Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lice...what a nightmare!

When we were on our recent trip in PA, I noticed a little bug crawling in Alida's hair.  I pulled it out, looked closely at it, showed it to a few others and then assured myself (after a minuscule amount of online research) that it must be a book louse acquired through her reading lots of books that do not receive much attention anymore at the house.  That was the last I thought about it, until two nights ago.  Kali and I landed in the bathroom at the same time and on a whim I grabbed her brush and was redoing her braids. I just snag the opportunity when it comes, as it sometimes doesn't come around more than once every few days.  The light must have been just right because almost immediately I recognized the little nits right near her scalp.  Talk about a sinking feeling in my gut!  On closer examination, I saw the little bugs that looked just like what I had found in Alida's hair the weekend before.

I don't know if it was that I was still feeling too sick to think deeply about what I was seeing in PA or if there was some internal and unconscious denial that it could be lice.  Normally I second guess myself like crazy and can't let that kind of thing rest until I'm assured I've been thorough in figuring it out.  It truly was the farthest thing from my mind all week. I had combed both girls hair multiple times and hadn't noticed anything.  Boy did I miss a growing population!!  But we'll get to that.

Once I was pretty sure I had a solid diagnosis of what we were up against I went outside to break the news to Jason.  It had been yet another day where our to do list did not even come close to matching the hours available in the day. He was working hard on some weeding and was trying to get to a certain point before he quit for the evening so we could enjoy our last evening together with my niece and nephew who were staying with us from PA.  We had plans to make an outdoor fire and cook pizza pockets over it and relax!

I needed a good 10-15 minutes for a little "flip out" session where I vented about the bad timing of this, the unfairness of it, how I didn't want to have to deal with this, etc... This included a call to my mom for any tips she might remember from when I had it (multiple times), and no doubt a little desire for some sympathy.  It felt like a whole different thing to face this as a mother.  When I had it as a middle schooler it was horrible.  Being sent home from school is no fun.  But once home I just shampooed with what I was given, sat while my hair was combed and then went back to whatever I was doing.  Sadly, I have no memory of helping to clean, vacuum, do laundry, etc...  And I didn't have the quandary of what product to put on my child's scalp, what approach of all those out there to take to eradicate the little buggers!

And, I'll admit, that I've never thought that I should do some research into what we would do if/when one of our children brings lice home.  Never rose to the top of the priority list - actually never even entered my mind to get on the list.  So here I was feeling flustered, uncertain of what to do first, wanting to help the four kiddos in our care to have a good evening, thinking of the many people I needed to communicate with who had been with us over the past few weeks, and already feeling tired without even having started!

But after my mini-meltdown of "I can't do this," I (better said "we") did it!  And Jason and I make a pretty good team.  We got into action and spent much of the next 24 hours in high gear, and in the highest gear from about 7 p.m. that evening until 2:30 a.m. when we crashed for a bit of replenishing rest before continuing.  I have never done so much laundry in such a short amount of time and we used the dryer in one night more than we normally do in one year.  There were little side perks of the whole ordeal - for example, our car was vacuumed out for the first time in a long time.  Jason even commented on how impressed he was that I hadn't mentioned its grossness sooner.

We did take the time to make a fire and sit around it with the kids which was definitely the highlight of the evening.  That and my new food experiment that was a HIT!  I came up with the idea to try sliced polenta as the "bread" for pizza pockets in my desire to find a gluten-free option that is just as delicious.  Success!! I'm already eager to do it again.  We used our home grown brown flint corn which I ground and boiled and then solidify in a loaf pan.  Simple, able to grow it ourselves and delicious.  We'll be doing that again...

As the sun set, we decided it was time to start slathering all our heads with the oily goop I had found at Kroger (the one "pesticide free" option on the shelf that looked promising).  I got out the detailed instructions and found it sobering to read around 9 p.m. that one might expect to spend up to an hour combing hair that was longer than shoulder length.  Kali's now touches the chair when she sits AND it is thick AND she had it the worst.  Below that section of the instructions were some tips, including the use of movies to pass the time.  I felt very pleased with my stop by the library the day before our niece and nephew arrived to grab a few movies "just in case."  Thanks to Shaun the Sheep and Max & Ruby we survived the next few hours together in the bathroom and even all seemed to see the humor in finding ourselves with oil-filled heads having a movie party in our bathroom (I guess our huge bathroom is good for something - often feels like a lot of wasted floor space)..

By the end of the evening we had determined that Kali had a massive infestation (we are talking dozens and dozens of bugs), Alida had clearly gotten her fair share of them, and Jason and I had a few each.  Thankfully no sign of any on our niece or nephew and we aimed to keep it that way - load after load of towels, sheets, blankets, clothing, hats, baby carriers, etc...made their way into the washer.  Two black trash bags are in the garage with quarantined stuffed animals and other non-washable items.

I may actually be getting ahead of myself to even post this as it is not 100% certain we are out of the woods but it feels like we are on our way.  We did a comb through last evening and found no bugs, dead or alive, and only very dead/deflated looking nits on Kali and a few on Alida.  So fingers crossed we have licked them.

One of the hardest things was sending that "my child has lice" email to friends and family.  I like to give people I love nice things.  Lice is not on that list!  I've gotten only gracious and understanding responses, even from the one friend whose son can probably thank Kali for the nits they have found.  

I've thought a lot the last few days about maintaining perspective and accepting what comes our way and making the most of it.  It is not hard to get a quick and huge dose of perspective with the news flooding in from Gaza and the personal calls for help from alumni of the graduate program I work with.  It is heartbreaking and brings me up short when I find myself inclined to complain about the huge inconvenience this has been.  It was an inconvenience, but that and only that.  We are all safe, well fed, and comfortable (other than slightly itchy scalps).  So the title of this blog should probably be changed.  It felt in some ways like a nightmare but it is more accurately a bad dream, and a very short-lived one.  

The morning after being up until 2:30 a.m. I opened my email to find that the Peace on the Inside quote for the day was "Always fall in with what you're asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way."  The recommended practice noted that "There is much in our lives that we can't determine, influence, or control.  Today I recognize that my task is not only to accept this, but to find ways to adapt, reframe, reshape, reimagine... to become an artist who uses disaster, discomfort, disappointment as a canvas upon which to express and create."

It's a recommended practice because they are not expecting we are all experts at it yet.  I'm certainly not, but I do feel that all of us have weathered this as well as could be expected.  The kids especially have been great sports about it.  I think a side benefit will be that Kali is unlikely to complain about "normal" hair brushings ever again!!

It felt good today to head outside and do some garden harvesting, to play in the kitchen making pasta with the girls, and to not put a single load of laundry in the washer!  

Alida is now up from her nap and it is time to start working on sauteing my third round of squash, garlic and onions of the day (this time for a potluck so those in our family that might be getting tired of squash can pick something else to enjoy!).  To end on a happy note, here is Kali with her fast growing "ducky!"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pickles and more...

If there weren't pickles in the canner, I would be very inclined towards bed rather than blogging.  But, as it is, the canner is just about to boil so I've got a few minutes to do what will probably be a rather shoddy job of getting this blog up to date. Frankly, I'm not even sure where to start.  Since I last posted, it has been a whirlwind of social gatherings, visits from out of town friends and family, the never ending cycle of harvesting and processing food that defines this time of year, a few canning projects, my first experience of acupuncture, the worst bug I've been slammed with in years, a date night with Jason where we went to two movies at Court Square Theater (we started with the compelling and angering documentary Fed Up and ended with a feel good romantic comedy Words and Pictures), and finally a trip to PA and back.  Life has not been dull!  Is it ever?

On the garden front, we are enjoying our first pole beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.  We are enjoying the last of our sugar snap and snow peas and the wineberries and black raspberries are also winding down.  We continue to be surprised by the lovely kale we are enjoying (we've never been successful at spring kale).  I pull an occasional beet for Alida (who downs as many as I cook up for her).  There are herbs in abundance, mustard greens, lots of squash, onions and garlic.  We dug all our garlic recently and are happy to report that there will be no ping pong playing for some time now because the table is full and overflowing with garlic!  I'm using it by the bulb not by the clove and we are loving it!  We had a major garden scare when we got back from our weekend in PA.  Our fence charger had stopped working and we had purchased a new one but in the rush to get ready for our trip we had not gotten it charged and installed.  A deer got in our garden for the first time ever and possibly also a groundhog.  YIKES!!!  Jason was vigilant with liquid fence for the few days that it took to get the charger up and running and as of last evening the fence was once again giving a good shock to any creature (including Jason) that dared touch it.  And, yes, we did bait it with peanut butter to attract the critters to the garden fence for a little lesson about how they would be happier elsewhere.  So for now it seems the beans are safe, if we can keep up with the bean beetles!

I did get around to picking and making red & white currant jam.  Pretty stuff!!  More recently we enjoyed two evenings of wineberry picking (thanks to the generosity of the parents of some close friends) and made a large batch of wineberry jam, as well as freezing several gallons.  It is a good and bad sign that our stand up freezer is jammed full and the chest freezer is not all that far behind.  Good thing I don't need to freeze cucumbers!  I did freeze some grated trombone squash the other day and hope to give a little more space to more of that before the season ends.  The other thing we harvested the first of the other day was potatoes.  They were delicious and so beautiful.  When I was showing them off to my friend, she asked if I was going to take a picture for the blog.  She noted that it just looked like something that would show up on the blog.  Here it is!
It is often good for us to get away here and there during this time of year, because otherwise we have a really hard time slowing down.  The only other things that seem to do the trick for me are getting really sick or having a baby around.  Well, I got really sick and slowed to a grinding halt and then went to PA where there was a sweet baby that I couldn't hold for fear of passing my illness to her.  What a bummer that was!  But I enjoyed our niece from a distance and it was very special to initiate a quilt top made by Grammy Benner with cousins (thanks to Mom Myers and her sewing circle friends for knotting it)!

The highlight of the weekend for our kiddos was definitely pool time.  I'll end with a short video of the activity that Alida was not interested in discontinuing, even when her lips were purple!