As I shared last week, I recently crossed some sort of imaginary threshold into adulthood, and it had nothing to do with giving birth. I realized I omitted a major indicator of adulthood in that post: the fact that Mr. Magpie and I are constantly talking about “writing letters” to either express our gratitude to a vendor/restaurant or raise hell to the same. We literally have a Wunderlist enumerating all of these “letters” we’re “some day” going to write. Slash, perhaps organizing them in purgatorial list form gives us the illusion of taking action, whether or not they ever wind up written. (And P.S. — the stationery featured in the snap above is my own from Etsy store Little Postage House.)
(On this topic, I think I took a cue from my mom, who has been known to call the department of transportation in Washington, D.C. to let them know when their traffic stoplight planning has not worked out as planned. You know the type of complaint — “What you really need at the corner of Klingle and Mass Ave is a protected left.”)
Because I fear these letters have scant chance to ever materialize with a baby, business, and blog in tow, I thought I’d write them in shorthand here as a sort of micro-catharsis for myself:
To Whom It May Concern in the Starbucks Office of Property Development: Please consider opening a location in Ukrainian Village, Chicago. We’ve got the highest density of Uppababy strollers, goldendoodles, and Lululemon-sporting mamas this side of Ashland, and I submit these facts to you as impartial evidence that a latte-purveying ‘Bucks in this ‘hood will be a veritable cashcow. (As an unrelated aside, the author of this note is addicted to your iced soy milk lattes and finds parking in the lot at the nearest location–over a mile away–a test in patience.) P.S. — Your mobile ordering function is the bees knees.
Dear City of Chicago — Please add a speed bump on our street. The cars turning off Damen Ave fly down the street, and there are multiple small children on our block who tend to play on scooters in the driveways.
My Dearest Amazon — You are my one true love. How did new parents live before Prime? You have saved us countless trips to the store and your customer service is top-notch. I know there’s this funny new competitor, Jet, who continues to send me coupons in the mail, but I will never jump ship. I’m a ride-or-die Amazonian.
Dear All Baby Bottle Makers — None of you have gotten it quite right. Our LifeFactory ones screw right into a pump (yay!) but there’s something off about the “threads” on the top and the nipple often isn’t affixed properly, leading to surprise dribbling-down-the-chin situations. Also, the mouth of the bottle is not wide enough to mix formula in without spilling all over the counter. Comotomos look great and are unbreakable, but leak all over the place. And the lids don’t actually clip on, like, at all. We’ve had many-a Comotomo accident with milk or formula geysering all over the place. The Philips Avents are tried-and-true but the lids are impossible to take off with one hand, which is rather annoying in the middle of the night. (Also, when they do pop off, they do so with quite a loud POP, waking my dog.) And don’t even get me started on our Mimimujis, which, with the pricetag they bear, should basically feed and burp the child themselves. Alas, they instead lead our baby to gag (the longest nipple ever…) and, despite boasting a design that might seem to make it easier to hold the bottle at an appropriate angle, are actually harder to get the hang of and lead to a lot more air intake on the baby’s end. (Possibly user error, but still.) So, as you can see, it’s sort of a pick your poison situation. Pls discuss.
Dear Nursing Staff of Prentice Women’s Hospital — Thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart for your patience, kindness, and support during and after the delivery of minimagpie. You taught me so much in those early, tentative days of motherhood, from how to nurse to how to survive a pain-riddled meltdown two days after my c-section. You waited on my hand and foot, helping me into the restroom, feeding me my medication on.the.dot when I needed it, helping me take my first shower, fetching Mr. Magpie a blanket, offering words of encouragement as I shuffled from my bed to the hall, and countless other small and large gestures of incredible, first-rate care. You are the real deal. Thank you for what you do.
Dear Bouqs — This is an old gripe, as this incident happened over two years ago and, for all I know, you’ve corrected your ways since. But I took a gamble on your new flower delivery startup, and you delivered the dinkiest fistful of flowers (weeds?) to my mother-in-law for mother’s day, thoroughly embarrassing me. I in turn complained to your customer service professionals, who offered some sort of measly credit towards a future purchase and insisted that, despite having the name “Bouqs,” which is clearly an abbreviation for “bouquets,” which, by definition, is “an artfully arranged cluster of flowers,” you do not style any of your flowers. Your site’s design and photography indicates otherwise. Perhaps I missed the fine print, and shame on me for that, but shame on you for unclear advertising and for not addressing an unhappy customer’s concerns.
Dear Employee at Lululemon in Austin, TX — Thank you for making ordering from your store a total breeze. You’d sold out of all of a particular item online, but you tracked down the item in your store and cheerfully helped me check out over the phone. You were genuinely kind and courteous. You remind me that good companies with good customer service and good products do exist.
Dear Comcast — You are not on the shortlist of the aforementioned good companies. You are, in fact, a bad company engaging in what seems to be monopolistic practices. I understand that you needed to overcharge for awhile in order to offset the extensive infrastructure costs you incurred while running all the lines and wires and what have you across the country. But you surely have recouped these investments by now, and are still price-hiking while engaging in shady billing practices with all kinds of weird hidden fees and surcharges. You also seem to charge every Tom, Dick, and Harry a different amount for the same service, and your bundles literally defy all bounds of common sense. How is it possible that just getting internet can in some configurations be more expensive than having internet with cable and HBO? Your “technicians” routinely tell us to fix our problems by turning off and on the TV/modem/router/etc. Also, I’m pretty sure that when they tell us they’re “boosting our signal,” they are actually using that phrase in air quotes, putting themselves on mute, and laughing maniacally at each other as they do nothing. Finally, if it is technically possible to “boost a signal,” why aren’t they always boosted?
Dear Owner of the neighborhood Polish restaurant Podhalanka — My husband is part Polish and we have thoroughly enjoyed the authentic fare — especially the pierogis and pickle soup — at your “old country” restaurant. But we became lifelong admiring customers when we brought our three-week-old daughter to your restaurant one evening with her grandparents in tow, and you blessed our baby and tucked a $10 bill into her carseat, telling us every new baby deserves a present. You brought my mother-in-law to tears, and you seeded our daughter’s piggy bank. We were so moved by your sweet gesture of motherly love.
OK, people. Have I sufficiently proven my grouchy-old-person-ness?!??!? What other letters are on your proverbial letter list?
And, to round out this old person post, I thought I’d share five boring-but-much-loved house products I’ve Amazon Primed over the past few years. These are the unsung heroes of our household, items we use CONSTANTLY, are super well-made, and make our lives a little easier.
Pick No. 1: The Lasko Space Heater
This little buddy ($30) is THE BEST. It is compact, has a long cord, and has a bunch of adjustable knobs to achieve just the right level of heat. And it’s not that cloying horrible heat you usually get from a space heater — I can’t explain it properly, but it just does a great job of radiating heat. We’ve found this a useful supplement in our basement which, like most basements, runs cool and damp and cove-like.
Pick No. 2: The Black + Decker Handheld Vacuum
I’ve sung this miracle’s praises in the past, but I LOVE this little guy ($78 — also available at Target here for around the same price) for a quick clean when I’m not in the mood to lug out the full-size vacuum. It’s ideal for spot-cleaning and the every-other-day clean sweep I’ve been trying to get into the habit of upholding. You charge it on a little charging tray and it holds its charge for a decent length of time, it’s super lightweight, and it has GREAT suction. Love.
Pick No. 3: The Mr. Clean Bliss Lined Rubber Glove
These gloves ($4) are THE absolute best kitchen gloves out there. They are lined with this micro-fleece-like lining that keeps your hands soft and snug, they last forever thanks to a heavy duty texture, and they have extended many-a manicure by at least a few days given how often I’m doing dishes. (“Boring, but it’s my life.” — Anchorman)
Pick No. 4: The Bonavita Electric Kettle
I’ve probably over-featured this item in my posts on my maternity must-haves, but I freaking love this electric kettle (on sale for $50). We use it every morning to make pourover coffee (yes, every morning…Mr. Magpie is a coffee connoisseur; you can see all the gear we use to make the perfect cup of coffee here, under pick no. 9; I learned to make a great cup following Blue Bottle’s instructions). I also use it frequently to prepare the perfect cup of tea.
Pick No. 5: The Joy Mangano Mini Steamer
Oh man, this is an MVP ($16). It works SO well and somehow seems easier than pulling out an ironing board and using the steam setting on the iron (I actually have never done this ever) — the water in this little buddy heats up in about 30 seconds and you have perfectly pressed-looking clothes in no time. And it’s SUPER compact and can easily be thrown into a roll-a-board for travel, which I loved when I traveled a lot for work and wanted to show up looking put together.
P.P.S. — Part of the impetus for this post was the fact that these string lights I mentioned that we have in our backyard have been the number one most popular item I’ve featured THIS MONTH on the blog! So, thought I’d share some more of our home discoveries now and then…LMK if you dig it!