My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Another Gratitude Post: Day 18 (Alternatively titled “Lice: A Hate Story”)

This is the getting to the end of the gratitude posts I started in November. I’m so terrible at keeping commitments. I’m great at keeping commitments that have some bearing on life: I remember to pay water bills (most of the time), I regularly keep track of when I need to pick up my kids, and I frequently remember to have food in the fridge. But remembering birthdays, keeping track of what I said I’d do for someone two weeks ago, finding time to exercise? Not my strong suit.

However, I have a source of gratitude: Our family is lice-free. While this may seem like an everyday occurrence to many, it’s a reason for celebration around here.

I remember when I lived in Nepal, working as a volunteer with a Jesuit volunteer organization. My roommate and I would say something that we were thankful for every night around the dinner table. After spending a lot of time adjusting to the diet and various bouts of bacterial dysentery, a frequent source of gratitude was our Health. You see, when you are often healthy, health is taken for granted. Likewise, when you are free of bugs in your hair, you don’t think to stop and be grateful for your parasite-free head.

My daughter--with a head full of Nix--on Christmas Eve Eve

My daughter–with a head full of Nix–on Christmas Eve Eve

When you KNOW you have lice, you have a few options. I didn’t know all of those options then and I wasn’t about to be delayed by my internet searches, so I ran straight to the local drugstore, talked with the pharmacist (who acted bored, quite frankly), and bought some permethrin-laced pesticide that would kill those blasted bugs.

In retrospect, slathering a known neurotoxin all over our heads was not the best way to celebrate Christmas, but it was a bonding experience. If I had to do it all over again (saying a quick prayer right now), I would skip the $26 lice kits (yep, $26 a piece, making it a pitiful $100 purchase around Christmas-time), get at lice comb or two and bunch of good movies.

This is an image: kids on the floor, spotlight on their noggins, mom & dad carefully combing through their heads

This is the image: kids on the floor, spotlight on their noggins, mom & dad carefully combing through their heads

Where did we get the lice? I’m pretty sure, based on the 300 or so nits I pulled from her head, that Scout had them first. Her school has had a number of lice cases this year, and I can only think she must  have somehow brought them home from school. If you do your research, it’s actually not all that common to get lice from hats or keeping your jacket next to another jacket. Lice like to live on people’s heads, so they don’t hang out on the floor or the desks–they pretty much need head-to-head contact to transfer from one person to another. They cannot jump. They crawl awkwardly, and it’s sort of a mystery how Scout got it, but somehow, some way, they became part and parcel of Christmas of 2013.

That we all got it from one another is no mystery. We constantly bed share–well, our girls share a bed frequently and Cory & I share a bed–and we read stories to the girls in their bed, propped up against pillows. How was I to know that this put me right in the line of fire of those buggers? The big problem with lice, other than making you feel like a dirtball, is that they are freakishly annoying to get rid of. You must remove all the nits, and the only way to do that is by sliding the little egg sac (probably the size of a droplet of water) down the hair shaft. Did I mention that I estimate that Scout had 300 or so nits?

At first, our kids did well with the removal. “Come, sit on the floor while I pour over your head and you can watch copious amounts of TV!” But, as with anything, nitpicking got old. The kids dreaded the whole process. Then we discovered that heat can kill them–BINGO! In addition to the scalp-scraping, we then tried blasting them with the hairdryer until they begged for mercy. It’s no coincidence that my hair dryer died, and I had to get a new one.

The infestation also raised a whole host of issues that made celebrating Christmas at my parents house just a little absurd–keeping our brushes in individual ziplocks and keeping the girls hair tightly tied back in buns & ponytails during our visit. Having lice as a family is an odd situation–it’s a laugh-one-minute-cry-the-next-type of situation, at least it was for me. The kids seemed rather oblivious, thank goodness. I was like a vacuuming, laundering freak of nature for 48 hours or so.

My mom--the brave grandma--holding Ruby who is rockin' the 'up-do'

My mom–the brave grandma–holding Ruby who is rockin’ the ‘up-do’

Here’s the thing, even a parent who is with her kids 24/7 can miss the fact that her kids have bugs running around in her hair. Neither of my kids ever complained of itching, and I never saw them scratch or appear uncomfortable. For Scout, she is very independent and has been washing, rinsing, brushing and combing her hair for the past year or so. Ordinarily, she hates having her hair tied back, so I had not had that many occasions to run through her hair myself. Sure, the school sent home a flyer saying, “Someone in your child’s class has been identified with lice,” but I was the dummy that thought, “Good Heavens, I’d know if my kid had bugs in her hair!” I never even bothered checking. Big mistake. Based on the amount of nits Scout had and the average rate of egg-laying for an adult louse, I’d say she could have had the bugs for a month. A MONTH. Now, you think you had a bad a parenting day? Let me put this in perspective for you: I unknowingly let bugs crawl around in my daughter’s gorgeous, thick chestnut brown hair–and further infest our whole family--all because I assumed that I’d know if my kid had bugs in her hair.

I always say it: parenting is a humbling experience. Again and again, I am humbled. I just wish I didn’t need an expensive, time-consuming lesson like lice to teach me that I can be an arrogant jerkball. The other thing that makes you feel like an ass is that in my inattention to detail, we could have affected other families. I had to call two families that were over for playdates and alert them to the fact that their kids may now have the gift of lice–quite an unconventional Christmas gift. I sent emails to teachers, the Sunday School director and the director of Ruby’s preschool. More than anyone else in the world, I dreaded telling my mom and my brother–the two biggest cleanfreaks that I know. I actually thought my family did rather well with the news–they touched and hugged the kids anyway, isn’t that sweet?

If you’ve never had lice, then kudos to you. I checked that one off the list and I will be perfectly happy not to relive this little rite-of-passage for the school-age set. If you have an experience of lice or anything even slightly related, I’d love to hear about it. C’mon, it’s okay to come out of the lice closet.


Halloween taught me what a control freak I am

Often I have light-heartedly said, “I didn’t realize what a control freak I was until I had kids!” My kids, like most kids, are unpredictable. I see myself as laid back, but I have been proven wrong on this self-identified character trait many times. I’m attached to the idea that my day should go a certain way. Admittedly, my expectations are high: I want my day to go smoothly every day. My prayer has never once been, “Dear God, please see to it that every single thing that I put thought and effort into today goes terribly awry.” And yet, it feels as though that is precisely what happens on a fairly regular basis.

Imagine each of these situations:

  • I handed my then-toddler a “broken banana” (rather than the whole banana in one long, continuous banana shape)
  • I insisted that we strap her into the carseat, rather than flop around the car unrestrained
  • I advised wearing weather-appropriate footwear, and even-gasp!-socks
  • I put “sparkly” toothpaste on her toothbrush, rather than the “minty” kind
  • I said, “Five minutes until it’s time to go,” and vocalized the countdown  minute-by-minute, and then I tried to actually follow through on leaving said location
  • I turned the page of the book by myself
  • I did not give them four quarters to pump into the Claw Machine
  • I tried to give 2% milk instead of our standard 1% milk

Each and every one of the aforementioned situations prompted genuine despair and conflict for my family. Tears, snot and loud cries of heartbreak were all involved in these emotional reactions to seemingly innocent situations. Parents of small children know that there are many instances where something simple surprises everyone as a tantrum-trigger. In these situations, I was not at all laid back. I did not handle these tantrums with flexibility or grace. Some of the tears that were shed may have been my own.

Of course, Halloween is a control freak’s nightmare. The holiday has a lovely premise: Celebrate the night before All Saint’s Day by dressing children in costumes, and then have them approach strangers’ homes and beg for candy.  A successful Halloween is measured by the massive amount of sugary treats and no one smashing your Jack O’Lanterns. Check and check.

Despite a successful Halloween, I made a harsh discovery: I am a narcissistic control freak. It’s true. And it all started with an innocent attempt to help my daughter with her costume.

This is the first year that I helped Scout with her costume. My kids have traditionally been very big fans of Dress Up, and Halloween had previously been little more than going into the basement to pick out one of their Dress Up dresses to wear in public. The first problem with assisting with Halloween costumes is the high expectations involved. The thought that I could easily help with any project involving a deadline and a child’s anticipation of perfection is decidedly ambitious.

When Scout said she wanted to be Olivia, from the books by Ian Falconer, we found a photo of inspiration. We found tights at a Halloween store, but we went to the fabric store for everything else–the pattern and the fabric.

The original book by Ian Falconer (photo from

The original book by Ian Falconer (photo from

I foolishly thought we were committed to Olivia. About three days after our trip to gather the costume fixings, Scout requested to change her costume to “Ladybug Girl.Um, no, you’ll have to save that idea for next year. Daily, she continued to mention different costume ideas, and I kept pressing the issue: We already bought the fabric to make the Olivia costume.

The Olivia you see on TV, in the Nickelodeon series, and also the source of our inspiration for the costume

The Olivia you see on TV, in the Nickelodeon series, and also the source of our inspiration for the costume

Last weekend, the fabric went from being two yards of broadcloth to something resembling a jumper. Hours of shoulder-hunching over the sewing machine yielded promising results. Though the ears deserved more engineering than my husband and I were willing to perform, I think the costume was appropriately Olivia-like in its nature. Scout, on the other hand, was rather lukewarm about the costume and maintained that the ears were insufficiently stiff.

Struggling with those darn ears

Struggling with those darn ears

Prior to Halloween, she declined to try on the outfit and she even dressed as a “Spider Princess” for a Halloween event at our church. I told myself that it was her choice, and I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it, but I was hurt.  She maintained that she would dress as Olivia for school. On the big morning of Halloween, she started her morning by wearing a red dress… but not her Halloween costume. I told her that she could simply dress in her costume for school.

“Oh, okay.”

She did dress as Olivia and she did bring her ears along to school.

Olivia helps LIttle Red Riding Hood

Olivia helps LIttle Red Riding Hood

I knew that she wouldn’t want to be Olivia for Trick-or-Treating, so I wasn’t surprised when she wanted to take her costume off later that day. I asked her if I could take a few photos of her to send to her grandparents. She was uninterested. And this was the point in which I lost my marbles.

“Do you realize how much time I put into making this costume? Do you know how hard I worked on this? Even Dad pitched in to make your ears! All I want is one decent photo of you to send to your grandparents!” And on and on, all of which was said with the most guilt-trip inducing tone known to humankind. It worked. She put her costume back on and I snapped a few photos.

And after all of that, I thought, “WHY?” Why did I make my child feel guilty for wanting nothing to do with the costume I made her? Why did I get all bent out of shape because she had a change of heart? More than once I told myself, “I am never doing this again.” I’m not sure if I meant “I am never investing myself in a Halloween costume again” or “I am never acting like a two-year-old when I get my feelings hurt again.” Maybe both.

I felt rejected. My creation wasn’t met with the enthusiasm that I’d hoped for. Sure, she said “Thank you,” because I am a control freak who instills politeness in my children, but I wanted utter devotion to her new costume. I had absurdly assumed that my labor of love would be loved.

I was devastated. I was devastated? Seriously, there are people in this world with real problems and I’m sitting around feeling sorry for myself because my six-year-old doesn’t like my home ec project? It seemed so silly. And still my feelings persisted.

Amazingly, I came across this amazing devotion on “Grace” in the book Momfulness by Denise Roy. The words took my breath away.

Grace holds you up when you feel completely unappreciated because no one sees all the thousands of little things you do in a day. Grace sees.

Grace sees.

My kids are sweet, and my life is good, but I harbor no delusions that I’m doing it all perfectly. I am often not satisfied with the simple notion that Grace sees. I want my kids to see. I want my husband, my parents, my friends, my neighbor’s uncle’s dogs to all see.

I have not solved the problem of trying to control my life or the lives of my kids. My guess is that I will always struggle to let them make their own decisions, especially when their decisions seem to dismiss my own efforts and ideas. My interest in being acknowledged and seen is simply human and imperfect, but I have no malice in my heart.

What about you? Do you struggle with control issues as you parent? What have you found that has enhanced your ability to “let go” of things?

I’m not really a Wallflower, but I’ll try

Have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? I am not quite sure why, but I only recently read this book. Well, I actually devoured this book. In any case, I have been inspired. Also, I haven’t written a post in a long time. So, let’s see if I can merge these two things…

March 13, 2013

Dear friend,

I have had every intention of writing to you, but this is my first attempt. Time has been scarce, it seems. But when I think about it, time has also been plentiful. How is that? That time can seem infinite and also so limited?

Family is weird and lovely. But mostly lovely. I felt drawn to go visit my father for his birthday this year. He happens to have been born on Valentine’s Day, which is kind of weird but he can’t help it. The kids and I took a trip to Wisconsin for five days, and Cory stayed home because he doesn’t have the same kind of flexibility that I do as a stay-at-home-mom. I did enjoy the face time, and the kids enjoyed the toys my parents bought them.

My dad and me

My dad and me (self-held camera shot)

On the day that we left Wisconsin, my dad traveled about 60 miles to spend time at a hospital where he saw a ton of new doctors and had a lot of new tests. I kept waiting for him to call me, but mostly I called my mom to find out how he was doing. He spent 11 days in the hospital and came home with new medicine and new information. The new doctor suggested that he could have a heart pump, or an LVAD as the heart pump is commonly known. I read a bit about the LVAD, but mostly I can’t stop thinking about the plotline on “Grey’s Anatomy” where Dr. Izzie Stevens falls in love with her patient Denny Duquette and she cuts his LVAD wire so that he can be moved to the top of the heart recipient list.

Oh, Denny and Izzie... why'd it have to go so WRONG??? From

Oh, Denny and Izzie… why’d it have to go so WRONG??? From

My older daughter has been really anxious about school. Many mornings have been difficult these past few weeks.

“I don’t want to go to school today.”

“It’s hard to go to school when you don’t want to go but sometimes we all have to do things that we don’t want to do.”

“I won’t go to school. If you make me go to school, I’m going to steal all the jewelry out of your jewelry box.”

“That doesn’t make me want to keep you home from school.”

Acting not at all anxious with Papa

Acting not at all anxious with Papa

My younger daughter does not like to wear pants. She likes to wear skirts. The skirts have to twirl, though. She will wear the skirt all day and then put it on over her pajamas. She sleeps in a twirly skirt over her pajamas, and it’s probably not comfortable but she does not seem to mind. Other people think she looks nice, though, and they will comment. When they say, “Oh, how sweet!” I really just want to cringe and say, “She actually slept in that stupid skirt last night.”

But I don’t.

One of the "twirly" skirts

One of the “twirly” skirts

I am very annoyed with daylight savings time. I read a poster in a Jimmy John’s not too long ago. The sign was a list of some wisdom of Dave Barry. I really like Dave Barry. It said things like, “There comes a time in life when you stop making a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.” But one thing I remember is that it also says, “No one can ever give you a good explanation for why we observe Daylight Savings time.”

I agree with Dave Barry on that.

I have been leaving messages for a woman who works at our credit union. She is never there, but I keep hoping that she will return my message. I had my debit card stolen out of our truck two weeks ago. The first person I spoke with at the credit union led me to believe that this was no big deal. I’m pretty sure that $2100 should be reinstated on our account. I  didn’t spend $2100 at Target, but someone did. My husband filled out the card dispute form and he even turned it into a PDF, which I found pretty impressive. Why does the credit union need to take two weeks to reinstate the money?

Good thing I don’t actually need money to survive.

That was supposed to be a joke. But maybe no one even laughed. I don’t know why I’m saying this. I really just wish that I could write a post in order to move my blogging process along. I really hope that this post did accomplish that.

Love always,


Make me over: Finding a girl’s hair cut I’ll love for a price I won’t hate

As a parent of young girls, I do struggle with the phenomenon of “Getting Older Younger.” (And no, I definitely didn’t coin that phrase. Check out a previous post of mine here.) For me, though, there is a certain playfulness that I do not want to diminish. Afterall, it is fun to be pampered. Kids catch on to this fact pretty quick.

A blissed out Ruby in the shampoo sink at Trios Aveda Salon

We are a household of Fancy Nancy fans. (If you do not know about the book series by Jane O’Connor, get to this link now.) I will credit (blame?) my older daughter for the love of all things fancy, but we have all enjoyed reading these books and expanding our vocabularies. Posh. Elegant. Regal. We love that stuff. Thus, we love lacquered nails, accessories, scented lotions and the occasional primping ritual.

I struggle with indulging some requests that seem beyond a) their paygrade, and b) their ages. At 5 and nearly 3, we have yet to even talk about body odor or armpit hair. We still work really hard to remove eye boogers every morning before we walk out of the door. Our hygiene discussions are non-verbal dances that center around the thrust of a hairbrush in their general direction. We are still naive, innocent and easily impressed.

Our pedicures are done at home. We do spend a few minutes dunking our toes in a warm soapy bath, but it’s really just an excuse to get us to slow down for a minute. We have done more than a few home-grown hair cuts in a barstool in front of the TV. I allow the occasional swipe of my lip balm, but other than that our beauty ritual involves detangler and toothpaste. Even the play make-up kit was banned after pink lip gloss mysteriously became embedded into our carpet.

But at the end of the summer, one thing was clear: Scout wanted her hair cut significantly–about 4 inches–and I would not be responsible for such a haircut. First, we went to my old standby–Cool Cuts 4 Kids. This is a national chain, and it has the bells and whistles (cars to sit in, videos to watch, a waiting area with assorted toys, etc.). However, I’ve never been overly impressed with their stylists. If I wanted a great referral on where to pierce my eyebrow, or directions on how to pretend to like my job, these gals would be my Go To. But for a decent haircut, not so much. I wound up having to take Scout to a different salon to fix the botch-job we got at Cool Cuts 4 Kids. I considered writing them a letter or talking to a manager–but what were they going to do? They’d offer me a coupon to come back to Cool Cuts 4 Kids, and frankly I’d been burned by them way too many times. What can I say? I kept coming back because I’m a sucker for their Thomas the Train table. Well, no more! I will not be enticed by miniature fire engines to sit in! I want a real hair cut!

For our most recent endeavor, I opted to just bring the kids to the salon that I go to. When I get my haircut, which is embarrassingly infrequently, I go to a decent hair stylist at a nice Aveda salon in town called Trios. My stylist is Lindsey and she’s great, but because she’s great, she costs more money than I was interested in paying for my budding beauty queens. I was delighted to learn that because this salon has a variety of  stylists (some just beginning their careers), I could get an appointment with a trainee or a Level 1 and a kids’ haircut would be $20. Yep, $20. Now, Cool Cuts 4 Kids without a coupon is something like $18 and they don’t even shampoo the kids’ hair. (That’s extra.) So, for $20, I’m like, “Sign ’em up!”

Scout getting the royal treatment from Ali

What we received from our Level 1 stylist Ali was just phenomenal. She spent 45 minutes with each of my children, and she was a class act. She was patient, kind, and treated each of my kids with respect. They weren’t just kids getting haircuts, they were clients who had come to enjoy her services. I am in love with this idea: Pay real money for a real haircut! Not pay real money for a hokey environment and come home to re-trim my kids’ hair.

All finished! My glammed up little girl!

This is it. I’m sold. Trios Aveda Salon is located at Horsetooth and Shields and their number is 970-266-8746.

MiniMurph and Spiderwebs: Cheap thrills for the kids

I know that our highly-consumeristic culture often emphasizes going places with your kids, doing “stuff” with your kids, buying “stuff” for your kids, and a lot of these things cost money. I personally try to avoid feeling like we have to spend money to have a good time. We go to parks, we pack picnics, we play with friends, we make crafts, we enjoy our time with one another. You get it. My love don’t cost a thing. Money can’t buy you love. The best things in life are free. All that.

But every once in a while it’s good to know that there are cheap options out there. I know of a $5 pizza kit and a $2 packet of synthetic spiderwebs that might just rock your world.

You may have heard of the pizza chain Papa Murphy’s pizza. It is a “Take and Bake” establishment: you come into the store, tell the nice folks behind the counter what you want on your pizza, then they create and saran wrap a pizza that you can take home and bake in your own oven.

My parents used to frequent this place, and my hubby generally likes it. I myself don’t love the pizza, but it’s often a good choice because it’s cheap and easy. We get this stuff once a month or so, and the kids will eat it.

Well, while I was having a fun day in Denver recently, Cory got the girls their own personal pizzas. It’s called the MiniMurph.It’s a pizza kit complete with dough, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni (if you’re into that, my kids definitely ARE into pepperoni). As a bonus: They come in the cutest mini-pizza boxes that are now being used in our play kitchen.

Spreading the sauce

I saw the photos and thought I’d share. Looks fun, right?

With their finished products

My other suggestion for cheap thrills is the awesome Spider-web-in-a-packet that you  can find at any craft store (I found mine at JoAnn’s), Halloween store, party store, and possibly even Target or Wal-Mart. Surely you know the type of packet I’m talking about.

Decorating pretty much anything at all for Halloween is a source of big fun at our house. But my kids didn’t even know these existed. They had a hand in creating the spooky porch, and they are thrilled. Twenty minutes of fun, and as a bonus the packet had little plastic spiders that they embedded in the spiderwebs. Porches are great for this stuff, but the wind has taken much of ours down by now (consider yourself forewarned). If you don’t have a porch just use thumbtacks to drape this stuff inside your window frame (inside or outside), cover a bush, or string it from your ceiling. A little of this stuff goes a long way–I’d recommend one packet to start with.

Marvel at the spooky spiderwebs… oooooooohhh

There you have it–cheap thrills for the kids, both under $10. What are some of your favorite cheap-fun-with-kids ideas?

Eating out with kids: Wahoo’s Fish Tacos

Do you know how much I love Wahoo’s Fish Tacos?

Mmm… delicious soft drinks!

Sure, they offer a multitude of delicious meals, a choice of meats, brown or white rice, black or white beans, but they also offer amazing kid meals. So, if you are in the mood for a big fat burrito and your kids are not, you can order them chicken nuggets and fries. We usually get our kids quesadillas and fries. And their fries are surprisingly good.

Loving the stickers on the wall, snowboards and surfboards as decor

Plus, if you’re one to indulge, they offer adult beverages, too! Woo-hoo! So, to re-cap–1) Yummy food, 2) Good kids food, 3) (Did I mention this?) Fast, but not “fast food”, and 4) They also serve mommy’s fun-juice (AKA Margaritas!).

There is one location in Fort Collins, located at 2310 East Harmony Road. They also have multiple locations along the Front Range in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs.

Do you have a favorite spot to eat with your kids? What are some key points for you when eating out with your kids?

Wisdom from my Mom
August 22, 2012, 10:46 am
Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , ,

After hoping to leave the house and take the kids on a scooter ride (meanwhile running an errand to the post office), we still hadn’t left the house an hour later.

Here’s a quick email that I shot off to my mom.

To: Mom

From: Jayme

Sent: 10:16 AM

Subject: [no subject]

We still haven’t left the house. And I’m thinking that I will just go to the post office by myself later.
Why is it that on the days when I throw caution to the wind and we all laze about or do whatever the kids want, I thoroughly enjoy my kids, yet on the days where I want to clean, get something accomplished or need to leave the house at a certain time, I am filled with agitation?

And her reply:

To: Jayme

From: Mom

Sent: 10:18 AM

Subject: Re:

Think it’s called MOTHERHOOD!  Nothing ever goes as scheduled, well, almost nothing.

There you have it.