Thursday, August 28, 2008

Welcome to My Day

A little girl, not quite two years old. Beautiful child, dark curls framing her pixie-like face with wide innocent blue eyes staring hungrily at you. A tiny child, so slight the wind would blow her away.

In her freezer, there is nothing.

In her refrigerator, there is nothing.

In her cabinets, there is a half bag of flour, some salt, and some pepper.

That's it. Nothing else in the house.

Mom has no money. No more food stamps coming for two weeks.

Why does this child have no food? Why are the food stamps already gone?

Because Mom's two boyfriends -- yes, that's two -- come in and eat every morsel of food that Mom buys. They eat everything that Grandma buys or brings over.

And the little girl? She goes hungry.

There's a baby too. Three months old. She lays in a filthy bouncy seat wrapped in an old t-shirt day in and day out. Bugs crawl all over her.

It is taking every ounce of willpower I have not to get in the car and go pick up those babies and bring them home with me.

Yes, CPS is involved. Yes, they've been notified of the no-food situation.

I only hope they actually do something about it this time.

How I want those little girls.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The First Day of First Grade

Little Girl is now a big first-grader. Somehow first grade is harder for me to believe than kindergarten was. It seems so old. She seems so big and grown-up. What happened to that teeny little five and a half pound baby that was born such a short time ago?

First grade was apparently uneventful. She said she liked it. She couldn't tell me, though, what she liked. Everything I asked was, "I don't remember." She doesn't remember who is in her class. She doesn't remember if they played any games. She does remember that the teacher read a story, but she doesn't remember what it was about.

So overall, it was a particularly unmemorable day. :)

The good news is that the teacher reported her behavior was good all day. I personally doubt she behaved any differently than she did in kindergarten. The difference is the teacher. First grade is looking promising. :)

So after our very uninformative first day of school conversation, she decided that she wanted to play Webkinz.

You know, the most unreliable website ever created?

I hate Webkinz. I have to admit, I went through a stage when I first got mine where I was addicted. But once you earn enough money to buy everything interesting, the appeal quickly wears off. I mean, what more does a bunny need than her very own log cabin? :)

Now, I don't REALLY hate Webkinz. It's still a great concept. But right now, I hate it. Because while it works fine when you go in and play on your own, it stinks when it comes to playing with other people. Since the only reason I bought a Webkinz in the first place was so that I could play with Little Girl despite being three hours away, which was a really cool idea, the fact that it constantly logs us off or kicks us out of each other's rooms or freezes up on the games or won't let us both on the same color phone DRIVES ME INSANE.

So after a frustrating 45 minutes of doing nothing on Webkinz but logging in and out and inviting and getting kicked off, it was finally her bedtime and I was granted a reprieve from further struggles in the Webkinz World at least for tonight.

You'd really think a company of that size could maintain a functional website. But we've been doing it since Christmas and it is ALWAYS like this.

I think kids should unite and ban Webkinz until they offer a site that actually works. Adults would never continue to buy a product with such lousy service for themselves. I don't know why kids put up with it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What a Strange Day...

It started with my little guy who is severely autistic. Mom is moderately mentally impaired. Dad is paranoid schizophrenic. Let me tell you, visits to this house are ALWAYS an adventure!! My favorite was when Mom lowered her voice while Dad was in the other room and told me she needed to ask me something. She wanted to know if it was possible to get married from a dragon marking you, because Dad told her he got married when he was 13 to a girl in this way, and showed her the mark. So she's just wanting to know if it's possible that this is true. I kept a straight face and informed her that one gets married by getting a marriage license and having a minister or justice of the peace marry you. Mom replied, "Well then, he's married to me!!!" Yes... Do you see what I mean about these visits being an adventure?

After this little guy, I headed to a home where several people were on the porch cutting up peppers. The little boy and I went inside, and Grandma followed us in, telling me that it's a good thing she isn't cooking the peppers or she would have to ask me a personal question. At my quizzical look, she informed me that if someone is on their period, and you're cooking peppers, the peppers will spoil. So if she were cooking peppers, she would have to ask me a personal question, see, because she couldn't let me in the house if I were having my period right now.

Okay then.

My next house is a cute story rather than a strange one. It was this little girl's first session, and she has a 3 year old sister who wanted to know why I was there. I explained to her that I was coming to teach her little sister how to talk. Well, the 3 year old was being a pill and not allowing the baby to do anything or play with anything, so her mother took her out of the room. Fifteen minutes later, she walked back in. "Can she talk now?"

I do think I'm good at what I do -- but I'm not THAT good! :)

On my way home, my realtor called and said another realtor wanted to show the house at 4:45. Okay, I ran home, scrambled to wipe down counters and vacuum and be sure everything was put away, and went to Toys R Us to search for a birthday present for Baby Boy. I returned at 5:10, no cars in the driveway, I assumed they were done and went on in. At 5:40 my realtor calls and says the other realtor just called her and they're running late, they'll be here by 6.

SIGH. How annoying. I didn't find anything at Toys R Us, so this time I headed off to Target. I returned at 6:25, no cars, I went back in the house assuming they were done for real this time.

At 6:40 they pulled up in the driveway. ARRRGH. They'd better darn well buy it after all this trouble!

I HATE selling houses. I hate other people intruding in my house. I'm so ready to have it sold and done with. Then I get to intrude in other people's houses while I find one to buy. That's far more fun. :) :) :)

Updated to Add:

I forgot one incident. Last week I was at a team meeting for a new client. The child doesn't sleep. It takes her three hours every night to go to sleep, and then she wakes up crying EVERY HOUR. All night long. She's almost THREE. That is three very long years of sleep deprivation for her parents, let me tell you.

So we were problem-solving and Mom said the pediatrician had told her to give her benadryl. Ack. We all cringed. Yes, let's just drug the child... And Mom tried it and it didn't work, it made her practically climb the walls she was so hyper.

So we discussed the possibility of melatonin. And Mom was told to consult her pediatrician about dosage.

Well. The pediatrician called the coordinator today with his knickers in a knot over the whole thing. How dare we tell HIS patient to take melatonin, were we doctors? Did we have medical degrees?

Coordinator explains that we didn't tell Mom to give the child melatonin, we told Mom to consult with him about it.

"You let ME be the doctor," he says, and continues with a rude tirade about the whole affair. The coordinator was very polite and met his comments with factual statements about what happened, about melatonin in general, and about her own personal successful experience with giving melatonin to HER nonsleeping infant on HER pediatrician's recommendation, and all she kept getting in response was a hateful, "AS I SAID... you let ME be the doctor..."

And he is dead set against giving that child melatonin, and insists that it's Benadryl she needs.

Why is it that so many doctors are so insistent that drugs are the one and only way to go?? I HATE seeing kids given medicine, and even more so when it is so totally unnecessary. Maybe he gets a cut from the company that makes Benadryl.


A Visit to the Land of Little House

Okay, so I've been back for a week now, and I'm finally getting around to reporting on my trip. It was really fun!!

We started out with a visit to the Guthrie theater to see the Little House on the Prairie musical. This was actually what started the whole trip idea in the first place. Although it MAY go to Broadway or on a national tour, we couldn't take the chance that it might not and we would totally miss it. And if we were going all the way to Minneapolis anyway, well we just couldn't not go to Walnut Grove and De Smet, now could we? I didn't think so.

I'm a planner by nature. I love to plan trips, I think half the fun of a trip is in the planning of it! This particular trip was planned and re-planned so many times it isn't funny. We kept changing our mind about what we wanted to work in and when. Despite our careful planning, we had a last minute disappointment in that one place we very much wanted to visit wasn't going to be open on any day that we could possibly get there. So at the last minute, we totally reworked the trip, and ended up spending an extra day at De Smet as a result. It worked out to be a wonderful change in plans, so we're glad it happened and we'll get to the other place some other time. :)

So back to that play. Although it's the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books that I'm TRULY in love with, I can't deny a nostalgic link with the television series. After all, I grew up watching it faithfully. And I LOVE Melissa Gilbert. So that was another reason to make sure we got to the Guthrie to see it -- you never know if Melissa will stay with the musical even if it DOES go on to show elsewhere. And we couldn't miss our chance to see Melissa.

I had ordered some photos of Melissa to ask her to sign, and we took them along with us, but partway during the show, it hit me that those photos never came in with us. They were still in the car. So at intermission I dashed out to the parking garage to get them. The weirdest thing happened. I swear our car moved.

I clearly remembered parking on level 2. We had taken note of the letters where we parked and everything so it should have been very easy to find. Yet I walked over to the area where I just knew it was parked, and it wasn't there. I clicked the button to make it beep, and I heard it, but I couldn't place where the sound was coming from, it was so faint. I started walking and kept hitting the button. Every time I would hear it beep at me, so I knew it was there somewhere, but I absolutely COULD NOT find it. I walked up and down EVERY ROW in that garage on level 2 and it simply wasn't there. At times it would get a little louder, but I'd look everywhere and it wasn't there.

I ran up to level 3 just in case I was mistaken, but it wasn't there either, nor did I even hear it beeping there. There were only 3 levels total, and we had ridden the elevator down to the ground floor after parking, so there was nowhere else to look.

I finally gave up in frustration. I didn't want to miss the play and I'd been gone quite awhile now. I had to get back. I had no idea how we were going to get home, considering the car was invisible and all, but hoped perhaps my friend would have better luck finding it. It was such a disappointment to not have those photos to be signed, though.

I took the elevator down and on a whim, just before heading back across the street to the theatre, I stepped into the level 1 lot and clicked the button. LIGHTS! I saw lights across the lot flash at me and the beep was louder! I ran over and there was our car. On level 1. I have no idea how it got on level 1, but was thrilled to see it! I grabbed the photos and dashed back in the theater. They were making an announcement that the play would begin in two minutes just as I got there, so I didn't miss anything.

I asked my friend where we had parked the car, and she replied, "Level 2."

"That's what *I* thought," I said, "But apparently it moved." I told her the story. She was as floored as I was, so it was NOT my imagination. I was relieved as I really was beginning to think I'd lost my mind. When we left the theatre to go home, and went to the car on Level 1, she too was very surprised at its location and did not remember it being there. I don't know what happened, but it was weird.

Anyhow, we did indeed get to talk with Melissa after the show and she signed our pictures, so all's well that ends well. :) I got one done for Little Girl too. She likes watching Little House when she stays with Grandma. Which is like, every day. :)

Moving on... the next day was our big driving day. I'm sure everyone is wondering how Zenobia treated us. Apparently she has something against the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway, aka Highway 14. We had no idea where she took us, but we never saw Highway 14. Then out of nowhere, there was the Ingalls' farm at Plum Creek! We drove right by it, not expecting it, then it dawned on me just WHERE we were. So we quickly turned around and went out to the farm. Not a soul was there, which was awesome. It was all ours.

It was so peaceful there. We spent some time walking around near the creek and along their new walking paths which make it so much easier to walk out to the tableland area now than it used to be years ago when we fought our way through the fields because we really weren't supposed to be back there. ;) I guess the owners figured if people are going to walk through their crops to get there, they were better off to just make a path and let them. :)

After we left Plum Creek, we headed into town (Walnut Grove) to tour the museum. I was thrilled to find a scrapbooking store with Laura stamps! How fun! We stopped in at Nellie's to eat, and do you know they only serve chicken? I found that funny, because do you recall the Little House episode where Nellie's restaurant becomes franchised, and they only serve three different meals, and all the customers get angry and it doesn't work out and they finally restore it back to just being the old Nellie's again, and then Col. Sanders comes up at the very end and says he has a great idea, he wants them to link up with HIS franchise, and they'll only serve one thing -- chicken. Nellie informs him that it will never work, and of course the joke is on her, since viewers all know the success of KFC. Except for the fact that Col. Sanders wasn't even born yet in the mid 1880s when the show supposedly takes place. But anyway -- I think it's really funny that Nellie's restaurant in Walnut Grove only serves chicken. :)

Our next stop was De Smet, where we spent the night at the Prairie House Manor. It's under new ownership, and the Todds are great hosts! We enjoyed our stay there very much!

We spent most of the next day at the museum and around town, and as I mentioned before, due to our last minute change, we had decided to spend an extra night in De Smet, and we did so in a covered wagon on the Ingalls Homestead. Were we ever glad our other plans didn't work out, because this was the coolest thing ever.

I'm hoping to take Little Girl back next year if it works out, and if we do, we are SO totally staying in the wagon. She'll love it!!

We loved being on Laura's land with nobody else there. Yes, there were other wagons, and a tent and an RV, but those people just stayed put, so we had the rest of the land all to ourselves. 160 beautiful prairie acres. Actually 159 because one acre belongs to the Memorial Society. Or maybe it's only 153 because I believe for some reason Pa's land only worked out to be 154 acres instead of the typical 160. Poor Pa, he got gypped in everything he did.

Anyhow. We took an evening walk. Visited the buildings, now empty of other guests, of course. Played with the baby kittens. If Little Girl stays there and they have kittens next year again, I don't know that we'll actually get to sleep in the wagon, as she'll want to be in the barn all night with the kitties. :)

We finally went back to the wagon and went to bed, and awoke to a beautiful sunrise over Pa's land. Does it get any better than that?

We couldn't bear to leave so we spent a good part of the day there, then finally had to head back to Minneapolis to fly home the next day. We left our hearts on the prairie though, so now we have a good excuse to go back. :)

And as for Zenobia... well. Remember I said she was prejudiced against Highway 14? We wanted to stop in Mankato on the way back, which I knew was on Highway 14, so when Zenobia -- who had been instructed to take us TO Mankato, not Minneapolis -- told us to take another road, I told my friend to ignore her and stay on 14. Every two minutes she was telling us to turn. Then she wanted us to U-turn. For about a half hour, she kept wanting us to U-turn and drive all the way back to where we had ignored her! Then she showed us driving NOWHERE, no road even on the display. The poor thing was so confused. We just stayed on 14 and she finally got over it, but boy was she annoyed with us for awhile.

Then in Mankato, we wanted to see Maud Hart Lovelace's home, and I had entered the street address so she would take us right to it, and apparently there are two identical street addresses in Mankato with different zip codes. I didn't know which zip code, so I just picked the first one. It wasn't the right one. It took us to some office building in the middle of the city. Next time I take a trip, I'm arming myself with maps for every single place I might want to go, the way I did in the olden days before Zenobia, and just using her for backup. She is so unreliable.

So that was the trip. It was awesome, and I can't wait for my next one!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Faith or Stupidity?

Where is the line between the two? It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I go into children's homes to work with them as part of my job. When I first considered taking this job, I wondered if that was really safe. After all, there are good homes, and then there are not so good homes. But my fears were quickly allayed once I got started. I discovered that even in the not so great homes, I was welcomed.

Sure, I was occasionally cussed out when calling someone, or when appearing on the doorstep for the first time, because they'd think at first I was a bill collector or a welfare officer or CPS coming after them. But always, their entire demeanor changed the moment I told them who I was, and they were apologetic and very welcoming. After all, I was there to help their child (and not by taking him away from them!) And I discovered that there is something universal about parenthood. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but I've not met an exception yet: Parents love their kids. Even bad parents, even abusive or neglectful parents... they still love their kids. They don't always know the right way to show it due to their own issues, but they do love them. And once I figured that out and saw how I was treated at these homes, I've never been afraid.

However, a recent event has shaken me a little and caused me to wonder if perhaps I should be afraid. A woman doing a very similar job to mine was killed on a visit by the parents of the child she was working with. She had been there several times and was not afraid. Yes, those parents were mentally ill, but I have lots of families that I work with where one or both parents suffer from mental illness. It makes for some really interesting stories sometimes, but I never thought about how it might be dangerous for me.

The early intervention community is all abuzz over this, of course. There is discussion about not returning to any home where you feel unsafe. Okay, but then that begs the question -- what makes you feel unsafe? As I said, I've never felt unsafe at a family's home, though looking back with this event in mind, I can think of some that perhaps I should have felt unsafe at. And this woman didn't feel unsafe at the home where she was killed.

There has been talk about pepper spray. Others have stated you wouldn't have time to get it out and release the trigger and it's pointless, but it seems to me that you might have the chance depending on how the dangerous situation would come about, and better to have it just in case. And yet, I've not purchased any. I guess I feel silly carrying it, though I know I shouldn't.

And this is where the issue of faith comes into play. God has protected me through all my home visits. As I said, there are probably some that really were quite dangerous. There was one home where I felt very uncomfortable, but not frightened, due to repeated sexual remarks from the father of the child. After this happened with this other lady, it occurred to me to look at the sex offender registry to see if any of my families were on it, and there were several that I've had in the past, and this particular father apparently spent ten years in prison for rape. Splendid. I can't tell you the number of times I was in the house alone with him and his toddler. But God protected me. (And fortunately I discovered this information a week after we had exited the child from the program, so I never had to go back!)

So. Do I trust God to protect me from these dangerous situations and go about my job as I have for the past few years, or do I take added precautions due to the situation with this other woman? Where is the balance between trusting God and taking precautions? Just how cautious should a Christian be? Obviously we don't throw caution to the wind and just do any stupid thing we take a notion to do and expect God to protect us -- so where's the balance? Do I stop going into homes altogether and take a different job? Do I limit myself to homes of a certain caliber (and where even is the measuring point with that?)? Not take any child whose parent has a mental illness (and while most of them come right out and tell us, we don't always know!) or who has a criminal record involving battery, rape, or murder (we definitely don't usually know that)? None of that seems right to me.

And so I plod along, doing what I've always done, and trusting God to keep protecting me, and yet wondering if doing what I've always done is the right thing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bless Five Children for the Price of One

It's back-to-school time, and time to take advantage of one of the best sales of the year.

Though I post all the time about Compassion International, I don't think I've ever mentioned another ministry I'm almost quite as passionate about: Operation Christmas Child.

I think most people are at least familiar with this, but just in case it's new to anyone, a brief summary -- you fill a shoebox with Christmas gifts for a child living in poverty in another country. You take it to a local collection center (which can be found at the website above), they send it to a processing center run by Samaritans Purse, and from there, it gets shipped overseas and hand-delivered with love to a child in need. Pretty simple. Samaritans Purse also puts a "The Greatest Story Ever Told" booklet in the child's language in every box, and the children may then send off for a Bible Study by mail if they like, as well.

Simple, yet one of the most amazing ministries I've ever come across. It reaches kids. Not just kids, it often reaches entire families. There are even multiple cases where one shoebox has reached an entire village for Christ. For the monetary cost of a shoebox full of gifts? Now that's a wise investment no matter how you look at it.

And now is the time of year to make that money stretch even farther. One of the most useful and most desired categories of items to put in a shoebox is school supplies. And right now, you can buy school supplies for pennies. Boxes of crayons, scissors, glue, all 20 cents each. Why pay $4 for a box of markers in November when you can get them for 80 cents now? Why, you can fill five shoeboxes with school supplies right now for the amount of money you'd pay to fill one in a couple of months!

So let me encourage you to run out now and buy up those school supplies and stow them away until November comes. You'll be glad you did!

Other cost-cutting ways to fill a shoebox? Buy candy (I get the huge bags of kiddie mix - no chocolate is permitted in the boxes as it can melt) right after Halloween at 75% off. It's too late for this this year but be thinking on it next year -- right after both Valentine's Day and Easter you can often get small stuffed animals 75% off too. And keep an eye out for clearance clothing throughout the year - bright colors are especially coveted by these kids so the crazier, the better! I just found little girls' socks and underwear in the Target dollar bins at 50% off in some wild and crazy colors that will be perfect! Check the dollar store and buy in bulk too -- I usually pick up a bag of hair accessories, a package of bracelets, a box of toy cars, a package of bouncy balls, etc. each for just a dollar and divvy up the items between five or six boxes -- again, a way to save a lot of money and bless a lot of kids too!

If everybody who filled one shoebox last year would spend the same amount of money, but be able to fill four or five shoeboxes this year by following these guidelines, just think how many happy children there will be around the world this year. Not to mention how many happy children of God there will be in heaven someday because of it... :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Battle with Poison Ivy

The first time I ever remember having poison ivy was following a "field trip" to my sixth grade teacher's house. I know, sounds unusual, but it was actually my favorite field trip of all time, I think. They lived a very old-fashioned life, and his wife taught us girls to bake bread and sew and very fun things like that.

Anyhow, we played some outdoor games while there and apparently they had poison ivy on the property and I got it. But it was no big deal. An irritation, but no big deal.

I got poison ivy again when I was about 16. It was in the crook of my arm - the inside of my elbow, if that makes sense. It was pretty bad, and well do I recall its peak. I was in the Foreign Language Festival, an event held at a university for area high schoolers. I had been selected to represent our school in the Latin test.

My arm looked horrendous, all puffy and red and oozy, and I could no longer bend it. But I thought little of it -- somehow when it's your own arm it doesn't look so bad. Everyone else kept commenting on it in horror, however.

I felt a little queasy all day. I attributed it to "butterflies in the stomach". It was unusual - I felt nervous like that when involved in events that required me to perform in front of an audience, like a spelling bee, a speech, a dramatic presentation... but it wasn't like me to be nervous about a test. Nonetheless, what else could it be?

The queasiness followed me into the evening, which I thought especially unusual. The day was done, the contest was over, there was nothing at all to be nervous about now. The poison ivy looked worse than ever, and my mother decided to call my aunt (a nurse) to see what she thought.

I didn't even notice myself, but apparently there were red streaks shooting up and down my entire arm, and my mother mentioned this to my aunt. My aunt asked about nausea, and I reported the queasiness I'd felt all day. She advised my mother to take me to urgent care. Not wanting to deal with that environment, she replied that she'd just wait till tomorrow and take me to the pediatrician instead.

I remember my aunt's response like it was yesterday, for it invoked terror into my heart. "If you don't take her in tonight, she might not BE here come tomorrow..."

For my poison ivy had somehow managed to turn into blood poisoning.

Well, after getting three different prescriptions and having to return every night for a week for a painful shot in the you-know-where, I finally recovered.

But that was not to be the end of my fight with poison ivy. I got it the next summer, and the next. I learned and have tried so many different "treatments", some of which probably caused more damage than they helped. (Anyone ever been told to use bleach? Yes, it dries up the blisters, but it also burns your skin. Kids, don't try this at home.)

I know what you may be thinking -- stay out of the woods already! I do. It's a sad thing for me, I grew up playing in the woods surrounding our house and I miss the ability to enter them without fear. I don't even have to get anywhere near the stuff anymore. It breathes on me from a mile away and I get it. And all too frequently it gets out of control and I have to go in for steroids to finally get rid of it.

Earlier this summer, the telltale blisters began to form on my arm, and I panicked. I had a big trip coming up. This had the potential to ruin it! My vanity was at stake, as well. ("I can't meet Dean Butler covered in poison ivy!") Frantically I searched the internet for some new cure, some way to stave it off if caught early. And I discovered a new wonderful amazing product.

It's made by Tecnu -- you know (or perhaps you don't, if poison ivy isn't your particular nemesis), the company that makes the stuff that takes the urushiol oil off of contaminated objects like doorknobs and other things you may have touched before the oil bonded with your skin?

But this product, called Poison Ivy Scrub, is intended to make the oil UNbond from your skin so you can wash it off. For those not in the know, the oil bonds with your skin in about 15-30 minutes, so if you wash it off (in COOL water) before that time, you may prevent getting the rash later. But if you didn't know it was there or didn't have access to a way to wash it off, once it bonded with your skin, you were out of luck.

No more! This sounded promising, and I figured if anyone could test its worth, it would be me. It really did work! The two places that had already developed blisters remained for a couple weeks, but didn't grow worse. The many places that were just beginning to itch and show tiny bumps that hadn't blistered yet when I started using the scrub did NOT develop blisters! It was the BEST case of poison ivy I ever had.

I was totally sold on the stuff.

Much to my dismay, the other day I caught sight of a familiar looking blister on my finger. Twice in one summer! It's just not fair!

But this time instead of panicking, I just pulled out my Poison Ivy Scrub and scrubbed away at my hands and arms. That evening my eye started to itch. I didn't even make the connection at first; I thought I'd gotten an irritant in it. I rubbed it, it watered, that usually washes out the irritant and all is well. But it only itched more. And more and more. Until finally I went to the bathroom to remove the contact, and discovered that my eye was all puffed up and swollen. I gently swiped my finger across it and found the telltale bump. Just one little tiny one so far, but the panic began. The scrub clearly says to keep out of the eyes.

I used it anyway, as best as I could. And it seems to have staved off the worst of it. But in the meantime, I've had little spots show up here, there, and everywhere. Every time I find a new spot, I scrub away. I've repeated the scrubbing many times and yet new spots are appearing. I have a whole strip of it across my cheek that I've scrubbed and scrubbed in the hopes of keeping it from getting any worse.

I thought it was working, but this morning I had new bumps on my fingers, a new patch on my cheek, and a tiny patch in the corner of my eye.

Again, I have a big trip coming up, and again, it's to Laura Ingalls Wilder territory. Both Wilder trips cursed!?

I'm going to see Melissa Gilbert in the Prairie musical. Do you "Little House on the Prairie" tv show fans remember the episode where the Olesons were covered in poison ivy? I had visions of me looking like that for my Little House trip.

No. Not gonna happen.

I'm done. The poison ivy wins. I gave in, went to urgent care, got my shot and my steroids. Now hopefully by the time the trip comes around, I'll be poison-free.