The Magpie Diary: May 26, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop
As I head into this summer of going easy, I welcomed the elasticity of this moment.

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My son came down with a raging case of pink eye over the weekend and stayed home from school for several days following, until the doctor cleared his return after a course of eye drops and the abatement of his symptoms. I accepted this surprise with something like equanimity. A girlfriend texted me my own advice: “Don’t forget, Jen, you’re where you need to be today. The rest can wait. A special friend once told me that.” I pressed my own words to my heart.

My son shadowed me through my Heather Robertson workouts, laid on the floor of my studio with search and find books and Water Wows while I “worked” (he is such a chatty little thing that I could scarcely feed a word onto the screen), sat with me on the back steps of our patio during lunch, played with action figures in a bucket of water while I “read” (again, could barely get through a sentence without his effervescent commentary), and led my husband and I around the neighborhood on a walk, during which he chirped his observations for twenty minutes straight. “Look, a robin!” “You’re first, I’m second, and Dada’s last.” “Bees are good.” “Let’s go this way, right?” I made peace with my modest writing contributions, and felt well and truly that I was where I needed to be.

(Can you spy his little feet? BTW, I’m wearing an actually perfect black legging here, and it’s matching tank, both from Electric & Rose. I’ve been hunting for a pair of black, mainly-cotton legging forever that can transition perfectly from light fitness to everyday life, and these them. Soft and stretchy and do not read as athletic wear.)
Hill wearing his Minnow terry set – his favorite – while doing Heather Robertson videos with me. More on my summer fitness regimen here.
Unbothered by his convalescence.

At the end of his convalescence, after several full days together, he baldly ignored me as I asked him, several times, to go upstairs and get ready for bed, instead hovering around the ant farm my daughter recently received from my MIL. I understood the magnetism of this attraction, and could almost forgive his willful tune-me-out because of it — but I was tired, and had waited on him hand and foot for three days, and did not appreciate being dismissed in this way. My children are so different from one another. When my daughter is unhappy with a request, she will needle me about why it needs to be done, and can’t it be done later, and couldn’t I just stop bossing her around? When my son is unhappy with a request, he’ll blithely cold-shoulder me, to the point that I have jokingly asked Mr. Magpie, “Is this thing on?!”

I heaved a loud, unhappy sigh.

Hill,” I said as firmly and loudly as I could muster. “Go upstairs and get ready for bed. Now.”

He looked at me with wide, innocent eyes and burst into tears. I felt like the worst person in the world. Have you seen the Dune movies? It was as though I’d barked at him with the Bene Gessurit Voice, transforming into something hideous all at once. Twenty separate emotions flooded through me, but mainly I was frustrated with myself. It seemed that all my tender ministrations and accommodations were overwritten by my eleventh-hour lack of patience. I knew I was flagging in energy, but something I read somewhere nipped at my attempts at self-grace: “Don’t let your own storm get your children wet.” At the same time, I saw that he had been willful, and that he had needed to be redirected, or that something had needed to happen. I probably did not choose the right “something.” Still, I am human. And it had been a long day of parenting. When I later talked it all through with Mr. Magpie, he said, “I love the phrase you use — it’s their day, too — but Jen, sometimes you give too much in their direction. It’s your day, too.” Was it possible that I’d given too much of myself and the efforts had ended in smoke?

In the moment, though, I reminded myself that my misstep was not the end of the chapter, or the final draft, or the closed book. I followed him upstairs, where he was sniffling in his little bed, and I thanked him for getting ready, and I apologized for barking at him. He stilled. “Thank you,” he said.

I was proud of myself for working through what might have otherwise stained a couple of golden days, and proud of him for accepting the apology as he did. We have worked hard to teach our children to say “Thank you” when extended an apology rather than “That’s OK” or something similar. A true apology asks for nothing in return, and need not be met with “forget about it!” type sentiments.

About two milliseconds later: “Mama, look what I can do.” And we were right back in the saddle.

As I head into this summer of going easy, I welcomed the elasticity of this moment. Despite the sourness of my reaction, our bounceback felt like a harbinger of good things.

Onward —

Some snaps from the week —

+Mr. Magpie made me my absolute favorite dinner this week and we ate in the glorious weather: pasta all’amatriciana and broccoli rabe dressed in lemon, parm, olive oil, chili oil, bread crumbs. I’ve written about this before, but this exact menu would be my preferred last meal on earth. His recipe here. Years ago, when we lived in Chicago, Mr. Magpie had a rooftop garden, and he planted rabe for me one year! While he reading up on how to cultivate it, he came across a random video in which a farmer described sauteed rabe as “a meal fit for a king” in this dramatic, Shakespearean actor baritone voice. Whenever we eat rabe (which is frequent – it’s my favorite vegetable), one or the other of us says: “Ah. A meal fit for a king.” (BTW, I love these simple, inexpensive hyacinth chargers for outdoor dining. They also come in a fun turtle shape. Our plates and bowls are all Haand — they show food so beautifully and are unexpectedly modern relative to our taste. I love them!)

Happy customer. We’ve finally turned a corner on the pickiness in our house. If you’re in it with a 3/4/5-year old, I feel you. It’s been a long road to getting our kids to eat (mostly) what we eat!

+Mr. Magpie and I have been working through this book of Wednesday crossword puzzles (this one is also in my cart for our trip to Colorado this summer) — not too hard, not too easy. It’s the perfect activity in lieu of picking up a phone and doom-scrolling. Sometimes we’ll sit together and work on a puzzle jointly, but other times, we’ll just pick up the pen and add a few answers independently. It’s not uncommon that I return to a puzzle and Mr. Magpie’s solved a few of the riddles I couldn’t crack. A Magpie reader wrote to say her grandparents used to do this, each in their own ink color, for decades on end. I was so touched by that thought.

Also below: Mr. Magpie made me a gin daisy, which is sort of like a gin-based marg. Delicious! And! I still can’t believe I resisted Birks for so long. Truly my favorite everyday sandal for around the house/yard/etc.

+A very exciting delivery from If Only If, a UK-based nightwear company. I cannot wait to wear this floaty gingham nightgown — it immediately transports me to a little cottage on a foggy heath. I’m barefoot in the misty morning. I love this moment for me. (Did anyone else read Carley Fortune’s latest romance? It was so-so for me — fun and escapist but I found the “forbidden lover” trope overwrought to the point of distractingly implausible. I did like Felix as the interest. Anyway, this nightgown is what Lucy would have worn in PEI!) They also generously sent matching pajamas for mini and micro!

+Truly the best mascara. $20 and outperforms most (all?) prestige beauty lines. I’ve been alternating between this and the Queen Musia, which is infused with a plant-based lash growth extract. The Tower28 is a superior mascara (the longest, fullest lashes I’ve ever seen on myself) but QM is really working. A makeup artist recently said “Wow, you have the fullest, longest lashes I’ve ever seen! What’s your secret?” I told her QM! QM also has a slightly more natural, separated look.

+Happy feet! These $130 sandals are such a great buy. So comfortable and add a little fun/flair to any outfit.

Hope you’re enjoying a restful weekend. We’ll be spending the holiday at the pool, at a baseball game, and at a cookout with friends. Looking forward to going easy, but also taking a moment to acknowledge the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

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5 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: May 26, 2024.

  1. I feel all of this so deeply! We, too, were struck down with pinkeye as it went through our school like wildfire (3 out of 4 of us had it, I was dispensing drops for at least two weeks straight. My case was SO bad, ugh). My 4yo is a sensitive soul and would have reacted similarly to Hill. If I speak to her too sharply, her eyes well with tears and she asks, “are you mad at me?” My heart! It’s a tough balance to reprimand when necessary and still own it when I overreact. And I love that Hill was your little shadow while he was home! I was weeding on a recent afternoon before my first grader was home, and her sister followed me around the yard chatting away. At one point, she pulled her little lawn chair right up about an inch from my elbow! At least she does help from time to time. And when both sisters are home, most of their chatter is directed at each other, which gives me a bit of a break…until it turns into bickering and I have to put on my referee outfit.

      1. And PS – solidarity on the pink eye. I wrote about this BEFORE my daughter caught it, which was a full five days after my son caught it. YUCK!

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