Entertaining Angels

I'm ba-a-ack. My goodness how two months fly.
They seemed to stretch so long, and yet, they're over like snap.
We got back a few days ago from a couple weeks in the south.
Myron had work at the SC branch for two weeks
And the kiddies and I got to do school, enjoy the (little) bit of warm weather, and hang out with good friends. To be honest, we were so spoiled by time with friends since we stayed so close to some really good ones and it was a daily occurrence to run up the little pathway to their yard and their house and be welcomed in so freely.  The second week we switched over to staying in a little one bedroom apartment, but we still spent time at their house, as well as lots of fun time with another family and Kent and MaryAnna (who came all the way from TN for 3 days).  I am grateful, so grateful, for how these women loved on my kids and how their older kids were so patient and willing to tote my young ones around with them.  This is a gift that is beyond value to me.

I've been wanting to share a post with you for a while.
One on entertaining guests (more specifically overnight guests) in our homes.
I came back from this trip motivated to write this all out.
I can't claim expert status on this, or even semi-pro.
I learn from every guest that stays with us, and I hope to someday, be ultra good at it!

"Don't forget to have strangers in your homes, because some people have done this and it happened to be an angel and they had no idea who had stayed with them!"  (Hebrews 13:2, paraphrased liberally)

Growing up, I remember my parents often having overnight guests.  We had moved to a new state, new community, and their family and old friends would often come for a weekend visit to scope out the new digs.  I also remember doing a lot of traveling to see family and friends.  Quite honestly, I don't remember of ever staying in a strangers home, tho maybe we have and my memory just fails on this level.  In a Mennonite community it is so easy to connect to someone you remotely know, through someone else, etc.  So there never seem to be total strangers.  And often your friends end up being people mostly within the Mennonite community.

The neighborhood I was raised in had lots of kids running amok in the street.  So unlike many Mennonite kids, I feel like I got to know "outside" people.  The neighborhood kids regularly fished in our pond, played on our swing set and hunted for crayfish in our creek.  We may or may not have learned some, ahem, language and weird behavior from them as well.  My mom had a big old bell she'd ring when she needed us to come back home from running around at the neighbors'. 

A few years ago, when we started going to another church, outside the Mennonite community, I didn't feel as "out to sea" as I had expected.  Although I had grown up running with the neighbor kids,  I think I expected to have a harder time relating to people, when what I really found out was that there are just A LOT of good... no, GREAT... people out there.  Our church networks with a lot of churches, both in the states and worldwide, and we often host conferences where people come from all over to attend.

Have I lost you?  I feel like I might have regressed a bit from my post content, and yet the background to all this is the foundation of where I'm going with "entertaining angels".

We have had the privilege, and it really has been a privilege and not work like I imagined it to be, to host many, many overnight guests.  Most, if not all, have at some point been complete strangers to us before they entered our home.  It would take more than two hands to count the number of times, in the last 5 years, that we have had strangers stay with us.  And most times, not just 1 night, but an extended weekend or week at a time.  I can't believe sometimes, that God arranged this life for me, the girl who used to get physically ill at the thought of having my turn for "host family" (a Mennonite tradition of taking turns to have visitors/other church family over for Sunday lunch) come around again.  I would cry, I H-A-T-E-D it so much (if you need proof, ask my husband).

Many of these strangers we have hosted over the last few years, have turned into wonderful friends.  And if you're reading this, you know who you are!  And I am so thankful for you, and how God landed you in our imperfect home.

So here are some of the things I've learned:
1. It's not about you, it's NOT about your house, it's about your guest.
There was that two year period of not having a kitchen that taught me that you don't need to have a place in perfect, liveable condition to entertain overnight guests.  Because they really don't mind that your washer and dryer are your countertop, that your "kitchen"is just a gutted,barren room and they'll gladly wash dishes in your laundry sink.  Making sure that your guests feel at home and you are giving freely of your truest self, is the biggest key to a successful visit.  I was so freaking embarrassed at first, at how these stranger guests got to know our family's bad habits and attitudes so quickly, because my family is just so real it's ridiculous.  I'm finally learning to just accept that it is just who we are and it's ok to not be perfect.
2. Fake it till you make it.
I just told you to be your truest self, and now I tell you to fake it!?  Do be yourself, but when it comes to your guests quarters, do what ya gotta do to make it look and feel comfy.  My husband expects the multiple pillows on our bed to disappear when we are expecting guests.  Why?  I didn't have the resources to buy a ton of pillows for a while, so I made do with what we had.  I wanted the guest bed to have plenty of pillows and so to do without one for a few nights was just ok.  Slowly I'm collecting more accessories, etc to make the guest room guest-ready even at a moments notice.  Even the down comforter and bed cover have disappeared to the guest room regularly.  So find throws, pillows, whatever it is that you need, from around your house and make it comfy.  If you don't have a guest room, give up the master bedroom and bunk in with your kids.  I know many guests feel badly if they know you gave up your bed for them, but on the other hand, nothing says you're special and worth treating well, than to self sacrifice for your guest.
3. Learn from your guests
Is there something they've asked for?  More than likely it will be something that the next will appreciate also, even if it's not a necessity for them.  Make a note of it, and have it at the ready for the next time.

4. A list of some essentials that make your guest room comfortable:
     a. If possible, go for a Queen size bed.  Please don't pile the guilt on yourself if you've only got a double or a single...it's ok.  But sleeping with a 6'plus man, I've learned that sleeping in anything smaller just gets uncomfortable and makes for sleepless nights.  So if you've got the room and resources, make it a Q!
     b. Layers.  Clean sheets and pillow covers, of course.  And then blankets and a bed cover.  I like to keep another layer folded on the end of the bed, for looks and for comfort.  Throw pillows just add that touch of pretty.  And throw blankets make curling up to read a book, cozy.
     c. Lamps and lights.  Still working on this one.  This house doesn't possess ceiling lights in the upstairs so whatever light there is, is what we've added.  I have a tulle "canopy" over the guest bed along with a string of lights.  A lamp beside the bed is a good idea, so it's easy to switch off after you're tucked into bed.
     d. A mirror.  Noone wants to wait till they've found the bathroom to see that their trip down the hall had the potential for great embarrassment. 
     e.  A chair or bench to sit on.  Often if your guests are people you don't know well, they will probably spend a larger amount of time in their room than if they are your best buds.  Give them a place to sit and chill, besides just the bed.
     f.  A place to put their suitcase.  Like a bench, or a closet, or a luggage rack.
     g.  All the little things:
            -Snacks (this is a big one for entertaining strangers, often guests would like a nibble but would never ask. Crackers, granola bars, dried fruit, and water are some good munchies to keep on the dresser)
            -Alarm clock
            -USB adaptor for laptops.  Adaptor from a 2 prong electric outlet to a 3 (our house is so old most outlets are wired for a 2 prong.  And this is extremely inconvenient for any electronic devices)
            -Internet password
            -Two clean towels/washclothes for every guest
            -Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, etc in case they forgot something from home.
            -I've added a microwave and refrigerator to our guest room closet, although i haven't seen them get used yet, it still allows "stranger" guests to store/heat things without feeling they are bothering you in the kitchen.  This is a total splurge and very much not a must.
            -Fresh flowers and books/magazines are not a must, but sure add a touch of pleasant to the guest room.

5.  Help your guests bring in the luggage and show them where the necessities are, namely the restroom and the kitchen.  And leave a nightlight on in the bathroom, or hallway, because a stubbed toe or loud clatter in the middle of the night in a strange home is just not cool.  In addition, make sure they've got a clean bathroom to use.  There is nothing more disgusting than the sprinkle from your kids' last tinkle putting off an odor to a complete stranger.  Just sayin'.
6.  Communicate with your guests.  This is one that I'm personally working on.  I want to communicate more efficiently on what they can expect when they're in my home.  Let them know what time breakfast will be if they're eating with you.  That your kids are early birds, but they are welcome to sleep as long as they want.  Where the spare key is, if they are in and out of your house.  What your schedule will look like. Etc,etc.  You get the idea.
7.  Be available.  To help, to watch their children so they can get time away, to run to town for a need they have, etc.  If you're not home, leave a phone number they can get a hold of you with.
8.  Most importantly, make a new friend.  I  get the chills when I think about how some of these "strangers" have become such good friends that when they stay with us now, they feel comfortable to get up before we're even awake and put the coffee on.  Or raid my fridge and pantry for a nighttime snack if they come in late and we're already tucked in.  It's just so amazing to me and I love it!

Above all, I repeat, just give of who you are...your personality, family, and space...to your guests.  More likely than not, they will  feel more free to be who they really are.  When you allow an environment like that to be the standard for hosting your "stranger" guests, they often will trust you with themselves and you'll find yourself listening to, and giving encouragement and prayer over, their stresses/fears/and difficult circumstances in their lives.  I still am drawn to praying for some of the hurts, fears, victories that have been shared through our "stranger" guests who are no longer strangers, but now friends. 

So I invite you, and strongly encourage you, to invite strangers in to your home.  Your life will become a wealth of friends and you'll be overwhelmed at the grace that God will allow to flow through you.

I saw this on a friends' wall and it is my heart for our guests:
"Dear Lord, swing the doors of our home open wide
So all people will feel welcome and loved.

May the floors and the walls be strong enough
To carry the burdens of those who come.

We pray noone leaves feeling less
Than when he entered... "

*Do you have some guest tips?  I'd love to hear them, and learn from you!



Polar Vortex.  It's a noun and a verb.
It's the freeze de creme.  Top of the class, passing with flying colors to drive us housebound saints
To end sainthood and wear horns.
Saying we're ready for spring is completely redundant.  Like a drip drip drip from a leaky spouting.
On that note: we grew some monumental icicles this year.
Whereby we realize that this old house probably could use some work on its balding head.
 This winter has called for layers, warm blankets, and cozy corners.  We've longed for a wood stove more times than I can count.  But haven't we all!
One fun thing that happened this month was the arrival of my chairs.  You know you don't get out much when you're super excited to find them on your porch steps and your kids are as equally, or more, excited about the big boxes they came in.
I am an off-the-curb, freeby, second hand shop kind of girl.  The only furniture we've ever bought new were our couch and love seat (now that I think about it, we did get a kitchen table also).  Our bedroom set was a gift and brand new when we got married as well but I don't shop furniture stores to buy.  Just for funsies, ideas, and to wipe drool from my chin.  I had stuck some $ away from some projects I worked on to buy chairs for the living room, and World War III almost commenced while Myron and I quarreled politely discussed the uses for that particular $.  I spent literally MONTHs searching out the perfect recycled leather chairs for the perfect price.  I'm not picky, I'm just particular about what furniture I want brought into the house at this point.  I finally found these two for an excellent excellent deal the company was running.  After I ordered the chairs, I received a personally written email saying these chairs were out of stock.  Who does that anymore, personal e-mails?  Any who-ha, they promised to ship me some in a month or two.  Hmm.  Well, my husbands doubts were put to rest. when the UPS man unloaded the loot.  The company just launched their first catalog,  so give them a few years and I think you'll hear more about Safavieh home.  I think they've got a gorgeous line of home goods, and they're willing to customize (which is absolutely hard to come by).  We love the chairs we got, the kids curl up in them with a book, all the time.  And they're beautiful as well!
It was time to get the Christmas decorations packed up and off the mantels.  I was feeling particularly lazy about it this year.  I'm thinking about bringing in some twig clippings again, and forcing some real blooms soon.  I've also got a severe itch to start my own garden seedlings/flower seeds again, but after failing so miserably a few times before, I think that's an itch I shouldn't scratch.  I dream of glorious gardens and then every spring I relearn that I've not got a very green thumb.  I can even kill a geranium and they're tough suckers normally.  I'm loving perennials more and more.  Just plant 'em and let them do their thang.
The end of winter does bring about a slight problem:  the death of hot drinks.  If you happen to see the mister and I toting beer bellies, well, it's not beer that's to blame (what makes anyone desire that nasty stuff anyway, is just more than I can understand) but the smooth, alluring, tempting, silky smoothness of latte's, cappucino's, and London fog's, and all their accompanying sweetness.  I thought I was a diehard Trim Healthy Mama, until I ran out of my sweentener of choice (the old NuNaturals) and now I'm back to syrups with cane sugar.  Gah!  I totally live for my daily Smog--Myron's preferred term of endearment for a London Fog.  Thank you, Oak Leaf Cafe, for ruining my coffee habit and cordially introducing us.
 Valentine's Day was thrown in there somewhere.  I'm not cupid so we don't go crazy over Valentine's.  My kids don't know it's for lovers, and I like it that way.  I've tried to make it a habit to love on other people that day, and get my kids involved, because when they're 30 and possibly still single I don't  want them spending the week prior to said holiday whining about their single status.  The younger they learn to love whomever may be in their life during that holiday, the more content they'll be when they're older.  But the day couldn't go by without the usual chocolate strawberries or taking pictures of them.  There was not room on the internet, facebook or instagram for one more picture of a strawberry smothered in chocolate, on the week of Valentine's, but we went renegade and took them anyway.  Long live this traditional delicacy!

Now we're headed rapidly towards the weekend and more good-bye's.  My dearest mother left last weekend for the far-off continent of Asia again and the allure of warm weather in Thailand after being stateside for 6 weeks.  Good times.  This weekend we say adieu to another one of our own as my best big smaller brother and beautiful wife and kids head for greener pastures in TN.  I miss them already.



{I homeschool, therefore I am}

*Disclaimer:  If you are easily offended, this may not be the post for you.
I am going to be extremely sarcastic, and will make mountains out of ant hills.
Please, for the sake of peace, return to your normal scheduled activities.
Or laugh along with me, poke a little fun, and take a think or two about the boxes
We put each other in.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

So a few weeks back I posted a link on my facebook wall.
Cause it was funny and I was having one of those days where my kids were on the verge
Of being marched over to either school next door (take your pick, there are two)
And handed off to some less-than-willing teacher.
I read this and my thinker went "ching".

This is the normal "box" that most people (non-homeschoolers for clarification) tend to put
Those of us "crazies" into.  (Some) Homeschoolers will totally understand my point of view.
(Some) Homeschool moms will be mad as hornets and think I have totally blown my good character.
(Some)Non-Homeschooled will laugh, feel pity, and smugly wrap up their kids on the next school day.
(Some) Non-Homeschool will also feel a lump of indignation, (because believe me, I'm not just poking fun at myself) (Oh no, you didn't get off that easy)

And this will be my last warning.  Beware.

What they think: (they, being non-homeschooled)
I spend the day in my pajamas. 

What they don't know:
  Really?  Yeah, actually you may be right.  Some days this is my sad lot.  But it's not because I don't want to get dressed.  You see, between dishes, laundry, breakfast, beds, grumpies, and the start of the school day, there just aren't enough hours between 7 and 9.  And for you who awaken, proverb 31 like, at 4 in the morning, holy smokes, how do you not drink 2 gallons of coffee before 10 in the morning.  Just because I homeschool doesn't mean I don't need my beauty sleep.

What they think:
We all dress like we got stuck in the 80's or 90's, jumpers and coolats (I really don't want to google that spelling, don't make me) are a fashion trend.  And the bigger the pleats, the closer to God
What they don't know:
We're determined, this lot of us, to raise a generation of Cool kids, ya'll.  Except for the days i'm in my pajamas, I'll probably be trying fashion trends (in the privacy of my own house) you've never even heard of.  And maybe even wearing a heel or two.  Don't stop at my house.  The garish makeup on my face may make you think you've got the wrong address.  There are sincerely some of us who actually would like to come off as culturally decent.  You'll find my daughter in her sequined hat or a slouchy beany pecking away at her school work in her skinny jeans and completely clashing shirt ensemble.  The boys will be wearing some awesome ripped denim and the latest $2.99 shirts from Old Navy, Children's Place, or the Gap.  And maybe even sporting a faux hauk.  (Or hawk.)


What they think:
Our older kids are raising our younger kids.  And we've got some kind of militant buddy system in place.

What they don't know:
Someone else raising  my kids?  You're seriously joking, right?  I mean that's the reason I homeschool in the first place.  Nah.  Sure, the big kids tote the little ones around on a good day.  But there are some days when, for the love of pete, could I just please be the Mother in this house already?  You boss your sib one more time, and it's to your room little miss.  The pleasure of parenting without the parented looking over your shoulder every second of every day, just waiting to pounce on your imperfections, will seem like heaven to you.  It'll take all the grace of God and a well seasoned therapist to work through all that baggage someday.  Can't wait.


What they think:
My family only eats whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and we never cease to munch on a black carrot, kohlrabi, kale leaf or artichoke heart.

What they don't know:
I will readily admit to wanting my family to eat as healthy as possible.  It's good for them, and it's good for me.  I mean, have you ever had to deal with a kid coming off a sugar high, and you've got no place to hide till the little tornado ceases to spin?  There are occasional, ok-rather often, days when I'd like to slap a twinkie, a licorice stick, some iced tea, and bologna on white bread into a lunch box and let a teacher deal with it.  But instead, I'll just cook up some mac and cheese, toss some chocolate milk and a straw at them and call it lunch.  Because I just made gluten free french toast, turkey sausage, and a green smoothie for them for breakfast, for crying out loud.

What they think:
If they talk about their cool schools and awesome teachers and well socialized kids for long enough, they might convince me to join the ranks of normal civilization.

What they don't know:
Some of us homeschool out of conviction.  And ain't nobody, nohow, gonna change my mind. I am my own man, I abide by my laws, and I will never back down from all that is good and right.  Or some of us, do it cause we don't have options.  Whether it's finances, a bad school district, whatever...some of us would gladly cry "uncle" and be done.  But we plug away, and maybe we'll secretly admit (on a good day) that, yeah, this isn't so bad.  And boy howdy how we'd miss the little men and women if they'd be gone All the day long.  On second thought, what DO mothers who's kids are gone, do all day long?  Reruns of "All My Children"?  (Never mind, soap operas are for old ladies)

What they think:
We all play an instrument and our lives interacting with each other are like one harmonious four part quartet.  Oh, and we all dress in matching outfits.

What they don't know:
If we could just make it out of our pajamas in the morning without a time out or an intervention of some kind, it'd be a miracle.  We always have a word or character trait of the month, you know, and since patience is our word, we will sit quietly without raising our voices.  Make polite conversation while mother flips pancakes, and ask if there would happen to be something helpful they could do for another sibling.  Oh, how I long to raise the perfect quartet of children.  Polished, brilliant, with every Godly character trait in the whole book of Proverbs oozing from their beings.  If only Adam hadn't eaten that apple and spoiled it for the rest of us.  Ah, the little buggers have a sin nature.  And the people we're most comfortable with is where it all comes out.  So believe me, we're dealing with a whole lot of sin from the moment we show our bed heads till the last argument over what song we sing at bedtime.  And why would we all dress the same?  Oh, yeah, we might get lost on the playground.  Or on the college campus when we partake of the extracurricular classes they offer while we're only in the third grade.


What they think:
That dad is called "Father" and mom is "Mother" and we have very strict house rules about PDA's and Modest is Hottest.

What they don't know:
Yeah, I went there.  Let the gagging commence. (sister, you reading this?) Prudence, when it comes to my man, is not my strong suit. You probably already know that from this post.  I happen to think my kids are lucky to be able to watch us kiss, hug, and chase each other around the house.  I'll never apologize for that.  I'll also not apologize for the Victoria's Secret bag that made it's way into my house the other week.  Because I might homeschool and raise sheltered kids, but I will be hot when it comes to my man.  I'll also not apologize for teaching my kids about healthy sexuality and writing it off as a subject learned on their quarterly school reports.  All things in moderation, I do think this can be taken too far, too much education at too young an age.  But I don't think a complete head in the sand, ignorance is bliss approach got any homeschooler an A+ for purity when they're 20.

What they think:
We listen to quiet, orchestra music.  Music that edifies the soul and the mind.  Soothing, classical.  Or maybe even some acapella.

What they don't know:
Maybe I should be more ashamed of this than I am.  But, yo, we crank it loud.  A little bit of rap, lots of worship, and Britt Nicole, Toby Mac, and this song are on repeat some days.  And we pretend to drop it like it's hot.  Our dance moves stink, but we always come out the other side a bit happier.

What they think:
My kids vocabulary is beyond their age.  They look like nerds, talk like nerds, and only respond to adults.

What they don't know:
Respond to adults?  They heel and sit and shake on command.  You'd be so impressed.  Talk like small brains on a set of legs?  Yep.  Statistics show that, in college, my kids will whup your kids' tails.  Er, grades.  So, take that and smoke it in your pipe.

What they think:
I just spend days on end writing blog posts.  And in my pajamas, of course. (Redundant, we've already been over that)

What they don't know:
Yep, you got me.  I just wasted most of a day writing this, cup of coffee and a smashing oatmeal/peanut butter/choc chunk cookie in hand.  My kids ran naked through the house whooping like war indians, the laundry runneth over the baskets, the dishes smell like yesterdays chili, and the mailman delivered a whopper doctor bill. (What that had to do with this, I have no idea.  Just a plug for the greatest health care in the world.  When they sink you with a $350 bill for 30 seconds of the docs time, someone is going down.)  My apologies for making my day look so much grander than yours ever could. 
We're not keeping score here, ok?  I'm not in one corner of the ring throwing punches your way, and I pray you're not getting ready to throw one my direction either.  But isn't it funny how we have these unspoken limitations on each other and our "school" choices?  How about let's just not size each other up out of the corner of our eyes and just love the differences we've got.  And how our kids are different.  And let's meet for a play date next week.  Say, 10am, on a Wednesday.  Oh, that's right.  Your children are going to be in school. Oh, that creates a vacuum.  Well, Guess I'll be having a playdate with my own kids.  Or baking a dozen loaves of whole wheat bread, butchering 10 chickens, making my own soap, and knitting a new scarf, all while answering the latest question about the culture of Lappland, or explaining a diphthong (google that, why don't you).  No offense, ok?
*Laughter is good medicine.


{A Birthday}

Where to start?   I laugh thinking about my last post.
It's like we jinxed ourselves.  We went through one version of the flu.
Came out the other side of that, and, wham, got hit with the next one.
Everyone got hit on the second round, but they all pretty much bounced back after a day or so
Except the mother.  I spent a good part of six days with a fever and cough.
I finally got my mom to take me to the doctor, because I was afraid I had pneumonia.
Turns out it was just bad flu, and now I'm reaping the effects of being pricked and poked and xrayed.
As in, my pocketbook is starting to scream "ow".

So, the small one celebrated his first birthday a few weeks back.
He was kind of cranky with some teeth that day and not feeling so hot
So we didn't really go crazy with a party or anything.
He wasn't eating much that day, but the cupcake sure made his day.
Nothing a little sugar and icing can't cure.

 We love this little buddy so much.  I just cannot even imagine life without him.
The other kids are old enough, that he gets doted on and spoiled and they're so helpful with him too.
It's just totally different having this baby, this time around, than my other ones were.
I think I just felt so overwhelmed with them being so close together in age and didn't take the time
To just enjoy them like I have this wee one.
 Crumbs and all.

I had a birthday a few days later.
And while I was sure it would be doomed...Myron was out of town for a few days before and my actual birthday, and I nagged the daylights out of him about it, it actually end ed up being a fabulous day. 
I felt so special.  So many people sent me texts, dropped off little presents, etc.  Loved all of it.
And it made me that much more determined to make other peoples' special days really special too.
I got lots of fun, wonderful goodies, but I wanted to show you what my sis in law dropped off:
 Mmmm.   They were absolutely as delish as they look.  Isn't that just the simplest, sweetest idea?


{The Flu}

 This past week has been a bit of a repeat of this incident, altho not nearly as bad.
It seems that the small one gets sick rather easily when he's pushing teeth.
Does anyone else ever feel the need to just scrub the whole house when someone gets sick?
I just wanted to wash every blanket, sheet, furniture cover, wall, door knob, etc to kingdom come.
While none of the other kids got anymore than a little tickle,
I made several batches of soup with all kinds of vegetables, broth and nutritious hidden ingredients.
Here's a recipe for one of our favorites:
(1)  Bag of Spinach
(1)  Can of Great Northern Beans
(1) Lb ground sausage, fried (keep the drippings) (turkey sausage could also be used)
(1) Onion, sliced
Chicken broth
Any other vegetables, rice, or quinoa you'd like to throw in

Throw all the ingredients into a crock pot and cover liberally with chicken broth/water.  Allow to simmer all day.  The broth turns golden green and is just sumptuous.  This would be a perfect soup to put in a mug, add a slice of french bread to the top, some mozarella cheese and put under a broiler.

This time around, I got right on it and made up a salve to apply liberally all over Jeremiah's ears, throat, chest and back to knock the congestion out.
This salve is completely wicked, in a good way, and had him back to playing with 5 minutes or so of application.  If you can stand the smell of garlic, this is like miracle potion.  He smelled like an Italian Ristorante for a few days and we dubbed him "Rigatoni".  Garlic Salve is good for whatever ails you, perfect for coughs, colds, RSV, ear infections, etc.  Just apply it to the area in need of relief and the bottoms of the feet.  Cover with a heat pad and wait for it to work it's magic.
Garlic Salve:
Put in blender:
1/3 C. Coconut oil
2 TB. Olive oil
8 Cloves peeled garlic
5 Drops of Lavender oil ( I didn't have the oil, but used dried lavender instead)
I also added in some drops of Olba's Peppermint Oil to act as a vaporizer for congestion
Store in refrigerator
This recipe is not my own, credit goes to "Be Your Own Doctor" by Rachel Weaver
This book is so full of great natural remedies, etc.  I couldn't do without it.

And of course whenever I'm sick I'd love to have a little Miss Kay and a bell too.