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Why the dog getting sprayed by an amorous skunk took me back to when the kids had lice

February 8, 2016

Busy days mean you hear less from bloggers. (Maybe that’s a good thing.) I feel like I’ve been AWOL and here’s a little of why since the first of the year (not a complete list!):

  • New grandson born!
  • Blizzard of 2016 blew in.
  • New pastor moved in and I helped paint her office.
  • Lined up finances for a solar installation.
  • Difficult decisions about retirement finances for my husband.
  • And then the dog got hit by a skunk.P1060956

It was this last item, the SKUNK, that threatened to do me in.

The skunk episode reminded me of how overwhelmed I felt long ago when our two older girls brought home lice from school and we learned that they WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO GO BACK until they were cleared of lice, nits and all.

Three daughters, all with thick, longish beautiful hair, with hundreds of miniscule nits (lice eggs) that you literally had to scoot off each shaft of hair with your fingers. Endless work.

Oh yes nit combs helped some, and we shampooed multiple times with special lice shampoo that you have to wait forever to rinse out, and finally got shorter haircuts for the two hit worst. I’m told that now over-the-counter shampoos are not even effective.


A photo soon after their lice-induced haircuts, at Highland County Maple Syrup Festival. Rockin’ those sweat pants outfits.

If they had been boys I would have just shaved all their hair off.

Doing endless laundry: sheets, blankets, mattress pads, and mounds of clothing had to all be washed. Heaps of stuffed animals and pillows had to be stuffed into garbage bags and closed tightly for two weeks so the darn things would DIE (I mean the lice, not the stuffed animals).

Plus the shame. Lice are not only despicable and a bother, but tend to make your children into pariahs too. Dare they go to a birthday party if they’re not allowed back in school yet? Should I tell the haircutter at the beauty school about the lice? (Yes!)

It was probably one of our lowest periods in parenting.

But when you put it in perspective, well, I had not even thought of it in years. Years! On the grand scale of things, lice and getting spewed by a skunk are not cancer, not a bad accident, not a brain injury, not rapidly progressing macular degeneration! Nothing to really cry about. I thought of these things as I shampooed the dog, washed rugs and dog blankets, set out dishes of vinegar to absorb odors, and mopped the entire basement floor with Lysol, then cleansed the washing machine with several loads of Clorox water.

Frustrating and time consuming yes, but a reminder to be oh so thankful. (Plus, friends noted there are so many dead skunks on our roads right now with February-March being skunk mating season. Who knew?)

Most of the things on my list above are more or less happy and exciting occasions. The new grandson makes us heady with happiness and while his parents are cautious about oversharing (a valid concern!) you can bet we are pleased and proud.


There were other distressing events and while blizzards never bring about happy dances any more at our house, it definitely could have been worse.


Plowing out: note, this is not a black and white photo.

Our electricity stayed on the whole time! Yay—just a few blink outs which sent me scurrying to set aside clean water in big stainless steel kettles and extra pitchers, just in case.

We feel blessed, unworthy, and ever thankful, even when going through crazy stressful times.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil 4:6) 


What was a difficult (shareable) time you recall in raising children?


When you are overwhelmed or depressed by situations, (not clinical depression) how do you cope?



From → Faith, Family Life

  1. “The new grandson makes us heady with happiness” probably pales against the long-ago lice episode. I wonder if you realized what a clever pun you made, Melodie.

    A difficult time raising children? Living in a travel trailer for a year and a half with two babies and moving from campground to campground every 2-3 days was a challenging time for me. If I hadn’t felt so sorry for myself I could have kept a journal and have rich memoir material now. I did write an essay about it, but it lacks detail and the immediacy of memory. Here you have a blog post to return to when you want to review early 2016 capturing all craziness.

    When I feel depressed I try to think of something nice to do for a neighbor or friend. When I feel overwhelmed, I might have a good cry, but then I often go into overdrive ticking items off my list.

    Yes, I remember the struggle of financial decision-making concerning when I retired. God will give you and Stuart wisdom.

    I claim Philippians 4:6 too – every day.

  2. I’m not very punny–and always had a rep of being gullible, so no, I missed that. Unintentional for careful, clever readers like you to figure out.

    I will be anxious to hear your recollections of that year and a half in a travel trailer when you publish your memoir. Mom and Dad lived in a small trailer in Florida when I was born which tried their patience too. Were you struck by wanderlust those months? Volunteering? Down on your luck and out of dough??

    I love your RX for the blues: great advice. And thanks as always for jumping in to start conversation.

    • In the 70s Cliff was beginning his art performances, and to keep the family together we rented out our house and traveled with him.

  3. Ooh, that skunk. And lice. My skin is crawling!

    My pestilence of the last few months has been a bad case of flour moths. They infested the pantry before I realized what they were. Now there seems to be a second wave of eggs/larvae/moths to make us determined to exterminate them. Running around trying to grab a moth out of mid-air is as futile as it is comical. But we are slowly winning. (I think!)

  4. Flour moths–is that an official name?–but I know what you mean. They hit my pantry too a while back and I decided it was time to cease early morning writing a few days and scrub down walls and shelves in that space.

    I guess what we have here is bloggers shaking out not skeletons from their closets but pests from their lovely abodes. Thanks for letting me know we’re not alone.

  5. annbrandt permalink

    YOur blog inspired me to stop and think why my writing has hit a bump. No, bump is not it. It has slowed to almost a complete stop. I just finished my last article for a contract signed last fall. Now what? A book is inside me but refuses to come out. I have spoken with God on this matter and–as is the case so many times–He has said. “wait.” isn’t that the hardest thing to do.”

  6. Ann, I feel for you. Yes, waiting is hard. Are you feeling this is somehow different than writer’s block? My case was more one of busyness, but like one writer I worked with recently said, she has itchy fingers–fingers that want to write. It is a need she has within her and she has to respond to it. Writing is part of how I process life with all its mysteries, joys and sorrows. Hope you get unstuck or are able to wait and then feel when God is leading to start up again!

  7. Athanasia permalink

    Melodie, I just read that 90% of children in the U.S. have photos shared somewhere on line through various social media. By parents, friends, themselves. That is scary. I hope you are able to spend lots and lots of time with your new grandson.

    When I think back it is hard to remember the difficult times. They have faded. I was lucky to always have the older generation at hand, though, for which I am ever grateful.

    “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him” Romans 15:13. I was given this plaque by a woman from church, also with RA, after feeling down and asking her how she managed. I had 5 children…How was I ever to keep up with them? She said, ” they will adjust to you and what you can do”. Faith and family and friends–they are always there when I need them.

    • My mother always talks about how lucky she was to have her in-laws living next door to us in in-law quarters or the “daughty haus” as we call it in Pa.Dutch. They were always available as babysitters for us and she didn’t have to “drag us along to town” (love that image, huh). As a mom, I can understand her sentiment, and we did not mind hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma Miller.

      I like the plaque your friend from church gave you. You mention RA–rheumatoid arthritis? You say “also”–do you have it as well? My mother-in-law, whom I never met, suffered most of her life with severe RA. Tell me more sometime if you wish. And perhaps I’ll get my husband to write a post about her life. He used to weep as he’d remember or tell me of her pain and trials. Blessings to you, Athanasia!

      • Athanasia permalink

        Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. Yes, RA, meaning rheumatoid arthritis. It’s fortunately a field with many medical advances so no one needs suffer the problems of years past, not to such a severe degree. I would be interested in hearing more of your mother in law. She must have died quite young if you’d never met her. No one else in my immediate family seems to have it…I have definitely watched and worried over the children though. My twin sister does not have it either, nor any of my brothers.

  8. I think Estella was in her mid 50s and she actually died of bleeding ulcers in her stomach I believe because of taking so so many aspirin to keep pain down. I know she went through 300 or more in a week. She had to use a wheelchair and other have home modifications. She had dear sisters who came and helped her frequently with housework, and her two oldest sons learned to cook very well (too bad they took it over and Stuart never really learned.)

    Yes, it does seem there have been a lot of good advances, but still, I’m sorry for your pain and your coping.

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