There’s No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk…

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… Or in this case, disappearing ink.  That’s right, dear readers.  RM and the kids GOT me.  They got me good.

Allow me to set the scene for you…

Friday was a long day for me.  I was required to be at work early Friday morning and stay late.  After several busy evenings that week, I was craving a little time not only to unwind but also to get the house straightened up before RM and the kiddies arrived for the weekend.  RM, thankfully, obliged and took the kids to eat dinner to give me some time.  He jokingly told me on the phone that he and the kids would call when they were on their way, and they wouldn’t take this as an opportunity to scare me while I was home alone.  I said, “Well, good, because I just can’t take any scares tonight.  It would just be too much.”  Apparently, RM thought that only applied to scaring me, and being the practical joker he is, he never misses an opportunity.

Fast forward to a few hours later, RM had found ways to entertain the kids in downtown Bellevue, and I was happily enjoying some time on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu.  After I finished the episode, I prepped RM’s and the kids’ beds for their arrival.  I was just about to crawl into bed to read a bit before I zonked out early when RM called to say they would be there any minute.

I rallied to greet the kiddies and hear about their week at school.  All was well until I came back to the living room from my bedroom, and RM was telling Hannah she needed to come out of the bathroom immediately.  I didn’t understand why he was rushing her—she was just going to the bathroom for goodness sake.  Give a girl her privacy!

Then RM pointed me to the GIANT ink stain on the carpet and said, “I want to find out who did this.”  I immediately had flashbacks to my move-in inspection when my stern German landlord pointed out each and every carpet stain that was already here.  There’s no way this one is getting past Helga*, I thought to myself.  Don’t act angry with the kids, Christina.  Accidents happen.  They clearly didn’t mean to spill ink all over your WHITE carpet.  Play it cool.  Get the Resolve; let’s handle this one step at a time.  You’ll scrub all night to get it out if you have to.

I stood there, Resolve in hand, as RM questioned each of the kids, all of them refusing to take responsibility.  I thought back to an hour earlier when #1 had bumped up against that table.  Could it have been her?  I wouldn’t dare call her out on it because even if it was her, I was sure it was an accident.  I didn’t want to risk the recent strides I had made in my relationship with her.  It would be our secret.  #2 and #3 started to giggle, and RM rolled with it.

“This isn’t funny,” he told them.  “I want to know who did this and NOW.”  RM then took something out of his pocket and started to squeeze blue drops all over the carpet.  “It was ME!  I did it!  I did it!”

Then there was laughter.  And jumping up and down.  I was so confused.  RM informed me that it was disappearing ink.  Who even knew that EXISTED?  I did not see the humor, especially because it hadn’t DISAPPEARED YET.  Then all of the strength I had spent reining in how angry I was that there was an ink stain on my carpet was released in the form of, “How-dare-you-play-a-prank-on-me-when-I-told-you-how-long-my-day-was-and-asked-you-not-to-scare-me?”

While I’m still working to see the humor in the above scenario, I will say, they did an excellent job on the execution.  If I weren’t so unappreciative of practical jokes—especially when I’m on the receiving end of them—I would find tiny Oscars for all four of them and cover RM’s with some sort of sticky substance.  He hates having sticky fingers.

Oh, and the spot has officially disappeared.  Phew!

*My landlord’s name is not actually Helga, but it worked, right?

T. Swiftly Changing My Perspective

Two years ago, I embraced my inner-tween and went to see Taylor Swift with two of my gal friends on the Washington, D.C. stop of T. Swift’s Speak Now Tour.  My friend P was nursing a broken heart at the time, and I was single but longing to meet my Mr. Right.  As I watched the tears stream down P’s face during T. Swift’s heart-wrenching rendition of “Back to December,” I remember thinking,

That’s it.  The next time I see Taylor Swift, I want to be in the arms of my soulmate.

Naturally, when T. Swift tickets went on sale last December for her Seattle stop on her Red Tour, I was more than a little excited.  It had been over a year since I went to the last Taylor Swift concert, and not only was I ready to see her in concert again, but I was lucky enough to have met “the one” during that timeframe.  Perfect!, I thought to myself as thoughts of RM and me smooching during “Love Story” swirled about in my head.

That fairytale came crashing down when RM decided to purchase not two tickets but three.  His reasoning?  “Well, I thought we could just sell the third ticket… or maybe, we could take #1?”  (#1 is what I’ll call RM’s oldest.)  Since we were relatively early on in our relationship, I didn’t quite feel comfortable enough to tell RM that I would actually prefer it just be the two of us.   (It’s been a challenge and delicate balance for me to learn when to speak up for my needs and when to put the kids/family time first.  A continuous learning process as a future stepmom!)

After nine months of many moments of RM’s youngest (#3), belting out many a Taylor Swift song, RM and I had a talk and thought that perhaps it made more sense for me to take both girls to the concert.  After all, #3 seemed even more excited than #1.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself.  This was supposed to be a romantic night of smooching my sweetie during the sweet melodies of T. Swift and screaming tweens.  I mean, I saw the logic—#3 was excited, and was it really a good idea to take #1 with RM and me when she seemed to be the one who was most competitive with me for RM’s attention?  Needless to say, despite the logic, I was having some difficulty reining in my Green Monster.

Then it came.  Saturday, 31 August 2013.  Concert day.  I sucked it up, told my Green Monster that she wasn’t invited—there were only three tickets afterall—and put on a happy face, ready to take the girls to their first concert.  My attitude quickly changed when we arrived at one of our favorite restaurants in Tacoma, called BJ’s, and looked around to see the restaurant filled with moms and their pint-sized daughters in cowboy boots.  There was no denying it—most of the patrons of BJ’s that night were headed to the same place we were.

When T. Swift took the stage, #1 looked at me with a big smile and gave me a thumbs up.  #3 stood on the seat next to me with her arm around me, singing “22” as loud as she could, and then spent most of the remainder of the night sleeping on my shoulder as I held her and swayed to the music.  The mom to the right of me, also holding her sleeping 7-year-old, nodded to me in the way that I can only imagine moms nod to each other.  I felt solidarity with her, as if I had gained admittance into the “mom club.”  Even though I’m not technically the girls’ mom, or even their stepmom yet, that night I sure felt like I was.  And it felt good.

Sometimes we have our heart set on something we think we want, and if we’re not willing to adapt and rein in that ugly Green Monster, we might miss out on something that is so much better.  I’ve gotten to listen to the girls’ gush over how much fun their first concert was over the past two days, and I imagine this is something that we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives.

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The very fancy souvenir bag we picked up off the ground.  We heart free stuff–even when it’s a bag!

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The view from our seats.  Not bad!  Even better when she took the smaller stage at the back of the floor.  We were only 22 rows up!

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The line at the merch table.  Hideous!  Can anyone say “online shopping?”  My thoughts exactly.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Well, life sans lice was nice, while it lasted.  On Friday, the morning after RM delivered my adorable, red Vespa, he checked my head—just for old time’s sake, of course.  It has been 48 hours since he last checked it, but I had been lice-free for several days prior to that.  Not expecting to see anything notable, we were shocked when he found new eggs.  Apparently, the time spent treating EW at her house caused a RE-infestation.

*Cue the tears.*

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Here I am riding along to the WA state licensing office to buy new tags for the Vespa.  It was about to close, so I had no choice but to go there with the lice serum on my head.  No, that’s not sweat glistening on my neck.  Great look for me, right?

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Wearing a helmet while Vespa-riding with lice?  No problemo.  I’ll just use this handy dandy shower cap.

Lice Happens: Part Trois

We didn’t make it home from the lake until nearly 2:00 in the morning, following the infamous bat incident of 2013.  We were exhausted.  We were cranky.  We felt defeated.  Thus began a week-long event of daily 6-8 hour head checks/shampoos/mousses/nit combs and round-the-clock laundry.  The only saving grace during all of this chaos was when RM’s youngest randomly blurted out, “I love you” as I was treating her hair.  It wasn’t the first time she had said it to me, but it might have been the sweetest.  Here I was, stressed beyond belief, just praying to make it through the week, and she looked up at me with her big innocent blue eyes and said “I love you.”  That made it all worth it.

During the next several days, I continued to conduct several, and by several I mean at least 200, internet searches about lice shampoos, lice life cycles, natural remedies, cleaning your home, etc.  Obsess much, Christina?  You betcha.  When we started spotting newly-hatched lice nearly a week later, even after the second round of lice shampoo, we were at a loss.  Why couldn’t we kick this??

That’s when I found www.girlsgonechild.net’s post on her family’s experience fighting lice and finding Ladibugs Elimination Kit.  One word:  miraculous.  We haven’t seen any eggs or lice since treating.  We’ve done several more rounds of the mousse just to be sure we’re in the clear, but we’ve basically declared victory at this point.

While we’ve been in the clear for almost a whole week now (that is cause for celebration!), I’ve left out the culmination of the story.  There’s more?, you ask.  Oh yes, my friend.  You will be glad you’ve made it this far in my lengthy blog posts.  After our week from H-E-double hockey sticks, it was time to take the kids back to their mom (who from here on out I will refer to as EW for “Ex-Wife”) and her boyfriend.  Our biggest fear?  That EW would have lice and pass it back to the kiddies, therefore making all of our countless hours and hundreds of dollars spent for naught.  For this reason, I offered to check her head while we were there.  She said she had done three lice shampoos “just in case,” but that no one had actually checked her head.

EW graciously agreed and as she sat down under the light said, “Well, this is humbling.”  I assured her that we had all been in her position over the past two weeks, and therefore understood how she was feeling.  However, I suspected that her embarrassment was less about having lice and more to do with her ex-husband’s girlfriend picking the lice out of her head.  (What is it they say about Karma?)  I soon found that she was INFESTED with eggs, but thankfully, no live lice.  RM and I spent the next two and a half hours picking nits out of her hair, with me taking the lead and spending more QT with EW than I ever thought I would.  Next we were checking her boyfriend’s hair.  Let me just say, finding WHITE eggs on WHITE hair is equivalent to a needle in a haystack.  Thankfully, everyone was a good sport, and we all laughed about the awkward situation in which we found ourselves.  Although I can think of many things I’d rather do than shampoo my boyfriend’s ex-wife’s hair, I honestly think it was probably good for the kids to see all of us laughing together and helping each other.  Sure, the set-up isn’t your average, traditional family, but this will be our normal, and right now it’s working just fine.

Lice Happens: Part Deux

Just when we thought our plight could not worsen, we arrived at the entrance of the state park only to realize that RM’s mom was no longer behind us.  She had a tire blowout on her boat trailer and was waiting for a tow truck.   We opted to head to the boat launch where we would sail to our campsite before someone else snagged it and wait for RM’s mom there.

We treated RM’s oldest when we got to the lake, just for good measure—she was the one who had it a month prior, so we figured chances were high that she either still had it or had it again.  The next 48 hours were spent swimming, boating, relaxing, and pretending we didn’t have lice, to the best of our ability.  (I think this was easier for the kids than it was for me.)  We did countless, useless shampoos with tea tree oil in the lake, at my behest, thinking it might make a difference, only to find out we were probably just washing out the lice shampoo and making it less effective.  Apparently lice prefer clean hair.  Awesome.

We awoke the following day, eager to start fresh.  RM looked at me and said, “We made it.  Yesterday is over!”  There was no way it could get worse, right?  Little did we know…

We enjoyed a day at the beach—swimming, kneeboarding, and cliff jumping.  We went to sleep that night feeling fulfilled and happy, despite those bloodsucking buggers on our heads.  We awoke at 2:00 AM to three continuous hours of 30-40 mph winds, lightning, thunder, and hail.   I consoled the crying kids in the collapsed tent while RM held onto our sailboat for dear life, praying it wouldn’t tip over and break or damage the boats next to it.  We managed to get a few hours of sleep once the storm died down, but we awoke to a war zone, spending the next few hours sweeping sand out of the tent and collecting all of our belongings (and trash) that had scattered during the high winds.

After taking a peek at what that night’s weather report promised, we decided to hit the road.  But first, the kids and I would do one more lice shampoo.  I figured the house was safe by this point, so I didn’t want us bringing any of those suckers back with us.  What came next was a pre-teen breakdown from RM’s oldest, who couldn’t bear stripping down in front of me, followed by my own breakdown of feeling completely inadequate in my quest to take care of her.  Who was I fooling?  I wasn’t her mother.  I was soon comforted by RM’s mom singing James Blunt’s “So You Had a Bad Day.”  Boy, did I!

This brings me to the bat.  I know, I know—you were wondering when I was going to get to that, right?  After the girls were successfully shampooed by moi—we figured out a way to keep towels wrapped around them so no one was embarrassed—it was my turn.  There I stood, in those terrible hiking sandals, stifling back tears.  I was without a watch and alone in the bathroom, so I took a tip from the Friends episode, “The One with Ross’ Tan,” and counted.  One Mississippi.  Two Mississippi.  Three Mississippi.  Let me tell you, 10 minutes feels a lot longer when you’re counting by the second.

After my 10 minutes were up, I began to rinse when RM cracked the ladies’ room door open to ask me how it was going.  That is when he alerted me of the bat.

I slowly bent my knees and looked up cautiously.  Sure enough, I saw a bat, hanging upside down, only inches from my face.  Its furry little head nuzzling in its wings.  I proceeded to run out of the bathroom at full speed, carrying my towel in one hand, all the while crying, screaming, and laughing into RM’s arms.   What else could I do?

I was at the end of my rope.

Check back for the next post in the “Lice Happens” series to find out what we happened when we returned home and the experience in which RM and I never thought we would find ourselves!

Lice Happens: Part Un

Warning:  This post may cause completely unwarranted, unfounded itching on the scalp, which may spread to other areas on the body.  Do not be alarmed.  You do not have lice.  Err… you probably don’t.

“Sweetie, don’t freak out about what I’m about to say…” said my boyfriend from the half-cracked open door of the ladies restroom.  I stood as still as statue, anxiously awaiting his next words in the grimy, dock showers wearing nothing but my very unflattering hiking sandals and lice shampoo on my wet head.

“… but there is a BAT directly above your head.”

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One week earlier, my boyfriend (here on out referred to as “RM,” for “Renaissance Man”) and I decided that we would spend the following weekend camping for a few nights on a lake he had been going to with his family for as long as he could remember.  We planned to take his three little ones, their cousin, and his mom.  Although I had only been camping one night before in my entire life (unless we’re counting camping out in my fenced-in backyard in a Chicago suburb… No?  Okay fine, only one night then.), the fact that this locale promised a bathroom at the campsite, a lake I could jump into anytime for a “shower,” plus actual showers at the boat docks, seemed totally do-able to me.   What could go wrong?

Oh, silly Christina.  What couldn’t go wrong?

The drama began to unfold the morning we were set to leave for the lake.  We managed to get all three kids ready to leave by 7 am, which is no small feat, let me tell you.  RM’s mom was a little late, so we had some extra time—phew!  As we were fixing the youngest’s hair into a ponytail, that’s when it happened.  We spotted it.  A live LOUSE crawling on her beautiful, light blonde head of hair.

I kicked it into high gear, found a box of lice shampoo stuffed away in my closet that I had bought a month prior, when RM’s oldest had a case of those little suckers.  At the time, I feared they would jump from her head at their grandparents’ house an hour away and find their way all the way up the interstate to my house and onto my head.  (Hey, you never know how resilient those buggers can be, right?)  We immediately treated the youngest, but a cursory look (in hindsight probably too cursory) at the others yielded no lice.  Except for me.  I had eggs.  Fan-flippin-tastic.  RM treated my head as well.  We threw the sheets into the laundry room, vacuumed quickly, and hit the road, in hopes that a few days away from the house would be plenty of time for any lice that may have found their way off of heads and onto furniture to die.

As the day went on, I tried with all of my might to forget about the lice, but something in me knew that it was only the beginning.  Two hours into the drive, we stopped for gas.  As I was standing behind RM’s son waiting for the bathroom, that’s when it happened.  I spotted it.  TWO live lice crawling on his beautiful, light blonde head of hair.  RM kicked it into high gear and treated his son’s hair with lice shampoo in the gas station bathroom, while I stood with the girls in the gas station parking lot eating jambon on a baguette listening to RM’s mom tell me how it was perfectly normal in Europe to pull over on the side of the road to eat jambon on a baguette.  Somehow, I pictured it being a bit more glamorous in her native France, than our rendition of scarfing down our baguettes in between our spraying each other with lice repellant spray (which we would later find out did absolutely nothing to help our lice situation).

Check back for the next post in the “Lice Happens” series to find out how we fared once we arrived at the lake, which turned out to be a bit more complicated than we anticipated.