New Music Suggestions from Facebook Friends

This morning, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their new favorite songs/albums/or singers. I told them I like a diverse mix of music. Kindly, about ten friends replied with these great suggestions. I’ve been spending this evening going through each suggestion as a mini concert at home. I’m delighted by the songs they shared. Quite a few are Christian songs, probably because it is Sunday. Here are some from the list:

  1. “Here with Me” (sung by Jason Upton).
  2. “Stones” (sung by Kim Walker Smith).
  3. The “We Like it Here” album by Snarky Puppy.
  4. “You Can’t Stop Me” (sung by Andy Mineo).
  5. Any songs by MercyMe.
  6. Any songs by Skillet.
  7. Songs by Hillsong United.
  8. “There was Jesus” (sung by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton).

They were all great. I liked the mix. This one was my personal favorite:

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.

Getting Through the Covid Positive Experience

I’ve been reading some online articles about the experiences of many people that have gone through the physical and emotional symptoms of testing positive for Covid. There is much written about how to avoid exposure. However, I could not find a lot of material written about enduring the experience itself of finding out you or a loved one or your whole family are affected by this disease. I wanted to help out any reader that is looking for some advice on how to deal with it. This is what our family did to get by. Maybe some of these suggestions will work for you. Maybe some won’t. Take what you want and leave anything that doesn’t apply behind.

My husband and I tested positive for Covid with rapid Covid tests about one day after the other. He was showing many symptoms and is older and diabetic. I, on the other hand, was mostly asymptomatic. I waited in my car outside the urgent care clinic after my swab and was surprised when the nurse called me in and said quietly, “Yes, you also are positive. It is a good thing you came in to test yourself, Mrs. Speer.”

Our kids were subsequently tested the next day and were both negative to our happy surprise. However, we were all going to be in quarantine together. We live in a long ranch home. So, the kids stayed on the south side of the ranch house in the bedroom areas and had their own bathroom. My husband and I chose not to sleep in our bed, due to the cough and the phlegm in our respiratory systems. So, we holed up in the living room and kitchen area on the other side of the house for most of the quarantine. The kids put together a makeshift kitchen in their area with plenty of microwaveable food and snacks and bottles of water. They had their video games and books and remote learning school activities set up in their rooms. They could also watch TV or Netflix. We bought them a few Play Station gift cards at the beginning, so they would be happier.

Ok, so here are some things we did that might help if you are in a similar circumstance:

  1. We opened the windows to the house to let in fresh air and circulate the air better. It was November and a little chilly but my husband and I found as we started to get winded from the disease that the fresh outdoor air helped us breathe a whole lot better.
  2. We kept a vaporizer going at all times in the living room to help us breathe better. I added some Clove essential oil to the water.
  3. We rubbed down our upper lips and chests with mentholateum.
  4. We drank lots of water throughout the day and for some reason, neither my husband nor I could stomach acidic drinks much like coffee or soda. We just stuck to water primarily.
  5. You might lose your sense of smell or some of your ability to taste food for a while. Don’t be alarmed. Just the illness running its course.
  6. We ordered groceries using a phone app and had them delivered to the bench outside the front door. It was pretty simple.
  7. We tried ordering via Door Dash some restaurant food but found that it upset our stomachs. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t really recommend it.
  8. We seemed to prefer more alkaline food.
  9. We ate pineapple too because it is supposed to help with respiratory infections.
  10. We slept on the couches at incline positions and NOT on the beds flat on our backs. I highly recommend doing this so you don’t get the phlegm in your lungs because that stuff is like glue and extremely hard to clear out of your system for some reason.
  11. We took Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Baby Aspirin, and Zinc Tablets every morning along with the medicine the doctors prescribed.
  12. The whole family upped their personal hygiene levels taking showers every morning with lots of soap and washed our hair every day and brushed our teeth.
  13. My husband was dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels for about a week. When his blood sugar got high, he would drink more water and restrict food intake. When it got low, we kept honey by his Lazy Boy chair to feed him if needed and we purchased glucose tablets. We bought a portable urinal as well because of the dizzy spells. That helped out immensely.
  14. Keep fans close by and cold towels and ice packs ready in case a family member has a bad fever. If the fever goes to 103 degrees, it is recommended to go to the hospital. A little bit of Tylenol also helps with the fever and headaches.
  15. Have a trusty thermometer at hand and for diabetes, the Freestyle Continuous Monitor is definitely helpful.
  16. Coordinate with your workplace and supervisors early on. Make sure they know what your quarantine dates are from the health department. Learn about the CARE Act and how to continue getting paid. Make sure your check is direct deposited.
  17. If you gotta make meals for other family members that are negative for Covid, purchase plastic gloves for meal preparation and wear a mask when cooking. Leave the food trays outside their area of the house. Always keep at least 6 feet distance from the others.
  18. You can communicate a lot with family via texting.
  19. Get some sunshine outside every day. It will make you feel better and calmer.
  20. Try not to worry too much. Just keep taking one day at a time. Rest and relax your body by watching TV or taking naps.
  21. Find positive things to lift your spirits. Find a happy book or funny show to watch. I got through four seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and it helped a whole lot.
  22. If you find yourself experiencing some sadness or feeling a little alone with this experience, hey……it is SO NORMAL! Don’t be hard on yourself or your family members. You will get through this. We had a lot of neighbors, family, relatives, etc. that sent prayers and asked how we were doing or sent care packages, etc. However, there were still moments when I felt scared about the future. It’s ok. It’s normal to feel that way. Just don’t dwell too much on the negative.

Ok, that’s probably enough advice. Hope some of these ideas will work for you. Just remember, to take it easy on yourself and your family and trust that good things will happen for your family. Keep the faith.

Lots of love,

Janea

Family Vacation

Due to social distancing, we had to skip our family vacation to Maine. The kids started back to school online yesterday and along with that, I found some travel videos for them to watch.

We make a game out of this.

Ella and Drew pick one travel destination in the entire world and I find the videos beforehand. Each school day, I pick 6-8 really short YouTube videos that I pre-screen for entertainment and value. I filter them to make sure they are about 4 minutes or less long. I hand the kids a list of 6-8 videos and tell them that they only need to pick 3 of their own choice. Then, Ella and Drew sit down for 10-15 minutes a day and just watch 3 of the videos together to learn about that place.

Yesterday, they had chosen Orlando, Florida. Listed below are the 6 videos I found and the kids picked three of these videos to watch. They picked the Disney and Universal Studios ride videos, of course.

I have found with teenagers that it is much better to give them choices so that’s why I pick 6 and let them choose 3 only. And I limit this whole thing to about 10-15 minutes tops. I learned from the military a long time ago the acronym “KISS.” This means keep it short and sweet or as they say in the military with PowerPoint presentations, “Keep it Short, Stupid.” No one likes to sit through more than 15-20 minutes of video.

I’ll admit, my kids grumbled quite a bit at first but seemed to actually like the videos once they saw them. This was our “family vacation” experience Monday. Drew picked the Pyramids of Egypt for Tuesday.