Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We've taken to calling Tumbleweed "Spots".

As you can probably imagine, she hasn't been sleeping well.  She's normally not a fantastic sleeper anyway, but Sunday and Monday she had to nurse all night long.  
Literally. All.  Night.
She's been pretty irritable and fitful.
So yesterday I decided to call a few dermatologists in the area and see if anyone would see her.  The third one had an awesome receptionist who listened to my story and said, "well, we have two emergency openings and this sounds like an emergency."  But since the dermatologist was out of town we'd see the Physician's Assistant.  I like PA's.  Let me rephrase that.  I like specialist PA's.  I saw one for checkups on my heart and he was great!  PA's for generalists are a lot like generalists, they're really good at general health stuff, like strep.
The nurse got Tumbleweed's history and looked at her spots then went to get the PA.
Now, when you're expecting one doctor and instead a group of doctors come in the room, you know something's up.
They think it's something called uticaria pigmentosa which is a form of mastocyctosis.  translation: they think she has too many mast cells which are what produce histamine and it's causing an system wide allergic reaction.
I think that's what they said.
I did a quick google search and I'm not convinced that's what it is.  Maybe I'm being biased though because they were PA's.  We'll find out in 3 weeks when we go back to meet with the dermatologist and get the results of blood work and a biopsy.
Yup.  I wrote biopsy.  There's a hole in my baby's arm.
Yup.  I cried.

But they gave me a prescription to put on her skin and the redness is fading a little.  She's still getting more spots, but they don't look quite so angry.
Either it's that or my mom's energy work is helping.  I'll take anything!
Also, for any eczema readers, they suggested putting 1/4 cup of bleach in bathwater to kill bacteria that make eczema worse.  Short daily baths have helped immensely (the pediatric allergist suggested that) so I'm going to try it.
Why do I even bother with generalists anymore?  I'm loving these specialists!

Meanwhile, it snowed yesterday and I haven't planted anything but potatoes.  Crazy Utah weather!`
Life goes on.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another One!!!

Can I have normal kids?  Ones that don't get weird diseases that doctors just shake their heads at?
Here's the latest:
Does she make you want to cry?  She makes me want to cry!  Her poor arm!
She started with a couple of these on her arm a few months ago.  I figured they were bug bites or body acne and kind of ignored them.  When they got worse I tried some hydrocortisone and they went away.  Then they came back some on her legs and then one on her cheek.  Last week she had roseola and that seems to have triggered something because they are back with a vengeance.  And it just keeps getting worse.
I'm going to compare spots with my friend whose twins have something similar.  Their's is a rare disease that out clinic guy brushed off.  I'm hoping it's different.  I think one rare disease in the family is enough, thank you.
I took her to the doctor today and he helpfully said, "I have no idea.  I guess it's cooties."  He thinks it's some kind of systemic allergic response and not a germ (try telling that to paranoid moms at the grocery store!)  And then told me to put Munchkin's eczema stuff on and see if it helps; and if it hasn't helped in 2 weeks he'd refer me to the pediatric dermatologist at Primary Children's.
It hasn't helped.  She's had new spots show up in the last 4 hours.
So please, please tell this woman who seriously struggles with anxiety to not be just a little freaked out by this.
Oh, and I have pack meeting tomorrow.  I have to bring my ridiculously clingy baby in all her spotted glory.  Do you think anyone will mind if we dispense with activities and just do the awards? *sigh*

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cross Country Crunchies

I have a very dear friend who used to live near me but has since moved across the country to North Carolina.  Luckily we both have free long distance.
It's funny because first her oldest sister was my friend and then I became friends with her older brother in high school (I'm still friends with both).  But five or six years ago when my friend got married and soon had her first son we started talking.  And hanging out.  And we found out that we have A LOT in common.  Our views on raising children, living the gospel, and being the best wives/mothers we can are very similar, but she always manages to say something to make me see things differently or from a new angle.  I love it!!
I miss my friend.  And I wish we could talk more, but kids and housework and life make that an impossibility.
So we started a blog together, Cross Country Crunchies.  I still plan on blogging here, but I'll stick mostly with the small house/urban homestead theme.  CCC is where I'll write from a more religious perspective.
I chose not to do that here and I don't want to change that.  But because my religion is such a HUGE part of who I am, I'd like to have a place where I can tie in childrearing, living on one income, and simplicity with the words of my church leaders.
I invite you to come and take a look and get to know us better!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Small House Family IRL

Amazing! It's so hard to find any of these that actually involve children! So inspiring!

My favorite part of the whole video is when she says she doesn't dream of a bigger space. She dreams of having less stuff to put in her space.

Can we have lunch?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Be Prepared

There are many reasons for maintaining a decent looking home. Remember, it's decent, not perfect.

One of those reasons is unexpected visitors.

Today it was the carpet cleaner.

These pictures have nothing to do with anything. She just was so cute playing with her pajama bottoms! (which she pulled from the "folded" bin, of course) :o)

In the three years we've lived here we have only cleaned the carpets once and it was with my mom's Bissell.

Is that normal? Too soon? Grossly late? Health code violation?
I have no idea.

But I do know that my carpet in the living room and hallway was so nasty that this morning Igloo and I were talking of ripping it up.

Then the carpet cleaners came to the neighbors and I looked at my ugly stains and thought, "why not invite him over to my place as well?" I've never called anyone because the bedrooms look fine and no one wants to just do one room and a hallway. I was hoping for a deal since he was already here.

So I did. And he said normally he can't just do one room, but since he was here anyway he'd look.... (go me!) And he came over and bid about twice as much as I was willing to pay. I thanked him and he left. He came back 10 minutes later because apparently my neighbor is his uncle and his uncle told him to halve the price and give me the works!

He's totally getting brownies for the next 50 years.

I had all of 10 minutes to prepare my living room. 10 minutes. AND it was laundry day.

And I did it!! In 10 minutes I had the living room all ready to be steam cleaned. Because all that was in it were some laundry baskets, a few books and hangers on the floor, a box, a couch, a piano, and 2 bookcases. And since we vacuum every night I knew the floors didn't need to be vacuumed either. Except where the couch was. eeew.

This simple living idea definitely has its perks! Makes me want to get rid of more stuff!!!!!

Look at those eyes!! My goodness! Would you believe it's the same child who has been a clingy, crying, unholy terror today? Me neither!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pt 2: Cleaning Routine

Here's how I go through my cleaning routine:
I start in the kitchen. I unload the dishwasher. Then I clear off all the counters and put things away where they go. Wipe all the counters and load the breakfast dishes. Then I sweep the floor.
The next room is the living room. I clear off surface clutter on the piano and bookshelf.
The bathroom comes next. Clear off the vanity counter and wipe it down. Then put things back or in the cabinet. Clear off the washer and dryer.
Then I go into the bedrooms and make the beds and clean up the floors.
I have this down to an hour.

I sweep and mop the kitchen and bath on mwf.
On Tues & Thurs I clean the toilet and dust the living room.
Saturday I do Tues. Thurs cleaning + the shower.
This usually take 30 minutes or less.

If I have down time in the afternoon I use it to do deep cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. I try to keep this minimal so I don't get burnout. Right now I'm spring cleaning (windows, baseboards, drawers...) one room at a time.

The whole family does this. Igloo & Munchkin tackle the kitchen: clear off table & wipe it off. Igloo does the dishes, wipes the counters, then sweeps.
Meanwhile, Jack and I (and Munchkin when she's done in the kitchen) get all the toys etc. from the living room and put them away. Then we go to the play room and their bedroom where we clean everything from the floor.
Then I vacuum the living room, hallway and bedrooms.
There have been some bad days where this takes longer than 30 minutes. I'm wondering if we need to rework it and do kitchen cleanup earlier or something.

Now, there have been times where the house falls apart. Especially when I am sick! When this happens I have a MUST-DO list. Mine is the dishes have to get done and table wiped off. THAT'S IT! Don't stress about the rest. When things get out of control you can get them under control again. This happened recently when I was sick. You just do what you can in the allotted time. The first day I started in the kitchen and it took almost the whole morning hour to get that cleaned up. Then I cleaned a little in the living room before my hour was up. The living room was cleaned a little more that night. The next day the kitchen went faster and I could spend more time on the living room and bathroom. After 4 days I was all caught up.

There are a couple of reasons this doesn't take much time: I live in 900 sq ft and I don't have lots of "stuff" anymore. I'm still going through some shelves and boxes, but slowly everything is getting a designated place. Once it has a place, it's very easy for it to be put back into that place. It's also easy to see what things I really don't use.

*edit*: It is so important that I add when the house falls apart I don't take a whole day to get things back in order. When I do this, I get burned out and don't stick with the routine. It doesn't work. You have to just accept that it will get done and give yourself a break! That is probably the MOST important thing I have learned and of course I left it out of the post ;).

The Routine

I am a go with the flow kind of gal. I love to just see what the day brings. That's my personality. Apparently that does not work with kids! Especially when you are raising highly emotional kids whose intestines are likely to implode with unpredictability. So I'm changing it. I'm becoming *gasp* responsible. Have you noticed what a four letter word that has become in our society? No one wants to be responsible any more.

My priorities have been changing since I've tried to reduce distractions in my life. Now I have a daily routine, a morning/evening routine, and a weekly cleaning routine. I definitely don't have it all together, but still, it has helped. Life is more predictable. There's less craziness. Things are calmer. I think I wanted to write about today because I'm sick and couch-ridden and missing my routine.

The number one key to loving my space is keeping it clean. Developing a routine that helps me keep things looking tidy has made me home feel twice as big.

Reading others routines helped me find one that worked for me (I recommend homeschooling blogs for this) so now I'll post mine.
7am wake up, scriptures (personal), breakfast, get dressed,
7:50 family scriptures and prayer
8:05 get son off to school
8:15 nurse the baby, look at calendar, exercise
9:00 morning clean up routine,
10:00 snack, spend time with Munchkin
11:00 lunch
12:00 Afternoon cleaning routine
1:00 nap/quiet time/ project time
3:15 snack
3:30 homework
4:00 kids play, dinner prep
5:00 dinner, clean up
6:00 family time
7:00 evening chores
7:30 get kids ready for bed (family prayer, read to the kids)
9:00 My get ready for bed time

Things to consider. I need 9 hours of sleep. I just do. So I don't make my bedtime 10:00 if I need to wake up at 7:00. I'm hoping to be asleep already at 10:00 so I made it at 9:00. My husband gets up for work at 5:00 but needs less sleep so it works out okay.

One other thing to note is I'm not overly rigid with this. Some nights there's a birthday or cub scouts and we just do the best we can. I've really been having a hard time emotionally the past 3-4 months and I'm cutting myself some slack to help. Tumbleweed only wears cloth diapers a few days a week. I have a little green guilt from that, but I had to prioritize and that just didn't make the cut. I also haven't baked bread in months. I really do miss that one. But it's okay. Because it didn't make the priority list (although I think it will get back on this month).
I have a lot of "dead time". Dead time is when there's nothing scheduled. Because sometimes there's a play date or a doctor appointment or I need a nap and try as I might, I can't have a set time for that stuff. Dead time allows me to adjust my schedule and play catch up if I need to.

With my routine I only spend about an hour every morning cleaning the house (yes, whole house) plus an extra 30-60 minutes in the afternoon doing things like cleaning the shower, mopping, organizing...that kind of stuff. We all clean up at night and sometimes it takes longer than other days. But overall, the house feels bigger, cleaner and more liveable and everyone enjoys it more.