Thursday, February 17, 2011

West Coast Serendipity

So far, while the benefits of The Boy's new job have been numerous, the benefits of his traveling for said job have not.  Mostly, for the three of us left at home, it has made things much harder. While I have the odd moment of mothering greatness, I hear myself getting impatient with the girls more often than I'm comfortable with. I am tired of working. I am tired of turning down jobs at work while bringing up my personal life again. I am tired of drawing attention to myself.  And, really, I'm just tired. I don't sleep well when he's away, staying up way too late (like I am now) for no good reason.

I mention this because this month is particularly bad.  This week and next, six days away, one night home, seven more days away.  Now, of course I know there are plenty of people who have it much harder than this.  I never intend to compare my life to that of actual single mothers or military families-- I know that's a whole other thing.  But this is new for me, and it's not what I'd prefer.  And even though it's not the hardest thing, it is still hard.

The second leg of three in this trip is four days in Anaheim at a conference where both my parents and my sister will also be.  We wondered if we could make it work for the girls and me to tag along. We could pay for half of the airfare with points, and then would really only need incidentals for the girls and me, the things that were not expressly for The Boy.  It was a small amount considering it was a cross-country trip, but we are in the midst of planning our anniversary trip and dealing with other financial challenges.

As I drove on the day the trip would need to be booked, I prayed a strange prayer. "Lord, if we're meant to go, please just let me find the money."  I don't really know what I meant, but I know I didn't mean "let me find it in our budget."  I was not comfortable with the idea of spending the money.  I never pray like this, but I meant something along the lines of winning a contest or a corrected bank error-- something I didn't have the creativity to imagine.  I really didn't think we were going to go.

Not 20 minutes later, visiting with a dear family friend, I mentioned we were debating the trip.  "Why wouldn't you go?" she asked.

"We're just not sure it's the best way to spend the money," I said casually.  I don't like talking about money, and this friend and I talk about many things, but that's not one of them.  As I gathered our things to go, she told me she wanted me to go to California.

"How much does the ticket cost?" she asked.

"About $300," I said, "so we'll see."

"I want you to go," she repeated, and she handed me $300 in cash.  She would not let me refuse, though I tried, dumbfounded, several times.

I called The Boy and told him to book the trip.  We had been toying with the idea of taking Mirabella to see Disney Princesses on Ice, so when we asked if she wanted to see the princesses, she thought that's what we meant.  "No, Mira," I said, "do you want to see them at their house?"  We showed her videos on Disneyland's website.

"Ohmygoodness...." she said lowly-- she could not believe such a place existed.  So we are excited to go, if for no other reason, to be somewhere we've never been and to be sleeping in the same place.  I am far less excited about a six-hour flight with a squirmy and screechy one-year-old who is inconveniently getting her canines. I'm thinking of wearing a shirt that reads "I'm sorry."

We are grateful for unexpected time together. I feel so loved-- because of our friend's generosity, for sure-- but also because God heard my ridiculous prayer and chose to bless us in this way. I'm grateful for the trip and the accompanying peace I have about it.  Now I just hope some of that peace rubs off on Emerie.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She Uses Vaseline

On the same day Mirabella emerged from her nap sporting full hand and foot tattoos,
I struggled to zip up the dress I had bought for my brother's wedding last summer while Mirabella watched. It still had the tags on it-- it hadn't fit when I needed it. Now, facing a Valentine's dinner The Boy had cooked several days early, since he would be away the entire week of the actual made-up holiday, I thought I'd try to make it special. I felt a little like ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag, but I went for it.
"Oh, you look beautiful, Mommy," Mirabella gushed, "Daddy gonna love it." I finally got her to bed and descended to china and candles and my favorite Spanish wine. I was proud of us-- we weren't just finding time for romance, I thought, we were forcing it. As we finished eating, we heard noises from upstairs. The Boy ran up to check, then right back down.

"Okay, you choose-- dishes or your daughter." And, back to our reality.

"Which daughter and what's wrong with her?" I asked.

"Mirabella, and I can't even-- you just have to see it. She put Vaseline all over herself. She is shiny."

"Whatever, it can't be that bad," I said. I made it within two stairs of her room before I collapsed in laughter.
"Mirabella! What happened?" I said.

She would not meet my eyes. "Well, I had to get up to go potty, then I had to go potty a-gain."

"That's not what I'm talking about. What happened to your hair?"

"Oh, that?" She said, nonchalantly, "That's just my hair lotion."
Her hair lotion was half a tub of Vaseline. It was also all over her body and her dollhouse family. I did not even know where to begin. It took a while to stop laughing, but as soon as I realized just how un-water soluble Vaseline is, it stopped being funny. I tried to wash it out, and the water just beaded up. The tub looked like an oil slick. I knew I needed something to absorb the oil, so I grabbed baking soda, but it didn't work at all. I ran down the stairs where The Boy was washing dishes and still chuckling, "To the cloud," I said, and Googled "Vaseline remove from hair." There were thousands of results, some as specific as "how to remove Vaseline from a toddler's hair." Based on my findings, I tried corn starch, Dawn dish liquid, and baking powder, but nothing worked.
After 11PM I posted my dilemma on Facebook: "So, let's say your three-year-old used half a jar of Vaseline on her head as "hair lotion" while she was allegedly in bed and you were having a candlelit Valentine's Day dinner with your spouse...what would you use to get it out? Hypothetically?" I had nearly 30 responses, like, "hypothetically, I want pictures." The most serious came from my friend Alex, who earned a Chemical Engineering undergraduate degree. He spoke of emulsifiers and organic solvents and said, "I guess paint thinner or xylene is out of the question?" How to remove the Vaseline without using harsh chemicals on her head?

Some people asked if she was punished. Watching her shiver in the bath that night as I washed her hair more than ten times, hours after her bed time, changing the water so frequently we ran out of hot water, I thought it was probably punishment enough.

"When we make choices, there are consequences, Mirabella," I said, "good ones or bad ones. You have to have your hair washed a bunch of times because that's the consequence of putting Vaseline in your hair. Do you think that was a good choice?"

"No, Mommy. This is NOT a fun bath," she pouted. "But now do you want to talk about how I pee peed in the potty?"

The Boy said, "If she still looks like John Travolta in the morning, I am not taking her to church."

The next day we used the sprayer in the kitchen sink, and her daddy got involved. The baking powder worked better than anything so far, but we were still embarrassed to take her out of the house. She wore pigtails to the store that night where I got plant-based Goo Gone and clarifying shampoo. Alas, greasy pigtails again on Monday.

I read the strangest variety of remedies. People tried Coke, baby oil, and even kerosene. I drew the line at putting gasoline on my kid's head, and was reluctant to try baby oil for fear it would get worse. Also, I didn't have any. My dad thought vegetable oil might be an okay stand in. It was not. Pigtail knots to day care on Tuesday.

I finally broke down and made another trip to the store for Goop. I was hopeful. That night , my sister-in-law came over to help with the kids and offered to wash Mirabella's hair again while I did some work. She lathered the Goop on dry hair and let it sit.
After 5-10 minutes, Mirabella complained it was hurting her head, and we panicked and washed it out. I was already lining up my next moves. Glycerine soap? Or the dreaded baby oil? But then she emerged with dry hair that actually looked dry.
Success! I told Alex, "I'm not sure how much a Chemical Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon costs, but I submit it was worth every penny. A canister of Goop - $1.67. Getting the Vaseline out of my toddler's hair after 4 days - priceless." Alex, a former Naval Officer and current almost attorney said it's about the only practical application he's found for his degree. I'm glad I could help.

If you found this blog while looking for Vaseline removal remedies, you have my empathy and my advice to RUN to your nearest WalMart or hardware store to buy Goop. Try it first, really! Save yourself the pain and days of excessive hair washing! Be sure to apply it to dry hair, let it sit, then wash it out (we used clarifying shampoo). Happy parenting...
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