the Baer Family Gathering of 2019

I rallied in time for our trip to Pennsylvania for our Annual Baer Family Reunion. Our family went up a day early — we wanted to visit my grandparents before heading to our host home — so I was relieved to be feeling so much better. I sure didn’t want to be guilty of contaminating the elderly.

But then on the trip up, my older daughter came down with a fever.

So much for good intentions.

See? Too sick to even smile straight.

Then that night, just when I thought I was home free, I developed a cough. Between my coughing and my husband’s hacking (he’d already been smitten), sleep was nearly impossible.

At our host home — my cousin-slash-girlfriend’s enormous old farmhouse that all my children 
are deeply enchanted with — celebrating her oldest child’s thirteenth birthday.

Answer me this: Why is it that it’s exactly when one is ill, when the body most needs to sleep, that it can’t? It makes no sense!

Then halfway through the next day, smack-dab in the middle of our noonday reunion feast, I lost my voice.

I felt fine, but there I was, stuck in a crowd of people unable to ask questions and respond — an extrovert’s version of hell. Whenever I did try to speak, it was like I’d created a black hole: everyone stopped talking while straining to catch my whispered wisps of words. The first person to understand would triumphantly repeat what I’d said, and once again the room would be bubbling with chatter and noise.

Even with my ailments, the weekend was loads of fun.

There was the Baer Foot Race complete with lots of slipping, thanks to the buckets of rain they’d been having.

My odd child jumped in the creek again.

Without a thick layer of ice, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic, but he claims the water felt even colder than last year since the outside temps were warmer.

The food was tremendous, as usual: incredible sourdough bread (that I am trying to replicate), ham, cheeses and meats, pies, jams from Mavis, and so on.

There were babies to hold…

…and games to play…

challenge: to see who can pick up the longest line of blocks 

…and heights to measure…

… and conversations to just listen to, gah.

And then we drove home, arriving just in time to unpack and get showers before our Puerto Rican friends arrived, kicking off a nine-day vacay.

The end!

Our chauffeur for the entire weekend. 
Now that he has contacts, he’s super excited to once again wear sunglasses.

This same time, years previous: high-stakes hiking, Christmas cheese, high on the hog, how we kicked of 2016, 5-grain porridge with apples, when cars dance, the quotidian (1.6.14), headless chickens, cranberry sauce, buckwheat apple pancakes.


  • Lana

    Lung Support from Hopewell Oils. You can put several drops on a cotton ball on your nightstand so you are breathing it all night. What most do not think of is that if you are coughing up gunk then the body needs to do that and shutting it down prolongs the illness. I would rather miss a few nights of sleep than have a cough that lasts 6 weeks.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! That's good to know about (also good to know that it's not going to give you sleep like OTC meds often can). I used to be anti-OTC-for-colds (for the "it's not treating the illness, it's treating the symptoms, so it isn't helping you" reasons) and now am pro-OTC for sleeping, and I have not noticed any difference in length of cough after a cold/flu (except that, in the twelve or so years since I started using OTC medications early in coughs at night and giving my lungs a break from phlegm-soaking, I haven't gotten bronchitis and I used to get it occasionally and thus be coughing for months – but who knows why that is).

      I also used to be on Team Let The Body Do Its Thing, but honestly: the body often doesn't do quite the right thing. Allergies; autoimmune disorders; drizzly sinuses; fevers high enough to cause brain and other tissue damage; cramps.

      So no, I do not trust my body-which-makes-many-other-demonstrably-counterproductive-decisions to produce exactly the right amount of gunk for maximal virus fighting/suppression/etc. (is gunk even particularly *useful* for virus-fighting or is it mostly an irritation response? or is it, being an excellent carrier and shield mechanism for virus transfer, just a virus-distribution vector that the virus inspires?), and I am fine with telling it to quit with the gunk-production for six hours so I can get some sleep, because sleep does demonstrably help with immune system function and bodily recovery. But to each their own. 🙂

      And the lung support essential oil on the nightstand trick is a good one to know about! Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    I've never met a natural cough remedy (other than Not Being Sick) that worked long enough to give you at least 6 hours or so of sleep, which Night-time Robitussin something-or-other manages for me about 90% of the time when I'd otherwise be only sleeping in fragments due to coughs and splutterings. If you've got natural recommendations that work for hours on somewhat-gunky coughs, rather than only for very short-term cough relief (honey, various herbal teas including peppermint, steaming oneself with menthol are all things I use – but the relief doesn't go past about an hour, max), I'd be interested to hear them!

    (I should note that natural remedies that are pharmacologically active I'm a bit iffy about, since the levels of the pharmacologically active compounds in them vary a lot and supplements aren't regulated and even the plants you grow in your garden *definitely* do not have totally-even levels of things. I would not take an Advil tablet that said on it "contains somewhere between 50 and 500 mg of this medication!" (unless I was okay with getting either 50 or 500 and had no other choices available), and pharmacologically active compounds from plants that have beneficial effects and also side effects… well, they also make me say "hm" unless dosage really doesn't matter a ton and it's well-nigh impossible to overdose in that format, as with peppermint tea or whole foods [I mean, yes, you can definitely have some unpleasantness from overdosing on prunes, but it's not going to kill you, probably]. [or vitamin C heavy things like hibiscus – yes, it'll act as a diuretic if you get too much vitamin C in, and yes, that is exactly the opposite of the immune-system-friendly hydrating effect you want, but it's not really *hazardous*, as you're not likely to want your hibiscus tea strong enough to really dehydrate you][actually, hibiscus tea is a bad example as it makes my already-low blood pressure drop further and I get super-dizzy. But vitamins your body flushes out with water in general are less likely to do much harm in case of overdose, unless you *really* overdose.])

  • Lana

    Soooo…next time you get sick try skipping the over the counter meds and see if you sleep better and get well faster. All that over the counter garbage shuts down the lymph system which has to work to heal the body. We have not had a single over the counter med in our house for 5 years or more and we found that we do not need it. Marketing has made us feel like we must start popping pills at the first sign of distress when what we really should do is up the water intake and rest so we can heal.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely yes on the fluids and rest. But if you need OTC cough medication to get any sleep, then by all means take it (I mean, unless you're allergic to it or something). I go for "no meds during the day [unless fevers get near hazard level], medicate as necessary to sleep at night" for cold/flu stuff; not taking anything during the day means you're miserable enough to not push your body very far (yay?), but getting sleep speeds recovery, so even though the medication isn't helping directly, it's helping indirectly if your cough isn't waking you up every ten minutes. But of course, do what works with your body rather than taking internet (or marketers') advice. 🙂

  • Margo

    This is all great, but that cake is a showstopper!!! I want to make a cake like that! You'd sort of get a fruit salad right along with your cake and it's so so so pretty. Who made it?

    • Jennifer Jo

      My cousin-girlfriend Amber made it. She's a wizard with cake decorations. Last year she made roses from strawberries and the stem and leaves from kiwis — incredible!

  • Mavis

    I think the world needs another tour of Amber's house and yard in the summertime with everything in bloom. 🙂 And the basement! Oh my word, it's unreal.

  • Minette Jacobs

    Wow Jennifer. What a small blogging world! I thought I recognized Kate Baer's kids. I follow her on Instagram. I'm from South Africa and follow both of your blogs. What a coincidence!

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