bored and is not applying himself. He could be writing mirror images because writing the words as he sees them could be too boring. They want to wait until the summer before they test him. They have suggested some things I can do at home to see if it helps him improve and if he moves up by June, they will forego the testing. However, if he only makes a small amount of progress, then they will go ahead with the testing and make a plan on how to proceed next year.

Mats is also aware there is something going on. Since the meeting with his teachers, he has been trying harder. The mirror image words and numbers are still there but he is trying very hard to write what is written in front of him, some times are easier than others. He doesn’t know exactly what his teachers said but he is trying his best.

I’ll let you know what happens in June.

*When I pregnant with Mats, I was told there would be a 1 in 4 chance Mats would have Downs Syndrome or some sort of delay. Things weren’t developing as it should and as a result, I should expect Mats to experience some difficulties that most other children don’t experience.

More Snow!!

There is more snow in the forecast! I really thought we were done with all this snow stuff. I had plans for spring cleaning. I need to go through the garage. I wanted to put the odds and ends together for a garage sale. I mean between the pillar candles, Musicians Friend’s remo drums , paintings, and linens; I think I could put together a pretty impressive garage sale.

But I can’t do that if it’s snowing!

Sugar Makes Me Nauseous

A couple months ago, I completely cut sugar out of my diet. And I am not just talking about refined sugar here, I am talking about everything. No sweet things of any kind, no bread, no ketchup or prepared sauces of any kind, no pop, and no juice; nothing with sugar in it at all and there are a lot of things in which some sort of sugar is added. Case in point; did you know most Asian dishes, including Thai curries and sushi, have sugar added? Well, they do. And because of the hidden sugars in things, most prepared and fast foods were cut out too. Just about everything I loved was cut out, pretty much cold turkey. The first month was hard. I am not going to play it off like cutting out sugar was super easy to do, it wasn’t. It was hard. I got physically sick. I had aches right down into my bones, it was some of the worst withdrawal symptoms* I have ever gone through. I also had to start reading labels. Reading labels isn’t fun. People in the grocery store look at you like you are crazy. You take up space in the aisles, comparing products trying to find the ones that best adhere to your nutritional needs. And spoiler alert; a lot of products don’t conform to your nutritional needs.

But I made it through and things started to look up. In general, I started to feel better, my skin got clearer, and I started to lose weight. I got better at figuring out what I could and could not eat and reading labels got easier. All in all, good things started happening and I maintained my no sugar routine for almost three months. There were times when I would fall off and have something with like sticky toffee pudding or a macchiato from Starbucks but for the most part, I kept on track.

Then Trinidad happened and I completely feel off the wagon. I ate everything and anything I could get my hands on. My level of outright gluttony was not pretty. I didn’t gain a lot of weight but I threw my body for a loop and it has taken me a whole lot of time to recover. When I got back, I didn’t go back to eating sugar free right away. I wanted to take some time off, just be a lazy butt for a bit, and just eat what I wanted.

Such a bad idea!! Bad, bad, bad idea!

My body wasn’t having it and it started to make its displeasure known, quite vocally. I can’t eat sugar now, even if I wanted to. When I do, I get physically ill. My stomach starts to hurt to the point where I cannot stand up. I get insane bouts of nausea. It is so bad, I was laid up in bed for almost an entire weekend because I ate a whole bag of BBQ potato chips**. It was horrible. So I am back to no sugar at all. The only sucky part is I ended up going through all the withdrawal symptoms again. They weren’t so bad this time around but they were far from pleasant.

I did learn my lesson though. Sugar is bad and if I forget, my body will remind me.

*I haven’t really gone through withdrawal symptoms, not major ones anyway. There were times when I gave up caffeine and nearly exploded. I am comparing those times to this time.

**yes, I realize a whole bag of BBQ potato chips is excessive but remember I was being a glutton.

The Pros and Cons of Gym Membership

Turns out, I get a corporate discount on an executive gym membership. It’s a good deal and everything is included for myself plus up to four “family” members. So if you were in the market for a gym membership this would be good for you. Now here’s the thing, in theory I want to join the gym. It would be nice to actually attend classes with other adults, have access to a sauna and go swimming regularly. All those things resonate with me. Then there is the reality of the situation. I am exhausted most days and doubt I will actually have/make time to dedicate an hour or more at the gym. And then there are the added costs.

It seems like an easy decision, right. It’s not though. I am torn about what I want to do. So I made a list, which seems kind of ridiculous but seeing it all laid out makes the decision easier.

PROS:

  • There’s a pool. I have been wanting to start swimming again for a long time.
  • There are some cool classes I can attend; things like crossfit and body sculpt.
  • Up to four other family members can join and get the same discount as I do.
  • There are babysitting services.
  • There are things like whirlpools, suanas, and weight equipment I don’t have at home.
  • Summer is coming and I can build my summer body.

CONS:

  • It works out to more than $600 a year. That’s a lot of money that I could use towards something else.
  • If Millhouse joins, then that is over $1200 that can be used towards something else.
  • Summer is coming and we are so busy in the summer going on all sorts of adventures, I know I would not, realistically, give up time with the boys to go to the gym.
  • My days are so strapped for time; if I wanted to go before work, I would have to leave the house at 6am in order to make it to the gym and then to work on time but Millhouse doesn’t get home from work until 6:30am. So that schedule won’t work. If I wanted to go after work, I would have to leave work at exactly 4:30pm, get to the gym at 5pm, workout for an hour and then get home just as Millhouse is leaving for work. That means no dinner, homework, or bath time with the boys. So that schedule won’t work.

Le sigh. I can’t join the gym. Even though there are more pros than cons, the cons carry more weight than the pros.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Exhausted Meli is Exhausted

Alternate title was Daylight Savings + March Break = I’m dying

Last week I was exhausted. Like, come home and collapse kind of exhausted but then when I went to sleep I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t pretty.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Nothing in my routine had really changed. I was still getting up at the same time, doing the same sort of tasks in the morning, and going to bed at the same time but by the time 3pm came around, I was done for.

I knew March Break couldn’t have knocked me on my butt that hard. I am a stickler for routine and March Break threw off my routine a bit but it wasn’t anything major. I mean I don’t have to get the boys ready for school but I still have to get them ready for camp so the morning hustle remains the same.

And then I realized what it was.

It was March Break plus daylight savings that had me all messed up. I can handle one or the other but when you combine the two of them, then things get out of hand. I was never happier to see a Friday night than I was last Friday. I even slept in until 7:30am on Saturday. A 7:30am sleep in is huge for me, especially given I am up at 5am most mornings. The extra two and a half hours felt amazing.

And now that things are back to the regular schedule, I am even happier. I don’t get to sleep in during the week but my body will adapt even more now and hopefully I am not so tired anymore.