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.
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!
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.
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!