Thursday, December 6, 2007

Coughs and Sniffles

It’s nearly eleven p.m. and all of the children fell asleep by eight, tucked into sleeping bags at the foot of my bed. We transformed the bedroom into sick bay as one child after another came down with a hacking cough and an aching body. Charlie got sick on Sunday night and by Monday afternoon all five children and Stuart were coughing and shivering and aching. I alone remain healthy. Now it’s Thursday and the coughing continues.

The humidifier breathes out steam into the darkened room. The children inhale moisture and cough on the exhale. My last few days have been spent distributing lemon water, saline spray, and homemade chicken soup. The kids thank me for this by coughing into their dinners…and mine. Mountains of soggy tissues decorate the livingroom. Well, not exactly tissues. Toilet paper. They blew through the two family-sized boxes of tissues three days ago.

Stuart is curled into a ball on the bed beside me, alternately throwing off his covers and reaching for them again. His head pounds and he shifts restlessly trying to find a comfortable position. He stayed home from work today, a first this year, and Claire delighted in bringing him his meals and making him glasses of lemon water. I have been impressed to see how the kids still serve other family members even in the midst of their current discomfort.

We are in the golden years of parenting. I have not had to soothe a feverish baby or comfort a thrashing little one in the middle of the night. The children have been fairly self-sufficient. They huddle under blankets in the living room while I read to them. They drift off to sleep on and off during the day and they don’t cry. Now they sleep fitfully on my floor and I listen to them breathe and cough and I enjoy our togetherness in spite of the circumstances.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Heads Up: Get in on this Awesome Christmas Contest

In ten days, Christy's husband will return from Iraq where he has been on a tour of duty for months leaving Christy and their three beautiful little ones behind. You can read their story at After A Cup of Coffee...Or Two. I am so excited for her. She is hosting a contest. She wants to make a creative welcome home banner and is looking for suggestions. If you have any ideas pop over and contribute. Who knows, you might win a $25 dollar Starbucks gift certificate. But even better, you can get behind the scenes and help to welcome Isaac home.

Thank you Christy and Isaac. Your enormous personal sacrifice has weighed heavily on my heart throughout this fall. Merry Christmas to you both!

Sleep Well

I’ve been blogging less over the past few months in favor of sleep and exercise. We women have a tendency to put sleep at the end of our long to-do lists. We spend our days nurturing others and meeting deadlines (real or self-imposed) and the nurturing of self goes by the wayside. We don’t do ourselves or our families any favors by living this way.

Getting enough sleep is crucial to our health. Did you know that quality sleep boosts your memory, helps you fight cancer, diabetes, obesity, and is good for your heart? Sleep also reduces your risk for depression, reduces stress levels and reduces inflammation. If you are a woman who hates to waste a minute, look at sleep this way: Your body is hard at work rebuilding and restoring itself during those hours that you lie cozy under the covers. This translates into healthier skin, greater immunity, more energy and a more positive outlook on life. Who doesn’t want that?

“But, I’ve never been much for sleep, I do my best thinking at night, I need a few minutes of peace and quiet after a long day with the kids,” you say. Let me tell you, from one night owl to another, it is possible to change your sleeping habits. It might require some effort to set aside our old, unhealthy sleep patterns but sound sleep is attainable.

Here are some ideas that you can try to make it possible for you to sleep for eight continuous hours.

1. Put down the caffeine…at least for several hours before bedtime. Or, you can give it up entirely for even better health. (OK, I know for some of you that might be a stretch.)
2. Make sure to exercise sometime during the day. Regular exercise is good for our sleep patterns.
3. Get ready for bed early. Take a warm bath and put on your comfy pajamas. Drink some warm milk. Do some stretching.
4. Stay away from the computer, and the TV. These can tend to activate you when you are trying to wind down. I read aloud to the kids for a while and then go to bed when they do.
5. Make sure your room is dark. Black really. No night-lights, no street lights. Our bodies produce melatonin in the dark. The more melatonin we produce the better we sleep. As we age, our bodies produce less of this hormone so you may want to consider a melatonin supplement to help you achieve eight good hours of sleep if getting enough rest is really a struggle for you.
6. Invest in a white noise machine if your mind whirrs and you need a soothing distraction to lull you to sleep.
7. Get up in the morning! I really struggle with the temptation to sleep in after a restless night’s sleep but this just sets me up for those poor sleep habits to return with a vengeance. It's better to just get up and try again the next evening to sleep soundly.

I know that some of you mamas with wee ones and sick ones are rolling your eyes at this post and are wondering if you will ever sleep again. Those sleep-deprived days are tough. Hang in there. Normal sleeping patterns will return.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:2 Sleep is a gift! We would be wise to value those dreamy hours and not cast them aside in favor of blogging, or scrap booking, or any other activities we let rob us of our rest. Sleep well tonight!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cousins and Chaos

All of the people in all of these photos are family. Lots and lots of family. Not everyone is represented in these pictures but what's here will give you a good idea of what Thanksgiving week looked like. We were so busy with visiting and crowd control that we never thought to capture a photo of the whole group.