Thursday, August 18, 2016

The plague...well sort of...

July 4th, 2016 … is a day I won’t soon forget.  It was going so well.  The day was perfect!  And then, out of nowhere, I got blindsided.

Let me rewind slightly here.  We were getting ready to go swimming.  I was about to spray sunscreen on my littlest girl.  I lifted her hair off the back of her neck and found dozens of red bite marks.  I thought, Oh no! She has bug bites.  And then I noticed them.  So many.  Tiny gray dots all through her hair.  Lice was the word that came to mind. 

I started to panic.  My heart was racing and my breathing became rapid.  I needed to calm down! Deep breaths. Deep breaths.  I called Todd over to see it.  The problem was that neither one of us had seen them before.  I really had no idea what they looked like.

Then I started digging through Alyssa’s hair frantically.  Bugs.  I actually saw bugs.  Pretty good sized ones too.  I grabbed a couple and killed them. 

Maybe they were just playing in the dirt and got bugs in their hair.  I kept trying to reassure myself that they didn’t have lice.  I mean, come on, it’s like saying a four letter word!  No one wants them.  And everyone avoids them like the plague.

Then I remembered all those nights that Alyssa had complained that her head itched.  I washed her hair.  Applied essential oils.  Looked and looked some more.  I could never find anything. 

Well MAYBE that’s partly because I had always been told that lice like to lay eggs near the base of the neck and around the ears.  I must say, that’s a load of crap!  All that time I should have looked higher up on the head. 

We went swimming anyway.  What were we going to do about it now? Nothing really.

After all the poor, unsuspecting guests left, I looked it up lice online.  Why, oh why, do they need to post such horrible pictures online for all the world to see?  I mean, seriously!  All I needed to know was what the little horrible thing looked like.  I now will be plagued with nightmares. 

Lice.  It had been identified.  Ugh!  That’s just CRAPTASTIC!! (I’m now itching as I type. Shudder!!) I ran to the store to buy lice shampoo.  I tried to slink my way through the aisles, hoping and praying that nobody noticed me.  I peeked over my shoulder a couple of times.  If I were a secret agent I could get in and out without being detected.  No such luck! 

I located the shelf with all the lice products. It would have been nice if they had just one brand.  But NO!  We should overwhelm the customers with several options so that they have to pick up each one and read the details, slowly and carefully, giving plenty of time for other shoppers to cringe when they spot the box in their hands.   EVERYONE was watching.  Well, it felt like they were. And I was itching.  And just my luck, it was on sale.  Haha! 

I treated their hair.  Combed out all the lice and nits I could find and proceeded to comb their hair out at least once a day.  Bag stuffed animals. Wash Laundry. Comb. Laundry. Comb. Laundry. Comb. I lived and breathed combing out hair. 

Tuesday I went back to Walgreens to buy a shampoo to use daily, since the treatment can only be used once every 7-10 days, I NEEDED to have SOMETHING to use on their head EVERY SINGLE DAY!

After a week I retreated their hair.  But there were still eggs.  So, I knew I’d be dealing with this for more than just a week. Then my head started to REALLY itch.  All the time.  And burn when I scratched it.  I had Todd check my head…Once…Twice…no…4 times.  Finally on Friday morning I got up and poured the shampoo onto my own head and started combing, layer by layer.  And that’s when I found them.  NOOOOOOO!!!!  My worst fear.  Now I had lice.  I cried as I combed.  That was NOT what I wanted to be spending my summer doing!!

A friend of mine had suggested I could use her zapping comb.  I was skeptical.  VERY skeptical.  For years I had heard that the ONLY way to get rid of lice was to use the chemicals.  I had used the chemicals.  After almost 2 weeks they weren’t gone.  I bought a zapping comb. 

It was the best thing EVER!!  It zaps and kills the lice on contact.  I used it 4 times on myself in 48 hours.  I was only a LITTLE anal.  Haha!  I wanted to be sure they were all gone!! 

Then my cousin came and showed us how to make a conditioning treatment.  The conditioning treatment loosens the eggs from the hair and helps them to slide out.  We saturated our dry hair with conditioner. It was cold and slimy.  We covered it with a shower cap for an hour.  Then we washed it out.  Every day I used the zapping comb followed by the conditioning treatment.  Every day.  Every day.  It took 3 hours to do 3 heads of hair. 

Oh, and then something awesome happened.  *Note the sarcasm! A week after I found it on me, I found it on my sister too!!!  Oh happy day! And I thought the nightmare was NEVER GOING TO END!!!  I may have cried just a little bit more.  Just a bit…

All told, it took us 5 weeks to rid our home of these nasty little pests.  If I had known when I started what I know now, it would’ve take 2 weeks, tops. 

For those who find themselves plagued with these nasty little creatures, here are some very helpful tips I wish I knew to begin with:

Buy a Zapping comb right away.  Don’t even bother paying for the chemicals.  They aren’t worth it. READ the instructions!  Oh, and buy AA batteries too! 
Comb everyone’s hair daily for a full 2 weeks. 
Make a conditioning treatment and use it daily for about 3 days each week. Use a nit comb to go through wet hair, layer by layer, to pull out any eggs.

Conditioning Treatment:
About 1 cup conditioner (we used the cheap Suave conditioner)
(A little plug for my favorite essential oil company...they are therapeutic grade oils at a fraction of the price of other companies.  They work great!  And they now have free shipping on ALL orders! Yippee!)

Place ingredients in an old container and mix well.  Put conditioner on DRY hair.  Saturate hair all the way from the scalp to the tops of the hair with the conditioner.  Cover the head with a shower cap, or a plastic shopping bag.  Let sit for 45-60 minutes, depending on the length of the hair.  Rinse conditioner thoroughly before washing. 

Now, go take on the world of horrible itchy bugs and WIN!  Are you all itchy now?? ;)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

And THAT's the kind of morning I've had!

When you can't shut your brain off to fall asleep...
When your husband, who's been working nights and needs to go to sleep can't fall asleep...
When you toss and turn...and toss and turn...all...Night...L O N G...and can't figure out why...
When your husband is starting a new job and has to get up at 4:15 in the morning after almost 10 MONTHS of working 5pm to 5am 3-4 nights a week...
When said husband falls asleep on the couch while watching a show because he can't get his body to fall asleep...
When his alarm clock goes off at 4:15 am and you your half awake state...that he's not in the room and you have to shut off the alarm and go wake him up...
And now your brain won't stop...

Yeah...that's the kind of morning I've had.  Haha!

BUT...I've been more productive this morning than I've been seems.

Load the dishwasher...check.
Gather remaining dirty dishes...check.
Give the mewing kitties treats...check.
Dump out gross leftovers...check.
Bleach the ICKY sink...check.
Carry 50 lb bag of popcorn upstairs...check.
Empty the bag of popcorn into ziplock bags...check.
Spill popcorn kernels while trying to put them into bags quietly, since the rest of the house is still sleeping...and cause a "rainstick" effect.  haha! Check! Woops!
Sweep up runaway popcorn kernels...check...wait...I missed some...check.
Make a bowl of popcorn for Johnny to take to school...check. (Haven't done that in weeks.)
Remind Alex to brush his teeth...F O U R times (insert sound of groaning child after each reminder!)...check. Sigh....gotta love ADHD.
Annoy your child...check.
A long hug from Johnny...check.
Feel very productive and VERY wide awake...check.

I WISH I could fall asleep...There's no going back to sleep now. I'm gonna FEEL this tonight!  SIGH!
Wouldn't it be SO nice if we could fall asleep ANYWHERE, ANYTIME like our sweet littles do?!

I'm SO thankful for the blessing of a new job! It came at a perfect time.  Now we just need to get our bodies adjusted to the change and we'll be "all set", as we say in Maine.

AND I posted on my blog before having to wake up the rest of the kids...check.

I never thought a lack of sleep would put such a smile on my face!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Writers block

It would seem I've lost the desire to write.  Not that things aren't ALWAYS happening that are seriously CRAPTASTIC...because they are.  At least once a day, it seems.

Getting up at 5 am has really taken it's toll on me.  I think I finally caught up on a little sleep last week during April vacation.  It was SO nice to sleep in.  It was SO nice to relax a little.

And now we're BACK to reality.  Back to waking boys up for early morning seminary.  Back to dragging myself out of bed.  Back to being exhausted. Blah! Back to getting kids ready for school.

And somewhere I WANT to find a desire to write.  Some moments that desire is there and burning so brightly that I have to sit and write down everything I'm thinking, right away.  And other times...I can't seem to find it at all.  Like it's been smothered. Burned out.  But I know it's still there. Deep down.  Somewhere.

I'm going to find it.

I WANT to do better.  And I'm sure I will.  Eventually.  Haha!

Friday, April 1, 2016


Do we REALLY know what’s in our food? Do we TRULY understand exactly what each ingredient listed is? I’m constantly amazed, not that I should be, at the JUNK that is put into food and considered edible…or safe for human consumption.  And who deems them safe…the FDA.  Aren’t they supposed to be protecting the American people? Yes, but they're not! We need to protect ourselves because only WE have our best interests at heart. 

I think if we completely understood exactly what we were eating, we wouldn’t knowingly eat some of the foods or ingredients that are hidden in our foods. Go here to read some more on hidden ingredients!

This is part of the reason for Raw Foods diets that are huge fads right now.  More and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of some of the ingredients in our food. 

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter has intolerance to gluten, food dyes, TBHQ and BHT.  These are the ones we know about.  There are more, but many times we find that she can’t eat a certain food and we have NO clue which ingredient is causing the problem.  That’s because the list of ingredients is GYNORMOUS.  THAT right there should be a HUGE sign to me.  Take for instance the Great Value Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese.  Its ingredient list is huge.  And there is SOMETHING in there that causes Cassie pain; pain that lasts for days.  So we don't buy that.  We buy Annie's gluten free macaroni and cheese instead.

A commenter on yesterday’s post caused me to begin some research.  She wanted to know if it’s true or not that crushed beetles are used to make food dyes.  Of COURSE I’m going to start looking! Now I want to know more for myself! But the funny thing is, crushed beetles don’t sound as UN-appealing as secretions from a beaver’s butt.  Just SAYIN’! I thought I’d give it a look anyway. 

I found a couple of websites with some interesting information.  This is a little of what one of them said:
Until 2009, cochineal was one of many dyes that fell under the umbrella term "natural color" on ingredients lists. But because cochineal provokes severe allergic reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration 
requires carmine and cochineal extract to be explicitly identified in ingredients lists.

Aside from its role as an allergen, cochineal has no known health risks, although those who keep kosher or choose not to eat animal products will want to keep their distance. In addition to food, cochineal is used as a dye in cosmetics products, including lipstick, and at least one person has reported a severe allergic reaction to a cochineal dye used in a pill coating.

Cochineal may be made from bugs, but other synthetic red dyes such as Red No. 2 and Red No. 40, which carry far greater health risks, are derived from either coal or petroleum byproducts. Compared with these sources, bugs might sound positively appetizing. 

(Check out what snopes has to say.)

I have to agree with that! I remember recently when talking with a friend of mine and her kids about avoiding food dyes that her son made a comment something like this, “Who wants to eat gasoline?” I already knew that these artificial dyes were NOT good for us, but do they REALLY have gas in them?  Seriously??? Well, it wasn’t long before I started researching and finding that they INDEED are petroleum or coal based.  Yep.  I don’t want to eat gas or coal! No WONDER they are causing problems for our bodies. HELLO FDA!!! 

To top it off, other countries do not ALLOW artificial colors in their foods.  Why? Because they KNOW how bad they are for our bodies.  And the same companies who are putting food dyes into our prepackaged foods in the US are making the same foods WITHOUT food dyes for the other countries.  We need to make them remove dyes for the American population too!

My determination to make foods from scratch, to eat as many fresh or frozen fruits and veggies as possible, and be EXTREMELY aware of ingredients is stronger than ever before.  The more I read, the more I realize how bad the processed foods are for our bodies.  NO WONDER so many people have ailments, disorders, and diseases that were not as prevalent years ago. 

(You may find this article about food dyes interesting as well!)

Let's take charge of our bodies and what we choose to put into them! 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Is this "natural"?

Who wants more beaver butt?? Yeah…

A few days ago while we were busy in the kitchen, my husband asked me if I had heard of a “natural flavoring” called castoreum. He knows how interested I am in health and wellness and the ingredients that are put into our foods.  Even though he teases me for it, he supports my quirkiness. 

It’s been a long road from eating what I THOUGHT was healthy to where I am now.  I still, once in a while, will consume a food that I KNOW if full of JUNK…just because I want a little.  But I do it knowing FULL WELL what I’m putting into my body.  While SO many people don’t realize the awful poisons and crap that they’re eating on a daily basis, I try to be more aware.  *shrug* To each his own. 

My husband likes to listen to talk radio and apparently he had heard about this “natural flavoring” the other night.  As I’m googling it he starts telling me it’s made from beaver butt.  Um SERIOUSLY??? Are you KIDDING me right now? I mean, come on people.  Why is the FDA allowing such ingredients in our food? I personally don’t trust the FDA and haven’t for a long time.  The ingredients they allow the American people to consume, with the idea that it’s “okay” to eat because they, the FDA, have approved it, is appalling. 

Take for instance cellulose.  It shows up in all kinds of foods like instant potatoes, breads, cheese and many more.  Several years ago, when I was regularly looking into ingredients to figure out exactly what we were eating, so that I could protect my son from gluten and dairy, my sister called and asked if I knew what cellulose was. Um, nope.  I had never heard of it. But maybe I had seen it before and hadn’t paid any attention to it...assuming that it was safe. It can be found in a few different forms: cellulose gel, cellulose gum, and cellulose powder. And guess what it is…tree pulp.  Yeah.  People, you’re eating tree.  I’ve heard, in the past, that bread has “saw dust” in it as filler.  Yeah. Pretty much.  It’s tree pulp ground into a powder.  So, if you don’t care that you’re eating tree…I mean…it IS natural for heaven’s sake…then go ahead and eat it.  It’s up to you.
Looks fairly harmless to me...

Back to the beaver butt…

I started reading about this lovely “natural” ingredient.  So, castoreum is a food additive that is made from the castor sacs of a beaver.  Who was the first person to try this as a food additive? What were they thinking? “HEY! I know! Let’s add some anal secretions from a beaver to this ice cream to make it taste better!” said no one thinking clearly…ever. My husband and I had voiced those thoughts, while laughing, and cringing, just before I read almost the same thoughts on this page. Oh my goodness.  This guy cracked us up.  He said pretty much EXACTLY what we were thinking. 

So the next time you decide you want some vanilla ice cream, something strawberry flavored or anything with the ingredient “natural flavoring” you might think twice about it.

I’m not so sure I want to, KNOWINGLY, eat a secretion from a beaver’s butt.  Shudder...

The worst part is that we can’t control what the manufacturers put into prepackaged foods.  And they only have to report the ingredients according to the regulations of the FDA.  They’re NOT being honest. NOT cool!!!  And that really irritates me. 

If you want to be healthy and eat foods and ingredients that you recognize, read your ingredients lists and educate yourself. Hopefully you'll choose real foods and not...beaver butt...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Silly Putty is just CRAPTASTIC!!

I just absolutely LOVE when I find treasures on the toys. Yes, you read that right…ON the toys. Oh yes! I was picking up a few toys to put them away while Alyssa was TRYING to wake up for school.  I picked up a Ever After High doll that seemed to be stuck to a baby doll. Upon further inspection, I realized that the dolls were stuck together with some sort of purple goo.  At first I thought it was gum, but as I began to peel the baby doll away from the other doll’s hair, I realized that it was S.I.L.L.Y. P.U.T.T.Y!  GROAN! NO!!!

GREAT!  Now I have to figure out HOW in the world to removed silly putty from doll hair.  Sigh!  I searched and searched the web for ideas.  But many of them were for removing silly putty from human hair.  I could see putting vinegar or another natural substance on human hair, but I wasn’t entirely sure what it could do to colored doll hair. 

My husband thought I was silly for taking the time to fix the doll.  He said he would either cut out the chunk of hair or throw the doll away.  Um NO!  It was a Christmas present this last year.  I couldn’t bring myself to destroy the doll or to place it in the depths of the trash can, never to return again.  Alyssa would be devastated. 

I began by pulling the large clumps from the hair. Pulling hard enough, the silly putty would break.  So I kept pulling at it. Large pieces started coming off. Once I got most of the globs off I realized that if I separated the strands of hair I could pull more off the hair.  Starting at the bottom, I squeezed the hair with my thumb nail and first finger and pulled the pieces down the hair.  Separating more strands, and pulling more silly putty off…

It was tedious.  And a couple of times I almost gave up. STUPID s i l l y   p u t t y!!! But over the course of the day I pulled all of it out of the hair.  Now, because her hair is blue with purple highlights, you can’t see any of the remaining silly putty.  It’s only a tiny bit.  And it blends in with the purple hair.  Haha!  Works for me!!

The things we do for our kids!!! 

There's a new rule in my house...NO MORE SILLY PUTTY ALLOWED!!!  Yep.  That's right.  None.  It's awful stuff!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Mud Season. Oh LOVELY mud season. It's something I grew up with. When the snow and ice begin to melt and form mud in the once firm dirt driveway...yep that's mud season.  It's something that I thought was simply part of life...everywhere.  When I moved away I realized I was wrong.  It's not in the city. Lucky dogs!  And if there's not a lot of snow on the ground it's doesn't even occur.

But here, in Maine, it does.

My kids are NOT all fans of mud season. In fact, Colin hates it.  He hates that he can't go run and play.  He hates that he gets dirty outside.  Um REALLY??? Because I thought that that was where dirt lived...outside.  He wants to be C L E A N when he plays outside.  Silly boy!

The little ones, on the other hand, like it!  Because there are PUDDLES. Who wouldn't want to stomp in puddles?  Muddy, icy puddles all over the yard.  Deep, muddy puddles are GREAT...when you're a kid. And they want to SPLASH in these beautiful puddles.  They'd go out in their Sunday dresses, if I let them.  They don't even care that it is cold enough that ice is still on the ground.  Meh! Who cares?!?! What's a little ice? Right??

Alyssa was enjoying her puddle boots and the ease of putting them on and taking them off, while Cassie was sad because she didn't have any puddle boots of her own.  So, I grabbed a pair of puddle boots at the store and we went out to play...for a few minutes.
We walked carefully through the puddles and onto the melting ice, feeling the ice crack and break under our weight.  

Photo op...

 We stomped and splashed...and shuffled through the puddles covering the ice.

Strike a pose!

And then the rain began sprinkling down on us, the ground, the puddles and the ice.  It was a cold rain. We decided to call it quits and we went inside.  

Even though Mud Season can be really dirty and a pain in the rear, it can be fun too. Especially if you're a kid...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cassie does NOT like to sleep

Cassie is 4.  Cassie likes to stay awake. Cassie likes to play all night.

She has a REALLY hard time falling asleep.  I DO believe that her Grandma Cantwell used to be this same way.  ;) If Cassie stays up past 9pm…we are IN TROUBLE!

*One night when we had come upstairs to get a drink and use the potty for the umpteenth time she found that my sister was home.  Oh yes! SOMEONE is STILL awake!!! She can entertain them!!! Then she started running…in circles…around the living room. Around and around she went.  Giggling as she ran.  Sigh.  How can you NOT laugh when they are so happy and silly!?!? So that’s what we did.  We laughed. I took a video to send to Todd, who was at work. We cringed when she almost ran into things…several times. And laughed some more.  Silly girl!

*On yet another night when Cassie could NOT seem to fall asleep, she was running around in circles…she must like circles I guess…and stops.  She points to her throat, scrunches her sweet little face up and says, “It’s kinda woggly.” Hahaha!

*We are in my room and TRYING desperately to get Cassie to lie down to go to sleep and she starts jumping on my bed.  She jumps and jumps and then falls off the bed.  Of COURSE! She cries and cries and cries.  Once she seems to be calmed down she very seriously says, “If Canela (our dog) was a peanut I could eat her.” WHAT!!! I laugh and laugh. WHERE or where does she come up with this stuff??  When she sees me laughing, she laughs too.  We laugh and giggle until Cassie decides to try to make another joke…but it falls flat. Which then makes us laugh some more.  If she remembers NOTHING else, I hope she remembers that we laughed a lot.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

I wish

I want to be a runner...but I'm not...YET. 

I'd say I have some pretty lofty goals when it comes to fitness.  Some of them I wonder if I'll EVER meet.  Although, I don't have any dead lines. HAHA! That would be too difficult. I simply WANT to get stronger.  

This week I have woken up almost every morning with a headache.  I used to have them ALL the time.  I definitely DO NOT want to go back to that lifestyle.  It's horribly rough.  

Today's headache I knew was from staying up too late.  Hey! When there's a day off from school and I don't have any early obligations I'm GONNA watch some shows after the kids finally go to sleep.  The "alone time" is blissful.  And it only happens once in a while. 

I got up, stretched and headed for the kitchen. The more I moved the less my head hurt.  That was a good sign.  

I didn't get much exercising done this FABULOUS! 

I headed outside to check the wood-boiler and realized that the temperature isn't too bad.  It's 36 degrees and sunny.  It felt good.  Yeah. I know. That's cold.  But it felt great.  

I needed to exercise.  I needed to move.  I felt the need to run.  Well, maybe jog. Haha!  

I changed my clothes and started jogging up the camp road.  

The muddy ground was soft under my shoes. Squishy. In some places it was dry and firm.  I tried to keep my feet on firm ground. 

I focused on my breathing.  Breathe in. Breathe out.  Breath in. Breath out.  I jogged for a while, dodging puddles...breathing in the fresh air. 

The icy wind blows against my face making my eyes water.  Warm tears run down my cheeks. That's annoying.  I wiped at my cheeks. It's hard to see through the watery eyes.  Just keep going...

I keep running. I'm halfway up the hill, but I can't make it.  I walk as briskly as I can. At the top of the hill I start to jog again. 

I want to say run, but I know better.  It's a jog.  

I reach the end of the road and check the time.  I have a few minutes.  I keep going.  Keep pushing. Keep breathing...enjoying the brisk air. 

I turn around and head back.  I have an appointment to keep.  I jog all the way home.  I can't believe I made it! I didn't have to stop.  What a THRILL!  

I might not be a runner, but I think I can safely say I'm a jogger.  It might be slow, but I'm getting stronger every time.  And THAT's all that matters.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kids or Age?

I’m fairly certain that kids and age drained my brains.  REALLY! It’s pretty clear that with each pregnancy some of my brain cells were killed off….or seeped out somehow. Maybe during some of those cat naps I took…

Add to that the fact that I’m not getting any younger each year and I find that I don’t remember things like I used to.

I used to be SO very organized!
I used to remember everything!

6 pregnancies caused forgetfulness that never really came back the way it once was. At least I don’t think it has. I can’t quite remember…

I DO remember when I used to be really smart and could remember everything I learned in school. I could figure out an algebraic equation in my sleep.  And OH did I LOVE it.  *chuckle* Now it takes me a while to recall things. When I offer to help with my kid’s math homework and end up spending far too long “refreshing” my memory JUST so I can help them…it’s AWESOME.

But to be fair, when looking it up I found that there are differing opinions about whether or not pregnancy actually alters or changes your brain. Maybe they've never experienced "mommy brain" for themselves!  Are they CERTAIN they conducted that study correctly???

 When “they” say, “If you don’t use it you lose it,” they are NOT kidding! I moved away from Maine 14 years ago. I could get myself most anywhere I needed to go.  I used to drive all over the place. Since moving back I’ve struggled with recalling how to get to places I once knew.  It all comes back after I’ve driven it a couple of times.  But Man! It’s not fun to forget. 

So is it having children or age that depleted my brain? Unfortunately I don’t think I can really blame either one.  Although…children do cause a lot of stress and lack of sleep!  Case in point: My four year old ended up in my bed, again, just last night.  SIGH! I DREAM of a full night of uninterrupted sleep!

I’ve been extremely sleep deprived and stressed over the years. It does a number on your memory.  I have woken up MANY times seeing a spider come down out of the ceiling toward my chest. I’d swat at it like crazy until my eyes cleared and the creepy crawly disappeared. Having children, once thought to be a fairy tale, carries with it a lot of stress and sleepless nights.  Those were things I never realized before having children.

I DO have a few things that I try to do to relieve some of the stress and forgetfulness.
Prayer…it’s something that works without fail every time.
Scripture study…the benefits are many.
Yoga or other exercise is crucial in helping to de-stress and re-energize our bodies
Eat healthy…fresh and frozen fruits and veggies along with proteins and whole grains.