Monday, September 26, 2011


It may be a bit of an overreaction, but head lice freak me right out.

I've always had very thick, straight, shiny hair. Which, unfortunately for me, is a perfect environment for those disgusting little bugs.

When I was a kid, I had head lice several times. I still remember the time my mum had to take a whole day off of work and spend a whole day tugging through my hair with one of those awful nit combs. The horrible smell of those scalp burning shampoos. Not least, the constant itching.

Ugh. They're so easy to get, and such a total pain in the ass to get rid of.

Beege, like me, was born with beautiful thick hair; only hers is curly. Until recently, it was down past her bum. Thank goodness we decided to cut it to shoulder length before school started, because I got this note home from school last week:

And immediately felt itchy. And paranoid. And wouldn't let her hug me. (I know, I suck.) I've also been making my husband check my head every few nights.

I have been obsessively checking her head every day, and do her hair up in two very tight braids in the morning. She's been told not to hug anyone at school; which really, she's not supposed to do anyway. I've asked her to stop playing in the sandbox, as she inevitably ends up with a head full of sand that looks just like nits to me, and then has to endure my scraping at her scalp to make sure it really is just sand.

I've even swapped out her lovely smelling shampoo with tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner, which she says "smells like the soap in the bathroom at Ikea." I've also made up a spray of water and tea tree oil to spray her hair with every morning before school, because apparently the lice don't like the soap in the bathroom at Ikea either.

She's taking it all very well.

Considering that she doesn't actually have lice, and I'm doing all I can to prevent her catching them, perhaps the worst part about this is that it's making me feel like everything in my house is covered with bugs. Little, tiny, invisible bugs. My skin is constantly crawling.

Although, I suppose if it makes me clean my house a little more intensively, it's a good thing. Too bad my husband's not neurotic too, or I could freak him into helping me.

Now I'm just going to keep braiding, spraying and crossing my fingers that the disgusting little buggers don't find their way to my house.

Here are 5 different ways to prevent head lice:

Mix essential oils in with your shampoo so the strong smell repels the lice and makes you invisible. The most common is Tea Tree Oil. You can either mix 10 drops in with your existing shampoo or buy ready made Tea Tree shampoo at your supermarket.

Mix 10 drops Tea Tree or other essential oil into a spray bottle with water. Put your child’s hair in a tight plait and mist over before school or playtime.

Tea Tree oil mixed with gel. If your boy has a modern style, mix Tea Tree in with your gel and the lice will stay well away. Not only does the oil repel the lice, the gel makes it impossible to move around the head or attach their eggs.

Alternatively for girls, hair spray has the same effect, simulating dirty hair so the lice cannot move around or attach their eggs.

Mix a few drops of Tea Tree oil in with a leave in conditioner and make sure your child sprays this on every morning or before playtime.

Source: Live Lice Free

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paper Management: a Craft Project.

One of the biggest differences between kindergarten and grade one, so far, is that Beege has been bringing home work to do. It's actually voluntary, but she likes to do it, and I think it's a good idea for her to get used to homework as an idea as soon as possible.

Personally, I'm all for homework. It gives your child a chance to reinforce the new skills being learned at school, while also providing an opportunity for parents to be involved and see if there's anything that needs some extra encouragement or enrichment.

The crap thing about all this work she's doing though, is that it ends up meaning a lot of loose papers floating around my living room. I have, perhaps, not been the most stellar example of organisation.

Anyway. We needed to find a way to organise this influx of easy-to-lose paper, and keep it all in one place.

Without making a trip to Staples; I always end up buying stuff I don't need at that place. And Ikea. And Michaels. I really shouldn't go into stores at all.

So, here's what I came up with:

Materials: Empty cereal box*, ruler, craft knife, pen/pencil, paintbrush, glue, pretty paper**.

Carefully open out the cereal box, trying not to rip it. When it's flat, measure up the side of the box about 6 1/2 inches. On the side flap, draw a straight line across at 6 1/2 inches. Draw another cutting line diagonally from this mark up to the top of the middle section of the box. Do the same for the other side.

Spread glue on the brown side of the box. Try to spread it evenly and wait a minute for it to get tacky before putting the paper on to prevent puckering***. Press the paper on well. Flip the box over and cut to fit; I cut a tab to fold over the top. You can also cover the cereal box design with plain paper on the inside if you like. I'm too lazy for that.

Once you've got your box covered, fold it up and glue the seams closed so it resembles a box again - or, if you're impatient like me, use packing tape. I used packing tape on the ones I glued as well, for extra support.

This would also be a good project for kids to do themselves; forget the paper, let them decorate with crayon and stickers. Super easy project for a rainy day.

*You're smarter than me, so you'll measure the length of the box to make sure it's big enough to hold what you want it to hold so that you don't have to cut half an inch off of everything you want to stick in there.

**2 sheets of 12 X 12" scrapbooking paper worked perfectly. I covered one side and the spine with patterned paper, and the other with a complementary plain paper so that I could write a list of the contents if I felt like it. Wrapping paper would also work well.

***Notice the puckering on the pink one? Apparently, waiting for the glue to get tacky is a really important step if you want it to look nice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yay, Me!

Among the many other things I've been doing, lately, I somehow managed to sneak in something that had absolutely nothing to do with children!

For the past few years, in stolen moments here and there, I've been studying Business Management. I'm finally finished, graduated with "highest honours*", and my diploma is in the mail.

I'm going to try and keep the kids from colouring on it, so that I can wave it at people when I try and get a "real" job in a few years and see if it makes them hire me.

If nothing else, completing this course gave me some sense of satisfaction knowing that my brain still functions on some level other than "Mummy".

AND, despite the fact that I often ignored my husband and/or insisted that he take the children away so I could study; he got me pretty flowers to celebrate. He's very nice. I like him.

*I'm not exactly sure what this means. I know it means that I got good grades on my exams, but do I get a coupon for 10% off at Staples or something?

September 29th: Got my diploma today... it's pretty, but no coupons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Naked Lunch.

So far, this school lunch thing has been a bit of a pain in the ass.

Day 1:
I packed: Painstakingly made-with-my-own-hands ravioli, carrots, grapes, apple juice and two lima bean cookies.

She ate: Carrots, cookies and two raviolis. She said they didn't taste as good after she emptied the packet of salt and pepper onto them. (Note to self: Do not pack leftover take-out utensil packages that contain salt and pepper.)

Day 2:
I packed: A cheese sandwich, strawberries, carrots, a granola bar, apple juice.

She ate: Everything but the sandwich, which she took apart and then put into the boxes from the strawberries and carrots. Why? I don't know. She didn't appear to either.

Day 3:
I packed: Tortellini (frozen, thankyouverymuch), carrots, apple slices, granola bar and apple juice.

She ate: Who knows? She lost her -- less than a week old -- Tinkerbell lunch bag.

Day 4:
I packed: Half a cheese sandwich, carrots, two lima bean cookies, grapes, apple juice. In a giant Ziploc bag, clearly labeled with her name, her teacher's name and her classroom. Which made her cry, because she didn't WANT to bring her lunch in a PLASTIC BAG.

She ate: Every last thing. She also found her lunch bag and I'm pretty sure she's going to keep a closer eye on it, considering how traumatic the whole Ziploc bag thing was.

(Tinkerbell's return also answered the question of what she'd eaten the day before: granola bar and apple juice.)

Apparently it could've been worse; one of her teachers from last year was telling me about a kid* in her class this year. On Tuesday, he lost his water bottle. On Wednesday, he lost his lunch bag. On Thursday, he lost his pants.


*This kid.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rookie Mistake.

When Beege started kindergarten, I stuck around for about ten minutes after she'd gone in the door. Then I wandered home vacantly, with tears in my eyes, and sat on the couch counting the minutes until I could (without being totally embarrassing) go back and sit outside the door and watch for her to come out.

This morning, despite the utter chaos, I feel pretty good about leaving her there. I mean, I met the teacher, I made sure she was in the right line, I watched her go in the door; she's good.

Except, she's there until 3:30. That's the whole day. The WHOLE day. And while I've dreamed about this moment for the last couple of months, I still feel... a little empty.

Not that I would change a thing. My sanity has been severely at stake for the last couple of weeks.

I'm just relating the state of mind that may have led to the following conversation:
Me: Wow! Grade one! You're getting so big! And this year you're going to stay for lunch. The WHOLE day! Wow!
Beege: Yup.
Me: So what would you like for you first day of school lunch? I can make whatever you'd like!*
Beege: Anything?
Me: Anything!
Beege: I'd like to have puff pastry raviolis!**
Me: What?
Beege: You know, like Cat Cora made that time on the Iron Chef! And can they be star shaped?
Me: Eep?

On the upside, I learned to make ravioli.

*This is not something you should say to your child. Ever.
**For the record, they were not "puff pastry ravioli", they were more like puff pastry pop tarts.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Memoriam.

My Grandpa was a gardener. He once won "best vegetable" in a gardening competition that he hadn't meant to enter. He has a garden full of roses.

He once quit a job because management told him he wasn't allowed to whistle while he worked.

When he was young, he loved to dance. Especially at fancy dress parties.

He loved animals. He founded the Husky Club of Great Britain, he raised huskies and rabbits and helped out at the local zoo.

My Grandpa loved the theatre, especially Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. My grandmother remembers watching him in shows and noticing that he had "a great pair of legs in tights".

He was addicted to The Young and The Restless and could tell you plot lines as far back as thirty years ago.

My grandpa was a brave man. Despite being unable to join the armed forces, he volunteered to climb up on rooftops, wearing a tin helmet, and be a lookout for approaching planes.

He brought his wife and four young children from England to Canada in the 60's, leaving everything they knew.

He was a generous man. If someone mentioned that they needed anything in his hearing, they were likely to find that what was broken had been mysteriously fixed, or that Grandpa had found an "extra" telephone, microwave or washer and dryer "in the attic".

He liked to fix things himself. On the rare occasion that he couldn't, he would follow the repair person around asking questions and watching closely so that he would know for next time.

He always wanted to have the very latest in technology, sometimes to the consternation of his family as he would replace practically brand new things. (Of course, he might have heard that someone needed one and he found that he needed an "extra".)

When he needed to concentrate, he stuck his tongue out the side of his mouth and hummed.

He could be cranky. He could be obstinate. He was not a saint.

He was my Grandpa, and I will always love him. And wherever he is, I hope that there is dancing.

Eric J. Barker
May 9, 1923 - August 30, 2011