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The Magpie Diary: Jan. 21, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop

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Well, this week came in like a lion — and stayed that way. The children were home all week except for Thursday owing to Monday’s holiday and three snow days, and we had no childcare save for a couple of hours one afternoon, when a neighborhood gal came by to play with the children in the basement. I was reminded, shudderingly, of the intensities of quarantine life, and I was ill-prepared to revisit those specters. The children are older and require less supervision than they did during peak COVID times, but still — the week was a maelstrom of shifting meetings, forgetting about phone calls (!), bundling the children up and down, endless snacks and whining sessions, too much screen time, too little patience. I was not my best self despite reminding myself, multiple times, that I was where I needed to be, and that this, too, is the job. School cancelations, sick days, long stretches of no childcare – these are expected elements of motherhood, not exceptions from it. Difficult to wrap your mind around when you are barreling into a week with a robust list of objectives and errands on tap, but the truth nonetheless, and I strained to accommodate its reality.

A friend of mine recently shared this quote with regards to parenting (I think she might have gotten it from Dr. Becky):

“It feels hard because it is hard.”

I needed to remind myself of that, too. Anyhow, enough with the tiny violin. There were also some high points to the week…

+My best friend is a big kahuna at LVMH and managed to score these spectacular J’Adior slingbacks for me from a sample sale, seen above and below. (You can find similar on The Real Real.) I’m besotted with them. I had hoped to wear them this weekend for a dinner out to celebrate Mr. Magpie, but I have a hunch the weather has other plans in store for me at the time of writing this.

+The children’s untrammeled joy in the face of so much snow! Proper, sleddable snow! Mini in particular surprised me – she spent hours in the snow, either by herself or with a little boy that lives two doors down. Micro enjoyed the first day or two but then ran into a bush while sledding, scraping up his face fairly badly, and decided he preferred staying warm by the fire for the rest of the week. The children were obsessed with this Flexible Flyer “Snow Screamer” sled (our exact style here) — it’s ultra lightweight foam material so it really flies down the hill. We also have one of these heavier duty LL Bean saucers. Mr. Magpie did a bunch of Reddit research two years ago and these were the top finds. (We also have a beautiful old-fashioned wood sled, but I am frankly a little nervous about it — we had them when we were kids, too, and I think my Dad told me a friend of his had a finger cut off because of the “blades” and I’ve never looked at them the same way since.)

+I’ve shared their snow gear a bunch recently, but bibs and gloves are Northern Classics; mini is wearing her Reima parka, which micro also now has in a yellow color, but for some reason insisted on wearing his Helly Hensen twister jacket in a past-season color (reversible), which is now a tad small. Their boots are Kuling and nearly sold out online. I really love these because they’re heavy, heavy duty on the sole but have a nice slip-on style (no velcro) that cinches with a toggle. These ones look very similar and I’d go for them if you’re in the market and Kuling is sold out. Not seen above, but my daughter LOVED playing with this snow mold. Funny to look out and see a tiny, perfectly shaped snowman.

+These three makeup brushes are my MVPs at the moment. The $8 Tik Tok viral one is really, really good. I’m very impressed! I use all three of these for foundations, gel blushes and bronzers, concealers, highlighters. I especially like the Rephr for applying my Chantecaille bronzing tint. I almost paint it on to my cheekbones and around the frame of my face and bridge of my nose. You can really get a realistic looking sunkiss with it.

+Above: a double turtleneck kind of day. It’s been COLD. Just a reminder that this season’s striped J. Crew tissue turtleneck is currently on sale for like $10. I love layering with these!

+I took my children out for errands one snow day (roads being totally fine…) and emerged with two thoughts: first, my daughter is suddenly so capable. She loves to be charged with little assignments that give her autonomy. A girlfriend of mine nudged me in this direction when she told me that she sent her six year old daughter to drop something in the mailbox across the street. Her daughter’s eyes were saucers, and she stood at the edge of the lawn looking left and right to check for traffic for a good five minutes. Ever since, I’ve been looking for small ways to afford my daughter similar license. I had her drop something at the neighbor’s and she marched over there with purpose and glee. We also permitted her to walk over to another neighbor’s house to ask a little boy to go sledding a few times, unchaperoned, which lit her from the inside out. At the grocery, I asked her to return to get something in the produce section. I love the slight shock and determination on her face when I empower her to undertake these tiny charges. The second thing I noticed from this outing: how often I go to great lengths to avoid bringing my children on errands with me, and how beneficial they actually are for the kids. Let me be real: bringing children along often makes simple run-in-run-out type errands much longer. There are also often complaints about going, and dragging of feet. Then there are requests in the candy aisle, and toes run over by shopping cart wheels, and squabbling about who gets to ride on the end. But there are also these wonderful moments to empower your six year old to grab bananas, and to talk about how to pick ripe fruit, and to explain why we can’t buy Lucky Charms, and to get the children excited about what’s going to be on their plates, and to randomly hold your son’s hand on a Wednesday morning. We also popped into a bagel shop and they were delighted by heart shaped bagels, which they shared on the way home — such a small thing that brought them tremendous excitement. Finally, I philosophically believe it’s important for kids to see all of the duct work that goes into a well-run home. Like, food doesn’t just appear on the shelves — it costs money, and it takes time to procure. Determined to do a bit more of this in 2024.

+I wrote about these earlier this week in response to an Ask Magpie question, but these stackable velvet jewelry trays are such a great way to stow and organize jewelry (particularly costume/statement).

+Back during the pandemic, I got into the practice of carving out a “10 minute buffer” between the end of my work day and the start of my evening mom duties (bath, dinner, bedtime, etc). I had found it highly difficult to toggle, instantly, between creative mode and mom mode, and nearly always found myself short-tempered because of it. The buffer really helps with role-switching — a liminal space to decompress, take a minute to clip out of one headspace and into the other. In a funny way, the commutes of our former lives offered us this built-in buffer, but so few of us have that neutral, quiet, “between” time separating our professional lives from our personal ones in our hybrid/remote work culture. Anyhow, I was less able to honor that practice this week given no childcare, but on Thursday, the one day our nanny was able to make it in, I actually closed down my office and sat on the floor and just breathed for a few minutes. I felt like a different woman afterward.

+Above: happy things in focus! My new Nike training shoes, my Kule tee, and some cheeky socks. I’m wearing my new sweats from The Great. They’re fine, but also not “it.” They run kind of narrow on the leg but are really loose at the waist, which is not the most flattering on me — and I find myself constantly adjusting the drawstring. I do like the faded wash and ribbed cuffs, though — and the length is ideal for us shorties.

+Last notes: the most gorgeous hats for beach (you can replace the ribbon! I adore mine); another cool Adidas Handball colorway; these wooden kitchen implements are very chic; and a look for less version of the popular Toteme scarf coat. (Quince also has one but it keeps selling out — sign up for re-stocks!)

P.S. Our capacities as parents change day in and day out.

P.P.S. There are so many ways to say “I love you.”

P.P.P.S. What do you eat when your fridge is bare?

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8 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: Jan. 21, 2024.

  1. Now that you’ve hit the trifecta of my interests (Catholicism, John Mayer and childhood independence), how can I not comment?! Love this so much and highly recommend Let Grow ( for more resources on childhood independence.

  2. Couldn’t agree more on the errands. For me, it ties back to the many themes I found very compelling in “Hunt Gather Parent.” We reframed grocery shopping with the darlings as a family job and now there’s teams and the kids get such a thrill out of splitting the list and crossing things off when found. Almost like a scavenger hunt, only a helpful one I don’t need to set up. It turned this otherwise monotonous chore into something we do together. And if I’m solo with the kids and we’re doing errands, I really feel like a MOM. Like, look at that mom, there she does with her darlings in the store, and they’re begging for candy and she’s saying no and look at her go! It’s like a little chance to practice holding boundaries in low stakes (what do I care if a stranger thinks i handled it wrong) and it helps me better understand what works with my actual kids when we go into situations where i’m parenting in a higher stakes situation. Love it. And thanks for the sled recs!

    1. I love this perspective on errands and hadn’t really thought about them as an opportunity to work out certain aspects of parenting in a low stakes environment. Like, it’s not school or Church or in front of family — you have a longer leash maybe? So interesting. Thanks for that insight.


  3. So, they’re not fancy, but GAP’s vintage soft classic joggers are remarkably nicely shaped given the price point and cozy factor. I love a good French terry, but these are definitely in the old-school fleece model instead. Perfect January pants! 🙂

    1. You know what? I have a pair of those, too, and so far they’ve completely outperformed the other more expensive styles I’ve seen. Really soft but with a great hang, and a nice retro vibe. So far I agree with you!!


  4. Totally agree about taking children on errands. I will have to try giving mine some tasks while we’re out. It feels too often that I white-knuckle through an embarrassing stop at the grocery or drug store while my children run wild as if they’ve never been out in society before. I am reminded of waiting for my own parents while they completed errands, and I realize how many social skills I picked up seeing my mom’s rapport with the man at the butcher counter or seeing my dad tip the person cutting his hair. My children will better learn to navigate these interactions by seeing us in action.

    1. Oh I love this point about seeing your dad tip the barber, or your mom chat with the butcher — such great ways to model polite interactions and everyday transactions. Thanks for that reminder!


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