Dec 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Flu Season and Tips to Stay Well

soap-with-flowerThe flu season — which got off to an early start this year — continues to get worse. “All regions of the country are seeing elevated levels of flu-like illness,” the CDC says in its latest update.They reported increasing activity overall in its most recent report for the week ending Dec.14.  It is widespread in 30 states and Puerto Rico.”It’s difficult to predict the flu season, but CDC flu forecasts suggest flu activity will continue to increase in the next few weeks with a 40% chance that activity will peak in December, which would be relatively early compared to most seasons,” said CDC spokesman Scott Pauley.When does flu season begin and end? Although you can get the flu anytime, flu season starts in October and can go as late as March and even April. But it usually peaks in the U.S. in February, Schaffner says.

In addition to getting the flu shot, avoiding the the flu can be aided by eating health meals, daily exercise and something as simple as washing your hands. According to the Mayo Clinic, hand-washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to cut your risk of getting sick and spreading illness. Here are the do’s and don’t of hand washing to keep you healthy this winter:

One of the most important reasons for hand washing is all the germs our hands come in contact with when we touch surfaces around us. Studies show that the average adult touches their face with their hands about 16 times per hour and 80% of infectious diseases are spread by touch. Frequent hand washing can cut your risk of colds by up to 50%.

Here are the latest tips from the Mayo Clinic:

Always wash your hands before:

  • Preparing food or eating
  • Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash your hands after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes, or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes

In addition, wash your hands whenever they look dirty (of course!).

How to wash your hands

It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps:

  • Wet your hands with running water.
  • Apply liquid, bar or powder soap. ( Here at Alabu we prefer bar soap which is the most gentle for your skin)
  • Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.  Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
  • If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

How to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

It is always better to wash the contaminant off your hands than trying to kill them. Flu viruses seem to be more resistant to hand sanitizers than bacteria. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t require water, are an acceptable alternative when soap and water aren’t available. If you choose to use a hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then follow these simple steps:

  • Apply enough of the product to the palm of your hand to wet your hands completely.
  • Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces, until your hands are dry.

Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another effective option. Again, look for a product that contains a high percentage of alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty, wash with soap and water.

Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands properly and frequently. Wash your hands with your child to show him or her how it’s done. To prevent rushing, suggest washing hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. You might place hand-washing reminders at your child’s eye level, such as a chart by the bathroom sink that can be marked every time your child washes his or her hands. If your child can’t reach the sink on his or her own, keep a step stool handy.

Hand-washing is especially important for children in child care settings. Young children cared for in groups outside the home are at greater risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can easily spread to family members and other contacts. Be sure your child care provider promotes frequent hand-washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Ask whether the children are required to wash their hands several times a day — not just before meals. Note, too, whether diapering areas are cleaned after each use and whether eating and diapering areas are well separated.

A simple way to stay healthy

Hand-washing doesn’t take much time or effort, but it offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this simple habit can play a major role in protecting your health.

Nov 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Children’s Games

IMG_2971We had our daughter’s five children here for the weekend. They are good kids but what were we thinking right? My daughter asked if she should bring board games for them. I said ok, but in my head I was thinking I would have to play Candyland all weekend.

Everything did not go perfectly. Such as Miss Number Eight the always smiling baby, was not content here at night with out mom. It was actually a common emotion throughout the weekend, verbalized with a teary ” I miss Mom”. Except the baby, she screamed and screamed. So we cried uncle and spoiled the parents weekend away by calling and requesting they come get the baby and keep her at night, which they did.

That first night we got to bed late handing off baby to mom and dad. Then Miss Number Two, who had been traumatized earlier that evening by baby’s screamed came into our bed around 3:30. Which prompted Dean to get up, not usual for him, but I thought I would try to get some more sleep. Then about 15 minutes later Miss Number One came in and I said ok you get in over here. When Mr Number Three appeared I gave up and we all got out of bed, I may or may not have thought about crying.

But then I was pleasantly surprised when someone shouted “who wants to play a game” and all four sat down quietly and played a garden game. I thought wow, with all the hours they have spent out in the garden they still want to play a garden game. It was really nice to see kids that play games that are not on electronic devices. That afternoon a good friend came to our rescue and took the older 4 to a school musical, which gave us a quiet break with smiling baby. The weather was cold and wet outside so in between watching christmas movies they played games and put puzzles together and we all survived the weekend and were very happy to see mom and dad.

Oct 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

A Father’s Love

DeanDean has always been a good father. As a new mom it took me a long time to realize that fathers parent differently than moms. Moms naturally want to nurture and protect our kids. When our children are little we mothers often worry about father’s being too laid back in protecting our kids. Fathers let their kids, (especially boys) take risks, play rough and learn through experience. But if we moms can take a step back we can see that both parents play a vital role in raising happy, productive and well adjusted kids.

Now that our own kids are grown with children of their own, Dean is still a great father to them. You probably don’t know that Dean juggles many jobs besides Alabu. He does I. T. consulting for K-12 education as well as a few book keeping jobs and keeps everything on our small hobby farm maintained and running. Somehow he still finds the time to lend a hand to our kids when needed. From jumping on the tractor ( after he is already showered and ready for bed) and driving out to help our son-in-law bring the deer he just shot out of the woods, to becoming part of the fall clean up crew for our son’s landscaping business. Right now we often take care of one set of grand kids or the other. At the end of a long day, he is right there to help take care of the grandkids when I’m tired and trying to get them fed and in their pajamas. Thank you Dean for all you do for our family.

Sep 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

Celebrating 40 years


Last week Dean and I celebrated 40 years of marriage.  I always like to go to the seashore if we get a  chance to go away for a few days. This year we wanted to take a whole week away, but things weren’t coming together for a  shore trip. So I did something I hadn’t thought to do before, I asked Dean where he would like to go (I know, my bad). I was a bit surprised when he said The Ark Encounter. I knew he has wanted to go there. It’s not that I didn’t have any interest in going, but it wasn’t the romantic getaway I was I had imagined.


I took on the logistics on planning our trip.  The first order of business is always to see if one of our kids and their family would like to stay here and take care of the farm. Fortunately our daughter and son-in-law were able to stay, that includes five kids the youngest 2 months old and their two dogs.  Somehow our daughter managed to take on the added burden of caring for all the critters living here and the garden which is abounding with tomatoes, green beans and raspberries right now ( did I mention she homeschools her kids?).  In my research I found that there is a nearby sister attraction, the Creation Museum.  We decided to go to there first.   It is a 12 hour drive for us from Saratoga, NY, too long for me as a one day drive. So we planned to take two days to drive there. I also planned to stop on the way back at Lake Erie, to try to work in my love of the water. 

Things didn’t work out perfectly. The first night we ended up in a motel that reeked of stale cigarette smoke. Then the second day the engine light came on.   Dean wondered how serious it might be.  I got out the owners manual to see what might cause the light to come on. In a strange way, this seemed romantic to me. I was able to contribute to our drive time. Dean always does all the driving when we are together. I would take it personally, but it doesn’t matter who is with him, Dean always drives. I read that there were 3 reasons for the engine light, one was bad gas. That one made sense to Dean, he thought the last station we were at looked a little sketchy.  We were hoping it was just bad gas, but the truck is 10 years old and Dean wasn’t too hopeful it would be that minor. We put it out of our mind once we got to the Creation Museum.

We stayed about 4 hours, and didn’t see it all but we were tired and wanted to get to our hotel.  Once school starts there are a lot of seniors traveling, many were on rented scooters which made it a little congested. But we had an enjoyable day and we were thankful we are still in good health.  After settling into the hotel, we went to an Advanced Auto to have them read the computer code, then called our son.  They both thought the truck we would be ok till we got home. Our hotel was very nice, although Dean was disappointed the hot tub wasn’t hot. The next morning we drove to the Ark Encounter.  The Ark is the main attraction, but the grounds also have many other things to do. After 7 hours, we didn’t see it all but gave in to our tired feet and headed to the hotel.

Ark EncounterWe stopped for gas on the way,  we made sure it was brand name this time. As we were pulling in I saw a sign saying something like “drive your engine clean”, we figured that couldn’t hurt. Sure enough the next day the engine light turned off on our way to Erie. Once there we headed out to the “Presque Isle Pennisula State Park”.  It was a nice drive with varied environments, the bay on one side and the lake on the other with several sand beaches on the lake side. Our hotel was on the bay and was excellent. Dean appreciated the hot tub, it was hot this time. While it was all very pretty, it wasn’t at all like the ocean. All in all we we had a memorable  adventure together. We truly enjoyed each others company without all the daily distractions.









Aug 19
by Maryclaire Mayes

For Love of Family


This is our beautiful daughter- in – law, Jordi with her children. Jordi is down to earth, kind, fun loving, humble, considerate and loyal. Born and raised in North Carolina she is a charming southern girl through and through. Jordi grew up near her close-knit extended family, grand parents, aunts, uncles and lots of cousins.

Jordi has many happy memories of playing at her grandmother’s home with all her cousins. Dean and I are blessed that she is carrying this tradition forward. She looks for opportunities to come to our home when “the cousins” are here so they can all play together. This is such a great way of bonding families and building fond memories for us all.

Her college roommate was engaged to our son’s best friend and I think there was a bit of matchmaking going on there. Our son eventually won her heart, which brought her into our hearts, our family and New York State. I know she misses her family, the Blue Ridge Mountains and her southern roots. But she is a welcome member and adds a lot of love and joy to our crazy family.

Jordi is devoted to our son Hal and their 3 children. She loves being a wife and stay at home momma. Even though they presently live in a 3rd floor apartment, she manages to get their 3 little ones ( ages 4, 2 and 9 months) out and into nature. Besides the usual trips to playgrounds, she really loves to have adventures to more natural places like the Saratoga Battlefield.

Jordi is teaching her kids about patriotism and the history of our country while exploring and finding bugs and dragonflies and waterfalls. I love that Jordi shares her love of the outdoors with her kids and getting dirty isn’t something that has to be avoided.

Jordi has a strong christian faith that she is sharing with her children and this warms our hearts to see.


We are blessed to have her in our family.