God didn’t so much as laugh at my plans last week, as fall off His throne, clutching His sides.
A week ago today my primary concerns for the week were: how to organise a slot of time for self so I could get to a Gap with my 30% off voucher and buy all my xmas presents in one foul swoop; whether I’d be able to make it to an artists’ studio open day on Thursday or Friday; and what on earth I was going to wear for a friend’s birthday dinner on Saturday night. I also spent bursts of my time thinking of the theme for the next blog posting: whether to continue with the kids’ minor achievements (the Boy now singing along to songs – and in Swedish too! – the Girl not doing much, but being very sweet about it) and whether I had cooked anything reasonable recently which might don the pages of the ‘net.
But first I had to get the Boy to the doctor to have his persistent hacking cough checked out – viral, apparently, nothing to be done but put up with it – and ensure Girl wasn’t coming down with same thing. A bit of a runny nose, but nothing to worry about.
The runny nose became a cough by Tuesday morning, a hunger-strike and high temp by Tues night, non-stop pitiful wailing by Wednesday – and INTENSIVE CARE FOR PNEUMONIA by Thursday.
(That pause is me still in shock)
There followed some of the worst hours of my life - actually, scrap that: the worst, without a doubt – while we looked on helplessly as she was plugged into machines, hooked up to tubes, struggled to breathe, and just looked so teeny and fragile on the huge hospital cot. I held her for almost a full day, trying to ease her discomfort, trying not to get her (and me) tangled up in her tubes and wires, rocking, shushing, crying, kissing, pleading, snapping at nurses - all the while the glorious antibiotics were doing their magical stuff.
Have antibiotics made it onto the cover of Time magazine yet? Because they should have done.
I owe them my daughter’s life – or at the very least, her lungs.
The drama and trauma has passed, and after a few days in hospital we are all home again. The Boy, who sweetly asked after his sister alot, seems relieved to have us all together again, and is loathe to let me out of his sight. The Girl seems to not care too much, her smile has returned and once she gives up the faux-anorexia nonsense, she should hopefully be fully restored.
In the midst of the bleakness, two things gave me some relief. One was that the Boy has, finally finally, learned how to say “yes”; we no longer have to take the absence of a forceful “no” as an affirmative. He says it in a very sincere, sombre way, while nodding his head – as if there’s just no doubt in his mind – which I just love. Fun games now include asking him if he loves me? “Ye-es”; asking him if he loves his sister? “Ye-es”; asking him if his Daddy smells? “Ye-es”. Hahahaha.
The other was baked potatoes. I know, how pathetic. On the day I ventured home to grab some sleep and spend time with the Boy, I realised that like a modern-day Old Mother Hubbard, the freezer – where his emergency pots of home-made meals are stored - was bare. As were the cupboards - except for a bag of eyeful potatoes. I didn’t have time to peel or slice – or indeed do anything at all – so instead I turned the oven on to high, washed them (minimally), stabbed them therapeutically and threw them all in, whereupon I promptly forgot about them and telephoned my mother to whimper and seek comfort.
An hour of comforting later, the smell of Autumn filled the house, and lunch / side dishes / snacks were aplenty.
Potatoes are the best thing ever. In fact there was a man on the radio this morning who had just finished a 60-day diet of only potatoes, during which time he lost 22lbs (and, I’d imagine, some of the will to live). That might perhaps be taking it a teeny step too far, but if I had to live on only one food, it would be potatoes. That one – admittedly large - tray of baked spuds yielded mash, grilled potato skins, hash browns and – of course – stuffed baked potatoes.
I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by giving a recipe. But a couple of teeny tips:
- It takes the same amount of oven heat (about an hour, at at least 190F), and effort on your part, to cook one as it does twenty. So go for twenty.
- Once cooled, I kept any that remained uneaten in the cooled oven. We ate the last of them three days later (fried) and they were fine, but I’d imagine any later than that might get a bit icky.
- If you plan on scooping and mashing, two points. First, slit-and-pinch the potatoes with a heavy hand as soon as they come out of the oven – the more steam they release, the fluffier they’ll be. Mash as soon as possible with lots of butter and a splash of milk. Secondly, keep a small bit of potato on the skins, for liberal sprinkling with grated cheese and a re-visit to the oven (or hot grill) at a later point. Tell your toddler these are “crisps” and watch him gobble. (‘Tho try to refrain from eating from his plate, it’s unseemly).
God bless the humble spud. When He stops laughing at me, that is.