Saturday, January 28, 2017

Lice Truths You Need to Know

Quick note: When I asked my husband what he thought of this blog entry and whether he liked it, he replied: “it doesn’t sound as crazy as you seemed to feel while this was going on.” So, there’s that.  Happy reading.

I stared at the little bug on my phone screen.  It couldn’t be, could it?  But it was. . . .  There was no denying it: I had lice.  Or, at minimum, I had a louse. [Insert every-single-curse-word here.] 

But let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

I had heard lice were going around, so I decided to check my girls.  They hadn’t been itching, but it seemed like a good idea.  I was thinking to myself: oh, I’ll take a quick look and all will be well.       

I started with the big girls.  There were some unusual-looking tiny flecks on one daughter’s head.  Hmnnnnnnn.  Weird.  Possibly lice? I had no idea what to do next, so I consulted with a friend who’s had the misfortune of becoming a lice expert.  She advised me to comb through my daughter’s hair with a metal nit comb and lots of conditioner, wiping the conditioner on a white towel as I went to see if I caught any nits or lice.  Easy enough and we’ll call it a day, I thought.  Except—oh sh*t.  Three little bugs sat on the white towel, drowning in conditioner.

I immediately thought of all the laundry I’d be doing.  All the beds I’d have to change.  All the beloved stuffed animals that would have to be stuffed away or thrown away.  (I was slightly thrilled about that.)  Surprisingly, it felt like it was a task that I could handle.  I was up for this challenge.  I would show these brainless little lice who was boss. 

After consulting with the school nurse, the pediatrician, and more lice expert-friends, I decided to visit a professional lice removal company.  Seth was working late, so I was on my own there with the six pack.  And let me just say, there’s a special circle of hell when you’re at the lice removal place with six small children.  Seriously. 

After careful inspection of all three biggies, the lice verdict was 3 for 3 (no bugs but nits).  Sweet Jesus, pray for me.  They did a thorough inspection of my head, too, and found no lice (or so we all thought, keep reading).

The good news was that my girls found the entire process rather—dare I say it?fun.  They pretended that they were lunch ladies as they sat with shower caps on their heads, after having the lice sucked up off their heads by a weird looking blow dryer contraption.  They danced around.  Lice be damned, they were having a great night.  (I should note here that this was their attitude about the whole ordeal.  Whenever we ran into someone we knew, they would quickly blurt out: we have lice!  No shame there.  I think they enjoyed the shocked and horrified stares by our friends in response.) 

After a restless night of sleep where I dreamed about bugs and dealt with sick toddlers, I woke up thinking: yeah, we did it! House treated, kids treated, crisis averted!  Lice aren’t so bad after all! Then I turned to the next crisis: three babies with raging ear infections who needed to get to the pediatrician.    

Just a quick blow dry and I’ll be on my way, I thought.

And then it happened. 

As I was checking email on my phone, a louse fell smack in the middle of the screen.  I stood there staring at it, feeling frozen.  I wanted to laugh at the hilarity of the louse’s aim; it was as if the louse wanted to say to me, “I’m still here!  Here’s my louse middle finger pointed straight up at you!”  I also wanted to cry but was too tired and overwhelmed.  The babies cried at my feet as I continued to stand there, staring at the louse.  “Hi my name is Chrissy, I’m 38, and I have lice for the first time in my life.  It’s so funny, right?  Not ha-ha funny but ridiculous, sad funny.” I thought to myself.   

Finally, I paused my inner dialogue and called Seth.  I calmly asked him if he could come home and help get the babies ready, and, oh by the way, I have lice and may potentially lose my mind.    

While I wanted to bathe in Nix or whatever lice treatment would rid me of lice, I ended up throwing my hair up and walking out the door to the pediatrician because it was time to go.  (I know your eyes are popping out of your head now that I went to the dr. with lice but take note: (1) lice cannot jump or fly; (2) I didn't sit down because, well, triplets; and (3) the pediatrician and I didn't share any hats or hoodies whereby I'd give her or anyone else lice.  Of course in an ideal world I would've treated myself before I went, but I had to get to the dr. and no one was available to take my three screaming toddlers for me.)  

At the doctor's office, I unloaded my lice drama to the pediatrician, who is thankfully a doctor/baby whisperer/parent counselor.  She assured lice weren’t the worse thing in the world and talked me off my lice ledge. She was so unphased that I imagine she gives that same pep talk multiple times each week, actually.  When we got home, I treated myself to a lovely prescription lice treatment.  All I could think of was that phrase “TREAT YO’SELF!,” which normally implies indulgent pampering.  Treating myself, in the case of lice, was nothing of the sort.  It simply involved coating my hair in a glue-like lotion and sitting there for ten minutes, where I pictured any lice shriveling up and dying a quick death.    

Finally, after another round of treating everyone in my house, we were lice-free.  Thankfully my sanity remained generally intact throughout the process.  To help make sure you also remain sane, I have some important LICE TRUTHS to share with you.  Let me know what you think, and feel free to send to your BFF when she calls you crying that her kids have lice.  Then read it for yourself because y’all probably have lice too.  Sorry.

* * * * * 

LICE TRUTH #1: Lice supposedly prefer clean hair. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if your kids only wash it once a week.  You’re doing a great job of keeping lice away!  Sadly, the dirty hair remedy isn’t everything, though, because we only wash our hair a few times a week and we still got lice.  So while it may not be foolproof, it’s worth a shot. 

LICE TRUTH #2:  Lice bring out the crazy in you.  This is no joke.  When you see your child reach up to scratch their head or move wisps of hair off their faces, panic will rise in your chest.  You will find yourself checking their hair with a flashlight while they sleep.  You will develop OCD after days and days of checking their hair.  In fact, you will have done it so many times that your toddlers will start shouting “CHECK ME! CHECK ME!,” because they think it’s some weird, fun game. 

LICE TRUTH #3:  You won’t ever want to hug anyone ever again, because you will picture lice crawling from their head to yours.  Refer back to #2 if this seems crazy.  It is, but it’s true.  Likewise, you will never look at fabric-covered surfaces the same way again. 

LICE TRUTH #4:  At some point in your lice saga, you’ll consider burning your house down and starting over.  It will just seem easier than doing all that laundry again, rounding up the stuffed animals, vacuuming fabric headboards, etc.  Ultimately you decide that it seems like too much effort to move into a rental so you decide against burning the house down. For now, anyway.

LICE TRUTH #5: You have LOTS of friends who’ve had lice, you just don’t know it.  People don’t generally walk around shouting “I HAVE LICE!” unless you’re one of my children who seem to love sharing that info in a dramatic reveal.  As soon as you share your lice tales with friends, you will learn that so many friends have silently fought the good fight, and when you discover this, you’ll remember how crazed they looked during that time and wish they had told you.  Maybe you wouldn’t have hugged them but you could’ve thrown a bottle of wine and some dinner at their door.  Sharing is caring, y’all.  

LICE TRUTH #6:  Don’t even bother with the over the counter medicines and creams.  They aren't very effective, and they don't kill the nits, so you’ll spend days and days combing them out.  Instead, you should call the pediatrician and have them call in Sklice prescription lotion for the whole family.  The great thing about Sklice is that it kills the lice AND the nits for about 75% of people.  According to their pediatrician, those are sadly very good statistics, too.  Sklice is normally very expensive, but if you go to their website, you can find a manufacturer’s coupon that makes it only $10 for most people!  You can use a different coupon code for each tube you buy too, or at least I could.  You coat your hair in the glue-like, odorless lotion, and then rinse it out.  Done.  (Note I do not work for Sklice but maybe I should?)

LICE TRUTH #7: No one wants lice.  Not you, not the person who gave it to you, not the person that you end up giving it to.  No one says, YES!  I've been dying to share this fresh hell with you!!!  So unless someone knowingly rubs their licey head against yours or blatantly fails to treat her hair, do not harbor any ill will.  It happens.  Life happens.  Lice happen.

LICE TRUTH #8: You don't actually have to wash everything.  You can just dry it all on extra hot for a regular drying cycle.  Another helpful tip from the lice removal experts--peppermint oil is better than tea tree oil for preventative lice care.  

LICE TRUTH #9: Phantom lice will have you scratching your head for months.  At the mention of the word lice, you’ll start scratching.  You may develop a scratching tick.  Do not be alarmed.  It will go away (I mean I think it will?  Mine has not yet.)

LICE TRUTH #10: You will survive lice, even though they will make you a little crazy.  I promise—you will survive.  Just be sure to grab a bottle of wine when you go to the pharmacy to get that nit comb and Sklice prescription.  You’ll want to drink it in between checking the kids’ hair while they’re asleep and changing loads of laundry.  Best of luck.  You're a parent, you got this.    

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Random Roundup of Updates!

      Hello!!  It’s been so long! I’ve been treading water over here for the last two months, paddling and kicking just trying to stay afloat.  I feel like I’m finally catching my breath and exhaling, so now I can fill you in on our eventful holiday season.  Not “eventful” with glamorous holiday parties and other social events, but rather mass chaos, sleep deprivation, and illnesses.  Lots of illnesses.  Strep.  Lice.  Ear infections.  Second set of tubes for all three babies. Lice again.  Tears (mine).  Fever viruses.  Mono tests. Prolonged fever viruses.   

Every time I thought about writing a blog post, I stopped myself because I really didn't have much to say except: I’m tired.  Guess who's sick now!  Will I ever be alone? I’m still tired. I hate lice.  I also used any free minutes to catch up on general life stuff, like showering, sleeping, and Real Housewives.  But finally, here I am, the fog has lifted, all is well (knock on wood), so I can finally say—HELLO!  (Side note: the lice will receive their own blog post, because I have a lot to say about lice.  Specifically, how they are the devil.)

So, here's what's new with the six pack! 

The Babies

The “babies” are crazy little toddlers these days.  They talk NONSTOP, and they love to say to me, “watch ME! Watch this, mama!”  With their rapidly increasing language skills, it’s easy to see their different personalities.  Ruby, the youngest of the three, is the ringleader of the group.  She’s very athletic and loves to jump on the furniture.  She has a deep, full-belly laugh and usually has a playful smile on her face.  Abby, the middle baby, is very talkative and demands attention.  I sometimes think she’s in denial she’s a triplet.  She loves to be held and is more often happy to do her own thing apart from the other two.  Her most favorite activity is digging in my bathroom drawers and peeling my disposable contact lenses out of their plastic cases.  I kid you not.  Libby, the oldest of the three (and Ruby’s identical twin), is very sweet and a bit shy.  She's a mama's girl.  She has the best little giggle and likes to carry around purses overflowing with treasures.

The babies love and fight hard.  They have an inherent sense of order and fairness, and, as part of a trio, they expect their sisters to have the same things as them.  For example, if two babies are in the kitchen with me and I’m passing out a snack, they will wait for me to fix the third snack and carry it to the baby that is in the other room.  As triplets, they also have a few words that are noticeably different than my singletons, especially “my turn.”  They are fairly patient when it comes to waiting their turn, because it’s always been a part of life for them.  Most of the time the babies are running around the house naked, so I think it’s really time to potty train them.  I need to muster up the energy for that.  Not there yet. 

One other random thing that I get a lot of questions about—I dress them alike not simply because I want them to match, but because it’s mentally easier for me.  If we’re at a park and I need to scan and count 1-2-3, I don’t have to think about what they’re wearing, I just look for the same outfit. You may notice that Abby, the fraternal baby, is sometimes dressed different than the other two.  That is purely self-selection.  Unlike the others, she is happy to stay in PJs all day so I let her.  On the other hand, the other two LOVE clothes and changing clothes so it’s quite easy to get them dressed.

The Biggies

The biggies had a fabulous holiday season and spent lots of time playing with cousins and neighbors! However, after the holiday break, getting back in to the school routine has been ROUGH.  I feel like maybe I should get my van wrapped with a text that says “HOT MESS EXPRESS” because we roll up to school every day in my trash-can-on-wheels, I mean my van, looking like a huge mess that we are.  If you have any tips for making our mornings smoother, I’m all ears.  I already lay out the clothes etc. the night before.  Other than our rough mornings, the biggies are doing great.  The babies have been really liking books lately, so I’ve been having my two oldest read to them.  That’s a definite win-win! 

And as for me and this little blog . . . 

As for me, I’m feeling hopeful about making some positive changes in the new year—writing more, exercising more, etc.  You may recall that I started writing this blog as a New Year’s resolution last year!  And I stuck with it, minus the illness/lice absence in November and December!

It’s been amazing to connect with old and new friends via this blog.  I started it as a way to use my brain a little and create a sense of community.  Since then, it’s grown organically through your sharing and reading.  In fact, over the last year, my blog has been viewed over 42,000 times.  I have readers in Germany (hi, Allison!), France, Russia, Canada, the Ukraine, and Australia.  Who are you, friends?  I would love to hear from you!  

I’ve shared a lot of personal info on here, which can sometimes leave me feeling naked in the middle of a party, but I love that so many people can relate to things that I’ve written.  It is gratifying to share talk with others who’ve shared similar experiences, funny moments, and losses.  In particular, I think about a friend of my husband's who told me that he found comfort in my blog post about grief and losing my Dad.  He thanked me, and told me he had read it soon after losing his mom.  Nothing could've made me happier, because that was my purpose in writing about grief--I wanted others to know that we're not walking through it alone.   

Another one of my posts that generated lots of love and support was the one about my niece, Elise. That particular post was the most popular thing I’ve written to date.  It was read by thousands of people and shared on Facebook over 200 times.  What is most remarkable, though, is the tremendous outpouring of love, support, and acts of kindness that you provided in response to that post.  Here’s a quick summary:
  • You donated funds to Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which provides musical instruments to disadvantaged students.
  • You said countless prayers for my sister and her family.
  • You donated to the March of Dimes, whose mission is to fight prematurity.
  • You shared your stories of infant loss.
  • You donated baby gear to a local woman’s shelter.
  • You donated 25 pounds of breastmilk (WOW!) to a NICU, where preemie babies would benefit from your donation.
  • You offered your mass to Elise.
  • You paid for someone’s coffee at the drive thru.
  • You donated a doll to a child in need for Christmas.
  • You adopted two children from an Angel Tree in memory of Elise.
  • You spread holiday cheer via Christmas caroling.
  • You donated to an immigrant right’s group.
  • You bought your students pizza and discussed the importance of caring for the whole family when providing health care services.
  • You bought meals for those in need.
  • You called and texted my sister to tell her you were thinking of her and remembering her baby.
So, stay tuned for more writing soon.  I will try to remain uncensored as I share the everyday chaos and fun of life with my six little ones.  Until then, look for the hot mess express cruising around town with the six pack in tow.  And if you’re having a hard day, just remember: you’re not alone!      

This photo reminds of the Bear Hunt kids' book.  Do you know it? It's fun.
("We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one.  What a beautiful day! We're not scared.")
Photo courtesy of my amazing SIL Katie, a photographer/toddler whisperer/magician extraordinaire.