Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It was a head-scratcher, for sure.

We went to New Hampshire last month for our annual family beach vacation.  Which was lovely.  Except that Josie and I came home with lice.

Josie started scratching her head the last few days, but both kids were spending the bulk of their time in the water or rolling around in the sand, so I figured it was salt and sand.

But then it continued when she got home.  And her first day back at school, I got a call from the preschool director informing me she had nits and bugs in her hair.

So I dutifully went to the Walgreen's and bought a lice kit and proceeded to treat everyone in the family.  Which sucked, because our gas got shut off by mistake while we were on vacation and it hadn't been turned back on, so we had no hot water.  And even though it's summer, the cold water was really cold, making it both uncomfortable and difficult for purposes of combing through hair that has just been treated with pesticides.

Plus, there was no way in hell either child was going to get in an icy cold shower or bath, so I had to wash their hair out in the sink.  And Josie's hair is super-fine, but she also has a TON of it, so it tangles very easily, especially when we haven't used conditioner.

I spent two hours combing through her hair with a lice comb while she cried.  It was horrible.  It hurt to do my own head as well, but my pain threshold is a bit higher than hers.

All was well for a week or so.  Then we got another call from the preschool director.  

I went back to Walgreen's, got another kit, and went through the process again. At least this time we had hot water, so it wasn't as awful as before.  But I still spent 3 hours combing through Josie's hair.

A week later - same deal.  The director is getting annoyed with me.  And I was about to lose my shit.

The prospect of going through the whole process again was more than I could handle.  I googled "professional lice removal denver," called the company at the top of the list, and arranged for the lady to come to the house that night.

It turns out that the pros don't use the pesticide shit you get at the drugstore.  They use oil (our lady used olive oil).  Apparently, about 20 years ago, there was some concern about the lice treatments that were available, namely that they were too strong.  So the companies that manufactured the lice removal kits simply diluted the stuff so it was half as strong as what they had been selling before (which, for all its toxicity, worked).  Predictably, there were certain lice that were strong enough to resist the diluted strain, so what has developed over the last 20 years is a breed of "super lice" that is largely immune to the chemical treatment.

The best treatment now is to just smother the suckers.

So Lice Lady sat all of us down and saturated our heads with olive oil and then meticulously combed all of the nits and bugs out of our hair.  

Except that, oddly, Josie didn't have much going on.  She had about 3 live lice and 6 or 7 nits, which would indicate that she was getting reinfested by someone else, rather than being the source of an infestation.  And like her, I had a bug or two and a couple of nits, but nothing else.

She and I went upstairs to wash and dry our hair.  In the meantime, Lice Lady started working on Zeke.

When Josie and I came downstairs again, Lice Lady said, "looks like we found the culprit."

It was Zeke all along.  Zeke, who had never once scratched his head, who never indicated any discomfort and on whom I never saw anything.  His head was crawling with them.

3 hours and $300 later, Lice Lady left us bug-free hair and follow-up instructions.  For the past week, we have been oiling up our hair every night, combing through it, and then sleeping with oil-saturated hair to smother anything living in there.  For the next two weeks, we oil up ever other night.  Then we should be OK.

In the meantime, we smell like italian dressing and have super-soft, shiny shiny hair.    

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Let your whole life be a song.

My children are always singing.

Which I assume is a good thing.  Someone once told me that humming or singing to oneself is the sign of a happy child.  Or at least, *a* sign of a happy child -- I'm sure it's not the only one. 

Which, cool.  I'll take it.

Most of their references are from kids' movies.  So when Josie and I were in the checkout line at Target the other day and she suddenly burst into a rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework," much to the delight of the checkout lady, in her mind she wasn't singing Katy Perry.

"It's the song from Afro Circus, Mama!"

They walk around singing "Over the Rainbow" because they've watched The Wizard of Oz so many times.

But we also listen to the radio when we're riding in the car, so for a while Zeke's song of choice was AWOLNATION's "Sail."

Josie digs Mumford and Sons and will go around singing "The Cave."

They're also keeping me up on what's new and hip.

Zeke came home the other day from a camp fieldtrip singing, "she's up all night til the sun, I'm up all night to get some, she's up all night for good fun, I'm up all night to get lucky.."

Which was my introduction to Daft Punk.  Daft Punk is awesome.  (Also, is there any hit song this summer that Pharrell isn't associated with??  And speaking of Pharrell, no way is that guy 40 years old.  He looks 12.  He clearly drinks vampire blood.  Anyway.)  We play "Get Lucky" and dance around the living room.  The kids have some good moves.

Music was a big form of interaction with my parents when I was growing up.  I got my love of bluegrass and 60s rock from my parents.  They exposed me to the Beatles and Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton and Traffic and Motown.  Its fun to be experiencing that with my kids now.

I thought of all of this when I saw last night's Colbert Report.  It's too good not to share.  Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, August 05, 2013

I should print bumper stickers.

All I can say is, I'm really glad that when we went to Fake Steamboat, I didn't know what Real Steamboat looked like, because I would have cried.

I've been to some extraordinarily beautiful places in my life -- southwestern Australia, the Carpathian Mountain region of Romania, the northern mountains and lakes of India, just to name a few.  North-central Colorado gives all of those places a run for their money.

We experienced HORRIBLE traffic on the way out, but we finally arrived at our campsite late Friday night.  It was too dark to see our surroundings, but we were way out of town and the stars were incredible.  Millions of bright stars everywhere, plus we could clearly see the Milky Way.  It was hard not to spend all of our time looking up at the sky.

When we woke up in the morning, we discovered that our campsite was in the middle of a field of wildflowers.

A couple hundred yards away was the head of a little hiking trail that the kids couldn't get enough of.

No matter where we looked, the views were spectacular.

We went into town on Saturday and went tubing on the Yampa River.

That night we made a huge campfire and looked at the stars and made wishes.

We finished the trip by going to see Fish Creek Falls.

When we were driving up on Friday, Zeke asked about dying and heaven.  He's been all into talking about dying lately, because I guess he's realizing that he is mortal.  He asked about heaven, which I was having a hard time explaining well, given that as a Jew, I don't believe in heaven and haven't really given it much thought.

As we were talking, Josie started to cry.

"What's the matter, sweetheart?"  I asked.

"I don't want to go to heaven.  I want to go camping!" 

Amen, little girl.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The real one this time. Also, trust, but verify.

Over July 4th weekend, we decided to take the kids camping.  We figured they're old enough, they love being outside, and it would be fun.

We decided to go to Steamboat Springs, up in the north-central part of the state.  It's a beautiful town up in the hills, and spectacular in the summer.  High alpine meadows full of wildflowers, lots of stuff to do, and a good arts/music scene.  Sam Bush, whose music I've loved since high school, was doing an outdoor concert the night we were due to arrive, so we were excited to be up in the mountains out of the heat, in a pretty, relatively lush area, listening to music and doing fun things.

J called the Colorado parks and rec department to reserve a campsite in one of the state parks, and they put us on a site that they said was about 20 miles outside of town.  Perfect.

We loaded up the car and started the drive.  The kids were crazy-excited and we were all looking forward to a fun weekend.

The drive, which is about 3 hours or so, is beautiful.  Even just 20 minutes outside of Denver, we were all hit once again with how we live in such a gorgeous place.  We sang songs and played hysterical games of 20 Questions (it was Zeke's turn and we were all stumped and asked for a hint.  Zeke said, "it starts with a 'b' and rhymes with 'wutton,'" which for some reason had us all in stitches).  We looked out the window and admired the scenery.

When we were about 30 minutes outside of Steamboat, I plugged the address of the campgrounds into my phone so we could get specific navigation to where we were going.

My phone told me we were still 3 1/2 hours away.

"What the fuck??"  I said.  "J, are you sure that's the right address and name of the campground?"

"Yeah, I wrote it down on that piece of paper.  The lady said it was in a town just outside of Steamboat."

"And you're sure it's 'Rifle'?"

"That's what she told me."

For those of you not from these parts, here's a map of Colorado to give you a sense of what we're talking about.  "A" is Steamboat.  "B" is Rifle.  The route from Denver to Steamboat is in red, and from Steamboat to Rifle is in blue.  Plus, Steamboat is up in the mountains and is cooler and greener and prettier.  Rifle is in a very hot and dry part of the state -- no alpine meadows full of wild flowers or anything like that.

In other words, not only is Rifle Gap State Park not "just outside of Steamboat," it's fucking NOWHERE NEAR STEAMBOAT.

J felt really awful about not double-checking the location before we left, and I was a bit miffed, but honestly, why shouldn't he be able to rely on the person you get on the other end of the line when you call the State of Colorado's official parks department, to reserve one of their official campsites in one of their official state parks?  People come here from all over the world to ski and hike and camp and fish and mountain bike.  The people at the parks department have clearly dealt with folks who don't know Colorado well; they should be relied upon to tell people accurately where their reservations are.  So even though J was beating himself up a bit, it wasn't really his fault.

But in any event, what to do?

We decided to go to the visitor's center in Steamboat to figure out what our options were.  When we told the lady there what happened, she was incredulous that we had been told that Rifle was just outside of Steamboat.  She gave us a list of local campsites and we started calling, but of course, on July 4th weekend, there wasn't an available campsite anywhere.  We then called the U.S. Forest Service and asked what our options were -- they said that we could camp anywhere in the national forest boundaries, but because of fire restrictions (we've had some bad wildfires this summer, if you haven't heard), we wouldn't be able to make a fire.  Fires are only allowed in officially sanctioned campsites.  So we wouldn't be able to cook or roast marshmallows or anything like that, which would rule out a major reason that Josie was even interested in camping (marshmallows).  That seemed like a pain in the ass, especially with the kids.

I said to the kids, "we can see if we can find a hotel room to stay in.  We can still go hiking and do things like that, but we won't be sleeping in a tent or anything."

The thought of another 3 1/2 hours in the car was a bit more than I could fathom.

"NOOOOO!  Mama, we want to go camping!  Pleeeeeaaaase!"

I looked back at them.  "We've already been in the car a long time.  We'll have to be in the car for another long time if you want to camp.  Do you understand?"

"We'll be good, Mama, we promise!!  We want to camp."

I looked at J and sighed.  "You up for it?"

"I am if you are," he said.

"Ok, let's do it."

So we got back in the car and drove another 3 1/2 hours to Rifle.

At least we got to drive through Glenwood Canyon, which is stunning.

We finally got to Rifle 7 1/2 hours after we left Denver.  The kids were amazing in the car.  I sulked a bit because I really wanted to be in Steamboat, but I got over it.

And as far as the kids were concerned, this was the greatest trip they had ever been on.  There were chipmunks!  And lizards!  And sleeping in a tent!  And a fire!  And dead animal bones!  And swimming!  And waterfalls!  And caves with bats in them!

We had so much fun that we decided to go camping again, this weekend.  To Steamboat. 

The real Steamboat.