Monday, July 20, 2020

Look at Me Now

Posting again! Already! First of all, thanks for the awesome feedback on the library donation for Eliza's birthday. I will keep you posted here as I figure out a host (I might avoid Amazon) and the best way to make this happen. My heart is feeling really warm and fuzzy about it, though.

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I have decided to stay off Facebook for a day or two because the posts about back to school plans are causing me stress. It's impossible for me not to compare my choices to other parents I know/like/admire and to wonder if we are overestimating or underestimating risk. It makes my stomach churn. It's hard to have faith in leadership--not because the leaders (at the local school level) are bad, but just because we have so little information about this virus.

I am trying to focus on what I think is both equitable for all kids and best for my kids and hoping that we can stumble through this school year. 

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Been having a pretty big Pity Party in lieu of my nonexistent birthday party. I'm turning the big 4-0 next week. Honestly, I haven't exactly been looking forward to it. It's cued a lot of existential angst as well as unpleasant contemplation of my own mortality (particularly acute during a global pandemic). I have not made much of my birthdays since Eliza died, honestly. It has just felt different.

BUT. I'm very aware that it is a privilege to grow older and I'm lucky to be forty when some get half as many (Ask anybody why we livin' fast and we laugh, reach for a flask / We have to make this moment last, that's plenty...) (The Hamilton lyrics do not stop.)

So I'd told myself that I was going to totally embrace forty. I was planning to borrow the idea that a couple friends have done and send a big email/facebook invite to anybody who wanted to meet us out at a bar and have a drink or two. I thought David and I would go to dinner first and then we'd meet up with friends after. I'd wear a gold sequined tank top that Coco helped me pick out and I would make the most of it! 

Whomp, whomp. Enter Covid-19. So now I'm readjusting my plans. My friend Brandy suggested I make a 40 in 40 list--not a list of things I must accomplish (that's where my brain went) but more like a list of fun things I want to do this year. I think I'll take her up on it. I would like to have a few socially distant backyard patio dates and drinks with friends--no big crowds, but spaced out over the next several weeks, maybe. I'll wear my sequined shirt anyway. I'll have a caprese salad and crusty bread dunked in olive oil for lunch. We'll get take out Indian food for dinner with a bottle of champagne and maybe do a Swimply reservation in between. I might even set up a Zoom happy  hour next week with some far away besties. 

And I'll toast to another trip around the sun.

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Speaking of eternal youth and longevity, I have started making green smoothies. Which means I've made exactly one (although it made two servings). To be honest, I didn't mind the taste at all, although my banana needed to be riper and I wanted the whole thing to be colder. Maybe I'll add ice next time? Or freeze the coconut water? I don't know... And I didn't quite blend it smooth enough so there were a couple chunks that kinda made my gag reflex act up. BUT I didn't hate it and I feel so virtuous and healthy after drinking more fruits and veggies than I would ever eat in a day (just being honest). So I plan to keep it up. I'll aim for four smoothies a week and see how it goes. It's a lot of produce!

I'm using this recipe, which I got from my friend Reese Witherspoon, who got it from our other friend Kerry Washington:

2 heads romaine lettuce
handful of spinach
half a cup coconut water
one apple
one pear
one banana
one lemon

Celery and almond butter are optional, so I didn't include those. I'll probably mess around with adding whatever fruits we have on hand, and maybe some flax seed or chia seed since those seem really healthy. LOL. 

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
(Not my photo. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash. My smoothie was chunkier.)

* * * 

I've been reading a LOT a lot lately. Right now I'm about halfway through Chanel Miller's Know My Name and If you don't know her name, you may know the name of the man who attacked and assaulted her while she was unconcious, Brock Turner. She writes so clearly and poignantly about being a victim and reading the things people said about her online (even when she was still anonymous). It's really moving. I want every college student to read it.

I also really loved a throwback vintage novel called A Woman of Independent Means. If you like an epistolary novel (and I do... I do I do I do-ooh-ooh), then you will probably enjoy this one. It's letters from a woman named Bess spanning her life from grades school to her deathbed. It had me reflecting rather morbidly on my own deathbed, but all the same it was a delight to read and I'm still thinking about it. I got a library copy, but I think it's one I'd like to own and reread. 

I flew through The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires. It was a little vividly gross at times, but definitely a compelling page turner. I stayed up until 12:30 one night to finish it. (If you're wondering, G has no respect for my late-night page turning and still woke up at 5:45am.)

I finished reading The Tale of Despereaux to Zuzu and we both loved it. A little mouse falls in love with a princess and goes on a quest to save her. It was really sweet. One of my favorite things about it--and perhaps the secret to writing a great children's book--is that it had very short chapters. This is excellent because if it's a late night, you just read three pages and that's a whole chapter. If you're into the story and you have more time, you can read several chapters and it's very satisfying that way. I highly recommend. 

I think Coco would have liked it, too, but she gets really weird about chapter books that I'm reading--she would prefer to read picture books out loud to me while Zuzu would still prefer that I read to her. So we end up having to listen to Coco read Knuffle Bunny and The Pigeon Wants a Cookie on repeat, and then Coco passes out while I'm reading out loud.

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As if drinking a green smoothie wasn't enough of an accomplishment for one day, I also bought little bins for the girls to organize their Legos. And they did ALL of the sorting themselves. G was napping, they were happily organizing Legos instead of making a huge mess or zoning out in front of a screen, and I was able to get my work done. A blissful afternoon!

* * *
A friend was asking me if I have a serum I like and I realized that I actually have all kinds of opinions about serums, so I thought I would just share a few unsolicited recommendations for skin care gems (you know, now that I am approaching a certain age!).

Here are some of my favorites:

This mask is amazing. I sleep in it a couple times a week. (Price has gone up since I bought it, though, so maybe watch to see if it goes back down... although it's $55 everywhere else!)

I use this moisturizer with spf every day, mostly because it has the best smell.

These under eye things actually work (it's a short-lived effect, but it is real!).

Finally, I tend to follow the regimen recommended for "signs of aging" (go here and scroll all the way down to see the product list for signs of aging AM and PM) and I think these products are the most well-priced of their sort on the internet. I'm not crazy about their rose hips oil, so I use this one or coconut oil in its place.

But, if I'm feeling spendy (and I'm usually feeling spendy once a year around my birthday, lol), I get the Ole Hendriksen Truth serum and eye cream.

* * *

Okay... I'm off to sip some wine on the patio and NOT check Facebook so I stay out of the fray when it comes to school plans for Covid. 


  1. I’m secretly jealous that you were able to read Tales of Despereaux and both enjoy it! I tried starting with my seven-year-old a couple weeks ago and she has minimal interest. We are going back to Captain underpants. Maybe next year!

  2. I love your book recommendations, though the last few months my concentration has been shot. I also love reading beauty recommendations, though my sensitive skin makes me leery of trying most things (rose oil, for example, is a no-go - whomp whomp).

  3. Another great book with short chapters like that (and a lot of pictures) is "The Wild Robot". My whole family highly recommends it! Kids of different ages can appreciate it on different levels.

  4. I have had a similar relationship with Hamilton lyrics in the past, lol. Every time you include one, I hear it in the exact voice and delivery of the soundtrack! :D

    Fwiw, I'm 46, and my forties have been my favorite! Not easy, just good for me. Happy Birthday!!

  5. My youngest daughter died shortly after birth in 1991. I turned forty in 1998. During those seven years, I also was divorced, started caring for my grandmother who had dementia and helped with my father's care when he was diagnosed terminally ill. On my 40th birthday, feeling washed out and used up, but still trudging on, I decided that in my forties I was going to become . . . formidable.

    Here is to your Formidable Forties! Have fun!

    P.S. I found that after both of my other children had left home and I was living in an empty nest, the loss got easier. You know how you follow their growth day-by-day? Well, in my head, my daughter had grown up and moved out. It was a funny feeling, but it made the missing different.

  6. Thanks for mentioning "The Southern Book Club's Guide...". I feel certain I would have never heard of it, but I was able to get it from the library last week and enjoyed it thoroughly.