Here We Go Again

poison ivyThis wasn’t the post I had planned to write today…actually yesterday.  But sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

Angel Girl broke her glasses last week and she and I ended up driving the 45 minutes to the eye doctor to get a new pair.

Before we left in the morning I noticed a rash forming on my upper chest and a few spots on my legs.

Since I’m a little sensitive to the prickles on squash plants and I have been spending a lot of time in the patch squishing squash bugs, at first I thought it was just more squash rash. Itches for a few hours, is gone the next morning.

But by 1:00 it started burning.

By 4:00 I knew it was poison ivy.

By 7:00 I knew I was going to the doctor just as soon as the clinic opened.

By 9:00 I knew I wasn’t going to get any sleep.

I was right.

Some steroids and a prescription inch cream (the largest one they sell with 3 refills!) made things more endurable. Slightly.

But how in the world did I end up with poison ivy again? I have been so careful and hardly left the house. I’ve avoided all areas where the noxious weed is present.  And then I’ve faithfully washed with my poison ivy soap every time I’ve been out!

The answer was staring me in the face. The rash on my chest is in almost the exact outline of my work out shirt.

Every morning, I put on my work out clothes, gather the laundry and carry it to the basement, sort it, start it, and then exercise.

The guys have been in and out of poison ivy moving cows and pigs and fixing fence. There must of been some urushiol on their clothes that I unknowingly got all over my upper chest.

Then I worked out and sweated, which only made it worse, causing it to drip to other places, like all the way around my neck. (I knew I shouldn’t have done crunches!)

There must have been some on my shirt that I wiped on my face.

Then I showered, but didn’t use my poison ivy soap because I never knew I had been exposed.

So while I sit here in misery tonight, with the largest band of poison ivy rash I’ve ever had – covering my upper chest and wrapped around my neck like a boa, I’ve decided that the morale of this story is simple –

Don’t do laundry and don’t exercise.

At least not on the same day.

Nothing Like a Trip to the ER

You know, there’s nothing like a trip to the ER to put a little perspective on your day!

Yesterday started out pretty normal for Jan. He was at work doing things he had done hundreds of times, using machines he had used for years. But one little slip, one split second, and his finger was smashed under 30 pounds of iron.

Two hours in the ER and several x-rays later, he was home with his finger in a splint, a doctor’s appointment later in the week and some pain meds that he, of course, said he didn’t need.


The finger injured was the ring finger on his right hand,  making it painfully obvious that he would need to make some adjustments.

You don’t often think about the ring finger on your right hand. It’s just there – a part of team of muscles and bones that God created in a miraculous way to allow you to do some important things.

Things like feeding yourself.

Ever try holding a fork with your ring finger in a splint? Doesn’t work.

He also can’t write his name, drive a manual transmission, or cut his own food.

Some things are possible, but much more difficult, like buttoning a shirt and tying his shoes.

Turns out that ordinary finger is pretty important.  It will be greatly missed for a few weeks while it heals.

It struck me this morning that some of you might be feeling as unappreciated and unimportant as the ring finger on your right hand.

Are you feeling a little down? In a bit of a January slump? Thinking that you’re not needed?

Believe me, you are. You were designed by God with unique talents and abilities that somebody in your corner of the world is needing today.

Maybe it’s time to break free of the splints of self-doubt and discouragement that are binding you.

Maybe it’s time to let God use your unique talents to do great things for Him.

Maybe all you need is a different perspective.

Miracle Bath

Miracle BathYou wouldn’t believe the amazing things you can find on Pinterest.

Recipes, craft ideas, inspirational thoughts and even miracle cures.


A couple of weeks ago while browsing in Pinterest, I came across a site describing how to take a Detox Bath.

A few minutes later Dagmar come down stairs announcing that she felt like death warmed over – headache, body aches, vomiting. She didn’t look good. It was definitely a flu bug.

I told her about the detox bath I had just read about – and she was miserable enough to try it.

It was simple – fill the bath tub with warm water and add 2 cups of Epson salts, one cup of baking soda, and a couple tablespoons of ground ginger.

She soaked for about 40 minutes – sweating the whole time – rinsed off and went to bed, still sweating.

Four hours later she woke up feeling great and ready to eat.

I’m serious.

She declared it a miracle bath as she munched on saltines (just in case).

The head ache, body aches and vomiting were gone.

It worked so well with Dagmar, that when Jan come down with the same thing a few days later – I got a bath ready for him.

Same thing. Forty minute soak followed by a long sleep with lots of sweating. He woke up feeling fine.

I’m totally serious here.

The web site (which you can find here) gives the science behind the miracle.  The secret is in the sweating.

And since it worked so well to take down the nasty flu bug – I wonder how it would work for a head cold? Sinus infection?

It’s worth a try. After all it can’t hurt and it’s really cheap.

I’m stocking up on Epson salt, baking soda and ginger – just in case.

Whole Grain Blender Waffles

WaffleRaise your hand if you ate too many sweets in the month of December.

Come on – ‘fess up now. 🙂

I know I did! And every year when January comes around my body starts craving some real food.

Something simple after all those rich holiday meals.

And maybe something with whole grains to counteract all those truffles. 🙂

These waffles are the perfect choice! They are a whole grain waffle that I can make with things I almost always have in my pantry. And best of all – I mix the entire thing in my blender in minutes!

They are even gluten free.

Whole Grain Blender Waffles
Adapted from Sue Gregg’s Eating Better Cookbooks

1 egg
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2  cup of brown rice
1/2 cup popcorn (unpopped)
1/2 cup of oatmeal (rolled or quick)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat waffle iron at highest temperature.

Place the egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, rice, popcorn and oatmeal in the blender in the order listed and blend on high speed for 3 minutes.

Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder and blend briefly. It should start to bubble immediately.

Grease your waffle iron well (I douse it really good with cooking spray).  Pour the batter -which should be thin – on the waffle iron. DO NOT PEAK! I’m serious here. Do NOT open that waffle iron until the little light goes off. Trust me on this one – just step away from the iron.

This should yield about six 7-inch waffles. (Although the first waffle you attempt will not work – it never does. I think it’s part of Murphy’s Law or something!)

Make sure you give the batter a quick stir before you pour each new waffle – it has a tendency to settle.

These are wonderful with the super-lean “Amish Chwistmas Sausage” and hot apple sauce on top for an easy “breakfast for supper”.

If you prefer – just substitute 2 cups of flour for the rice, popcorn, and oatmeal and blend briefly.

Or if you want to get fancy – you can substitute kamut, millet, barley, kasha, or wheat berries for the grains listed. That is – if you know what they are and actually have them in your pantry. 🙂

These are best when hot and crisp from the waffle iron – but you can freeze them and pop them in the toaster for a quick meal.

Wow! Don’t we feel healthier already?! 🙂

I’ve linked these posts up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Mental Slippage

I seem to have a bad case of mental slippage this last week.

Brain burps. A momentary lapse of thought.

Or just plain forgetfulness.

On our trip to the big city last weekend I had meticulously written out a detailed list for every store I needed to go to – and left them in the car. Except for one store – I remembered the list but had forgotten to put several important items on it.

That wasn’t nearly as bad as my mental lapse on Sunday. My friend Cinnamon just had the sweetest little baby you ever did see – and I was supposed to bring her a meal on Sunday.

Totally slipped my mind.

Then I discovered that the gal who was bringing their Saturday meal forgot too. Ouch. Two days in a row. Her kids even said, “Melinda won’t forget – she’ll bring us something yummy.”

Double ouch.

I did bring them a meal on Monday – but forgot the pile of movies and the extra Easter script I was going to bring along.

The rest of the week continued like that -forgetting to put the pan of scones in the oven, walking into a room and forgetting why I went in to it, the kids needing to remind me several times to correct their math.

The list goes on and on.

I don’t know what my trouble is – but I blame senioritis.  You know –  having a graduating senior in the house.

My mind is full of ACT scores, financial aid packets, college visits, and senior pictures.

All those numbers, the dates, the decisions!

Just looking at the price of college tuition is enough to freeze some brain cells.

Or <gasp> maybe the senioritis is mine.

After all – I did just have a birthday.  You know – they say the mind is the first thing to go.

No – on second thought – let’s all just forget I said that.

Here’s hoping that a nice quiet weekend and a few good nights of sleep will restore my cognitive prowess.

But until then – I’ll keep slugging away at my to-lists.

That is – if I can remember where I put them. 🙂

The Infirmary

The Dreaded Influenza has struck.

My living room is now an infirmary.

Four of the five kids are down – two on the couch, one in the recliner and one on the window seat.

Our particular strain isn’t awful – just miserable with low grade fevers, sore throats, aches and stuffy heads.

Since 80% of my students are down sick, I have canceled school until the outbreak has passed. That means hours of Food Network, Martha Speaks and Word Girl.

At least they’re too miserable to fight over the remote – they just sit and stare at whatever is on the screen, dozing off and on.

I can always tell who has the remote by what is playing. You know Angel Girl doesn’t feel good when she sits through hours of car shows!

Pedro was the first to fall victim over the weekend. I made him a pot of chicken soup on Saturday. I’ve been adding more broth, chicken and noodles every day since.  I have no idea where the original soup started and where it ends!

I spend my days keeping kids comfortable – refilling glasses of orange juice and hot apple cider, taking temperatures, and fluffing pillows – while the influenza runs it’s course. I’m very thankful we have a relatively mild strain – some of the stories I’ve heard are scary!

And at least they are all sick at once – or almost.  If everyone had waited for his/her own week – we would be sick till the spring thaw!

It sounds like Word Girl is playing now – so Buddy must have the remote. I guess it’s time to make my rounds, take some temperatures, and check the condition of my patients.

Stay healthy!

The Water Challenge

It’s already started – dry skin season.

Every year I have kids who really suffer during the cold months. Every year I tell them that they need to moisturize from the inside out – which means that they need to drink more water.

Every year my words fall on deaf ears.

Until this year. This year a miracle happened. One child listened.

She actually asked how much water she should drink. I told her 8 – 8 ounce glasses.

There was a pause while she did the math. “You mean I have to drink 64 ounces of water every day?”

Yep. (Extra points for doing the math correctly!)

I do it every day. It’s totally possible.

She pondered this for a day or two, then on Sunday she pulled out her water bottle, did some calculating and determined that if she drank 2 of those every day, she would reach her quota.

She then filled it and put it in the fridge so she was ready for the next day.

Monday was a success and the dry spots on her shoulders were gone.

By Tuesday her hands were starting to heal.

By Wednesday she noticed that she actually sweated when she worked out.

At the supper table, she shared her new found wisdom with her siblings – who listened better when it came from one of their own.

Then she issued a challenge – which of them would join her in drinking 64 ounces of water the next day?

After supper there was a flurry to find water bottles and get them filled.


The kids decided that whoever didn’t drink their quota of H2O would be subject to PT (physical training) inflicted on them by those who did finish.

Thursday was a success (although a couple of kids chugged about a quart in the evening to finish up!)

Friday was also a success.

I’m not sure how much longer this can last – but as a Mom – I definitely feel vindicated.

Momma’s always right.

PS – How much water did you drink today?

Poison Ivy – Revisited

I can’t believe it.

Here I am a miserable, red itchy mess again – thanks to my nemesis – the dreaded poison ivy.

After my last horrible episode with the toxic weed I have been extremely careful outside. So how could I possibly get poison ivy when I have barely left the house for a week? I wasn’t even out of the yard since last Monday?!

But the kids were.

They were all over the property – in and out of ravines and up and down the hills.

Then they took their dirty clothes off and put them in the laundry.


I’ll give you three guesses as to who helped to sort that laundry and start it through the washer.

I must have gotten some of that nasty urushial oil on my forearms and spread it – everywhere – my arms, legs, back, all over my abdomen and even on my face.

With an outbreak this big, many of the things I’ve tried before just weren’t practical. I did shower twice a day using Dawn soap to stop the oil from spreading.

And I changed our bedding every day and I never wore any article of clothing more than once before washing it.

But the real hero for this nasty bout has become my die hard blow dryer – the one I bought back in college and now  pull out once a year to defrost the freezer.


I read online that blowing a blow dryer directly on the rash and holding it there for as long as you can will help with the itching. In my desperation, I tried it and – believe it or not – it worked.

It heats the rash up until it stings and itches so bad you can’t stand it.  But it stops the itching for a good two hours.

It wasn’t a cure all – nor did it stop the rash from spreading – but it did keep me sane until I could get in to the doctor for a round of medication.

Oh – happy pills – how I needed you!

Needless to say – it’s been a painful week thus far.

But there’s always a bright side – with the rash on my forearms I can’t do any laundry or dishes so I won’t spread it to others. 🙂

A Trip to the ER

Our week with seven extra children had gone amazingly well – until yesterday.

There we were at day 6. Everybody had slept well and was happy. The sun was shining and the weather was unbelievably beautiful.

The kids had just finished the assigned task of picking all the apples off the trees in the orchard when the 4 boys asked to go out on an adventure.

I said, “Sure – but be careful – we’ve had no major injuries and I’d like to keep it that way.”


Famous last words.

I was working away on some music with Gladys when the boys came back in yelling that Gunnar was hurt.

My first thought was – yeah right. Those boys know I hate blood and gore, and I had heard the fridge open earlier. I just bet they smeared ketchup on him and are trying to get a rise out of me.

I took my time walking out to the kitchen trying to decide whether to pretend to be freaked out of let them know right away I knew it was a fake.

The truth was – I didn’t have to pretend. One look at poor Gunnar and I knew he was really hurt. Then I looked at his ankle and just about passed out. It looked like somebody had stuffed a hard boiled egg inside.

Oh my.

A quick call to an EMT friend (who has several sons and works the Friday night football games) confirmed my gut response – this needed a visit to the ER.

I sent the kids to the attic to find the pair of crutches that my husband had bought at a garage sale awhile back. I remember that I thought he was crazy at the time – but he said someday we’d be glad we have them.

Yep. I was glad all right!

With the help of those garage sale crutches, Pedro and I loaded him up in the van  and took off for town – leaving the remaining kids at home with my teens in charge. At least it was nap time.

It must have been a slow afternoon at our small town hospital because everybody in the area stopped by to see who was in the ER.  I should have sold tickets.

A quick trip to X-ray confirmed that is wasn’t broken (whew!) but was a severe sprain.

He left an hour later with a splint, an ice pack and a lecture about how important it is to stay off of it for several days or risk serious permanent damage.

He will spend the rest of his stay here on the couch playing chess and watching movies with his ankle elevated above his heart.

So much for playing Rambo in the ravines.

Meanwhile, I got to call his mom. “Hey Cinnamon! Remember those insurance cards and medical clearance forms you sent? Thanks so much.  I needed them at the ER today…”

Oh my! What a day!

Help for Curly Hair

I don’t currently subscribe to any magazines right now – so when a friend dropped off a laundry basket full of them – I was excited.

I love browsing through the ladies magazines and clipping recipes to try. (Dagmar and I have feasted at lunch this week on Chicken Panzanella Salad, Tomato Basil Salad, and Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches!)

Normally I will quickly pass over the beauty hints  (I think it’s too late for me anyway!) but one article caught my eye – “Help for Your Curly Hair”.

I quickly flipped the magazine open.

I was blessed with naturally curly hair. At least it’s a blessing 9 months of the year. The other 3 months it is -well – not such a blessing.

Can you say “frizz”? How about “frazzled”? Does “Bozo the Clown” give you a mental picture?

Now – finally – in just 5 short paragraphs I will learn what will kept my curly locks tamed all summer long!!

I know you’re just as excited as me – are you ready for the secret?

It’s product. Lots of product. Expensive product.

Silicone shampoo – $32
Hydrating Conditioner – $4
Anti-Frizz Cream – $4
Serum – $8
Sunscreen – $22

Now – I don’t like math very well – but if I added this up right it would cost me $70 to keep my hair from frizzing.


Do you have any idea how much chocolate I could buy with $70?!

Not to mention thrift store clothes and sale groceries!?

That’s a far cry from the $.99 family size bottle of Suave I normally use.

So, with my deepest respects to the “experts” who contributed to the story – I think I will stick to my tried and true method of frizz reduction.

Pony tailIt’s called a pony tail.

Simple. Fast. Effective.

But most importantly cheap.