Fashion Trends

Weekend Vibes: On Being Busy.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image via.

My Latest Snag: My Gap Order!

Gap, is that you?! I’ve been loving Gap this past six or twelve months. Really great styling and trend-conscious (not necessarily trend-y) fits. I just ordered three items and can’t wait to report back: these white jeans (you all know I’m in love with the black version of these — currently wearing as I type!; run TTS), this collarless jean jacket (!!!! like, what! — can’t wait to pair with my black Chanel crossbody for a hi-low moment), and this beige and white striped tee.

The day after I placed the order, they released this perfect little gauze mini dress. Might need to go back for it in the army green or coral color. (I am now a gauze fiend after discovering its perfection via this Xirena top — so, so soft and easy to wear. Love the neckline of my top especially.)

I shared all my favorite recent Gap and Old Navy finds here. In case you didn’t know, they are sister brands and you can place and order at both shops simultaneously!

This Week’s Most Popular: Early Spring Finds.

popular blog fashion


Weekend Musings: Why Are We Always So Busy?

One of the many subjects Katherine May broaches in the podcast I expounded up yesterday is our cultural obsession with “busy-ness.” She specifically mentions the normalized exchange: “How’ve you been?” “Oh, busy, busy.” The comment twanged for me because, for the past year or so, when people ask how we’ve been, I always say the same, slightly neutered thing: “Good, good — we’re in a good groove.” It feels both true and defiant. We are in a good groove. We’ve moved to our (likely) forever home. Our children are attending a school they will be in until eighth grade. Our families are healthy; our jobs are secure. (Praise God for these normal, happy days.) Of course, and at the same time, we are wildly busy in the way of all young families. There are days where any incremental demand on my time leaves me bristling. (“No, I do not have time to run out to get the exact $2 we need for my daughter’s last minute free dress day fundraiser! I only have $20s on me! How dare they!”) But, like May, I don’t find that line of conversation particularly generative or interesting. No one really wants to hear how your day is frittered into tiny fractions by competing demands, right? And there are times where the conversation turns ever so slightly competitive — a listing-off of rivaling vacations and activities and logistics.

I am also leery of the “busy busy” response because I don’t want to be “busy, busy.” I have been working, diligently, to design my days with intention such that the freneticism stays at bay, and Mr. Magpie and I have pointedly been saying no to things over this past year to give ourselves room to breathe. We barely travel anywhere, we try to keep to a “one thing a day” rule on the weekends, and we have been somewhat ruthless about evaluating invitations. The calculus for me is: if I don’t feel I have time to call my close friends or siblings, I shouldn’t say yes to an invitation/event with a group I don’t really know well. This might sound curmudgeonly. (Perhaps it is.) We may be forfeiting social richness. (Perhaps we are.) But, I tell myself, there will be seasons where I have more capacity for that. Right now, my husband and I need more downtime. I don’t know whether this is aftermath of COVID and a stressful move, the sensation all parents have while raising young children, or idiosyncratic to our temperaments and my vocation to writing, which demands long pockets of uninterrupted quiet.

Of course, I feel wrong-footed about our philistine perspective most of the time. I have friends who openly puzzle over our near-refusal to travel, and, every now and then, when a friend is rattling off her packed family agenda, I find an errant urge to rattle off my own. It is as distasteful a feeling then as it is admitting it here. Like, I know better than to indulge that urge, and I scold myself for it, and I have philosophically thought through my allegiance to space and quiet as both a member of my family and a practicing creative, but why does that urge still pop up from time to time?

I polled some Magpies along these lines over Instagram, and received such fascinating and insightful responses. Most of them suggested that “busyness makes us feel important,” or “busyness allows us to hide from ourselves / to distract from problems.” There were also comments about America’s Puritan roots, modern hustle culture, and capitalism.

If you, too, find the “busyness” imperative troubling, here is my provocation for you: think of a different answer to “how’ve you been?” See how people respond, and gauge your own internal flinch or satisfaction. Please let me know what you learn!

Shopping Break.

+Farm Rio continues to deliver JOY! I often receive messages/emails from readers and friends asking for dresses for birthdays. I always point them in the direction of Farm Rio or CeliaB! Dresses to PARTY in.

+This adorable gingham one-piece for a baby reminds me of the ones from Petite Plume, but $20 less. Cute option for Easter morning for your little boy.

+Mille is offering an extra 30% off their sale section with code EXTRA30OFF. As you know, I’m a huge fan of this brand. A lot of their pieces are dreamy for family portraits, FYI — I own and love this maxi in this exact pattern and always think of it when Magpies ask for blue and white dresses for family photos, but how gorgeous is this, too? This sunshine yellow caftan would be a dream for beach/summer adventures. I shared a photo of myself wearing one of their Thalia tops a few weeks ago and it’s my most popular LTK post (!). You can score one on sale, plus extra 30% off, here, here, and here. I had to buy the pink one! Note that this brand runs REALLY big. I take an XXS in everything and I’m still swimming. Fortunately, the styles are intentionally billowy/boho so it works.

+A new spring hand wash to try — have heard it smells heavenly. But my staple household hand wash scent is Molton Brown’s Rhubarb and Rose (and I know I’ve converted many of you to this, too). I just found it for 30% off here and am going to stock up.

+I couldn’t resist — I’ve been eyeing the Naghedi totes for years now and I just needed the buttercup yellow color. It is SO cheerful. On its way to me now. I think I want to add a fun little charm to it (maybe this star, embossed with my initials?) of some kind…stay tuned.

+Speaking of beachy/summer bags, I just noticed there are a few of my eyes bag from The Jacksons available. (You can see mine here.) I loved (!) this bag so much last summer. Just so fun and punchy. You can find other designs (that ship domestically) here. Love this dachsund! Gap also has a fun woven bag out this season worth considering.

+If you love the eyes motif, you need to check out Anya Hindmarch’s delightful, playful designs — like this bag. She also has a Diet Coke coin purse — so kitschy!

+This dress reminds me of La Ligne but rings in at $135.

+My friend Stephanie posted a snap of herself wearing this $22 cover up at the beach and I thought it was Missoni!

+This rattan folding tray table would be a chic addition to a living/family area!

+Love these blockprint luggage tags. Set your Away suitcase apart from the pack!

+Fun gift for a little one. My daughter LOVES her digital camera.

+This dress in the khaki color is wildly chic. Imagine with great flats and fun earrings.

+This Easter dress for a little love…!

+Added these butterfly clips to my daughter’s cache of Easter basket fillers. More great basket filler ideas here.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

12 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: On Being Busy.

  1. I’m late to this post, but I wanted to chime in with a few thoughts on travel. I think traveling WITH or FOR other people is nearly impossible with younger kids. There are misalignments in schedules and needs (yes we need to be home from 1-4 for a nap, no we cannot do dinner at 8, everyone in this rented house will be awake by 630am sorry). But the captains of small families are also necessarily focused on tending to our ship only, with no time to explain the complex navigation systems. I have found that traveling with only my husband and children to be a truly life-giving experience. We are still parents – just on vacation – with our same kids – just on vacation – and it feels like a fun adventure. My husband and I don’t have to explain the rules or schedule to anyone, we don’t blink at a $12 kids meal of dry pasta that is not eaten. Our expectations are to be our usual chaotic selves just in another place, maybe with better weather, and with other little things to look at and enjoy. Adding even grandparents to that equation is SO challenging, even if they are well-intentioned.

    1. WOW – wow. This is so interesting and an aspect I’d never, ever thought of. Every trip we’ve gone on has been with other family/friends. I am now desperate to pilot our own “family only” trip this summer. Thanks for the insight and encouragement!


  2. I would love to hear more, maybe even a separate post, about the decision to not travel much. We are in the same boat, with a baby and a two year old, and we basically have just realized traveling is not for us right now. It’s a real mind shift after years of being excited to get away for a weekend or longer. Anyway, I hadn’t seen someone explicitly say that, and it made me realize how challenging travel is right now with little ones and how we are really unsure that it’s worth it. Sometimes I feel guilty, thinking we should go visit family more often or go on vacations, especially when I see people on Instagram at the beach with their families, but the hassle just doesn’t seem worth it

    1. Hi Elisabeth – We are in your same camp. Part of it has been circumstantial (COVID, then an enormous, life-sucking move from NYC to Bethesda), meaning that we just didn’t have the time/flexibility/energy/interest/ability to travel anywhere. But a big part of it, now that all of that is behind us, is that we have found traveling with young children really, really hard. I have so many friends who do it and I admire them so deeply. I feel as though they are giving their children such great exposure/experiences. I wrote an essay about our different experience traveling with kids last summer —

      Two of my big insights from our first big trip as a family were: 1) I am still operating under the wrong set of expectations, e.g., I still — despite knowing that I am rarely able to do this at home! — imagined laying outdoors with a book for long stretches of vacation time; and 2) children need you and your reassurance more than ever while traveling. At least mine did. And the combination of the two left me so out of sorts. I was expecting unrealistic relaxation, and was met with twice as many demands. My children were in new spaces, with new foods, new companions, etc. They were so needy! I understood it but found the trip wildly draining. So we’ve sort of shied away.

      But! I do think that the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the more you adjust your expectations, the better everyone is. There were lots of interesting comments on that post that made me think more critically.

      There are other inputs, too. One is that we are homebodies and generally want to do less. Another is that we are prioritizing other ways of spending our money right now — mainly, outfitting our home (not just the fun stuff, but even things like hiring an arborist, and installing a second freezer in the basement, and having our HVAC system repaired) and joining a country club and enrolling the kids in camps/activities and other “lifestyle” investments that we really want to make so that Bethesda feels like our “home base,” permanently. Finally, and this might come off as miserly, but it has felt that nearly all travel we undertake is dictated by other people — we’re traveling for a wedding, we’ve been invited by friends, we’re attending a family reunion, there’s a special occasion for a family member, etc. — and we really want to start to find ways to go places we really want to go, on our own terms.

      I guess I have a lot to say about this!

      This summer, we’re taking a weeklong trip to Maine with the children, and then we intend to do Disney next winter break. Our children ARE so much older/more mature than they were last summer and I anticipate these trips will be pleasantly lighter/easier than before. I say this because I’ve seen such a huge shift in the last year in even small excursions/outings. I can totally manage both kids on my own, and the vague sense of stress/anticipation of meltdowns no longer accompanies me. So maybe a big piece is also age of children.

      More to say, but those are some quickfire thoughts. Thanks for the prompt!

      What do you think?


      1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply! Nodding in agreement with all you said. We are more in early days– we have a two year old and a three month old– so we’re looking at being homebound for a while. Our two year old is so joyful but wild, and so everything with him is exhausting. We went to Asheville about a year ago with him and oh my all the things you have to consider! We rented a house that was, of course, not child proofed and so had to rearrange the furniture to put a coffee table in front of the staircase to the basement. He was walking but not super steady, and you don’t realize until you have a not-steady-walker how nowhere is flat and everywhere is gravel or pavement! Similar to your situation, we recently moved to our “forever” home and so are investing in furnishings, landscaping (we have about 3 acres which is a big change from our previous suburban house), and activities to create a community here. I’m toying with the idea of a week in Florida this December, but can’t quite decide if I’m up for it. Your upcoming vacations sound lovely. Enjoy them as best you can and treat yourself to a massage when you’re home 🙂

        1. Oh yes – yours are so much younger and those ages are SO challenging to travel with. You also have so much to carry/bring! And small windows of time in which to operate (e.g. around baby’s sleep/feed) — it leaves so little time for spontaneity and excursions. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with punting travel down the road. It will get so much easier.


  3. What a well-thought-out post! I’ve always believed that busy is not a badge of honor, but society seems to tell us otherwise.

  4. I think you hit the mail on the head by saying busyness is unavoidable for young families. Not that people in other life stages aren’t busy…but adding extra people to your household not only adds their activities to the mix, but provides interruptions/distractions so that the things you were already doing take so much longer! But regardless I do agree that people probably tune out when we start elaborating on our busyness, even if they did ask how we were doing.

    I said no to extracurriculars last fall in order for us to adjust to the full-day kindergarten schedule and I’m so glad we did! I did doubt myself in the midst when I heard of little friends playing soccer, etc, but it was the right choice.

    1. I love (and admire) how carefully you listened to your daughter’s needs / family’s needs. It can be hard! So powerful to really dial in and think about what makes the most sense for you and your fam.


  5. I’ve got some book recommendations for you on the busy thing! Jenny Odell wrote a great book called How to Do Nothing, and it’s a really interesting meditation on how our culture —work, internet, etc., ask us to be productive and how to break out of some of those modes. Her new one is about how we measure time and how it affects us— it might not even be out yet, but she is a pretty fascinating writer. Has interesting things to say about these ideas.

    1. Thank you, Aileen! I know I encountered this book (may even have a copy) a few years ago. Going to dig it up. I’m really intrigued by this line of thought.


Previous Article

Next Article