Check out this post by Sandy. It's about something very important that I didn't think to mention in talking about post-holiday wind up -- Writing thank you notes and teaching your children to do so, as well. I hope everyone takes a peek at Sandy's thoughtful post.
Also, I've started my twenty new recipes in 2009 challenge. As I try each one, I'm adding a link in my sidebar. If you're taking the recipe challenge along with me, feel free to try out the same recipes I am doing or to choose your own. If you can also include a link in your sidebar to your recipes, we'll all be able to share ideas.
As we've mentioned before, studies show that the average home cook has only a small number of recipes in her repertoire. This is actually not a bad thing, for several reasons: 1) You learn to do a few things well. That's always a good principle 2) If you cook many of the same dishes frequently, it's easier to keep the ingredients you need on hand and to organize your pantry 3) Your family can enjoy their favorites frequently. However, it's good to include new recipes now and again for these reasons: 1) It improves your skill as a cook, and any time you improve your skill in something, you will enjoy it more. 2) You and your family benefit emotionally and nutritionally from variety. 3) You can use new recipes as ways of taking advantage of sales and coupons. Look up a recipe online that uses a food item that you see on sale in a store flyer or that you have a coupon for. 4) Children need to be exposed to variety so that they will not become picky eaters. If they learn to enjoy a wide range of foods, they'll likely be able to enjoy a meal at most any place. This can be very helpful to them in adult life.
One way to work both variety and consistency into your menu (if you would like to) is to draw up a typical month's basic menu plan that uses your family's favorite recipes as its base. You can use this menu over and over again when making up meal plans and shopping lists, should you desire. This can save you a lot of time. However, leave one meal per week on your basic menu plan blank. Use that meal as a time to experiment with a new recipe idea. Include new recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Continuing on in our series about taking care of the people in our home: How to care for the sick -- whether it's a simple cold or something more serious:
Here are some thoughts:
1) It used to be quite common for the home manager to spend a lot of time nursing loved ones -- even to the point of death. In our day, we have access to better medical resources than our great-great-grandmothers did. (If you doubt that, take a walk through your city's oldest cemetery and take note of whole families who were wiped our during epidemics and were buried together; men who outlived two or three wives; and the large numbers of children's graves.) Yet, even though we do have access to better medical care and to better medical facilities, we still need to develop our skills in caring for the sick in our families. Whether it's just a cold or something more serious, we can do much to comfort and refresh our loved ones when they are injured or ill.
2) The first key is to have faith. It can be tough to watch our loved ones suffer with even a minor illness, much less a serious health challenge. Particularly with children, young mothers are prone to fretting when their babies are sick. Since children and, to some extent, ill adults take their cues from the person caring for them, patients can become more anxious and unsettled if the woman in the home continually sends out anxious vibes, herself. Here's where the wife and mother does well to fight the battle for peace on her knees. If she can come away from her prayers surrendered to the Lord's will and with hope and courage in her heart, even her very presence will be encouraging to someone who is sick.
3) Here are some thoughts from an article by a woman named Mrs. Oscar Pinnington:
"The most important thing of all is to commit your work to the Lord. There is an undeniable amount of drudgery and disagreeableness intimately involved with caring for a sick person, and you will need the Lord’s grace and strength to accomplish all that you seek to achieve in the right loving spirit. Make sure that you have time to pray and read the Bible -- the long hours of watching over a sick person can be put to good use in that manner. Don’t forget that the most important part of a person is their soul. Spend time praying with them, reading Scriptures, talking to them about God. You can prepare worksheets for children to complete on a tray in bed, helping them explore and think about themes in a Bible story. Talking about death and the hope of heaven may help an older person, particularly one who is seriously ill, although sensitivity must be used.
"Make up your mind that you will see this as a chance to love and serve your dear one, rather than a burden and an annoyance. Especially during convalescence, there are many opportunities to spend pleasant, quiet times with a recovering patient. Take the chance to enjoy the extra time together as a blessing. For many couples, there may be only one day a week when husband and wife are both at home, and illness can be a providential opportunity for seizing time in one another’s company; a similar point can be made with regard to the grown children of a family or to other adult relatives. I know how much I enjoyed nursing my sick grandmother and what a good opportunity it was to sit and quietly talk - an chance that doesn’t often come in today’s busy world."
To that I would add, be sure to lavish love on your family when they are well, too. Particularly if you work outside the home or are otherwise very busy, children may see sickness as the one time when you give them the attention they so badly need. They can internalize this in a way that leads to mild hypochondria. Yes, if a child is sick, seize the day to spend extra time with him or her, but don't let that be the only time you lavish your child with love.
4) Here are some more thoughts from Mrs. Oscar Pinnington:
"When you are juggling housework and nursing, remember that the less you bustle, the more relaxed and rested the invalid will feel. The sight a frowning brow or of you rushing about the room like a tornado is not restful, and may well make a sick person feel guilty or troublesome. There is often so much extra fetching and carrying to be done that you will deserve to take it as easy as you can and spend time sitting quietly with the ill person. It is always easier to manage the two tasks of housekeeping and nursing if the sick person is with you or you are with them: what I mean is, mending, letter writing, bill paying, even ironing can all be done in a bedroom. Alternatively a cosy, comfortable place could be prepared so that the ill person is close at hand to the main rooms of the house. Particularly for children, and also for anxious people or those at the fretful stage of an illness, the close presence of a loved one is part of the healing/nurturing process.
"If the ill person is confined to a room or to bed, do your very best to make it as charming and comfortable as possible. I like to keep all medicines to hand but out of sight, for example on a tray in an adjacent room. (You need, of course, to ensure that no children or mentally confused persons can gain access to the medicines, including the sick person himself.)
"If at all possible, it is good for a sick person to leave her bed at least once a day as it gives her a change of scenery. Even if she just moves to another bedroom for half an hour, or has a chance to sit at watch a favourite programme or gaze at the birds from a window seat in the sitting room, she will benefit. It also means that the sick room can be thoroughly aired, the bed straightened or changed, the nightstand tidied and any litter removed. Even if a person cannot leave her bed, some extra wrappings should make it possible for windows to be flung wide for a quick freshen up.
"Flowers are nice to brighten a sick room and are most appreciated when the illness has been long and tedious. There is no need to remove flowers at night as nurses traditionally did, but don’t place flowers near fruit. If flowers are too close to a bedside, there is a danger of spillage, and it can be difficult to see flowers when resting if they are immediately beside and above the bed, so consider placing them a little distance away.
"Do not forget that the nicest sight that any sick or recovering person could ever see is a smiling, familiar and beloved face! Try not to show alarm or disgust or fretfulness but only loving, calm and tender concern."
(My note: There are a very few situations in which it is not wise to have flowers near a patient, particularly if the patient is allergic to them. Also, in some cases, cardiac patients in intensive care are not allowed to have flowers, as even a sneeze could strain the heart further.)
5) Watch what you say around a person even if you assume that the patient is unconscious or otherwise unable to understand your words. When my mother was in her final illness, she still reacted to comments from people long after she lost the ability to speak. Also, children pick up on adult conversations more than adults sometimes realize. In the presence of an ill person, it's best to keep your conversation upbeat. That doesn't mean that you're not honest with a patient when appropriate, but it does mean that you should be thoughtful in your conversations around the patient. If a visitor who comes to see your family member is going down a negative trail of conversation -- for example, if he or she talks about everyone who died from symptoms just like your loved one has -- gently change the subject or even subtly walk the person outside of the patient's room.
6) Set out a pitcher of water and a pitcher or bottle of fruit juice, along with a glass of ice for someone who is old enough to pour his own drink. Having access to lots of liquid will soothe the patient and aid in healing. Also, if the patient has liquids by his side, he won't have to call you every time he wants a drink. Be sure to wash the glass frequently to keep down germs and to keep it separate from those used by well family members.
7) Keep the room and space around the sick person clean. If someone has something contagious -- such as the flu -- wipe the surfaces around him or her often to keep down the growth of germs. If your family is experiencing a stomach bug, keep spray disinfectant and a roll of paper towels in the bathroom so that a person can wipe the toilet flush handle and the toilet if he has vomited in it. If a person is using a bucket for that purpose, clean it with a little bleach in water or with another disinfectant.
8) Often, in the first day of a feverish illness, the patient will need so much rest that he or she does not care much about personal hygiene and appearance. You might bring a basin of lukewarm water and a washcloth and towel to the patient's bedside. Wash the face and hands and smooth back the hair. Dry the patient's face and hands quickly. This will not only make the person feel fresher, it can temporarily help to reduce fever. In fact, you can always place a wet washcloth on a person's forehead to help bring down fever and soothe a feverish headache. Check the cloth often.
9) Here are some thoughts from Mrs. Oscar Pinnington about how to give a bed-bound person a sponge bath:
"Assisting a bed-bound person to have a bed bath is a job best learned from a nurse or someone experienced. The main points to recall are the following:
10) If the person can make it to the bathroom to tend to brush teeth and take a bath or a shower, even if they need your help to do so, that's even better. If your young and generally healthy child is recovering from a flu or a cold, you may have to coax him or her to take a bath or a shower as soon as he or she is able. If the child is weak, stay with him or her or be right outside the door so that you can help if necessary. Though the child may protest taking a bath, he or she will feel much better afterward.
Girls or women who are sick might benefit from wearing a bed cap to keep the hair from getting tangled. If your loved one has long hair, you can always brush it and put it in a loose braid. This also keeps the hair from tangling, even if the patient tosses and turns in a feverish sleep.
Girls or women might appreciate having their arms and hands rubbed with a little lotion and their faces rubbed with a little moisturizer.
For men and women, a lip balm can keep the lips from drying out and from chapping. Women and girls might also enjoy having some lip balm on their lips as a means of feeling pretty, even while sick.
Keep the patient's nails clean and filed. Women and girls may especially appreciate a little nail care while they are sick. However, if you give a patient a manicure or a pedicure, do not use colored nail polish. Clear is probably ok. The reason for this is that doctors sometimes check the nails to determine their natural color and appearance. The look of the nails can give a doctor valuable information, such as whether the patient is getting enough oxygen or not. Don't do anything that would obscure the natural look of the nails in case the doctor should need to check them.
At the very least, provide an ill patient with a change of underwear and a fresh pair of pajamas or a clean nightie to wear in bed. Again, the sick person may not be very enthusiastic about undergoing the changing process. This is especially true if the patient is a child. But, unless there is a medical reason for not moving at all, helping your patient change into fresh clothing will make the person feel better once it's on.
11) A peson who is having a feeling of breathlessness can benefit from having a fan in the room. Always call a doctor, though, if breathlessness is a new symptom or if braethlessness worsens. A fan can also be soothing for its continual noise and to cool down a room in hot weather. If it annoys the sick person, turn it off.
12) A person who is too ill to get out of bed may benefit if you bring a toothbrush with toothpaste on it, and a basin or cup for them to spit into to their beside. The person can either brush his teeth himself or open his mouth to let you do a gentle brushing.
If you implement these suggestions, always keep your doctor's instructions in mind.