Issue 27: how's everyone holding up? | quarantine memes | dump cookies View in browser
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Issue 27: April 15, 2020
how's everyone holding up? | quarantine memes | dump cookies

Dear Sisters,

It's week five of quarantine life! How are we all holding up? I know everyone is implementing social distancing at varying levels, but with a newborn, we are DOING THE MOST and I haven't been inside a store or closer than six feet from another person outside our immediate family since Hazel was born on March 15. 

Other than our daily walk and time spent in the backyard, I'm inside my house 24/7 right now... with my husband who is trying to work from home, a toddler who is adjusting to being a big sister and a newborn who has some major gas issues. There are lovely moments, and there are days I just want to cry. Weirdly, I haven't actually been able to cry since Hazel was born. I know it's related to all that is going on and feeling overwhelmed. I read an article today outlining the different trauma responses to this virus and I am really identifying with the numbness one. I'm looking forward to the day I can just have a big cry and release all the anxiety and tension and grief and joy and whatever else. Which response(s) are you experiencing?

I think it's important that we identify and work through how we are dealing with this strange time, even if we are seemingly handling it well, so I wanted to go first and share how I'm doing. Everyone's experience is different, and I'd love to hear from you! 

What's hard?

One thing that's really been bugging me is seeing all the posts about people being bored, binge watching shows, taking up new hobbies, etc. and feeling jealous because I have way LESS free time than I did when things were normal—Julia went to school two days a week, and I didn't have a newborn. So while I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks while I do other things, I haven't had much quiet time to reflect, write, pray or have long phone calls with friends. I'm missing social interaction, but I'm also deeply craving a few hours of consolidated alone time where no one needs something from me. I tend to try to achieve this alone time by disappearing into my phone for a few minutes here and there ALL DAY, and I hate that. How are you struggling during this time? 

What's wonderful?

On the other hand, I've truly enjoyed having Scott home with us all day, every day. He is such a calming presence and manages to work while supporting my postpartum self, changing diapers and teaching Julia new stuff every day. He also has successfully put an end to Julia needing us to sit with her while she falls asleep at night, which makes him my #1 hero. If that weren't enough, he's managed to pick up a new hobby—sewing—and made over 20 masks to give to healthcare workers. Is it obvious yet who keeps the Gentry train rolling? Scott Gentry: smashing gender stereotypes and making the best damn eggs I've ever tasted every morning for three years straight. What's been great for you during this season?

What's one thing you're doing well?

I saw a post on Facebook that broke my heart the other day. A sweet working mom videoed her home and wrote a post about how she just couldn't work from home with her two small kids and keep her house clean at the same time. She said they basically played unsupervised throughout the home all day, so there was stuff EVERYWHERE. Toys, blankets, clothes, etc. covered the floor of every room. She sounded like she was at the end of her rope.

I 100 percent understand this. I don't work full-time and my house becomes messy just a couple hours into our day. All of the members of our family are not great at putting things back after using them, and I'm just not the girl who is going to spend my whole day cleaning up to keep the mess at bay. I'm so lazy. 😣 We eat three meals a day at home, so there are always dishes to do. I'm breastfeeding and Hazel is a spit-up baby, so I feel like she and I both change clothes three times every day! We definitely have our share of messes.

So... I know I have written about this multiple times before, but... the only way we stay sane around here is by having less stuff. When there are less toys to get out, there's less mess to clean up. When you have fewer clothes, there's less to wash and fold. Even at our peak messiness, about 30 minutes of effort can pull things together enough to give me some mental peace.

This has served us really well during the quarantine, and I'm really proud of our naturally messy selves keeping our house livable even without people coming over to motivate me to clean. 🤣

What are you proud of yourself for doing or not doing throughout the pandemic?

Where can give yourself a break?

Scott's boss was so kind to tell his employees the other day during a meeting: "Look, none of us are going to have a full tank of gas all day, every day during this thing. Just do your best." He meant it in terms of work, but it spoke to me as a parent, too. You know what is OK right now? My toddler watching a Disney movie every single day (Disney+ is amazing!). IT IS FINE AND WE ARE LOVING IT. It's so fun to watch our childhood favorites with her. I'm normally a freak about TV time, but you know what? It's just gonna be OK right now.

Are you trying to figure out how to teach your child common core math while working from home? Give yourself a break. 

Are you living your very best life and feel a little guilty because others are struggling? Give yourself a break. 

Are you unable to be as productive as you want to be because you feel so anxious? Give yourself a break. 

Did you lose your job and have to ask for financial help? Give yourself ALL the breaks!

Are you an essential worker? THANK YOU!!! Again. All the breaks. Just take care of yourself. 


No matter what your experience the past month has been, know that you're not alone in loving some of it, hating some of it and simultaneously struggling and growing. I can't wait to see the ways this time shapes us and what it will end up teaching us. Something to remember is it's very hard to see the ways in which we are growing in the middle of a difficult season. We will need time to process all of this before we can emerge with new wisdom. 

So, while I think it's important to stay positive and keep things in perspective, it's also OK to wallow a bit while we're still in the middle of this thing. We're gonna make it, friends!

Love, Jill

My favorite quarantine memes

((Click on the image above to go to the FB post))

And finally... this collection of people misspelling quarantine gives me LIFE. Click the image below for 29 more.
Ask vs. Guess Culture

This little thread is fascinating! Basically, there are two cultures: ask vs. guess. In an Ask Culture family, kids grow up knowing they can ask for anything, but have to understand they may get a "no." In Guess Culture families, kids learn a nuanced set of expectations and learn not to directly ask for anything unless they're pretty sure the answer will be yes. I found this fascinating. Check out the thread here

Recipe: Dump cookies with self-rising flour (plus some cookie baking tips!)

I have a long history with baking cookies. My dad and I made the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag together about a million times growing up, and I just never got over how much fun it is to bake cookies. When Scott and I got married, we had a dessert reception, and I made hundreds of cookies—chocolate chip, oatmeal scotches and some very involved cream cheese filled snickerdoodles. For my own wedding. 😆 Good times.

So it's not surprising that every holiday that involves candy, I've taken to making cookies with all of the chocolate we collect. I make a pile of our chocolate, chop it up and bake cookies. Usually, I use the base of what I refer to as my "monster cookies" recipe, but people have emptied the stores of all-purpose flour, so all the baking I'm doing these days has to use self-rising. 

This very basic cookie recipe did the trick—it took just a few minutes and they tasted great! It was also super easy to let Julia help if you're looking for activities to do with your kids. When we bake, she sits on the counter. I measure the ingredients, and she pours them into the bowl. We take turns mixing. It's one of my favorite things to do with her, even though a huge mess is inevitable. Do I have anything better to do? Nope. 😅

I bagged up most of the cookies and delivered them to friends in our neighborhood last night (porch drop-offs; no contact!). It was so fun to drive around town and make happy deliveries. I know it brought me way more joy than it did the people who received the cookies. 

How are you still safely connecting with and blessing others during this mandatory isolation? 

Dump cookies with self-rising flour

Adapted from Kindly Unspoken

Start-to-finish: 45 minutes (20 minutes active)

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
    (important note here: I had White Lily light self-rising flour and happened to to notice on the side it advised to add an extra 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of self-rising flour in the recipe. I guess I can't do math, because I was using a half cup measure and said to myself, "OK, that's 4 cups of flour so 4x2=8 tablespoons so I need 2.5 cups of flour. It should've been 2.25, obviously. It turned out fine—honestly, I almost always find cookie recipes need a bit more flour than called for to avoid flat, greasy cookies. The mark of a good dough is when you can stick your (very clean) finger in it and no dough sticks to it. Can you tell I've made a LOT of cookies in my life?? 🤣)
  • 12 ounces chopped up candy (we had a variety of Hershey's bars and a few Reese's) or chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture has lightened and is light and creamy (one of the biggest mistakes you can make baking cookies is cutting this step short). 

Add vanilla and egg and beat well. 

Gradually add self-rising flour 1/2 cup at a time. Fold in chocolate. 

Roll dough into balls (size doesn't really matter as long as they're all the same). Place all the balls on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet (silicone baking mats will take your cookies to the NEXT LEVEL). 

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. This is a trick that helps cookies stay nice and fluffy. 

Bake in a 375 F oven for 8-11 minutes. 

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