Hello, I’m Jessica

I thought I’d re-introduce myself, it’s been so long.

There’s lots to write about–and I did write about it over the summer, then my computer promptly lost the draft. I’ve been so busy chopping buckthorn, destroying wasp nests, and getting the algae out of our pool–plus taking notes on a new novel–that I haven’t been able to try to rewrite it. But I will.

For today, though, a bit about what I’ve been reading lately. Namely, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, my literary hero. She got taken down a notch, in my opinion, but I’m thrilled.

Read it HERE.

Thanks – be back soon.


On Bras and Bakeries: My Recommendations

I’ve found myself repeatedly recommending the following things this year:

(Asterisk: I’m not a trendsetter, but if you are an average person of an average age with average expectations who usually comes around to things slightly late, you might like these.)

1. Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate Shampoo. This is the only thickening shampoo that has ever actually worked on my fine hair.

ocean-rolls-912x3742. The ocean roll at Sparrow Bakery in Bend, Oregon. If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, please go there and eat one. I went a year ago and still think about this pastry more than I think about the family I visited there.

3. Bloodline. I’ve told everyone I know to watch this show. Give it three episodes and you’ll be hooked.

4. The fact that Target now has sustainable seafood.

5. Pokey LaFarge. Seriously good music and musicianship that just makes me happy. My four-year old daughter loves Pokey, too, and usually she’ll only listen to Bruno Mars or Pitbull.

6. Shovels & Rope. See number 5, except I still can’t get my daughter hooked. By the way, thanks to my friend, Michelle, for introducing me to both bands.

7. Sweet T’s bakery in downtown Arlington Heights, Illinois. Cakes and cookies as tasty and beautiful as Mariano’s, and it’s a small business.

8. Common Sense Media. Every time I’m not sure whether my children should go to a certain movie or play a specific game, I check this site for the lowdown.

9. This baking spray.

10. These bras.

It’s always good to end on a bra note, so I’ll stop. There’s a book I can’t stop talking about, too, but I’ll save that for my recommendation next month over at Great New Books.

See you then!


10 Things I’m Learning About Selling a House

It’s spring and that means three things: spring is in the air, days are longer, and houses are popping up for sale all over the place. My house is one of them and I’ve discovered a few things that might help you if you’re about to be in the same boat:

  1. You don’t need a huge “For Sale” sign in your front yard.
  2. Your son might, for the first time in his seven years of living, start peeling the dining room wallpaper on the morning your house goes on the market. This won’t be the worst thing that happens.
  3. Keeping mirrors spotless will become an obsession. Stop rinsing and spitting like an imbecile!
  4. You won’t remember what you boxed up and stored away and you should just donate it all. Except for family photos, maybe.
  5. Having friends or family nearby where you can store your children for a while will save your sanity.
  6. When that same family will not, under any circumstances, take care of your cat, chill out. No buyer cares if you have a cat. Unless, of course, he’s a giant hairball. (The cat.) In which case, accidentally let him outside before showings.
  7. Yes, you really do think your house is worth more than it is worth.
  8. On the one weekend morning in six weeks that you decide to just let your kids play and make a mess, someone will call and request a showing in one hour.
  9. You’ll fall in love with your house again; it’s never looked better. You might even get annoyed when someone wants to buy it.

And finally:

  1. Negotiating with a buyer (or seller) is like a mini-war that reaffirms the truth that women should rule the world. The following is part of a conversation that recently took place in my house:

Me: “Well, I do see both sides.”

My husband: “Stop doing that.”


Ignoring the News to Stay Sane

In the months after I had my first child, I was plagued by a variety of gruesome visions. I’d be walking down the stairs, holding my son in a blanket, and picture myself falling and smashing our heads into the wall at the bottom. I’d be driving to Target with him in the backseat and picture a head-on collision at 50mph. I’d see him wide-eyed underwater in the bathtub, struggling to breathe.

mother-watching-daughterI thought I was going crazy. I thought I had become some morbid, fearful person due to lack of sleep. Then I talked to another new mom.

“I do that all the time, too!” she said. We were both relieved. And we came up with a perfectly logical reason for envisioning the horrific deaths of our children on a daily basis:

We were practicing being good moms.

It makes sense. Our brains were warning us of all the dangers that could happen, so we would protect our children. So we would walk down stairs carefully, so we would drive more defensively, so we wouldn’t run to answer the phone with our children in the bathtub. We were good moms.

Fast forward seven years and my visions have become less frequent, but they still occur. Only now I also see a depressed young man walking into my son’s school and shooting the children as they eat lunch. I see sections of sports stadiums blowing up and cars driving through storefront windows into groups of people. Things like that. Things out of my control.

A while ago, my dad said to me, while arguing that too many of my generation are helicopter parents, “You’re all walking around scared. It’s like you’re shell-shocked.” And it hit me—we are. We are shell-shocked. And maybe we aren’t on the front lines, and maybe it’s disrespectful to suggest we suffer the same as the men and women who are. But we parents have suffered from the slow, insidious, creeping terror of the last two decades.


The Best Books of 2014

I’m part of a wonderful group of nine women who make weekly reading recommendations–every Wednesday, all year long at Great New Books. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for a good read.

This week, we have our list of the Best Books of 2014. Have you read any? Do you have any to add to our list? Need gift ideas?

Click on the image below to get started!