Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fits and Starts

The pool is up!! It's just the right size for all of the kids this year. The water comes up to Peter's neck when he stands, so one less child to fret over in the pool. The kids have all improved since last year and they are swimming like fish. Sylvia is still the ever cautious one, though, and she rarely dunks her head underwater.

A cute picture of Lucy the cat. She likes to sleep in this little wooden crate. No idea where it came from, but the kids brought it out one day, didn't bring it back in, and Lucy has claimed it for her own. She caught a small woodpecker the other day. She's the huntress of the outdoor cats. Always voles, mice, chipmunks and, sometimes, birds, left around the food table for us to find. Turned the dead woodpecker into a biology lesson for the kids. It's tongue was hanging out and you could see little "thorns" on the tip of it. Makes it perfect for sticking in holes to skewer a bug and pull out. It was a pretty little bird, don't mind when Lucy catches mice or voles, but I always feel bad when it's a chipmunk or a bird.

This is the garden. ~sigh~ I'm so behind on my weeding! This is my potato patch. I checked and all the potatoes are growing strong, many are over a foot high and thick, just need to weed and hill them.

My solitary row of cabbage and broccoli. Heads are forming nicely, if I hurry and weed, this may be my first year at harvesting some cabbage and broccoli.

This is going to be the tough weeding job-- my onions are buried in there somewhere. I haven't weeded since hurting my back and hip, and then the poison ivy attack that left me in itchy fits. I haven't wanted to go outside much since all that happened. Slowly catching up, now, the tomatoes have been weeded and tied, lots of small green ones, hoping to have some ripe ones by July. Peppers are mostly weeded and I see lots of buds and a few tiny peppers growing. All out of frozen peppers in the freezer, so I'll be keeping an eye out for peppers at the farm stand. Last year, they could be found $1 for 4, if I can score them again for that price this year, I'll be stocking up.

Just about missed most of the mulberries this year. Still some left and I've picked, juiced, and froze 8 cups of mulberry juice so far. I'd like to double that if I can. Wild blackberries are coming in now and I've picked a nice bucketful. A few more bucketfuls would be nice.

Finally started on the chicken fence project. I got the two gate posts in and cemented. Going to work on the gate door next. Hopefully the fencing goes up this week. I'll be sure to wear long pants and long sleeves and then shower with poison ivy oil remover right after to prevent another outbreak of itchy rash. Still on meds, another few days and it's all gone. The rashes are fading, but they're still itchy. Just left with numerous healing little sores from all my scratching fits when I broke skin and where the blisters burst.

Kids are pestering me about going in the pool now. It's a blessing and a curse, keeps the kids amused, but forces me to hang about and supervise when I'd rather be elsewhere doing some other project. At least the blackberries are nearby, I guess now's the time to pick some more.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I hope you all had a nice Father's Day! Ours was nice-- the kids were excited to give daddy his wrapped candy presents and Andrew was thrilled to get "Jackass 3" on dvd. Those boys are crazy!! I'm happy to watch them do crazy things from the safety of the couch! :o)

The kids all piled on Andrew this morning, which made for a really nice picture, then right after it was "Kiss Daddy's bald head!" which resulted in:

Where'd Daddy go?! :o)


Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there!!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Frugal Friday : Frugal Finds

I had a great trip to the stores today. I made a trip to Best Buy and CVS for a grand total of $128.19 in merchandise and only paid $11.29 out of pocket!

If you aren't aware already, Best Buy has an awards program in which you earn points from every purchase you make. Just apply for the free store card, then every time you shop, scan the card before you pay. They'll track your purchases and when you accumulate so many points, they'll notify you by email, then you print out the awards certificate and take it to the store for money off your next purchase.

A couple months ago, my mom and I both got new laptops from Best Buy. I put both purchases on my Best Buy store card, even though she paid for her own laptop. It made my points jump quick and they sent me a notice that I earned a $30 rewards certificate. Great! We've been wanting one of those disc repair/cleaner thingys to clean up the dvd movies the kids scratched up. Now would be the perfect time to get one!

Did I mention how awesome Best Buy is?? The disc repair thingy was $29.99 or at least I thought it was. I also picked up something else, which isn't pictured because it's a surprise for the husband for Father's Day, but anyway, the total came to $64.98. Huh?? That isn't right. Turns out the disc repair thingy was actually $44.99 and when I asked the clerk about it, she asked me to show her where I got it, and though *I* was wrong-- I looked at the wrong price ticket (but in my defense, there was no price ticket to be found for it), she gave me the $29.99 price anyway! So she knocked off $15!! Sweet!

So my total for Best Buy went from $64.98 to $44.68 minus the $30 awards certificate to a final total of $14.68. Nice!! And my purchases today will go to future points later!

My next stop was at CVS. Here, I purchased $77.89 worth of goods and they paid me to shop!!
I bought:

  • 2) Whitman's Sampler candy boxes- $19.99 on clearance for $4.99 each

  • 6) Hershey's candy bars- buy 2 for $1.19 get 3rd for $.01 (3 got eaten by the kids before I could get a picture of all 6!)

  • 2) Zyrtec allergy medicine- 5.99 each

  • 1) Motrin PM- $4.oo

  • 2) Hershey's Drops candy bags- buy 1 for $4.59 get 2nd for $.01

My grand total was $77.89, minus coupons and CVS extra care bucks, I paid $11.59 out of pocket and then they gave me $14.98 extra care bucks to make my final total $3.39 profit!

So minus the +$3.39 from the Best Buy total of $14.68, I paid $11.29 for everything today! Not bad at all! I got a nice surprise gift for Andrew plus an unexpected bonus box of Whitman's chocolate for Father's Day. I have an extra box for a quickie gift if I need one, too!

This makes couponing totally worth it!! :o)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

So That's It!!

After more than a week of miserably trying not to scratch, tossing and turning at night, and trying every over-the-counter poison ivy medicine I could find (Tecnu's Poison Ivy Scrub is great!), my rash continued to spread and get worse by the day.

Blisters broke out along my wrist and spread to my fingers. I had to take my wedding ring off, the blisters were so bad. I had rashes spread from my chest to the sides of my breasts under my armpits, down to my back, the back of my knees, my thighs, my crotch, butt, arms, shoulders, ears, ankles, agggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Enough is enough! I'll pay the damn doctor bill, anything, just give me some relief!! I found a free clinic not too far from us, though why they call it "free" when there is indeed a bill to pay, I'll never know. Called them up and explained I have no health insurance, but I'm desperate and do they treat poison ivy rashes? They do, so made an appointment for 2:15 this afternoon.

I had to bring my tax papers, to verify my income and see if we qualify for lower billing rates. Filled out all the forms and then I saw the doctor. What a guy!! He was very nice and funny and really enlightened me to my itchy condition: I'm ALLERGIC to poison ivy! I also discovered that I am not contagious like I thought I was. Once you've bathed and washed off the poison ivy oil, you are no longer contagious to people around you. huh. If the blisters pop, there is nothing in the liquid oozing from the blister that will pass on poison ivy to other people I may touch. huh. All that blather we've heard about poison ivy being contagious is a bunch of hooey!

But!! If you get poison ivy on your clothes, lie down on the bed, get up and someone else lies down on the bed, then it's possible for that person to get poison ivy, see? Once you wash the clothing, the bedding and yourself, you're safe. Fifteen minutes after touching poison ivy, the oil gets under your skin and the rash you get results from your body's reaction to the urushiol oil, not because you touched the first spot then touched your chin or your leg or your arm.

Anyway, I got my prescription meds, $5 for 12 days of steroids which should take effect 12 hours after the first dosage (3 am, I look forward to meeting you!). I expected to pay $85 for the visit plus $5 for the meds, which is what they quoted us on the phone when we told them I had no health insurance. Guess what? We qualified for the medical bill payment assistance and reduced rates and the visit and future visits will cost $1 per visit! So today's visit only cost us $6 including the meds! Do you know what a relief that is to me?? I was already feeling guilty making the appointment in the first place, thinking I should tough it out, and it makes me feel so much better that I made the right decision to go. "Toughing it out" would have taken forever with my poison ivy allergy.

So, now I'm on the road to recovery, though I'm still itchy at this point, but no longer afraid to touch my kids, cook meals and do other normal mama stuff. I'm a bit nervous about poison ivy now, but I'll just have to be more cautious around it and diligent in making sure the kids stay away from areas with poison ivy, stay inside when Andrew burns underbrush, and wash his clothing (and then myself) right away. I also won't dilly-dally about going to the doctor now, knowing that I can afford the visit and the meds.

Here's to a speedy recovery to me! :o)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Photographic Proof

I'm still in my poison ivy induced misery. I toss and turn at night, fighting urges to scratch and spend the day trying not to touch anyone and making frequent baking soda and vinegar pastes to help soothe the itch. In my research, I found that most poison ivy rashes last around 2 weeks. 2 weeks?!? I think I'm on day 3 or 4...

These photos were taken yesterday and it's spread a little more today. My face, although worse, doesn't seem to itch much. I also have spots on both eye lids, and I am very very careful not to itch those at all.

This looks nothing like it looks now. It's about four times as bad as it looks here. The rash has spread down to my fingers and up my arm. Hundreds of tiny little blisters all over my arm up to my arm pits.

Yesterday, the rash was mostly on the left side on my chest and now has spread to all over my chest and starting to creep down my right arm. It goes up and around my neck, under my chin and stops just under my lip.

I've started wearing long sleeves and I keep my hair up tight, securing stray hairs with a headband. The hairs tickle and make me itch more, so up they go. I am also wearing latex gloves when I do things around the house, fearful of contaminating the dishes or the laundry-- it's that bad.

Picked cherries at the local orchard on Friday and then I wore gloves to pit them and freeze them. I don't dare touch the jars and canning equipment with my rash-covered fingers. I'll make my cherry-almond jam later. My cousin and a friend were supposed to come up and learn how to make and can mulberry jam. I've cancelled that and will pick berries and freeze enough for making jam later, when I am rash free.

If anyone knows any sure-fire tricks to speed up healing, please shoot them my way.


Saturday, June 11, 2011


Absolutely the worst case of poison ivy I've ever had, period! Cripes! I've never, ever had it so bad before and spread over so much of my body. Usually just a little spot and then after a couple days of anti-itch cream, it's gone. Not so this time. I must have not caught it fast enough or I've gotten sensitive or what, but holy cow, this stuff itches!!

It's spread all up and down my left arm, the worst of it on the inside of my wrist, though it is spreading to my fingers fast and that's starting to bother me. It's gone from my upper arm and hopped over to my chest and up my neck, chin and sides of my face. A little spot on my left eye-lid. Because when I go to the bathroom and wipe with my left hand, I now have a bit of poison ivy rash very near my crotch and a little on my bum. A small bit jumped to my right arm, but not much-- knock on wood!

My legs were really itchy a few days ago, but that's mostly stopped now. Just a little bit left on my left thigh, not too far from that spot near my crotch.

I've learned much about poison ivy lately, doing my search online for itching remedies and double checking my symptoms. Did you know that just a quarter of an ounce can make the entire population itch?? Just a little tiny dab of urushiol, the oil in poison ivy, oak and sumac plants, the size of a pin-head, can make 500 people itch?? Ancient chinese people built a golden temple and painted the gold with lacquer tainted with urushiol, so if anyone stole any, they'd look for someone with a rash!

I am finding relief with a paste made from baking soda and vinegar, benadryl, and anti-itch cream for when I go to bed. I use rubbing alcohol, too, which helps to dry out the rash.

I have accidentally passed on the rash to Peter and Sylvia, which makes sense-- I usually pick up and carry Peter and Sylvia still comes to me for soothing hugs and affection. Evelyn, Gretchen, and Andrew are rash-free, for now. I tell them to steer clear of me and I pray I don't pass it on to them.

For now, I am fighting every urge not to scratch the itch and getting after Peter, whose rash is starting to get worse because he doesn't understand why he shouldn't scratch. I see him scratch his butt, where the worst rash is, then scratch his face. Pretty soon he'll look like me if I don't stop him somehow.

Excuse me while I run a bath for Peter and soak him in baking soda.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Check, Check, and Check!

A poison ivy rash slowly spreads along my arm and what began as a little spot has morphed into a trail creeping down my arm. I feel an itch and my willpower is unable to stifle the urge to scratch. The caution I tell the kids, "stay away from the poison ivy!" Should have been the warning I heeded myself!

Little by little, things are getting caught up around here. The nearly 2 weeks I was laid up from hip and back pain left a lot of unfinished projects. The weeds have nearly taken over the garden! I hope to get out there tomorrow and beat back the weeds.

Yesterday and today was spent prepping the pool area. After last year's fiasco with the water escaping from the pool, we were determined to make sure the ground was perfectly level this time around. I know the garden takes priority over the pool, but the pool keeps the kids occupied so I can do other things without interruption! We shoveled and removed several wagon-fulls of dirt and then smoothed and leveled the ground. Checked and double checked with a level and it's good!

Today we put the kids to work cleaning the grime left from last year. If only my work could be as much fun as their work!! We squirted dish soap on the bottom of the pool, added water and then they slipped, slided, and scrubbed their way around the pool! They were thoroughly soaked and cooled off on this very hot day and the pool is nice and shiny clean again! We'll call the pool water guy to come out, hopefully tomorrow, and then I can do my work while the kids play.

Earlier, since it was too hot to do anything outdoors, we made a run to the hardware store to pick up a few things I need for the chicken fence. I've thought and thought and looked at ideas on the internet and finally came up with a solution for the gate I need to make. Maybe tomorrow when it's too hot to hoe and weed in the garden, I'll sit in the shade and work on my gate.

It feels good to check things off my To-Do list again!

The local orchard just advertised their cherries in the paper today!!! If I had my way, I'd be there RIGHT NOW picking cherries, but more likely, I'll be there Friday morning, maybe Saturday. Can't wait!! There goes another check after I make my cherry-almond jam. Yum!

Hope you're getting things checked off your own To-Do list!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Evelyn turned nine today!!

Hard to believe that's it's been nine years already. It doesn't feel like yesterday that I held her in my arms, but it certainly doesn't seem like it was that long ago!

She is turning into such a smart, beautiful young lady. We are very proud of her!

Strawberry cake with vanilla frosting, as requested.

We weren't planning to have a birthday party since we didn't have one for Sylvia or Gretchen back in January, but Grandma and Grandaddy wanted to be here to share her special day and then my Aunt and Uncle came over and then next thing you know, Andrew's sister and her family joined us! Turned out to be a pretty special day for Evelyn.

Can you just hear the cries of "it's not fair!" coming from her younger sisters? Oh brother! I spent much of the day fielding complaints from Sylvia and Gretchen over every little thing and by evening time, I'd had quite enough griping. It was either hush up or go to bed right. this. minute. It worked for about half an hour before they started up again. I think I was more ready for their bedtime than they were!

Happy 9th Birthday Evelyn!!

We love you very, very much!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Despite my lack of attention to the garden and surrounding areas, things still look promising around here. I am feeling much, much better these days, but I did have a little bit of a relapse yesterday after being stuck in the car not being able to stretch my hip out and extra walking around the stores running errands. I paid for that with more hip and back pain.

Half of my rhubarb is doing pretty good. I've had better years, but with the chickens pecking the young shoots as soon as they come out of the ground, I'm happy with what I can get. I hope once the chickens are fenced in, the other half of my rhubarb patch will bounce back.

My cherry tree is so-so. It's over-shadowed by two large dogwoods and they need to be cut down. Previous owners went crazy with the dogwoods and our property has many of them. I can definitely stand to lose a few. I'm out of my cherry-almond jam (so good!) so I'm looking forward to picking cherries at the local orchard down the road from us. I know for a fact that this lone cherry tree won't give us enough for even one pint of jam.

The mulberries!! This was taken last week and since then, I have a tree with ripe mulberries that I can see from my bedroom window! It's a recently discovered tree, with all the branches are high up, so those berries are for the birds. Meanwhile, right around the corner from the ripe mulberry tree, the one closest to the house is a.l.m.o.s.t. there! Maybe in a week or two. Mulberry trees by the driveway and in the garden area are soon ripe, too.

My cousin and a friend both want to learn to make and can mulberry jam, so I'm going to invite them up as soon as they are ripe and plenty of berries come down daily. They bring their own jars and I'll provide the rest. Will be nice to have company in the kitchen when making jam!