Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I'll pass on the parasites, thank you.

What does this time of year remind you of?  Pools?  Barbecues?  S'mores?  This time of year always makes me think of bird mites.  

It was a beautiful late spring/early summer morning when David and I heard tiny little chirps coming from inside our bedroom wall.  David wasn't too thrilled that a bird had found a way into the wall and had made a nest.  Of course, I, on the other hand, was happy for that mama bird that she found a nice cozy spot for her babies.  I told him to leave her alone.  We were all going to live together as a happy little multi-species home.  I would sing to them like snow white and they would become my friends.  

One morning, I was making our bed when I noticed dirt on David's side.  I brushed it off and figured he must have brought some dirt in on accident - stuff like that happens when you live on a farm.  I became distracted and didn't finish making the bed.  When I came back a couple of hours later to finish the job, I noticed the dirt was back.  Puzzled, I started brushing it off again.  And then it happened.  I realized the dirt was moving.  It wasn't dirt.  They were bugs.  Obviously, I assumed they were bed bugs since they were in my bed, but quickly realized they were much too small to be bed bugs.  After some more investigation, we learned that they were bird mites.  Shortly after that, they were on everything.  EVERYTHING.  The bed, the walls, our clothes, the bathroom...everything.  Thankfully, they stayed in our bedroom and bathroom and we were able to contain them to that space.  I think it took about a month to be totally rid of them.  This was the one and only time David has ever been right.  Now, when I see a bird, I want to throw a rock at it.

Just so you can get a clear picture of just how much I hate parasites, I'll give you a brief rundown of our experiences over the last 5 years.

- Giardia: Zeke came to us with this intestinal parasite.  Every time he pooped, I treated him like a bio-terrorist until it was gone.

- Lice: 3 months later, Ella brought lice to the house.  David was the only one who didn't get it.  As many of you know, I am now a lice expert.  Seriously.  I hired a company to come teach me everything I needed to know.  I've had people drop bugs off in my mailbox for me to identify.  We got it twice that school year.

- Lyme Disease:  Maybe a year after that, Ella was bitten by a tick in Martha's Vineyard and contracted Lyme Disease.  30 days of a medication that I had to shoot in the back of her throat because the taste was so bad.  It was described to me as the second worst tasting medication on earth.

- Lung Worm in our goats

- Fleas on our barn cats

- Bird Mites

- Lice one more time (Owen, last summer)

So, all of you who are complaining about Cicadas, suck it up!  I love any bug that doesn't mooch off of my body!  Except for flies.  Flies bring about anger in me like not much else can.

Here's to wishing you all, and us, a parasite free year!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh hell to the no

Since choosing to have 4 children, I've been warned about how my life would be when they all became involved in extracurriculars.  The time is upon us, folks.  Well, kinda.  By the time Ella was 4 months old, I had her enrolled in little gym, mommy and me classes, future geniuses of America, etc., etc.  Poor Zeke is 6 years old and I'm still telling him he's too young for most things in a desperate move to save my sanity.  So, I've got 3 to deal with right now.  I'm praying that by the time Zeke catches on, Ella will be old enough to drive him to his stuff.  But, I digress.  Let me tell you how my evening went.  Kids get off the bus at 4.  After quick snacks and a lot of "if you don't get in the car right now" moments, I dropped Cat off at gymnastics at 4:30.  Owen was next for lacrosse team pictures at 5:00. Then off to the lacrosse game at 6.  Back to pick Cat up at 6:25 then home to grab Ella from horseback riding lessons.  By 6:45, I was dropping them off at 4-H and heading back to pick Owen up from Lacrosse.  Made it back to 4-H just in time for them to adjourn the meeting at 7:50.  I seriously contemplated having an ambulance pick me up from lacrosse because I was surely having a stroke.  Typically, David is flexible in his schedule and can help out, but not tonight.  My house is trashed, my children are late to bed, I had yogurt and wine for dinner and my eye won't stop twitching, but, by golly, I did it!  I survived this night of parenting hell!  Bring it world!  You don't scare me!  Ok, that's a lie.  Please don't bring it.  I don't have it in me to do it again.  I'm begging you, for the love of god, don't bring it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Line in the Sand

A few weeks ago, our 6 year old lost a tooth while Dave and I were out.  The babysitter sent me a text to let me know, even though Cat asked her not to.   I assumed she wanted to surprise us in the morning, but it turns out, the little bugger was setting a trap.  A tooth fairy trap.  A little girl on her bus, whom we will refer to as "Jerk Face," told her that her parents are actually taking the tooth and leaving money and that the tooth fairy doesn't actually exist.  She decided that, if she didn't tell us about the tooth, she would know if Jerk Face was telling the truth because how could we leave money if we didn't know?  She ran into our room in the morning to tell us about her tooth, but hadn't checked for money yet.  As she's talking, we're realizing the tooth fairy hadn't come!  I engaged her in more exciting tooth fairy stories while Dave snuck out and hid money in her pillow.  Even with our best efforts, she still came to me asking, "mom...are you really the tooth fairy?  Jerk Face told me so on the bus."  I always knew that if they asked me point blank, I wouldn't lie.  So, I told her the truth.  It was quite sad.  Her eyes filled with tears, even though she pretended to be ok with the news.  I told her that she is now part of the tooth fairy magic and her job is to help other little kids keep believing.  She's lost another tooth since and asked me if she could flush it down the toilet and then told me I owe her money for the lost tooth, so I think she's over it.

So, now we have 1 that doesn't believe in the tooth fairy and 2 that don't believe in any of it anymore.  For a quick second I felt sad about them growing up.  Then I realized how awesome this is going to be.  I can delegate!  No more finding creative hiding spaces for the freaking elf on the shelf!  No more trying to find time to stuff Easter eggs with candy!  My creative, less exhausted and more enthusiastic daughter can help with these things!  By the time she has kids, she going to be so over this whole thing after helping me for so long, but I guess that's her problem.

All of this tooth fairy and Easter Bunny talk lately has gotten me thinking about how out of control holidays have gotten.  Everything seems more complicated and more involved than they were when I was a kid.  For instance, I had never heard of a Leprechaun bringing candy on St. Patrick's Day, but now I hear stories of kids waking to find glitter all around their house leading them to a treasure.  Zeke actually told me on Valentine's Day that the Giant Heart would be coming to bringing him treats.  What in the hell?!  No!  And my kids think that we will be celebrating their half birthdays!  Stop the madness, people!  If we don't stop this now, one day our Children will be telling tales of Uncle Sam riding in on a magic donkey to fill their top hats with treats to celebrate 4th of July.  I am taking a pledge right now to be a mediocre parent - no more, no less. I will not let the better moms kill me slowly with peer pressure!  I pledge to provide my kids with a reasonable amount of holiday magic while still allowing myself the ability to enjoy the holidays with a glass of wine and time to sit on the damn couch!  No Leprechauns!  No Giant Hearts! No Uncle Sam!  Who's with me?!

The worst mom ever

Friday, March 20, 2015


When we tell people we bought a horse barn, the questions are always...what made you do that?  do you have horse experience?  How did you find this place? So, I thought I'd tell the story of how we landed here.

I grew up with SOME horse experience.  My extended family members had horses and, like any little girl, I begged my parents for one.  The best I could get them to agree to was summer horse camps in Pennsylvania.  It was awesome!  We lived for a week in cabins and had our very own horse to take care of.  Clearly, that level of experience qualified me to own a barn.  The end.

Ok, so I actually had no business buying a farm, but "having no business" usually doesn't stop me.  As my oldest, Ella, pointed out to me recently...I'm a dreamer.  I LOVE that she knows that about me.  And it's true.  At least once a week, I call David and say, "I was thinking..."  This usually causes him to jump with excitement.  And by jump with excitement, I mean cringe.  I've had people suggest to me that Dave does anything I want.  That makes me laugh because it's not even close to being true.  He probably agrees to about 50% of my ideas.  It's just that the things he agrees to are so crazy, that people just assume I have him wrapped around my little finger.  I can't even imagine a life where he said yes to all of my ideas.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.  One thing I know for sure is that I would have a pet pig that lived in the house and that I dressed up in cute outfits.

I've always been drawn to the idea of farm living and, after my experience working at a hippotherapy practice, I made the goal of owning my own farm based practice some day.  For those that don't know...I am an Occupational Therapist and hippotherapy is the use of horses in OT, PT or SLP treatment.  This was really a pipe dream and nothing I was even working towards - something I would do "some day" when the kids were older.  Well, one day, I drove by this boarding facility that was for sale.  I called David and said, "I was thinking..."  Much to my surprise, he didn't say no!  We drove out to look at the place and he loved it.  He loved feeling some seclusion from the chaos of his work day.  He loved the peaceful atmosphere.  For him, I think it was more about the land than the animals.  I, on the other hand, had dreams of snuggling farm animals day and night.

After A LOT of discussion, we decided to take the risk and jump at the opportunity.  Our plan was to buy the facility, learn the ropes and eventually build on the property in a couple of years.  But, one day, we received a call from a realtor friend of ours, who said she had someone she thought would be interested in purchasing our house (which was not on the market).  I told her that for the right price, I'm sure Dave would sell the kids and me, so I'm guessing he'd sell the house.  The buyer ended up wanting it and we had to start thinking about where to live.  With 4 kids and 3 dogs, landlords were not jumping at the chance to rent to us while we built our house.  Dave came up with the genius idea to build out an unused barn on our property and turn it into temporary living for us while we designed and built our house.  In 45 days time, we converted the hay loft of the barn into a 3 bedroom home.  After moving in, we found that we loved living in the barn and have ditched the idea of building a house.  We've had various animals live in the stalls below us - horses, chickens, goats.  While it was very cool to walk downstairs and see my horse standing there, the smell was not so cool.  So, now all of the animals are in the big barn and we are back here with only our mud covered dogs to stink up the house.  And Owen.  He also stinks it up.  There's something wrong with that child's feet.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's try this again...

It's been a loooong time since I've written, but that's a good thing.  When we started this blog, it was to help us process our difficult transition period when Zeke was adopted.  Things got better and I stopped having a need to write.  Well, it's been suggested to me on several occasions that I blog about our family.  While blogging was great during our difficult patch, it seems overwhelming to me to blog during normal times.  Do I have enough to say?  I know I never stop talking, but does any of what I say have enough substance for a blog??  I guess we'll find out!  Don't know how often I'll write, but hopefully you'll enjoy it when I do!

As a re-cap for those that may be reading this blog for the first time, the title "This Strange Place" comes from a saying you often hear in our home.  "This is a strange place to live," is something of a slogan to us.  We find ourselves saying it often.  We've taught the kids that if you're not weird, you're boring and, let's just say, we've all embraced that concept.

So, I guess I'll start thinking of topics to blog about and you stay on the edge of your seat in the meantime.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Zeke's Journey Home

Well, it's been a long time since we've written and I feel bad about that.  Not because I think you are sitting there on the edge of your seats waiting to hear from us, but because we basically left it at how hard things were.  For those of you reading this blog because you are in the adoption process yourselves, I feel a sense of obligation to keep you updated and I'm sorry I dropped the ball.  The good news is, the reason we haven't been writing is because we haven't felt a need to use it as a therapy tool. So much of the previous writing was cathartic for us, as we've mentioned, and with things going well, there isn't a real need for it.

I do want to write more about bonding and the troubles we had with that, but there never seems to be enough time to really get into it.  I hope to start back up on that topic after the new year.  In the meantime, we leave you with this video.  We wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Friday, August 3, 2012

kisses and laughs

Today was a mini breakthrough with Zeke.  It was a clear sign, to me, that he is learning to trust me more.  While he loves affection, he always became overwhelmed when I kiss him all over his face (different reaction than he gives Dad).  I do this with all of the kids.  When I put them in bed or say goodbye or just because - I grab their little faces and go to town!  Well, Zeke would always get kinda angry about it.  He clearly felt out of control.  He seemed not to be too sure whether I was being nice or mean.  It always bothered me.  With the rough year we have had, the times when I felt like being affectionate in this way with him weren't as often as I would have liked.  So, when I would actually feel the desire to bond with him and he would essentially push me away, it was hard...just another reason to be irritated with him.  Well, today, I was "nuggling" (snuggling) him before nap time and I whispered in his ear "I'm going to kiss you" in an "I'm gonna getcha" kind of way and then I proceeded to kiss him all over his little face.  He loved it!  I was so happy.  I felt like it was a sign of him trusting me.  It made me reflect on the "journey" of him becoming ticklish.  When we picked him up, he wouldn't even smirk if we tickled him.  He wanted nothing to do with us and especially not with us touching him.  I was super bummed.  If I can't even get him to laugh with a tickle, how were we ever going to be able to play and bond?  This went on for a couple of weeks and then, all of a sudden, he laughed!  I couldn't believe it!  He WAS ticklish...he had just been hiding it because he didn't trust us!  Zeke has the absolute best laugh in the world.  You can't listen to him laugh without laughing yourself.  Now, if you come even within 6 inches of his body (specifically his belly and neck), he falls apart with laughter.  It's a deep, guttural, out of control laugh that just makes me smile.  Only a happy kid can laugh like that.