Start Me Up

The new year has rolled out and the rollercoaster has begun. In just the first half of January, there have been dramatic shifts and prods within social media, government, law enforcement, D.E.I., journalism, and more. Brad Montague touched upon the enormity of this time as ‘toomuchery.’ The world keeps changing, the world keeps staying the same. Routine mixed with chaos, stirred with uncertainty. What happens when our very democracy is under violent attack and my child approaches me and asks for help with homework? He’s working on calculating area. Length x width.

The other day I impulse bought a set of clearance rack barrettes from Target. As if that would help anything. As if it would lessen the anxiety. But they sparkle on Zoom. They shimmer under the light of our dinner table. They help hide that awkward hair length I’m at- the growing-out-phase. But really, there is no help for moving through uncertainty. Sparkle is merely a distraction.

Family continues with distance and technology, and the occasional freezing cold walk at a forest preserve.

Our dog, Putter, continues to burrow on our laps and spread the warmth wherever she goes. In the ever-chill of a midwestern winter, I don’t really mind it. I’m just not always ready when I’m sitting down with coffee and a furry bundle leaps into my startled lap.

On Tuesday, Fitz cracked open an Ina Garten cookbook and made the fanciest comfort food he could find: lobster BLTs. They were sensational. A hall-of-fame kind of sandwich.

Clean, purge, donate. Every year this happens. The doling out of holiday decor, the sweeping removal of it, and my insistence at stripping things down, down, down to necessity. In a world of no control, I have to stop myself from pacing or organizing. In doing so, Fitz dug through office drawers and uncovered a treasure among relics (a rolodex! ancient biz cards!). Before the world changed and tilted, he had purchased a pair of earrings on Etsy for me. My initials. The two letters that have been singular in my identity for so long. A really lovely, thoughtful gift. It reminded me of that moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Clark is in the attic, attempting to discreetly hide presents…until he uncovers a dusty Mother’s Day gift from 1984. Oops.

I picked a helluva time to start school again but the program was just too good and the Instagram ad hit at the right time. Despite the chaos of schedule, I have really enjoyed eCornell. I’m studying Diversity & Inclusion.

Every day is still fresh. Every opportunity is still present. Yes, this year has already been too much, but many days lay ahead. Many days lay ahead. Start me up.

5 Good Things

Teddy pupPlease enjoy this gratuitous photo of snuggly dog + snuggly teddy bear.

It’s the end of July. HOW? Really?

Yes. Really. It just keeps going. Here are five good things that might change your mood from ‘meh’ to ‘hmm.’

1. This Kale, Sausage, & White Bean recipe via Cup of Jo. My family loves it and always fights over who gets seconds.

2. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Ms. Reid was just nominated for the 2020 Booker Prize. I read her book back in March and was WOWed by it (trust when I say it lives up to the hype). A cousin just called me up out of the blue and said, “You read ‘Such a Fun Age’ right?” We then proceeded to talk excitedly for the next hour. Mini book club via phone!

3. Netflix recommendations: The Babysitters Club for a hearty dose of nostalgia, the rebooted Unsolved Mysteries for suspense and drama (the French count who escaped?! WHOA).

4. Tennis. Yup, I’m branching out of my comfort zone and taking lessons. This meant I had to add a few tennis outfits to my wardrobe (I had none. NONE). I really enjoy Prince, a house brand of Dicks Sporting Goods, particularly this top and this tennis skirt.

5. Folklore by Taylor Swift. My head and heart are spinning with this album. It’s the morose, ethereal soundtrack of 2020. I am crushed by the beauty of ‘My tears ricochet’ and ‘Exile,’ but ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ is fantastically fun because the singer enters the narrative when you least expect it.

Into the Motherhood

Hello friends. Hello mamas. Hello to anyone who’s been that beautiful, guiding force of maternal care. Today is a day for recognizing all the amazing facets you are. Motherhood is a big, gorgeous mosaic. It’s a stunning image concocted from tiny, fragmented moments: middle-of-the-night feedings, tantrums, milestones, growing pains, birthday candles, soccer goals, wiping tears, couch snuggles, catching vomit in your hands, clapping at the spring concert, playing one last round of checkers, and more. It’s beautiful. It’s scary. It’s so many things. But today, motherhood is unity. It’s all of us together, figuring this out, taking in the mosaic. No matter where we see ourselves in the art form, we are most certainly there. Happy Mother’s Day. 

Happy Weekend: 3 Things

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  1. We’re doing a mini-upgrade to our home office and debating two wallpapers: a soft neutral or a silver blue. Everyone seems to love the neutral- the blue is so uplifting though! I shared this on Instagram and turns out, many are uplifted by that blue too. So what’s your vote?
  2. There is a restaurant in Minocqua, WI called The Boathouse. And The Boathouse has the most amazing soup around: Hungarian Mushroom. It’s so good that I eat hot bowls of it on 90-degree July days in the thick of summer. I found this recipe and not only is it quite simple, but it’s nearly a perfect duplicate of The Boathouse speciality.
  3. My kids are ice skating like crazy. Wells skates at the outdoor rink at his elementary school (during January, this is what the kids do for P.E.). Gus has been skating at an indoor rink in Winnetka- reliable because it’s not dependent on our fickle winter weather. Best tip for new skaters? If you are wobbly bend down and touch the tops of your knees to regain balance.

Happy weekend!

Christmas & Other Things

  • New stockings to welcome the newest family member (Putter the dog)
  • Annual holiday party, with candied bacon winning again for best bite
  • A Home Alone-themed party in which Fitz dressed as Gus Polinski, polka king of the Midwest (he took clarinet lessons, people. CLARINET LESSONS)
  • Hot tea, green juice, water, repeat (also: prayers for my immune system)
  • Taking advantage of that free gift-wrapping service at Nordstrom
  • An amazing hosting gift: the Saveur cookbook! I made this ham, egg, and lemon sandwich on brioche for dinner on Tuesday.
  • No snow. Bummer.
  • Lots of twinkle lights. Delightful.
  • Frasier Fir candles
  • Carols are great but do you ever listen to Christmas jazz? (*swoons*)
  • 4th place in chess championship for Wells, ice skating lessons for Gus
  • Off Campus Writers Workshops for me, paddle season for Fitz
  • Shivers for Putt-Putt, who does NOT like the cold (she is from Mississippi)
  • Menu planning for Christmas Eve: maybe baked ziti and roasted salmon with dill sauce
  • Holiday tea with my sis, U Club with the A-team (solid city escapes)
  • Lightscape at the Botanic Garden

And a partridge in a pear tree!

 

City Girl Confessions: The Soothing Art of Consistency

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Each morning, around the 8am hour, my car curves around a corner and I see the same familiar sight: two people out for a walk, clad in matching red parkas.  

It was 23 degrees this morning. The chill was of no concern for these two friends on their stroll. Clouds of breath were visible in the frigid air but still, the sun was shining and welcoming the start of a new day.

Our mornings often follow a strict routine. Along the way of brushing teeth, showering, changing clothes, eating/drinking, there are also little pieces that fit into this routine puzzle. There are dogs that are walked at the same time each day. There is a cyclist doing dedicated laps around the hilled streets. Construction crews are arriving and removing tools from their trucks. School buses heave with exhaust as they begin their dutiful routes. 

But there is something very interesting about this couple in their red parkas. My children have noticed their dedicated morning walks over time- walks in the warm Spring sun, walks in the crisp Fall, etc.. But it’s fascinating to them to witness such consistency in these wintry months. 

I’ll confess- I love this notion. Sure, it takes a little motivation and pep talk to get psyched about venturing out into the cold. But nature has always been restorative. It’s accessible and soothing for stress. We just have to get ourselves moving. It helps if we also approach this with the right layers. You gotta bundle up in the whole shebang: gloves, scarf, hat, boots. Yes, this is a groan-worthy bunch of extra effort. Yes, you still have to do it if you want to be comfortable (and yes, bonus points are awarded if you have to dress young children; it’s practically an Olympic sport wrangling snow pants, coats, and mittens onto a tiny human).

I once read that in Scandinavia, families are encouraged to get outside everyday, rain, snow, or shine. That in doing this, one can experience stimulation that can’t be replicated indoors: fresh wind on skin, the crispness of a snowflake, or the crunch of boots against the Earth. This act might feel really daunting, especially when temps plummet to single digits. So why not start small? Why not start with something easy and free? Something like a walk in your neighborhood. 

A few years ago, I made the decision to wake up before the sun and start going to a 6am yoga class. As a sleep-deprived parent, this was NOT easy nor enjoyable at first. But I was consistent and made it a part of my morning routine. I am soothed by this practice now, even though it took time to get my footing. 

I imagine it was the same for the folks I see each morning, rounding the corner, two bright spots of red. Yes, our weather and seasons are changing. Maybe a little consistency can soothe that. 

 City Girl Confessions is my recurring column in The Glencoe Anchor