Sunday, April 27, 2008

There Are Millions of Them!

"A flea would be a frightening beast if you were one inch tall..." Shel Silverstein.

Umm... A flea is a frightening thing if you are almost 64 inches tall!

Here are some frightening facts about fleas:
  • a flea can go through its entire life cycle in two weeks under optimum conditions
  • the average flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day and up to 600 in its lifetime.
  • a flea can live without eating a blood meal for up to a year.
  • a flea egg can lay dormant for up to two years
  • your pet does not need to be an outdoor pet for it to attract fleas
  • you are screwed if you get fleas

Why the post about fleas? Well, if it hasn't hit you in the face yet, we have them. Again. Lucky us. We first discovered these vile things before we moved into our house while we were painting J's bedroom. The previous owners had a dog who apparently had a problem that they never took the time to eliminate. We immediately called an exterminator to take care of the problem. We purchased the 1 year contract instead of the 6 month contract because we had never dealt with this type of problem before. Thank goodness we did because the 6 month contract would have ended last month. It really sucked vacuuming everyday for a month, but it wasn't that bad because the house was empty since we hadn't moved in yet.

This time is a different story. The fleas are back. I'm not sure if they ever left, but we've had the optimal flea hatching weather in the past week and that's when we noticed our little intruders. B and I also missed a flea treatment last month because we figured that since we seemed to be in the clear and our cats don't go outside, we should be fine. We won't make that mistake again.

I want you to take a moment to imagine your living space with all of its clutter and furniture. Add toys if you have a child. Now I want you to imagine that you have fleas and that you need to prepare for someone to come and spray your house (eco-friendly people in the audience-- your only viable option is to try Borax or salt and sprinkle it all over your carpets, floors, windowsills, etc. and wait for 24 hours before vacuuming it up....repeat for up to two weeks if necessary.... will that work for you while you are still living there with pets and children?)* You need to vacuum everything, mop, sweep, and put away all of your kids toys (ALL of them). Chances are your yard is infested too (which is how the fleas got into your house and onto your animal in the first place) so you need to mow, rake, put away all outside toys. And that's not even the fun part.

Are you still imagining that house of yours? Now let's say your house has been treated and you can finally bring yourself and pets (yeah, they have to be out for at least 4 hours) back into your home. Everything should be fine, right? Wrong. You can see flea activity for up to two weeks in which they can start biting you because your animals are treated and the fleas are pissed off because they have lost their furry nesting ground. In the meantime, you need to vacuum as much as possible. Vacuuming causes vibrations in the carpets and floors, which will encourage those eggs to hatch, eat the spray that has been put down, and die. So you need to vacuum everyday to get the maximum results. Carpets, hard floors, baseboards, windowsills, upholstery, curtains. It takes me over two hours because it involves moving furniture out of the way and putting it back. Remember that I told you the life cylce of a flea is about two weeks under optimal conditions (which we have temperature wise)? That adds up to one full day of vacuuming in less than two weeks. Twenty four hours of my life gone because of a pest. And we still may not be rid of the problem.

What do you do if you have a child? Well, since you have basically put pesticide down on your floors, you really can't have your kid playing all over them, so most of the toys have to stay away for now. The entomologist recommeded I put a blanket down for J to play on (hello, a two year old won't sit on a blanket anymore!). The poor kid is freaked out that all of his toys have basically disappeared and he thinks they went away because they were for babies and not for him. I feel awful. We have a few things out, but for the most part, we're reading a lot of books, playing outside and going places to be distracted. B is away for four days, so that means J has to be extremely patient for those two hours while I am vacuuming (it has to be done all at once because you have to get rid of your vacuum bag as soon as you are finished so that the fleas don't thrive on the dirt in your bag and get out the next time you use the vacuum. Lovely). He's watching way too much TV for my liking, but there are very few options at this point until B comes home since most physical activities will last a max of 15 minutes and he usually wants me to play them with him. I have to say he's been so good and I am grateful for that.

So I beg of all of you to send flea death wishes to my home. I am itchy. I am frustrated. I am tired of vacuuming already. I hope nobody else has to deal with this.

*So there are some other environmental options out there. One is to use diatomaceous earth, but that has to be sprinkled on everything and vacuumed and repeated for up to two weeks. It's not toxic, but apparently you have to wear a mask because you don't want it in your lungs. I also recently found a eco friendly spray at $23.99 a can plus shipping. One can is not enough for the average household and you then have to wait for it to be shipped to you (remember, 50 eggs a day per flea!). So if you think you would want to do that instead of having your house professionally sprayed, you may want to stock up on some of it just in case...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stage Fright

If you've ever been afraid to perform for an audience, or even if you haven't, check out these clips from a show I saw on PBS this week. It's incredible and gives one a different perspective on what it's like to be a performer.

Click on the one called Luminescent Flights. It should take about 10 minutes to watch, but it's worth it. Anybody want to try it with me?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

R&R, Eh?

(Root canals and relaxation, Canadian style)

An oxymoron, you say? Au contraire. Vancouver was just that. Five days and five nights of it. Good weather, even better food, interesting workshops, and best of all, plenty of time to sleep. It was the first time in over two years that I was actually able to sleep for 10.5 hours at night. Glorious, heavenly, restorative sleep. Dare I say it was the highlight of my trip. I know some of you readers are cursing me because you are unable to share in the delight of all this right now, but just remember that I have already paid my dues and tomorrow things go back to the usual 6 am wakeup.

I know you don't want to hear about my slumber, so here's how the trip really was. It started out with the fortunate fact that we were not flying American Airlines. Everything was on time. Our hotel was just minutes away from the waterfront and convention center and within 100 steps of the most wonderful coffee shop in the city, Cafe Artigiano. If you are ever in Vancouver, you have to get your lattes or mochas or anything with steamed milk there. They put Starbucks to shame, not that that says much, but it's the only national example I can give.

We were also very lucky that we didn't decide to leave earlier in the week to do our sightseeing and saved it until after the conference. It rained for at least four days before we got there. The sun came out during the morning of our first day and didn't really leave us for the entire time. The mountains also came out from under the clouds to welcome us, which I really appreciated.

The conference itself was interesting and I got a chance to attend a bunch of different workshops. A few were on marketing a successful practice, one was on conflict resolution, and another was an interesting talk about the dental marriage, given by a psychologist who works mostly with dentists and their spouses. In short, we're all doomed and are going to get divorced because we're married to type A people who need all of their ducks in a row all of the time. I think I got lucky in that my husband is the only dentist I know that doesn't fit that description, so hopefully we can buck the trend!

There was time for meeting up with friends from B's residency, Dim Sum, seafood, Vietnamese food (all the things you can't really get much of where we live) and a big surprise for B. His best buds J and M drove up from Seattle to surprise him for the weekend. He thought they were unable to come visit us for months, but I was in cahoots with them ever since we booked our tickets. B was so surprised he was speechless. I was so glad that he was able to see them. It had been nearly 5 years since he saw J and 3 since he last saw M. I think that was one of the reasons I was able to get so much sleep. While they drank beer and relived their adolescent adventures, I went to bed.

Aside from some really long walks (Vancouver is a great walking city) and some shopping, we also hung out and went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Public Market, and Stanley Park. I think one of the guys' highlights was the tower of beer they shared at dinner on Sunday night. Three liters of local brew. Three guys. How could it not be great?

How did J do during our absence? Apparently he didn't even ask for us. He kept busy by giving Grandma driving directions (I'm not kidding) and learning how to play golf with Grandpa. When I saw him on Tuesday morning, he said, "Hi Mommy", gave me a kiss, and kept playing. He didn't even realize that B was home as well until I asked him if he wanted to see Daddy. That got a little more excitement, but not much. I guess we can leave him and travel a little more often, which is a good thing because summer is almost upon us.

Of course all good things come to an end and now we are moving on. I have two more teaching tests this weekend. One is for my elementary k-4 certificate, the other is for a middle school certificate that Texas has decided I am qualified for once I pass the test. The one problem is the math. I don't remember any of it. It's so bad that I got 25 out of 36 wrong on the practice. And that doesn't include the Texas history I don't know or the science curriculums that are a distant memory. I actually thought about cancelling that test, but it's too late to get a refund, so I am sealed to a fate of guessing on trigonometry and quadratic equations. Maybe I'll get lucky, but if I don't pass, I already have my reading certificate and never had any intentions of teaching 8th grade math anyway!

Hope everyone is having a great week! Gotta go and try a few more of those f(x,y,z...) problems. Fun, fun!

PS Blogger wouldn't let me upload pics all day. Sorry for the lack of images.

Monday, April 07, 2008

This Should Be Interesting

B and I are going to Vancouver on Wednesday for the American Association of Endodontists conference. We're both members (yup, I got my card last week-- Auxiliary member, but who's checking?). We'll be gone until late on Monday. For those of you with kids that's six whole days that J will be babysat. Grandma arrives this afternoon and Grandpa brings the reinforcements on Saturday. I don't think I'm nervous about being away from J for six days; Lord knows I could use a break, but that doesn't mean I don't worry that my parents won't get driven crazy by the whining about where mommy and daddy are that they never agree to watch him again. I know, the chances of them doing that are very slim, but I am very appreciative of long term childcare and don't want to wear out the welcome mat too soon. With the busy wedding travel season commencing shortly after this trip, I need to make sure the babysitters are happy.

J is used to his routine. Part of that routine, as I have mentioned before, is whining about when Daddy will come home. What do you say when he asks on Thursday? Wait 5 more days kid? B says it's even worse when I go out that almost every 10 minutes or so he asks to make sure that I'm coming back. Thank goodness there is wine for after he goes to bed.

So I thought it might be a good idea to get him thinking about the fact that B and I are taking a trip into his head. When he was younger we didn't make a big deal of it because he couldn't ask where we were. He knows that Grandma is coming tomorrow and that Mommy is going on a trip. Here's where it gets sticky. When he asks if Daddy is going on a trip and I say yes, he bursts into tears. Lip quivering, flood gate tears. I feel so bad. I know that G/G will be spoiling him rotten and he will probably forget all about us, but it feels like it's going to be tough for at least a little while on both of us. Like I said, it should be interesting.

If anyone is wondering why I became a member of the AAE, no, I am not going into dentistry, but I thought it might be interesting to take a few classes on practice management and marketing so that I can help B out one day when he has his own practice. Since I know next to nothing, I've got a lot to learn.

Other things of late that should be interesting? My garden. I went to the garden store on Friday just for tomato plants. I came home with six (which could feed the whole neighborhood if they all do well, but I am assuming that some will not make it). I also came home with peppers, squash, zucchini, strawberries, lavender, basil, oregano, carrots, green beans, sunflowers, peppermint, and cucumbers. Everything was planted this weekend and now we just have to wait a good 50-60 days to see how it all goes. If it goes well, the good news is that we can plant another round in August for a fall harvest. That's a definite perk of living in TX.

Well there's packing and cleaning to be done and J just woke up. Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Still Funny

Twelve years ago today, B and I had our first date. We were sophomores at Colgate and made plans (after weeks of playing message board tag) to go out to dinner. B was to pick me up at 7. It was snowing, which wasn't out of the ordinary for upstate NY. However, I did think everything was a big joke when he hadn't arrived at 7:40 and when he finally did, had already eaten dinner. Anyway, it all worked out just fine and the rest is history. April Fool's Day holds a special place in our hearts.

But today is no fun at all! I just got back from the doctor and have strep throat. It seems I get visited by the strep fairy once every few years. Unfortunately, the timing wasn't as good as it's been before. Not that there's ever a good time to be sick, but I have a good knack of getting sick on the weekends or when B is off. My fever started last night and is still hanging around today. And having a husband who is a dentist means that he really can't take off work and tell his patients to come another day because I'm feeling lousy, so J is trying to take care of Mommy today. He told me so. Then five seconds later he insisted I get off the couch and dance with him. Ick. Then read stories. Ouch. I think there's going to be a lot of PBS watching today.

Happy April Fool's Day. Hope you have more fun than I am going to be having today!