Monthly Archives: December 2009

Illness and the benefits of Mama’s milk

Catherine, Esme and I have been sick for various lengths of time over the past week. Catherine and I got sick on the day before Thanksgiving. The two of us shared a feverish bed at the Lowes’ house in Townsend that Wednesday night, while Mama slept with Esme on an air mattress. We were both up and down with various fever and cold symptoms for the remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend. Catherine started to get on the mend by Monday morning, and as of tonight is pretty much back to normal. Esme got sick on Sunday night and is back to normal tonight. I’m still fighting a cough, sore throat, congestion, AND I have an ear infection!! And Rebecca? Well, she hasn’t been sick at all, despite spending the past week in close contact with all of us. What gives?

Well, here’s my theory. Mama’s milk. Esme gets it all the time. Catherine gets it occasionally, but particularly if she’s not feeling well. And, though we are a very close family, I don’t drink breastmilk at all. And Mama? Well, she makes the milk, so I guess that must do something for her. That, and her superior immune system and excellent personal hygeine.

Meanwhile, I’m stuck doing what I can, like taking antibiotics for the ear infection, drinking water, chamomile tea, and even trying spicy tomato tea to try and kill this bug.

I’m sure there are other, more scientific explanations for it, but I like mine.

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Keeping Warm in the Winter (without relying on the heaters)

It is December 1st and the Wood household has yet to turn on the heat. Not because we’re gluttons for punishment or because we’re better than you or anything. Mostly, it just hasn’t gotten cold enough to need it on. We try to avoid turning the heat on for a few reasons: conservation of energy and financial savings are just the big ones.

Here are some of our tips for staying comfortable (and saving money) as the temperature dives:

Reduce the amount of space you need to heat. The smaller your house, the less heat you’ll need. If you’re looking to buy a new house, don’t buy more square footage as you need. If you’re not moving, look at how you can close off unused space and keep the heat in the used space. Closing doors, shutting off radiators, hanging heavy blankets in open doorways are good places to start.

Insulate your outsides walls. This might mean more insulation in the attic or tighter windows. It can also mean draft dodgers at doors and windows. You can even buy (or make) heavy window quilts to keep the heat in. And there’s always window plastic to fall back on!

Use a programmable thermostat. If everyone is out of the house all day there’s no reason to keep the house too warm. Set your thermostat to turn on just before you wake up and turn off as you’re leaving for the day. You can set it to kick on again about an hour before you come home. We also set ours to shut off at night while we’re all asleep.

Dress appropriately. I love to go barefoot, but it just isn’t practical in these cold New England winters. Socks, pants and long sleeve shirts are givens. Sometimes long underwear or a sweater is just the layer you need to take the chill off. If you can wear short sleeves in February you’re probably keeping the house too warm. Remember to dress appropriately at night, too. Warm pjs and socks underneath flannel sheets and a warm quilt or comforter should do the trick.

Keep busy. Make cookies, vacuum, do the dishes, play games, exercise, organize a closet, fold the laundry, paint a room. The more you move, the warmer you’ll be.

Eat (and drink!) warm things. Hot chocolate, beef stew, chili, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, oatmeal, tea… you get the picture, right?

Get out of the house. You’ll spend less money on heat if you go somewhere else. We love to spend time at the library. Church makes for a long outing on Sundays. Walking the mall, exploring a museum or visiting friends and family can keep you away from home as well. Bundling up can give you more options- go for a walk or run, shovel snow, build a snowman. The fresh air will do you good and will make the warm house seem even warmer when you get home!

Lowering your thermostat just a couple of degrees can make a big difference. Start slowly and drop a degree or two. Once you get accustomed to that drop it a couple more. You’ll find a temperature that is both comfortable enough to live in and that won’t devastate your budget. Good luck, and stay warm!