The Magpie Diary: Dec. 10, 2023.

By: Jen Shoop

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A week or two ago, I came across this beautiful infographic demonstrating the way in which sharing ourselves with others can change our experiences of joy, fear, and shame. When we share the positive emotions, they grow. When we share the challenging ones, they shrink. I immediately thought of a situation that has been unfolding over the past few weeks. My son struggles with the articulation of certain sounds in his everyday speech, and it had begun to impact his intelligibility at school. His saintly teacher reached out and suggested we seek speech and language services to support him. I am so fortunate to have such an attentive and proactive teacher caring for him — and I was receptive to and grateful for the suggestion, as we had noticed the same thing at home and had not known how to assess its severity or address it, especially as he is “stimulable” (a word I’ve learned since we’ve moved down this path, meaning he can create the sounds when we pause, model the correct sound, and ask him to repeat it). But — what were the next steps? I felt lost when trying to figure out whether to use the taxpayer-supported option, which would be free to us, but would involve having him plucked out of his school day once a week and taken alone by shuttle on a van to a nearby public school, or to pursue a private solution. And, if I was going to find a private service, where to even begin? What do I look for in evaluating one? Would in-home or in-clinic be more beneficial? What should I ask while on the introductory calls? How to even explain what was going on with my son? I felt paralyzed for several days. I had “RESEARCH SPEECH AND LANGUAGE” on my to-dos but had no idea where to begin, or what to ask. I dragged a gray cloud behind me — I felt worried, overwhelmed, and woefully under-qualified for the task.

On the third day of paralysis, I reached out to my mother, my sister (an early childhood literacy specialist), and a girlfriend of mine who is one of those unicorns who has a perfect referral for everything (childcare agency, aesthetician, local running boutique, best vegan restaurant in Bethesda — she’s my go-to, trusted “finder”). Within 24 hours, I had a few leads on speech and language services that were local to me and had been connected to a friend of my sister’s who is an expert in early childhood speech and offered a lot of direction in terms of finding and vetting the right fit for my son. When I shared all of my findings with Mr. Magpie, he said:

“God, you women are incredible.”

It felt like I’d flown a bat signal. You know that phrase “many hands make light work”? I’d gone from feeling like I was rolling a hundred-pound boulder up a hill (or rather, being stuck at the foot of the hill, immobile and shouldering the stone) to finding my way to the crest, with these women distributing the weight alongside me.

Speaking candidly, certain life experiences have taught me to “keep to myself” and “not bother other people” and “figure things out on your own.” I have been hurt by situations where I have opened myself up and felt embarrassed, shut down, or in various ways dismissed. I look back and realize that I was seeking the wrong things from the wrong people at the wrong time. I was not yet mature or discerning enough to understand who to go to with which kinds of problems, or whether the problems merited a bloodletting in the first place. I have since learned that sometimes there are matters that I need to work through on my own, or with a very select group of listeners. I find this to be particularly true with career challenges. Even the most empathetic will tire of hearing the ins and outs of colleague drama, bad bosses, and small workplace injustices. So too with relationship issues that seem to trickle out in petty melodramas. These are the situations that require an earnest look in the mirror rather than a ring of sisterly support. But I think I have occasionally and erroneously applied this “deal with it yourself” mentality to situations in which sharing myself is not only deeply needed but welcomed by my family and friends. They want to help me, and they are qualified to do it. In the case of figuring out how to help my son, I opened my heart and watched my feelings of worry, paralysis, and stress shrink to a manageable shape.

Now, we are underway with treatment, on the loving shoulders of others.

A nudge today, Magpie, to ask for help if you need it. And on the flipside, to share the good stuff if you can: the funny thing your son said, the promotion you just earned, the story of your kind neighbor helping you with something.

Also this week…

+OMG. If you are an Olivia Rodrigo fan, do you know about Chappell Roan? I am obsessed with her album “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess” (explicit content / NSFW / not safe for little ears). Mr. Magpie and I have been listening to it whenever the kids are out of the house, and I’ve been running to it all week. It’s pop with inflections of The Cranberries, Florence and the Machine, Lana del Ray, Lady GaGa, and of course Olivia Rodrigo. (The album was produced by Dan Nigro, who also produced Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts” album, which I played on repeat for weeks this fall.) Mr. Magpie discovered the album via a pop music subreddit he follows for under-the-radar suggestions, but he also pointed out that one solid strategy for discovering new music up your alley is to look up the producer on an album you enjoy and look into his/her discography, too. Definitely true in this case. You know what’s funny? I ended up texting three good guy friends about the Chappell Roan album, as I know they all enjoy Olivia and Taylor, and it brought me joy that these dudes are the kind of guys who do not trivialize female pop. (The last time a Taylor album came out, I texted one of them to say: “Happy Taylor Swift launch day to those who celebrate (us)”.)

+This reminds me — did you read the Time article on Taylor Swift that came out this week? It is long and I skimmed much of it, but I thought this Taylor Swift quote was interesting: “Women have been fed the message that what we naturally gravitate toward—girlhood, feelings, love, breakups, analyzing those feelings, talking about them nonstop, glitter, sequins! We’ve been taught that those things are more frivolous than the things that stereotypically gendered men gravitate toward.”

+My favorite “relax set” was just restocked in a chic dusty blue color. Pair with this weighted eye mask for elite relaxation mode. And speaking of relaxation — I have started a nice little morning ritual this Advent of lighting a holiday candle (<< burning this one in the photo below, which smells divine and is somehow 50% off?; I am going to burn this one next) and reading the Advent scripture card for the day from Camilla Moss.

+What are we reading Magpies? I am not usually the type to toggle between lots of books at the same time, but I’m midway through five at the moment. They are all filling different needs and moods. I’m still making my way through these reflections from a Buddhist nun (listening on audiobook); Alice McDermott’s Absolution (excellent but requires considerable focus); this Roald Dahl book (Mr. Magpie’s cousin’s favorite book — she gave me her dog-eared version of it the last time I saw her and I’ve been wanting to read it since!); the Artist’s Way (a workbook for creatives recommended by my friend and creative force Caroline Lunne — reading with the intent of unblocking myself so I can keep working on the fictional piece that has been consuming my creative mind the past few weeks); and this B.R.A.D. (a term coined by Beach Reads and Bubbly — “beach read after dark” — steamy!). The topography of my reading has been imbalanced but it’s kind of great for me right now. I’m reaching for what I need each night — something more literary? something cerebral? something emotionally healing? I have it all!

+Have you scheduled a gift wrapping night? I’m planning to do two this year. One this upcoming week for all of the gifts for friends/family, and one next week for our children, to decide which gifts come from us vs. Santa. I don’t know that I’ve adequately raved about this little gizmo for holiday gift wrapping. It is SO good. Really sharp and makes the process of wrapping so much easier. All of my gift-wrapping recs here and here.

+On the gift-buying front, lots of recs for children here and here. I also wanted to mention that one of my favorite children’s boutiques, Danrie, has an incredible curation of toys for children — the kind you won’t mind leaving out. They invited me to select my top recommendations for gifts, which you can find here. Seen below: the library play set I’ll be gifting my daughter (do you know how much I would have loved this as a kid? the stamp?!), a cash register for my son, and another sweet Maileg mouse addition for my daughter’s collection. She’s been collecting these since she was a baby, when a friend of my MIL’s gifted her a Maileg when she was born! (You can see my daughter’s Maileg house in the background below! — an epic gift we bought her a few Christmases ago.)

+In the first pic of Danrie gifts above, you can see my Joy Creative Shop gift tags. Cannot recommend these enough. I’m very pro sticker tags these days. Makes life so much easier!

+Just ordered myself this hat and the matching gloves to pair with my ivory topcoat.

+What socks do you wear under your boots? If for any reason I anticipate I will need to take my shoes off and someone will see my socks, I wear these soft but chic wool ones. Otherwise, I wear these Nikes. They are slightly compressive but plush/cushioned and they always stay up / stay in place. I have tiny tiny feet and they actually hug my foot! Usually I have extra space in the heel or toe that makes it feel bunchy! If it’s really cold, I wear Darn Toughs. They are SO WARM.

+My most-worn boots this season: my No 6 clog boots (for, like, the fifth year running — go up one size), my Isabel Marant cowboys (also on sale for less here; I can tuck my Madewell jeans into them and the fit is perfect — not a skinny leg but narrow enough to work); and my Ugg ultra-minis (which I own in the forest night / olive green color — if you can find a pair in your size, buy! These are sold out almost everywhere — some limited sizes here).

+Doen’s final collection of the year launched a few days ago. SUCH beautiful pieces. I love this patterned velvet (silhouette is a 10). Doen invited me to pick a piece from the collection, and I chose this one, though. I know I will get a lot of wear out of it this season — easy enough to throw on for more casual events or dress up for more formal ones. I love the silhouette and pattern. I believe this piece was launched earlier this year and sold out already!

P.S. Shop my closet.

P.P.S. In case you need to hear it today: you’re enough.

P.P.P.S. I see you, mama.

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9 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: Dec. 10, 2023.

  1. Hi Jen, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sending you virtual hugs and cheering you on as you navigate speech and language services for your son. I’m so glad to hear you have leads already as seeking out pediatric specialists is not easy! I know from both a professional perspective (having worked in early intervention/birth to 3 services) and as a parent for my daughter who has needed occupational therapy for sensory processing issues (and now referred for a neuropsychology evaluation by her pediatrician). It is hard on an emotional level AND on a practical level. There is such a shortage of pediatric therapists and long waiting lists and not even all therapists take insurance!

    If I could share a bit about our experience — for us a combination of in-clinic and in-home via telehealth was really helpful for us. My daughter was around 3 when she started OT, and we did OT for about a year and a half (she is now 6). At the time we were doing in-clinic sessions every 2 weeks, but I verbalized early on that I wanted to be able to observe the in-clinic sessions AND I wanted some form of support/coaching for what we can do at home. A therapist will spend 45-50 minutes with the child, whereas she was with me throughout the week, so being able to do something at home that fit into our natural routines everyday would have a greater impact than just the in-clinic sessions. I’ve had conversations with parents who’ve doubted the benefits of therapy via telehealth but in our situation, I wanted the therapist to have a good sense of our space, what materials we have, what we can use to incorporate “therapy” at home without needing to buy specialized OT equipment. It helped her see my daughter in her natural environment and follow her lead and curiosity so that the strategies were tailored to her. And with the OT on video, I had a more active role as a parent in practicing the strategies with my daughter as the therapist provided coaching in real time. She made a lot of progress, but some new issues have come up recently so we are back in the process of revisiting OT. We went through an evaluation again and are on the #16 spot (!!!) on the wait list.

    Sharing all this to say you are not alone. I know this feels hard… it IS hard! And you are doing great advocating for your son.

    1. Hi Mia – Thank you so much for sharing these details. So helpful to hear about this from someone who’s walked this (lonely-feeling) road, and how you’ve thought through / navigated the types/modes of care. Thank you SO much. Really great context for me.



  2. Can I just say, thank you? You are hands down, my favorite corner of the internet. I enjoy your deeper posts, especially on motherhood as I am a newer mom (just geared up reading “you’re enough”) but I also love your fun, lighter posts too. Thanks for being a bright spot in our day.

    1. Kelly!!! Wow – thank you so much for the incredibly generous note. Thank YOU for being here and reading along. I’m so touched that my words have reached you at the right time :). Thank you for being a part of the Magpie community!


    1. OMG I didn’t know about this! Thank you for letting me know!

      And thanks, too, for the encouragement on my son’s front. Pocketing that. Thank you!


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