30 January 2014

Dear Planet Sentimentality: An Open Letter to Everyone I Will Ever Know

Let me start with: I come in peace.
I’m a big believer that it’s best to keep mixed company; it holds our eyes open and perspectives pliable. It makes us question ourselves, even if that questioning never makes it into the public sphere. It moderates our judgement.
That said, as I creep closer to thirty, I’m realizing how important candor is–both for relationship health and for one’s personal wellness (it is psychologically exhausting to act as if one is open, especially without pay). And bad for one’s health.
In the spirit of transparency and at the risk of alienating (pun intended) some of you, I’m here with an admission. I do not understand you sentimental types. And while I’m not here to pass judgement, I do want to set some realistic boundaries so we can enjoy a harmonious partnership.
1. I may not be able to help myself from performing a theatre-worthy eye roll when you use terms like “bundle of joy,” “lovebirds,” “hubs,” “bubs,” or any sort of endearing abbreviation for a member of your family. Hopefully I’ll have enough tact to wait until you’re digging in your purse for your matching mother/daughter hair bows before my baby blues loll deep into their sockets, but I can’t promise anything.

29 January 2014

Surprise, Me! An Unexpected Re-Uprooting, Nearly Three Years Later.

aesthetic fauna // embrace
Our life in Amsterdam is full. Of noise, of luminosity, of warmth, of imagination, of exploration, growth. Full of fullness. After five weeks in the US of A, however, I'm still reeling from the pain of having to say farewell, again, to the people who know me best. The Colorado goodbyes hit me with blinding velocity. My friendships there have tethered me to the earth in my darkest moments, brought me back into the light. I owe them nothing, everything; I am due the same from them. Reciprocity is a masterpiece.

14 January 2014

High on Sunshine (Awards)

aesthetic fauna // high on sunshine (awards)
2014 is two weeks old, and already I'm pretty pumped about it. Joining BLUNTmoms has given my writing, editing, and thinking a massive creative jolt. They inspire me to be funnier, more concise, better in every way. Finding said bitches has been like finding my homeland, or maybe I mean like being adopted into an insane, profane, and utterly politically incorrect all-woman version of the Brady Bunch.

You can only begin to imagine my elation (defined above) when BLUNTmoms mastermind Julie bestowed upon me a Sunshine Award.  It came after a particularly rough and barfy day, and her love warmed my world like, well, sunshine. A Sunshine Award is FBBB (for bloggers, by bloggers), and a way to recognize people who have charmed, supported, enlightened, and inspired the awarder in recent months.

09 January 2014

Post-Holiday Eating: Savory Roasted Chickpeas

aesthetic fauna // savory roasted chickpeas
My arteries wrote this morning, and they're pissed. Christmas in the Midwest means meat overload, appetizers infused with mayo and cream cheese, mixed nuts by the handful, cookies at every turn, and general overconsumption. I'm not a calorie counter and indulge in the foods I love without guilt, but by January every year I'm ready for salads, juice bars, whole grains, healthy oils. Etcetera. There's nothing like gluttony to make gluttony seem rather nasty.

Today I succeeded in remedying the nut craze that overtook me in recent days. Yes, I just said nut craze. And, yes, I know nuts are healthy. But not in the amounts consumed around these parts since the third week in December. I needed a nut cleanse.

(Yup. Just said nut cleanse.)

08 January 2014

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Riddance: Five Reasons I’m Pleased to See Christmas Out the Door

aesthetic fauna // five reasons i'm pleased to see christmas out the door
Let’s be real. The anticipation of Christmas is better than the actual experience of Christmas. For the first thirty minutes, the twinkling lights, jovial ambient noise, and surge in blood sugar are intoxicating. And, similarly like other kinds of intoxication, the shiny facade fades with time. The twinkling lights begin to twinkle a bit too brightly, a sour comment rises from the once pleasant din, and the cookies start tasting a little too sweet.
After five family holiday gatherings, I was vexed in a way that’s only possible in the latter half of December.
1. The inevitable bigoted and/or racist comment that gets tossed out like a rotting mouse carcass into the middle of the room. Keep your stinky thoughts to yourself, please.
2. The transmutation of our (still sometimes nice) toddler into a writhing, screaming, kicking Present Monster. At the sight of unopened gifts, Julian lost what little of his mind is correctly connected at this stage. He had to be physically removed early from one of the celebrations because his behavior verged on criminal.

07 January 2014

Three Conversations I'm Not Having Again

The super duper thing about having a blog is that I can refer people here when something comes up that I’ve already addressed. Usually the inquiry or comment is benign, about food. But sometimes it’s not, and patience for repetition I have not. Believe me, me sending you a link instead of giving you a personalized response, in these cases, is better for everyone involved.

1. The question: The thinly veiled string of inquiry that’s really asking, “What could Amsterdam possibly provide you that Americuh can’t?” It invariably comes up at family gatherings and leads to me getting all defensive and flustered in response to an unfortunate recipe of closed ears, open mouth, and condescending smirks.

My answer: A lot of things, but that’s not the point. No one makes you defend why you live where you do, and as long as we’re all happy, alles is goed, right? Now if you’re truly asking what I love about living in Holland, that’s an entirely different discussion and one that I’d be thrilled to have, and have already publicly had.

Bolt over to BLUNTmoms to read the rest. NOW. So you have your answers and never ask me again. 


06 January 2014


aesthetic fauna // polar vortex
After a week of snow in which Kid A spent much time transfixed at the window, Wisconsin's in the middle of a cold snap the meteorological world is calling a polar vortex. Polar. Vortex. Just in case you skipped over it without imagining a cool-hued Windows '97 screensaver raging outside. 

I've never been privy to anything so ominous sounding, so I'm going with it and embracing this temperature equivalent of a Sharknado. From inside. I've dashed into the garage a few times without a coat just to feel the shock of it, but mostly I've been curled up with a kid, computer, or mug of something hot. (I really wanted to say steaming right there, but I'm still feeling queasy after Miss Teen USSR's public toilet mishap.)

Bring it on.


p.s. Does anyone else think this weather phenomenon is the ice gods throwing a fit that I didn't get sent to the Arctic? They're all like, IF JESS ISN'T COMING TO THE ARCTIC, WE'LL GO ALL POLAR VORTEX ON YOUR S*** AND BLOW THE NORTH F***ING POLE DOWN TO SIXTY FIVE MILLION PEOPLE. 

You too? Okay, good. I was getting all flipped out that I was being dramatic. Kisses!

05 January 2014

Five Days In

The etymology of the word resolution is from the Latin resolvere, which means to loosen or release. Hold up. That's kind of the opposite of what New Year's resolutions are attempting to accomplish, right? So many traditional ones are restrictive, limiting, retributive for last year's errs.

The past twelve months were good to me. We welcomed a dimple-cheeked little girl into our chaos in February, traveled just enough, argued less, played more, and spent the final weeks enveloped by snow and family. My mental health only minimally veered into the red.

I'm too spent (read: lazy) to give you pre-meditated advice for the next twelve, so I'll direct you elsewhere. Here are four 2014 launches that aren't emotional flagellation, vastly different from one another but all dead-on.

03 January 2014

Scrounging For It

aesthetic fauna // Scrounging For It
Exhibit A
A fellow blogger and mom recently asked me where I find the time to blog, in between wiping, feeding, cooking, bathing, cleaning, comforting, cycling. At the time, I didn't really even have an answer, probably because I was too tired to properly transmit the data from my brain to my mouth and form it into something coherent.

Here's the truth. I don't.

Greetings from the Icebox

aesthetic fauna // milwaukee by day
The mister and I gave ourselves the best present: a little more than 24 hours away (from our darling but thoroughly exhausting children). Destination: Milwaukee, nearest city to both our childhoods. A night in the Iron Horse Hotel and two half-days spent strolling and eating and talking, or not talking. The best pastrami in town. A quiet breakfast. A movie in bed. A textile-lust party at the new Pendleton flagship store. Hat perusing. Everything by choice, everything done at a speed of our choosing.

02 January 2014

Not in My House, or a House in a House

aesthetic fauna // playhouse DIY
Every parent has guiding principles that make the messy task of leading another human through the world more manageable, purposeful. Some are (relatively) non-negotiable. Although I've found many of my beliefs have changed as I go, one of the few that has remained is this: I will not live in a daycare. Our main play area, the living room, gets restored to a near-adult living space almost every night. We own a stash of toys manageably sized enough to be put away, I refuse to have giant play equipment littering our rooms, and many times the kids play with what's at hand. Example: while I type, Frankie is tinkering with a six-inch USB cord and the tag on my leg warmers. (I've found babies to be mostly uninterested in baby toys; everyday things like keys and ID cards are much preferred.)

Despite my golden rule, I struggled with a desire to construct a playhouse, a space too small for adults to invade, a place where normal rules about messes and markers and stickers didn't apply.

01 January 2014


aesthetic fauna // roar
I'm not going to lie; I had my heart securely glued to the idea of freezing my tail off in the Arctic behind a pack of lionhearted dogs; finding out I didn't win the jury-selected number two spot was pretty disheartening. But, as is necessary, after pity partying for a couple days I began plotting next year's entry and moved on, albeit grudgingly.