Eczema is driving me crazy

and it’s not even mine!

DC2 had a good month or two with perfect skin, and then eczema hit again.  Ze is finally old enough to get allergy testing done, so we got it done, and ze came up clear.  Ze can still have food intolerances, but we don’t have to worry about anaphylactic shock.  The internet (including more reputable places like webmd) notes that age 3-4 is when food allergies stop leading to eczema.  So wheat should be fine now.

The allergist gave the same advice the pedi had given– bathe or shower once a day, lather with lotion or creme (preferable aquifor or aveeno) 3-4 times per day.  The problem is that when we do that, DC2 gets big flare-ups and ze hates hates hates the lotion and says it itches… which makes us suspect that some of these lotions are part of the problem not the solution.  Ze seems better with aquifor and hydrolatum.

So the day after the allergist, we gave hir wheat-based lasagna (to eat) and Aveeno (topically), and had hir take a bath in the tub.  Ze had a HUGE flare-up.  On the plus side, coconut no longer makes hir throw up and seems to have zero ill effects.

We switched out regular sunblock with Badger Zinc Oxide sunblock.  We got rid of the Aveeno and switched to different supposedly-eczema-friendly lotions and cremes.  We had several meals without wheat.  We switched from baths in the DCs’ bathtub to showers using my special shower filter (the water here gives me hives sometimes).  It didn’t clear up but seemed to be doing somewhat better.

Then it got worse and DC2 started tantruming when it was time to put on lotion.  Then it got worse than we’d ever seen it before, turning an angry red with bumps.  So we stopped the daily baths and didn’t put on lotion unless DC2 was willing and it stopped getting worse, though didn’t get much better.  We went to the doctor again and he said that even though it was now “moderate” rather than “mild” that we should continue doing what he told us to do and he was sure that the flare-ups that happened after we followed his instructions were entirely coincidental.  He also suggested oral steroids.  We called DH’s mom who is both a nurse and has had the experience of dealing with DH’s siblings’ eczema.  She suggested different lotions, a different anti-histimine, and fewer rather than more baths (an internet search suggests that more baths are what is en vogue but 5 years ago they were suggesting fewer, which suggests to me that they really don’t know).  She nixed the oral steroid and suggested a topical steroid.

After a lot of looking online and comparing and contrasting the ingredients of different lotions, we noticed that the ones that caused obvious flare-ups all have alcohol as an ingredient, and given that DC2 couldn’t handle wipes with alcohol and I used to have a topical allergy to rubbing alcohol, we thought maybe that might be contributing to the problem.  We noticed that the first two ingredients in one baby lotion formula were water and sunflower oil, and figured, maybe #2 has a point and we should just use oil (crazy online sites all recommend coconut oil or complicated mixtures of essential oils, but we’re not totally on board with coconut yet and both too lazy and too skeptical to combine oils that come with warning labels about overuse).  DC2 hasn’t complained at all about getting olive oil– no screams or tantrums– and it didn’t seem to be making anything worse, which, while not the same as making something better, is better than the alternative.  One application of the topical steroid before bed combined with benedryl completely cleared up one of DC2’s arms and made the other three limbs look markedly better.

#2 has topical allergies too, and eczema for the rest of my life.  There’s nothing like grad school for giving you a lifelong medical condition!  I had a conversation with #1 about my allergies (which is a boring conversation but maybe helpful if DC2 gets more topical allergy tests).  I have an ointment now that works, but big flares are only controlled with Prednisone.  Hopefully baby won’t need that.

My eczema is exacerbated by water sitting on my skin, which means that I can’t use most lotions (creams, gels, anything you leave on) because they have water in them.  You can always buy cheap olive oil and use that, but then people might try to lick you.

#1 notes that DC2 smells delicious after being coated in olive oil.

Isn’t this fun??!?!?

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Feelings on parenting advice

I was a bit surprised that parenting posts came up popular in our recent poll.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been ‘cuz I kind of like our parenting posts.  But that’s not true of all parenting advice out there in the world.  In fact, I tend to actively dislike a lot it.  And not just the, “they’re (not) doing it the way I do it” kind of dislike– something even more general than that.

I cogitated really hard on what I like and dislike.

I realized that I do like tips and tricks.  I love varied answers to parenting questions that people have (especially when some of the answers note that something worked for one kid but not another, especially those that try to make connections about why).  I think of them as potential tools in a parenting toolbox.  Some will work for just the right job, some jobs can be fixed with different tools, and some tools are just useless for any job.

Essentially, I like when people say, “here’s a bunch of things we’ve tried that worked for us, YMMV.”  I like seeing lots of variety because different things do work for different children– even having just two kids, I see that one size does not fit all.

I don’t like it when they say, “Here’s the one true way and if you don’t do it this way you’re doing it wrong and you’re a horrible mother (it’s always mother) and you’re scarring your children for life.”  I hate it when they say, “here’s a problem you didn’t even think of that you’re causing by not doing the (sometimes horrible) thing we recommend.”

So I don’t like most parenting books because they’re selling the One True Way with a side-order of mommy guilt.  But I do like being able to google a question and finding a forum that provides lots of recommendations from when someone else asked the same question about hir own kid.

Do you like parenting advice?  What kind?


Ask the grumpies: Fondest childhood memories influenced by parents

First Gen American asked:

On a related note…what are your fondest childhood memories that your parents influenced.

For some reason, my first thoughts are all negative memories.  (Getting sunburn while camping.  Though I do have a fond memory of my first soft-serve ice cream from the same camping trip.  Yum!)

Let’s see… my mom read to me every night until I was almost a teenager.  I went on road trips when I was little with my dad as we drove across country to move.  We’d stop places and see the sights.  My dad would make breakfast on weekends, like crepes or eggs.  My mom would take us to the library every weekend.

#2: I remember my parents reading a lot.  And I remember greeting my dad when he came home from work (when I was little) by running to meet him.  I dunno.  I mean, my family was pretty good but it’s also hard to come up with an answer to this question.

What are your favorite parent-influenced memories?

Ask the grumpies: Recommendations for post-maternity leave

Slightly Anonymous asks:

My department is writing a policy for what they do to support new parents post-parental leave.  I’m on the committee that is supposed to come up with this.  I think this is great:  if somebody misses a year or a semester with a new baby, then it makes sense that they might need some time or extra support to come back up to speed.  But what should our committee recommend?

I’m wondering if you or any of your readers have ideas?

I’m at a UK university, which means that academic staff at my university are either on short-term temporary contracts — think postdoc — or have permanent positions.  In most UK universities “lecturer” is the equivalent of “assistant professor with tenure.”  At my university there is a 1 year probationary period before your job is officially permanent, but passing probation is pretty much a formality.  There is still stress about being promoted, but much less than what comes with trying to get tenure in a US university.

Being in the US and not having been at coastal or ultra-prestigious schools, our own experience is pretty pathetic.  That whole “missing a year or a semester with a new baby” thing … not something we’re used to.  In my department we’re still trying to get something consistent in place that doesn’t involve begging other people in the department to cover your classes for a couple of weeks after the baby is born.

Off the top of my head, all I can think of is adding a year to the tenure clock for those without tenure, but that is mostly irrelevant in the UK context.  Surely someone out there has a better idea of what best practices are?  #2 has only seen terrible practices.  My poor poor colleagues.

Grumpy Nation, please weigh in with your suggestions!

A mother’s day rant

1.  If you’re a full-time daycare, don’t have “Muffins with Mom”.

2.  If you decide to have “Muffins with Mom” anyway, don’t put a sign-up sheet in the lobby where everyone can see which moms obviously don’t love their children enough to leave work to spent 30 min eating store-bought muffins with them at daycare.

3.  Also, the next day don’t ask the moms who weren’t there why they weren’t there and then tell them that they were the only mom who wasn’t there and little DC was so upset.  (Especially if the reason according to DC that ze was upset was because ze had to have grapes instead of muffins like all the other kids because ze’s allergic to wheat.  Or maybe especially if that’s not the reason.)

I wonder how many moms are going to show up in Dad’s place for Donuts with Dad, which I assume they’re also having.  Of course, little DC2 won’t have dad there either because he’s traveling for work that week.

I’m actually only slightly irritated, and mainly at the patriarchy.  And to be honest, I would have checked the no box even if I hadn’t had a P&T meeting scheduled a month and a half in advance at exactly that time.  I am willing to sacrifice DC a little bit so that other mothers can also feel free to check the “no” box if they need to or want to.  (And at the time I checked “No” there were two other “No”s, one with a written “I’m out of town” excuse.)  I suppose that makes me a terrible mother, but I don’t want hir to feel like this is a big deal, and based on conversations with hir the evening of the event, ze was indeed upset by the lack of muffin and not at all by the lack of mommy.  (And yes, a “better” set of parents would have brought gluten-free muffins, but DC2 has gf cookies provided specifically for these kinds of events, and I didn’t really realize that it was Thursday until I got to daycare and saw the ladies setting up for the party, because the end of the semester is busy.)

I have the solace that deep down I believe that these little upsets truly are character building and learning to weather having to eat grapes when the other kids have muffins so as to avoid getting a rash is just one of those things that makes a person stronger.  Obviously we shouldn’t try to create character building incidents because that’s sadistic, but it’s not such a big deal when they happen.  Especially when grapes are actually better than grocery store muffins.

or with music

School districts, housing, and having a grade-skipped kid

So, DC1 is grade-skipped by two grades.  Ze is in a private school.

That means that we have no idea what grade ze is going to be in next year when ze goes to public school in a new state.

Which means we’ve been calling around a lot.

And getting a bizarre range of answers about how schools would determine grade level for DC1 in our situation.  How big a range?

1.  DC1 starts in 3rd grade, period.  Then the teacher observes for 6 weeks.  Then a team including the principal discusses the situation and most likely keeps DC1 in 3rd grade, even though ze would be the oldest non-red-shirted kid in the grade.

2.  It’s up to the principal.

3.  The administration would assess DC1 to determine what would be appropriate.  If ze is ready for 5th grade, that is where ze would go.  In additional to educational components, they will assess emotional and social components.  Writing it out this way makes it sound a lot nicer than how they sounded over the phone, which hit both DH and me with a lot of bad memories about our childhood, with the emphasis on emotional/social.  (Because if you’re out of synch with your same-age peers, you’re failing at emotional/social which means they won’t let you skip… Catch-22.) (#2 is still mad about people not letting me skip a grade for social reasons… guess what, I didn’t have friends in school ANYWAY so at least I could have learned something… grumble.)  (#1 would have had friends if she’d been grade skipped.)

4.  Need to take educational documentation including letter from teacher/principal and report card.  The documentation will be reviewed by school administration.

5.  Based on age it would be 4th grade (different cut-off date?), but school records indicating completion of 4th grade would allow DC1 to be placed in 5th.

6.  Ze would be placed in 5th grade automatically.

7.  Ze would be placed in 5th grade and then given a placement test for homogeneous math grouping placement.  Bring materials to help teacher/administration work with DC1.  Would need special reasons to be placed in a grade below 5th.  (“Is it because you’re calling from the South [and worried that a blue state education would be too advanced]?” the confused administrator asked.)

8.  Skip approved with proof of why skipped for special reasons.

So we’re narrowing down our search to #4-8, mainly because #3 gave off such negative vibes.  #7 sounds great, but has very few, if any, houses, mostly apartments and the apartments are interspersed with undergraduate housing.  So we might look out there, but not until we get closer.  #6 is a substantial commute for me and very suburban… not unlike where we live now.  #5 has fifth grade in middle school, not elementary school like all the other districts in the area.  #4 is a pretty good bet in terms of houses, commute times, and walkability, but I’m a bit nervous about where they would really place DC1.  Still, they have some really nice (not cheap!) houses and the commute is great.

I guess the moral is that different places do things widely differently, sometimes even in a smallish geographic area?

In which we are not hired as writers of small talk

#1:  here is a note to the universe: don’t ask me how wedding planning is coming. I realize you’re trying to make small talk, but it’s boring to me and it’s even my own wedding. Also? Not a lot has happened since we last had this conversation 2-3 weeks ago. Meh.

#2:  oh, I forgot to ask
how is your wedding planning coming?

#1:  rrrr

#2:  (except I know– you have a venue and you have a date to look for dresses)

#1:  rrrrrright

#2:  If things were going poorly, I’m sure you could use the question as an excuse to vent. so the fact that you find such questions dull is a good thing!

Maybe you could respond that wedding planning is dull, but do you know how big a toddler’s poop can get? (as big as an adult’s, according to [redacted] and my own recent personal experience with toddler poop)

#1: hahahah
I can talk about horse poop….

#2:  I bet horse poop is more interesting than toddler poop
but not as interesting as owl poop
owl poop is the best
well, owl pellets are the best

#1:  yes, that is owl barf

#2:  which is sort of like poop
but you know, different

#1:  owl barf is fascinating

#2:  it serves a similar purpose to poop without actually being poop

#1:  “ugghhh, I ate too much bones.”

#2:  but the actual response is probably, “It’s going fine. Nothing exciting happening, which is a good thing. How’s that toddler of yours?”
“Any interesting poops lately?”
“I hear that toddler poo is just fascinating.”
“mmm hmm.”
“Is that so?”

#1:  have you ever compared toddler poop and horse poop? how do you feel about owls? we should be hired as small talk writers
Here’s my answer: the toddler grows up, and the horse needs its poop picked up for life

#2:  horse poop probably smells better

#1:  quite possibly. They’re all vegetarians.

#2:  do vegetarians have better smelling poop?

#1:  I’m not sure. But at least you can get used to the smell of horses — they eat only a few things, all horses all the time, eat the same few things.

What are your deep thoughts on poop?  (Also, I know I should have put a poo-related pun there instead of “deep”… any suggestions?  pressing thoughts?)


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