Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The 70% Cure for the Hiccups

When I was in college, there was a guy in my apartment complex who collected cures for the hiccups.  He had undergone brain surgery a few years earlier, and when he awoke from the anesthesia, he had a semi-permanent case of the hiccups.  They would come and go several times per day.  It became a topic of conversation for him, so he decided to collect antidotes and write a book.  I don't know if he ever wrote that book, but it did get me thinking seriously about a cure.  Not seriously enough that I would go into medicine, but I would like to say that my research can now benefit mankind.

Somewhere along the way, I heard that hiccups are caused by the diaphragm getting off its regular pattern.  I figured the cure needed to act as a reset for the diaphragm.  So I came up with a cure that combined my technique for holding my breath in the pool--I never was coordinated enough to take a breath while still propelling my arms, so I figured out how to hold my breath all the way across the pool--and pretending to be a balloon with a slow leak.  Before you get too excited, I will say that this cure is effective only about 70% of the time.  Repeating the process can increase its effectiveness, but I have had stubborn cases of the hiccups once or twice that simply had to be waited out.

Still, now that I've tested this remedy on first graders, I think it is time to share it with the world!

Step 1:  Take three very deep breaths, filling your lungs and belly.
Step 2:  On the third deep breath, hold your breath.
Step 3:  Keep holding your breath!  You should feel like your lungs are going to explode.
Step 4:  When your face is turning red, your eyes are bugging out, and you fear drowning...oh wait, that's right, we're hiccupping, not swimming...
Step 5:  ...open your mouth ever so slightly and let the high-pressure air out as slowly as possible, as if you are one of the front two tires on my van.  (Have I mentioned that I've had two flat tires in the last four months?  No?  Well here are some photos so you can feel bad for us.)

On our way to see the Real soccer game. The kids had to substitute a game of Battleship for soccer that night.
This was at about the point that we realized our spare, which we've never before used in nine years of owning this van, was also flat.

At least it was nice weather for getting a tan on the side of the freeway. #5 was lucky to have caught a ride to the game with some friends.

Distraction can enhance the effectiveness of the hiccups cure too!

Let me know if this process works to eradicate your hiccups, or feel free to pass along your own cure.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beware the Affections and Confections of Mrs. White!

One of my favorite days of the week is Monday, because I get to volunteer in the classrooms of my three youngest children.  I like getting to know the students and faculty, and have found over the years that as I spend time with my kids' classmates, they students grow into young adults who can talk easily with me, too.

Every once in a while, I feel like I do something truly influential for a student.  For example, as I was reading with individual students from #5's class a couple months ago, one little Latina pointed out her completed wish list assignment that was displayed in the hallway a midst all the other wish lists on the wall.  I noticed that she wished she could someday be a teacher, and then she turned to me and added, "Yeah, but I can never be that."  I returned a perplexed look and said, "Why not?  You can be anything you want to be."  "I can?"  "Of course!  If you'll work hard and be a good student, you can be a teacher or anything else."  Her eyes absolutely lit up and she grinned from ear-to-ear!

I don't know if that moment of awakening will stick with her through 18 more years, but last week I did change a child's entire life, I think.  I was quizzing more first graders on their phonograms, and another little girl was having a fit of hiccups.  It was funny to both of us as she tried to make phonemic sounds around the staccato, guttural breaths.  So we took a break and I showed her how to eliminate the hiccups.  Then we resumed for another four or five minutes.  When she had finished the list, I asked, "Where did your hiccups go?"  She smiled in acknowledgement that they were gone, at which I said, "Now, if your mom or dad asks what you learned at school today, you don't have to say that you learned a new boring reading word or something.  You can tell them you know the cure for the hiccups!"  One more life changed forever.

You may be asking yourself, "So, what's with the title of this post?"  That is I haven't yet revealed to you my influence over #3's fifth-grade class.

My volunteer time with the fifth grade is spent reading a novel out loud while the students follow along in their own copies.  This is not a thankless job.  In fact, my favorite part of every Monday is when I stop reading, close the book, and tell the students that's all for today.  This causes them to all moan in unison and say, "Just a few more pages!" to which I respond that I wish I could, but I will see them next week.  I usually arrive while they are wrapping up their lunch, and it's super fun to have them file in, see me, and rush to get their books opened and explain to me any parts of the story I might have missed if their teacher read more of the book between Mondays.

Our current novel is The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull.  I can always tell a favorite of the kids' because they complain more insistently when we close the book for the day.  This book has drawn the most complaints so far this year!  I highly recommend it for tweens.

The Candy Shop War
If you're not familiar with the story, there is a character named Mrs. White who owns The Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe...along with ulterior motives.  While her candy that makes children weightless or literally electrifying is fun at first, the children soon find they are in a war of magicians who are seeking a powerful treasure.  Mrs. White's most famous--because it is also the most addictive--confection is her white fudge.  It dulls the mind and distracts the senses of all who eat it (the adults of the town) while also making them crave more of it constantly.

Well, this book set things up too perfectly for me!  With the teacher's permission, and some serendipity through my friend, Pam, who had too much fudge on her hands this weekend, I showed up to class yesterday with a candy box  filled with fudge, which I had sprinkled with powdered sugar.  I offered it to the students, "For those who dare to eat it."  I explained that it was mostly chocolate fudge so they wouldn't be too dumbed down.  Of course everyone cheered to be receiving come curriculum-related candy in school.  (The school's wellness policy doesn't usually allow sweet treats.)  Of course, my caveat was ignored, and everyone took a piece, though I did notice one girl who gingerly placed her fudge at the top of her desk to wait for her classmates to test it first.

Halfway through the reading, I came to a sentence where one of the characters was warning another child to beware of Mrs. White and her dangerous candy.  At that moment, a girl in the front row dropped her book to her desk and snapped her head toward me, gawking with wide eyes and open mouth.  Then she turned to the boy next to her and pointed at my daughter across the room, whispering, "She is [#3's] mom!"  She had just figured out that I am Mrs. White!  That whispered moment of recognition for what I had just perpetrated was great!

After my 30 minutes were up, and the children blessed my ears with their complaints and whines for more reading, I stood up to leave.  "Did you like the fudge?" I asked.  "Yes!"  Their teacher chimed in, "I bet you'll all be really mellow for the rest of the day, right?"  As I left, a boy in the back row said, "That fudge was so good!  Can we have more?"  "I'm glad you liked it," I answered.  And then I added, smiling wickedly and mischievously rubbing my palms together, "It's addictive, isn't it?"  Mwa ha ha!