Trust Me, I Am an Expert (But I Wish I Wasn’t)

There are a lot of things I know a lot about, and even more things I know a little about and pretend to know a lot about. But in the past year, there is one thing that I, sadly, would consider myself an expert on. It is not a thing I openly talk about – especially with new people – but since you people are my people, here goes. 

It's head lice. Yep. HEAD LICE. I know all about how to treat head lice. (I am killing it with hair emergencies.)

Because one lovely morning when I was cuddling A on the couch, I discovered a bug in her hair. And then more than one. And then…well, let's just say it turned out I also had it and it was gross. (Is your head itching yet?!)

So after my initial tearful "butimthirtysomethingandiveneverhadliceuntilnow" fit – which my mom promptly ended by saying "of course you've had lice, you just don't remember" – I set about solving the problem. So here's the deal, in case the lice fairy ever visits your house: 

Step 1: Quarantine and Treatment – Kid with lice is separated from kid without lice, temporarily, to apply lice treatment. Because I was scared out of my mind, I immediately treated both A and I with Rid or something equally toxic, but if I had it to do over, here is what I would recommend for treatment:

  • how to treat head liceOlive Oil: The theory is that it suffocates the lice. I think mayonaise is supposed to accomplish the same goal. Ditto baby oil or Vaseline. But if you heat the olive oil up before application, it's like a ghetto hot oil treatment.
  • Lice Free Spray: There are a couple of natural lice sprays on the market that are relatively non-toxic. My favorite part about this product is that you can use it as many times as you want, unlike Rid, which is so toxic that you can only use it once every 7-10 days. I have since used it as a preventative method before t-ball and when there was a lice scare at the kids school a month or so ago.
  • Styling Tools: I used the blow drier and flat iron on both A and I repeatedly. I got this tip from my friend Deanna, who also saved the day during the red hair debacle. She is like my hair savior, I swear. Apparently the heat kills the nits. (Ew, it's even a gross word.)
  • Coconut Oil & Shampoo: I immediately purchased the Organix brand of coconut milk shampoo, conditioner and coconut oil to wash A's hair. I continue to wash her hair with it. Apparently lice do not like essential oils like coconut, mint, or tea tree. 

Step 2: Cleaning – While A and I were having our "hot oil treatments", I was frantically stripping beds, vacuuming furniture and putting everything else into trash bags for the recommended two week incubation period. Everything that could be dried went into the dryer for a minimum of 30 minutes: pillows, stuffed animals, hats, clothes, bedding…you get the idea. My washer/dryer has never worked so hard. Also – don't forget about carseats and strollers. Vaccum them. Repeatedly.

Step 3: Combing – This is the nastiest and most tedious step. It is the step that I would imagine most people either do inadequately or skip over entirely, which is why lice are often recurring. It almost makes you wish the lice would just eat your brain, because that would likely be easier. It involves sectioning off the hair and going through it, literally, with a fine tooth comb. And the stuff that comes off the comb…well…yuck. But it has to be done. More than once. I recommend a show that you never let your kid watch normally and an unhealthy amount of fruit snacks while they sit, captive, in a chair. Note: if you are unlucky enough to also have lice, do not ask your husband to do this for you. Call your mother or your best friend. Promise that you will leave wine, rubber gloves and a shower cap on the doorstep if they come. Trust me on this. 

Step 4: Full Disclosure – I was not thrilled that we had lice, but I would not wish lice on my worst enemy. Well…okay, maybe my worst enemy. But that's it. So I had to get on the phone and notify school, the gym, music class, story time (you get the picture) that we had lice. Which is awesome, in case you were wondering. 

Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – I think this is the most important step. You have to continue everything ad nauseum. Particularly the vacuuming and the cleaning. Of everything their heads touch in the course of a day. And the combing. Ad nauseum. I think it was an entire month before I stopped vacuuming daily, drying our pillows and A's buddies each morning after sleeping on them, and picking through her hair like a monkey does to its offspring. I still haven't gotten over my head itching or stopped examining each flake of dandruff carefully to make sure that is what it is.

Step 6: Recovery and Prevention – A is no longer allowed to go to school or activities with her hair down. I continue to wash her hair with the coconut shampoo and spray both kids with Lice Free in high-risk lice situations. (No, I am not joking. Have you not seen a public indoor play space?) Am I crazy? Possibly. But I want to do everything I can to avoid becoming any more of an expert on this particular topic.


Why, Target? WHY?

(Editor's Note: Yes, I know it is March. I wrote this weeks ago and did not have a chance to post it. Now seems like a good time, and it also fits for FTFS. Because swimsuit shopping in January is nothing if not stupid. )

Finish the Sentence Friday
I am a Target shopper. And while the list of things I enjoy about the Target (say it with me now, Tar-jay) far outweigh the things I don’t, there is this one little thing.
Bathing suits in January. WTF, Target? 
Are you trying to make me feel bad that I don’t have vacation plans? Do you really think I’m looking to try on bathing suits even though I haven’t recovered from my holiday binging? Maybe you are passively-aggressively telling me it’s time to revisit the gym. Either way. Not cool.
But here’s the other thing about Target and the January bathing suits. By May, the only bathing suits you can find are size 2 or size 16, tucked away at the end of the “up to 70% off” clearance rack. And good luck to you if you wanted a top and bottom in matching sizes. HA.
So during my tri-weekly trip to Target, I spotted the cutest swimsuit. And because I am a seasoned Target shopper, and I know how the game is played, I added it to my cart along with a couple others. Because that is how the swimsuit game, in general, is played.
I got home, psyched myself up, and took out suit #1 to try on. It was a one-piece, made by Spanx, that looked phenomenal on. You know what did not look phenomenal? The angry red lines on my thighs from where I had drag the suit up to get it on. It was like trying to wrestle a sausage into its casing. RETURN.
Inner monologue: “It’s okay. That’s how Spanx work. We know this. I’m sure the next one will be better.”
Suit 2: On the one hand, my boobs look phenom – they are in the right place again, and this thing must have padding because they’re a lot more ample than usual. On the other hand, not only are the bottoms cutting into that unfortunate place that draws extra attention to back fat, if I were brave enough to turn around – I’m not – I’m pretty sure there would be butt cleavage. RETURN.
Suit 3: Appears to be an exact replica of suit 2, different pattern. I know better than to even try.
Dejected, I return the suits to the Target bag and commence "itscocktailthirty." It’s February. I am fat and finally understand what is meant by “a whiter shade of pale.” I know better than to try on bathing suits at this time of year, but Target has left me no choice.
The next day I present the suits at the Target return counter, avoiding eye contact with the skinny twentysomething counter girl who is helping me.
"So is there anything wrong with these items?" (At least she didn't add ma'am.)
"Um, no, they just don't actually, you know, fit." 
“Oooooh, I love this suit, it is totally  cute! I bought it but had to go up a couple of sizes because it is juniors.”
My head snaps up – “Did you say JUNIORS?”
“Oh yeah,” she says. “I had to go up to like a medium.“
“You should really have a sign warning people about that. Where the line is between 'adult' and 'junior' sizes. With flashing lights and bright colors. Especially in swimsuits. But thank you for telling me. I feel MUCH better.”

Things I Wish Were Still True

It is cold and flu season. Which means everyone is sick, or recovering from being sick, or about to get sick. Fun times all around. And inevitably, you have a mother/grandmother/random person who interjects their two cents about treating “sick” – “just make them a hot toddy with lemon, honey and a little whiskey.”

Dude. My kid is 3. Whiskey, really? I mean…I like your style, but I don’t think that is allowed anymore. Which makes me think of other things that are no longer allowed, but I totally wish still were. Like…
  • No carseats, seatbelts optional. Then I would be feeling like a rockstar for buckling my kids in at all, rather than feeling like a jerk for forgetting the booster seat in the other car. Again.
  • I will put you in the car. I was a nightmare as a child. As a result, every time we went to a restaurant, my mother would park within sight of a window table in the restaurant and insist on being seated at said table. 9 times out of 10, she started the meal with two children at the table and ended it with one in the car. Who had been there since right around “can I take your order?”
  • I’m just running in. Any errand that can be completed in five minutes or less should not necessitate extricating children from carseats, locating errant shoes and socks, and bundling up in outerwear. We live in Maine. And I can see you from the store. You know who else I can see? Nosy McNoserson calling social services from the car next to mine. Dammit.
  • Go play outside. You know, by yourself. With no supervision. For several hours. Just steer clear of the ice cream truck. That dude is creepy.
  • Itscocktailthirty for kids. Also known as the whiskey rule. “Oh, rub some Jack Daniels on their gums for teething! Make them a hot toddy for their cold! They’ll feel much better!” Maybe, maybe not. But they will likely be in an alcohol-induced stupor. But they can get that from hand sanitizer, too, so…no judgement here.
So I’m (mostly) kidding. I buckle my kids up. I don’t leave them in the car unattended (often). And I’ve never let them have alcohol (on purpose). Because, unfortunately for us, it is a different world now than the one we and our parents grew up in.
Sad, because I know I would have made an awesome Betty Draper – only I totally would have held onto my hot husband and been nicer to my kids.

ecard credit: Alysson Homa

Being Sick – The Silver Lining

Moms like to talk a lot about how we never get a sick day. And in large part, that is true. But every once in a great while, some bug or virus comes along that leaves us no choice but to succumb to being sick and take a sick day. No, it’s not the same kind of sick day it was before you were a mom – where you lay on the couch for hours on end watching Lifetime movies and drinking tea, not getting up until you feel ready. Still – it’s your body’s way of saying “hey, stop putting everything else first and ignoring me. I’m going on strike.”

Turns out there are actually good things about sick days, I realized today. A silver lining, if you will.

Asking for Help: No matter how old you are, most of us never get too old to want our moms when we’re sick. Yes, our moms – you know, the people who feel the same way about us as we do our tiny humans? And when you are close enough in proximity to your mom to send out an SOS call and have her come by? Bliss. And the fact that she dresses your kids, packs their lunches, brings them to school and leaves you a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee when she goes? Even bliss-er. (Yes, I am aware that is not a word.)

Not Asking for Help: And getting it anyway. Ry had already left for an early meeting when I realized I needed help yesterday morning, hence calling my mom. But since I didn't ask for his help at all yesterday and even managed to throw something into the crock pot for dinner, I got a pass out of feeding the kids dinner and bedtime. Heck yeah!

Skipping #itscocktailthirty: I go through a nightly "should I or shouldn't I have a glass of wine" routine. But since I'm trying to get back on track with eating healthy and working out, I've been struggling with not drinking as much. No problem the past two days – the only things I want to drink are coffee and tea. Oh, and entire bottles of Nyquil.spring flowers

Taking "Me" Time: When my mom left with the kids yesterday morning, I climbed back into bed with my coffee and watched The Bachelor. Then I took a super-long, super-hot shower.  I didn't return any work calls, because I literally can't speak. Later in the day, I didn't feel guilty about letting Ry do everything for the kids. Today, the only things on my agenda (aside from driving the mom taxi to and from school) are cuddling with my girl, watching shows and drinking hot beverages.

Karma, Baby: I believe in karma. Which made me grateful for the fact that I randomly bought myself flowers on Monday for a little color. It's like I knew I would need a "get well soon" bouquet – to me, from me. It also, strangely, made me grateful that I lost my voice and could not yell at kids. We all had enough yelling on Monday.

I miss talking to my friends on the phone. I felt like a weirdo at kindergarten information night grabbing my throat when I tried to talk in some weird "I have no voice" Ariel the Little Mermaid sign language. It is not fun being sick, but it is necessary, and for a couple days anyway I'm kind of okay with it. As long as I feel better by the weekend.

Things are looking good, though – A just declared "Mumma, I can hear your voice, you're better!" so it must be so. 

tea for two



Young As I’ll Ever Be

I grew up hearing about how my mom didn't get an engagement ring from my dad, per se. Instead, she received the gorgeous emerald cut diamond that I coveted most of my childhood as a "holyshitimthirtyandhavetwokidsunder18months" present (peace offering?). Apparently, she had a meltdown on par with Britney shaving her head and attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella over the big 3-0. Which I never really understood. I mean, it's just another year, right?

WRONG. As soon as I turned thirty, I started saying, "I'm too old to…" about just about everything. I'm too old to…have long hair, wear makeup with "shimmer", go to certain bars (I'm looking at you, "Pearl" which is really just a fancy way of saying "Liquid Blue"). I mean, I'm thirty now. That's, like, at least halfway to being dead. (Which is actually not true, except in my head.)

I stare at myself in the mirror constantly. "Is that an age spot? Fine lines and wrinkles; there is nothing fine about those lines. How long have I looked like this? Why isn't Ry aging AT ALL?" I buy products that I'm pretty sure are formulated for women twice my age. Whatever, I am stopping the aging process. 

Except for the fact that I am not. It is not stopping, or reversing as some of these things claim. I am as young today as I will ever be. 

Here's the thing – I am over thirty. I have two children under the age of six (but, thankfully, over the age of three!). I think maybe my stomach is supposed to be a little round, my laugh lines are supposed to be starting to show, and I am not supposed to be able to walk around without a bra. Those things mean I incubated and nursed two tiny humans, and that I somehow managed to laugh while I was doing it. 

And, contrary to popular belief, I will probably never look younger than I do today. So I have two choices: continue to obsess over something I cannot change or age gracefully. I choose aging gracefully.

Which does not mean I will stop working out, or putting on wrinkle cream, or wearing my hair halfway down my back. I'm not going to let myself go; I am going to give myself a little leeway. To look and act good for my age, or even just my age. Because given the alternative – not aging – this is what I choose.

What-If : Getting Control of Anxiety

I have always been an anxious person. As I child I was most afraid – in no particular order – of bridges, heights, my parents dying in a car crash and nuclear war. As I grew into my teenaged years and early 20's, I was less anxious and afraid but certainly not fearless.

Then I became a mom. And my old friend anxiety came back and hit me like a Mack truck. Because here's the thing, the thing no one tells you before you decide to have a child – being a mom will make you a little bit (or a lot) crazy. Some people liken it to walking around with your heart outside your body. I think it's more like walking around with an extremely painful open wound that someone constantly pours salt into. Too much? Maybe to you. But not to me; not when I'm struggling so much with getting control of anxiety.

I've become the queen of the "what ifs." This has been building for awhile. "What if it had been my kid who went missing? What if this plane crashes and my children are orphaned? What if a creepy weirdo shoots up this movie theater?" 

But over the past few weeks, I have hit a new low. I have been strangely sick, and I am never sick. And googling my multitude of symptoms – such a nasty habit, googling medical symptoms – continued to feed one great big what if. 

"What if there is something so wrong with me that it cannot be fixed? What if I die?"

I couldn't stop it, the downward spiral toward my hypothetical terminal diagnosis. Even though I knew it was unlikely, I could not let it go. I could not get control of my anxiety. Every second, in some part of my brain, I was working out what I would do and how I would tell people and what I would ask them to do for me and how I could leave the tiny humans behind and whether Ryan would meet someone right away. Every second. 

Until this morning, when a very big test came back normal. And I am breathing again. I am smiling, and laughing, and living my life. I am not playing the "what if" game. Not tonight. 

Meanwhile, I wasted six weeks of my life. I worried away the holidays, not entirely present because my mind was too busy wondering "what if this is the last one I get?" It means that it is past time to focus on getting control of my anxiety. Because one of these days will be the last one. And I don't want to be looking back, knowing how many days I wasted waiting for the last one to show up. 

2013 is the year I work on getting control of the anxiety. Because, again, "your children will become who you are. So be who you want them to be." I want these tiny humans to grow up to be fearless and go on every adventure that I was too scared for. I do not want them to be this version of me. 

Going to the Gym (Gratitude – Day 14)

Last year at this time, I was diligently going to the gym. R and I were working out with a personal trainer and I had a great gym routine going – working out three or four times a week. I stuck it out through the New Year and well into the summer before I dropped off. Schedules changed, work got busy, and I quit my gym routine.

I also quit eating sensibly, limiting alcohol intake to weekends and lots of other healthy habits that I was practicing when I was going to the gym. Which is weird, I know. You would think that I would realize that I needed to be more careful with my food and drink intake since I wasn't working out at all.  But I'm an "all or nothing" kind of girl, so no gym routine goes hand in hand with no self control.

End result: less than satisfied with total body package. Not "fat", necessarily, just feeling unhealthy and like my clothes don't fit the way I'd like. (Also, when did I start gaining weight in my back? Not cool, 30's.)

So today, for the first time in a long time, I told A we were going to the gym. Sad, that I have to tell my 2 year old my plan so she can hold me to it. Because A likes the gym. There are other kids there, and super-awesome caregivers who think she is the cutest thing ever.

I would be lying if I said I loved every second of my workout. But I did love the feeling that I got after I was done – like I had accomplished something. I made smarter food choices than I have been and I even decided to forego my nightly glass of wine (or three). I hope I can get back into the gym routine again and try to maintain my weight through the holidays. 

Because I am thirtysomething now. My metabolism is slowing down, and dropping a quick five pounds isn't possible the way it used to be. And I want to be strong and comfortable in my skin as I get older so that A grows up with a mama who isn't self-conscious and unhappy with the way she looks. I want her to be able to love herself and know that she is beautiful; I think girls learn that first from their mamas.

Gratitude, day 14 – going to the gym. One small step toward getting back into the gym routine. (Hopefully).