Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 193: On Hitting the Reset Button.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: Christmas Gifts for My Children.

I bought nearly all of my children’s Christmas gifts this past week, fearing sell-outs and shipping delays — the only items I am holding off on at the moment are articles of clothing/items I believe will go on sale as a part of Black Friday promotions. I did end up adding a couple of new items to our list that are idiosyncratic to the interests and needs of my children. We bought mini this extravagant Maileg dollhouse for the mice she’s been collecting since she was born. My mother-in-law and I have always had fun giving her Maileg gifts together, so she is planning on furnishing the house with precious Maileg furniture! I am so incredibly excited to set it up under the tree for her.

We also bought micro this Kartell ghost chair in blue, which, at first glance, sounds incredibly boring, but he and mini always fight over the pink Kartell ghost chair we have set up at mini’s small table in her bedroom, and now he is old enough to want to participate in projects, color, paint, etc.! At the moment, he also simply loves climbing into the chair and slipping out of it, climbing in, climbing out, climbing in, climbing out. I’m excited, too, to be able to occasionally serve them dinner at that table, sitting in those chairs, for special occasions. (On special occasion, we let them watch movies in the living room while eating dinner.) Note: if you are thinking you might have more than one child, and even if you aren’t, probably best to get a table with two chairs that go with it from the get-go, even just for entertaining other little friends. (This one is cute.)

I bought a couple of other smaller toy items for them both, many already shared on this list, as well as a Kiwi Crate subscription (STEM activities curated by age!), but I did also buy micro this service station. I love the Janod brand and I was feeling as though micro needed his own “play universe” — a true second child, he has simply played with everything mini owns, including her duplos, magnatiles, Little People. I wanted him to have something his own.

You’re Sooooo Popular: Gucci Flats.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+These MAJOR Gucci flats. I guess we’re all in the mode of self-splurging and wanting special shoes for the holidays? (More trendy footwear here, and more chain-embellished goodies here.)

+Turtleneck sweatshirt. (I own in the tan color. It has a nice thin weight — easy to layer.

+CHIC melamine dinnerware set.

+My beloved bed blanket. (25% off with code STOKES.)

+One of my children’s favorite toys — GREAT gift. A slow-burn toy for sure.

+Lacquer trays at a great price.

+My Christmas gift tags.

+Plush nursery nightlight.

+Pearl-embellished shacket.

+Cute under-$20 dress shoes for a little one.

+Holiday jammies!

Weekend Musings: Hitting the Reset Button.

How do you hit the reset button after a bumpy day, or week?

Earlier this week, my sister and I decided that we would not spend Thanksgiving Day together. She and her husband live in Brooklyn, and we had already all decided not to travel down to D.C. for the holiday to see our parents, but had been hanging on the hope of spending the day with one another given that we live across the bridge. Given the scary spikes in case counts, we made a somewhat last-minute decision against it. And though my brain and resolve told me one thing, my heart rioted. I found myself in a terse funk for the rest of the afternoon, unable to shake it off and baffled by the intensity of my response. I also couldn’t quite figure out what I felt — Upset? Sad? Disappointed? Caught off-guard? This shouldn’t be a surprise, I kept telling myself. We’ve canceled almost everything else anyway. What is really going on with you? It took a long, cold walk with Tilly and my own thoughts and then a long, tearful conversation with Mr. Magpie to realize I was, actually, angry! I was, to quote one of my favorite books on mini’s bookshelves, “mad…spicy mad.” I have felt many things this year about coronavirus, most of them on the sad and scared side of the emotional spectrum, but I hadn’t yet clocked anger.

I assume many of us feel this way right now. We are all fatigued and frustrated. News of the vaccine is spiriting, but it also leaves us feeling frenzied: can we hurry up?!? Can we fast-forward to the part where we have been inoculated? Ahh!

Mr. Magpie, ever the even keel, said two important things to me that night. First: “Let it all out.” And he stood in the kitchen across from me, nodding his head, as I unloaded. Then: “Now knowing that nothing we do today is going to change the outcome of Thanksgiving, how do we make tonight better? How do we hit the reset button for tonight?” And so we did all the things we have been doing since the dawn of this pandemic to muddle through: we hugged one another, we escaped into the TV (currently totally obsessed with the HBO show “The Undoing”), we sat down to a delicious dinner. And, just to make sure the reset button was fully depressed, I put on my favorite Hill House tartan nightgown, lit all the candles in our living room, and opened a bottle of champagne. It helped.

How do you hit the reset?

Post-Scripts: The Faux-Fur Vest.

+OMG I am obsessed with this longline grooved faux-fur vest (on sale). SO chic! Debating between the navy and burgundy…I need this.

+This pretty Dondolo dress was just restocked in all sizes!

+If you have been swooning over these Jimmy Choo mules (which I have been seeing everywhere and which would make the most FUN holiday shoe), know that Tory Burch has a similar style for about half the price.

+Just the cheeriest turtleneck sweater for a little one.

+Your at-home NYE look, sorted.

+Minor closet upgrade: going to put all of Mr. Magpie’s shoes in clear boxes. (More of my favorite home gear/organization items here.)

+Currently in the market for a bowling set for my little ones. We were really trying to think up more “active” activities for them as we head into the colder months, especially since we recently decided we will not send them to the playground anymore. This simple set is my front-runner since it has 10 pins (most of the toddler sets I’ve found only have five or six?) and I am anticipating my children will want to play at the same time? But then again…how gorgeous is this wooden set? Melissa & Doug always gets good reviews, too. Any suggestions?

+More indoor activities for small children here, and of course you could always go to my personal child activity guru, Myriam.

+This ultra-chic Maje cardigan is on sale!

+Stocking stuffer ideas.

+Advent starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving! (If you need a last-minute calendar for children, Target has some fun options here and here, and some Advent wreath ideas here.) I like to give mini (and now micro!) something small every day of Advent — sometimes a piece of chocolate or bundle of crayons and sometimes bigger items. It does take some advanced planning. A couple of things I have on hand this year: sticker books (we love the Usborne ones and these little Dover ones, which are perfect for commute to school on days where I need something to get her out the door), winter animal figurines (I can put one or two in the pocket every few days), WaterWows, play-doh.

+I have heard great things about this detangling brush. I adore my Mason Pearson brush but I do find I need a separate detangler just out of the shower, and have been using a Tangle Teezer for years now, which does a good job of working through snarls, but I find that I fling it out of my hand routinely. I wonder if the proper handled brush might be a better solution.

+Gourmet gifts for loved ones.

+The slimmest of griefs.

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29 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 193: On Hitting the Reset Button.

  1. Oh, how I needed to re-read this post today… I had read and appreciated it the first time, but revisited it when you shared it again at the bottom of today’s post. I am very much in need of hitting my reset button. The fatigue and frustration that is clouding what is always one of my brightest and happiest times of the year is weighing me down. The first Christmas in my 47 years when I won’t be able to spend it with my parents, the drain from work in a pandemic school year, our Christmas tree fell — twice — shattering ornaments along with whatever festive mood I had mustered. Ugh. Time to be gentle with myself and reset, while reminding myself it’s okay to be sad while still being so grateful. Warm holiday wishes to all of the Magpies out there. May we all find the comfort and joy we so deserve. XO

    1. Oh Susan – I am so sorry and can safely say that all of us are right there with you, friend. This is a rough year and I know the quiet holiday ahead will cause many of us dread and disappointment. I’m so sorry you’ll miss out on celebrating with your parents. Hoping you can find little pockets of the comfort and joy you wished our way, too.


  2. Love this community. I was reminded of the phrase that comes up a lot to describe moving through but not hurrying grief: “the only way out is through.” And this community — where we can chime in with our “woes” is so helpful in processing rather than stuffing it down.

    (Sipping some peppermint chocolate right now Jen!)

    1. Emily – I love this! It reminds me of a book I read to Emory that I’m sure many of you know: “We’re going on a bear hunt.” The refrain is: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ve gotta go through it.” Yes! “The only way out is through” — so right, Emily. I’m also glad that we’ve had the opportunity to share some of our frustrations and challenges. Good to air it out and nod at one another and also remember that we’re not alone in any of this!


  3. Thank you for this post, and permission to be OK with not feeling OK. This is the first time in 30-odd years that I won’t see my Mom and Dad on Thanksgiving so we agreed that we’d try to Zoom for a toast, at least. I think everyone was feeling just a bit better until this morning’s “practice round” when my aging parents couldn’t figure out how to unmute, and I (quite regrettably) burst into tears while they frantically fumbled with the keyboard and tried to console me, like two panicked mimes. It was a perfect mix of horrible and ridiculous – very on-theme for many aspects of 2020. Spicy mad, indeed!

    1. Caroline!!! Oh gosh, I’m so sorry…and spicy mad for you, too. Also, I would so completely do the same thing — when I told my parents I wasn’t going to come down for Halloween after all (we had been loosely planning on it for MONTHS but then backed out), I just broke down and cried like a little girl!! I so hear you. This is SO hard.

      Thinking of you, friend.


  4. I’ve been trying to do 20 minutes of yoga as a reset lately, and making sure I’m dressed to do it at a moment’s notice has made all the difference. I had been getting fully dressed for the day, even when I was nine months pregnant and in my postpartum days. Now, I’ve leaned into athleisure because it makes it so much more likely that I’ll take a walk or do yoga when I really need to.
    Also, as someone nearly finished with a degree in counseling, your husband might have a second career as a therapist in him. It sounds like he supported you so well in that moment.

    1. Hi Tricia! So smart. Whatever it takes to stick to a habit! I have found a similar “mnemonic” (?? not the right word — trick? aid?) useful for me: I have permanently carved out the hour between 9-10 every other day on my calendar for running and on those days, I get up and get straight into my running gear first thing and even have my Apple watch and earbuds charged up and ready to go by the door. It sort of removes every excuse and enables me to just grab my keys and GO as soon as our nanny arrives. I think you’re right that I sometimes need to just set myself up for exercise with all the gera to pre-empt the “ehhhh” feeling I otherwise get.

      And I agree with the note on Landon! He is so clear-headed and sturdy in these moments. Gosh I need him.


  5. I wanted to come back and mention that the link to “one of my favorite children’s toys” links to the waffle bed blanket! 🙂 Was curious to know what that toy was…

  6. I’m sorry to hear about the change in your Thanksgiving plans, Jen! Like you and many others, we’ve had to adjust too and we’ll just be doing food swaps this year rather than gathering. I so hear you on the disappointment and “spicy-mad”-ness (I love that term and that book!). I was also feeling disappointed yesterday because we will not be doing even a very small, outdoor, social distanced 3rd birthday gathering for my daughter — and as she’s turning 3 this year, it’s the first time she’s really “cared” about such things. It no longer feels safe or responsible to get together, even outside, given that our county had its highest ever number of cases recently and they predict our hospitals will be at max capacity in a couple of weeks if the trend continues. I remember the first time I cried over this pandemic — I felt like I had been trying to hold it together for some reason? It was sometime in August, and we were distancing and staying home not only because of COVID but because of the hazardous air quality for days and days due to wildfires. Yes, my family and I were healthy and for that I was/am infinitely thankful, but the situation SUCKED. I can’t think of a more articulate word than that.

    I love that you were able to reset and I so appreciate Mr. Magpie’s words too — mental note to self! Often when things feel out of our control, it helps to identify the things we CAN control, and to make even small, positive changes that way.

    For me, a walk outside really helps me reset — physically distancing myself from the situation when possible (often the situation is when I feel my patience is wearing thin with our three-nager, and I tell my husband I need a time-out). Or sometimes if we’re all in a funk, a family walk outside helps too. And if we can’t go outside, I turn on some dance tunes and have an impromptu dance party in the living room! I find that it boils down to 2 things for me: change of scenery and/or physical movement. There’s something about the idea of “shaking it off ” (thanks, Taylor Swift!) by moving the body. Relatedly, I was listening to a psychologist — Dr. Regine Muradian — who described this feeling of “non-moving fatigue” that is so common nowadays as we are isolating and staying home, . Pre-pandemic, we used to always be on the move, going places, doing several activities throughout the day/week — and that has changed drastically. I thought it was such an interesting concept and I’d never heard it phrased that way. Personally I can see how this “non-moving fatigue” (particularly when we couldn’t go outside due to smoky air) has led to emotions being bottled up inside. I really find a sense of truth in the mind-body connection in my own life/well-being.

    PS: That faux fur vest is beyond! As Cynthia has said, my vote is for the burgundy too.

    Speaking of faux fur, I was recently looking at this fur vest (from the girls section of Gap) as I could probably fit into the largest girls’ size (being 5’0″, haha):

    1. Yes to ALL of this, Mia. Right there with you on it all, including the grief of missing your daughter’s third birthday. I so get it. Mini is also HIGHLY aware this year of things like trick-or-treating and visiting Santa (neither of which we will do / have done) and it pains me. The notion of “non-moving fatigue” is also relatable. Mr. Magpie had a technical way of thinking about this — he now walks about 1/6th as much as he did on a given day a year ago, or so says the pedometer on his iPhone. Such a dramatic reminder of how much more cloistered our lives have become without his daily commute, his walk to get lunch, popping around for errands.


  7. I’m shopping early too! The most played with toy in our house is Plusplus blocks. They are amazing and grow with the children (def a slow burn toy!). My 3 year likes putting them together in different patterns and my 5 year old can make all sorts of 3D figures. I also enjoy them ….

  8. I’ve been angry this week too. Flying home was out of the question so I’ll be spending the holiday with one close friend. After a bad break up earlier this year, it’s hard not to feel *extra* alone for my first Thanksgiving alone. ARGH! Why!! It wasn’t supposed to be this way!! Woe is all of us, haha. I keep reminding myself that having a healthy, loving family to miss terribly is a tremendous blessing in itself. Also, I’ve been finding strength in my grandmother’s motto, “lower your expectations and keep going.” I can just imagine her knowingly tutting me as I whine. Just keep going! With a glass of champagne in hand, whenever possible 🙂

    Happy weekending! I hope the clouds break a little for all of us xx

    1. I love your grandmother’s motto! Might adopt it as my own 🙂 I tend to have very high expectations of myself and others, sometimes without even realizing how high I set the bar! I’m getting better at being mindful of this, but this motto will help.

    2. I’m so sorry, Katherine. That, frankly, sucks. I’m glad you have a close friend to celebrate with, and I wish you an extra glass or two of champagne to drown out the sorrowful and dredge up the silly. You are so right (and wise!) to focus on what you have, and the in fact obscure blessing of having people you love so much that it hurts to be away from them. Hard sometimes to think of it that way but you are so right. It reminds me of that cheesy quote I mentioned a few weeks ago — “gratitude turns what you have into enough.” Yep.


  9. Mr. Magpie’s comment is so profound! I emailed it to myself so I can say it like a mantra when I need a reset. It’s important to focus on making the moment better when so many larger issues are outside our control. Thank you!

    1. Yes, exactly — !! It was so helpful for me to pause and think about what I can control versus cannot and to put my energy into the former category.


  10. I’m so sorry about Thanksgiving. 🙁 I try to remind myself that even though at many points this year I felt so ALONE, I’m actually not. We will be spending T-giving just us: me, my husband, son, and two cats. And when I catch myself thinking “woe is me,” I remember the thousands of other people sacrificing their ideal holiday plans for the sake of the common good. In a way, it’s inspiring. Hang in there! xoxo.

  11. The Long line vest is so perfect! I love it! Immediately I thought the navy and then went to look at the burgundy one and my jaw dropped. It is just so gorgeous! I vote burgundy. You will be the best dressed wherever you go! Enjoy

  12. Oh I’m sorry about Thanksgiving. I had a good shower cry earlier this week over the holidays, which was a nice relief. I just can’t wrap my head around my own family’s choices — my mom will travel but won’t come to Thanksgiving where my children and I have been quarantined for 20 days and my husband 10 days? My head knows if safest, but my heart breaks for my children. And yet, they seem far more resilient than I. Off to start Christmas decorating with holiday tunes — far too early according to my husband who is a firm post-Thanksgiving decorator — but I’m doing whatever makes me happy this season!

    1. Hi Amy! Oh yes, a good shower cry will do you right. Glad you had that moment and are leaning into holiday festivities early — so am I! I just unpacked a Christmas puzzle in the mail and holiday colored Rice Krispies as well as peppermint hot chocolate from our most recent grocery delivery. Leaning into that…


  13. I’m almost finished shopping for my kids, too. For the same reasons…shipping this year is not something I want to deal with at the last minute. I ordered something from H&M last week and it’s estimated 15 business days until arrival!!
    I’m holding out for some Legos and clothes on Black Friday. And we got our first Maileg mice this year! I’m so excited to gift them…I’ve had my eyes on them for years!

    1. Yikes!!! H&M has been really having shipping issues for the last few months. I’m so excited for your daughter to receive the Maileg mice! They have the most precious, whimsical details and mini has spent hours and hours and hours of her life playing with them.


  14. I adore this list. As far as the bowling set goes, remember to balance how much time your children will want to wait for you or your husband to set up (or set up themselves). Patience ebbs around 6 pins in my experience. Go for the cutest one

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