"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Memorial Day 2012

Most of my family was here in America well before  America was it's own country, including European and Native American descendants.  Several of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary war which made us a free and sovereign nation in the first place, including one who served under George Washington himself...pretty cool, huh?  I've had great-grandfathers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins fighting in almost every American war since the Revolutionary war so I'm proud to take this Memorial Day to thank them and every last one of our soldiers and veterans, including those who lost their lives, for their service and to take this time to honor all my family and friends who have come and gone before me. Happy Memorial Day everyone!!!


I got so fed up with being sick.  I was coming up on two weeks of battling that viral infection and things weren't looking any better.  I did something I normally don't do.  I asked for help.  I asked for prayers.  Our God is truly an awesome God.  I went to bed feeling miserable Wednesday night.  I was itching all over.  The rash was still terrible.  My legs, arms, and hands ached.  I was tired all the time, every time I stood up my heart would start beating out of my chest.  I said my prayers as I do most every night (I know that I should make that every single night without exception and that's something I intend to work on) and I went to bed.  I woke up and the rash had almost completely faded.  My resting heart rate was under 100 for the first time in two weeks and it stayed that way all day long. I was starting to get my energy back.  I felt better than I had in a very long time.  And today was even better than yesterday.  The rash only shows up on my elbows, when it shows up at all.  My resting heart rate was even better today than yesterday.  The aches and pains are almost completely gone and I made it through the entire day without needing a nap.   Two weeks of doctors and medicines and fluids and rest couldn't do what one night of collective prayer accomplished.  I'm reminded again and again, these last couple of months especially, that God is there through the good AND the bad times. 
I know that there are many people out there who will read this and think it's a coincidence.  There are those who will read this and think it's all in my head.  There are those who will read this and think I'm crazy or downright stupid. I'm not posting this for those people.  I'm posting this for those going through a rough patch who will read this and find hope. I know many people won't see this as a miracle but I do.  I know it was "just a virus" and that's a small problem in the scope of many of today's ills but maybe my small problem and my answered prayers will give you hope in help and miracles for you problems big or small.  It's also a call to action.  You were created for good works.  I got help from everyone who took time out of their day to pray for me and it may seem simple but it made a big difference for me.  You're meant to be a help and hope for other people, whether that is through works or prayers or both.   Blessings.

So Things Haven't Gotten Much Better

My "little virus", hasn't gotten much better.   In fact, in some ways, it's gotten much worse.  I still have the low grade fever and still have the occasional muscle aches and headache.  However, my rash that was only on my hands and around my ankles is now covering my entire body. I'm exhausted all the time, my eyes have been bloodshot for 4 days, I itch, I have occasional stomach pain, dry cough, constant rapid heart rate, etc. but the swelling that had become severe in my feet and ankles has now gone down some which is a plus still pretty bad in my hands though.   After eight days of illness, two doctors office visits and one emergency room visit (for crushing chest pain that radiated up my either side of my neck), I still don't have an "official" diagnosis although two of three doctors suspect mononucleosis....nice.   Apparently mono can takes weeks to months to heal, so I could look like this,
for months on end if that's my malfunction in the first place.  Not a happy camper.  So I've been mostly sitting in my big, comfy chair watching tv and rotting what's left of my brain.  My garden is not too happy because I haven't been out to work on it in about a week and I have no intention of working on it any time soon.

As if we hadn't had enough, our water heater decided to die on Thursday so we've been shopping for a new one.  This translates into my husband making multiple trips to the hardware store and muttering things that would cause a sailor to blush.

At least t-ball season has started so we have the adorable t-ball games to keep us busy.  Middle is doing much better and taking it much more seriously this year than he did last year.  Last year he spent his time playing in the dirt, pulling up grass, dancing and chasing his friends.  This year he cares more about learning to hit from the pitches instead of off the tee and learning to field.  He loves playing first base and catcher.  It's really fun to see the first year players this time and think back to how similar they are to Middle his first year out and know how much can change in just one year. 

The t-ball games are a nice distraction from all the recent bad luck.  Otherwise, I'm turning to prayer.  Lots and lots and lots of prayer.  

99 Problems

This whole week has been pretty crazy.  We have been trying to clean up the yard and part of that meant moving a large dog kennel from the middle of the back yard to the fence line along with a lot of mowing, weeding, planting, and trimming.  At some point during that ordeal I pinched a nerve in my neck.  By the end of the night, I could barely move my head.  On top of that I had started to develop a headache and a low grade fever.  That was Saturday evening. 

On Sunday, I woke up in full-blown misery.  My neck still felt terrible.  My headache was awful.  My legs hurt.  My arms hurt.  My lower back hurt and I still had a low grade fever.  I took two extra strength Tylenol and went about trying to get my spring cleaning done.  The Tylenol helped but after a few hours I felt lousy again; achy, tired, queasy, just generally blah.  I figured out I was dealing more with a virus or bacterial infection than just simple muscle strains and took two more Tylenol and took a nap.  When  I got up, I found my husband asleep at the computer and my boys elbow deep in flour that they had taken from my canister and dumped on the floor.  Grr.

I swept that up. Then got the kids to bed and watched a bit of The Voice on TiVo.  I decided to get a little work done on the computer so I sat there for about 30 minutes.  I thought nothing of the occasional dog sneezes I heard coming from the living room area and continued on with my work.  When I finished, this is what greeted me:

She had rooted through the flour in the trash. Managed to spread it all over the floor once again.  Had it all over her nose, in her mouth, even on her back.  She looked as happy as a fly on poop.  I could've killed her.  Instead I wiped her nose and back off with a baby wipe and let her outside to pee. I took two more Tylenol, cleaned up the mess, put her to bed and then went to bed myself.  Ah, Sunday.

The next morning I woke up fully expecting to feel better and I did...for about an hour.  Then my stiff neck came back, my low grade fever came back, my muscle aches came back and I started to develop a rash on the backs of my hands. Two more Tylenol.  It decided to stop being as effective as it was before so my low grade fever stuck around along with the stiff neck, although the other body aches lessened in severity.  I tried to finish my spring cleaning but with the fatigue and general aches and pains I mostly just sat around feeling gross.  That was Monday. 

On Tuesday I woke up feeling as sick as ever, this time the backs of my knees hurt, my chest hurt, my entire back hurt, my ribs hurt and my arms were weak.  The low grade fever was still hanging around.  The rash had developed on my feet as well as my hands, mostly around the ankles.  I was tired of being sick so I made a doctors appointment, got the kids off to Grandma's and went back to bed.  The intake nurse decided to swab my throat for strep even though I really hadn't had a sore throat, barely had a cough, and my fever had always been less than 101 degrees. The doctor said she was pretty sure that my problem was viral but my strep test came back positive.  She thinks I might be a carrier but gave me a script for antibiotics anyways.  If I wasn't feeling better in a few days, I was to take the antibiotics.  If I was then I didn't need them.  Her main instruction: No More Cleaning.  Rest.  Rest. Rest. Rest.   Fine. 

I went home and took a loooong nap.  Then got up to take Middle to his t-ball game at 6pm.  Felt a bit better.   When I got home I found the dogs had gotten sick all over the floor.  Great.  Cleaned that up, got the kids dinner, and settled into my big, comfy chair.  By bedtime I was starting to feel the aches come back, although not as bad, and the fever started to come back.  Two more Tylenol and off to bed. 

By this morning my neck was no longer stiff, my headache was gone, and so were the rest of my muscle aches.  The pain in the back of my knees was still there though and now I had pain in almost all my other major joints: hip, elbow, wrist, ankles.  My rash had also gotten just a bit worse, much more red, a little itchy.  No more Tylenol, just in case it was causing the rash.  I went back to bed.   When I got up my right knee was swollen, my fever was basically gone (so far), both of the backs of my knees still hurt but my other joints weren't in quite as much pain.  Getting better.  But wait...why is there a stinging feeling in the top of my foot?  It felt sort of like stinging nettles.  It itched.  I figured it was the rash.  Until it started to swell.  That's when I found him.  This guy:

The pictures aren't so good but this dude is a yellow sac spider.  Probably C. inclusum.  I found him in my bed, right were my foot had been, dead as a doornail.  The little turd bit me.   These are spiders commonly found in homes and just last night I had seen him/her whichever, dangling just above my head in the hallway.  I gave him an evil glare, my hubbs laughed hysterically, but I left the spider alone.  Dang.  Then this morning I saw him crawling along the hallway floor.  Youngest told me that it was important to "be nice to spiders".  Indoctrination from his father, no doubt.  So I left the spider alone.   And this is how he repays me.  Although, perhaps the giant foot attempting to crush him made him a little anxious, which could be why he bit me.

These spiders are cytotoxic.  Meaning their venom is intended to kill cells and tissue. The bite commonly results in sharp or stinging pain (check), localized redness (check) and localized swelling (check).  Usually the reaction to the bite of one of these guys is fairly mild, comparable to a bee sting, but occasionally it can result in an ulcerated wound similar to that of a brown recluse, only not nearly as severe.  So far, in my case, the bite has been extremely mild.  After a few hours I had no more swelling, no more pain, and only a slight brownish/reddish discoloration (almost like a light bruise although without the discomfort) around the area where he had sunk his tiny little fangs. 

My boys felt sorry for me though since I am still a little sick and now had a spider bite me on top of everything else so while I made the fatal mistake of dosing in my chair, they decided to make me a snack. 

 The first snack came from Middle and included strawberries covered in about 1/4 of sugar along with some fruit punch with added sugar.   I ate as much as I could before my pancreas started to beg for mercy. 

 The next snack was made by Youngest.   It included a lovely mixture of sugar, white flour, cornmeal and cornstarch with lots and lots of water.  Middle was pretty sure it was poisonous.  The bubbling didn't make it any more appetizing.  I pretended to eat that one in my bedroom, while dumping it down the toilet.  He was very proud. 

By this point I realized there could very well be a monumental disaster in my kitchen so I headed off to investigate.  There I found Youngest's third course for me.  Flour, pepper, some kind of brown liquid, more pepper, lots and lots of pepper, and cornstarch.  Oh my.  And as suspected my kitchen was a mess.  Pepper, flour, sugar all over the floor, counters and chairs which Middle had tried to mop up by sloshing water all over the place.  I couldn't be mad though because their heart was definitely in the right place. 

Hopefully the rest of this week will be far less eventful than it started out.

Artisan Sourdough Bread and Crochet Sandwhiches

Our Random Acts of Kindness experiment has gone really well.  The kids have really enjoyed getting involved, which is great.  Some of our random acts included cheering on the walkers for the Multiple Sclerosis relay, baking treats for shelter animals and our own furry friends, writing get-well-soon letters to the grandfather of one of Oldest's friends, and picking up trash at the nature center while we hiked.   When we started I thought 30 days would be hard to accomplish but now that we are almost to the end of our month long RAK, it seems like it all went pretty quickly.  Hopefully we have developed some "kindness habits" that will stick around for awhile.

I had mentioned in a previous post (although I don't remember which one) that I was knitting and crocheting play food for the kids to use in their toy kitchen.   Well, I finally got around to taking pictures of the sandwiches I made for them.
Peanut Butter and Jelly. 

 The jelly in the picture came out looking a little blue but in reality it's purple (grape).

Sandwich number 2.

This is the ham, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle sandwich.

The bread and peanut butter and jelly pattern came from craft frog.  The ham and tomatoes I found on the lion brand website (free membership required).  The roast beef was my own adaptation of the knit ham from lion brand. However, instead of knitting in stockinette, I knitted it in garter stitch.  The lettuce pattern comes from the hook, yarn and needles blog.  The pickles were my own creation.  A simple crochet in the round pattern with single crochet stitches.  It took me a weekend to make and the kids LOVE it.  

I've also been baking more bread.  Making bread and noodles seems to be the majority of my time spent in the kitchen these days.  Recently I tried my hand at artisan sourdough bread.  

I really like the process of making the artisan style loaf, which is totally different than the traditional loaf I usually make.   There were fewer steps with this loaf of bread than the traditional loaves.  No kneading was necessary and it only had to rise once.   I appreciated that fact tremendously.  However, I've learned from this experience that I'm not a big fan of sourdough bread.  I do not like it Sam-I-Am and neither do the kids.  Hubbs thoroughly enjoyed it though.  He ate half the loaf on his own the first day.  He ate the other half the second day.  So for his sake alone, I'll be making it again some time.  For the rest of us, maybe I'll try a rustic white bread next time.  I think the sourdough flavor was just a little too robust for my liking.