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When “The 10 Plagues” is the Theme of Your Birthday Party (Think: Lice)

When “The 10 Plagues” is the Theme of Your Birthday Party (Think: Lice)

This year, I’m having a humdinger of a birthday: I am celebrating it on Maui (be sure to follow my Instagram feed and stay tuned for the details of our whirlwind family vacation).

I’ve had some great birthdays. In years past, I:

* Was on my honeymoon in Costa Rica.
* Had the time of my life on a cruise to Belize and Honduras.
* Attended the quarter-finals for hockey at the Olympics.
* Received a new car.

Now, lest you think my birthday has been all about extravagance let me assure you it has often coincidentally fallen during such occasions.

There was a respectable amount of fanfare surrounding my birthday five years ago. Lunch with a friend. Dinner with family. A night out with my husband Jamie while the kids slept over at Grandma’s. A couple’s massage the next morning.

What I planned was very different from what I got: LICE.

Jamie and I were sitting on the couch a few hours before the festivities were to begin when he discovered a wretched little black bug in my hair, then another. He rushed to the store, consulted with the pharmacist and the rest of the day was not filled with celebrations but with disinfection and exorcisms.

We were delighted to discover I had infected the kids as well. I could blame it on my daughter’s preschool but I think the blame falls on me: my head has been itchy since a spa treatment I received a few weeks ago.

Nice to know I had been spreading the love all that time.

If you’ve never had lice, allow me to delight you with a few sordid details. Soak your heads in lovely lice-busting shampoo. Take a fine-tooth comb and scrape those little buggers away. Repeat this process 1,000 times. Then wash everything you have touched over the last few weeks. Finally, inform your friends who will then banish you for life.

Evidently, lice is the new leprosy.

Of course, there is humor in everything. Like when Jamie was scrubbing my head as I was bent over the bathtub and he started listing off the ten plagues I was inevitably going to acquire: “First comes lice, then boils and locusts, etc.” Fortunately, he left off the death of the firstborn.

Or the slaying of insensitive husbands.

And the highlight of my day? When they sang “Crappy Birthday” to me as I blew out the candles on my cake.

Jamie did somewhat redeem himself later that night when he returned home after doing a second run to the store for lice-busting shampoo. He sympathetically took one look at me, handed me some Girl Scout cookies and said, “COMFORT FOOD.”

There may be hope for him yet.

What memorable birthdays have you had?

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Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Oh so bad of me to laugh at your misfortune!!!

    And I want to know the gosh honest truth – were you thinking about this blog post during the whole ordeal?

    We had fleas once – from the HUSBAND – and had to treat it very similarly to lice. It was awful. I may have to blog about it.

    Sorry for your misfortune, I hope today you have a lice, I mean, NICE day.

  2. Oh, Amber! I am so, so, so, so, sorry. Lice bites! Hahahaha…. Sigh.

    But see, if it weren’t for all these amazing misfortunes (coupled with a great sense of humor, a loving husband, and your talent for writing), then we wouldn’t love you as much as we do. Maybe. 🙂

    I’m glad you got rid of the lice. And had a Happy Birthday regardless.

    P.S. I can’t remember having any misfortunate birthdays, but I sure do remember crappy Christmases –I’m ALWAYS sick on Christmas. Always…

  3. I. can. not. imagine.
    Especially on your birthday.
    My first thought was however did she get through ALL that hair?
    My second thought was I don’t want to know.
    My third thought was a massage and Girl Scout cookies can fix anything!
    Happy (belated) Birthday!!!

  4. OH NO!! Sorry to hear of your crappy birthday! Yay to the hubby for Girl Scout cookies!

  5. Nice to know someone was entertained from my traumas. And honestly, one of my thoughts was, “Well, at least it will make a great blog post.” And then I thought, “I am TIRED OF MY LIFE ALWAYS BEING GREAT BLOG FODDER!”

  6. Oh my, what a way to spend your Birthday. I actually had lice once as an adult that I’m convinced I picked up at the movies. It was awful and my head didn’t quite itching for months. Now everytime my head itches I freak out.

    I do hope your next Birthday is much better.

  7. Lice are one of my worst fears, and being a teacher, I think about it a lot! I AM SO SORRY! Gosh, that is terrible. I am proud of you for laughing at it at least! I would have cried!

    Have a great weekend! And…HAPPY belated birthday! Maybe you should pick a new date to celebrate and start all over?!?!?!

  8. Believe me, I already demanded a do-over birthday as soon as everyone is cured of this mess!

  9. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!! You definitely have some birthdays to remember! However, I think I’ll pass on the lice. Just give me the vacations and the car, please. Have a great time!

  10. Crappy Birthday indeed!
    I’ve always said if i ever got lice, i would have to shave my entire head….yucko!
    Glad to hear you got rid of all the buggers!

  11. YUCK! Now I’m itching, but I’m pretty sure they don’t travel through the computer. Ugh!

    I hope you get well soon!!

    My birthday is March 4th, and growing up in a family of four kids, someone was always sick at the time. There were very few birthdays where I could actually have a party ON or NEAR my birthday, due to some form of plague.

    Anyway, because the party was always postponed, my mom would celebrate our birthdays for a whole week, just in case. It was awesome.

    Now, pardon me while I go scratch my head.

  12. OMG – I am so sorry, I wouldn’t go back to that spa if I were you. I laughed outloud to Crappy Birthday though…and yes LIce is like leprocy around here….it has bit my daughters school each year in thefall we have AVOIDED it thus far but as soon as I hear it my head starts itching and start washing …even though we don’t have the bugs….

  13. Your expression says it all.

    Not so sorry we weren’t able to get together this past week!

    But this coming week is looking better…

  14. I love that they sang crappy birthday! And definitely go for the birthday do-over.

  15. My head was itching while I was reading your entry. So sorry to hear about the buggy birthday that you had! It even beats the birthday when my tent got raided by scorpions while backpacking in Canyonlands.

    Hope your second attempt at a B-day this year is much less eventful!

  16. Oh, wow!! That SUCKS! My head is very itchy all of a sudden! We discovered my daughter had lice on Christmas morning a few years ago. What a disaster!

  17. Oh, what a horrible way to celebrate another trip around the sun! Usually I have NOTHING scheduled for my bday, but to have such fun stuff canceled stinks even more.
    Does lice-busting shampoo at least smell okay?

    I had two esp. notable bdays — tornadoes on my 8th and my 15th. But that’s a MUCH longer story.

  18. Sorry. Just sorry. That sucks.

  19. Sorry! That sucks!

  20. I live in terror and horror of these things. My kids’ preschool insists all coats, hats, snowpants, etc. be stored in black plastic bags all winter to avoid the potential spreading of lice. Every time I walk into the place, I feel like I’m itching just from LOOKING at those bags. I’m sooooo sorry for you.

  21. Oh, that is awful. Especially for people like you who have been blessed with beautiful, long, thick hair. For thin haired people like me, it wouldn’t be quite the problem.

    Hopefully you can celebrate the birthday later.

  22. Ak! That’s horrible. Please keep your bad birthday karma to yourself. my birthday is in 2 days and if I end up with lice i’m blaming you! 🙂 Happy Birthday, just the same.

  23. I was with my grandma in London when my mom called us to tell us that my sister had lice. I had to suffer the shame of going to a chemist shop and feeling like a dirty lice ridden American. The plumbing in our hotel was anything but modern and we shared a bathroom with several other guests. We had a sink in our room which is what we used for the treatments. Sadly that sink did not have taps that mixed hot and cold water together so the water was either burning hot or freezing cold. It was seriously the worst feeling in the world to feel those lice crawling on me as they died. Ick!!

    I hope your infestation goes away soon and that your poor hair can recover from the treatment.

  24. *scratch* Funny how just the very mention of the word “lice” makes your head feel itchy *scratch, scratch, scratch*

    Oooh Amber, you poor thing! I’m sorry that your Birthday was ruined by uninvited guests. I hope your Do-over Day is much more pleasant and uneventful 🙂

  25. Oh wow. Sorry to hear that! Hope you can get that fun filled celebration postponed.

  26. I loved the line about the slaying of the insensitive husbands the best.

    Only you could blog about head lice with such humor and pancahce.

    I need some girls scout cookies.

  27. Ugh! Been there- done that- only I was 5 months pregnant with my youngest. My second and third had it, and hubby was out of town- lucky dork. Having to do the hair, pull apart every single bit of the beds, spray all of the furniture, vacuum several times with new bags, all stuffed animals and throw pillows went into garbage bags into a storage unit for like three months ( i forgot about them)- A TON OF FUN, and we did share the joy with some of the preschool kids- but good news- it was GC and Stake Conf, so we had three weeks of confinement and stopped it dead. Question- are you going to cut your hair? I cut my son as short as possible- but I took my chances with the two of us females-

  28. Well, I’d say you’ve got one of the funniest lives on the planet, but I am simultaneously soooo sorry for you and the family! It’s so much repair and clean-up with that kind of problem! Did you know that a Ute prof. invented a lice killing gun? I saw it on the news–it looks like a hairdryer I think but it kills them immediately and you don’t have to pick through to hand-remove every single nit. Speaking of which, do we now call you Queen Nit Wit? You deserve some illustrious title after such a “choice” experience!!! Feeling for you (honest!)

  29. My Sweet-16 was spent in an oral-surgeon’s chair having 8 teeth removed for braces. It was the first day of spring break, and my parents thought it would be great to have the whole week to recuperate without missing school. MORE IMPORTANTLY – have you alerted the spa where you picked up the little buggers? I’m curious how that all happened!

  30. I dont’ know why it didn’t take my last post, but I hope you’re doing better. I am sooo sorry for the ordeal, but it certainly is good blog-fodder, like you said! Have a Nice day. And may all the lice be in lice heaven not bothering anyone.

  31. I am so sorry to hear about your birthday.. I’ve never had lice but it sounds just wonderful! When I was young I used to get sick on my birthday all the time.. my son does the same thing. I think it’s anxiety..

  32. Hm. Not a birthday, but my first married Valentine’s Day I had mono. For the second time. Yes, I was a joy to be around.

  33. Lice? Goodness girl, that certainly sucks. But then again, aren’t birthdays over rated? Nope. Perhaps not and that is just an insight of how exciting mine are. They are non existant and always got pushed off to the side when I was little as it always coinsided with a summer curling event that lasted a week. As I got older, I learned to take advantage of my own destiny by heading south to the great stated of Washington to partake in the festivities of Independence Day. As I happen to be birthed on that great day, I secretly would pretend that all of you Americans were celebrating the birth of my existence and just couldn’t live without me. Yep. That is how pathetic I am!

    Hopefully you and the lice have parted ways and you can keep in mind that your next birthday will be spectacular as it couldn’t get much worse. 🙂

  34. Aaaawww…good. He does have some redeeming quality. lol

  35. Oh Amber, I feel for you and my head is itching as I read the post.

    I got lice when I was about 6/7 years old. My mom cut my hair really short to help.


  36. Oh, Amber! This is terrible! I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope you have an AWESOME do-over birthday!

  37. The wonderful thing about being youer bloggy friend is knowing you didn’t infect me. Yay! We can still be friends. 😉

    My worst birthday was supposed to be my best. I was turning 20 and was newly married to a man who had lavished me on my 19th birthday. Expectations were high. Sadly he forgot. Even after I reminded him 3 times that day he forgot and I had no cake, no card, no gift, no candles to wish on. Nothing. Oh wait, he gave me a twenty before I went to bed. So romantic! Don’t worry, he has come a loooong way since then.

  38. Oh, Amber, you poor girl! Glad you could blog about it and make us all laugh. Lice was going through my daughters school and I was so relieved she didn’t get it!

  39. Yeah for girl scout cookies!

  40. OK Amber my dear, since you were in my home AFTER you got the LICE, but before you found out that you had the lice, now I am just a bit concerned. I hadn’t read your blog entry but my sister had and informed me of this. I immediately checked my baby over, and of course none of us got anything. I was the only one to hug you and I am pretty sure your little ones weren’t hugging my little ones. When my sis told me of course my thought was the same of others that know you, how in the heck did you get through your mess of hair. My next thought was, only Amber could pick up lice at a Spa. LOL. I have been too near to too many of your Amber moments in my life to not just laugh at it. You are so darling!!!

  41. I’m sure there could be worse, but the whole lice thing is pretty much the worst I’ve ever heard! I remember a girl had lice so bad in elementary school that her mom decided it would be easier to chop the locks off! She went from a volumunious, long head of hair to a layered bob -still cute though! So maybe if all else fails there’s a new hairstyle in your near future?!

  42. Dear god. How horrible! You’ve got a lot of hair, too. But getting a massage and a box of GS cookies is right up there with a new car, though maybe not on par with a trip to Costa Rica.

  43. Oh the horror!
    I marked the beginning of my 30s with a large dinner party at my (then) favorite restaurant. It has long since closed. Perhaps not such a terrible loss, as all but one of the guests was violently ill in the wee hours of the next morning – except for the one guest who ate nothing, but had too much Prosecco and behaved so poorly that I wished she did feel crummy!
    Oh well – there’s always 40.

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