Slices of Joy.

Several years ago, I wrote about searching for “slices of joy” in my daily life, quoting:

“Happiness doesn’t have to be a constant overarching feeling.  It can come as sweet, short moments throughout your day.”

A couple of slices of joy I’ve been savoring recently:

+The way Tilly “hugs” me by resting her head against my face and leaning her weight onto my body every night. Dog love is real.

+The discovery that “One Fine Day” is streaming on HBOGo — one of my all-time favorite romcoms. It hadn’t been available for rent or purchase on any streaming network for so, so long. Is it embarrassing to note that I owe many of my #momgoal aspirations to Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in this movie? (N.B.: Michelle Pfeiffer is #goals in general…). When she retrieves a blueberry muffin from her bag, Mary Poppins-style, I remember thinking, even as a self-absorbed teen: “I want that to be me one day — prepared, nurturing, organized.” I despise the word “cozy” but this movie is just that — a warm hug on a rainy day. (May I also recommend any Nancy Meyers or John Hughes movie as welcome, life-affirming distraction?)

+The smell of coffee in the morning.

+The fact that children’s enrichment programs are offering free, online music and dance classes — we’ve done Dance with Miss Rachel, Jamming with Jamie, Ramblin’ Dan via Union Square Play, and Cosmic Kids Yoga, making donations to support the performers where appropriate. I bring out this bag of percussion instruments and both children are happily engaged for a little pocket of time — micro loves the egg-shaped shakers and mini goes wild on the whistles (yikes).

+We’ve also been tuning into this old Raffi concert on YouTube, and it’s distinctly possible that I enjoy it more than the children, though they rock out, too. A classic for a reason. His voice is chicken soup for the 1980s-born soul.

+The smell of freshly-bathed babies. (Still use this classic.)

+Daily FaceTime sessions with siblings and friends. We’ve had a lot of good laughs together.

+Eating dinner on the floor, around our coffee table (currently on sale!), at night, which has the vague feeling of trespass that building forts in the living room or “camping out” in the basement used to when I was a child.

+Making banana bread with Emory.

+Mr. Magpie learning to play “Baby Shark” on mini’s prized recorder.

+Watching “Seinfeld” before bed. Though we’ve seen every episode countless times, the “Phone Message” one had us laughing so hard we could hardly breathe on Friday night.

+Cooked-from-the-heart, rib-sticking classics like Anthony Bourdain’s Braised Pork Shoulder with Fried Shallots and Quick Pickles (from his Appetites cookbook, which is excellent), which we serve over huge, satisfying mounds of Jasmine rice. Note: it is a lot of up-front work for Mr. Magpie, but then we batch and freeze leftovers to enjoy over the weeks to come. (Incidentally, this most recent batch led Mr. Magpie to decide we need to upgrade our rice cooker. I didn’t even know rice cookers existed until Mr. Magpie brandished his when we moved in together. We still have the same one — and I believe his was manufactured in 1962? It consistently burns the bottom of the pot into a brown layer of impossible-to-scrub-off rice and does not yield particularly fluffy results but it had not dawned on either of us that an upgrade might work wonders. Though I should add that I am still, ten years into our marriage and my discovery of aforementioned rice cooker, delighted by its ease of use — so much so that we have afforded it carefully guarded cabinet space in our Manhattan apartments. At any rate, he is debating between a Cuckoo and a Zojirushi. Both are hideous in my opinion but consistently top-ranked.)

+Realizing I’ve crossed the threshold into being able to make one meal for both of my children — micro now more or less eats everything mini does, just diced into smaller pieces. It is such a relief and simplifier! These plates and these small bowls are still my absolute favorite. Both are dishwasher and microwave-safe. The “wells” of the plates are deep so you can serve things like applesauce, yogurt, soup, cereal, etc without an issue — and the bowls are the perfect child size for snacks.

+Fresh pens and lists that afford the impression of progress.

+This performance of “Lost Stars” (from the lovely movie “Begin Again”). I can’t hear it without remembering this one night my best friend visited me in Chicago and we turned this song up to the loudest decibel and went cruising around the city, singing at the top of our lungs, windows down. The best feeling.

+The scent of these dryer sheets.

+Mini’s excitement decorating Amazon boxes with these dot markers.

+Blasting ’90s pop during happy hour. “My Pony,” anyone?

+My Aerin scalloped plates.

+Online shopping, where not a day goes by that another incredible sale/discount does not materialize…a few of my favorite finds/scores, several of them from small businesses:

THIS PIMA PLAY DRESS (30% OFF AND FREE SHIPPING WITH CODE BRIGHTEN)

50% OFF THESE PRECIOUS JAMMIES (DISCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED)

LOOZIELOO’S 30% OFF SPRING SELECTION (USE CODE SPRINGINYOURSTEP) — INCREDIBLE DEALS! — HAD TO GET THIS LITTLE ENGLISH DRESS I’D BEEN EYEING AND THIS KITE TOP!

NOT ON SALE BUT I MUST OWN THIS DRESS

HILLHOUSEHOME IS OFFERING 10% OFF ALL BEDDING/BATH (NO CODE NEEDED) + DONATING 10% OF PROCEEDS TO INCREDIBLE NON-PROFITS…I OWN AND LOVE THE CHANCERY LANE SET

$5 LEGGINGS — LOVE THE LEMON PRINT

10% OFF THE INCREDIBLE HOME DECOR SHOP ST. FRANK (RUN BY MY GIRLFRIEND CHRISTINA), PLUS 10% OF PROCEEDS GO TO FEED AMERICA. I LOVE THESE THROWS (PERFECT GIFT) AND WOULD LOVE ONE OF THEIR FRAMED OTOMIS

25% OFF SWEET SCORES FOR LITTLE ONES WITH CODE SPRING25: LOVE THIS MOD DRESS, THIS LINEN ROMPER, AND THIS GINGHAM SUNHAT…AND THESE BOAT SHOES

GAP HAS MAJORLY CUTE JAMMIES ON SALE FOR 50% OFF — LOVE THESE STARS, THESE HEARTS, THESE STRAWBERRIES, AND THESE STRIPES

25% OFF YOUR PURCHASE OF $75 OR MORE WITH CODE STAYCATION — I LOVE THE NEW PROPER PEONY PIMA KNITS LIKE THIS AND THIS

What slices of joy are you enjoying right now? Please share in the comments! Would love to appreciate your joy vicariously.

P.S. Have you had the wherewithal to read? I will admit I’ve not read a page in weeks, in part because I am very busy with the children and in part because I am craving a different, less active kind of distraction these days. Recs please!

P.P.S. Nothing and everything.

P.P.P.S. My other heartbeat.

26 Comments

  1. I love the thought of focusing on “slices of joy” — I feel I need this practice now more than ever! Mine include:

    + Getting dressed in outfits that feel intentional; that I would wear out in the world on a normal day

    + On a similar note, wearing perfume just because. Current favorites are both from D.S. and Durga: Coriander and Debaser

    + Budding blooms on the trees — spring is here!

    + My nightly seltzer spiked with juice (as I haven’t been drinking alcohol since before the holidays — !)

    + Listening to my stepkids play and giggle together

    + READING nightly for an escape — currently enjoying both Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (author of Pachinko) and The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg (aka Orangette)

    Thank you for posting this! Going to enjoy reading through the comments & getting some inspiration 🙂 xx

    1. These are SO good and I also can’t wait to read Molly Wizenberg’s new book! I love her.

      xx

  2. Would love to learn more about the toddler meals you are making! Maybe a little week of meals? I’m stuck on feeding my 15 month old basically the same three things every day

    1. Been there, Arma! I have found it intermittently difficult to try new things with my children because a) there’s always the real concern/reality that they might hate it and that I will have wasted a lot of food and effort; b) it requires a lot of planning! and some weeks it just doesn’t feel like I can add it to my full plate; and c) it’s easier to re-order/re-purchase what you know when you’re at the grocery. So, just want to let you know I’m with you.

      One of my new year’s goals was to put more thought and planning into what they eat. I try to have them eat what we are eating for dinner. If it’s not feasible based on timelines / schedules and we end up eating after they are in bed, I try to conserve some of the dish as leftovers for the following evening. Sometimes I have to swap out bits — I know, for example, mini will not eat potatoes (is your mind blown?) and so I will prepare her some rice/pasta as a substitute. Or I will supplement a veg I know she won’t like (i.e., asparagus) with some sliced cucumber, which I know she will eat.

      Anyway, nothing novel here, but a few of my go-to breakfasts: scrambled or fried egg, hash brown (freezer aisle and the ones from Trader Joe’s are really good – not particularly healthy but a once in awhile treat supplemented with berries), smoothies, yogurt, toaster waffle with peanut butter on top, Quaker Oat soft oat bars, oatmeal, pancakes, croissants (TJ’s has some good overnight ones you thaw out on countertop and toast up the next morning in the oven), cinnamon toast, bagel and cream cheese, bagel and peanut butter.

      My go-to lunches: peanut butter and jelly, cinnamon raisin bread smeared with cream cheese, deli ham and cheese cut into shapes using tiny cookie cutters, macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup, pizza bites, quesadilla, grilled cheese, pasta with butter and cheese, vermicelli noodles with pork/veg (we order a lot of Vietnamese takeout and both kids love the leftovers), fried rice, Dr Prager’s fish bites or veggie bites.

      xxx

  3. Oh and one more- I use that old classic Mustela myself (no kids, got hooked as a nanny!) and have even got the boyfriend hooked as well… is there anything better than that scent??
    XO

    1. It is SO good!

      I also absolutely love the smell of The Laundress’s Baby detergent and don’t think I’ll have the heart to stop using it on my children’s clothes…even when they aren’t babies anymore. xx

  4. I love these lists so much!

    Watermelon water- it tastes like summer, and I submit nothing is more refreshing after a run… or a morning after hitting those home happy hours a bit too hard 🙂

    I started a group chat with four girlfriends, from all over the country, in different situations… but here’s the key: none of them know each other! They all immediately connected and the highlight of my day is picking up my phone and finding they’ve been chatting away without me <3

    Using Weck jars for tea lights…. what AREN’T Weck jars good for??

    Wearing my boyfriend John’s St. Christopher medal.

    Abstaining from Instagram for Lent…. when I decided to do it, I had no idea what was to come, and I truly believe it’s saved my sanity.

    Fires in the fireplace! I live in Kirkland WA ( yes that Kirkland, ground zero in the US, ugh). I’m very aware how much of a luxury and privilege a fireplace is, and in Seattle weather it’s just a life saver.

    Making jars and jars of red New Mexico chile… we are from Santa Fe and in our book there’s just nothing better 🙂

    Reading the newsletter of Father Richard Rohr. They have brought me so much comfort, joy, and challenge. And here’s something funny… I’m not Catholic and neither is John… so the St. Christopher medal, observing Lent (in fact I’ve never done it before), and my draw to Father Richard make no “sense”…. but I’m leaning heavy into, if it feels right and brings comfort and sustenance, it’s a go! I know you’re Catholic and if you might be interested, Father Rohr’s organization is called the Center for Action and Contemplation 🙂

    … and on a decidedly non-glamorous note, unexpectedly finding a box of latex gloves under the sink!! Nothing weird, John used to be a volunteer firefighter haha! He works from home ( we are SO fortunate.. I’m a preschool teacher so obviously not working)… but he’s also high risk, so I do all the shopping when necessary. These gloves were like unearthing gold!!

    Phew I rambled a bit! Thank you again for all your thoughtful posts, and hugs and health to your
    lovely family. XO

    1. Hi Jessica! Absolutely love this list and your upbeat tone — brought a smile to my face this morning. I love that this situation has brought you closer to religion — a huge silver lining! — and thanks for sending me in Father Richard’s direction. I just signed up for his newsletter, too. It’s funny because I just signed up for Katie Couric’s newsletter on the advice of a friend recently and though I love her am feeling totally overwhelmed by how much COVID news it brings into my life every day, and I may need to unsubscribe. I’m finding that I need stronger control valves. I listen to the news every morning while making the children’s breakfasts and that’s about enough — in addition to scanning the CNN alerts I get every few hours. I can’t take any more! So I love the idea of a newsletter with much more positive messages in my inbox. xxx

  5. Oh I NEED to watch One Fine Day again! An oldie but goodie. Recently I re-watched You’ve Got Mail, snuggled up with a warm blanket and it was the best comfort.

    My slices of joy: my 2 year old daughter is living her absolute best life right now. She has no idea what is going on except for the fact that both parents are home. She hadn’t fully adjusted yet to her day care prior to the shelter-in-place order, and everyday she says/asks for confirmation: “It’s not a school day, it’s a home day?” I’m trying not to worry yet about her re-adjustment when her school opens again. Her giggles throughout the day lifts my spirits.

    As for books, I’ve been blowing through memoirs lately. I had two fiction books on my kindle and I would fall asleep reading them, whereas memoirs have been keeping me up — I must really like reading about the lives of other people 😉 Most of these are not new, but my recent reads are Misty Copeland’s Life in Motion, Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl, Know My Name by Chanel Miller (heavy topic, but in my opinion one of THE most important books I’ve ever read), Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki. I also plan to to re-read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I had read this many years ago on the plane and was sobbing next to strangers.

    1. Great idea on memoirs! All of these are supposed to be so good. Might pick up one of these next!

      Love all your slices of joy. I am totally with you on concern about re-adjustment, but – what can we do? Everyone is in the same boat. We’ll muscle through together…hoping that teachers have some tools in their kit that can help us smooth the transition.

      xxx

  6. We, too, are loving Seinfeld! I once saw Jerry in Central Park interacting with a fan and he seemed SO nice IRL. 🙂 I’m reading the novel “Rules of Civility” and it’s a nice escape. Learning a bit here and there (it’s a period piece about a girl in late 1930’s NYC), but mostly just a fun novel. I am enjoying my baby — who has learned to giggle (Isn’t it amazing we learn to laugh before we learn to talk?) and has found his feet 🙂

    We are trying to make “weekends weekends” by doing special things, like drinking extra good drip coffee on weekends, making pancakes, etc.

    Anyone doing this with more than one kid is my hero! (Especially in NYC.) xo.

    1. OH yes. I am such a huge fan of his — we both love him from “Comedians in Cars.” He has a great perspective, I think: he’s justifiably confident, but surprisingly humble and down-to-earth about things. He often takes fellow celebs to task for complaining about their own celebrity: “so what, this is what you chose to do. Be gracious.”

      My sister loved that Towles book! It’s been on my list forever…

      Love the idea of treating weekends like weekends. The days definitely blur together!

      xx

  7. I love the idea of a slice of joy! This confinement really makes me appreciate my life at home (and recognize my fortune that our incomes aren’t affected, we still have childcare, and our family all remain healthy so far). I love the daily dog walks, seeing how happy our baby and dog are with everyone home, blooming trees, waving to neighbors while having a drink on our front porch, the start of grilling season, and making a dent in my stack of books to read.

    1. This comment is a slice of joy FOR ME! It makes me feel reassured that there are people are able to enjoy hygge and the comforts of home and the slower pace of life this situation demands. Cheersing you virtually!

      Now if only I had a front porch or a grill or even a square of grass to call my own for that matter…!

  8. I’ve been meaning to comment all week but the days keep getting away from me! I’m finding joy in newborn baby snuggles (and trying not to dwell on the fact that my husband and I are the only recipients of her snuggles for the time being. At least all the grandparents got to meet her before we quarantined). Also, just received my first ever pair of align pants, and they are every bit as good as advertised! Perfect for right now when NOTHING fits. On a related note, I read the old post you linked to earlier this week about giving yourself grace when getting back into shape after Mini and it was just what I needed to hear. One more joyful thing – how proud Claire is when she runs in to tell me “I did it!!” every time she finishes a puzzle…a puzzle she has already completed 47 times this week 🙂

    We are also thanking God that this virus did not happen in the middle of Claire’s treatment when at times we were running up to the hospital daily or at least once a week. And grateful it didn’t happen five years ago when we would have had to cancel/postpone our April 18th wedding!

    I recently re-read Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher and it was very comforting. Plus, I remembered exactly none of it so it was like a new experience! Bonus 🙂

    1. Oh Stephanie – yes! This situation has left me thinking about timing in so many ways. If this had happened a year ago, and I was eight months pregnant, for example. Less selfishly: thinking of all the moms about to deliver, all the kids who will lose their proms and graduations (and therefore first dances and first kisses and first-time-to-walk-on-the-dais), all the dads not allowed to be present for the births of their children, all the patients needing regular treatments for other illnesses and ailments, all the families missing out on trips they’d saved up for, etc. It is a time of deprivation and it is so hard.

      xxx

    2. Oh my gosh, the poor expectant mamas! I can’t imagine how hard it will be to give birth and care for a newborn in the hospital without the daddy there. Be strong, mamas. And the Olympic athletes who trained so long and hard and now have to wait another year.

  9. Highly recommend Zojirushi! Their “fuzzy technology” results in perfect rice every time by constantly sensing and adjusting for the amount of moisture in the pot. Also I like that it sings a little tune when things are done cooking. I use it for steaming buns, gyoza, and cooking any grain.

    1. Oh — thanks, Grace!! Great endorsement. The little song sounds fun; I’m sure my daughter will love it.

      xx

  10. I just want to say I’m grateful I’m not the only one struggling to read! I’m more than halfway through The Dutch House and it’s good, but I’m struggling to want to pick up any book at all, which is so strange for me. I just can’t focus enough to turn off my mind. Vague anxiety whirring beneath the surface—just enough to distract me. I need to find some light and escape-y fiction, I think.

    1. Totally. I also think that by the time I am done with the day and its seemingly endless cycle of cleaning after two children, I just want to sit. Like, sit and glaze over with a glass of wine and just do nothing. I am totally WIPED! It sounds crazy because I’m here with two very small children in a small apartment so it’s not like I’m running marathons every day, but it’s just endless commotion and movement and picking up and holding and hugging and gathering toys and carrying food and all that jazz. My body is exhausted! So in addition to the buzz of anxiety, there’s the physical element of just needing to take a beat and veg, and the thought of reading is never top on my list, which is also odd for me; reading is usually such a welcome escape and release.

      xx

  11. In this chaotic time, a captured smile (in whatever way it presents itself) is a blessed moment!

    Just finished reading:
    Ordinary Grace
    The Tenth Justice
    Both were very good!
    Kiss your family and please stay safe!
    Love

  12. Agreed! I always find myself coming back to a similar mantra: “Happiness is a thing which passes through you, not a thing you meet and hold in your deathly grip forever afterwards.” The idea that happiness is not a level you achieve and maintain, like enlightenment or something. It comes and goes and can be found in any nook and cranny and has the ability to re-delight you over and over again without losing any of its power. The early explosion of blooms in the park has been making me very happy these days. When I’m doing my daily solo quarantine walk or run, seeing the riot of magnolias, forsythia, and cherry blossoms almost makes me forget about the pandemic. Also, my evening cocktail. I’ve been trying to choose new recipes instead of my usual go-tos (Manhattans, Boulevardiers, Negronis).

    1. Love these. I know – in some ways, the blooms in Central Park feel like a taunt, but then at the same time they remind me that this, too, shall pass…and that the trees will always bloom in spring! xxx

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