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The Magpie Edit: Edition 21.

By: Jen Shoop

This week’s Magpie Edit assumes a new, provisional shape. I very much expect to return to the former format next week, but this week — this week. Nothing bad or serious happened, but I felt like a piece of driftwood being tossed by deep sea waves. There were HVAC issues, playdates and parties, prep for travel next week, intense summer camp registrations (“BE ONLINE AT THE STROKE OF 10 A.M. WITH WALLET IN HAND OR YOUR CHILDREN WILL NEVER EVER EVER GET IN…ALSO YOU NEED TO HAVE THE EXACT DATES OF THEIR LAST TETANUS SHOTS, COPIES OF YOUR LIVING WILL…”), last-minute doctors appointments, a barrage of small pockets of unpleasant news from loved ones (ailments! sick children!), meetings, missing packages, prep for my husband’s birthday, a lot of logisticizing over social gatherings and plans for the coming weeks, wrangling sitters. I thought I might lose it when the birthday gift I’d ordered last week for a little girl in mini’s class went missing in the mail, necessitating me to make a last-minute stop to the toy store on a day where I was already slaloming around immovable commitments. You know. All the proper “adulting stuff” we somehow muscle through on a weekly basis, just particularly highly concentrated into a stretch of seven days.

As I said, nothing serious or bad, just — life.

Therefore, I felt uninspired by myself this week. Ha. All the joy I normally take in snapping small vignettes of things I’m liking in my daily life did not materialize. I have virtually nothing meaningful on my phone from this week save for a photo I took of my daughter teaching my son to write (I wish I’d taken a video — she was instructing with such patience and gentleness), in which my son is wearing underwear and a too-small pajama top backwards with stains all down the front. Not exactly blog-appropriate. However, my husband’s amaryllis (seen above) did bloom this week, and I was able to wipe the fog from my eyes long enough to appreciate that miracle.

I was also still able to maintain my resolution not to eat lunch at my desk, but I had to sort of fudge a bit by working on my phone instead while eating downstairs.

I did not do a good job truly listening to my husband when he was telling me about an issue he’s been trying to think through at work.

My mother stopped by to deliver a gift for Mr. Magpie and I more or less received the gift and ushered her out the door.

I hated every outfit I wore this week. Like, every single one.

I did stick to my running regimen, but one was woefully clipped short by an impending camp registration (I’d foolishly wedged the run in between drop-off and a 10 a.m. registration), and I was peeved because I went into it with a BIG energy.

There wasn’t really….a choice? though? It felt like there was nothing I could drop this week. Sharing all of this drivel because I know many of you can relate. Some weeks are fallow and others are full. This was full in the bad kind of way — full of stuff and logistics, fallow for the soul. Hoping to flip the equation next week. (What can I drop?!)

Still —

I did manage to stumble across some goodies I need to share with my Magpies:

+Watching: “Break Point” on Netflix. A really fun docu-series on rising tennis stars. We tore through this over the course of the week during “our one allotted hour of recreation per day,” as Mr. Magpie puts it, morosely. The margins just run thin right now–by the time children are in bed, dog is walked, kitchen and living areas are cleaned, it’s 8 P.M. and we try most nights to head up to bed around 9. Anyhow, setting aside our lame parenting woes, “Break Point” is fun. This season tangos with a lot of interesting elements of tennis: competition, financing, mental wellness for athletes. Mr. Magpie felt that the show didn’t do a good job editing footage of the actual matches (he’s an actual tennis player so I trust there is merit in this critique), but beyond that, we were gripped.

+Reading: Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevins. Oh my goodness – this book is incredible. I am about a quarter of the way through and find the imaginativeness of the narrative structure (borrows a lot from “gaming” conventions) beautifully suited to the story, which is itself about gamers, but so much more than that. Zevins has a lovely way of communicating in understated, almost matter-of-fact prose. There is one line where she writes: “She had, he thought, one of the world’s greatest laughs.” Simple, but so artfully done: this quiet observation of what is undoubtedly hyperbole nearly brought me to tears. A Hemingway vibe, situated in a more modern context. I am loving this book.

+Wearing: Given my hissy fit about hating everything I wore this week, I ordered a bunch of new items that I can’t wait to share. I don’t normally shop like this (I’m more opportunistic — buying items here and there as I come upon them), but I placed a big order at Shopbop, including a few pairs of jeans (shared those styles yesterday), a bunch of dresses to try on for various special occasions (especially excited about this and this), two new white frilly tops (a weakness for me, but I really get so much wear out of them — ordered this and this), and this basic white everyday tee I’ve heard good things about. I’m thinking that shirt will be perfect for a front-tuck (untucked in back) with the Gap jeans I’ve been wearing allll the time.

shopbop finds

+Eating: I love food diaries, don’t you? I won’t drag you through my entire eating itinerary, but peak dishes from this week were: a big Indian order from Vegz down in Adams Morgan (so delicious — note that the dosas reheat beautifully in the oven); potatoes dauphinoise from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook (which Mr. Magpie served alongside roast chicken and Daniel Boulud carrots, which are, like, the most deliciously tender garlic-y carrots you will ever eat); homemade tortellini en brodo; and a breakfast of peanut butter puffins and sliced bananas in oat milk (I rarely have cereal but this combination is so incredibly satisfying). By the time you are reading this, I will be halfway into preparing for Mr. Magpie’s birthday dinner (HBD MR. MAGPIE!), for which I am making a couple of dishes from the Jerusalem cookbook, including their incredible koftes, and a chocolate cake from Bravetart. Hoping I will mentally be tacking these dishes onto this list of highlights.

+Thinking: I spent a lot of time thinking about motherhood this week. I was so moved by the many comments, DMs, and emails this post garnered. The same day I published that essay, I learned that my friend’s son (toddler-aged) had been taken by ambulance to the E.R. because of a seizure (turned out to be fever-induced and so we think all is going to be OK), and I found myself just sort of moody and sniffly about motherhood and the tremendous blessing and burden of caring for children. Last night, my son woke me up twice wanting to come into our bed. We’ve had to instate a new and rather severe rule about this because he was coming in too often and then keeping all three of us awake for large stretches of the night. So instead I made a makeshift bed on his floor, thinking this would be a clever way to cuddle him and work him through this transition, and he was apoplectic. “I like big beds!” he cried, enormous crocodile tears streaming down his cheeks in his midnight confusion. (I was tired but not too tired to resist the urge to sing in my head, “I like big beds and I cannot lie…!”) And so instead I cradled him in my arms sitting on the floor, rocking him back and forth just like I did for months on end in his nursery in our second NYC apartment, which was too small to fit an armchair. This felt situationally ironic, as I just mentioned how much I miss rocking him to sleep. (Karma is a queen!) His eyes kept drooping closed and then swinging open and finally, about twenty minutes (and two or three decades of the rosary) in, he quietly rose and laid himself in his own bed and fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Then he was up again an hour later. I do not know why. Things were back to normal the night following. Motherhood is a lot like this: looking for patterns, occasionally finding some, usually writing things off as “a blip.” You have to be fleet-footed in this role, constantly reminding yourself that everything is temporary. Motherhood is also a lot like this: eating leftover cantelope, some of which has become smudged with maple syrup or yogurt, off your children’s plates and calling it breakfast. I think one aspect I am trying to communicate here is that motherhood can sometimes feel like a stereogram: you look at it one way, and you’re in the nitty-gritty weeds; you look at it another way, and you’re overwhelmed by its majesty. Sometimes you are seeing both views at once, too, which makes things ultra chaotic. Like, I was exhausted rocking my son to sleep twice in one night, but I was also tender-hearted about it. How is it possible that I can be simultaneously looking at both the Grand Canyon and a fistful of individual grains of dirt gathered in my palm? Motherhood demands it.

+Reframing: A special thank you to a Magpie reader who encouraged me to say “I GET to run” instead of “I HAVE to run.” I’ve been applying this re-frame to a lot this week. As an example, my tantrum about having to run out to the toy store at the last minute. I told myself: “I GET to do this.” Like, how wonderful that a “pain point” in my day was going to a toy store to select a toy for a sweet girl? That I have a car to do it in, that I have a flexible schedule to accommodate, that I have the means to buy her something wonderful, that this errand wasn’t something like, say, getting a colonoscopy or rushing off to the ER with a toddler in a seizure? I know, I’m sounding vaguely Pollyanna over here but the phrase does help reframe when you’re irritated by the things “in your way” each day.

+Shopping: Aside from my Shopbop haul, I picked up a few items from the Oso and Me sale (ends today!) for my son, some sweet little girl finds for mini (shared almost all of them here), this Lug Von Siga top (super sale), some new Merit beauty products (bronzer, brush, foundation/concealer hybrid), and a bunch of new fitness duds for Mr. Magpie, who has been regimented about his indoor cycling since the start of the year. I bought him a pair of these Reigning Champ hybrid training shorts in the fir green (found on sale in black here), a Beyond Yoga tee, these repetition shorts from Alo, Nike crew socks, a Nike hat (love the throwback flair), and this Rhone tee. I thought it’d be good for him to test a bunch of different higher-end performance wear brands to see what he likes vs. not and then we can purchase more as needed. He does not need new shoes at the moment, but I’m curious what he’d make of these wildly popular On Cloudmonster ones. The colors are SO good, but I think he’ll find the style gimmicky? (He’s usually, like me, a Nike athlete).

mens fitness outfits

Writing all of that out, I’m aware that this week actually did have some magic to it. Thank you for allowing me the space to see that.

How was your week?

P.S. How to throw a retro cocktail party.

P.P.S. What to do when you’re feeling “run aground.”

P.P.P.S. Fun sweaters for the new year.

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14 thoughts on “The Magpie Edit: Edition 21.

  1. Seconding the Vegz love! It’s truly the only real dosa option without driving out to the various DC suburbs and so I’m very thankful to have them nearby. Were there any other standouts, aside from the dosa, from your order with them? I have yet to sample more of their menu and would love to hear what you enjoyed to add to my next order!

    1. Everything was AMAZING — I also especially loved the chole puri and dal makhani. I will be back to try…everything else. I love paneer and want to try one of their paneer dishes next.

      xx

  2. Hi Jen,
    How do you organize all the various little to dos and big to dos and parts of your life? I think I saw that you write everything down in your planner – like a brain dump – is that the case? And then do you rewrite the list each day? You seem very on it. Also as an anticipator, do you have limits on how much you’ll let yourself anticipate? Like only planning through the next six months? Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, I make lists (with checkboxes I hand-draw) next to every single thing I need to accomplish in a day, including grocery, put envelopes in mail, reschedule doctors appointment, phone call at 1:30, finish xyz blog post, upload images, etc. I am very granular in these lists because I find myself much more motivated to get the little things done so that I can cross them off and have a visual sense of accomplishment. Completion desire is real! The length of my lists also helps me make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew. And if I can’t get to something, I strike through it and move it to a more suitable day (likely one with less on the list) later in the week. I even pre-schedule follow-ups by writing them down on the appropriate day. For example, I always confirm my sitters the day before they are meant to come by, and I will literally have a “to-do” to “confirm baby sitter” scrawled in there on the day prior to an event two weeks away. It just makes me feel more in control, less likely to forget something, and helps me put little things out of my mind until they matter.

      I would say I don’t plan much more than a week out! I have to keep things fluid because of my job, the nature of creativity, and looking after young children.

      xx

  3. AH so glad you’re in the midst of tomorrow x 3 – can’t wait for your full review! that might have been my top 2022 pick, although the marriage portrait, cloud cuckoo land, matrix, and a few others are stiff competition.

    cheering you on in the run/life reframe & nodding along with the frustration of a tempered run when you’re (finally!) FEELING it. same thing happened to me the other day – felt like i had another few miles in me, but had to stop the run, throw on a sweatshirt, and hustle over to daycare pickup. although, at least i *got* to run and move my body that day, i’m reminding myself, as today was spent fully indoors and largely inactive, thanks to the weather & tending to a sick baby + husband combo.

    for what it’s worth, i really enjoyed this style of post – even if it’s not the norm! wishing you an easier week.

    1. Thank you so much, Erica, on all fronts! So appreciate the encouragement and kindness here. Cannot wait to share full thoughts on “Tomorrow Tomorrow Tomorrow.” I am finding it strangely moving — like, even at moments I’m not sure are meant to move me? It is just so unusual and stirring and tender without being on-the-nose about it.

      xx

  4. Love the “GET TO”! A friend, the most positive girl I know, started her own company “Shoal Beads”. She makes bracelets that say “Get to” as she has the same re-framing thought. She recently made them for the entire Duke men’s and women’s Lacrosse teams! I told her about your post today and she would love to send you one. Please let me know how she should do so. BTW – I have 3 daughters who graduated/attend Visi, 2 kids who went to UVA and 2 graduated/attending Georgetown! All 3 college kids English majors. A pretty good path if you ask me! Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily! You are so sweet to think of me and I love your friend’s business! How clever and encouraging! If you’d like, you can have her email me at jennifer@magpiebyjenshoop.com!

      Oh my gosh – a lot of overlap with schools and academic interests! A well-read family!

      Thank you so much for your readership!

      xx

  5. Jen, I’m a new-ish reader and haven’t commented before. I love your writing, as a mom to a two and one year old I enjoy reading your thoughts on motherhood, it feels like talking with a big sister. Your writing is at once encouraging, real, aspirational and thought-provoking.
    The bravetart chocolate cake is SO good, it has become my go-to and is always a crowd pleaser. I hope your week goes better x

    1. Oh Annie — !! This note completely made my weekend. Thank you for the kind words. WOW, two under two! I feel compelled to say “you are busy!” but also am remembering this one time a stranger said to me: “Your hands are full” and another stranger (an older gentleman) interrupted and said: “Hands AND heart must be full.” I will never forget that unexpected correction. Yes, full in all the ways!

      Thank you again — so glad we’ve found each other!

      The cake was delicious. Don’t you love how she describes it in the book? “As dark as a moonless night.” I must have repeated that phrase 3x to Mr. Magpie because it tickled me so much.

      xx

  6. Your past week sounds a bit overwhelming.

    I will say that we all enjoy and look forward to your daily postings, but I feel confident in saying we would totally understand if you took a day or two to regroup and let your mojo regenerate. We all get caught up in life and sometimes you need to hear, “stop, breathe and take care of yourself”.

    Enjoy your family and Mr Maggie’s birthday. The world and all its Magpies will wait for you. We love you!

  7. Thank you for always writing with such honesty and generosity. I always look forward to reading this blog! This bit from your post is such great advice that I incorporated it into my personal strategic plan immediately, “say “I GET to run” instead of “I HAVE to run.”” Which can be applied to anything in life and have a calming affect. Thanks for all you do!

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