Day 23 Not Enough Zzzzzs

I’m reading a book on prayer for a ladies’ Bible study, and I just read a section about the author’s writing success. “Sleep deprivation,” he says. He has to get up hours earlier than everyone else in his household in order to write, but he goes on to say that it’s worth the sacrifice when he hears that someone’s life was changed through his writing.

It made me think about the times that sleep deprivation affected me. Most people can identify. Think back to the times you have dealt with a lack of sleep. You’re groggy, cranky, and just can’t seem to function. Now think about the reasons you were sleep deprived.

BABY BRYNN*

BABY BRYNN* (Photo credit: gobucks2)

It’s been a long time, but I do remember having a newborn in the house. I did the night feedings because I was breastfeeding, but when all my efforts to get the baby back to sleep failed, my husband stepped in. He would walk the floor with the baby, soothing both the child and me, the frustrated and tired mom. I so appreciated having him there to take over.

As the kids got older, there were times I was up in the middle of the night tending a sick child. Who can sleep when your toddler is crying in pain with an ear infection?

Years later when our teenaged daughter was dealing with excruciating pain, we had to take her to the ER. When I asked her to rate the pain level between 1 and 10, she said,”30.”

“Okay, we’re going to the hospital now,” I said.

Hubby and I sat in plastic-molded chairs in the exam room, waiting for results on her tests. She would have an emergency appendectomy at 4:00 a.m., and we were up all night. Major sleep deprivation, but we didn’t care. When your kids need you, you power through the grogginess and shake off slumber. It’s not like I could actually rest in one of those chairs anyway.

For the most part, my sleep deprivation occurred because someone needed me. It’s been worth it. Sacrificing sleep was a small price to pay to take care of my family.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Family Joy, linking up with http://www.thenester.com.

Day 17 Family Krawls for the Turtles

Running has never been part of my exercise routine, but last month I entered a 5K at the prompting of my son-in-law, Curtis. He has been motivating people at his work place to become more physically fit by signing them up for 5Ks in our area. The Turtle Krawl, a 5K run/walk is an annual event to benefit the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Curt, Rachel, and the boys signed up, and my youngest daughter, Sarah decided to register, too. (Her husband was out of town that weekend, or he would have joined us.) I realized if my husband and I registered, the whole family could do the race together. I nudged him by bringing it up a week before the event.

“I didn’t think you’d want to walk that far,” he said. (The 5K is about 3.2 miles.) He knew I wouldn’t be running, but even walking that far can be a challenge for me these days, especially if I try to walk fast.

“I think I can do it. Let’s do it for the turtles,” I said. “Besides, it will be fun to do as a family.”

Besides the togetherness, health benefit and charitable cause, I wanted to do the race so I could write about it. It’s like those scrapbookers who have such neat stickers they take pictures purposely to use the stickers. My husband chuckled when I gave him that explanation.

When I went online to register, the website indicated only the first 2,000 people were guaranteed to get one of the cool Turtle Krawl T-shirts. The number already registered was 1,900. I signed us up, and Curtis picked up our packets along witht his co-workers’ packets.

My race number

My race number

A few days before the event, I asked my five-year-old grandson, Connor, “Do you know you’re going to be in a race this weekend?”

“I am?”

“Yes, it’s called the Turtle Krawl.”

He wrinkled up his nose and said, “Do the turtles chase you?” I explained no turtles would be racing, but I wouldn’t be much faster than a turtle.

Saturday, the morning of the race we were up at 5:30 a.m. The family met at our house where we put our shoe tags and numbers on. Connor’s shirt was so big we had to pin up his sleeves. By 6:15 a.m. we all piled into our mini-van for the 30-minute drive to Indiatlantic. I could hardly believe I voluntarily got out of bed before dawn on a weekend to participate in a race.

The sun was just coming up when we parked and walked over to the starting line. Curt took his position at the 9-minute-mile mark. The rest of us planned to walk, so we stayed well to the back of the starting line. As they gave the go signal, I was glad the start time was so early. September in Florida is still hot and humid. We would finish before temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The family ready to go

The family ready to go

My hubby and daughter, Sarah stayed with me throughout the walk, slowing their pace to match mine. As we made the first turn, a woman on crutches passed me followed by the speed walkers. “It’s okay,” I told my husband. “I prayed that I would be able to cross A-1-A (busy highway) while the police were still there stopping traffic.” I hoped to finish in about an hour. Much later than that, we would have to cross A-1-A by ourselves.

All along the route, volunteers held signs and cheered as people went by. The first one said, “Go, random person, go!” My favorite sign was, “Worst parade ever!”

There were two stations where people handed out cups of water. Another sign read, “Do it for the turtles,” and I had my husband take my picture with that one. Nearing the end, a sign read, “You’re the slowest person so far.”

Do it for the turtles.

Do it for the turtles.

I knew we were some of the last stragglers walking. That was confirmed when one of the orange-vested volunteers picked up a couple cones blocking the street and walked behind us. I felt like they were literally rolling up the route as we walked by. We were still applauded and encouraged by the people at those posts along the way, though. I appreciated that so much.

The one hour mark had passed, and the finish line was still not in sight. As we approached A-1-A, I was glad to see a police car and an officer waiting for us. Thank you, Lord.  We made it there in time.

Coming in the home stretch felt great. The clock read 1:13 (one hour and 13 minutes) as I crossed the finish line.  Curt finished in about 30 minutes, and Rachel and the boys were a few minutes ahead of me. She ended up carrying little Connor piggyback for a good portion of the race. She should have received a medal for that.

Made it to the finish line.

Made it to the finish line.

After rounding up our gang we drove to Cracker Barrel for a sumptuous breakfast to celebrate our accomplishment.

The turnout for the event was over 2,000 people this year, and I’m sure the sea turtles will appreciate the money raised. Our family added 5Ks to our list of things we do together.

How about you? Does your family do anything like this together?

Day 16 We’re Not Camels

A camel.

A camel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As part of my 31 Days of Family Joy, I’m writing a few posts about taking care of yourself.

Lately every Wednesday I see Facebook posts of that silly insurance commercial with the camel. “Guess what day it is?” the camel asks as he lopes through an office. “Mike, Mike, Mike. Guess what day it is. It’s Hump Day!”

It is hump day, and the camel commercial works into my topic for today–We’re not camels. We don’t have a hump to carry water around in. Okay, so they don’t actually carry water in their humps, but camels can go many days without water. People can’t do that. We have to replenish our body’s water supply all day, every day.

Years ago we learned we were supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day. That seemed impossible to me when I first heard it. Eight times eight ounces of water is sixty-four ounces. According to articles I’ve read recently, that number is a good start, but it may not be enough. The amount varies depending on a person’s weight and activity level. One article stated an easy way to figure out how much water you should be drinking is to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces per day. If you work out, add more to that base line amount.

A couple years ago my daughter bought a big water bottle to carry with her and she put rubber bands on it. “What are the rubber bands for?” I asked her.

“I’m supposed to drink four of these a day,” she answered. “Every time I drink the bottle of water, I slide a rubber band down. It’s an easy way to keep track.” Ever since then, I have adopted the rubber band system for drinking water too.

One down, two to go

One down, two to go

Recently I bought a pretty, purple water bottle with a neat little finger handle on it. It was labeled BPA free, and I wash it daily too. I keep it handy throughout the day, and I’m making an effort to stay hydrated. If a cute container motivates you to drink more water, I say do it.

I also heard it’s a good idea to put some lemon juice in your drinking water. I keep a bottle of Realemon juice in the fridge and squirt a few drops into the water bottle each time I fill it up. You can read plenty of articles online about the health benefits of adding lemon juice to water.

I read that the human body is sixty percent water. Every system in our bodies must have water to function. Even our brains function better if we are well hydrated. That’s a good reason to send your kids to school with a fresh water bottle every day and encourage them to drink more than one bottle.

Let’s celebrate hump day by drinking lots of water.

This is part of the series 31 Days of Family Joy linking up with http://www.thenester.com.

Day 15 Eat Well and Prosper

English: Atsugi, Japan (Aug. 23, 2003) –...

English: Atsugi, Japan (Aug. 23, 2003) – Local children meet “Popeye, the Sailor-man” during the annual American Festival held aboard the Atsugi Naval Air Facility. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class John D. Yoder. (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As part of my 31 Days of Family Joy, I am writing a few posts this week about taking care of yourself.

Cartoons today are mostly glorified toy commercials in my opinion. Our oldest grandson loves Legos, and he likes the cartoons too. I often wonder, which came first, the toy or the TV show?

Back when I was a kid, marketing wasn’t as obvious, but one cartoon positively affected our dinner table. I’m talking about Popeye the Sailor man and spinach. In every episode, Popeye needed strength to pummel the bad guy, Brutus. He would pop open a can of spinach and eat the whole thing in one gulp. Immediately his muscles were electrified with super strength so he could save the day. I’m sure spinach sales were up while that cartoon was on television.

Canned spinach is a dark green, limp mass, not very appetizing to say the least. I would eat it anyway, because I thought it would make me strong. As I raised my own kids, I bought frozen spinach to cook for my family, but Popeye wasn’t around to sell it.

We have gradually changed our eating habits, trying to eat less processed food. It was only a few years ago we started buying fresh spinach to add to salads.

One day when my grandson and I were at the grocery store together, I tried to explain how we should eat as much fresh food as we can. To make my point, when we came home I laid all the produce out on the counter to show him how much of my groceries were in their natural state. “Look at the beautiful colors,” I said. “Doesn’t that make you want to eat it?” He wasn’t convinced. It’s still a chore for him to eat anything green.

Fresh food is beautiful

Fresh food is beautiful

My husband is definitely on board with eating healthier. Last fall we bought a juicer and started juicing greens and other vegetables. It wasn’t too bad, but a bit of an acquired taste. A few of my husband’s co-workers started making green smoothies too. I couldn’t imagine drinking spinach and other greens, but I was willing to give it a try.

We ordered the mack daddy of blenders, something I have wanted for many years. To my surprise, the green smoothies are delicious. You can’t taste the spinach or kale or whatever greens you put in there. The fruits sweeten it up, and the blender does the job of combining the healthy goodness.

Blender is loaded

Blender is loaded

I was so proud of finishing a huge bag of spinach that I took a picture of the empty bag.

Large empty spinach bag

Large empty spinach bag

We have never been able to eat it all before it goes bad–until now. Each batch of smoothies takes about two cups of greens. You can use spinach, kale, bok choy, or other greens. If you want to try it, you can Google green smoothie recipes for ideas.

Green smoothie

Green smoothie

After just a couple weeks of one smoothie a day, I can definitely feel more energy. Maybe Popeye really was on to something. I won’t go looking for any bad guys to beat up, but plan to keep eating well so I can live long and prosper.

My 31 Days of Family Joy is linked up with http://www.thenester.com and her 31 Day Blogging Event. 

Day 14 Put Your Mask on First

Safety Card

Safety Card (Photo credit: digitalsean)

Many summers ago I boarded an airplane with my three children, ages eight, six, and almost one. I buckled the two oldest kids into their seats and sat the baby on my lap as the flight attendant walked the aisle checking on  passengers. She grabbed the PA mic and started her emergency spiel while another stewardess demonstrated the seat belt and drop-down oxygen masks. I had traveled internationally doing mission work for a few years before the kids came along, so I had heard this safety talk many times. This time, with my children by my side and on my lap, one comment caught my ear like never before. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting young children with theirs.”

Surely that couldn’t be right. Why wouldn’t I take care of my children first? After all, mothers are wired that way. After I thought about it, I realized the wisdom in the procedure. I wouldn’t be any help to my kids if I passed out.

An emergency in the air requires immediate action because lives are at stake, but the “put your mask on first” idea works for the long term too. As a parent and grandparent, it’s important to take care of myself first so I can take care of my kids. If I expect to live a long life and see my grandchildren grow up, I have to do some things on purpose. One of those things is exercise.

photo-8I’ve never been a sporty person, so exercise for me is pretty mundane. It means going to the gym, working out, and–ugh–sweating. I’d much rather read a book or even do laundry. Even at my age I’m still working on that discipline thing. Get to the gym at least three times a week. Your body will thank you, I tell myself. Lately I’m even doing some things to challenge myself physically while having some family time too. (More on that in another post.)

How about you? What are you doing to “put your mask on first?” Your family will thank you for it.