What's for dinner? A giant pot of what's for lunch tomorrow (drum roll for beef barley...)

I spent last night in a doctor's office, holding a sick 22-month old. Out in the waiting room we were banished to the "sick" section where people sat with masks and coughs.
"But I'm not sick," I said, so instead of sitting I stood in the middle of the room, pointing my head towards the well side and my ailing daughter's toward the sick side and rocking my poor child like she was once again a fussy infant.
(Yes, this is the same kid who is dressed as a pig in the previous post, thank you karma, which I wrote about in the post before that...)
Eventually we were shuttled into the exam room where my kid turned into a the limpest rag doll I have ever seen. A quick forehead temperature reading of 104.5 and the nurse swiftly took her other vitals and scribbled them down. She left, only to emerge a minute later and tell me that the doctor wanted to do a flu test on her because she was so lethargic and her fever so high.
The test took 10 minutes to run, so during that time I sat in the exam room with my kid fading in and out. Eyes open, eyes closed.
And I lost it.
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? Well, if a mother is crying in fear and no one is there to hear it, does it do her any good to get those tears out?
I wasn't able to make the choice to stop or not. There's no controlling emotion when you're feeling so helpless and your worst fears are going through your head.
I knew it was [possibly] only the flu, but seeing your child so weak and lifeless seems like the end of the world.
Soon enough the doctor came in and told me the news, that she did not have the flu. A quick check of her ears pointed us in the direction of ear infections and possibly strep.
"Should I be happy it's not the flu?" I asked.
Her tiny mask still draped over her face, we were the last to leave the office that evening. The waiting room lights were dimmed and the faint smell of sanitizing spray lingered in the air. A direct beeline for the only open pharmacy in our small town and a filled antibiotic prescription later, we were home and relieved.
The dinner that I had prepared early on in the day still sat in the crock pot. With the popularity of neti pots these days, my first thought was to heat up a bowl and stick my head over it and breathe in the comforting smell of beef barley soup until my nasal passages were clear of germs and full of the essence of that single and important bay leaf and stewed tomatoes.
Admittedly I just poured myself a glass of apricot brandy, a cure all that my great grandmother swore by, and tried to unwind from the emotions of the day, my eye makeup still smudged down my cheek and tomorrow's lunch waiting for me in the big refrigerator. I would be too busy holding my baby and nursing her small and rambunctious self back to health, the most important job of the day.

Beef Barley Vegetable
Get this one going this weekend.

1 3-pound beef chuck roast, cubed
2/3 cup quick barley
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (16oz) package frozen green beans
4-5 cups beef broth or stock
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 (28oz) can chopped stewed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a slow cooker, add everything except for barley and salt. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Turn to high and add barley and salt and cook an additional 30 minutes.


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