A Sick Kiddo Post

‚Tis the chicken soup season, folks – not a month has gone by since school started again that not at least one of us has been sick. What you can see up there was pretty much how last week went. There was chills and fever, there was aversion to food in general, there was snot and coughing – all the good stuff that comes with a head cold.

Having brought up two kids, over the years this has become familiar territory for me. I’ve gotten good at working on my laptop sitting up in bed, so I can squeeze in some pages in between all the Florence Nightingale-ing. In case you, too have flu patient young’uns to care for in the winter, here’s what I do to make them feel better.

1. Try and accept that you won’t be able to work your usual schedule. If you can, set up a home office situation. Take a sick day or two if possible.

2. Respective to the sickness, stock up on groceries, meds and teas. For flu, organic chicken and vegetables, lemons, oranges, cantaloupe, mango, grapes – anything that’s nice and juicy, and might appeal. We like sage tea, and my kids both enjoy honeyed hot milk. If they feel like juice, get them juice. No fizzy drinks or sodas because those irritate the throat. Flu medication suitable for kids, and massage and essential oils to help with the joint- and headaches – nobody sleeps well when they’re in pain.

3. Make chicken soup! (Short version: Set up 1 organic chicken, 2 onions, 1 clove garlic, a few slices fresh ginger, 5 carrots, 1 parsley root, 1/2 fennel bulb, 1 tomato, 2 celery stalks, bunch of parsley, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar with water. Bring to the boil, let simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. Take out chicken an de-bone and remove skin and cartilage, drain the broth, cook white rice or noodles, serve with or without meat, depending on the patients‘ preference.)

4. I let them sleep wherever they’re the most comfortable. Couch, their bed, my bed – anywhere they can sleep is fine, because sleep is what they need most. Air the room, light a candle, set them up with enough fluids, apple slices or crackers. Offer hot beverages in regular intervals.

4. Don’t let them use their screens too much, and suggest an audio book or music instead. If you both enjoy that, read to them. If they’re old enough to read on their own, let them read to their heart’s content. Get them a new book, or unearth a favorite old one they might enjoy re-reading. I must have read Lord of the Rings ten times over whenever I was bedridden when I was young!

5. Cuddles to the max! By you, by pets, by stuffed animals. Hot water bottles. Thick socks. Fluffy sleep gear or sweaters. Feeling something soft against feverish skin is key.

6. If the headaches aren’t too bad, don’t stress about media overload. If they have a fever and feel lousy as well as bored, favorite shows, movies or video games may be part of their comfort zone. I remember that for me, my Gameboy was ;-), and so I don’t mind the iPhone all that much.

7. Allow hot baths – with a soothing bath salt or supplement. The steam is great for irritated respiratory tracts, and if it smells of lavender, or lemon balm, or anything the sick child finds comforting, all the better. Rather short and hot than long and lukewarm, and then fresh PJs, a freshly aired room and a tall glass of something to drink after, to replenish what they sweated out in the tub.

8. Be available to talk. Sick kids often have stuff on their minds, and they might be more open to talk about difficult things, in a situation where they feel safe and cared for. Who knows what weighs them down – don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect.

9. Don’t be too strict with treats. If they feel like hot chocolate, go make some. If they crave frozen yogurt, give it to them. If they feel like Wonton soup, order in. It doesn’t matter, you want them to eat something they enjoy, and to get better. Even a pizza might go a long way. Don’t feel inconvenienced, they’re just feeling lousy and picky. This is not about you.

10. Find activities you can do in bed. Crossword. Sudoku. Battleship. Knitting or crochet. (During this flu round, my daughter learned how to knit (and purl!). I call that one productive bout of the flu ;-)). Journaling. Sketching. Drawing.

11. Only when the fever has gone down, even bring up school. There always comes a point when the kids‘ energy comes back for a few hours, and if it does, try and interest them in a math problem, or on catching up with history.

12. Encourage contact with friends, via phone or computer. It catches them up with what went down at school, and it’s a good opportunity to pass on notes.

13. Once they’re feeling better, try and coax them to go outside for a little. Bribe them if you have to (ice cream, fries, a treat from the bakery, a new book…). Expose them to sunshine and fresh air. It’s exercise, they’ll sleep better, it recharges the Vitamin D, which all helps them get well.

14. Don’t make them go back to school to soon – this is a common mistake for parents who are (understandably) eager to get their lives and work schedules back on track. But from experience I can tell you this can backfire spectacularly, and all too soon you’ll have them back in bed like a boomerang. Nobody wins if you rush it! Only let them go if they’re well again, haven’t had any fever for at least a day, and honestly want to go.

And that is what I know about caring for a sick kid. May it help you! Maybe you also have some piece of wisdom to share? I’ll gladly include any cool tips you have.

A few weeks more, and we’ll be celebrating Christmas. This year, it kind of snuck up on me, what with caring for the sick and working long hours. I’ve not been able to do much in the way of Christmas shopping or activities. But I have made two varieties of cookie dough, and hope we can get started with the Christmas Cookie Extravaganza soon.

During the many hours watching Brooklyn 99 over the last week, I did manage a major crafts feat, though – I’m really and truly done with the Waffle Blanket. Here it is, being put to excellent use:

As you can see, there are a gazillion threads to be darned in, and of course it still needs washing and blocking, but the crochet part is DONE. I’m really pleased with the result, even though I feel it could have been a wee bit wider, in hindsight, maybe like another 30 more stitches or so. But we’ll see how the final measurements are once it’s blocked. I’m guessing it’ll gain 5-10 cm in both length and width. With 145 x 175 cm, it’s already a perfectly acceptable size for one person (or two) to snuggle in with :-).

Other accomplishments include finishing the first sleeve of my Monday Sweater. Again, unlike called for in the pattern, I used the same size needle for both sleeve and cuff.

Also, I impulse-purchased a new gadget for late-night crafts while watching a show, useful also as a late-night reading lamp when not reading on a reader or phone: Behold the neck lamp!

I saw this on an IG post of Nomad stitches, the crochet artist whose book I translated last year, and whom I’ve been following ever since. It immediately made sense to me, because I’ve been yelled at (flare light!!!) for ruining movie night experiences more times than I can count, when forced to check on my work during a movie as it usually is way too dark to see.

It’ll also be very helpful for my next project, flip-top mittens for my son – guess what, of course he wanted black! Difficult to see clearly even in the sunlight, they’re next to impossible to work on at night, and with this, I think I’ll manage just fine.

And lastly, let me show you this bag full of happiness, which my husband will be giving me for Christmas:

A similar yarn combo as the one I used for my red scarf, this one here:

This is an Icelandic merino yarn, and a thin mohair thread. It’s enough yarn for a roomy winter sweater, which I’m greatly looking forward to starting on – but I promised myself to finish the Monday Sweater first.

And that is all for today, I think. I wanted to walk the dog before sundown (ridiculous at 3.30 p.m., but such are the days in early December), so have a lovely 2nd Advent Sunday, and a great week to come. Thank you for dropping in and reading :-)!

#Behindeverybook – #Behindthisbook

See that face? That is the face of a proud and happy translator. For those of you who don’t know: I was privileged enough to be part of the team who translated both of those volumes, thanks to my esteemed colleague U. who suggested I participate.

It was my husband who bought me my two-volumed boxed Julia Child’s ‚Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘ in the early aughts, after the Julie/Julia movie came out. To be exact, he bought me the book the movie was based on first, and then I asked for the cookbooks, because I needed those :-).

I’ve wanted to translate them ever since.

At the time, I had this habit of reading cookbooks before falling asleep. This was before we had i-Phones and e-readers and such. I found it educational, as well as comforting. My favorite was my grandmother’s cooking and housekeeping bible, a thick old tome called Christine Schuster’s Kitchen and Household Book (Küche und Haushalt in German).

It’s comparable to Julia Child’s works in terms of being more of an encyclopedia of all things a person running a household in the late 19th and early 20th century needed to know: cooking, nutritional information, housekeeping, cleaning, making preserves, shopping and, of course, tons of recipes. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a long forgotten time, terribly outdated in some ways, and astonishingly on point in others. Anyway, I love that book, and as I just found out while writing this, it has been republished in the meantime. I just ordered a copy, because the one that I have is quite literally falling apart at the seams!

I’ve read my fair share of cookbooks over the decades. Julia Child stands out to me because, apart from writing from a gourmet point of view (and always suggesting an appropriate wine pairing!), she has this very down to earth attitude of never wasting food, using every scrap that you can, and generally being smart about housekeeping – all very relatable to me.

Oddly, I never really make any of her recipes. Not because some are ridiculously cumbersome (and some are!), but because we don’t really eat like that, in this house. But: many of the cooking basics mentioned have become second nature to me, as has the very technical knowledge behind baking, and making sauces. I cherish her books because of their practicality, more than for a Lobster Thermidor or éclair recipe. And of course, I adore her writing. If you’ve ever watched any of her television shows, you can’t help seeing her in your mind’s eye as you read the instructions for making a soup, learning everything there is to know about the respective vegetable or meat all the while, as a side bar.

So, it made me really happy to hold the two translated volumes, and to know I was part of making them happen!

In my last post, I was looking forward to Easter with family, and now I’m looking back on it fondly. There was playing and exploring country life with the littlest one, and there was cooking, eating and talking among the grown-ups. I loved having my ‚own‘ family for a change – my husband’s relatives are so many, and mine are so few. It was a good few days, and I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as I did. It’s so cute to have a little cousin-nephew-Little-Person :-). Also, kudos to the young couple for having worked out how to be a family, under intense and adverse circumstances, relying mostly on each other, because all the playgroups and music groups and baby sports and swimming weren’t really happening due to Covid-related restrictions. They do an amazing job.

The week after Easter (that I was supposed to have off) was divided between long walks with the pup and long hours at the computer – proofs to be read and quick translations for a friend to be squeezed in.

And now we’re back to school, and I have a number of doctor’s appointments. I’m trying to make my peace with that. Maintenance, and sustainability need to happen, right? As is pointed out to me when I complain, my body has been functioning really well for five decades now, and it stands to reason it would need some looking after to continue doing so. How are you guys coping with the aging process? Are you zen about it, or do you find yourself rebelling against this perfectly natural process of Physical Deterioration?

Last time I wrote I was happy to have finished the Red Sweater, and I still am. My crafts friends N and M don’t think it’s too short, but I must confess that I mostly wear it over a longer shirt – short things just make me uncomfortable.

Wow, that was an disproportional amount of selfies! Let’s move on to an update on the Waffle Blanket, which I had brought as a vacation project, and actually managed to add a few inches to. Here’s where we are now:

I might actually have finished the orange section but unfortunately ran out of yarn; I ordered more, but it hasn’t arrived yet – anything you order from England these days sure takes its sweet time! Grown impatient, I started in with the light turquoise yarn (that I already have) on the other side. Initially, I was going to use the colors in a different order, but it might look nice like this, too, after all. What do you think? This was the original design:

I’m happy with the pattern itself, even though the blanket will be quite heavy when it’s done, but it’s warm and cozy, and wool just weighs a bit more than acrylic yarn, so … it appears that I’m making a therapy blanket, inadvertently. Might come in handy for cramps, growing pains and other ailments!

And that is it for today – shop talk all the way, professionally and crafts-wise. No recipes this time, but I can show you what happened to my oh so prettily arranged apple cake when I baked it :-DD!

I was hoping it’d turn out all fancy, and was imitating the tulips on my kitchen table … oh, well. Thankfully, the cake was still good, if less elegant!

Have a good week, everyone, and thank you for reading!