Living With Kids: Jennifer Colello

When Jennifer reached out to me about being featured in Living With Kids, she had such a compelling story to tell. Jennifer’s youngest has Spina Bifida and her family had the unique experience of having someone hold a fundraiser in their honor, to help them get a service dog for their son, to help manage his frequent seizures. It’s so great to be reminded that there is goodness and kindness in the world when everything else feels so difficult.

Jennifer also has a lovely home in Connecticut that she graciously wanted to share, and I think you’re really going to love taking a peek. Welcome, Jennifer!


A Few Things

Hello Friends. How are you? Did you have a good week?

I’m feeling LOTS of emotions this week. Ben Blair flew to Utah for his mother’s funeral and I’m having all sorts of angst about it. At first, we didn’t even think about traveling because A: pandemic, and B: we only have temporary visas at the moment and are still waiting for the official renewed long-stay visas to arrive, so leaving France feels risky.

The funeral will be an outdoor gathering for Julia’s children and grandchildren only. No friends or cousins, aunts and uncles, or church members from her congregation (but I should acknowledge that just her kids and grandkids is still a lot of people). The funeral will be live-streamed for those who can’t attend, and there is no plan for a future delayed memorial once the pandemic is in check.

As these plans came together, we realized that Ben’s siblings, and the grandkids, were making travel plans to Utah from all over the country, and from England too. Suddenly, we felt quite a bit of pressure to attend in person.

Having the whole family travel didn’t seem wise, so we decided Ben would go alone, and booked him a flight — Paris to Newark to Denver to Salt Lake City. He left for Paris on Tuesday night and I admit, I continue to be very stressed about the trip. The covid numbers in Utah are climbing, and it feels so risky to be there.

At the same time, I’m second guessing myself and wondering if I’m paranoid — sometimes it seems like I’m the only one nervous about this gathering mid-pandemic. In fact, things seem to have opened up in Utah over the last couple of months, with people apparently going about their business. Am I going to conclude it was a mistake to stay home? Will this turn into a big regret?

I find it all incredibly confusing, and I’m feeling some anger that there aren’t specific nationwide guidelines in place so that individuals aren’t having to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to the angst and paranoia, I’m feeling such loss from my mother-in-law’s death. She was dear to me and I’m feeling heartbroken that I won’t be there to celebrate the life of Julia Blair. I’m also feeling comforted that Ben will see our two oldest kids, Ralph and Maude, in person. It has been painful to be without them for so long. And I’m feeling worried that because of ever-changing travel restrictions, Ben won’t be allowed back into France.

I’m also feeling grateful. Ben left Tuesday night and Olive has been so great about feeding everybody. She’s made pumpkin cookies, cream of zucchini soup, quiche, and cherry turnovers. All the kids have helped me manage communication — coming with me to appointments, meeting deliveries at The Tall House, and helping me run errands. I’m very lucky.

Beyond my personal troubles this week, I know it was also a hard news week for the world in general. On that note, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

24 links this week. Come discuss with me.

Living With Kids: Lesley Colvin

Lesley has been on Design Mom before. Her beautiful photography work has been on a few different Living With Kids post, and we featured her own home when she and her family lived in a small space on the Upper West Side.

That was a couple of years ago and Lesley and her family now live outside the city in a beautiful historic home. It still has all the bright white walls and open space of her previous home, but with so many cozy corners and adorable vignettes, you’ll want to pause on every photo. And Lesley shares some lovely advice about how her family has managed during the pandemic. Welcome, Lesley!


Julia Gay Groberg Blair

My diligently positive mother-in-law, Julia Gay Groberg Blair, age 87, passed away this morning at her home, surrounded by several of her kids. We are so so sad.

Born December 28, 1932
Died September 21, 2020

Julia was an ideal mother-in-law. Seriously. I can’t believe how lucky I got in the mother-in-law department. She had 8 kids; Ben Blair is number 7 and the last one to marry. So by the time I joined the family she was a total pro. She gave us plenty of space, and was vocally supportive when we made decidedly risky plans to move across the country and around the world. She made a point of being expressive of how proud she was of what we were doing. She generously sent money when we moved to New York and started graduate school and just never had enough to make the bills.

There are some people in our Mormon community who questioned my priorities as I worked through young motherhood, but never Julia. She was consistently supportive. If she was judging me, I never knew it.

A few favorite memories.

May Her Memory Be A Revolution

What a colossal loss.

May her memory be a revolution. 

May our collective sadness become a raging fury of action.

Here in France, we are six hours ahead of New York; nine hours ahead of San Francisco. Often, when I go to bed, I feel a dread about American news I’ll need to face when I wake up. This morning I woke up to panicked texts saying: NOOOOO. IT’S TOO MUCH.

My morning twitter feed ends up being six hours worth of people processing — but shown all at once. There are tweets from 6 hours ago officially announcing her death. Tweets from 5 hours ago wishing her memory will be a blessing. Tweets from 4 hours ago condemning McConnell’s ongoing hypocrisy. Tweets from 3 hours ago with meaningful tributes from those who knew her personally. Tweets from 2 hours ago talking strategy for preventing a replacement before the election. Tweets from 1 hour ago with old footage of Republican senators swearing they would never support a nomination this close to an election. Tweets from 30 mins ago showing record-breaking fundraising for Democrats running for senate. But it’s all mixed in, and the feed shows all of it at once, a deluge in no particular order. 

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Design Mom is all about the intersection of design and motherhood. I'm Gabrielle Blair (some people call me Gabby), a designer and mother of six. I think you're going to love reading Design Mom.

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