Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Ginger-Ale House

I made my first gingerbread house this past Christmas. I am fifty-seven years old and had never made one, so I decided that would change. I informed my children, who are now 28 and 26,  it is never to late to begin a tradition, and that when they came home from eastern Europe and New York City to stay with me over the holidays, we would be making gingerbread houses….beer included in the mix.

I have been researching gingerbread houses and even have a board on pinterest on the subject. If I was going to create a gingerbread house, I really needed to know what the hell I was doing.

I started by looking at recipes for creating the gingerbread walls and roof for the house and I thought to myself, “Oh, hell no.”  No, this gingerbread house newbie was going to have to buy kits this first year. The thought of mixing and rolling and baking on top of my Christmas cookies and planned dinner was too much for me.

So, I found kits at Walmart. I also started accumulating candy and stuff to put on the gingerbread house. I bought other bases because I wanted to have room to make a yard. I was ready.

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The best part of this was the fact that my kids, now grown, seemed to be excited to put together a gingerbread house. When they were small, I was so busy getting ready for a Christmas Eve sit- down dinner at our house for 25 people, baking cookies and cleaning, that I just never thought about gingerbread house building.  It took us a while to get everything cooked and ready. I even used china and didn’t think about using plastic bowls or plates for salads or desserts until I was just tired of  it all.  So, our gingerbread house building I guess had to wait.

Better late than never.

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My son has been living in the Republic of Georgia and already had plans to alter his gingerbread house. He was thinking of Georgian architecture and went to the kitchen and came back with a knife. He sat, studied, and then began manipulating his walls and roof. He was smiling, so I knew he came up with an idea.

Alex, on the other hand, jumped right in and began icing her walls to the base. She remarked several times she was going to win. Before we started, we decided we would post our houses on my facebook wall and ask my friends to vote on the best gingerbread house. No one would know who built what house. Alex was on a mission to win.

I, on the other hand, was dealt a blow when my gingerbread house was missing the icing bag. Really? Strike one on momma’s house. I tried to improvise by getting a zip lock bag and cutting a hole in one of the corners. Total fail. I made quite the mess.

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We had a lot of fun though.  After Alex spent a lot of the time bragging about how her house was going to win, disaster struck….sort of. She put so many round little balls on her roof, that her roof slid right off the house. It was too heavy. She used a few choice curse words and then just sat and looked at her award winning gingerbread house.

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So, her roof became a side yard. She exclaimed that she was done, but then grabbed a few gingerbread people and started icing them on as the roof. It left a hole in middle. As she finished her bottle of Blue Moon beer, she placed it into the middle of her house and proclaimed her creation, “a ginger-ALE- house.”  Way to recover, young grasshopper.

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Adam, meanwhile, changed the whole thing and created a drive-in. Yes, a drive-in movie theater. I was ready to start calling him Gingerbread Fred as he had pieces of gingerbread lying on the table with no direction in mind. And then it came to him. The result was creative and so very cute.

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I loved his result! It’s a Wonderful Life was even playing at the gingerbread drive-in and the scene where George tells Mary he would lasso the moon for her was on the screen. He had little cars with the speakers by the car and I just loved it.

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So, we were done. I was pretty proud of my first gingerbread house.

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It was a basic house, but I liked how I made the icicles. I also put tootsie rolls as logs.

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Now it was time for the judging. We cleaned off the messy table and lined up the contest entries.

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I then put it on Facebook, where my friends obliged and immediately began voting. People were also guessing who they thought each gingerbread house belonged to. Most of the people thought I made the drive-in, Alex made the cottage, and Adam made the beer hall. It was fun. I won, of course, but  as I got votes for “best workmanship,” the kids both received kudos for being creative.

In the end, our first gingerbread house building was a success, minus my icing fiasco.

I smiled when Adam said he wanted to do it again next year.

Gingerbread Fred will be thinking ahead.

Alex, on the other hand, will probably take a more modest approach and wait until her house is done before bragging.

And I am just happy I had both of my children on the same continent, spending an evening with their mom making memories.

Success.

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S’mores

I have always loved picnics. Since I was the pickiest child on the planet, it was hard for my mom to find something I liked. No problem at a summer picnic, because there was a lot of food for me to put on my thin, wiggly paper plate. I would eat corn on the cob and watermelon. Ta-da. Ok, there were other foods I would eat. I wouldn’t touch the potato salad because whoever heard of putting chopped up potatoes in a whitish mixture ? I could also see little bits and pieces of unidentified food that I knew would take me forever to dig out. But, there was no way I was going to eat potatoes and white stuff in the first place and then call the damn thing a salad. Made no sense to me…potato salad. Give me a break. I saw no lettuce.  There was no way I was going to try that…ever. They did the same thing with macaroni noodles and called it macaroni salad. Macaroni is supposed to be with cheese or with beefaroni (which we called slop in my family.) Sometimes these ladies at the picnics brought the weirdest food.

I liked hamburgers with ketchup, but I would give the guy at the grill a dirty look if he tried to scoot a cheeseburger onto my bun. Um, Mr. Barbecue man, did I say cheese? No…who would ever put cheese on top of a piece of beef? That had to taste terrible. I would eat sliced Velveeta cheese at home and got pretty good with that cheese slicer thingy, but I would never put a slice of that on top of a hamburger. You just can’t mix things like that. So, sometimes I would just skip the hamburger and grab a fresh hot dog bun and put ketchup on it. I loved ketchup sandwiches! And in the end, I didn’t starve and picnics were great.

When our family would stay late at a picnic, usually a campfire would be involved. The adults whittled sticks and would place a hot dog in one hand and slide shove the stick through the middle of the hot dog halfway and would hand them to the kids. The first time I saw this happen, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  What is this for, exactly? Everyone would then move close to the fire to get their hot dog nice and cooked.  Well, ok, but why not just throw them into a pot of  boiling water and be done with it? I didn’t much care for hot dogs on a grill because some of them had black pieces on them. The blackened burned spots would peel off like a scab, but again, it was too much work. And now someone was trying to get me to stick my hot dog in a blazing fire.

The whole problem with a hot dog impaled on a whittle stick was the fact that what if there was a sliver of wood that came off in the hot dog? I would put my hot dog near the flame, just enough to get it warm, and then take the hot dog and stick over to my mom and ask her to take a look at the inside of the hot dog to make sure I wouldn’t get a splinter in my throat. You know that could happen, right? My mom would shoo me away because I guess I already bothered her for most of the day, so I would take a plastic knife and dissect that damn hot dog to see if it was ok to eat. Again, though, this just took too much work, so I would just eye the hot dog bun and put some ketchup on it.

So, this whole  picky Vickie story leads up to the whole problem with s’mores.

S’mores. The word even makes me cringe. I don’t think I saw them until I was in junior high. I was still picky in junior high, but I wanted  to be cool, so I had to pretend I was all about s’mores and not complain like I did when I was at a campfire with my family. The first part of the whole s’more experience was getting that damn marshmallow warmed up and gooey. First of all, I wasn’t a fan of getting gooey fingers. Not going to happen. Oh, sure, I would impale my marshmallow down on the stick after slyly checking the stick for errant splinters. I would hover my marshmallow over the flame for a second and while everyone else was watching their own marshmallow, I took mine off and would eat it. I hated warm marshmallows. I hated melted marshmallows. But, I wanted to fit in with the other kids and if I told them I hated s’mores, then, well, they would hate me and maybe call me “Picky Sticky Vickie” or something.

By the time some of the other kids got their marshmallow off their sticks, I was already by the picnic table grabbing two graham crackers. Thank god I liked graham crackers, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to share them with melted white goo and a hunk of chocolate.  I decided whoever mixed these three food items together for the very first time must have had rocks in their head.

So, it was like this every summer at every picnic I went to. I had to work hard and perfected my s’mores avoidance technique: Put the marshmallow on a stick for like 5 seconds, take it off, pretend it is gooey, go to the table and on the way eat the marshmallow. One time I thought I was being watched, so I made the whole damn thing and then….oops, dropped it on the ground. There is no 3 second rule in the woods or any place with me.  There was no way I was picking it up.

It wasn’t until college  when I was invited to a picnic and offered a stick, that I realized a lie didn’t take much work at all.

“I’m allergic to marshmallows, and you can’t make a s’more without marshmallows.”  Damn, why didn’t I lie earlier. I lied about everything else.

In the past twenty years it has been easier to pass on the s’mores.

“Oh, hell no.”

Feeling Mousey (Part Deux)

 

   I set my alarm for 6:00. I had a hard time getting back to sleep after Ted Bundy delivered my luggage at my door in the middle of the night. So, I hit snooze a couple of times. I hoped to take a quick shower, get some breakfast at the Sassagoula Floatworks Food Court, and hop a bus to Epcot Center. I only had two days at Disney, and decided to head to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I thought they would be best for me, the solo traveler. I had never been to Animal Kingdom, but  I knew from being a Weather Channel dork that the temperatures were supposed to soar to 94F, and there isn’t much shade or inside time at Animal Kingdom. So, I scratched that from my choices. Plus,would zebra poop stink in the heat?  Sorry zebra’s, you were the first animals I thought of. Anywho, off to Epcot I went. But, first, breakfast. I decided to get biscuits and gravy. I tried to behave myself and the eggs, bacon, pancake and sausage platter seemed too much for me. I got under the bus shelter and within 3 minutes a bus going to Epcot pulled up.

 The great thing about Walt Disney World is a thing called Fast Pass. Too freaking bad that I didn’t understand how it worked. Evidently, you can go to a ride and if the queue area is long, you can get a fast pass ticket to come back later. I was going to do that. By the time we got to Epcot, it was almost 9:00am. People are allowed in the park, so far and then you are stopped by Disney folks holding ropes. To hold us back, because people were on a mission. That’s when I first noticed Disney tattoos on people. Real tattoos with Disney stuff. Wow. I had no idea people were so obsessed with Disney. I mean, I know a teacher who has a Disney license personalized license plates. That means she is was the first one in WV who wanted one. How special.

 I didn’t know what the hell I was doing or where I was going. Was I supposed to be in a hurry. I thought maybe I should be. So, I decided to get to Test Tracks first, located on the left side of the map. You’d think that Epcot would be easy. The map is great. Except that the park  is s p r e a d out, making the map quite wrong.  You can’t use the Great Golf Ball spaceship Earth as a focal point because it is circular. You don’t know if you are coming or going. I decided to ask where most people are rushing to. “To Test Tracks.” one replied while looking at me like I didn’t own Disney stock. I guess I need to know where I was going. My bad.

 Well, the ropes dropped and people took off  like a bat out of hell. I walked quickly and it paid off. Well, except that there was a “single rider” line and well, I was right up front in no time. Score one for the loser by herself. The one without a Disney Tinkerbell tattoo. So, I rode Test Track, a roller coaster sort of thing by GM. After the ride, everyone got to see the new cars GM is coming out with. I fancied the new Camaro. But wait, people were rushing off to another ride. Damn. Why didn’t I prep for this journey?

 One thing one should never do is travel to Disney World during Easter. It is about the worst time to go there. So, of course, I go there. Another test, so to speak. Did I have patience to endure long, snaking queues? Could I handle being behind little screaming children who needed to get out of the heat, and perhaps fly back where they came from? Would I hit them? (Well, you just never know) I was lucky there wasn’t much of a line during the first ride. Oh, but that was the end of free time. It was crazy after that.

Ok, lunch time. The place was packed. All the food places were packed. I headed to the Land and ate at the Sunshine Seasons place because they use the foods they grow in their greenhouse as stuff on the menu. I ordered a turkey with monterey Jack cheese on foccacia with chipotle mayonnaise and a side of their potato salad. It was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. That or I was just really hungry. But, it was delicious. It was also the first time that I noticed people looking at me. Ahhh, they finally noticed I was a solo traveler. Well, apparently, if you are by yourself, you really shouldn’t sit at a table that four people can sit at, even if that’s all they have in the whole place. I even told a familyof three they were welcome to sit with me if they wanted to, trying to be nice and all. And the mom said, “Well, are you done?” Uh no, and I have lice. Please sit down.

After taking in as much as I could in Future World, I headed to World Showcase. By this time I was hot and miserable. It was 94F and World Showcase was out in the hot sun for the most part. People took advantage any way they could.

April in Florida. Yikes. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get into World Showcase. I think it was because I was so hot. I got back to the resort at around 9:00. I had pizza and a salad (well, it was like a cup o salad) or more like an ice cream scoop o salad.) I had to walk past a statue of a jester back to my room. He was creeping me out because his eyes look like they are following you. His friend on a stick was creepy too.

 I had a bit of a culture shock my first day at Disney World. I always talk to strangers. I guess it is for all the times when I wasn’t allowed to when I was little. But, I don’t know much Espanol and a majority of the guests at Disney World were Spanish speaking.  A majority for sure. The nicest people were the Japanese, but I couldn’t understand them. I loved the British. They were fun.  I tried to talk to a couple from Scotland, but I couldn’t understand them at all, and they were talking English. I smiled, because I thought how much fun it would be if I broke out in my Appalachian dialect. “I’m so tard.” The Puerto Ricans were not friendly at all.  A bit arrogant. This whole “lost in translation” made me feel, well, …quiet. I can’t be quiet. I never expected this.

I headed to Hollywood Studios on my second and final day. This was by far my favorite. See Feeling Mousey (Part Three)

Candy Cigarettes

When I was growing up in the 60’s, everyone in my neighborhood in Woodland Estates seemed to smoke. Our moms didn’t work, so they hung out in their housecoats, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes. My dad smoked. The mailman smoked. I think the dog probably smoked.   His name was Smokey, after all. Smoke filled the house. The brand of choice was Salem cigarettes. My mom loved her Salems.  I  could see the swirling smoke entering my nose and traveling to my naive lungs.

So, since it was such a part of our upbringing, it was nothing to walk up the path to Leach’s store and buy atomic fireballs, wax juice bottles, candy necklaces, gold mine gum, wax lips, and last but not least, a box of candy cigarettes. We loved walking up that path during the summer. It meant candy.  Lots and lots of candy. Our mothers gladly threw money at us, for that meant they had more time to smoke, drink their Maxwell House coffee and gossip with the other ladies on our block. Well, I can only speak for my own mom, but she would give us money to walk to Leach’s every day during the summer. My sister, Cheryl, wore wax lips home about every day. I remember buying pretzel sticks.  We all would wait until we got home to open our cigarettes. We wanted to be just like our moms. Well, minus the housecoats.

Our candy cigarettes had a pinkish tip, which I guess meant fire. You would get laughed at if you had the wrong end in your mouth. When we puffed on our white candied cigarette, there would be a chalky powder that would emit from the cigarette. It was probably cocaine. I mean, you just never know. It was the 60’s, afterall. Did tobacco companies secretly own these candy cigarette companies?

There are studies out that show that a large percentage of candy cigarette eaters became full-time smokers. I disagree. None of us cigarette eaters became smokers. I think our mothers’ smoking habits turned us off. I just never had the desire to smoke. I would put one in my mouth only to make fun of how my roommate smoked. Other than that, I hated them. Still do.

But, if that is the case, I also bought those bubblegum cigars all of the time. Does that mean I am going to smoke cigars? I bought the big wax lips. Does that mean that I would get BOTOX later? I also ate the gold mine gum. Did that mean I was going to eat money when I grew up?  I mean, seriously.

Kids like to play grown-ups. We put makeup on, high heels, painted our fingernails, and smoked  pretend cigarettes.

You know we are all going to end up with pretend lung cancer.

When Grandpa Falls Asleep

Every parent has a “puke and poop” story about their kids.  You just think that yours tops them all. Well, I don’t think this is the puke story of the century, but it rates.

When my two children were very young, they would head to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for the evening every once in a while. My husband and I had to go to one of his work parties, so my in-laws told us to bring them on over. We picked them up around ten and back to the house we went. I got the kids ready to go to bed, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.

I was awakened by Alex crying out for me, “Mommy!”  I ran into her room, turned on the light. “My tummy hurts real bad.”  I sat on her bed, and she sat up and promptly puked all over herself , the comforter, and me. It was black. I was scared because I had never seen black vomit before. I got her up out of bed, and she threw up again. She did the vomit walk all the way to the bathroom. No sooner than I got Alex to the bathroom, I heard Adam yell for me. “Mommy, I threw up!”

I yelled for my husband to help. Why should he get to sleep? He balked at changing dirty diapers and turned green when he saw blood or vomit. He was generally useless, but I needed help. Adam had at least tried to aim for  his wastepaper basket by his bed, but threw up all over the his nice light grey berber carpet. It was black vomit.

Oh, Dear God, they have some terrible virus, I thought. A black virus. Her carpeting was a very light pink and white berber and I knew I had to scrub fast before it really stained. Alex wanted to try to go back to bed, but as soon as she got in the hall, vomited again. She was a vomit walker. I ran and got the wastebasket in her room for her to hold while I took her bedding off and put new sheets on her bed. I should have just picked them both up and put them in the bathtub so they could just puke in an enclosed area.

I told my husband that their forehead didn’t feel warm. I was ready to rush them to the hospital. I’m telling you that the vomit was jet black. I was stunned. Jet propulsion vomit. Vomit splatter. CSI style. My babies probably had a rare, contagious disease I couldn’t pronounce.

Jay just looked at me and said, “They smell like oreo cookies.”

What?  Oreo cookies? That couldn’t be. How could kids vomit so much blackness from just an oreo cookie or two. “Well, that is probably the last thing they ate.” I replied. Then I thought that Grandpa probably gave them a couple cookies late, but that shouldn’t make them vomit, for goodness sake. I was pretty strict with the junk food. I never gave them pop and I limited their cookie eating every day. No, they must have that rare, 5-syllable disease I was thinking of before.

So, my husband started the  questioning. “Adam, did you and Alex eat oreo cookies at Grandpa’s?”

He nodded. “We had oreo cookies and root beer.”

“How many cookies do you think you ate?” my husband asked.

“Like 2 bags.” Adam said and then threw up again. I can’t stress the blackness enough.

I looked at Adam like he had three eyes. “You mean 2 cookies, right?”  And that’s when Alex chirped in. “Grandpa put the bag of Oreo’s on the table and gave us a Root Beer.”

“He let you eat more than 1 or 2?” I asked, my blood pressure slowly rising.

“Grandpa fell asleep in his chair. We ate the first bag. It didn’t have many cookies in it, and we threw it away.  He woke up and Adam told him we were out of Oreo cookies. So, he got us another bag. And poured us some more root beer.” Alex noted in detail.

Adam added, ” So, when he fell asleep again, we ate  the second bag.”  He looked at me like it was no big deal.

“YOU ATE A WHOLE BAG OF OREO COOKIES?…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I was ready to call my in-laws. I didnt’ care that it was 1:00a.m. My kids shared  more than a bag of Oreo cookies and had several cans of Root beer each. I was beyond furious.

“Mommy, it wasn’t Grandpa’s fault. He was sleeping.”   Yeah, that makes it better.

I scrubbed the vomit walk in both bedrooms and the hallway. I changed the sheets on their beds and put blankets on top of their sheets since their comforters were caressed with Oreo upchuck.

Yes, Oreo upchuck. That’s what I called it. Like it was an episode on tv- Oreo Upchuck, brought to you by Tide, when your whites can’t get white enough. When your children spew black Oreos on their pajamas. Let Tide bring the color back to life.

Needless to say, Oreo cookies could not be brought into my home. You couldn’t even say “Oreo cookies”, unless you wanted to see my death stare.

I still hate Oreo cookies. Not too fond of Root Beer either.

Old Wive’s Tales

I have a sore throat.  It made me think of homemade remedies. Which made me think of old wive’s tales,

which made me think…I wonder how many were made up out of spite? I mean, if I didn’t like someone, couldn’t I easily make up something that would be funny, and not work?

For example, let’s say a friend who really isn’t my friend tells me  that they were going to the beach. I could say, “Don’t forget to pack some glue…..in case you get stung by a jellyfish. Pour glue on it and then rub it in with sand.”   And then add, “I read about it on the internet.”  And if you don’t lie, write it on your blog, read it, and then it isn’t a lie.You did read it on the internet.  There are all ways to cover yourself from going to hell.

Years ago, people didn’t have the communication options that we now have. They lived far apart from each other and had to travel a long way to get to town. You had to make due with what you had on your homestead. So, if  you got injured or sick, let’s say, burned, you  just went and stood in the backyard, and thought, “hmmmmm, what to do, what to do…” and then  you would grabbed some butter from your cold storage place and rubbed it on a burn. Actually, placing butter or similar greasy ointments directly on a burn is counterproductive since it can seal in the heat. People used plants like purple cone flower and herbs to help. Trial and error. Someone had to be the first to try it. I always wondered about the first person who drank milk..”See that cow over yonder…I think what I am going to do……”  Yuck.

My mom used to tell me things all of the time. I am sure they were passed down from her mother, and so on and so on. Momisms..I have used a few myself. But, not the ones my mom used.  Here are some of the Old Wives Tales  my mom used to tell me…

1. “Quit cracking your knuckles. You will get arthritis like Grandma.”- Well, hell, Grandma’s fingers went every which way but they way there were supposed to. I could stare at her fingers forever. Well, not forever, because that would be stupid, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of those fingers. There were like bird claws. She was in pain alot. That’s why she took her “medicine.” Yeah, Grandma was a regular Granny Clampett. For real. I did ask her one time, “Grandma, did you crack your knuckles when you were little?” She replied, “Why do you ask me that, Vickie?”  Well, hell, Grandma, take a look at your knuckles… I really wanted to know if her toes looked like that. She did walk weird…

2. “Don’t sit on the cold cement. You’ll get hemorrhoids.”- We didnt even ask what those were when we were little. I thought they were butt boils, but kept that to myself.

3. “Wash behind your ears or you’ll grow potatoes back there.”- I mean, seriously?  Like I was going to fall for that one. Who the hell made that one up?

4. “Quit wrinkling up your nose. It will stick like that for the rest of your life.”- Ok, that only happened once…on an episode of the Twilight Zone. I always wrinkled up my nose. I was a picky eater, so that went hand in hand with, “Vickie, eat your carrots…..Quit wrinkling up your nose, it will stick like that for the rest of your life…..What do you mean, name one person?……Vickie, eat your carrots…..I can think of plenty of  people whose faces have stuck……..Well, Reverend Harold for one.”  Ok, I almost believed her then, but what I didn’t know is that Reverend Harold had a stroke, so every thing on one side of his face drooped. Harsh.

5. “Don’t swallow your gum. It will stick in your stomach.” -Well, I think it would be wrong if you shoved 5 pieces of bubble gum in your mouth and then swallowed it. You are just asking to choke and die. But, my mom said that gum stays in your stomach for 7 years, so if you keep swallowing it, your stomach will stick out. And then she added..like a Biafran baby. Well, I knew what a biafran baby looked like..we had the National Geographic in our house. That would be sooo politically incorrect nowadays. But, that’s mom for ya!

 

6. “Don’t so close to the tv. You will go blind.” Sometimes she would change this to “Don’t sit so close, you will go cross-eyed.” -Uh, wrong Mom…I could see going to school on a Monday with glasses and a cane. “Awww, poor Vickie, she must have been sitting close to the tv.” But, we liked sitting close to the tv while watching Casper and Romper Room. We didn’t have color..Just static from the rabbit ear antennae.

7. “Put that toad outside! It will give your warts!”- I was always bringing critters into the house. It was nothing to bring home salamanders, lizards, or baby bunnies on any given summer afternoon.  She always told me I was going to get warts. I never did. Well, I had planters warts on the bottom of my foot. I guess she would say that is from walking barefoot where toads hopped..

8.” You have to wait a 1/2 hour to get back in the pool or you will die!”  We heard that one all of the time. Like we were going to jump right back into the pool and do 50 laps. Come on!   We splash and yell, “Hey, Mommy, look.” We are not going to get cramps. Other kids were able to go swimming. Not the Mendenhall kids. We sat out, with our towels wrapped around us, watching the big clock on the pool house wall. I didn’t understand. “Mom, why can’t we go back into the pool?”  “Vickie, do you want to die? Do you?”

I enjoy reading Old Wive’s Tales. They are amusing and possibly painful.  So, the next time your kid swallows 7 pieces of bubble gum,…..

Get ready to do the Heimlich Manuever..

The Pistachio Nut

When I was little, I was allergic to Mohair and bee stings. I was a tiny, fragile thing, probably no bigger than a chihuahua. I had an intense love of animals and had my first experience going into anaphylatic shock after putting a wasp to my cheek after I accidentally stepped on it with my shoe. The poor thing was half-dead, so I picked it up to console it.  It promptly  perked up and stung me. Yeah, I wasn’t too smart. I was rushed to the hospital.

Fast forward many years. My family is hanging out in the kitchen, chowing down on some food. I know it was around Christmas, but I can’t remember how old my son was when this happened. I am pretty sure he was 8 or nine. He looked at me and held his hand to his throat. He was able to talk, so we knew he wasn’t choking. He said something was stuck in his throat. My father-in-law had a sliver of a fish bone stuck in his throat one time, so I was thinking whatever it was needed to be dislodged. Drinking water didn’t help.

Einstein here decided that he should try to swallow a small piece of bread to see if he could dislodge the item stuck in his throat. That didn’t work either. I decided not to mess around and got my shoes on and told my husband I was going to take him to the emergency room.  “Why you taking him to the hospital?”  He asked. Mother’s intuition. Something was not right.

On the way to the emergency room, I asked him to tell me everything he had eaten. The last thing he said before he mentioned that he was having a hard time breathing were the words, pistachio nuts. Uh Oh!   My heart raced. Oh shit….I felt my foot press harder on the accelerator. My son was having an allergic reaction to pistachio nuts.

Yeah, took me a while to figure that one out. And here I was, trying to get him to eat bread. Sheesh. So, after sitting at 2 hospitals (the first one didn’t see us as quickly as I wanted) and a shot of epenephrine or something, we came home with a diagnosis. Adam was deathly allergic to pistachio nuts.

Hundreds of people have died from a severe reaction to peanuts. It made me a very nervous mother.

We did pretty well watching what Adam ate when he was growing up and it wasn’t until he was 18 that he had his second attack. We were all sitting at a wedding reception near the table with the mounds of dessert. Adam remarked that he must have eaten something with pistachio in it, because his throat was closing in. Thank goodness we were about 2 minutes from the hospital. My husband decided to drive him. After all, he drove like Mr. Magoo and could get there quicker. The only thing I said as they left was, “Make sure they give him a shot of epinephrine.”

They weren’t gone very long and we hopped back into the car for the ride home. I was mad because they didn’t give Adam a shot or anything. The only thing they gave him was a pepcid for an upset stomach. We were pulling into the driveway when Adam said he didn’t feel well and his voice sounded gurgly. “Oh my God, he is going into anaphylatic shock, damnit.”  We jumped out of the car and my husband raced Adam back to the hospital. They had to put him in ICU under oxygen and shots to settle it down. I was so mad at the hospital for giving him a pepcid and sending him home. What a crazy place. He could have died. Can you believe the hospital charged me twice? After threatening a law suit, they took off the second bill.

Adam didn’t have anymore episodes. I was nervous when he told us he was going to study abroad in Morocco for 6 months. I had him go to the doctor to get a prescription for an epi-pen. When he landed in Morocco, the custom people didn’t understand what this strange thing was. Adam performed sharades for the people, and I guess they understood what it was for.

Adam had to spend Thanksgiving Day away from home. It was nice, though, because the university people in Ifrain cooked up a great turkey dinner for the Americans who were studying there. Adam was excited, because he was hungry for some American grub. When they brought out the turkey, it was smothered with a pistachio paste of some sort. Adam couldn’t eat any of it.

Adam is 25 now and has stayed away from all things pistachio.

And I stay away from that stupid hospital… Giving a person a pepcid and sending them on their merry way….

That’s just nuts….

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