Monday, February 28, 2011

I spent 48 hours at Disney World as part of the retreat and since this was a working trip, I didn’t bring my kids. In fact, they weren’t invited, and even had they been, one kid is in college, one was skiing with friends and the youngest was on a bar/bat mitzvah trip to Israel.

But still, every time I go away for business, I go through a bit of an exit strategy. So if I were abducted by Martians, these are things my kids would miss:

Dinner. I cook dinner most nights, and try to make double what we need for favorite meals. Then I can freeze half, or we can eat it later in the week, and I only had to cook once.

Dessert. I’ve been baking since I was a kid, and one of the tricks my mother-in-law taught me was to freeze cookies or brownies. Whenever I go away, I leave a batch of peanut butter brownies in the freezer for a treat.

Bread. Over a year ago, I started a sourdough starter, and I’ve been baking bread regularly. I’ve got it down so I can mix a dough in just a few minutes, let the starter work its magic for a few hours, then do the next step when I have time. Although the quality of the bread degrades in the freezer, I leave a couple of loaves for the kids (and my husband) for lunches.

Math homework. I am the math expert in the family, and have had to explain corresponding angles and differential equations over the phone.

Shoes. My three daughters all wear the same size shoes as I do, so we trade footwear. When I go away, I sometimes take shoes that they want with me. When I go south in winter, I leave my boots home for the jackals to pick through.

Humor. We love to laugh in my family, and my kids definitely miss my warped sense of humor.

Compassion. One of my worst trips was when my youngest daughter, who was 5 at the time, had an accident. I was on a plane from Los Angeles and when I turned on my phone at JFK, I had an increasingly sadder series of messages from her.
Estrogen. Try as he might, my husband just doesn’t get it sometimes. When one of the kids has cramps or wants to rant about her period, I am there for her.

But since my kids are teens, and I rarely go away for more than a few days without them, they can handle me being away, reachable by phone, text and email. And when I am away from them, I can enjoy:

Sleep. Our bedroom is a floor below the girls’ bedrooms and we hear every floor creak, toilet flush and late night phone call.

A break from fights. As I said, it’s an estrogen -laden household. Maybe the Martians are interested in three teenage girls?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Disney Mars Needs MomsMars Needs Moms Trailer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegetarian in Vietnam

Ok, I haven’t actually been to Vietnam, but Hanco’s, in Cobble Hill and Park Slope, has Vietnamese sandwiches in three vegetarian varieties.

The traditional Vietnamese sandwich, banh mi, combines ground pork, ham, and pâté on a toasted baguette with cilantro, carrots, and daikon radish. At Hanco, the vegetarian variety has tofu, and with all the other flavors, plus the sweet/spicy Srichacha chili sauce, you really won’t miss the meat.

A vegetarian chicken and vegetarian pork variety use the same fake meat used in vegetarian Chinese dishes, and the different textures make these great choices for the vegetarian diner.

Best of all, Hanco’s now has whole wheat baguettes, giving the sandwiches a bit more heft and some fiber. All the sandwiches have mayo and butter on them, too.

The $6.50 sandwiches are perfect for lunch; if you want to have dinner here, you can add summer rolls (shrimp, lettuce, fresh mint, and vermicelli wrapped in rice paper, with a peanut hoisin sauce or garden rolls, swapping the shrimp for cucumber.

Salads have lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, carrot and mint topped with roasted peanuts, fried red onion, and scallion oil

Hanco’s also has a sardine sandwich I have yet to try, with tomato sauce along with the usual Vietnamese condiments.

Drinks include a large variety of bubble teas, with or without milk, (or soy milk, for vegans) all with large balls of tapioca. It is definitely an acquired taste.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cold and Flu

If I ever waver about getting the flu vaccine, I think back to when my oldest daughter was a sophomore in high school. It was early in the flu season, around October, and we had not yet gotten our shots. She got the flu and missed a week and a half of school. It was not a kid’s dream vacation, watching movies and reading trashy books. She was really, really sick and when she finally got better, she spent weeks playing catch up with her school work.

My youngest daughter just recovered from a nasty cold - three days of missed school - and we even visited the doctor to make sure she didn’t have some strain of flu that escaped the vaccine. No, just a cold, which she has now passed on to me.

According to Dr Tanya Remer Altmann,a pediatrician consultant for Puffs, the common cold is “the most frequent cause of school and work absenteeism.”

Dr. Altmann offers these tips for avoiding colds:

Practice Healthy Habits (get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat your veggies!)

Wash hands early and often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

Soothe cold symptoms by drinking fluids and running vaporizers/humidifiers at night.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put your used tissue in the trash.

Soften-And Strengthen-Your Blows by selecting a gentle but strong tissue like Puffs Plus with Lotion to help prevent chapping from frequent nose blowing.

I tried Puffs Plus with the Scent of Vicks. It brought me back to my days of have Vicks VapoRub smeared on my chest and gave me the illusion of feeling taken care of. Because no sooner had I sat down, than my young patient bleated about needing a hot drink.

So is the flu vaccine worth it? Nora still got sick, still missed school. But she was out less than half the time, and by the middle of that third day, she was fine. Had freezing rain not been falling, we might have sent her to school in the middle of the day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
continues to recommend vaccination for everyone 6 months and older this season. For more information, click here