Thursday, June 29, 2006

Melting and Cooling

I was diagnosed in January with MS (multiple sclerosis). While this was sudden and totally out of the blue (no family history either), life has been whirling faster than usual this year. But on the up side, my kids have learned a lot and I feel I've been better able to talk about people with disabilities since I now have one (though it's not slowing me down much yet). The biggest problem I have with it now, other than phantom symptoms here and there, is the summer heat. People with MS really do just melt in the heat and we spend lots of time on message boards discussing how to beat the heat.

I have a mini arsenal of heat propelling paraphernalia myself. There's the highly attractive army beige vest that holds ice packs in it (after all, what woman doesn't want extra pudge in her torso?).

There's the slightly darker beige (just enough to not match the vest) garden hat that has a secret pack of gel in the top. You set the gel pack in cold water for 10 minutes, stick it back in the hat and you're cooler, plus you get the fashionable wide garden brim to shade your face and neck from the sun.

There's also a very cool Sharper Image device that you hang around your neck and the battery pack on your belt clip is supposed to keep you cool. There are several wrist devices that hold ice or cold things against your wrists. There is also a super cool tent air conditioner you just snap on top of your cooler and it supposedly cools up to 30 degrees! I have yet to try this out in the wild outdoors but it worked great on the test run in my kitchen. Yes, there are even cold gel bra inserts for those who are extremely curious. ;) I have played with most all of these but when I think of really decking myself out in all of it at once, I end up in fits of giggles. I know, without a doubt, that I would very closely resemble the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that became the Destroyer in Ghostbusters.

Now I honestly don't mean to demean the items listed here. I am *thoroughly* grateful for their existence in my life. They truly are fabulous products and I wouldn't even waste my time (and yours) mentioning them if they weren't really great. And I don't mean to come across as someone who has even the slightest fashion sense. I really am a jeans and t-shirt kind of mom. And in saying "t-shirt", I mean if it's not covered in spit-up and pureed fruit, I will wear it out in public. Age of the shirt doesn't really matter. But to these items, I just have to say that Linda Voss sums it up when talking about her spy purse, "What it lacks in fashion, it makes up for in function" - Shining Through (a GREAT romantic-war film with Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas if you haven't seen it).

But out of all the cooling devices I have so far, one of the best was something I happened upon at Walmart. Yes, the big W. I live there, just like you do. I'll wave next time so you know it's me. It's called a Misty Mate. (Sorry Walmart, you big monster, couldn't find it on your site to link to!) You put in regular tap water, pump the handle once or twice and voila - fine mist comes out. It comes in a snazzy looking cover and has a thick shoulder strap (or fanny pack belt, whichever end you care to put it on). I took this to the zoo with us a few weeks ago and it was THE hit. My 3 kids and my 7 nieces & nephew LOVED it. In fact, I had to wrestle it away from them from time to time when I started to melt. It worked great and one of my nieces went home, begging her mother for one for the upcoming camping trip. (I love to do that to my SIL, don't you?? LOL)

How does all this relate to unschooling, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did. From this small piece of cheap (under $20) cooling play fun, we have discussed the human body, MS, human diseases, sweat, smells that come from sweat (that was inserted so my new friend, RJs mom, feels a little more normal), water, liquid vs gases vs mists, pressurization, etc, etc, etc. AND it will keep us cool all summer long.

My only problem now is this: Which line should I list the Misty Mate as a school supply on my tax forms? Hmmm....maybe I should put my blog URL in there somewhere. ;)

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