Posts Tagged ‘stay at home clothes’

Apparently day four is the day when my careful less indulgent eating meal plan falls apart and I beg my husband to pick me up a frozen pizza from Target.

Listen, it’s possible that I could have made it longer if this were a typical year. But we are right back in the thick of Pandemic Living (worst idea for a magazine ever – headlines include “The Best KN95 Masks NO ONE Knows About (Yet)!” and “7 Best Ways to Ensure You and Your Loved Ones Won’t Need to Be Seen in the Emergency Room” and “Is Eyebrow Bling the New Lipstick?”) and I am not drinking alcohol during the week (for now) and so I prescribed myself some medicinal pizza for dinner last night. And some randomosity for today.

  • We continue to be very, very lucky. The family members who have had Covid have fully recovered. The rest of us have somehow avoided it so far. Everyone is vaxxed (with the possible exception of my vaccine eligible niece but I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW) and boosted. My part of the world is fairly pro-mask, so most people in the few public places I visit are masked. I have been able to get my hands on rapid test kits and masks. My daughter’s school continues to take Covid very seriously, and has a mask mandate for everyone and a vaccine mandate for the faculty and staff. We are so, so lucky.
  • I know it’s just luck. I mean, as with a lot of “luck,” some of it is privilege. Where we live and where we send Carla to school being two stark examples. But it also seems so easy to fall into the belief that we haven’t contracted Covid because we are careful. I’m sure that’s helped, but I also know that LOTS of very careful people have been hit by Omicrom. We have either avoided it so far because we are super lucky, or it’s possible (I think) that we’ve had an asymptomatic case without knowing it.
  • Despite being SO LUCKY, I have been filled with despair all week. Early Pandemic-level despair, which I have been fortunate to avoid for many months at a time over the past yearish. The news – which I have been trying, semi-successfully to avoid (except when my husband texts me a particularly upsetting news item THANKS HUSBAND) – is so full of doom and gloom that I feel like I can sense my blood pressure shoot up with every headline. And we have been remote all week, which is a nightmare for my particular brand of child and her particular brand of mother. Plus, there has been the possibility hanging over our heads of another week of virtual learning, which is giving me a stomachache. I mean, there are LOTS OF GOOD REASONS to have virtual learning! Lots and lots! And I am grateful that I am not the one who had to make the decision, that’s for damn sure. But there are also, obviously, MANY BENEFITS to having one’s children physically in school, learning from a human instead of a screen, doing actual math instead of a video game (seriously) and interacting with friends in person. (Not to mention the benefits of in-person learning for the many, many parents who do not have the ability to work from home, or the bandwidth to work while supervising a child during remote school.)
  • We don’t know whether we will have virtual learning next week, too. I have been refreshing my email constantly. I don’t know what to hope for. That we continue to stay home and help drive down the number of Covid infections? Not that our school’s numbers were ever that high. That we return to in-person school for the sake of the children and the working parents and my own sanity? I think I will rejoice/weep at either outcome. Right now, I just want to KNOW so I can PREPARE MYSELF.
  • Possibly due to an urge to soothe the pandemic angst, or possibly this is just my typical post-holiday M.O., I have ordered a few lovely things lately. I got this gorgeous sweater from Nordstrom with a gift card. It is SO SOFT. And it’s totally different from what I normally wear – which tends toward casual and butt-covering. I recently bought a pair of these high-waisted jeans and I think the sweater would look very cute with it. But also… I can’t tell if the sleeves are TOO balloon-y? They are MUCH more balloony in real life than they are on the model. Do they emphasize my arms in a stylish way, or a cartoonish one? Do I look like Popeye after pandemic stress and despair forced him to give up his weight-lifting habit? The jury is still out. We shall see. On the Stay-at-Home Clothes front, I purchased a zip up hoodie that I’m hoping will cover my buttular region. It looks like it will cover my buttular region, based on the photo. But I share nothing in common, body-shape-wise, with the person modeling the hoodie, and I suspect my region is vaster. The hoodie hasn’t arrived yet, but it has “amazing” right in the name, so I have high expectations.

  • Retail therapy is fun even when the purchases aren’t for me. I also ordered this napping kittens calendar for Carla. We’d scrolled through many, many options and this was her favorite and she was obviously correct. I also got my husband another Magic Puzzle puzzle; I’d given him one called The Happy Isles for Christmas, and he loved it. I don’t even LIKE or DO puzzles and I loved it. My husband wouldn’t even let me help (my version of helping with a puzzle is finding one piece and then leaving), and I loved it. It is seriously so adorable, with a million fun things to look at, and even a list of things to find, like in a Where’s Waldo? book. Plus, there’s the “magic” aspect of the puzzle, which was really cool (but I can’t reveal that part because it is magic). If you are a puzzle lover or know one, this MUST be on your puzzle purchase list.
  • Did I tell you about my new salt and pepper shakers? It’s not a new purchase, but looking for those links reminded me that I got them in early December. We had been using one of those Costco pepper grinders for all our peppering needs, but the Costco salt grinders have never worked well for us… so for the last Costco-sized-salt-container-amount-of-time, we’d been salting our food with a Costco-sized salt container. Ridiculous. My husband’s family aren’t a salt and pepper on the table family, but even so, when they were here so often this past fall, I kept feeling so awkward about not having a proper set of shakers for the table. And my family ARE big salt and pepper at the table people, so I was feeling really anxious about it in advance of their visit. My neuroses are many and varied. The result is that I finally persuaded my non-salt-or-pepperer husband that I NEEDED these and I love them. (He does not love them. He only ever uses salt, and the salt grinder grinds crystals of salt that are, to be fair, bigger than your average engagement ring diamond. But it does not seem that you can buy a matching set of pre-ground salt and grindable pepper shakers. And they always [right?] come in a set.)
  • My computer is driving me crazy. the keyboard is not working correctly, and when i try to capitalize things, it either doesn’t work or it WORKS TOO MUCH. As when i am trying to emphasize VIa CApitalization, when the shift key gets over-enthusiastic and capitalizes two letters in a row. I have left the capitalization in this bullet as my computer wants it, for an example. It is Very ANnoying. YOu wouldnt believe how often i have to delete and retype. BLARGH.
  • Speaking of calendars, which we were, a few bullet points ago: if you use a physical calendar, what kinds of things do you fill it with? I do NOT use a physical calendar, even though I love calendars. I have tried many times in the past, and somewhere around February I forget about it and then don’t look at it again until June, when I make a renewed effort to use it… and then forget about it completely until I see Swistle’s annual calendar post and start drooling over all the fun and beautiful options out there. If you think I could resolve this issue with a daily calendar rather than a monthly one, you would be incorrect because I forget about those too. If I didn’t know this about myself, I would own Benjamin Dreyer’s day-to-day grammar and style version. What was the point of this bullet? Oh, right.
  • Speaking of calendars, again, still, I want to populate Carla’s calendar with important things, but I’m not sure what those THINGS should be. Obviously, I will add the birthdays of family members. And I think I can safely add the first day of spring break, the last day of school, maybe even the first day of school for next year if the school has posted that information already. But… what else? Do I add weekly things, like swimming lessons (which we are resuming this month yay/eek)? I WANT to add upcoming trips, of which we have two planned. I WANT to add summer camp (which we had to register for in early December do NOT get me started). But in Year Three of the Covid-19 Pandemic (I started to type “of the Current Pandemic” but that sounded much too bleak), I am wary. So wary. Do I put them on the calendar anyway, as a nod to hope and optimism?

  • Ah, hope. I have an aerogarden in my dining room, and I have been growing a tomato plant for many months. It has been disappointing, to say the least. I think we have harvested maybe six tomatoes total. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Some of the leaves are yellow; I go in and trim, but branches keep dying. Even so, the plant keeps growing, and keeps putting out these little hopeful blossoms… and once in a while, a baby tomato emerges like a promise kept. I kneel on the floor every morning to inspect the plant, to remove dead leaves, to whisper words of encouragement to the blooms. Many of them spread their petals into a bright reassuring star, only to disappear during the night. It is so discouraging, and it all feels like a metaphor.

  • My husband and I just finished all the Succession there is to watch. It is SUCH a good show, and i spend every episode marveling at how I can be invested in so many people I find abhorrent. We are looking for our next TV show to watch together. I think the two we are deciding between are The OA and Sex Education. I feel like we have watched EVERYTHING, but of course that isn’t true. If you have suggestions, new or old, I am waiting eagerly to hear them.
  • My husband and I have started, but not completed, two satisfying projects. The first is, of course, the basement craft room makeover, which has been paused during the work week. The second, which we did on a whim, was to cull (most of) bookshelves. My husband and I are both avid readers and, perhaps more so, avid book buyers. We also both believe in owning books, which has its benefits and disadvantages. This means that we tend toward keeping every book we buy, when not every book is one we NEED to own. It makes me sad to get rid of books, but really: if I read a book and didn’t love it, and my husband isn’t going to read it, and it isn’t autographed, and it wasn’t a Special Gift from a dear friend or family member… then I think it would be better off going to the library, where they can sell it to someone who really wants to read it. I am very pleased by the stack of books we were able to cull (and the number of spaces we have opened up for NEW BOOKS). Now I just need the libraries to re-open so I can donate them and get them out of my office!
  • Our library system, by the way, is pretty awesome. Even though the branches are currently closed to visitors, you can still order books and pick them up at the drive-up window. Plus, they often give away free rapid test kits. Carla and I went to the library to drop off a stack of books the other day and there was a police car parked at one end next to a sign that said “enter only.” I kept driving to the other end, which is where I usually turn into the library parking lot, but it was blocked by another police car and a sign that said “exit only.” I had to turn around to get back to the new entrance, and then followed a winding path through the parking lot, demarcated by construction cones. At the other end of the parking lot were two people standing next to big stacks of boxes. They seemed to be stopping each car that drove through the lot, so I rolled down my window to find out what was going on. One of the people asked how many members are in my family, and when I said “three,” he handed me three Covid test kits. I took them, because you don’t look a test kit horse in the mouth, and then I dropped off our library books in the drive-through lane. Then I texted everyone I knew that the library had a supply of test kits to give away. One friend replied that she would head to the library immediately, and then she noted that her new supply of Kn95 masks had arrived. I cheered and told her I was excited for the new masks I’d ordered to arrive… and immediately felt a sense of dissociation. THIS is what we text each other about now? THIS is cause for excitement? Free Covid tests and mask delivery? Eeeesh. Welcome to the new world, I guess.

  • These are the masks I got for Carla, by the way. We got a small package, just to try. They are quite expensive, but I saw them listed on a bunch of “best masks for kids” articles and I have some friends who use them and like them. (I have a referral code that can get you $5 off, if you want to try them. It’s not much, but it covers shipping and a teensy bit extra.) They shipped very quickly, and should be here Monday. I hope they fit and that Carla likes them.
  • On the way home from the library, I asked Carla what she thought she would remember about this time, when she is a grown up. She said she thinks her kids will probably think we mean party masks when we talk about masks. (I think she is thinking of the kind of masks that people wear to masquerades.) I laughed and agreed, and oh how I hope that’s true. I hope that masks (and rapid tests and virtual school) aren’t a necessary and regular part of life from this moment on. I hope that she can look back on these pandemic years with a veil of fog, because it was such a small, insignificant part of her childhood. I hope the next pandemic isn’t worse. I hope she grows up. I hope she has kids.
This is the bleakest photo I have on my camera roll. But it’s hopeful too. Those black, empty branches are part of a living tree. Someday soon they will have buds, then blossoms, then leaves.
  • Life is so up and down. It’s always like that, always will be. But the downs – right now – seem so much deeper. I don’t know what I thought, back in 2020. That the pandemic would be temporary? That we’d wear masks for a year, deal with Covid for a year, then be done with it forever? I feel like I always knew it would be a longer-term thing. But thinking something, knowing something, are different than believing them. And maybe I didn’t believe that this would be our way of life for many years, possibly forever. It’s a hard thing, to come around to the truth.

  • We just got an email from Carla’s school. They are back in person as of Monday. Cue the relief. Cue the anxiety. I think I’ll go have some leftover medicinal pizza.

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It’s a dreary, grey Sunday – the kind where the weather is obstinate and heavy but refuses to give into the relief of rain. Everything is Deeply Oppressively Gloomy. I feel like writing (actually, I feel like Avoiding Exercise), so let’s try some medicinal randomosity.

  • Speaking of medicinal remedies: I plan to make a batch of chocolate snickerdoodles with Carla at some point this afternoon. If the weather clears up, we will have a farewell “party” tomorrow with the three friends she’s been doing an afterschool activity with for the past couple of months. The weather has to clear up because the “party” involves pizza and cookies and will take place outdoors. The cookies will take place either way. 
  • One reason I feel so gloomy is that I am in a phase of poor sleep. I know it’s a phase. I have been in poor sleep phases before. And yet knowing it is a phase does not prevent me from being absolutely certain that I will never get a good night’s sleep again, that this is my life now, and I will live out the rest of my days feeling tired and groggy and cranky, craving carbs and thinking of nothing but strategies for finally breaking the poor sleep pattern that will surely fail.
  • I am not having trouble falling asleep, which is the issue that plagues me when I am stressed. Instead, I fall asleep just fine, but then either a) wake up five hours later as though that is an appropriate amount of time to sleep night after night (it is not) or b) wake up multiple times throughout the night, ensuring that I never get the deep restorative rest I need. The other night, I counted and I woke up eight times. Twice to pee and six times because my husband did something obnoxious like turning over or breathing.
  • My normal get-back-to-sleep strategies are failing me. Nonetheless, I doggedly keep at them. Maybe THIS is the night I will sleep. I keep trying to remember that lying in bed and resting has value, even if it is not as MUCH value as actual sleep. I also keep wishing that my husband – a real live doctor – would say, Wow, you should go see your doctor about this. He does not, which I think indicates that there’s nothing I can do about it except wait for the phase to end. 
  • Things I have tried: Sleeping in the guest room. Making my husband sleep in the guest room. Exercising in the morning. Exercising in the afternoon. Taking melatonin. Taking Benadryl. Eliminating screens for an hour before bed. Taking a warm shower before bed. Wearing socks to bed. Wearing squishy ear things in my ears (they have a name, but all I am coming up with is “ear phones” and that isn’t right; the lack of sleep is already setting in as mental decay). Eliminating soda. Eliminating alcohol. Not eating too close to bedtime. Cutting out all liquids at nine pm. Drinking warm herbal tea right before the nine pm cutoff. Doing soothing stretches right before bed. Going to bed early. Going to bed late. The only thing left to try is giving caffeine up entirely (I drink tea every morning), but I don’t wanna.
  • Okay, I am done talking about my sleep struggles now. 
  • If you are a fan of at-home exercise routines, I would like to recommend Lindsey of Nourish, Move, LoveI found a few of her exercise routines on YouTube, and enjoyed them. And then I found out she has free challenges on her site. I’ve been doing the April challenge, which has a great mix of routines. None of them is too long, and they require very little equipment – maybe a yoga mat or a chair or a set of hand weights if you have them. If you have no equipment, she recommends workarounds. She suggests variations you can do if you want low impact or higher impact, so I never feel like I have to push myself to do things my body can’t handle. I find her routines to be challenging but doable, and they make me sweat and they make my muscles sore and I always feel good when I’m done. And she seems like such a lovely person – she does the entire workout along with you, and makes “oh my gosh this is hard” faces and sweats and shouts motivational things at you. She doesn’t really talk at all about weight loss, at least not that I’ve noticed – she will mention eating a balanced diet once in a while, but really she’s all about feeling strong and powerful. I love that message. Sometimes she has other people join her for the routines, and sometimes she’ll invite advertisers to come work out with her. Like there is one exercise routine where she works out with a representative from the Minnesota Pork Board, or something like that, and I find that so charming – both that she would get a sponsorship from Big Pork and that they would send a representative to work out with her. And so she’ll mention pork a few times during the routine, about how it’s a lean protein that’s great for building healthy muscles. It’s very low pressure and I find it amusing and sort of sweet. Anyway, it’s all free and available on her website or on YouTube and if you want to switch up your at-home workouts, you might want to give her a try. 
  • I am still on the lookout for The Perfect Summer Dress. I have rejected every dress I’ve tried on. Once again, I’m confronted with the fact that I do not look good in a maxi dress. Apparently this is a lesson I am forced to learn annually, because it never sticks from year to year. I really WANT a maxi dress – they seem like they would be comfortable and cool and look cute with a denim jacket – but they are not for me. Really what I want is the T-shirt and jeans equivalent of a dress. But with a waistline. And the sad fact is that I am too lumpy for jersey, which is what most of those dresses are made of. So. The search continues. Lauren says my perfect dress is at Boden, so I am looking there.
  • Reading Lauren’s latest post reminds me that I need to get cracking on my seed starters. So far I have purchased the seeds and seed starter and moved a seed tray into my dining room. That FEELS like progress, but I am really no closer to growing pepper plants and sugar snap peas than I was before. 
  • In an effort to Treat Ourselves (and also treat me, by removing a large something from the freezer), we made schnecken for breakfast. My in-laws had sent us the schnecken some time ago but they ordered us an enormous quantity, so we had some left over. If you have not ever experienced schnecken, it is similar to a cinnamon roll… but with less cinnamon. It also has raisins, which I pick out. It tastes like eating cooked cinnamon roll dough made out of butter. A very decadent treat indeed.
  • Would you like a non-update on my housecleaner situation? As you may know if you read Swistle’s recent post on the topic, I have been eager to call my former housecleaner to see if she wants to return to cleaning our house. Now that I am fully vaccinated, and Carla is out of the house all day, IT IS TIME. After Swistle posted on the topic (and also sent me a very nice, reassuring email), and I read all of the lovely comments, I gathered my nerve and placed the call. She sounded genuinely happy to hear from me, which was such a relief; I had worried that she would be mad that we had discontinued her services (after paying her not to come for several months, it started to feel weird to keep doing so).  When I said, all in a rush, that I would love for her to come back now that my husband and I are vaccinated, I could HEAR the smile in her voice as she said, “I would LOVE to come back!” But of course, you know, it wasn’t as simple as all that. She has, understandably, taken other jobs. And I think she had just placed a new ad for her services. So she said she needed to check her schedule and get back to me. This was nearly a week ago and my confidence in that “I would LOVE to come back!” is now wavering. Also, when we spoke, she said “I think I still have your number” and I SHOULD HAVE said, “Oh, just in case you can’t find it, here it is” but I DIDN’T and so now I am fretting that she has no way to get in touch with me. Plus, I forgot to say that I would want to know EITHER WAY – even if she can’t work me into her schedule now, I would ask her to put me on a wait list for next time she needs to fill a spot. And also, I was so overwhelmed by making the call and talking with her after so many months that I completely forgot to mention that I’d prefer her to wear a mask. Well. There’s nothing I can do about any of it NOW. I suppose I could call back after a couple of weeks go by just to check in. I really REALLY do not want to find and vet and train another housecleaner, especially when my old one is so lovely and wonderful. 
  • Meanwhile, the house creeps further and further toward squalor. Some sort of mental switch flipped, I think, when I heard my housecleaner’s voice. And I just felt Done with housecleaning. Carla is doing her best to contribute, having renewed her interest in various toys with thousands of tiny parts/crafting projects that require her to pull multiple supplies out of the craft cupboard and strew them all over every available surface. My recent clothes buying craze hasn’t helped either; I have “to try on” and “to return” piles all over the place.
  • What are you watching right now? My husband and I just finished Bodyguard, which, in case you are operating under the same misapprehension, has nothing whatsoever to do with the 1992 movie The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I got over my disappointment pretty quickly because it was a great series. It was very action packed and made me EXTREMELY stressed, though. Like, heart pounding, gripping my husband’s hand tightly kind of stress. So keep that in mind if you plan to give it a try. The lead – Richard Madden, of Game of Thrones fame – was fantastic, and should probably win an Emmy for his jaw-muscle acting alone. There was also some good hair acting in the last third of the series, but maybe we should award THAT Emmy to his hair styling team. Prior to Bodyguard, we finally watched Little Fires Everywhere, the TV adaptation of the best-selling Celeste Ng book. It starred Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson and Kerry Washington and a whole host of child actors and it was excellent and thought provoking. I am telling you this as though I am not the last person in the universe to watch it. It was one of those rare TV shows that, to me, was even better than the book – but in a way that made the parts of the book I loved really shine… and in a way that made me appreciate the book anew. Reese Witherspoon is one hell of an actress, is one of my takeaways from the show. Also, Joshua Jackson is Full On Dad Mode in this series, which may be upsetting if you are accustomed to seeing him as a teen heartthrob; I never watched Dawson’s Creek so it didn’t bother me, but I could see how it MIGHT. Anyway: two great shows in a row, and now I am at a loss for what to watch next. 
  • Speaking of shows, the next season of Ted Lasscomes out July 23! I don’t know how the second season could possibly stand up to the quality of the first, but I am excited nonetheless. Have you watched the trailer? Ted Lasso (and Ted Lasso) was a real bright spot in the past year and I am really looking forward to having MORE Ted Lasso in my life.
  • Every single time I type “Ted Lasso” I type “Lasson” instead, and then have to erase the terminal N.
  • Earplugs. They’re called earplugs.

All right, Internet. Time for me to go make some cookies and then get through Leg Day. How are you on this, the final Sunday of April?

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We are expecting SNOW this week – bookending April with winter, I guess – and I am recovering from my second Covid vaccine (woo hoo!), so I am NOT going to the grocery store and NOT thinking about meal planning, which is sure to bite me in the butt. Oh well! La la la going to type some randomosity instead! 

  • While literally no one else I know has had ANY ISSUES with their second Covid vaccine, I was one of the lucky few who had some side effects. I mean, I guess I’m glad it was me and not my parents or my husband, right? And FOR SURE it’s better than having Covid! All day yesterday, I had a fever of 102, which is Deeply Unpleasant, and full body aches. My fingers ached. My knees. My back. My skin. My eyeballs. I was so achy I could not sleep the night after receiving the vaccine, nor during the day. But! Like magic, I am all better now! Not better enough to want to go to the grocery store, though. 
  • My second vaccine experience was QUITE different from the first, even though it took place at the same location. There were far fewer cars this time, so I didn’t have to wait at all. I simply pulled up close to the building, walked in, got my temperature taken by a volunteer, gave my insurance card to a staff member, and got my shot. Easy peasy. The atmosphere through it all was also significantly different from the first time. During the first vaccine – and this could be purely projection – there was kind of a nervous energy. Like, people were excited, but also anxious. This time, the overriding feeling was of pure jubilation. Everyone, from the volunteers to the nurses to the vaccine recipients, was cheerful and friendly and talkative in a giddy sort of way. For example, while I was waiting with others for our little 15-minute timers to go off so we could leave, one of the men called out to the nurse in charge that his timer had only zeros on it. She teased him about it, and the rest of us laughed. And then another vaccine recipient said she’d come in roughly the same time as he had, so he could leave with her, and then someone called out that he should pay her for her service, and there was some more laughter and back and forth. And the nurse in charge carried on kind of a one-sided conversation with all of us, telling us about her trip to Florida, and how no one wears a mask there, and how she was both delighted by that (because she hates wearing a mask) and deeply uncomfortable. It was just a cheery, friendly experience. 
  • Oh – my second “stop” (after getting my temperature taken) was at the intake desk. This was a long table, populated by staff/volunteers on one side, each with a computer in front of them, and chairs on the other side for the vaccine recipients to sit in. When I sat down, the staff person gave a huge, dramatic gasp while looking at her computer screen. The type of reaction you might have to, say, a news report of an asteroid destroying Idaho, or the discovery that you somehow deleted the entire database of vaccine information. I asked her, as one does, “Are you okay?” and got no response. She kept her eyes on the disaster unfolding onscreen and motioned me to sit down, then asked, in a very calm voice, for my ID and insurance card. Then, as she was inputting my information, she gasped AGAIN. “Is everything okay?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” she said. “I’m watching a movie.” Oh. Okay then. 
  • The other notable aspect of my second vaccine experience is that I FORGOT MY VACCINE CARD AT HOME. I mean. Really? REALLY? Sigh. The nurse who gave me my shot was very nice about it. She copied down the information from the photograph of my original vaccine card onto my NEW vaccine card. And I have photographed them both and keep them together just in case. I guess I am telling you this so you know it is not the end of the world if you forget your vaccine card. 
  • The first thing I did after I scheduled my Covid vaccine appointments was to schedule a hair appointment. I have been coloring my hair myself this past year, and while I HATE DOING IT, the outcome has been acceptable. But I need a professional to cut my hair. I have hacked some side bangs into my hair a couple of times, with disturbing but hidable results. But my hair is lank and too-long and uneven and I just want someone to shampoo it and shape it into something manageable and aesthetically pleasing.   
  • When we drive home from school, Carla and I have noticed that one of the homes we pass has a Roomba-type device for their lawn. At least, I assume that’s why a bulldog-sized machine is roaming across their grass. At first, Carla and I referred to it as a Mow-ba (like Roomba). But she came up with a MUCH BETTER NAME, so much better that if the actual device is not called this then it has missed a REAL opportunity: Mowbot. Like a robot that mows. It doesn’t seem to be particularly efficient, in my opinion; I see it often in the mornings, too, and multiple days per week. Whatever it’s saving in lawn-care fees or the homeowner’s time, I suspect it’s certainly losing in gasoline/electricity. Maybe it isn’t a Mowbot at all, though, and has some other purpose. 
  • Along those lines, I walked past the church the other day and the wolves are back. 
  • Did I tell you I got a new bike? Like many, I developed a compulsion to own a bicycle when the pandemic began. Like many, I was unable to get one because they were all sold out. As of a few weeks ago, FINALLY, I have a bicycle in my possession! But I have not yet tried it. You see, I have never been much of a cyclist. I had a bike when I was a kid. I used to ride it up and down our mile-long gravel hill of a driveway. I used to ride it out past the barn and up to the duck pond. Once in a great while, I would ride the three miles to my neighbor’s house. (She was a year older than me, and my best friend for many years.) But after middle school, I stopped riding my bike. The next time I attempted to use a bicycle was after grad school. My at-the-time not-quite-husband and I rented bicycles in Copenhagen and rode them through the streets. This was not a good choice for someone who hadn’t been on a bicycle in a decade. Copenhagen was very busy, the streets congested with lots of traffic and hundreds of other bicyclists, all of whom were much more confident astride their metal steeds and much more impatient to get places than I was. I wobbled along and managed not to die from either accident or stress, but I had NO DESIRE to bike again. Skip forward another decade and a half to last summer. We met up with another family for a biking date. (They brought bikes for me and my husband because they are ANGELS.) It went okay. Okay enough that I thought I was ready for my own bike. And here we are. I have one! And I am too afraid to ride it! 
  • (I did have to ride it the day I picked it up from the bike shop. The staff person who sold it to me wanted to see me ride it, in case he needed to make any adjustments. While I was wobbling my way across the parking lot, trying valiantly not to fall in front of this stranger/bike expert, the staff person anxiously asked my husband, “Does she have a helmet? She needs a helmet.” Which is not really the level of confidence in my abilities I was hoping to inspire.) (I do have a helmet.)
  • Do you experience a springtime clothes-buying frenzy? I feel like I am in a frenzy right now, and it seems like this may happen annually. Or semi-annually. The I-Have-Nothing-To-Wear syndrome has hit and hit hard. I have ordered a trunk from Trunk Club with no success. I got a fix from StitchFix, which arrived with only athletic clothing in it; fine, but not exactly what I was looking for. I tried on a bunch of clothes from Nordstrom and only bought one measly tank top. I have added MANY THINGS to digital shopping carts at Loft and J. Crew and their various factory stores, but have held off on buying anything else because I sense I am going a little overboard. What I want is The Perfect Summer Dress, which may not exist. And The Perfect Non-Skinny Jeans, which may not exist. And The Perfect T-Shirt, which also may not exist. SIGH. I may need to take up sewing just to design clothes that I like. Or, worse, wear some of the vast collection of clothing I already possess.
  • Speaking of sewing, I am getting up the nerve to alter something. I bought two dresses for Carla and they are adorable in every way except for the arm holes. The arm holes are too roomy. I finding them wanting in the chestal modesty department, if you will. My mother found me a very clear video of how to adjust the armholes of a garment, and it seems simple enough and doable, even though I have never once operated a sewing machine. But I feel wildly uneasy about the whole thing. Maybe I will make Carla do it. 
  • This is the first week in awhile that I feel overscheduled. I have a freelance project for the first time in a year, which is great, and satisfying, and invigorating, but requires several meetings this week. And I have plans to go walking with a friend, which is also great. And a twice-monthly video chat with another friend, which is always great. And, weather depending, maybe plans to get and eat takeout with some family friends this weekend, which would be lovely. But that is enough to make me feel overwhelmed and panicked and like doing a complete 180 and holing up in my basement with some books for a month. I mean, how am I going to come up with enough words for all these interactions? What am I going to wear? And my hair is so bad! 

That’s all I have for you, Internet. What’s happening with you this week?

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Last night my husband read me an email about a potential job opportunity (this is A Perk [no] of marriage to a physician: getting dozens of recruitment postcards/emails daily touting all the wonderful! opportunities! in unnamed cities all over the country) in a city out west, and I remarked casually that I thought that’s where my high school ex-boyfriend lived. Then when I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that I was wearing a sweatshirt that once belonged to that same ex-boyfriend, and I figured this is where the Lifetime Movie of my alternate reality would start playing sleazy music and it would turn out that I had been having a steamy affair with my high school ex-boyfriend for years unbeknownst to my poor unsuspecting husband. Listen, Lifetime is as hard-up for content as we all are.

Do you have clothes that once belonged to an ex? Or… other things? I don’t know what those other things might be; all I have is this sweatshirt.

And I have it – and persist in wearing it twenty-odd years later – not because it has anything to do with the ex, but because it is the softest most comfortable sweatshirt ever made. (I used to think its unusual softness had something to do with his mom’s fabric softener; she used one of the liquid versions, like Downy or Snuggle, while my mother used fabric sheets. But considering the woman hasn’t run it through her ultra-specialized laundering process in more than two decades, I’m no longer certain.) 

There’s really nothing sordid about the sweatshirt. The ex and I didn’t come to some tragic end or anything.  We simply broke up when I went to another state for college, which meant that we ended the relationship on a no-fault note rather than going through the excruciating process of learning that we are absolutely not compatible in the long-term. I am glad that we broke up on friendly terms, but I am also glad that we broke up, full stop. (I feel duty bound to tell you – get the Lifetime people on standby – that I still exchange Christmas cards with the ex’s mother. She writes * Christmas letters * – nice long ones! – and so I get a mini-update on her and my ex AND his brother, with whom I was friends in high school. That’s the closest and only contact I have had with the ex since my husband and I saw him at his brother’s wedding back in the early 2000s.) 

I no longer remember if the ex gave me the sweatshirt, or loaned it to me, or whether I purloined it from his house or locker. But I do love it. It does have some sentimental value, because it has the name of my high school on it. (Not that my memories of high school are good, heavens no; if I think too hard about high school I sink into a quicksand of shame and despair.) But mainly it is just very comfortable. It’s thin enough to wear on a balmy evening when you wish you had more than a T-shirt on but aren’t ready for the heavy artillery (wool; turtlenecks). And somehow, no matter how old I get, it’s always the exact perfect size: just a little baggy. It’s a great sweatshirt. I own many, many sweatshirts and none has ever come close. A rat is going to build a nest in it now that I’ve extolled my love for it publicly.

The only other “borrowed” item I have is a sweatshirt from my best friend. We met in middle school. We haven’t lived in the same state since 1999, but I still consider her my best friend (spouses excluded). I was never a big fan of borrowing/lending clothing, but I loved to borrow her stuff. She has always been super fashionable, and she always had the chicest clothes, like stuff from the Gap and Banana Republic, when we had neither store even in our state. I don’t know how or why I came to be in possession of this particular sweatshirt of hers. I don’t wear it often – it’s kind of like the sweatpants of sweatshirts, which both does and does not make any sense at all, so I’m hoping you understand what I mean. Every time I wear it, unlike with the sweatshirt that once belonged to my ex, I think of my friend and smile. In that case, it’s the original owner that makes the sweatshirt precious, rather than the sweatshirt itself being great. 

My husband does not care in the least that I sill wear the ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt. It is an interesting mind game to imagine how I might feel if my husband still wore a sweatshirt that once belonged to his high school ex. Even considering I went to lunch with my husband and TWO of his high-school ex girlfriends back in the years before we were engaged, I think I might be in favor of accidentally shrinking it in the wash. And yet I would be outraged – OUTRAGED – if my husband seemed the least touchy about my beloved sweatshirt (which once belonged to my ex). (That is a very different sentence indeed than saying “my beloved ex’s old sweatshirt.” Make sure you know what your adjectives are or could be modifying, people!) Fortunately, my husband is not going around wearing ex-girlfriends’ old clothes so I haven’t had to reveal what a dirty double standard bearer I am.

I don’t think anyone has any old clothing of mine, so no one is out there pining away for me or thinking of me fondly. At least not in a sartorial way.

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This morning, as I drove Carla to school, it was snowing heavily – the kind of thick, breathless snow that makes you feel like you are in the center of a cloud, big clumps of snowflakes sticking together, so much snow that you can hardly see anything besides the lacy, dancing white. I love it so, so much. I recognize that snowfall and bitter cold is wreaking havoc in parts of the country that don’t normally experience snow, and of course I feel terrible for all the people with bursting pipes and icicles hanging off their ceiling fans and days without power. And I sure hope that YOU and your loved ones are warm and safe. But I still love the snow. 

This was from yesterday when we had sunshine that transformed the snow into millions of diamonds. Very hard to capture in a photograph.

We did already have a Snow Day this week, which meant that Carla was off two days in a row. In a normal winter, I would enjoy an occasional snow day. But this year… well, Carla has been at home TOO MUCH (for instance, this was our second four-day weekend in a row) and I have nothing left to give. We spent her snow day playing Barbies and Scattergories and otherwise puttering around the house; it was too cold to play outside, sadly. So I am delighted both by today’s snow and by Carla’s being at school rather than here with me. Yes, I recognize that many children are still at home permanently. I have many blessings and in-person school is right up there near the TIPPETY TOP of that list.

I tried some new (to me) candy. In fact, I bought this specific candy for Carla, for Valentine’s Day… but then I also overbought other candy for her, plus my husband brought some treats home from work, plus we made all those cookies. So I put them away for another time. “Another time” being, apparently, yesterday. 

The new candy is Big Chewy Nerds

Photo from my poorly-lit office. This bag did not have an adequate ratio of pink to other colors.

I ate a couple of every color, which is how I discovered two important things: 1. The pink are the best and 2. I do not care for Big Chewy Nerds. In my opinion, they are deeply inferior to regular nerds. 

My husband told me, in advance, that they were similar to Nerds Ropes, so I don’t know why I found them disappointing. I am familiar with Nerd Ropes only because Amazon accidentally sent us an entire box full of Nerds Ropes a few years ago. We ate a couple – enough to realize that 1. The only person in our family who likes Nerds Ropes is Carla and 2. When Carla eats Nerds Ropes, the Nerds all fall off the Rope and get everywhere. We donated most of the box to the local food bank, which suddenly sounds like a mean thing to have done. 

I would say that yes, Big Chewy Nerds are very similar to Nerds Ropes. They are a thin shell of Nerd candy wrapped around a chewy rather tasteless interior. I would liken the interior to gum that has been chewed so long that it is losing both its flavor and its elasticity. Perhaps my expectations were too high; I thought they might be like Chewy Sprees or Chewy SweeTarts or even Chewy Gobstoppers, all of which I enjoy.  Anyway, I saved the rest of the bag for Carla, who will, no doubt, love them. 

(Do you know what the best use for regular Nerds is? Using as an ice cream topping. They are DELICIOUS on a scoop of vanilla.) 

Let us not be deterred from counting our blessings by the disappointment of the Big Chewy Nerds. There are many things I have been enjoying immensely lately, and I haven’t shared any since… late October

Photos from amazon.com

My sister-in-law sent me this hair turban for Christmas in that exact shade of pink. I absolutely adore it. It holds my hair much more snugly and daintily than wrapping an unwieldy bath towel around my head. Plus when I wear it around the house my husband makes fun of me less (though admittedly not zero) than when I plop my hair in a T-shirt and make a turban of that. It has a little button at the nape of your neck, and you fit the button through a loop on the other end and it stays put as long as you want it to. What a time to be alive.

Photo from wikipedia.com

My husband and I just finished watching The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) and I loved it and want MORE. I know I’m a little behind on watching it, but if you, too, have been delaying, I highly recommend it. The thing that surprised me most about the show – and there will perhaps be very slight spoilers in my explanation, although nothing big – was how nice it was. A person would appear in Elizabeth’s life and I would think, based on my copious TV-watching experiences, aha! that person is going to take advantage of her or treat her badly or Something Terrible is going to happen! And then they/it didn’t! The people in her life were (mostly) genuinely loving, good people who cared about her and admired her and wanted her to succeed! It was surprising and fresh and I really appreciated it. It reminded me of Ted Lasso in that way (although the two shows are similar in no other way except that the each centers around a sport I am unfamiliar with). And don’t get me wrong – just because the people were, in the main, kind and honorable, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of sadness in the show. But there was also a lot of support and redemption and family-doesn’t-necessarily-mean-related-by-blood kind of goodness. If you were also hesitant because you don’t play/like chess, let me assure you that you need NO knowledge of chess playing to understand/enjoy the show. I’m guessing it might enhance your viewing if you were a chess enthusiast, but I did not feel like my lack of chess knowledge put me at a disadvantage. (If you want an idea of how little I know about chess: the other night I asked my husband, “What are the horse ones called?”)

Photo from teasquared.ca

You know how I absolutely LOVE my Uncle Grey tea from Tea Squared, right? Well, the boxes my husband ordered me for Christmas came with samples of a few of their other teas. I just tried a sample of Lavender Rooibos and it was amazing. Like, so amazing I am strongly considering shelling out $11.50 plus shipping just to have more of it. (It inspired me to buy a box of regular Rooibos tea at the grocery store the other day but it was NOT the same. By a long shot.)

Photo from athleta.com

Yesterday I put on a BRA and JEANS and went to Target like it was 2019 (I had to exchange something and I haven’t figured out a way to do that remotely), so today I am leaning hard into Soft Clothes. My favorite lounging-around-in-yoga-pants sweater is this pranayama wrap from Athleta.  It’s super soft and has pockets AND thumbholes and I just love it so much. I have it in the marl grey heather but the next time I get a coupon I am going to buy another one, perhaps in the chrome blue or the black.

Photo from amazon.com

Carla still doesn’t love to read, which causes me a lot of angst as a book lover myself. I keep telling myself that she just hasn’t found something she WANTS to read. Because I think there is immense value to being read to in addition to reading by oneself, I have encouraged Carla to listen to audiobooks. She has been listening to several Judy Blume audiobooks lately (many of them read by Judy Blume herself!) through our local library, and she LOVES them. I am so delighted by that because I loved Judy Blume books as a kid and, in fact, love them to this day. Carla went through Iggie’s House and Blubber in a couple of days (and we had some really good conversations about racism and bullying and commenting on other people’s bodies). She gobbled up Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. We’ve been waiting for what feels like WEEKS for the next book in the Peter-and-Fudge collection, and I am thinking I might use the delay as an excuse to buy her the box set of the books. Perhaps she will be interested in reading them as well as listening to them? I have always been a re-reader, but I’m not sure whether Carla will be the same or not. Well, we’ll see. 

What are you loving these days?

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