House Buying, Demo Day, and a Wasp Attack

House Buying

If you’ve been following our journey thus far, you’ll know that we took off from our home of San Diego and leaped into a whole new adventure in the Pacific Northwest. This adventure included having no place to live but a keen and hopeful plan to stumble around in temporary housing arrangements while living out of a suitcase with an adventurous spirit until we landed in a place we loved. We stumbled. We had amazing adventures. We’ve landed, sort of.

Days after arriving we were able to find a home that was a good fit for us with great potential. Unfortunately, my home buying education from House Hunters (which is all bullshit) left me ill prepared for the torture that was our home buying experience (okay, that privileged kind of torture that recognizes how crazy blessed we are and how the word torture applies literally to so many around the world).

I’ll spare you the gory details, but sufficed to say, we got into our new home (thanks to our lovely real estate agent)! And promptly tore it apart.

Demo Day

Demo day was every kid’s dream come true: “Here’s a hammer and screw driver – have fun kids!” Pirate ship clubhouses were built from boxes and parts were harvested for future creations.

We even found a bee hive behind the kitchen wall. Thankfully they had already moved out. So cool for the kids to investigate.

Our first night in the house, Seattle had a huge storm roll through that knocked the power out so we were huddled together in sleeping bags on the basement floor in the cold and darkness. Adventure – check. New experiences – check. Togetherness – check.

Then after the storm came the rainbow.

At this point, we’re just working out butts off and hoping really, really hard that we’ll get through this with a livable house on the other side. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . .

Wasp Attack

We took a break from the chaos to attend our first Family ReWilding day on Vashon Island . . . during a massive storm (hey, the forest schools in Sweden say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad dress, so we dropped a small fortune at REI and headed out). All was fine, and right up our alley, until it was time for sit-spot, where everyone finds a spot and sits and quiets and connects and observes nature. My boys followed a more experienced boy off the trail and as West turned around and faced me just a few feet ahead, a massive swarm of wasps erupted from the ground and attacked. 

It was the most terrifying experience of my life.

West screamed out and I grabbed him and yelled, “Run!” We all ran up the path as I peeled layer after layer off West, frantically pulling wasp after wasp from his skin. At this point my tough boy is scream crying like he has never done in his life, “It hurts! It hurts Mommy! Help!” He’s starting to convulse from the cold as I am still yanking wasp after wasp and stinger after stinger from his scalp, face, ears, belly, chest, back, arms, waist . . . Then Bay begins to scream, “They’re in my shirt! Help, they’re in my shirt!” I stop to rip the clothes off his upper body and pluck the wasps and yell to West to stop running, to no avail. The other parents and leaders grabbed him and continued the effort of freeing him from the swarm. The path behind us was littered with our clothing, still covered in wasps. When I caught up to West I returned to extracting still more wasps and stingers from his body as he cried out desperately in pain and others began pulling wasps out of my hair and neck.

The biting wet cold on our exposed skin, the sting of the wasps, the feeling of them between my fingers as I pulled them from my baby’s body, and the sound of his pain reverberate around my head still whenever my attention on a task before me wanes.

Elders in the group began to coat the stings in mud and as I helplessly held my West as tightly as I could, my own tears began to flow. Kai and Bay ran to us as soon as they were clear of wasps and blanketed West in loving support. Arms all around to comfort and warm us.

A parent who was also a nurse offered ibuprofen and numbing gel as I tried to remain calm and rational in my thoughts. There is no emergency room on this island. There is no urgent care on the island. We have no doctor on the island and this is a weekend anyway. There is a wait for the ferry. The ferry ride takes time to get to the mainland. Can he breathe? Is he swelling? Are all the stingers out?

One of the mothers said she lived just down the road and offered to let us come and collect ourselves in her house. As I held my shivering almost naked crying child, I decided this would be the best course of action. I could warm and clean him in a bath and fully inspect his whole body to ensure all stingers were removed and monitor swelling until he was either well enough for the ferry ride, or clearly deteriorating and in need of a 911 call.

This lovely family we had never even met welcomed us into their home and cared for us like family. She made an oatmeal bath in her 120 year old bathtub, nettle tea, and shared chicken noodle soup. Her children played with and distracted my own from the traumatic experience and by the time we were ready to leave, the boys were happier about these new friends than they were upset about the wasps.

West was stung about 20 times that day. He still has some itchy red bumps and processing to work through but is his usual, happy, resilient self.

I’m still processing too. I recognize that my urge to burn the natural world down and never leave home is my fight or flight instinct and will pass. I’m in conversation with the program leader who is knowledgeable, patient, and compassionate to find the learning and meaning behind it all. I’d love to share with you some nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from this experience but I’m not there yet and I want to be patient with myself as I navigate through the emotional tail of this. For now, I’m going to go rip some carpet off the stairs and be grateful he is now okay.

(Read more about our healing and meaning making here.)

West is “helping” me rip up carpet. #fixerupper #unschooling #attachmentparenting

A photo posted by Rachel Rainbolt (@sageparenting) on

On the Horizon

While renovating and moving through all these remarkable experiences, I am in full research mode around all things unschooling for some exciting new projects on the horizon, including a new edition of the Sage Homeschooling book and a podcast I am so excited for. I hope you don’t mind my voice because you’re about to hear a lot more of it. 😉

2 thoughts on “House Buying, Demo Day, and a Wasp Attack

  1. Oh mama, what a terrifying experience. I”m so so sorry and sending so much love and light your way. I’m so grateful to this family for taking care of you all, that is true community & true strength of character. Your boys learned so much that day.
    Big hugs and love from O’side.

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