Fashion Trends

Dispatches from the Sick Ward.

By: Jen Shoop

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

A stomach bug made its unsolicitous rounds in our home this past weekend, and we are just emerging from the malaise. It’s been going around my children’s school (in one of the pre-K classes, 60% of the students were out with it last week!), and some of my friends and their children at other local schools have also caught it. A nasty business. This is my public supplication to pick up an eight pack of Gatorade, a package of mini saltines, and ginger ale at your next visit to the grocery store. (One Magpie also recommended stocking the freezer with Pedialyte pops for these situations.) We had two of the three tonics on hand but Gatorade was the only thing I needed or wanted on Sunday at 10 PM, and we were out, so I placed an emergency Instacart order (God bless Instacart!). I’d requested lemon-lime, informed precisely by these sentiments (ha!):

Haha! I was accordingly distraught when the Instacart shopper let me know the Safeway was out of lemon-lime. (A friend let me know it was probably she and her family who’d bought out the entire stock of lemon-lime the day before, when her family was struggling through the worst of the bug.) The shopper found one solo lemon-lime Gatorade in a separate cooler after checking out and bought it for me with his own money, writing “Hope you feel better soon!” I welled up with gratitude at the unexpected generosity.

Anyhow, we are through the woods. In my feverish, aching state, I did manage to reach the end of the Internet, though — and thought I’d share some of the fruits of that pursuit:

01. Have you seen The Velveteen Rabbit on Apple TV? We watched it together, as a sad, sick family of four, and it was the most charming balm. The morning after, my daughter reported that she’d had a dream she was the sister of William (the main character) and that when the doctor instructed his family to burn all of the sheets, pajamas, and toys he’d used while sick, she had gone out to the store and purchased him a new velveteen rabbit. She also said she saw herself in the little girl that lived next door (“I looked like her, and I would have also asked William to play”). I was touched and a little surprised by the focused ways in which she was writing herself into the movie, relating to the characters in specific ways and extending the narrative to include ideal endings she would have preferred. A specific kind of magic, to see your daughter reading texts deeply and imaginatively. May I also extol the virtues of a G-rated, 60-minute movie?! These are so difficult to come by these days. The film was beautifully shot, styled, and edited, and my husband and I enjoyed it as much as the children, who sat in rapt attention the entire time. Just gorgeous.

02. At the depths of my ailment, I could not bring myself to read, scroll, or watch anything on the TV. I find audiobooks ideal, non-demanding company for these situations. I put on Jane Eyre, narrated by Thandiwe Newton, and it was deeply soothing. I’d forgotten how gorgeous — ornate, and intricate, like a paper snowflake — the language is in the book, and Newton’s voice is spectacularly mollifying.

03. I signed up to bring in holiday goodie bags for my son’s pre-K class with another mom, and we both decided that in lieu of the standard goody bag of trinkets (dum-dums, stickers, stamps, bracelets), we’d buy one slightly bigger thing for each child. The goody bags always wind up much more expensive than you’d think, and most of them end up in the garbage. We decided to buy these “surprise Christmas squishmallow” pods — one for each child in the class — instead. I don’t know about your children, but mine are obsessed with Squishmallows! Both asked for them on their Christmas lists. We also talked about buying a bunch of Christmas board books so each child could pick one to bring home — that would have been the better, more educational pick — but we went with fun this year.

04. I ordered a few packs of this fancy truffle popcorn to bring as hostess gifts over the coming weeks for various holiday gatherings.

05. I’ve finished nearly all of my shopping, but still need a couple of stocking stuffers for the kids. I did buy mini some Taylor Swift bracelets and a Swiftie sticker to put on her water bottle. I always give them fresh packs of markers but am struggling with other ideas this year. Will report back once I work through this mental block!

06. I shuffled into and out of like five pairs of Lake Pajamas this weekend, and found myself longing to buy one of their kimono pajama sets. They’re made of the same material as the Relax Set, but I love the wrap style top. I also love this pattern they just released a few weeks ago. As I’ve mentioned hundreds of times, these make the best gifts. You can still order to receive in time for Christmas. If you’re procrastinating, just order a pair of jammies for your mom/sis/MIL and know it will not disappoint.

07. Speaking of comfort-wear, my order from Negative is finally en route to me (took a minute to ship!) and I can’t wait to try. So many of you have written to rave about everything this brand does. My exact order here — their “whipped” pieces sell through fast! I’ve seen a few pieces/colors sell out since I’ve purchased. I’m already itching to place a second order with some of their waffle collection.

08. Has anyone tried the athleisure from Mate the Label? I love the silhouette of this set, especially in the “bone” color. Heavily marketed to me while I was unwell this weekend and I’m falling prey.

09. [ED NOTE POST-PUBLICATION: Thanks to Magpie reader Caitlin, I now know the provenance of the reel I mention in this section: It’s from @chanwiththeboys on Instagram, and viewable here.] I wish I could find this Instagram reel, but I lost it somewhere in the past few days of illness — anyhow, it’s a video of a mom who works inside the home waking up at 5, making her three young boys breakfast, and talking about how she always makes herself “get out the door” each morning, no matter what. Even when it feels daunting to get three boys dressed and into their carseats. Even when she would rather just stay put. Her “secret”? “Lower expectations.” She makes the point that if her children are going to have a big breakfast (in the video, she makes them eggs and bacon and fruit), she is not going to have time to get herself properly ready, and that’s OK. Vice versa, too: if she takes the time to apply makeup, get fully dressed, her kids will have a simpler breakfast — cereal. And that’s OK. Sometimes the outing is just to the post office, or to the grocery store, or to the park. All OK. I watched this and thought how absolutely true it was. How much I have railed against these truths, too. I have wanted it all: myself, made up and dressed; my children, eating full and complete breakfasts and dressed in beautiful outfits; a full roster of festivities. We went to see Santa before we all got sick this weekend, and I was charmed and impressed by how beautiful the children in attendance looked — tartans, fair isles, knee socks, patent leather Mary Janes — but it mainly made me think of all of the invisible work that had gone into getting these children dressed and to the event on time. I did the same thing, of course. And I suppose my point is that everything costs something, or displaces something? And sometimes that cost is worth it. We want the beautiful picture with Santa, the memory, the feeling of festivity — that’s OK. But sometimes it’s not worth it, and that’s OK, too.

10. If you’ve still not purchased your man his Christmas gifts, let me tell you what the rest of us have: this henley (as I put it elsewhere, “guaranteed to transform him into a Yellowstone character” — plus, thanks to thermolite, has the warmth of a sweater and the weight of a tee) and this electric kettle for his pourover game (order by tomorrow for Christmas delivery). At Mack Weldon: my husband likes their underwear; great stocking stuffer.

11. A bunch of you ordered these faux wreaths and I think we are going to follow suit. In just two years of use, this will be a better value than the over-$100 wreaths we buy each year at American Plant. This one is currently $50 off.

12. Trending among Magpies: this Xandra bikini (Hunza G is THE BEST — I guess a lot of us are traveling somewhere warm soon?) and these leather-effect kick flares. Perfect with a chunky holiday knit.

13. Katie of Beach Reads and Bubbly (who also just recovered from the stomach bug!) did a charming makeup tutorial over the weekend and was raving about this Chanel highlighting stick. She made the point that it’s a great gift as you don’t need to pick a color that matches skintone (so hard to guess!), and it comes wrapped up in Chanel boxing — major wow factor. I kind of want for myself though. She also recommended this concealer, and it’s currently in my cart.

14. I just ordered my son an extra set of the Cat and Jack boxer briefs — his favorite, and currently on sale. We also have some of the ones from Primary, but the Cat and Jack ones are softer and have a better fit. Also such good prints! Just realized this might be something good to hang onto and put in his stocking. I’m so “pro” putting things they need in their stockings! My mom used to give us tape, glue, etc! We loved it.

15. Julia Amory just marked down all of her holiday pieces. I’m very tempted by the tree skirt

16. When we went to see Santa, I wore this dress. I’m not sure you can see well in the photo, but there is velvet trim on the sleeves and at the hem — so cute! It’s 30% off right now if you subscribe to their newsletter. I wore with my glittery Aquazzura boots (look for less with this pair from Target!).

17. This cherry beanie is SO cute. More cute recent Shopbop finds here.

Have a great Tuesday, Magpies!

P.S. My most-needed sick day gear.

P.P.S. Musings inspired by my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. I sang this at karaoke the last time! It was maybe a bit of a buzzkill but I just love it so much.

P.P.P.S. Everything I ate in three days, a few months ago. I love these kinds of diaries!

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

18 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Sick Ward.

  1. Wishing you all well! A brutal stomach bug tore its way through playgroup last month, it was a harrowing few days but luckily now a distant memory. I will say having actual emesis bags like a hospital is my trick as a sick mom, since you can keep it in a pocket and whip it out at a moment’s notice. We also keep them in the car for motion sickness.

    Gifts I got my husband: Salt Bae espresso salt (he loves that guy and if you ever go to Turkey, Nusr-et is a completely different experience there), truffle balsamic glaze, skincare (Weleda, Caudalie and CosRx, if anyone’s interested: each Christmas I gift him a full routine of moisturizer/serum/face oil and label it 1/2/3 with my old-fashioned Dymo labeler), a dad joke book from a guy he watches on Instagram, Ferrero Rochers (Schar makes an excellent gluten free version if that’s your thing), Specuulos coffee syrup, espresso beans, a German-style incense smoker on your recommendation, a hoodie that will make him smile (

    FIL: Postcards from the Edge (a photo book by one of the minds behind the Free Solo documentary, full of isolated mountain climbs), photo ornament of his kids together over a decade ago, a custom sweatshirt with his grandpa name embroidered (Ringo)
    SIL: Specialty Christmas legos and the matching kits to add lighted bricks (search by model number on Amazon), she has a tree, a moving skating rink, a wreath and a Santa’s village, next year I’ll be more proactive and get her the train
    BIL: Luke Edward Hall tray:, the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook, a pocket edition of Oscar Wilde
    MIL: Dorsey earrings, Nina Ricci perfume etched with her grandma name (Glamma, free engraving at Sephora), a bedazzled iWalk charger
    Dad: Calabrian pepper paste (Trader Joe’s Bomba Sauce is a good dupe), Polaine Bakery bread book, Grissini aka the most elegant pool shoes, as if crocs had a glow up®-kaki
    Stocking stuffers: Dutch blitz card game, sheet masks, french cocoa truffles, fruit leather, fancy sprinkles, mead or port in small bottles, Elizabeth Harbour ornaments,

    1. Amen to the emesis bags. This made a huge difference in our car — my daughter is prone to carsickness and I always keep them on hand there but somehow totally forgot abut their applicability in-home! TY! Going to run out to the car to bring some in now.

      These gifts are SO thoughtful and lovely — you are such a talented gift-giver. Just the right balance of functional, thoughtful, stylish. I love these ideas!


  2. Yuck, I hope you are all better soon!
    Stocking stuffers…. Washi tape, Meri Meri faux tattoos, mini flashlights, Sun Print kits, Pom Pom maker, fun bandaids, post it notes, Hot Hands hand warmers (for skiing!), spools of ribbon and new scissors, personalized bookplates, and this adorable mini Lego Defender kit… I’m going to put it in John’s stocking… we used to own one and he always says how much he misses it… but rest assured it wasn’t yellow, ha! Sending healing hugs! <3!790!3!!!!x!!!20775785462!&cmp=KAC-INI-GOOGUS-GO-US_GL-EN-RE-SP-BUY-CREATE-MB_HOLIDAY_OCCASION-SHOP-BP-SP-ALL-CIDNA00000-PMAX_LOCAL_HOLIDAY&gad_source=1&gbraid=0AAAAADESMXI3g7lgxOEJeyPB3g-UE1fyX&gclid=CjwKCAiAg9urBhB_EiwAgw88mTVh6_1tC3moZnAWjiEUrzkrV1Vk7weKRH-eMqHdRaCgq-fabtEDgRoCLcAQAvD_BwEAnd

    1. OMG! So cute! Great finds. After reading a few of the comments on this post, I rounded out the stockings! Got the Washi tape you rec’d!


    1. Thanks to you and Heidi below for this amazing suggestion! SO helpful. I just ordered a bunch of items. I know my kids will lose their minds over the stopwatches!


  3. Re: “lower expectations” — my mother always goes by “higher acceptance, lower expectations”. I’ve kept this in my back pocket too on sick days, out-of-routine days, even holidays. I accept that there will be more screen time, more cranky moods on sick days. I will have lower expectations for tidiness on sick days. I accept that my daughter will show more dysregulation/”loopy” behavior on holidays. Etc.

    P.S.Love the mini squishmallows — those are too cute! Over the years I have tried to be mindful about goody bags. I tend to go for books in lieu of goody bags as well — I love those boxed sets of easy reader books from Scholastic or the sets of mini “SPOT of emotion” books — they end up being pretty inexpensive! But what kid will not appreciate a squishmallow?!

    Hope you all feel better soon!

    1. Love the books idea, too — and I also remember you or another Magpie maybe said they’d handed out $5 gift cards to a local ice cream shop as a party favor and I thought that was SO cute. Like what a great way to invite a special afternoon between parent/child?

      Really love the “higher acceptance, lower expectations” framework! Thank you!


  4. We spend $100+ on a fresh wreath as well and I do have to admit I *love* mine. It’s got proteas and evergreens and it’s stunning. I might try to make one myself next year to save on costs.

    Thanks for the boy boxer recs! What do you recommend for toddler boys? (Like 2T sizing). Thank you!

  5. Oh no Jen! I’m so sorry to hear about the stomach bug. They are the worst! We all came down with it last year and neither my daughter nor I could forget the night she threw up 6 (!!!) times. I hope you are all on the mend and able to keep something down. Great idea to stock up on sick day food/hydration ahead of time — sometimes we run out at that exact moment we need it most. Adding those to my grocery list!

    Speaking of IG reels, there was a funny but true video I came across — the camera focused on someone “decorating” their windowsill with bottles of Tylenol, saline spray and other medications and the caption was “decorating for the season” or something like that. 100%!

    I had read an interview somewhere that Thandiwe (formerly Thandie) Newton changed her name back to the original spelling, “Thandiwe”. I think when she was starting out as an actor, it was misspelled and the industry folks recommended she keep the misspelled/anglicized version to make it easier for others to say/recognize. How beautiful that her real name means “beloved” in her language!

    1. Thanks for the correction on Thandiwe! Updated the post!

      That IG reel could not be more accurate – omg. EVERYONE I know is muddling through something right now!


  6. I don’t think you need to spend $100+ on a wreath! I always just buy an inexpensive but real wreath at Lowes for like $30. I always get one with pinecones so it has some dimension, then I cut off the cheap bow and affix a homemade one of velvet ribbon (which is easy to swap, but I can usually use for multiple years since our front door is covered from the elements) with some wire. It’s extremely easy, and I think there’s just something about real pine greenery that even high quality faux items can’t replicate.

  7. For stocking stuffers, I usually do small fun things like flashlights, keychains or things to hang on their backpacks, socks, erasers, flash cards, card games, bath bombs or cool soaps, small Squishmallows, and unique candy, like chocolate coins. This year, I also did personalized pencils and a calculator. Busy Toddler has some great ideas for stocking stuffers.

    1. Two of you recommended Busy Toddler and I just bought a bunch of items off her list! Thank you so much for the referral. I think my kids are going to go crazy over the stopwatches in particular. GREAT rec.


Previous Article

Next Article