Dec 13 — First draft of Christmas letter


The kids and I were joking about something we all saw separately that said, do you realize that the Olympics were this year? And seriously doesn’t it seem like five years ago? 

So, in an eventful year, I’m happy to say that the number one “Making My Dreams Come True” 2018 experience was visiting a dreamy and odd London attraction, The Dennis Severs’ House.

On Danny’s recommendation (!), I’d read this lovely book, The Marvels by Brian Selznick,  a few years ago and a key feature of it — a home where you could hear whispers and there was fresh food on the table and it always seemed as if someone had just left the room — is based on an actual real place you can visit! And I looked it up and indeed you can visit and I thought, sadly, “but when will I ever get back to London…?”

 So, flash forward —  we went to London for Spring Break this year, and I got to take my old-enough-to-appreciate-it kids and hubs to my favorite city!

Tower Bridge

I went to London for the first time in 1985 for a term abroad when I was 20 years old. I shared a room in a Golders Green B&B with my beautiful friend Jen Bruer — who with her height and masses of red hair and freckles and Nashville accent was the toast of young man London! There were 21 of us there from Earlham College and it truly was once in a lifetime. 

Trafalgar Square 1986

I love London so very much. I went back with a boyfriend at least a couple of times and we had a blast and he said it suited me very well —the good manners and the lovely summertime and that tea came just when I started getting crabby.

I had the genius idea to go back with my mom and my aunt and her daughter, my cousin Marie who came in from Australia for just a week. It was memorable! And timely, because Miles was born a year or so later. That was the last time I’d been, in 1999.

And now I have gone again with my own family and walked the wrong way and got on busses and had snacks from newsstands and Tesco and brunch at the pub across the street which is now my very favorite place ever and….

Went to The Dennis Severs’ House. 

18 Folgate Street 

You go at dusk or later as it is all lit by candles. It is in the Spitalfields section of London, not a wealthy part, a place where silk weavers lived and worked. 

A man with a very quiet calming voice explains to us the rules. No touching. No talking (!). Take as long as you want. Start in the cellar. (My husband asked if this man could lead us all around London in his calming way.)

The room that struck me the most was up in the garret, showing a time when the silk industry had collapsed and people were very poor. We agreed later it looked like a creepy version of Scrooge’s bedroom and had a desk that looked like Bob Cratchit’s in the corner. What I noticed is that there was a little stool and a crutch (like Tiny Tim would use!) next to the fireplace, with a picture tacked up at kid’s eye view. And I thought, “here, you sit by the fire and look at your picture” and wanted to cry. 

At this point I realize I’ve gone far afield! Will end here and dream of the big city in days gone by …

Life at home

So I’ve been spending more than my fair share of time on social media lately….

…..and really how did we eat before Instagram?

Mid-morning

The last few days for me have felt like a real need for rest — plus intense feelings of guilt about others who don’t get a chance to kick back — and the intense enjoyment I feel lounging, enjoying the quiet and the sunshine and the snoring dog. 

“Getting things done at my own pace,” as my husband likes to say. 

I have Christmas preparations to carry out of course. The tree is up but not decorated. Tonight is the middle school holiday concert. I picked up my holiday cards from Staples yesterday and they came out kind of shitty. 

Also I’m reading a lot. Obsessively following Twitter (we are living through history, by the way). Knitting. Watching Sabrina. Dreaming up ideas for my new sewing corner. 

So, I am making good food for hungry people, two of whom are growing and too skinny. I am making sure the kitchen and laundry and household machines keep moving. I am available for company and emotional support. In short, I am doula-ing my family. It is very much women’s work, as it’s been done for centuries.

Another thing women have done for centuries is apologize and self-deprecate. I really want to say here: Its important to me right now to publish regularly and I can’t do that

if I let perfect be the enemy of good
(as a smart friend taught me). I’m not sure any of this is “good enough.”

Some excellent advice comes to mind from my mother who says —

Just make a decision and be done with it. Right or wrong, it’s done.

That’s what I’m doing here. Thanks for reading!


Sabbatical Day 4

In which I don my husband’s robe and make apple crisp.

Driving to work

So, I’ve been doing this #1secondaday app…

…and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes using their phone a lot — it essentially grabs quick snippets of your day and strings them together. I find the variety of aural environments very satisfying! It also gives a little structure to the day, finding one thing that is #1SE-worthy. The above is a screen grab from Tuesday morning, alongside some scenic Chicago landscape 😉 

It’s been established, I hate sitting in Chicago traffic. My favorite description comes from a lawyer who said simply, “it’s brutal.” It’s terrible, and the public transportation is also just so-so and getting around is the pits, more or less. I want to reiterate again how much of a motivator not sitting in traffic has been for me to make major changes in my life.*

Now is a good time to mention that I’m moving most of my writing here and away from my business page at MesaBirth. Please take a look at this blog post to find out what I’m doing!

It’s interesting to think about the Last Straw — what is it that makes your life so absolutely miserable you decide you’ll change as much else as you possibly can so as not to have to endure it any more? First world problems, I know — but it is also very easy to disparage one’s own mental and physical health and ultimately who does that serve?

My dear sweet husband rounded up the boys to see Spiderman this afternoon and left me alone in the house where I’m basking in the quiet and the snoring dog and the cold bright winter sunshine. I have a movie to watch from the library (Annihilation!) which I am stoked to see but it is too nice to sit in the dark right now. 


Next on deck: possibly chicken and rice soup, or maybe just grilled cheese and leftover tomato soup. Look at more ideas for a sewing corner and possibly start an Ikea list. Read some more of Women Who Run With the Wolves (I want to finish by Dec 31!). Hit “publish” and walk away.