Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ginger Ale and Warm Tea

But goodness, last week saw a lot of lying around.

The week started as a party (Eden's fifth birthday!)

and quickly turned into a plague.

After his nap on Sunday, Gideon (23 mos.) was throwing up. 9x in 4 hours, for those of us counting. Wait, there was only one counting?

The next day, it was Abraham (6).

I referenced the torn "Bland Diet" page taped to the inside of my cupboard and readied the ginger ale and warm tea.

I emailed Ethan at work and asked him to please pick up some holds we had waiting at the library. It turns out one of the holds was a "kit" with a children's book and an accompanying stuffed animal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it seem to be an incredible oversight to lend out an item that could possibly be sneezed on, thrown up on, dropped in the toilet, and then plopped back into the gallon storage bag with its book and returned to the library?

We didn't do any of that.

But how would you know?

And how do I know where that thing had been before us? I'm not a stuffed animal fan under the best of circumstances, but the library can keep this city's germs to itself from now on, is all I'm saying.

Then Monday night, Jonathan (3) was sick. We plopped his mattress on the floor on my side of the bed so I could holler, "Use the bowl!" when he started to get sick. This was rather inconvenient, as that was the night that I also got sick, and having his mattress as an extra hurdle on the way to the bathroom proved almost deadly to him a few times.

Then Benjamin (10), then Miriam (6), then Jonathan AGAIN.

Ethan went to check on some room-cleaning progress, and found this:

So, yes. Next was Eden (5). We were so thankful to have the bed still set up in the sitting room/guest room/whatever it is now. The sick children would rest in there, and the others could play without disturbing them.

The entire week, Ethan had meetings every night. He would call on the way home and ask if I needed anything. The answer was always the same: "More ginger ale!"

Sunday night, after his evening sermon (from which the rest of us stayed home), he and I sat on the couch and breathed a sigh of relief. The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week was over. The meetings were over, the towels were all clean, and the bowls were bleached and returned to their regular cupboards.

I went to bed happy.

I woke up to Miriam standing on my side of the bed. "I went into the sitting room and saw PAPA on the sick bed!"


So yesterday Ethan had his share of warm tea, ginger ale, chicken barley stew, and yogurt.

I'll not make the mistake (again) of saying we're done. After all, there are two more children in this house (Lily [8] and Salem [23 mos.]), and there is always the chance that one of the previous patients could suffer a relapse.

I'll just go about fixing breakfast (French toast - this recipe but typical shape), making coffee (iced today, the high is 63!), switching laundry, and getting the kids started on seeds: starting some in eggshells and sprouting others. We'll also gather eggs, do some school, and spend much of the day outside (once it hits 50). Lily has her friendship bracelet to work on, and I've got my knitting.

And quite possibly, the day might also involve bleach and ginger ale and warm tea.

But really? It shouldn't bother. We've been there and done that; and quite honestly, we can stomach not stomaching things, and it takes more than a tummy upset to upset us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My children seem to have joined the ranks of those who are down with some stomach bug. Never ones to follow the trends, my husband and I are a little perplexed by this blatant kowtowing to peer pressure.

So far it has only been Gideon (23 mos.) and Abraham (6). But I've been around the ward long enough to know it probably won't end there.

We are following the usual course of black tea, activated charcoal, toast, and ginger ale. Of course, there has also been a seemingly endless stream of "Sing-Along Songs" videos and "The Head and the Heart" on youtube, and the coveted vintage milk glass children's mugs have been pulled out for those convalescing.

What surprises me -- delights me, really -- is the special care that the others are lavishing on the couch-ridden ones. They fetch electrolyte popsicles, refresh ginger ales, and ask, "Do you need a blanket?" while rubbing their heads every time they pass.

And they go further. They change out retch bowls, bring the fan to air out the room, and read story after story after story.

Of course this would happen while Ethan has some meeting to attend every night of the week. But even that is manageable. I don't know if it's some strange kind of denial or simply maturing (that sounds better than "aging"), but sickness doesn't throw me so much anymore. I used to be all bent out of shape, fervently worried for the sick one(s) and unable to sleep except in fits and starts. Last night? I slept better than I have in weeks. I woke this morning to Gideon being sick in his bed, cleaned him up, washed his bedding, and aired out the room. What would I have done differently if I hadn't slept? Well, probably nothing except hollered to Ethan, "Please get up! If I have to deal with this, so do you!"

I'm not saying I'm any kind of hero. (I have too many witnesses to the opposite.) And I'm not saying I'd be a rock if we were dealing with anything truly serious, such as something permanently debilitating or life-threatening. I am saying I know none of this is my doing, and the grace of God through my children astonishes me always.

I'm saying I'm thankful. I'm thankful for a husband with a gentle sense of humor that keeps everyone giggling, even those of us sick and tired. I'm thankful that God has given me children with a natural tenderness I do not possess. In fact, right now it's 47 minutes past when Ben (10) and Lily (8) should be in bed, but they are keeping Abe company as he listens to Mr. Popper's Penguins on CD in the guest room. I can't help but think some kind of sweet memories are being made in there, sort of like those I have of my mother making up stories about a squirrel named Rachel when I was sick.

And I know I'll probably pay for my leniency later this week when others come down with it; but after all, they are building their immune systems.

And I have plenty of nurses on hand.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carpe Her Post!

My friend Mary directed me to this post by Glennon Melton of the Huffington Post this morning, and I am so glad she did.

Here's a snippet:

Every time I'm out with my kids -- this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, "Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast."
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.

I don't want to rob you of the chance to laugh, empathize, and be enlightened by her insight, so I'll stop there. But you go read it. Really. It's so good.

And thanks again, Mary!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tea for Ten, and Ten for Tea

A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea,
which is one you forget about afterwards.
~A.A. Milne

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When life runs out of gin, make gingerbread

...or something along those lines.

Yesterday was a particularly grey day. Rainy and drippy, muddy and slippery, there hadn't been much cheer going on outside.

When I was growing up, rainy days were gingerbread days. I'm sure there was some scientific reasoning behind it, like the humidity helping the gingerbread. Or maybe there wasn't. Maybe it just felt right.

Whatever the reason (or lack thereof), rainy days make me want to do two things: smell gingerbread and go camping.

Rainy days make my children want to get out the art supplies. Oh, all right, EVERY day makes my children want to get out the art supplies.

So yesterday, bolstered by two cups of delicious caffeine (well, one-and-a-half, really, since Gideon drank half of my cuppa joe) and a notice from the library saying there were FOUR eagerly-awaited books ready for us, we got to work. The children painted and drew, and I stirred.

Some of the children photographed.

(And let me just pause and say right now that you really feel you've arrived as an adult when you spontaneously decide to put on a scarf, because "What today needs is a spot of color, and what I need is my hair out of my face" only to have a child find you in your scarf and declare loudly, "Everyone! Come see Mama! She looks ridicleee-us!"; and yet you find yourself leaving the scarf on long enough for all seven others to parade into the kitchen, pronounce [in varying degrees of vocabulary], "You look hysterical!" and also "Can I help?" and you even allow the first offensive child to grab your camera and document how incredibly silly you look. I feel so mature I can hardly stand it.)

And because two pans of gingerbread are just as easy to make as one, and because two batches truly make the kitchen smell twice as nice, and because I have a friend whose sick little ones have caused me to catch her for only five minutes in the past two weeks and surely they wouldn't mind a bit of gingerbread and some paintings, and the library gave me the perfect excuse to HAVE to get out so we might as well swing by and drop off some goodies...

We headed out. Out to deliver some love and sweets and, hopefully, cheer (I kept my scarf on ... according to my children, THAT was sure to get some smiles).

For more photos of everyday life, visit


Monday, January 9, 2012

Airport Closed

(There is a video embedded in this post. Email subscribers may need to click over.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dog Days of Winter

Yesterday was a delicious day.

Today, too, really, only yesterday was especially beautiful and memorable.

I think it was partly because it came on the heels of several below-freezing days, days in which Lily and I traded off reminding each other every two hours to change the outside animal water. Lily would bring in the frozen rabbit water, and I would carry out fresh chicken water, and every two hours we would rinse and repeat. It was cold.

And then came yesterday. Nigh 60 degrees of warmth and sun and hope.

We headed for the hills, as is our tendency, and found ourselves meandering towards Sherando Lake.

Usually this is a summer haunt, one that includes bug spray and sunscreen and swimsuits. But yesterday it was all blue sky and semi-frozen water. We opted to hike around the lake.

We had almost reached the dam on the opposite end (hurrah for an exciting half-way point!) when we heard a new noise. "Listen!" Ethan instructed. "Can anybody guess what that is?"

It was the braying of the hounds. Way up in the mountains behind us, hound dogs had treed something and were braying away. About two minutes later, we were joined by three pickup trucks, three good ole boys in overalls, and three truckbeds loaded down with dog pens.

As the kids went ice fishing (fishing for ice), I was fascinated by the men tracking their dogs with their GPS devices and ribbing each other about exactly where on the mountain the dogs were and what they had treed.

Gideon was christened "Chief Uh-Uh." Soon after we left the dam, he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Gideon, don't you want to keep walking?" I asked.

"Uh-uh!" he answered. And then every thing I or Ethan said to him was greeted with the same response. He ended up riding on Ethan's shoulders and drooling red lollipop onto the top of Ethan's head.

Chief Uh-Uh sticking his tongue out

We refreshed on Ritz crackers, lollipops, and gum (all I could scrounge from the van before our hike) and finished our walk. Partially-frozen Capri-Suns greeted us in the van, and we traveled home to naps and board games and library books.

It was just such a good day. The kind of day where there's a tiredness behind your eyes that feels good and where you feel like one more breath of fresh air might put you into a coma.

Do you know what I mean?

I mean, I was so refreshed I finally clipped Maverick's nails and then, today, gave him a bath and washed his bedding.

Dog days indeed.

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