Tag: Quinlan

Pep Talks

Pep Talks

Quinlan, age 11, is on the couch, playing a game on her new Nintendo. I’ve just asked Cian, newly age 9, to start a load of his laundry. “What?!” he says. “How do I do that??” Me, calm: “Cian. You do laundry all the time. 

Happy New Year, but Late (and Normal)

Happy New Year, but Late (and Normal)

It’s the second day back to school–back to “normal,” I guess?–after the winter holiday break. Saoirse and Cian are in school but Quinlan is lying on the couch next to me in the living room, watching Netflix (Alexa & Katie is really cute, by the 

Some Little Lessons I’ve Learned from Pandemic Thanksgiving + Start of Covid Christmastime

Some Little Lessons I’ve Learned from Pandemic Thanksgiving + Start of Covid Christmastime

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over this Pandemic Thanksgiving + start of Covid Christmastime:

 

On the Wednesday before your it’s-just-us-this-year Thanksgiving, it’s really nice to cook the big meal with your kids while also not stressing about cleaning the house for company. You’ll miss the family you won’t be seeing, of course, but you will absolutely appreciate the calm. And the discovery that your twelve-year-old likes to chop vegetables.

 

On Thanksgiving Day, have dinner late so you can make a charcuterie board for lunch. No one will be upset about this.

 

On that Friday, clean the house in the morning before¬†you start pulling out all the decorations. Yes, you’re still going to have to vacuum up the needles after all is said and done, but you can’t beat decking the halls when they’re already sparkly. (Also, somebody spilled cranberry sauce on the floor yesterday. You have to get out the mop, anyway.)

 

On that Saturday, there’s no shame in counting a masked-up early-morning trip to Lowe’s with your spouse to buy Christmas lights as a date. Well, maybe a little shame, but run with it anyway. You don’t get out much anymore.

 

On the first Sunday of Advent, know that hunting for a Christmas tree is like finding the perfect wedding dress: just buy the first one you fall in love with. Even if, um, it ends up being a bit too small, it’s still pretty.

 

On that Monday, or any day this season, take some time to spend with each of your children individually. Saoirse and I went shopping early today, before the crowds descended, for a gift for her to give her sister and brother. We were out for a total of an hour and a half, but she loved it. I loved it. Granted, she’s been basically nowhere since the pandemic started and would’ve been happy to have gone with me to fill up the car with gas, but, just like Lowe’s dates with your spouse: take the quality time where you can get it.

Today is the last day of Thanksgiving break for the kids. As I type this, they’re playing together upstairs (actually, I think they’ve moved on to their devices now, which is probably why the house is so quiet). It’s rainy here, and the fireplace is going, and our Tiny Tree has lights on it but will get its ornaments another day (we have many, many unscheduled days to fill between now and Christmas, you guys).

We’re about to enter a month of uncertainty (are coronavirus cases going to continue to surge?…the kids are in school, but will they continue?…should we still shovel the driveway if it snows since we don’t really go anywhere anyway?), but I’m through worrying about it. Quinlan loves to bake and wants to learn how to separate an egg yolk from its white. Saoirse, my budding interior designer, says she’ll organize Cian’s room with him. David has a list of new recipes he wants to tackle, things that involve fenugreek and mustard seeds, because he has the time to try them.

We have time now. Especially because it won’t take us any of it at all to decorate that shrub we brought home from the tree farm.

Grief, and When Our Children Show Us the Way Out

Grief, and When Our Children Show Us the Way Out

As I type this, there is an estate sale company in my mother’s house, sorting through her belongings. The estate manager called me from where she stood in my parents’ dining room this morning to ask me some questions, and when she looked outside, she 

10 Sorta Happy Things in this Summer of 2020

10 Sorta Happy Things in this Summer of 2020

You guys, my kids are climbing the walls. They’re threatening to dig a hole in the backyard and fill it with tap water from the hose and call it a pool. They’re saying it’s too hot to play outside when it’s only 78 degrees. They’re 

Cookies and Creativity and the Quarantine Slump

Cookies and Creativity and the Quarantine Slump

Okay, at this point of quarantine, you’re in one of two camps:

#1: You are a person who’s settled into this “new normal,” and are content and calm. You’ve weeded the flower beds, laid down fresh mulch, and are considering a fresh coat of paint inside your house. You’ve set yourself and your family on a flexible-but-calming schedule, and have a routine for sharing the laptops for work and school. You’re the parent who organizes the Zoom playdates for your kids.

Or:

#2: You’re the person who’s finally realized that this could go on forever and the kids eat all the food and the carpets are so dirty and who can freshen up their landscapes when they’re too worried about catching coronavirus if they leave the house for the garden center and you miss restaurant margaritas and your friends and you really should be decluttering the closets/finishing the book/organizing the family finances/making sourdough starter but you can’t, you just can’t, because you are tired of it all. You are a desperate for a routine but also for someone to tell you how to make one. You are the parent who checks in late to the Zoom meetings.

It’s real, friends. It’s real now that we’re in Spring in the northeast and about to face a summer of steaming days and no pools and the kids inside because outside is too hot and there’s nothing to doooooo and how come we can’t get a pool?

It’s real, friends. Mom is declining rather rapidly now and sitting with her is strange and sad because it’s not the same (she’s not the same, nothing’s the same). When we left her house the other day, Cian said, “I miss Grammy.” He looked back at the house. “I mean, she’s there. But I miss her. I don’t know.”

It’s real, friends. I hate hearing people chew and somebody got sparkly nail polish on the couch and I haven’t kept any of my first grader’s completed papers organized. I have to-do lists that I lose so I make new to-do lists but then I shut down upon viewing the to-do lists and sit down to eat cookies instead. No one’s allowed to have bubble gum in the house because if anybody smacks their lips together so help me I will lose it. I stay up too late at night because it’s the only time of the day I don’t have to hear my beautiful family members asking for–or, Lord help me, eating–snacks or help with Google Classroom or can you please help us paint our nails again, Mom, because somehow the glittery polish smudged on this finger and I’m not sure where it went? I love these people so very much, and this gift of time with them is the absolute best but sometimes I wonder how I became the captain of a ship stuck out in the middle of an ocean when I don’t know my stern from my aft.

It’s real, friends. Netflix has replaced exercise, wine has replaced water, and frozen pizza has replaced fresh salad and grilled chicken.

We are in a quarantine slump.

BUT. My mom still calls me “Sweetie.” The kids are making plays and writing “books” and reading books before getting out of bed in the morning. My mom still craves her morning coffee and lights up at the first sip. The kids are walking the dog and doing the dishes and their laundry. My mom still asks me about the children and tells me she loves them. The kids are learning how to cook and bake and mop floors…and they actually like it.

It’s real, friends. And if you’re in Camp #1, I respect you and admire you but don’t think I can be friends with you anymore. (I doubt the #1s are watching Schitt’s Creek at night with a stack of Oreos on their laps?) I’m still firmly in Camp #2, as you guessed about 500 words ago.

BUT. I began writing again, like somebody flipped on a beautiful dusty switch in my brain. I’m almost fifty pages into the rough draft of a new novel. After a solid year and a half of apoplectic overwhelm, I’ve begun to be able to start sifting through the thoughts bouncing around this nervous head of mine and put them to use. David’s work is very busy, for which I am very grateful. But we aren’t redoing the landscaping or painting the house or making sourdough starter at the moment. We aren’t hiking or knitting sherpas or Instagramming homemade masks, but we are walking nature trails and making Nutella crepes and dancing in the car on the half-hour drive to my mom’s. As comfortable members of Camp #2, family is the priority, the work is the outlet, and my mom is the hinge on which our schedule and attention rests.

And now you know the only way I’m showing up for any Zoom get-together is if somebody else schedules it first.

I’ll bring the cookies.

 

Quinlan Says Quarantine is Fun and We’re Just Going to Roll with it

Quinlan Says Quarantine is Fun and We’re Just Going to Roll with it

Quinlan had to write a letter Monday for her language arts class, in which she described to an imaginary other student her first month under stay-at-home orders. “MOM. Mommy. MOM.” Quinn said this as she walked from the dining room, where she’d set up her 

Easter During a Pandemic: Well, That was Different

Easter During a Pandemic: Well, That was Different

Quinlan was in my bathroom Sunday morning as we were getting ready to go see my mom. It was Easter. We’d giggled over the baskets and laughed through the backyard egg hunt and baked and eaten the Resurrection Rolls, but we’d also watched a lot