Saturday, April 28, 2012

Everything You Ever (and Never) Wanted to Know About Ticks

In our area, ticks have become a huge issue this spring. It is only April and we have already found one on Henry, one on Daniel, and one on me. Earlier this week, I was outside in the backyard for all of ten minutes and looked down to see one crawling up my jeans. They are out of control. Now I’m no Tickologist so I went to the almighty internet to find out some facts about these little suckers (literally). The more I read the more fascinated and disgusted I became. I figured I’d share my findings since many of you are in the same boat as me – obsessively checking pets and children and constantly feeling like you have a tick crawling on you.

Are mild winters to blame for lots of ticks? I’ve heard a million people say it’s going to be a bad season for ticks due to the mild winter that we had. Well it turns out that it’s not the warm winter but the availability of hosts that makes the population high. In 2011, there was a surge in the population of white-footed deer mice due to a huge crop of acorns (their food) in 2010. Who knew? Since mice are the prime and preferred host for ticks they had plenty of hosts available for the choosing. On top of that, the mild fall/winter meant that the ticks were able to remain active and not die off. Add a mild spring to that mix and now you also have hibernating ticks waking up early. It basically turns in to a triple whammy!

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease? No. Wood and Dog Ticks do NOT carry Lyme disease. Deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease. It generally takes 24-48 hours for a deer tick to transmit Lyme disease to its host’s bloodstream.

What are the life stages of a tick? Okay, no one has probably ever wondered this (including myself) but it’s actually kind of interesting.

Stage 1: Larva – Eggs laid in the spring hatch into larvae in the late summer (peak August). They are no bigger than a newsprinted period and wait on the ground to attach to a small mammal or bird. The larva feeds over a few days and then drops off. It will not need another meal until it reaches the next stage of its life cycle.

Stage 2: Nymph – Larvae form into Nymphs in the fall and generally remain inactive throughout the winter until spring. Their preferred hosts are small mammals and birds but will also feast on pets and humans if given the chance. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed so they often go unnoticed until they are fully engorged (4 -5 days). Due to the small size, nymphs are responsible for most human Lyme disease cases.

Stage 3: Adult – The Nymph drops off its host and waits until the fall for its next host. It can wait up to three feet off the ground on high grass or leaves to attach on to deer (preferred host) or pets/humans. Peek activity is in October/November. Approximately 50% of these ticks carry Lyme disease although they are often seen (due to size) and removed before they are able to infect the host. If adult ticks are unable to find a host they will hibernate under leaves until the early spring in a last ditch effort to find a host. If they are able to find a host, they will then mate and reproduce. A female tick lays approximately 3,000 eggs (holy smokes!!) in the spring which starts the whole cycle again. 

Adult female, Adult Male, Nymph, Larva on a centimeter scale

What is the best way to remove a tick?
  1. Using a pair of pointed tweezers grasp the tick by the head right where they have entered the skin. Do NOT grab the tick by the body,
  2. Pull firmly and steadily outward. Do not twist the tick.
  3. Place the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it
  4. Clean the wound with disinfectant
 It is recommended that you do not apply a hot match or any other irritant (Vaseline, alcohol, etc) to the tick in order to get it to back out of the host. I must admit that we have been known to use the match trick (not on the kids though).

What is the best way to prevent getting a tick bite?
  1. Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside. 
  2. Wear bug repellent that includes DEET.
  3. Check yourself, children, and pets constantly for ticks. Do a thorough check before you go inside so that you don’t accidentally carry any ticks inside with you. 
  4. Pray to the tick gods every night.

What should I look out for if a tick was attached to me?
  1. A bullseye type rash anywhere on the body up to 1 month after the tick is removed
  2. Fever, chills, joint pain, and fatigue
  3. If you have any questions at all, check with your doctor (duh!)

Happy Tick Hunting!

Sources: (Anita Fritz), American Lyme Disease Foundation (

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If You Build It, He Will Come

Daniel loves birds, like ridiculously loves birds. He watches them from the windows, chases them outside, and points and yells whenever he sees one. It’s one of those things that I know I’ll look back on in ten, twenty, thirty years and say, “Oh, remember when he used to be obsessed with birds?” I don’t want this (most likely short lived) stage to pass us by too quickly so I decided to get some bird feeders to attract his new friends. The boys and I dropped Isabelle off at preschool today and headed to Home Depot. Please note, I never go to Home Depot. That’s a “Dadda Store” as the kids call it. But the boys and I went and $75 later came home with the supplies. Yup, you read that right - $75 for two poles, a hanger, two feeders, and bird seed. At that price, I was hoping that when I took them out of the boxes they would have some fairy dust that I sprinkle on them that makes the birds flock to them and magic that keeps the squirrels away but no dice. Regardless, the boys were super excited to help dig the whole and fill the feeders. Once we put up the first one Henry sat under it saying, “Birdies, your lunch is ready. Come get it!” So cute. I figure at a minimum, we got a great morning activity out of it so that is enough. Wait, who I am kidding? For $75 we better get some f’ing birds at those feeders for Daniel to gawk at!

My Mamma let me use a sledgehammer today!

Lunch is served!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Boys and the Potty: WTF?

As I mentioned last week, Henry is now potty trained. He is doing great and not having any accidents, however, there is a problem. I had no idea how completely out of control a three year old’s little man business is. That thing is like a fire hose. The full force of it is incredible. Now clearly, I don’t have a penis so I am like the blind leading the blind while helping him. We started out sitting down on the potty since that seemed like the thing to do. Even with sitting, that thing is still shooting urine out everywhere!  A quote from Henry: “Winkies like to go everywhere but Mommys like them to stay in the potty.” Very true, Henry. Very true. So then I figured I should just have him stand since maybe that would be better. Umm…no. The first time standing included ME holding him in place and we still ended up showering the bathroom with urine. If I can’t even aim it right, how can I expect him to??  It also doesn’t help that he will think he is done only to be fooled and have more come out. I am doing so much extra laundry just because of dribbles, leaks, and fire hose episodes in the bathroom. The two of us in there are actually quite the comical team. Thank God he’ll have no recollection of this when he gets older. Potty training girls was so much easier. At least I know what’s going on down there!  So we’re going to just keep tackling it with an end goal of getting ALL urine in the potty. Until we get over the learning curve, I’ll be keeping lots of Clorox Wipes on hand!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Easter Egg, Choking, and a lot of Vomit

This morning while doing the dishes, Isabelle yells “Daniel has an Easter Egg in his mouth.” Now with this type of comment, you don’t even get a reaction out of me anymore. Daniel ALWAYS has something in his mouth. It is certainly no reason to turn the water off and go check it out. I casually yell “Take it out of your mouth, Daniel” knowing that he will do no such thing. Then I hear the gagging. He had a half of a plastic egg in his mouth that ended up going farther down his throat than he anticipated and he started to choke on it. The choking then results in him gagging and throwing up. But wait, it gets better…the half an egg gets lodged in his mouth. He can breathe totally fine and the vomit found its way out around the egg so there is really no cause for alarm. Except of course, I can’t get the egg out. Oh, and he is hysterical. I spend the next minute or so fishing around in his mouth (which makes him vomit again) but finally get the egg out. He was shaken up from the experience which did not stop me from saying, “This is why we don’t put things in our mouth!!” Of course, my words fell on deaf ears since a minute later I saw him walking around with a bouncy ball in his mouth. Uggghhhhh!

"Oooh, I can't wait to choke on this egg later."

Monday, April 16, 2012

When’s the Right Time to Potty Train?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about potty training is that parents have no control over when it happens. Yup, that’s right. You know those great plans that you have that your kid will be potty trained before your next child is born, before preschool starts, before the summer starts, etc., etc.? Well you can promptly throw those expectations out the window because your child will be potty trained when they decide it’s time. I am happy to report that Henry has decided that his time has come. I tried a few months ago to train him and all I ended up doing was cleaning up accidents, doubling laundry, and making no progress.  I put the whole thing on hold until last week. We have now been in big boy undies for four days straight with only two minor accidents. He’s also waking up dry in the mornings. Last month, he would have fought me to not have a diaper on and today he’s using the bathroom by himself without even using a potty seat. It’s like night and day. The same thing also happened with Isabelle when she was his same exact age (3 yrs, 3 months old). One day she decided she was going to wear underwear and never looked back . My kids definitely aren’t the earliest potty trainers but I would much rather have it happen fast and stick than deal with months and months of accidents and battles. I now officially only have one child in diapers which is huge since at one point I had three in diapers simultaneously. It’s quite magical.

In undies, in a box, that's how he rolls.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The First Cut is the Deepest

I’ve known for a couple of weeks now that Daniel has needed a haircut. I’ve been dreading it though because it’s his very first one. That first hair cut is so bitter sweet. It’s good bye innocent, wispy, curly, hair and hello combed, styled, big boy hair. It also didn’t help that whenever I would tell someone I was going to cut it soon I would hear “No! Don’t cut his adorable curls.” But I knew it was time so last night I bit the bullet and gave him his first haircut. 

 Here he is all ready for the big cut (and being bribed with a lollipop)...

And here he is making his debut with his new do...

Don’t worry, I would never purposefully get rid of the curls. I just trimmed them but am happy to report that they survived the cut!

Business in the front, party in the back!

*On a completely unrelated, topic this is my 100th blog post. I just wanted to take a minute to say thank YOU for reading, responding, and joining me on this adventure. Your support means the world to me!*
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