Have you ever received the dreaded letter from school informing you of a lice outbreak in your kid's classroom? It makes your head itch just thinking about it, doesn't it? Many parents are seasoned pros when it comes to dealing with runny noses, but many of us become irrational when it comes to crawling critters.
I know what it’s like to wonder why my daughter has an itch that just won’t stop, and then find lice crawling through her waist-length hair. Twice. I reacted each time as any well-adjusted, sane mother would.
BURN. EVERYTHING. DOWN!
This is my battleground:
That's A LOT of hair.
When my daughter had lice the first time, I consulted Dr. Google. He believes in covering all the bases—even ones we didn’t know existed—and he gave me a three-pronged plan of attack. I first started with a non-toxic hair wash to kill the lice and followed that up with hours and hours of combing through each strand of my daughter’s very full head of hair to seek and destroy the nits. As the third hour came to an end, my vision blurred, and I threw in the towel. But not before applying the coup de grâce (per Dr. Google) which was pouring vinegar over her head and wrapping the whole sopping mess in a tight shower cap. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. (FYI – vinegar on a scalp made raw from hours of combing and picking hurts like hell, but she’s forgiven me)
Little did I know, there was an easier, less distressing way.
After potentially traumatizing my daughter the first time, the second time head lice hit our home, I called a friend who'd fought the battle. After she virtually slapped some sense into me, she ordered me to talk to my pharmacist, who is actually more qualified than Dr. Google to give out advice. It’s easy to become distracted (and panicked) about the misinformation we find online. My pharmacist was available when I needed him and he set me straight by giving me a list of things I could do to rid our house of lice.
We've survived the battle without having to shave my own or anyone else's head because a friend cared enough to pass along info on which tools to use and which were a waste of time. Now, I braid my daughter's hair every morning, dab lavender oil behind her ears (might be an Old Wives' Tale, but I'm going with it as a preventative measure!), kiss her goodbye, and remind her not to swap hats with anyone. I may now know how to fight and beat lice, but I still hate the little buggers.
Holiday season is nigh and that means shaking the dust off the reindeer sweaters, mandatory visits with Uncle Stan who tells the same joke every damn year, and divvying up the list of who makes what dish for family dinners. Well put your name down next to Homemade Cranberry Sauce, stat!
Trust me. It's the easiest recipe ever in the history of holiday recipes. This is so simple to make and yet for years I unquestioningly paid hard earned dollars and cents for the privilege of bringing home a jar of artisinal (see, made in a sketchy kitchen in the back of an even sketchier road-side stand) cranberry sauce. Sometimes my logic is fuzzy.
When I was going over my grocery list recently with a friend and mentioned "jar of cranberry sauce" she was all:
Which was a kind way of saying, "I thought you were smart." I revised my grocery list from cranberry sauce to cranberries because you *can* teach an old dog new tricks and got cooking. Because this recipe is so simple, and your relatives will likely catch on to that quicker than I did, consider volunteering the potatoes and Brussels sprouts too. Nobody likes a slacker when there's a turkey to carve and eggnog to drink.
Pour the cranberries into a saucepan and begin cooking over low to medium heat.
Add sugar, orange juice, and cinnamon. Allow to simmer until cranberries begin to break apart.
Stir well, remove from heat, and pour into a sterilized jam jar. Refrigerate the sauce once it has cooled.
Makes one 1 500mL jar.
Dog owners spoil their pups almost as much (or more than) their own kids. There's now a pet store in most neighbourhoods where we can shop 'till we drop for toys and dog beds and an endless selection of food. We love our dogs and we're not afraid to show it, or to feed them treats. Peanut butter is a healthy favourite treat for adding to chew toys, like Kongs, and the result is often hours of fun for dogs, and even more fun for us as we watch them smack their gums together trying to unstick their lips.
An ingredient commonly found in many human foods —especially desserts, gum, and even peanut butter—is xylitol, and it has no place in the treats you prepare for your dog. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener considered safe for human consumption, but deadly for dogs. Dogs don't metabolize xylitol the same way we do and ingesting even a small amount can cause a drop in blood sugar so extreme it can kill the family pet. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and seizures and you should contact your emergency vet clinic immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten something containing xylitol.
But don't start emptying your kitchen pantry just yet; most brands of peanut butter are free of xylitol. There are currently several small name brands that include it in their ingredients. But now you should start keeping an eye on labels, especially if you buy a separate peanut butter just for your dog, where you would have been less likely to read the ingredient list - because the sweetener is cropping up in many other foods and even in toothpastes.
Peanut butter is still a delicious and healthy treat for dogs as long as we’re careful about the brands we buy and we don’t overdo even the healthy kinds. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Look for an all-natural peanut butter if you’re adding it to your dog’s chew toys or food, and limit their intake. And while you’re at it, keep the cookies and muffins away from your pup; store-bought treats for people often contain xylitol too. Try making your own dog treats or buy ones specifically made for them.
Want to know more about what human foods are safe or not safe for dogs? Check out Don't Let Your Dog Eat These Summer BBQ Staples.