The Infirmary

The Dreaded Influenza has struck.

My living room is now an infirmary.

Four of the five kids are down – two on the couch, one in the recliner and one on the window seat.

Our particular strain isn’t awful – just miserable with low grade fevers, sore throats, aches and stuffy heads.

Since 80% of my students are down sick, I have canceled school until the outbreak has passed. That means hours of Food Network, Martha Speaks and Word Girl.

At least they’re too miserable to fight over the remote – they just sit and stare at whatever is on the screen, dozing off and on.

I can always tell who has the remote by what is playing. You know Angel Girl doesn’t feel good when she sits through hours of car shows!

Pedro was the first to fall victim over the weekend. I made him a pot of chicken soup on Saturday. I’ve been adding more broth, chicken and noodles every day since.  I have no idea where the original soup started and where it ends!

I spend my days keeping kids comfortable – refilling glasses of orange juice and hot apple cider, taking temperatures, and fluffing pillows – while the influenza runs it’s course. I’m very thankful we have a relatively mild strain – some of the stories I’ve heard are scary!

And at least they are all sick at once – or almost.  If everyone had waited for his/her own week – we would be sick till the spring thaw!

It sounds like Word Girl is playing now – so Buddy must have the remote. I guess it’s time to make my rounds, take some temperatures, and check the condition of my patients.

Stay healthy!

The Water Challenge

It’s already started – dry skin season.

Every year I have kids who really suffer during the cold months. Every year I tell them that they need to moisturize from the inside out – which means that they need to drink more water.

Every year my words fall on deaf ears.

Until this year. This year a miracle happened. One child listened.

She actually asked how much water she should drink. I told her 8 – 8 ounce glasses.

There was a pause while she did the math. “You mean I have to drink 64 ounces of water every day?”

Yep. (Extra points for doing the math correctly!)

I do it every day. It’s totally possible.

She pondered this for a day or two, then on Sunday she pulled out her water bottle, did some calculating and determined that if she drank 2 of those every day, she would reach her quota.

She then filled it and put it in the fridge so she was ready for the next day.

Monday was a success and the dry spots on her shoulders were gone.

By Tuesday her hands were starting to heal.

By Wednesday she noticed that she actually sweated when she worked out.

At the supper table, she shared her new found wisdom with her siblings – who listened better when it came from one of their own.

Then she issued a challenge – which of them would join her in drinking 64 ounces of water the next day?

After supper there was a flurry to find water bottles and get them filled.


The kids decided that whoever didn’t drink their quota of H2O would be subject to PT (physical training) inflicted on them by those who did finish.

Thursday was a success (although a couple of kids chugged about a quart in the evening to finish up!)

Friday was also a success.

I’m not sure how much longer this can last – but as a Mom – I definitely feel vindicated.

Momma’s always right.

PS – How much water did you drink today?

Poison Ivy – Revisited

I can’t believe it.

Here I am a miserable, red itchy mess again – thanks to my nemesis – the dreaded poison ivy.

After my last horrible episode with the toxic weed I have been extremely careful outside. So how could I possibly get poison ivy when I have barely left the house for a week? I wasn’t even out of the yard since last Monday?!

But the kids were.

They were all over the property – in and out of ravines and up and down the hills.

Then they took their dirty clothes off and put them in the laundry.


I’ll give you three guesses as to who helped to sort that laundry and start it through the washer.

I must have gotten some of that nasty urushial oil on my forearms and spread it – everywhere – my arms, legs, back, all over my abdomen and even on my face.

With an outbreak this big, many of the things I’ve tried before just weren’t practical. I did shower twice a day using Dawn soap to stop the oil from spreading.

And I changed our bedding every day and I never wore any article of clothing more than once before washing it.

But the real hero for this nasty bout has become my die hard blow dryer – the one I bought back in college and now  pull out once a year to defrost the freezer.


I read online that blowing a blow dryer directly on the rash and holding it there for as long as you can will help with the itching. In my desperation, I tried it and – believe it or not – it worked.

It heats the rash up until it stings and itches so bad you can’t stand it.  But it stops the itching for a good two hours.

It wasn’t a cure all – nor did it stop the rash from spreading – but it did keep me sane until I could get in to the doctor for a round of medication.

Oh – happy pills – how I needed you!

Needless to say – it’s been a painful week thus far.

But there’s always a bright side – with the rash on my forearms I can’t do any laundry or dishes so I won’t spread it to others. 🙂

A Trip to the ER

Our week with seven extra children had gone amazingly well – until yesterday.

There we were at day 6. Everybody had slept well and was happy. The sun was shining and the weather was unbelievably beautiful.

The kids had just finished the assigned task of picking all the apples off the trees in the orchard when the 4 boys asked to go out on an adventure.

I said, “Sure – but be careful – we’ve had no major injuries and I’d like to keep it that way.”


Famous last words.

I was working away on some music with Gladys when the boys came back in yelling that Gunnar was hurt.

My first thought was – yeah right. Those boys know I hate blood and gore, and I had heard the fridge open earlier. I just bet they smeared ketchup on him and are trying to get a rise out of me.

I took my time walking out to the kitchen trying to decide whether to pretend to be freaked out of let them know right away I knew it was a fake.

The truth was – I didn’t have to pretend. One look at poor Gunnar and I knew he was really hurt. Then I looked at his ankle and just about passed out. It looked like somebody had stuffed a hard boiled egg inside.

Oh my.

A quick call to an EMT friend (who has several sons and works the Friday night football games) confirmed my gut response – this needed a visit to the ER.

I sent the kids to the attic to find the pair of crutches that my husband had bought at a garage sale awhile back. I remember that I thought he was crazy at the time – but he said someday we’d be glad we have them.

Yep. I was glad all right!

With the help of those garage sale crutches, Pedro and I loaded him up in the van  and took off for town – leaving the remaining kids at home with my teens in charge. At least it was nap time.

It must have been a slow afternoon at our small town hospital because everybody in the area stopped by to see who was in the ER.  I should have sold tickets.

A quick trip to X-ray confirmed that is wasn’t broken (whew!) but was a severe sprain.

He left an hour later with a splint, an ice pack and a lecture about how important it is to stay off of it for several days or risk serious permanent damage.

He will spend the rest of his stay here on the couch playing chess and watching movies with his ankle elevated above his heart.

So much for playing Rambo in the ravines.

Meanwhile, I got to call his mom. “Hey Cinnamon! Remember those insurance cards and medical clearance forms you sent? Thanks so much.  I needed them at the ER today…”

Oh my! What a day!

Help for Curly Hair

I don’t currently subscribe to any magazines right now – so when a friend dropped off a laundry basket full of them – I was excited.

I love browsing through the ladies magazines and clipping recipes to try. (Dagmar and I have feasted at lunch this week on Chicken Panzanella Salad, Tomato Basil Salad, and Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches!)

Normally I will quickly pass over the beauty hints  (I think it’s too late for me anyway!) but one article caught my eye – “Help for Your Curly Hair”.

I quickly flipped the magazine open.

I was blessed with naturally curly hair. At least it’s a blessing 9 months of the year. The other 3 months it is -well – not such a blessing.

Can you say “frizz”? How about “frazzled”? Does “Bozo the Clown” give you a mental picture?

Now – finally – in just 5 short paragraphs I will learn what will kept my curly locks tamed all summer long!!

I know you’re just as excited as me – are you ready for the secret?

It’s product. Lots of product. Expensive product.

Silicone shampoo – $32
Hydrating Conditioner – $4
Anti-Frizz Cream – $4
Serum – $8
Sunscreen – $22

Now – I don’t like math very well – but if I added this up right it would cost me $70 to keep my hair from frizzing.


Do you have any idea how much chocolate I could buy with $70?!

Not to mention thrift store clothes and sale groceries!?

That’s a far cry from the $.99 family size bottle of Suave I normally use.

So, with my deepest respects to the “experts” who contributed to the story – I think I will stick to my tried and true method of frizz reduction.

Pony tailIt’s called a pony tail.

Simple. Fast. Effective.

But most importantly cheap.