Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Results!

We have a winner! Erin correctly guessed what we used the pictured items for, and it was. . .

getting Vaseline out of Harper's hair! Woo-hoo for Erin, and also, ugh! Erin's guessing was aided by her memory that we have had a previous significant Vaseline incident. (Part of me is surprised more people didn't remember that; Tessie would call you skimmers!) I will be sending Erin a prize (If Erin were getting a gift card, do you think she'd prefer iTunes or Amazon?) I'm thinking that Emily should get a prize as well because her answer made me laugh the hardest. (Chicken pox, ha! And, thankfully, no!)

So here's what went down. . . Around 11 p. m. Monday night my mom (who was blessedly here for the week and is leaving tomorrow, boo hoo) comes into the bedroom holding a half empty and completely goopy tub of Vaseline and says, "I made a big mistake." She had inadvertently left the Vaseline on the nightstand when she put Harper to bed. Harper had enjoyed spreading it thoroughly all over one stuffed bear, her bedding, her headboard, her pajamas, and her head. Miraculously spared was a book of barnyard stories she'd been "reading" sometime during her busy night of getting in bed, smearing Vaseline all over, and falling asleep. We remove what we can without waking her and decide just to deal with the rest in the morning.

Tuesday morning Harper walks into our bedroom around 6 a.m. and says, "I put Vaseline all over my bear." I miraculously refrain from screaming and instead say, "Don't touch anything!" ushering her into the bathroom. There she is stripped of her saturated pajamas and plopped into the bathtub where the water beads up on her skin and multiple kinds of shampoo have no effect whatsoever on the petroleum jelly in her hair. My mom glommed her hair into pigtails and sent her off to school. We totally missed the opportunity to make some serious Pippy Longstocking braids. Harper's hair was so slick/stiff/greasy that we didn't so much brush or comb it as mold it.

While Harper was at school I decided to Google "removing Vaseline from hair" and got a batch of rather dubious suggestions, although one did turn out to be helpful. I also called the Vaseline company and wrote down their suggestion for removing the stuff from a person's hair.

Things the Internet suggested which did not work, and the order in which we tried them:

1) Baby Oil

In theory the application of baby oil was supposed to give the Vaseline something else to bind to and then be able to be washed out with regular shampoo. This did not work at all and I believe actually made things worse. Note to self: try to refrain from setting aside common sense when taking advice from the Internet.

2) Vinegar

This was also not helpful, stunk, freaked Harper out by stinking, but at least didn't make anything worse.

3) Ivory Dish Soap

While it may have washed the vinegar smell out of Harper's hair, it also had no effect whatsoever on the petroleum jelly/baby oil fiasco.

4) Baking Soda

Here we are back to the theory of giving the Vaseline something else to bind to. In hindsight this might have worked better if we'd put it on dry hair. It took a good half a box of baking soda dumped with desperation on Harper's head before deciding that maybe that wasn't working so well either.

Document A: A photo of Harper's wet hair with baking soda ineffectively worked into it.

We resisted the temptation to pour more vinegar over her head once it was covered with baking soda (Hello grade school science experiment!). More difficult to resist? Pouring lemon juice on it.

5) Lemon Juice

Harper hated the sensation of the bubbles caused by a lemon juice + baking soda treatment. (We should have made this more tolerable by warming the lemon juice a bit.) The adults involved (me, my mom, and Ann who had stopped by to drop somethings off) were unfortunately highly encouraged by all the bubbles. Surely we were breaking up that darn Vaseline now!

6) Coke

What? I know! We were desperate, my back was sore from bending over the tub for an hour straight, Harper was getting cranky. Why not Coke? One of the sites suggested it, I think.

7) Dawn Dish Soap

Because it's not the same as Ivory. Our particular bottle of Dawn also had oxy action! And still didn't work!

We begin to think about shaving Harper's head. I'm actually not kidding.

We dry Harper's hair, well as much as we think it can be dried, and then put her down for a nap. I call several local salons and kiddie hair cut places, every last one suggests Dawn dish soap. I take Michael for an appointment at the hospital and ask several nurses what to do, again with the dish soap suggestions!

Finally, Tuesday evening, we try the magic combination of materials and steps which will ultimately do the trick. Without further ado, here is the proven method for removing copious amounts of Vaseline from very thin three-year-old hair:

1) Generously coat dry hair with corn starch.

2) Wrap corn starched hair with plastic wrap.

3) Apply heat with hair dryer for ten minutes.

4) Wash corn starch from hair with Dawn dish soap.

5) Apply more Dawn dish soap.

6) Wrap soapy hair with plastic wrap.

7) Apply heat with hair dryer for ten minutes.

8) Rinse.

We ended up doing this twice, but the second time we did not use the hair dryer we just let her plastic wrapped head sit for ten minutes. After the second treatment, Harper's hair was pretty much back to normal.

I once had a high school English teacher praise me for being succinct, let's hope he isn't reading!


Also from the vat of home remedies:

We are giving a constipated Michael the occasional ounce of diluted prune juice. This is under our doctor's advice, of course.


It has taken me nearly three days to complete this post, including the last half hour of one-handed typing. Even with an extra adult in the house I can't seem to get anything accomplished!


Hillary said...

I love Harper and her antics. I can only hope my future children will do the same. And then I'll remember to call you for the remedy. I love the pictures!

Laura said...

THIS was just the laugh that I needed today!!

(It's okay to laugh now that she's all fixed up, right?)(Is it funny to you just yet?)

As if your detailed descriptions weren't enough, PICTURES! OMG! You gave us pictures! Poor Harper! Poor YOU!

Congratulations to you for your diligence and to Erin for guessing Vaseline. I never would have thought of that one. But Harper did.

I'm glad everything is back to normal and one day, your back will be too.

Emily said...

Oh. my. GOSH. What a NIGHTMARE! You and your mom win an award for diligence - I think I would've given up after the first couple of failed attempts. And those pics of Harper with cornstarched hair are priceless.

Emma said...

Hi there Kelsey!! Just wanted to add a tip if Michael is suffering from constipation - I often find that when nursing babies have digestive issues, when the mom takes dairy out of her diet, they often get better. You just have be sure and get calcium from other sources :) ... and of course prunes can work too!

Jill B said...

I am also sorry if you have not yet found the humor in this, but I am laughing so hard I am crying! Not so much from the actual incident, but from your hilarious descriptions of the removal process! And from the pictures you were kind enough to take for us where Harper looks like she's 85 with all that gray hair!! You are very patient because, daughter or not, I'm pretty sure my child would have had a shaved head WAY before all that! Let me guess-the Vaseline is either really high on the shelf or will never enter your house again! Not that Harper would EVER try that again after all you all went through! I have a hard enough time washing Vaseline off my hands!

Swistle said...

This is horrifilarious. "Vaseline all over the place" is a "burn the house down and start over" situation. The fact that you are not typing from a mental hospital (you're...NOT...right?) is a testimony to your exemplary coping skills.

I would TOTALLY have been thinking head-shaving. ...Except the Vaseline would gum up the shaver. DESPAIR! MENTAL HOSPITAL!

desperate housewife said...

This is a worst-case scenario you did NOT need right now! Holy crap, honey! I'm with Swistle- you deserve major props for not being straight-jacketed right now!

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh my goodness, that was so funny. You should be a saint for your patience.

Vaseline. Yikes! I will be double checking that mine it up VERY high.

The story already had me cracking up, then I saw the photos of Harper with corn starch in her hair. THat did it. I was laughing so hard I was almost crying.

Prune juice seems to work. We used that for my son when he was about 4 months old with constipation. We did 1/2 juice 1/2 water per the doctor's orders. It helped mostly.

Erin said...

Totally with Swistle here. WHOA. What an absolute NIGHTMARE. It would make me toss all Vaseline out with the trash. I'm pretty certain the horror of this situation outweights all the great benefits of the product.

I'm excited I won! The baby oil was a real stumper, but now I can see the logic in trying that. And please don't send an actual PRIZE. The bragging rights of winning this is plenty for me, Thanks.

Liz said...

oh my gosh - i would have never guess that and i would have never guessed it to be such a pain in the butt to remove from her hair!! love the white hairdo - very halloween-y - maybe she can try it again in a few months and get some candy out of the whole deal. :)

was said high school teacher mr burke? ;)

Kelsey said...

It WAS Mr. Burke! Good guess Liz. :-)

Pam said...

Hilarious! Your daughter makes me laugh on a weekly basis. I'm sure you'll see the funny side in, oh, 10 years!

Tessie said...

This is just...this is horrible. HORRIBLE I SAY! I'm so glad you got pictures FOR THE RECORD. I would have gone STRAIGHT to shave the head.

Shannen said...

Unfortunately both of my daughters have done this and if you just put baking soda on the vasaline covered hair and just keep like shaking it through, wait a few and shampoo out with any dish soap, it works great!

samantha jo campen said...

I'm so late to the party, but wanted to say that Theo was constipated and we gave him some juice too. TOTALLY did the trick and boy howdy did we have some major clean up to do. And also? Doesn't constipated poo smell like death? The horror!!