Last night in our house is sort of a blur.  It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that there are devious cosmic forces at work, which occasionally decide to band together and join forces to make sleep a near impossibility for me and J.  These forces are called our children.

Oh, generally speaking, L. and P. are pretty good sleepers.  They go to bed nice and early (between 7:30 and 8 p.m., usually the former) and get up — usually — no earlier than 6:30 a.m.  P. does have his bouts of restlessness in the night and often cries out in his sleep, poor thing, but settles himself most times.  L. snores blissfully through any and every disturbance.  Except for those rare occasions — like last night — when they turn us topsy-turvy.

I should say that it’s been a rough week for sleep anyway.  P.’s got something going on, which appears to be a combination rotten head cold and emerging incisors (please let those things poke through already!), so he’s been crying a lot more in the nighttime, has been more wakeful when he does cry, and has required much more intervention from us than usual.  I’ve been up later most nights this week than I would like, but between rehearsals for the Messiah performance — which always gear me up and send me home full of energy at the worst hour of the night — and a bunch of things on my mind and to-do list, I’ve been awake waaaaayyyy past my bedtime.  J. and I were both running on fumes by 10 p.m. last night.  And then came midnight, and P. was up.  Yowling.

By 1 a.m., he’d been settled — finally.  By 4 a.m., L. came pitter-pattering down the hall.  “Hey guys,” he chirped.  “I’m awake.”

Oh.  Heck, no.

By 4:45, L. was back in his own bed and sleeping, but 7 a.m. was a cruel reality this morning.  (For me — J. was up even earlier, by 6:30, with both of the kids.)  The only thing that saved it for me was the smell of turkey stock wafting up from downstairs.  Oh, yeah.

It’s the little things that save your sanity sometimes, as a parent, and today for me those things are the comforts of homemade foods, planned and executed and available.  It’s a humble list, but my wherewithal is restored, today, by the following:

Turkey stock that made itself overnight in my slow cooker and had the house smelling like Thanksgiving all over again.
Homemade Maple-Pecan Granola, which was waiting for me when I dragged myself downstairs and couldn’t function enough to think about breakfast.
Good leftovers for lunch.
An easy dinner planned — skillet chicken with herbed goat cheese sauce takes very little time or effort, which should be perfect by 6:00 tonight.
Pancake batter in the fridge.  I had a few minutes yesterday morning to whip some up, and with batter ready to go, pancakes will be within reach for the boys’ breakfasts or lunches tomorrow.

Comforts.  It’s simple and ridiculous that something as benign as the smell of homemade stock should make everything seem better, but it’s a fact that good food restores something inside us all.  Feeling the way I do today (imagine my brain and fingers slurring like the speech of a frat brother after the big toga party), I can’t even fathom what kind of mood I’d be in if I’d had to wake up and stand in front of a hopeless pantry, trying to convince myself that the same old boring toast or boxed cereal was worth eating.  I can’t imagine sitting here knowing that if I wanted to appease my growling stomach with some lunch, I’d have to go out and buy something — that’s way too much effort at the moment.  I can’t even begin to envision how foul my mood would become if, on top of all of that, I had to go home tonight staring down the barrel of my refrigerator, trying to envision dinner.  Or how bad I’d feel after that if, lacking an adequate plan or the energy to put something together, I caved in and spent $20 ordering in some take-out for the family.

No, I can’t imagine that world, and I’m so happy right now to have set myself up with options.  Reliability.  Things I don’t have to think about.  Happy enough, in fact, to share a little bonus recipe with you all.  Just this morning, somebody on Facebook was asking for a recipe for a french toast type of casserole — something sweet and comforting.  And since this is a post about the comforts of food, and I just happen to have such a recipe, I’m passing it along.  It’s not probably the healthiest thing, nor the most exotic, but it’s a darned good thing to have up your sleeve on a cold morning.  Plus, it’s a great recipe for the holidays, so consider it a gift of festivity from me to you.  Enjoy.  I’m going to go get some coffee.