Archive | May 2016

Thoughts For Families With a Sick Child

Childhood CancerHaving a child who is going through health issue can be a very difficult time for a family. You can find yourself feeling lost and alone, overwhelmed, and unsure of where to turn. As a mother of three kids, I have been there myself, and while I’ve been lucky enough that my kid’s health issues haven’t been as serious as cancer ( though we did have a couple of scares) , they have been difficult so  I can understand the stress parents go through. I’d like to share a few things that helped me, and I hope you find them helpful too.

First, take a minute to catch your breath. When you first find out that your child has an illness, it can feel as if you are being bombarded with so much information that your head is spinning. You may feel as if you are almost drowning under the weight of it all. That’s normal. After all, who wouldn’t feel that way upon hearing this type of news? Take a minute and breathe deep breaths.  I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Allow yourself time to find your center. This will help you in the days that lie ahead.

Give yourself time to absorb the news you have been given. Ask your child’s doctor if you can have a bit of time to develop a list of questions and concerns before you make any major choices. Keep a pad of paper or some other way of taking notes with you all the time so that when something comes into your mind, you can record it before it slips your mind.

Some parents find it helpful to go online and find out every bit of information they can about their child’s condition. Some would rather not know. Do what’s right for you, but I would strongly suggest that if you “take to the ‘net”, you quickly develop a filter, as not everything on there will be helpful to you or even true. Use what helps you and forget about the rest. Take your child’s medical team’s answers as the final authority, as they know your individual situation and all the factors involved.

Based on the age of your child, you may have a lot of questions from them. There may also be fear, sadness and anger from them about their diagnosis. Again, all of that is normal. Allow them to feel what they feel, and understand that you can’t fix everything for them. That’s a hard one for most parents. I have been here myself, and as much as I wished I could take all their pain on myself and make them better, I had to accept that I couldn’t.

Give your child a way to express their feelings. If your children are anything like mine, it may be hard for them to talk about their emotions, especially with their mom or dad, but they still need to let their feelings out.  You can purchase a special journal for them Sick Childto write in, allow them the opportunity to draw, paint or express their thoughts through some other medium. For some kids, a mobile device such as a tablet or netbook with a journal app might be just the thing.

On the subject of feelings and emotions, you’re probably going to go through a whole range of them too. Sadness, anger, uncertainty, and fear (lots of fear) are to be expected. Just as with your child, you need an outlet too. Journaling, talking with supportive friends and family or a professional counselor can make a big difference. If there are support groups in your area, make good use of them.

If you are married or in a relationship with your child’s other parent, going through something like this can strain that bond. Keep it mind that the strain doesn’t have to translate to a break. Be there for each other, and if you need help, this is another place ab where counseling can make a big difference.

If you are having trouble navigating through the health care system, find out if there is a patient advocate that you can access. They will be there for you and your individual situation, and can make the whole process much less stressful.

Having three kids, something that I have found it that it can be all too easy for the siblings of the ill child to feel as if they are being lost in the shuffle, which is understandable. Recognize that this is a very difficult time for them as well, and they need you too. Try and carve out some one on one time with them if you can. Even if it’s just taking younger kids to the playground or the older ones out for dinner, it will make them feel loved, which will go a long way.

One more thing about siblings that I found out the hard way. Depending on their age and ability to understand, don’t try and sugar coat the situation should they ask questions. Be honest. I don’t mean you have to be brutally honest, but keep in mind that, especially with internet access, kids today can easily find out a lot of information on their own. What they may well be looking for is honest assurance. In the case of one of my own kids, we told her younger brother that she was ill, that her doctors didn’t know why but they were doing everything they could to make her better. We gave more “technical” information to her older sister, but it had the same underlying message. If you don’t know the answers to your kid’s questions, it’s okay to admit that. Let them know you will try and find out the information they are looking for.

Keep FightingSomething that is incredibly important for any parent with a child who is facing a major health issue (or any parent for that matter) is to find some time to take care of yourself, and to not feel guilty about it. You need to “recharge” so you can be there and fully engaged for your little one. You can’t do that if you are worn down and exhausted. Take some time to have a decent meal out (and not in the hospital) go for a quiet walk in the park, do some window shopping, read a book, get together with friends and family for an afternoon, go to a movie, show, concert or game, work in your garden, play a sport you enjoy, get your hair done, meditate, do something, anything, to give you a few minutes where your mind can relax. It will leave you fresh and ready to keep up the good fight.

I mentioned it above, and something I can’t endorse enough, is to find a support group for parents going through something similar to you. It can do you a world of good to talk to other people who know and understand.

Finally, one really important thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay to be angry at the situation. It’s okay to wonder why this is happening to your child, it’s okay to be sad and to even cry, to be frustrated, and to feel like you are being pulled in 100 different directions at once. If you feel guilty, remember, none of this is your fault.   You don’t have to be strong and carry the weight of this alone. There are supports that exist to help you, so please ask your child’s doctors or hospital care team about how to access them.  If all else fails, and you feel like you are at the end of your rope and just want to scream, go ahead and do it. Find somewhere private and just cut loose with everything you’re feeling. It can do you a world of good. I say that based on personal experience.

I hope that this has helped you a bit. Bering a parent is one of the toughest jobs, and when you find out your child is sick, it gets 1000 times more difficult. Take care of, and be patient with, yourself. You are doing your best to navigate through a situation nothing can really prepare you for. You are finding your way the best way you know how.

~Jennifer McNutt

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Cheap Meals for Dummies – Vol. 1

Drums & Potatoes

For those of you who enjoy cooking, my good friend Robert Clement continues to bless us here at C4C by sharing some of his favorite fancy recipes. That man can cook. But what if you don’t enjoy cooking? What if you’re not any good at following quality recipes? What if you never have the ingredients recipes call for? What if you simply can’t cook to save your ass? You know, the type of person who can screw up toast? Or worse yet, what if you’re just broke, or on a tight budget? Well, that’s where I come in with Cheap Meals for Dummies. Recipes so cheap and easy that even the biggest cooking dummies can pull them off without breaking the bank or burning down the kitchen. So put down the frozen food and step slowly away from the microwave, because it’s time to put on your dunce cap… err… I mean chef’s hat and do some really easy cooking.

Deep Fried Drums & Salted Potatoes

Estimated cost per plate: $1.50 – $2.00

What you’ll need:
A Package of Chicken Drumsticks
A Handful of Potatoes
Salt

Optional Ingredients:
Frank’s Red Hot
Pineapple Cake Mix & 2 Eggs
Butter, Garlic Powder & Parmesan Cheese
Flour & 2 Eggs (Mustard for crispy)
Salsa Con Queso & Bacon Bits

We’ll start with the potatoes because they take longer, so they’ll have time to cook while you’re doing the chicken. Fill a pot with enough water to submerge the potatoes. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. Optional: You can add other spices as well, such as pepper, garlic powder, Sazón, etc… but just plain old salt and water if you’re going full-on dummy. Put the potatoes in the water and crank the burner as high as it will go. That’s it… you’re just boiling potatoes. (They’ll take like 20-25 minutes to soften.)

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the drumsticks. Ideally, you have a deep fryer, or at the very least enough oil to put in a pot to submerge the drums completely. If not, you’ll have to put a layer of oil in a pan and actually flip the drums halfway through. If you’re a true dummy, use tongs and gently set them down when you flip them or you’ll get polka-dotted burns on your hands and arms from the oil splattering. That shit’s hot, you know? Anyway, all we’re doing here is deep frying the drums… so heat the oil first to 350 in a deep fryer, or using medium on a burner if you’re doing it on the stove top.  Then just drop them in the oil and and walk away for 10 to 12 minutes. (Or slightly more if you like your chicken extra crispy.)

So all we’ve done is boil potatoes in water and chicken in oil. So far, so easy. Now for the trick to flavoring them. Pick any of the options below, whichever you prefer:

Buffalo Drums (Pictured): Take a round Tupperware container with a lid, or an old Country Crock container if you’re ghetto, and dump some Buffalo sauce into it. (Preferably Frank’s Red Hot, the best condiment in the world.) Put the top on and shake and swirl it around. Place the drums one at a time fat side down into the container, then close it and swirl it around in a circle. This coats the drumstick with hot sauce but keeps the handle clean so you don’t get sticky fingers like you do with chicken wings.

Other variations: Same directions as the Buffalo drums, but you can substitute whatever you like. Barbecue sauce, sweet and sour, teriyaki, blue cheese, etc.

Garlic Parmesan Drums: Same thing with the Tupperware container, only this time you’re going to melt some butter in the microwave first and add a sprinkle of garlic powder to the liquid once it melts. Don’t go too crazy on the garlic powder, nobody wants to smell your stank breath after dinner. Put the melted garlic butter into the Tupperware, close the lid, and then swirl it around. Open the lid… shake some Parmesan cheese into the container, drop the drums in one at a time and swirl them around. Go easy on the Parmesan and just add more in between in each drum.

For battered drums, there’s a couple extra steps before deep frying:

Pineapple-Battered Drums (Pictured): This is one of my made up tricks which takes a couple extra steps before deep frying, but I’ll tell you how because they’re freaking delicious. You’ll need a box of Pineapple Cake Mix. Get two Tupperware containers with lids. In the first one, stir two eggs with a fork into liquid. In the second one, fill it halfway with pineapple cake mix. Take a drum and put it in the egg container first and swirl it around. Remove it and drop it into the cake mix and shake it gently until the drumstick grabs pineapple cake mix on all sides. Then deep fry as usual and the end result is a battered drumstick from heaven.

Regular Battered Drums: Or if you’re ghetto, we’ll call them Banquet-style drums. This also requires the extra steps before deep frying. You do the same thing as the pineapple trick, but put some pepper in with the stirred eggs and use flour instead of cake mix. If you like your chicken super crispy, you can either repeat the process again to double batter them, or simply add some mustard in with the eggs and the mustard will make them come out all crunchy.

As for the potatoes… they’re easy too. Take them out of the water when they’re done and slice an X in the top of them so they split evenly open. Then you can simply eat them as-is (pictured) by dipping them in melted butter, or you can get a little fancier by pouring salsa con queso (cheese sauce, you dummy) over them and sprinkle bacon bits on top for a cheesy-bacon potato sort of thing.

I got a pack of 12 drums on sale at Aldi for 3 bucks, so 3 or 4 to a plate is only 75 cents to a dollar. The potatoes were 3 bucks a sack, so using only a few per plate amounts to like 35 cents. Tack on any of the extras like the eggs, cake mix, flour or sauces.. and you’re still only talking $1.50 to $2.00 per plate.

There you have it. Cheap, easy, delicious, and it kicks the shit out of your frozen dinner, dummy. Now go wash the dishes. Being a cooking dummy is cool, but being a cooking dummy with a kitchen full of dirty dishes is kind of gross.

~Jamie Capria

15 Minutes of E-Fame

FameEveryone’s heard the Andy Warhol “15 minutes of fame” quote, but what most people don’t know is that it was plagiarized. Not only does a photographer claim to have uttered a similar phrase to Warhol two years earlier during a photography shoot, prompting Warhol to run off with it… but we can go all the way back to the year 1600 when William Kemp, a clown actor, published the phrase “9 days wonder,” which means a novelty that loses its appeal after a few days. It basically expresses the same exact underlying premise that Warhol is credited with.

It doesn’t matter what decade of what century you look at, history has proven that human beings are programmed to have some sort of strange desire and fascination with fame and attention. Fortunately for mankind, the average fame-seeking freak had limited resources for vomiting their lame attempts to garner attention all over our laps. Up until the past decade or so, that is. Enter stage left, the internet and social media. Every dolt with a computer, tablet, or cell phone suddenly thought they found their wormhole to fame. What was once the information superhighway has now become the highway to hell, and it’s paved with idiotic intentions. The world wide web has been reduced to a LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage. You can’t browse for more than 20 seconds without enduring someone’s sad attempt to achieve internet fame… two words that go together like douchebag and prestige.

With that in mind, I offer the following public service announcement:

Don’t follow me on Twitter, don’t star my tweets, don’t friend me or subscribe to me on Facebook, don’t like my posts, don’t follow me on Instagram or heart my selfies, don’t read my Tumblr blog, don’t see what garbage I like on Pinterest, don’t make me the mayor of anything, don’t Snapchat me, and don’t like, star, retweet, heart, or share if you agree. In fact, if you’re one of the millions of shallow-ass attention and validation-seeking morons who clog up our screens with your weak attempts at douchebag prestige… err… I mean internet fame, then do us all a favor and go out and get a huge firecracker. After lighting it, make sure you grasp it firmly between both hands until it explodes and shreds your fingers and/or hands into such inoperative stumps that they’ll never be capable of typing on a keyboard, maneuvering a mouse, or operating a cell phone or tablet ever again. Once you’ve accomplished that you can achieve the internet fame you’ve so desperately desired by opening a GoFundMe page and asking for handouts for your pain and suffering, much like the clowns who have received donations and then bragged about their new (funded) tattoos, or posted pictures of themselves doing their (funded) bong hits.

“The best things in life are free.” ~Coco Chanel

“… from the masses, who inevitably fuck everything up.” ~MrFornicator

~Jamie Capria