June 2nd, 2016
I’ve been thinking about this letter for a while, but haven’t quite found time to type it up.
(In fact, I don’t really have time right now. I’m not even sitting at a computer as I write this, I’m thumb-typing on my iPhone while you watch Saturday morning cartoons. You just looked over at me and said, “no phone, mama,” which is BS because you’re sitting there on your iPad! But I digress. If this letter gets thumb-typed into my phone, I guess that’s how it gets written.)
It’s been two years and a few weeks since you joined our family. It feels like yesterday and another lifetime at the same time. Year two was, plain and simple, amazing. Year one was a roller coaster, but year two was like we suddenly hit the new normal. Everything was different than it was before you arrived, but it took that second year for me to fully realize how wonderful that new, different life was.
First, if any new moms are reading this right now, I have to say one thing: Year two is just so much better than year one. Literally, night and day. Motherhood is so hard at the beginning, but it gets so much better. Those sleepless nights, the exhaustion and frustration in the beginning, it lets up. Suddenly you look down and that tiny, screaming baby has turned into a human being who wants to wear the black shoes and have Mac and Cheese for dinner and eat it with a fork, please. It’s crazy. Every once in a while, I go through old photos and videos from a year ago, and they almost feel like a different lifetime.
This year has also felt more balanced than year one. At the beginning, parenting is so reactive. It has to be. Baby crying? Try everything. Try every single thing you can think of until it stops. Of course it’s exhausting.
But now? You can talk! Parents make a big deal out of milestones like smiling and sitting up and walking, but communication blows them all away. You can finally tell me what’s going on in your head! It’s nothing short of life-changing.
Instead of focusing on figuring out what you need, we can actually talk to each other. You have opinions! You’re excited about the people and animals you meet, you have favorite toys and foods and games. You’re this cool, fun little person who I’m excited to learn more about every day. I can’t wait to get to know you even better.
Things are so wonderful right now. So wonderful that it’s almost bittersweet to write this letter. It feels so final. It feels like the end of something instead of the middle, which is where we actually are. It’s hard to think about today without wanting everything to stand still, right now, and never change again.
But this year, I got a lot better at learning how to change. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it’s not. Everything else becomes easy when you can let things change. We had some big ones this year. Relaxing into them — letting them happen without trying to stop them or make them different — is the single thing that worked.
Change is inevitable. The only thing you can’t change in this world is the fact that everything changes. Your baby days are already gone. One day, I looked down, and you were suddenly a kid. Your second year is already past us. This moment, you sitting next to me on a Saturday morning, is over too. It never stops. We’re just along for the ride together. And I’m so grateful to be riding next to you.
Last year, I ended my letter with “I love you so much.” Of course, I loved you so much then. But now? Those words feel almost incomplete.
It’s not that I love you. You are love, to me now.
We are so lucky, you and me. To share this life, to love each other, to do our best for the world around us.
The word grateful doesn’t even begin to capture it.
All my love,
Photography: Michael Wesley
April 21st, 2016
Bear’s second birthday is in five days. How is that even possible? I’m working on a letter to him (my practice of writing monthly letters slowed to a crawl/stop in the last few months; the last one is at sixteen months here) that I’ll post soon. Without having finished it, I can say this: motherhood has been the biggest, most fundamental shift that I’ve ever experienced. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am so, so grateful for it. It is, quite simply, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And after a lot of self-doubt at the beginning, I think I’m finally able to accept that I’m not half bad at it!
In other news, I’m doing something cool in a few weeks. More on that soon too. Without being too mysterious, the photo above (a shot I snapped in 2007) is a preview. Can anyone guess what it is?
April 14th, 2016
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the privilege of being able to vote in a democratic system, and in it, I argued that voting itself is the most important right that we have.
That’s true; I still think that.
But that post strikes me as incomplete.
The fact is, there’s a candidate this year who I’m thrilled to vote for. Since turning eighteen, there’s never been one I’m this excited for. And in a close race that will come down to a handful of remaining states, I feel like I’d be missing an opportunity if I didn’t share with you who that candidate is and why I think this is so important.
But first, a word of background. A few months ago, I eliminated advertising from this site. I’ve stood by that promise. When I stopped taking sponsorships on this blog, I told you that all I wanted from you was for you to listen. That’s still all I want. For you to listen to what I have to say with an open mind.
I will probably convince very few people to actually vote for the candidate I support. Maybe none. That’s ok. These are my opinions; they might not have an impact for a variety of reasons. Your state’s primary may already be over. You may not be registered to vote. You may not be a U.S. citizen. You may fundamentally disagree with me. Or you may be sick to death of election news and decide to skip this post completely. If so, that’s cool. I get it. See you next week.
But if you’re still reading, I want to tell you a little bit about the candidate I support.
That candidate is Bernie Sanders.
Our world is changing, faster now than ever. I’m thirty-five, which is not very old, but when I look back over my own lifetime, it feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster. My childhood was largely spent in a pre-internet world, my adulthood in a post-internet world, and my teenage years somewhere in between. This blog itself — the way I’m communicating right now — is a tool that didn’t exist for my parents’ generation.
It’s not just communication. It’s everything. It’s education, it’s wealth, it’s foreign relations, it’s medical care, it’s our political system, it’s the planet. That’s a list in five seconds off the top of my head. Things that felt stable and certain ten years ago have changed, faster than anyone realized they could. Things that felt sure and certain ten years ago are, it turns out, anything but.
And the world is about to start changing even faster.
Over the next few years and decades, we’re going to face challenges that prior generations couldn’t have dreamed of. I’m virtually certain that we’ll face challenges that, sitting here today, I can’t even dream of.
If this sounds scary… well, on some level, sure, it’s super scary. But it’s also incredibly exciting. And one of the best tools we have to grapple with these changes — to protect ourselves where necessary, and to foster and encourage the right developments — is through our political system.
Which is why it’s critical to elect the right leaders.
I could talk about a lot of individual policy reasons that I support Bernie, but you may not have the same views as I do on specific policies. That’s ok. America has a diverse population with a huge array of different perspectives; that’s one of the things I value most about living here. That’s not what I’m writing about today.
Because when we look at individual policies, I think we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. The fact is, our government wasn’t set up so that each citizen could choose every single policy according to their individual beliefs. In a country this diverse, that would be impossible. Nothing would ever get done.
Instead, we elect representatives. We do our best to pick people who are competent and intelligent, who have the right values, who fight for the things that matter to us. And then, if the system works, we let them do their jobs. We don’t have to micromanage everything. We put the right people in power and let them figure it out.
Except over the last few years, our system has gotten bogged down. It’s weighed down by money, by conflict, by politicians appealing to fringe groups instead of working in the public interest. Something needs to change, quickly, before these problems become impossible to fix. Issues like climate change and income inequality are existential threats to our world, and we are almost past the window to fix them.
But we have the tools to do it. They are sitting right in front of us, waiting for us to pick them up. And the first step is to elect a leader who cares more about the good of our country than about himself.
That sounds like a small thing, doesn’t it? It’s not. For whatever unfortunate reason, our country seems to attract megalomaniacal politicians. It’s one of our long-running jokes — that you can’t trust politicians and lawyers. Do you know how screwed up that is? There are the people who are setting and enforcing our laws, and we all treat it like a joke that they can’t be trusted.
Even worse, we all accept it, like it’s nothing. Like it’s just a given. Like it’s something that can’t be changed.
And that’s because it felt that way, until this year.
Bernie is different. In a world where politics and authenticity have somehow diverged, he’s a beacon of unwavering personal integrity. He embodies a model that I try my hardest to live up to in my own life, one of honesty and truth and standing up for what I believe is right. He’s spent his entire career as a public servant, and time and again, he’s demonstrated a clear, unwavering dedication to helping this country. He hasn’t always taken popular stances. In fact, he’s often taken unpopular ones. But he has held fast to an unchanging moral core for decades, even when it was hard.
Voting for him is a privilege.
A few months ago, there was a lot of talk about how Hillary was certain to be the Democratic nominee, that Bernie didn’t have a chance.
But things have changed. Bernie has won the Democratic primary in nine of the last ten states that have voted. The gap between his delegate count and the number needed to win the nomination is closing with every state that votes.
He is catching up.
And with a couple of key victories in the next few weeks, he will win.
But that’s not a guarantee. For him to win the democratic nomination, and then the presidency, it’s going to take all of us who believe in him learning the issues, telling our friends, and spreading the message. It’s going to take us engaging with our friends and family on both sides of the aisle to talk about why this is the right decision. We need to explain why voting in this election season isn’t a messy chore — it’s an incredible opportunity.
This year has given us a circus mess of unqualified, uninformed political candidates.
And somehow, in the middle of all that garbage, there’s a diamond.
That’s honestly how I feel. I’m not just voting for Bernie; I’m thrilled to vote for Bernie. I will do anything I can to help get his message out. A few weeks ago, I stood in line for four hours at a rally for his campaign — that’s the photo above. Thousands of people in a single line, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
It was too crowded; I didn’t get in. I didn’t care. I was happy to be there, happy so many people were there with me. Against all odds, his message is spreading, faster and faster every day.
And yes, some days it feels like an uphill battle. Some days, it feels like moving a mountain, one grain of sand at a time. But that’s how it’s got to get done.
I know this blog has a strong readership in New York and California, two huge states with upcoming primaries. If you’re eligible to vote in either of those states, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the candidates and please, please, please vote. There is literally nothing more important you can do this year than exercise your right to vote carefully, wisely, and for the right person.
I’ve told you who I think that person is.
Now go decide for yourself.
March 31st, 2016
When I started this site almost a decade ago (some of you may remember!), it wasn’t to write about clothes or makeup. Or motherhood. Or my career, or politics, or my thoughts, or about life in general. I started this blog with a very specific purpose: to keep track of the recipes I made as I was learning to cook.
After about two years of posting nothing but recipes on this website, I took a detour. I read an article about how bloggers were revolutionizing the fashion industry by posting real-life outfits that they were actually wearing, instead of magazine spreads with professional models and stylists and photographers. And I decided to add fashion to this blog, and the rest is history. (Sort of. Eight years later, I’m not sure that’s exactly what happened with fashion blogging, but that’s a topic for another day.)
But you know what I’ve heard, time and again, from readers of this site? They loved the recipes.
So, hey, guess what? I decided to listen!
With a two-year-old and a full time job, I don’t have a lot of time to cook these days. You probably won’t see me rendering duck fat any time soon. (For years, that post about duck fat was the most popular post on this blog, FYI. Duck fat. Ponder that for a moment.)
But I still love cooking. Sure, there’s something wonderful about a lazy night eating takeout on the couch, but give me a quiet weekend, and you’ll still find me scoping out the farmers market, making a giant mess in our kitchen, and emerging with something delicious. So when a few of you guys wrote to me in January and mentioned recipes, I thought, hey, while I take a few months to figure out where this blogging thing is headed… maybe getting back to basics for a while would be a good start.
But here’s a wrinkle in writing about recipes.
I don’t always use them.
In fact, unless I’m baking, most of the time, I don’t use recipes.
I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for long enough that following a set of ingredients or directions sounds kind of… boring? I guess that’s it. The problem is, when you don’t use a recipe while you’re making a dish, it’s really hard to post a step-by-step recipe online after the dish is done.
(This is not to say, “oh, I’m such a great cook that I don’t use recipes.” In fact, it’s more often the opposite. Not using recipes is often a total disaster. I once made an entire stock pot of butternut squash soup, and at the last minute decided to pour a beer into it. It was completely disgusting, and I had to throw out the entire thing. That’s not a lone example; I could tell a dozen stories with the same ending. But if I’m telling the truth about how I cook, the fact is, I mostly prefer to do things my way, disasters included, than to follow directions.)
For now, I’m going to experiment with a new way to write these up. I’m going to tell you, as best I can, what I did to create a dish. But I’m going to do it as a narrative, not as a set of ingredients and a list of directions.
So here we go.
This recipe starts with some pasta. Right about now, you might be wondering, “What type of pasta is that?” The answer is: I have no idea. No clue whatsoever. It’s a type that I saw at the grocery store and I bought it. A quick Google Image search suggests that it might be called gomiti, but truthfully, I’ve never heard of that type of pasta before and that might just be a word that someone made up. Can you use other types of pasta in this recipe? Again, not a clue. Probably. I don’t see how it would make much of a difference. Live wild and free, people.
Where were we? Oh right, pasta. Boil the water for your pasta. Add some salt, because that’s a thing that the Food Network told me to do at one point, supposedly it makes the pasta more flavorful. In a separate pan, simmer the garlic in the olive oil. Add tomatoes (break them up with your fingers or chop them), dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, burrata (again, chopped), parmesan, and spinach.
Oh, what’s that? You have some more questions?
How much basil should I use? I wish I could tell you. I just shook some into the bowl until I decided there was enough. Great method! Super easy to replicate! Not. Maybe a teaspoon? I’m just making that up. It could be more or less. The other spices are easier: a large pinch.
Why did you use burrata instead of mozzarella? Because burrata is pretty much my favorite food on earth and I use it in everything and if you haven’t tried it yet, your life is literally incomplete. Please do so right now.
What’s burrata? Shoot. You got me. I don’t know. In starting to type this, I was pretty sure that it was a type of mozzarella, but Google tells me that I’m wrong. It’s a separate type of cheese made from mozzarella. Basically, it looks like a ball of mozzarella, but when you slice into it, it’s this creamy, liquid-y goop that just might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
Back to the recipe(-ish). Simmer all the ingredients for about twenty minutes. Cook the pasta for the number of minutes it says on the box. Drain the pasta, mix everything together, sprinkle some additional parmesan on the top, and serve!
That’s pretty much it! It’s really yummy. Basically, just throw the ingredients into a bowl and it’ll probably turn out fine. I’m not sure there’s much you could do to screw it up. (Don’t dump a beer in it. Take it from me, that’s always a mistake.) Rough instructions below. Go give it a try!
March 14th, 2016
Hi guys! I’m currently in the process of redesigning this website, so I thought I’d revisit a few older posts that I’m really proud of. If you didn’t catch these the first time, please check them out! More updates soon. xo
Sometimes when I post a particularly sweet photo, video, or blog post about our son, I get a comment back: “You make it look easy.”
Undoubtedly, this comment comes from a good place. It’s someone telling me that I’m doing ok at this whole mothering thing (hopefully, I am), that life seems pretty good (it is) and that the baby and I are clearly happy (we are).
But, oh my gosh. The last thing I would want to do ever is make it look easy.
Social media and blogging are such wonderful additions to our culture; they let people connect across huge distances and cultural divides. They make cooped-up new moms feel like they’re part of a community, they help us share knowledge and advice, and they enrich our lives in so many ways.
But they also make us competitive with each other. They make us compare our real-life experience with a snapshot of someone else’s — a beautiful, happy snapshot, but one that lacks context and background. Trust me: For every cute date-night outfit, there’s also a day when I don’t have time to even brush my hair. For every sweet baby smile, there’s a night when he wakes up every two hours in tears. Those moments are part of reality for any new mom, whether we choose to share them or not.
I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with posting those beautiful moments — there isn’t, and I treasure all the sweet little smiles I’ve captured on camera in these last few months.
But phrases like “making it look easy” make it seem like there’s something wrong with you if it’s not easy. If it’s not easy, that it’s your fault. That it could be “easy” if you would just do things differently.
But here’s the thing: life isn’t rewarding or rich because it’s easy. Life is incredible because of those tiny little moments, every day, when we appreciate something joyful or meaningful in our daily experiences. Sure, there are great, easy days. And there are also so many great moments in the not-easy days.
If you’re expecting it to be easy — just because someone else might make it look easy — you’re always going to be unsatisfied.
And I wanted to write this, because I worry sometimes that I contribute to it. I worry that when I write about topics like breastfeeding, postpartum weight loss, or even how I’ve chosen to pursue my career, that others will feel badly because they’re struggling with those same issues. To write about these topics suggests, in some small way, that you have figured them out. But these are day-to-day struggles, and I don’t think anyone has fully figured them out.
All our lives are different. And it’s important to remember that. Each mom out there — each person out there, parent or not — has their own ups and downs that are unique to their family. And I know that some of my toughest moments — the 2 a.m. wake-ups and the mornings that I frantically proofread a brief while our son naps in the next room — are the memories that I’ll look back on, years later, when he’s all grown up, and smile.
So who really wants ‘easy’ anyways?