Saturday, May 26, 2012


A few days before the previous fiasco, I had just looked through the pictures on my cell phone and had to laugh:

Food pictures. Lots of food pictures. Can you tell I love strawberry season in Miami? We try to eat as many as possible. I made a strawberry torte with meringues in various forms - layered like a cake, individual servings made in cupcake tins, and crumbled up with strawberries, whip cream, strawberry sauce and lemon curd (I thought I was making that last one up, but who knew it was a real dessert called an Eton mess). It was the first time I'd made lemon curd however (to find something to do with all the leftover egg yolks after making meringues), but wow, it will definitely not be my last. I could probably drink the stuff. Made for a fabulous trifle. I also made various forms of strawberry sauce (cooked, uncooked, strained of seeds or not). I attempted freezing some to last us past strawberry season but it never made it that far. I also made the best darn fresh strawberry filled cupcakes (think loads of strawberries with some cream and marshmallow fluff) with strawberry icing. They tasted unbelievably like a strawberry milkshake.

Then it was over but along came my other favorite season - mango season. I am so jealous of all my friends who have mango trees right in their yard here! Too bad wherever we move isn't looking likely to be a mango-growing kind of climate. I would love one of those in my yard. We've eaten lots of fresh mangos, mango and black bean quinoa salad, and a lot of mango and black bean salsa - sometimes with roasted corn or tomatoes, or with avocados (another favorite Miami seasonal food). The abundance of these will be on the top of my (ahem, brief) list of things I will miss about Miami.

You'll also see I made a few variations on a moose munch caramel popcorn recipe - with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, you name it.

I realize this may be lame to listen to someone drooling over food, but well, eating probably comes in a close second to my family of things I love in this life. And maybe someday I'll look back and be inspired to make some of them again. Besides, what else am I going to do with all those pictures?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Worst Mother's Day ever

Guess what my kids gave me for Mother's Day?


That's right.  In what was, I hope, the worst Mother's Day weekend of my life, we discovered that yes, we had five cases of lice in the house.  I'm sure your skin is crawling just reading that, so if you must you can stop here.

Let me back up a few months. One weekend we went out of town and came home to an ant infestation in the house.  Like thousands of them. I was so grossed out. Having been through this before years ago, I immediately called pest control because I wasn't going to live my life like that again. I hate having all that pest control junk in my house though - it made my mom sick from the smell and makes me so paranoid that my kids are crawling around on these floors that have pesticides all over them. Hate it, hate it and live in fear that I've now poisoned my whole family.

Not even a couple of weeks later, we found weevils in our cupboard.  That was infuriating. The ants were annoying and creeped me out, but they weren't in my food.  I had to go through everything in my entire house piece by piece and threw out a TON of food.  That was where being a food hoarder in the name of food storage came back to bite me.  It was painful throwing so much food away.  The rest of my food was left all over my counters and scattered throughout my bedroom because I was not putting food back in until those things were gone. But even with all the food out of my cupboards those dang weevils still kept coming out of the cracks in the cupboards for over a month. Maybe they were coming from another apartment? Who knows, but that's a long time to live with no counter space and especially for someone who goes crazy in a messy house. I literally had a constant stress level for a month just seeing all that stuff not in a proper place. Not to mention the nightmares. For weeks.  If I know you, you were probably in my dream at some point finding weevils in my house, pointing out all the places all over my house they were starting to come out of.  Oh, it was an awful month of sleep. Those things are creepy. I even got the pest control guy back and he sprayed all over the cupboards.  I spent hours later washing all that stuff off every surface of my cupboards so I could feel safe having our food in there again. Such a pain.

Finally, finally, finally, they went away.  I went to Home Depot and told the guy that I wanted something to seal off the cracks in my cupboards so nothing came through the cracks and into my cupboards anymore. He gave me something and I went home and spent a tedious evening filling all the cracks with it. Then read the back of the label and saw that it had a huge warning label that stuff in it was known to cause cancer and reproductive harm.  Are you kidding me???  And I just slathered that all over the cupboards that are housing all the stuff that's going to go into my babies mouths?  And then it said you needed some something-approved mask to sand it down so you didn't inhale it. Well, I didn't have that kind of mask, I still sanded it, and that stuff was all over my cupboards. Here I go poisoning my whole family again.  I finally decided to go through and put something else over it to seal it off so at least it wasn't exposed. Oh the hours of my life I'd spent combating bugs.

At last I could get my food off the counters and back in the cupboards and thought my months of tedious, time-consuming bug ridding strategies were over.

And then the roaches came.

I have never in 4 years seen cockroaches in our apartment, but they came.  And they came, and they kept coming.  They would creep you out when you got up in the dark in the middle of the night. They would crawl all over the toilet making you live in fear of ever going to the bathroom again, let alone in the dark.  It seemed to coincide with some work they were doing on our building, so maybe they were displaced, but oh my.  I finally got pest control again.  I couldn't live like that. Between the ants, weevils and roaches, I had pest control here 4 times in 2 months.  Oh the pesticides.  At least I insisted on no more sprays.

SO. I finally had gone THREE days without the roach problem!  The Friday night before Mother's Day I had the young women from our ward sleep over.  I have never done that. I've never even had them to my house before, let alone have a sleepover, nor have I probably had a sleepover in my adult life.  But this happened to be the night I did it.  Ryan took the boys camping.  And then called me in the morning:  "Cash has lice."  Oh no!!  And I have all these girls sleeping all over my house?  On the boys beds?  Heads on the couches??  And my kid has lice??!  Ryan said he was coming home right then, but I tell him I want to get all these girls out before he comes home so we're not exposing them all to it any more than they already have been.

As soon as he gets home I take Cash straight out to the balcony for as short of a haircut as I can stand. I asked Ryan if he had checked the twins and he hadn't. But as I'm out there cutting hair he looks at me and nods.  Oh goodness. As soon as we can all the boys, including poor little lice baby, have a lice treatment on them.  Later that night we tried another one. Ryan and I even did one for good measure. The next day we got a prescription one for all the boys - according to the CDC the only one that actually kills the eggs too, not just the bugs.  But of course now I'm freaked out again - more pesticides. This time on everyone's heads?  We are all surely going to die of something someday from all this.  But trying to get this out of four kids I wasn't messing around. At least three treatments later I was feeling pretty good about them.  Although I'd spent all Mother's Day combing and picking through hair, washing, cleaning....we were exhausted.  As soon as we had finally gotten everything taken care of and the boys in bed I finally had time to stop and think.  And realize...I'm itchy.

Sure enough, Ryan checked and I was positive.


Seriously?? My one good feature?  And now it was going to probably get thrashed dumping all these pesticides on it?  So out I was at Walgreen's at 1am getting the prescription stuff for my hair.  Which took 3 bottles. And we later realized was draining $200 a bottle out of our FSA and we'd now used five bottles of it.  The next night Ryan stayed up until 4am picking junk out of my hair after I'd had time to do that treatment.

We often get complimented on having a family with great hair. Until you have lice. Then it comes back to bite you  with a vengance being a family with so much hair!  I had contemplated buzzing Cash's hair and just getting it over with, but when the twins had it, I said there was no way I was cutting their hair. Then the baby, then me.  Nope, buzzing was not going to happen. I wasn't going to let those dang bugs make me mad for the next 6 months having to look at bad hair to top it all off.

I can honestly say we're not sure we've ever been so miserable. Between the washing, and the boiling and the vacuuming, the hair treatments, taking out and cleaning all the car seats, and the couches, and washing every item of clothing in their drawers, bleaching down the house, washing everything anyone came in contact with, hour after hour picking through 5 heads of hair to make sure not one egg was left, combing and combing through with the nit comb...I thought we were going to die. We were seriously up until 2am, 4am, 1am every night.  I'm sure we were super overly cautious, but I was pretty impressed with how fast we got rid of five cases of lice. That stuff can linger for a long time.

Now the twins on the other hand - I don't think they had a clue anything was wrong. Not even one complaint of itching, not a word as we yanked through their hair with a comb - all they knew was they got to play an awful lot of video games for a week so they would sit still while we picked through their hair! And so they wouldn't leave their designated square of hardwood floor so they would stay out of the bedrooms and off the couches.  :)

I have to give it to Ryan though - he was vigilant. He's the kind of guy that is happy to leave the dishes until tomorrow, not one given to thorough cleaning, one that won't miss sleep for anything - he just kept going and going. I'm sure it was all in the name of self-defense and self-preservation, but seriously, the guy picked through my mounds and mounds of hair night after night after night.  Granted, I lost about a quarter of my hair in the process and I'm going to have a lovely halo of broken hair all over my head, but he did get it out.

Seriously though, I am so dying. Every time I am so grossed out, skin crawling, hair standing on end, weeks of nightmares - I think it can't get any worse, any more skeevy, and then it does. Ants, weevils, roaches, and then lice.  I really think someone knows my weakness and is throwing this at me deliberately!  And I swear we are like the worst parents ever! Cash had been telling us his head was itchy and I'd looked through his hair multiple times - I think I really just had no idea what I was looking for. How would I know??! I've never seen this stuff before!

And I love that they send home a lice notice when someone in the class has it.  Cash is absent for two days and then shows back up like this:

Subtle. Real subtle.

Oh Miami, just another strike against you.  What pest doesn't thrive here?

Ok, ok. Maybe I am supposed to find the good out of all of this. Well, like I always say: the family that picks together sticks together.

And hey, at least I made you all glad you're not me.  :)