29 January 2013


Nothing super exciting going on here.  Living life, which keeps us busy enough.  Here's some random things you might see/hear if you were a fly on our wall:

  • Bethany is my mini me.  Her hair was mostly straight this morning... until she got outside where it was foggy.  
  • I canned 50-something quarts of tomatoes this summer.  I'm slowly starting to use them up.  Last night I made spanish rice using  and not-so-fresh salsa using some garden things I'd frozen: cilantro, lemon juice (not garden, but hand squeezed and frozen), and green onions.  Tonight I made meatloaf. Pretty much anything that calls for some sort of tomato gets adjusted to use the jars of tomato in my pantry.
  • Scott has a bit of a gap in his front teeth currently.  He whistles through his teeth ALL the time.  It drives me crazy.  I feel bad asking him to stop but the constant noise drives me bonkers.  He loves to whistle.  It's a hard balance.  But, we have constant noise all the time so balance is tough.
  • I used to feel like the "crazy cat lady".  We had seven cats.  Around Christmas, I hit and killed our beloved Rum.  The cats love the garage door and apparently think it's fun to run in and out each time the door is opened or closed.  It's annoying.  My kids are constantly begging me to not hit the cats as they're running in while I try to drive in.  I might have been the mom who, in frustration, made some comment about running over a cat two seconds before actually doing so.  I am no longer feeling like the crazy cat lady.  Now I feel like cat killer.  While I don't think that being married to a vet gives me permission to hit my cats, I sure am thankful that it lessens my veterinary expenses.  P.S., cat #2, aka Tank, survived the run over for now.  He only uses 3 legs, much like his momma, Pepsi.
  • Sometimes my kids play so nicely together, for about 5 minutes at a time.  They are good guys and bad guys and utilizing super hero capes, buzz light year gear, and a captain America shield.  Scott is currently in his boxer briefs playing "captain underpants" and I had to stop typing to talk to Bethany about keeping her shirt on since she's a girl.  Alas, I'll share the picture where they're all fully clothed.

  • I've been trying to eat healthy.  Some days I could care less.  And some days I'm very serious about it.  Eating smaller portions has been a good habit to get into.  Especially as I prepare for Ethiopian food which I now appreciate but isn't something I would over-eat on like fajitas.  I've also let myself have a snack sized candy each day.  Because I'm about keeping it real, some days that becomes 6 different snacks in an hour.  
  • There are lots of mommas pregnant in my church.  We've had several baby booms in our church where 8 women at a time are pregnant.  I have not been in either baby boom.  Which is okay.  I'm excited for my friends who are expecting.  Now if I could only keep straight who is pregnant and who isn't...
  • In less than 7 weeks we'll be in Ethiopia.  We are excited.  Still fundraising.  Still working on a few details (like who will keep our kids for 2 weeks) but EXCITED.  
  • Sweetheart Supper plans are happening.  The invitations should get mailed out tomorrow, and should have been printed Sunday.  Since Sunday was 1/4" of ice, there was no going anywhere, no invites printed and none ready to send out tomorrow.  I'm telling myself to not get anxioius.  Hosting that many ladies is a lot of work but worth every bit of it!
  • This morning when I checked the weather it was 46 here (way warmer than normal), 34 in the town I was raised (way colder than normal) and 75 in Ethiopia.  Yay Ethiopia!!!
  • My kids learn several verses a week.  As Bethany is quoting "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right", she is outright disobeying and climbing on the counter I told her to stay off of.  Clearly we need to work more on the application than the memory part.  Scott speeds through verses and they're way easy for him.  Judah is a champ and has to try.  Way to go boys.  Now, let's work on the personal application of it.
  • I sometimes get an email from a specific airline at my work email.  It is annoying.  Today, I actually saw what it said and it was tempting to want to see if a few friends wanted to join me for a cheap weekend away...
Kids are arguing.  They've had a time out, some time alone and at least 3 chats from momma... do you think they would volunteer to go to bed????

constant noise. I don't know what I'd do without it.  So thankful to be a mom.

27 January 2013

Necklaces For Show

Due to icy weather conditions, church was cancelled today.  We were home as a family ALL day long.  Even Ryan was home all day with us.  It was a great day to catch up on a few things.  Bethany and I enjoyed much of the day beading and crafting.  I was able to get some necklaces uploaded to the necklace page.  Check it out.  Let me know if there's something you'd like.

Disclaimer: if you're willing to support us, you can mail us a check or follow this link to donate online. It is ***REAL IMPORTANT that you put ET130301T Tamara B in the memo line or the donation won't go towards us.


26 January 2013

Itchy Journey

If you've been following my itchy journey, it's been a long and tiring journey.  It was 2 1/2 weeks ago that I saw the allergist and almost 2 weeks ago that I saw the dermatologist.  Those past few weeks were typically the down week for the itching.  This is the week in my cycle that my itching starts to go crazy again.  I have a little itching on my core body still but that's it.  THAT'S IT!!!  The dry, leather-feeling skin on my arms is gone.  My arms are soft again and only slightly discolored from the redness.  The dry, leather feeling skin is still on parts of my core but I'm hopeful that the old dry skin will quickly be replaced by new, soft skin.

Can I get on Amen on that!?!?

I am still waiting on the dermatologist's report on the biopsy of my arm.  I should have had those findings last Monday so I will be calling them this Monday to get the results.  In the mean time, I got my stitches out today:

19 January 2013

Seeing Lots of Improvement

I shared with you about my long-lasting struggle with the rash and other skin issues.  It's hard for me to complain when I know it could be so much worse.  It's also hard for me to complain when I'd been reading a book this fall where I was reminded that the words/attitude that leave my mouth are a reflection of my heart, not my cicumstances.  Ouch.  It was a good book and I'd like to review it.  The book by Paul David Tripp is called War of Words.  Eventually though, when I got desperate and my skin issues were peaking at their worst (or so I thought), I decided to share.

Unfortunately, it did get worse.  But eventually it got better too.

Isn't that how life works.  While I don't want to be on an emotional rollercoaster, the fact is that our life sometimes has ups and downs.  For those of us who've chosen to follow the resurrected Christ, we have to take the bad with the good.  When it becomes good, let us shout it from the roof tops!

Well friends, I'm here to tell you and show you that it's finally getting better!
After visiting the dermatologist on Monday, things continued to get worse.  On Tuesday, the allergist had me send him pictures of my skin.  That evening I had Doxipen to my drug regimen.  By Wednesday afternoon, my skin was starting to calm down.  By Thursday, there were a few of the "hot spots" that were still showing up.  The above picture was taken Thursday.  The rest of my skin had the underlying red.  By Friday, I was seeing enough improvement that I was sure that I'd be able to wear my wedding ring to church on Sunday.  I still have some of the itching and some of the rash but the fine rash that covered my whole body is GONE.

I'm still fighting some funkiness with this head cold and I'm beginning to wonder if it's my maxillary sinus that's still inflamed, infected or if I have something wrong with my teeth.  Good thing I know the dentist!

Doing the Ethiopian happy dance here in Northeast Iowa!!!

14 January 2013

In case You Wondered

Yes, I still itch.

Had a follow up with the dermatologist today.  I shared what the allergist said and while she didn't respond with words, her reaction told me she didn't agree.  Again, she didn't say anything so I'm not sure what her thoughts were.  I got another shot of kenalog which should relieve the itching.  It didn't work last time but I have my fingers crossed.

The rash seems to be getting worse.  Less fine rash and more bright red irritations.  Not sure if that means a skin infection.  With my head cold and skin issues, I spent most of 3 days straight in bed or on the couch.  I might have gone to urgent care yesterday if I wasn't scheduled for the dermatologist today.

It's now also on my face.  I look like a leper.  So much for feeling special.  The dermatologist biopsied the red stuff and sent it to lab.  We should have the results in a week.  For now I have two little stitches and a big bruise on my left arm to remind me to patiently wait for results.

I've shared the above pictures here and on facebook.  What I haven't shared in pictures is that I have the hives type of rash all over my core too.  It's now turning red.  Maybe from the itching?  Maybe a skin infection from the itching?  I plan to call Dr K, the allergy doc tomorrow.

This past weekend was tough.  Emotionally.  I know it could be way worse, but the itching has been overwhelming and emotionally exhausting.  I'm not getting good sleep so it's also physically exhausting.  And then because that wasn't enough, over the weekend, I developed a sinus infection to go with my two-week-old head cold and thought my skin was infected.  It sure is warm to touch those red areas of my skin.  On a good note, the sinus infection is gone thanks to the wise advise of my dentist, also known as my favorite father-in-law (yes, I have just one, it's an inside joke).

So today felt good.  We even invited a few friends to join us for supper.  And we were super blessed when they volunteered to bring supper.  Thank you Dan and MaryAnn!  We are so glad to call you guys friends.  I hope you don't itch too much tonight after watching my itch :)

11 January 2013

Not Normal

I've written a little about it on my blog, but not much.  Mostly because I like to share the whole story but the WHOLE story includes some personal stuff that doesn't need to be on the internet.

This summer I was put on a medicine.  I reacted to it.  Itchy skin and a rash all over.  A band-aid of benadryl and claritin was recommended.  I'd tried that with  no improvement before I went in.  In frustration, I stopped the medicine that I was sure I was reacting to and was sent to another doctor to try to get to the underlying cause of the initial problem.  Dr. M saw me and said I wasn't normal.  Thanks Doc.  But he did find that my parts were normal as far as the initial concern went.  Dr. M also told me that no-one reacts to the medicine they put me on.  Awesome.  I informed him that seven years earlier, I was on a similar med that I also reacted to and then it was attributed to the stress of being a new mom and going back to work.  Dr. M said that nobody reacts to that because it's a .... [some really technical reason].  He said I could start back on the original medicine.

I went home feeling like I had no answers.  No reason for the first concern and no answer for the itching and ever growing rash.  After all, I had an appointment with the dermatologist set.

Eight weeks to wait may be okay for some  issues.  But for the rash and crazy itching I had, it wasn't do-able.  By now I had been paying close attention to the rash and how it closely follow my monthly cycle.  That's odd, isn't it.  It's one thing to get a rash that lasts a long time.  It seemed totally different to get a rash that got way worse during the increasing hormones part of my cycle.  Recalling my college days of animal science classes, I didn't have the cycle memorized anymore, but I had a general idea.  After all, dairy cattle are similar to women.

With four weeks left until my dermatology appointment, I couldn't stand it anymore.  It was overwhelming to itch all day long.  My skin was raw in places, I wasn't sleeping, and I and my whole family was tired of dealing with it.  I went back to the doctor office, this time seeing Dr. B instead of the PA.  He agreed my rash was yucky and was sure the spots of my knuckles was eczema.  At this point I'd tried claritin, benadryl, triamcinolone cream (to take away the rash), and a shot of [something] to take the itch away.  I'd also tried a month without the other med.  The rash continued to grow and got worse with each cycle.  Dr. B got me into a different dermatologist the next day.  Thank you God!

Seeing a PA dermatologist, she spent less than three minutes with me.  The raw spots on my hands were obviously eczema.  PA derm said I needed stronger meds.  She gave me a stronger shot (kenalog), prescribed a stronger cream, and really didn't pay any attention to the rest of my itching body.  PA told me to follow up in 10-14 days.  I thought that was perfect because at 10-14 days I would be at my peak cycle which means peak rash/itching.

Back to the pharmacy for the miracle cream.  Even the pharmacist, who I really appreciate, said this cream was harsh but it works.  Exactly what I needed: something to work.

With my new miracle drugs, sudden improvement did not happen.  My hands did clear up enough that I could put my wedding ring on for a few days.  With five days of relief under my belt, or should I say skin, I prayed that the rash would check out and not spread like wildlfire with my cycle.

It was day ~16 that I called the dermatologist office and left a message on the nurse's line.  She called back and said she was glad it was going well.  WELL????  Did you listen to the whole message????  I explained what happened and requested that she ask the PA several specific questions.  The nurse called back saying that the shot was still in my system so I should be fine.  I'm NOT fine I retorted.  The first available appointment would be 7 weeks out (thanks to holidays).

While at the chiropractor's office one day, he handed me a piece of paper.  It had three words on it.  He had listened to my random story of itching, did a quick google search and thought it sounded like me.  I waited at least a week before I began searching the string of words Dr. S gave me.  As I read some research papers, etc, it was a little scary - so much more than a simple rash.  I showed it to Ryan who didn't respond so I figured he thought I was crazy.  I mean, he knows that I'm a little crazy, but, you get the point.

Some time passed when we were celebrating Christmas with Ryan's family.  I mentioned to his mom what I'd read on the internet but that I wasn't sure if Ryan agreed.  He looked up and said "oh, that's exactly it".  Oh, okay thanks honey.  With the holidays on our door steps, I didn't figure it would do much good to get into the doc.  Once the holidays passed, I called to schedule an appointment with Dr. B.  After five months of paying attention, I could pretty much nail down when this rash would go wild.  Like I knew it would, the rash began to go crazy, and like each month, it was a little bit worse.

On Monday, with my arms looking like this pic above,  I walked-in to Dr. B's office.  I was on fire.  Literally, rashed from my neck all the way down.  Not all of my body was this bad.  The majority was a fine, but itching rash.  My arms radiated heat.  I was miserable.  And I was serious about getting something figured out so I even brought my husband!  Explaining to Dr. B what was going on and how it related to my cycle and how NONE of the meds had helped, Dr. B said that I was beyond his realm of knowledge.  I needed to see an allergist so he sent a referral.  If it was anything like the derm, I could be waiting a while.  In fact, I had one week left before my return to the derm's office.  Depending on how that all fell out, the allergist might see my skin when it was calmed down a bit but Dr. B assured me that it would be taken seriously, especially considering I had a collection of pictures on my ipod.
Lo and behold, I had an appointment scheduled for the next day in LaCrosse with the allergist. I don't know if Dr. B and his staff pulled some strings or if God intervened but I was so thankful to finally, maybe, get some answers.  The info I'd read online talked about it being rare and very few doctors know about it or are willing to take it on.  I was prepared to beg.  My physical and mental health needed something to change even if it was a little scary.
On Tuesday, I went into the allergist's office armed with the internet research and with some drug suggestions from another doctor friend.  I gave Dr. K a brief history, told him how I'd reacted in '05 and again now to this medicine.  He immediately named the string of words I'd been researching.  My mouth dropped as I watched him type it into google to show me a helpful info sheet on it.  Dr. K's mouth dropped when I told him I'd read it already.  No begging needed.  He knew.  He nailed it right away.  We were right.  Dr. K was great.  He spent time with me.  He listened.  He had an answer. 
Autoimmune Progesterone Dermatitis.It means I'm allergic to progesterone and it causes a really bad rash.
Dr. K's recommendation  stop taking that medicine.  Simple.  But I'd try that once for a month.  That one doc told me it was out of my system and my skin was still growing with a rash.  Dr. K shared that once you make the skin mad it just continues to get mad.  For a long time.  While that med was out of my system, it wasn't long enough for my skin to calm down.  Apparently skin holds a grudge.  It would take approximately three months for my skin to finish being mad.  Wow.  As I sat there with my arms radiating heat and my hands dry and cracked, I asked if there was a way to get my skin to quit reacting (knowing there was something that he might not be familiar with).  Dr. K reminded me of the list of meds I'd tried that hadn't touched my rash.  The kenalog shot was enough to last four months and it provided relief for five days.  Another drug I'd tried didn't help with the itch but did make me really loopy.  Like I wasn't sure if I was in my own body kind of loopy.  Yah, scary.  I asked about Doxipen, a drug commonly used as an anti-depressant, but a really good antihistamine (thanks Rob).  Dr K said if benadryl knocks me out, hydroxizine makes me loopy, then doxipen would make me crazy.  We agreed that I wouldn't be able to function on this suggested drug which is never a good idea when you're a wife and mom and work full time.  Time.  I would just have to be patient.  Oh Lord, please help me.
With this sweet little autoimmune disorder, there is a chance that my body will also be allergic to the natural progesterone hormone that my body produces.  Which would stink.  Dr. K doesn't think that will be the case but he said we'll know for sure in three months.  Three long months.
So there it is.  I have some uncommon autoimmune disease.  Who knew?  For five months no one knew.  Except the chiropractor who googled it in 10 seconds.  Guess who I called and thanked right after I got off the phone with my husband.  While it's been a long five months, it could have been longer.  I could have had to beg the allergist to research it.  I could have had to fly to Dallas or somewhere like that to see a doctor who would deal with it. 
I sit here with a sick child of mine.  I have a nasty head cold and itching that won't give in.  But I have so much to be thankful for.  After all, I haven't washed dishes since New Year's Eve :) and have a husband who chooses to love me even when my body is plagued with a rash and my attitude is plagued with grummpiness.  Thank you Lord Jesus for how you care about the little things.    

01 January 2013

Fun with Visitors

It's great to have fun with visitors.  Fun with family is that much sweeter.  

I was busy hanging out, just being family and not carrying around a camera for the most part but I did take the camera out for a few slides down the hill.  The year my kids found a little hill which they've decided they like much more because it means less walking back up.  Smart kids.

I love when my kids love each other.  Here, Scott takes the time to push Bethany down the hill.

Without snow pants and snow boots, Grandpa stayed at the top of the hill.  After giving his "beanie" to his granddaughter, he made sure to push them down hill a few times before retreating to the warmth of the house.

The above mentioned grand daughter sporting an Immanuel High School beanie:

This little boy is serious about sledding.  He can be found sledding like this until he eats snow.  Then he decides that's no fun and rides down hill backwards to keep the snow out of his face.

He loves sledding.  And really loves when the neighbor boy shows up to sled with him.  Eventually the two boys appeared to be punching and wrestling.  As I started to intervene, I remembered that Ryan says I need to let Scott be a boy and boys do that.  I'm proud to say that I let them be boys and they're still friends and neither of them got hurt.

Momma pulling Bethany while Bethany pulls her cousin visiting from California.

 And because this boy is from Central California where you have to drive up into the mountains to play in the snow, he's not very familiar with it.  In his 5 year old little mind, it made perfect since to surf.  And "surf" he did as his Aunt carefully pulled him down the driveway to the big hill.

Once they were tired of walking up the big hill, Grandpa Danny happily pulled them back.  Little did he know that he'd end up with 3 in the sled.  What a good sport Grandpa!

After the big boys ran by, the littles requested Grandpa Danny run to.  What a good sport!!!

This is my nephew.  He's a few months older than Bethany and I don't get to see him near enough.  I'm so, so thankful that my brother and sister in law not only shared him for Christmas, but also that they paid for an expensive airline ticket to get him out here.
Good thing we were back at the small hill when Judah's sled got away:

The excitement builds as momma adds a little weight to push the sled a little faster down the hill:

Wondering where Bethany dissapeared to, her Grandpa found her playing on the wood pile and old pick up.  She may love the city, but she's a country girl at heart.  Just like her momma!

He's quiet and doesn't volunteer for pictures.  When I caught him up close like this, I just had to share.

 Life at Rancho B's... it's good to be home!