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Feb 7, 2013

It's been a rough couple of weeks(1). My three boys have had the flu, and one of them has had two different kinds. As a mother, I try to do all that I can to make them comfortable: medicine, liquids, blankets, and peace and quiet(2). I try to give them some extra attention, if they want it. At times(3) I have taken their temperatures, asked them how they feel, felt their foreheads, and given them popsicles(4) for their sore throats. Sometimes, however, they have wanted to be left alone(5). I can understand that. As a mother, you have to become a judge of who will want what and when(6). My daughter gave me a good suggestion today, to help Robert feel better: buy him a teddy. He is ten years old, almost too 'cool' to have teddies, but not quite. And, of course, there are teddies and teddies(7). The one she chose for him is a gorilla with a tie and a big smile. That's perfect for an 'almost too cool boy'. It's soft, cuddly(8), and funny, but it's also masculine looking, and it goes well with his giant soft lion that he uses as a pillow. It was a good idea, I told Domini. It's a little, soft creature that wishes him well, with a huge smile to make him feel better.

1. 'A rough couple of weeks'. 'Rough' is a common word to describe a length of time that has been difficult.

a. This week has been rough at work.

b. The two years after the divorce were very rough.

2. 'Peace and quiet' is a set phrase that is used in both England and the U.S. The meaning is self-explanatory, but it should be noted that they often, automatically go together.

a. After a noisy week, I really need peace and quiet at the weekend.

b. When you have the flu, you need medicine, liquids, rest, and peace and quiet.

3. 'At times' is the same as saying 'sometimes', though it can indicate less occasions than 'sometimes'.

a. At times he looks happy, but then at other times he looks sad.

b. At times I really don't know if he is joking or not.

4. 'Popsicle' is like a cross between 'pop' and 'icicle'. It is a frozen lollipop, and comes in many different flavors and shapes.

a. In the Summer we always fill the freezer with popsicles.

b. Popsicles can help a sore throat feel better.

5. To be 'left alone' often goes with the word 'want', or it is phrased to show that the person desires to be alone. 'Left' indicates other people letting go, or permitting.

a. I just want to be left alone.

b. I'm sure he'll calm down if you leave him alone/ if he's left alone.

6. 'Who will want what and when' is an example of a string of interrogatives. Because I have already mentioned the medicines, blankets, liquids etc and the boys, I don't need to repeat these nouns. The sentence that is full of interrogatives is simply referring back to those nouns.

a. We have ham, cheese, salad, soup, and cake for everyone. Anyone can help themselves to what they want, when they want it.

b. I don't know why, when, or how this mess was made; I just want it cleaned up!

7. 'There are teddies and teddies' echoes a similar sentence that I discussed in a previous podcast. This sentence format is comparing equal things, but it implies that they are not equal. Some teddies are better than others.

a. We saw the musical Les Miserable. Of course there are musicals and there are musicals, but that's one of the best.

b. I wish you didn't buy that cheap ham. It's not all the same you know. There's ham and then there's ham.

8. 'Cuddly' is one of my favorite words. It means something that is easy to hug, perhaps even built to hug.

a. That homemade pillow is so cuddly; I could just hug it all day.

b. When our cat is sleepy, she is so cuddly.

You're all welcome to join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish. I will email you a reply if you write to me at to send me your questions or comments.