The Magpie Diary: April 21, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop

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Mr. Magpie often sends me a text around 5:15 or 5:30: “Come down?” He’s finishing up his work day and seeking a sliver of quiet companionship before our nanny leaves at six and we subsequently barrel into dinner and bedtime. I routinely decline. I know some day I will look back at those texts and regret not saying yes to every single one. Not necessarily in the morose sense — just that, even in a decade’s time, I’ll never be found saying: “I shouldn’t have given him those 30 minutes each day. How foolish of me.” I anticipate it will be the inverse: “I should have said yes and enjoyed a little more ease and connection while we were in the thick of raising two young children.”

Over the weekend, we attended two funerals and the combination of witnessing the grief of loved ones, hearing about the lifelong friendships of the deceased, and moving through several days with a heavy heart led me to widen the margins in my day and say “yes” to a lot more down time with Mr. Magpie this week. I felt the same kind of fatigue of heart that I did just after Tilly died: as though my inner world was puffy, tender, in need of slower movement. I’ll never forget one morning a day or two after Tilly passed away: I kept finding myself needing to pause and stand still. I would be so overcome by a wracking, nearly physical wave of grief, that I’d need to stop short and collect myself. At some point, exhausted by the fits and starts, I changed into sweats, put my spa playlist on in my noise canceling headphones, and sat on the ground taking deep, intentional breaths. The grief didn’t change size, but it felt as though I did. I learned that physically slowing down enabled me to better withstand, and accommodate, the loss.

Feeling a similar kind of exhaustion at the top of the week, I listened to myself and slowed down. I peeled away from my desk early, booked a hot yoga class, took a long walk with a friend, asked Mr. Magpie to accompany me down the block to deposit some mail into the mail box, played hooky in order to sit outside my son’s tennis lessons, and curled up in Mr. Magpie’s arms at night instead of kicking his wandering foot out of my way. (I’m only half kidding…I’m fairly brutish on this front — he likes to have his feet pressed against mine every night at bed, and I need space and room to fall asleep! We have an ongoing nightly routine about this.)

This week, I just let myself drift into things. I sat outside. I stared at the tree in my front yard. (Who knows what my neighbors thought? Eh well — this is the new, nearly-40-year-old Jen who cares increasingly less about what others think.) I found myself enjoying the coffee runs and drop offs rather than seeing them as “things to tick off the list.”

The pace was not without cost. I let a lot of things drop. I didn’t get back to people, I didn’t accomplish as much writing as I’d have liked to, I set aside the long to-do list I had and instead watched part of the Eras tour with my daughter, I took the path of least resistance when serving the kids dinner — meaning several nights of buttered noodles and fish sticks, accompanied by their iPads. (Mr. Magpie will sometimes encourage me to do this by saying: “POLR, baby! PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE!” Sometimes, we all need the extra yardage, even though it goes against our goal of eating the same meal together as a family most nights of the week, without screens.)

In short, the pace is untenable for my week-in-and-week-out life, but my God, was it ever needed, and did it ever feel good. As I was moving through my week, narrating my decisions to Mr. Magpie, he observed: “You’re always saying that whenever you feel like you have no time to work out, you need it the most. That’s what’s going on here. When you feel like you have the least amount of time to play hooky, you need it the most.”

I’m glad I gave myself a soft, slow-motion landing this week. I needed it. I hope you listen to yourself this week, too.

Also this week…

+Peeling off early for happy hour with Mr. Magpie. I’ve been loving these etched-star glasses from Half Past Seven for margs. I believe they will be releasing them in a bunch of fun colors this week – stay tuned!

+OMG. How did I not know own one of these ice rollers sooner?! It feels divine in the morning and is one of my new favorite parts of my A.M. routine. Especially refreshing after a late or sleepless night, and with all the pollen in the air! I immediately texted a few girlfriends and my sisters with news of this.

+Post hot yoga Tatte run. They have this turkey sandwich that is, truly, basic, but I can’t get enough of it. Turkey, cucumber, avocado, sprouts with a green herb dressing on toast. It is perfection. No notes.

+My son living his best life at the dentist. Of all the advancements since my childhood, pediatric dentistry has to be top of the heap. It’s like a spa day for them! TVs on the ceiling, blankets, swag bags, sunglasses, flavored toothpaste options galore! In all seriousness, though, I sat in the dentist’s office this week and had one of those profound “look how far I’ve come” moments. Longtime readers might remember I’ve endured two very stressful visits to the dentist with my daughter. The first involved a tantrum so epic on W. 86th Street in NYC that a stranger stopped and asked whether my daughter needed help. As in, she thought I might have been abducting her or something along those lines. I was so deflated by the experience, I turned around, asked my husband to cancel the meeting he was leading, and had him accompany us to the dentist. I recall sitting outside the dental office (COVID protocols were then in place, so only one parent could sit with the child) and crying on a small, gross chair on the Upper West Side. The second took place just after we’d relocated to Bethesda, and everyone was out of sorts. My daughter became so hysterical in the chair that she began to throw implements around the room. I still can’t believe it happened — it is so out of character for her to do anything physical like that! — and I was both mortified and overwhelmed. After I’d somehow calmed her down, I went to apologize to the dentist and burst into tears. Big, hiccuping ones. The dentist drew me into her arms and said, “Change is hard. It’s OK, mama. This happens all the time.” Just thinking about it makes me teary-eyed. The goodness of other moms who have been there! She knew, intuitively, that “it’s never the cream.” I felt so supported in that moment. I shifted from “the mom with the kid who is out of control” to “a mom having a hard day — we’ve all been there.” Anyhow, as I sat in the dentist office this week, and watched my children placidly submit to their treatments, I thought: “OK, mama. We made it past some invisible milestone. Onward!” It’s so important to quietly celebrate those little wins. We survive 100% of our bad days, you know?

+A very good combination of ice creams. Like a PB&J!

+We normally make coffee at home, but we ran out of beans (after having unexpected weekend house guests) and then Mr. Magpie was out of town on business, so I treated myself to multiple iced oat lattes this week. An expensive, and delightful, habit. (I usually get mine from Grace St. in Bethesda, but also had one from Sunday Bakeshop at Pike and Rose.) Also below: pulled out my favorite Dans La Main seagrass Kelly for its seasonal debut, and have to say — the taupe rollneck sweater I’m wearing in the second photo below has become such a staple in my weekly wardrobe. I usually prefer to buy in color, but you really do reach for the neutrals more than you’d think. This outfit made me feel Nancy Meyers-ish, as if I might be going to a beach house this weekend. (You can get the look for less from Alice Walk. And similar vibe, in cardigan format: this $165 cashmere beauty that so many of you have purchased!). I paired with everyone’s favorite Gap white jeans (so many of you have written to rave about these after ordering) and Eleftheria sandals (lots of you also bought and adore these on my rec).

+Related to above: years ago, my best friend and I used to text each other photos of “Soy Milk Latte Fridays.” She was in New York, I was in D.C. or Chicago, and it was this funny little ritual that made us feel connected in spite of the distance. Something about seeing her feet and indulging in the same favorite beverage felt reassuring to me. Out of the blue, I sent her the photo above on Friday, and she immediately sent me this in response! The same nail color, the same drink order (now both of us do oat milk), similar chunky knits! I was charmed. (I also guessed, correctly, she was in Soho versus her home neighborhood of Chelsea.)

+Scenes from a slow Sunday: the children engaging in water play; a small bowl of candy salad for dessert (P.S. – these little snack bowls, seen below, from In the Roundhouse are the perfect size for the nibbly bits I mentioned here); me reading a book and chugging this refillable water bottle from our trip to Calistoga, CA (the slogan “Be Well” leapt out at me and I carried it around all week); another batch of shrub spritzes (mentioned them first here, served up in the aforementioned Half Past Seven glasses on top of my favorite acrylic coasters); and some mixed grilled veg from an amazing Persian dinner Mr. Magpie made that evening. He mainly drew from recipes in this new cookbook he just ordered.

+I recently discovered that Honest has a line of children’s products for sensitive skin. My son has always had sensitive skin and sometimes the products I’ve used to treat his irritations have made things worse. I was thrilled to add some of these to the arsenal! All are fragrance free and have soothing ingredients like calendula and aloe. He was very excited about the bubble bath. Seen below with our favorite Weezie hand towels. I love these because each of my children have their own designated towels they keep for their own use by their separate sinks. I’m finding that at their ages (nearly 5 and just 7), giving each his/her own version of a thing prevents a lot of strife.

+Closing with this: a Magpie reader and talented artist, Paris Geraniotis, sent me this illustration of Tilly. I absolutely treasure it — and am so bowled over by her generosity. She captured Tilly’s smile so well. I can’t wait to have it framed.

Onward, Magpies!

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4 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: April 21, 2024.

  1. Random notes:

    +Sunday Morning Bakehouse had a delicious chocolate chip cookie last time I was there! My ideal: no nuts, thin, large, crispy but chewy!

    +My husband and I similarly disagree about the proper method to get to sleep – he’d love to be touching at all times and I’m firmly on the side of I need my space and silence!

    +Will have to check out that sandwich next time I need to get something from Tatte. I made Gaby Dalkin’s crispy smashed potatoes with green sauce for a dinner party this weekend and I have been slathering that green sauce on absolutely everything since! It sounds a bit more spice forward than herb forward (lots of jalapeno and serrano) but I will probably play around with other variations and ratios as well going forward.

    1. Yum – I absolutely love when we have leftover salsa verde or chimichurri or really any green sauce (whether herby or spicy or both) to dip…anything into. Roasted veg, oven fries, hunk of bread, sandwich!! Even sourdough pretzels!

      Making my mouth water…

      Thanks for the note on the choc chip cookie! Will def try when I’m out that way!


  2. Love the honesty and rawness here. I’ve been feeling much of the same way lately, and wrestle between feeling guilty for not being productive and feeling burnt out and in need of gentleness. Really appreciate you sharing this perspective.

    1. Hi Emily! Thanks for writing in – I’m so sorry you’re going through a parallel time of intensity. I have those same wrestlings, by the way! I think the key for me has been learning to trust myself — e.g., trusting that I will clip back into my usual, get-stuff-done mode, because I always have and I always do. I remind myself: this isn’t a permanent thing. I just need to slow done right now.


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