Post Three Day Weekend Bits & Bobs

Happy Monday! Are we all moving a little slower today after a nice three day weekend full of fireworks, frosty beverages, and a fantastic U.S. Women's Soccer Team World Cup victory?

Well, say no more. Here's some fun stuff to look at while you pretend you're working.

1. First up, I just found out SNL released a cut sketch featuring my girl Aidy Bryant from the Michael Keaton episode toward the end of the season. Yes, it's true! It's like Christmas in July! Here's the sketch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VquS5Az_hBs

2. This amazing comic by Alli Kirkham on everydayfeminism.com perfectly illustrates the concept of consent. It's funny cuz it's funny...and it's funny cuz it's sad and true. I wish they would use something like this to educate young men on consent.

3. Perhaps a bit off topic from my usual bits and bobs, but this one is for you sports lovers out there (especially my Michigan homies). Take a look at this heartbreaking photo essay on the Silverdome (the old home of the Detroit Lions). I spent so many Sundays there as a child with my family creating wonderful memories (even if they rarely included wins). Although I love our new stadium, Ford Field, there will always be a special place in my heart for this big, old, crumbling relic.

4. Props to Natalie Portman for demanding a woman direct her Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic. More details here on variety.com. (Also, I could not be more excited for this movie!)

5. Another hilarious comic, this one by Amy Kim and shared by Heroic Girls, entitled "If Disney Princesses Had Mothers." Oh, these had me LOLing. Or would have, if I hadn't looked at them while nursing my baby in the middle of the night. My favorite is Belle's.

6. Dissolve just released this phenomenal list called The 50 Most Daring Film Roles for Women Since Ripley (meaning Ripley/Sigourney Weaver from Alien, of course). I am crazy about this list for about 652 reasons (or maybe just 50). I love it that Dissolve is celebrating badass depictions of women in film, I love reading what is basically a list of my favorite movies/characters of all time, and I love discovering new movies I've never seen before that have now climbed to the tippy top of my Must See list. A big thanks to my husband for sending this to me!

7. And in honor of yesterday's win, a great piece in The Atlantic (from the start of the World Cup in June) on how we need to include women's sports in the feminist movement. I totes agree!

Hope the rest of your week is peachy keen! Happy July, happy America, happy U.S. Women's Soccer Team!




A Nation United in Love!

**Note: I was traveling and away from a computer for the early part of this week, so my apologies this wasn't on the blog Monday morning, as I had hoped! Better late than never though, right? There's always more time for celebration!

YAY YAY YAY FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY!!!!

RAINBOWS times INFINITY!
(image courtesty of eonline.com)
Hearing about the ruling is going to be one of those times where you remember exactly where you were. This usually happens for awful things, like 9/11 or Princess Di's car accident. How lovely that this time it's something happy and amazing and wonderful.

As for me, I was sitting in my sister's car while she pumped gas. We were on our way to the mall by ourselves - a special treat for two moms of small babies (and yes, I had "Let's Go to the Mall" in my head the whole time). I was so thrilled I made Kristen stop mid-windshield cleaning and open the door so I could tell her! I was elated. Here's how others around the internet reacted, as well as some fun celebrating from brands too.

But it was only later that the full emotional implications of the ruling sunk in. I cried while nursing my baby boy and reading everything - the articles, Obama's speech, Justice Kennedy's ruling itself. It's a rare and incredible feeling to hold your child and know that the world got better for him that day. My sweet baby can grow up to love - and marry - whomever he chooses. Is there anything more simple and glorious than that?

I know there's still so much more to be done for LGBT rights across America. But this celebration of love - this law abiding respect for love - is an incredible leap forward.

It is truly the definition of a positive affirmation.



PS. Let's go to the mall...today.

Welcome to Motherhood aka Overplanners Anonymous.

Man, I thought I was a planner before. Then I went and had a baby. 

Even on maternity leave, I create these to-do lists (all mundane stuff, ranging from "grocery store" to "water roses" to "cut Jack's nails" to "write a blog") and then I stress over getting them done. It's as if I'm hard wired to do this and, even on the longest break from work I've ever had with the best company I could ever imagine, I still find ways to make a list and impose that stress on myself.

I don't know how to turn it off. I don't know how to not plan, to not stress. But I know I need to. I know the best times are when I can do that.

I swear he liked it.
Last week it happened by accident. I had our Tuesday all planned out, and then my friend Julie suggested we get our sons together in our kiddie pool. A terrific, unplanned idea for a 93 degree day! So I threw my to-do list out the window, filled up that kiddie pool, and we sat in it with the boys all afternoon. And it was fantastic! It was exhilarating! Yes, sitting in a plastic pool full of semi-dirty water in my backyard was exhilarating. Because it was the right thing to do for that moment. I just followed the feelings of the day and it landed me there, in that lovely little pool, with a good friend and two adorable babies wearing excessive amounts of sunscreen.

But the life of a mother is one of a planner. It's not something we can just cast off because we're feeling impulsive. We plan because we care deeply about our babies. We stress because we're leaving the house for three hours, and it's quite possible the kid could go through three shirts and eight diapers during that time. We schedule out the day so that the kids (and husband, by the way) are happy and entertained while still eating and sleeping enough. We make to-do lists so we can anticipate what is needed over the next few days to keep everyone happy, entertained, fed, and sleeping.

We hold the burden of the Designated Worrier in the family, and we do not take that job lightly.

So I recognize that it is not realistic to cast off all my primal desires to organize, plan, and stress. I will always do this; it is my way of protecting my family. And in fact, it often makes me feel better - a to-do list helps me wrap my arms around the enormity of it all. At times it is quite soothing to write everything down and capture it so concretely.

But I am going to TRY HARDER to at least not over plan, to let the day take its own course, to listen to my gut instead of my iPhone's list app. Especially now, on my maternity leave, when the only item on my to-do list for today should be play with my sweet new son.

And finish the day care paperwork.
And pack for our trip next week.
And wrap Brandon's Father's Day gift.
And go to Target.
And exercise.
And clean the bathrooms before company comes over.
And maybe take a shower...

Well. All we can do is try, right? :o)
Except when it doesn't and you're just really prepared.
WHICH HAPPENS OK. MOMS ARE COOL.

Movie to Watch: Jurassic World (DUH)

Note: this post contains spoilers!

We did it! We went on an Adults-Only date and saw Jurassic World this weekend!

(Apparently everyone did because it broke the box office record for the biggest opening weekend of all time - domestically and internationally.)

ER.MAH.GERD. We loved it.

Swoon. (over the raptor, not Chris Pratt. C'mon.)
Sure, it's not a perfect movie. But it definitely plays up to the die hard loyal followers of the original 1993 Jurassic Park. As someone who has seen the original more times than I've showered in the last three months of my maternity leave, I can tell you that this movie is loaded with Easter eggs, references, and throwbacks in the form of shots, lines, visuals, and characters. Some could even argue it panders too much to its original fans, that these tributes get in the way of the new story they are trying to tell. But I loved it wholeheartedly, so I don't care.

And beyond Jurassic Park, Jurassic World pays homage to the general Spielbergian school of cinema. After all, the plot is basically Jaws (monster runs rampant and the leadership doesn't want to evacuate the tourists) with an Indiana Jones-esque hero (Chris Pratt) and an E.T.-inspired kids plot (dealing with divorce). And I say that, by the way, as a compliment.

The film's biggest drawback is in the stereotypically frosty and career-driven female lead, Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Howard does her best to bring this character to life, but the writing behind this two-dimensional character is bland and trite. She's a high-powered corporate executive who doesn't have time to date, much less start a family....but of course, by the end of the movie, she has fallen in love with Owen (Chris Pratt) and learned that people (especially her two nephews) are more important than a big fancy job. And, of course, she starts the movie in a fussy all-white outfit that covers her from head to toe, and by the end she is down to a tank top and skirt, ripped up to mid-thigh (though she manages to keep her nude high heels on the entire time, almost to the point of distraction).

Interestingly, Howard doesn't see Claire that way at all; here's a great interview with her on The Daily Beast that explains why she thinks Claire is a badass (and all of the input she had on the character and marketing's portrayal of her). She makes a good argument, but it doesn't affect the way I felt while watching the movie.

You could argue that this character makes the movie anti-feminist, but there are a couple of smaller choices I really appreciated. For one, Claire's sister, Karen, calls from work to check in on her sons at the park. She's pacing outside of a boardroom and trying to keep her tears from her co-workers. I love that she is a working mother with a corporate job; she's just trying to balance it all like the rest of us.

Another is the casting of comedian Lauren Lapkus as one of the "tech guys" (she's the new Dennis Nedry...without the evil mastermind agenda). These roles usually fall to men by default - first because tech is a male dominated field and second because filmmakers just tend to cast men in secondary roles that are relatively asexual. So I appreciated a woman being cast here!

And lastly, something I've always loved about the Jurassic Park movies...all the dinosaurs in the park are female. All the super smart hunts and epic battle scenes and general badassery comes from female dinosaurs!

Overall it was a well-made terrific thriller...with dinosaurs. It made me cry at least twice (that last shot is a doozy). I loved it.

Loved it.

Here's some more Jurassic-inspired stuff I love:

This dude dug up the Jurassic Park dossier he made when he was a kid in 1993 and it's HILARIOUS.

The best cover of the Jurassic Park theme song.

The real lyrics of the Jurassic Park theme song.

Jeff Goldblum's laugh.

Someone replaced all the dinosaurs with cats.

This Week's Bits & Bobs

Oh, it's been so long since I've posted some bits and bobs! Let alone some delightfully badass feminist stuff! Let's do a quick round-up of the internet with a dash of #WomenCrushWednesday thrown in, shall we?

Have you all seen Amy Schumer's speech when she received the Trailblazer of the Year Award at the Glamour awards? Warning, it's definitely not safe for work. :o) She's pro-woman, pro-real-bodies, pro-being-yourself, and obviously pro-laugh-so-hard-you-pee-your-pants. The best part is when she talks about posing for Glamour vs. other magazines. Enjoy:

youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nhBKbmpGi4&feature=youtu.be

Speaking of gorgeous women who tell it like it is and get recognized for it, here's Miss Piggy explaining, in her own words, why she deserves the Sackler Center First Award from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum (as if there was any doubt!).

Fun Home tells the story of a young woman grappling with her sexuality 
and her father's suicide (image courtesy of Variety).
And more awards for more awesome ladies! Women swept the Tony Awards this past Sunday for their heartwrenching and beautiful work on Broadway. Most notably Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel/memoir, won Best New Musical (you may remember Alison Bechdel as the originator of the Bechdel Test). Fun Home is a triumph for women both in front of and behind the curtain - it features Broadway's first lesbian main character, and its female writing team Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori won for Best Original Score, making them the first ever all-female writing team to do so. WOW! More info here on Elle.com.

Here's a humorous and sweet blog I wish I had written entitled To My Friends Who Became Mothers Before Me from Scary Mommy (which is also the funniest blog out there, by the way).

And remember our good friend, Natalia Provatas? She had two fantastic pieces published this week. The first is a bittersweet coming-of-age essay called On Being a Tomboy. The second is a humorous look into her dating - and gynecological - life called I'm 28 Years Old and I've Never Been to the Gynecologist. Both are must reads!

Lastly, here's a super fun list from Buzzfeed - and it doesn't even have any crazy gifs! It's called 51 TV Writers Reveal Their Favorite Thing They've Ever Written. It's so fun when your favorite moments match up with theirs. And even when they don't...because it's neat to see what innocuous moment is their favorite and why.

And here's a gif treat because Buzzfeed didn't give us any:

:

JURASSIC WORLD COMES OUT THIS WEEKEND, YOU GUYS! So have a great rest of the week because you have that to look forward to!



How to Stimulate a Baby-Rattled Mind.

My mind is at capacity right now.

It's full up thinking about my baby and my nest. It's all the calculating I do - how long between feedings, how long between naps, how to utilize my time during said naps, scheduling the all-important tummy time, figuring out when to give him his vitamins and how often we should bathe him, tracking his develops and making sure I'm helping him to grow, trying to squeak in house chores when I can, constantly recalibrating the week's shopping list. This stuff takes up all the space in my brain. And then of course any spare corners are filled with lovey dovey new mom emotions and hormones. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS. So many that they sometimes overflow and pour out of me (sorry, husband).

How we spend most of our time.
Although my mind is bursting at the seams, I have to find a little more space for something else. Anything else. To be a healthy mom (and just a generally healthy adult woman), I need to stake off a little area for Other Interests. I know this will become easier as this perfect little baby gets older, and this new life we're building becomes more habitual for both of us. But I have to start working on finding and cultivating that brain space now!

So here's my plan:

1. Watch and invest in TV shows and movies after the nugget goes to bed. 
I know this seems silly - isn't watching TV all you do when you can't leave the house at night? Yes, but by the time you've eaten dinner, cleaned up from the day, and done your miscellaneous chores, you're a zombie. So you usually put on something frivolous (late night talk shows, Chopped, etc) and then you fall asleep on the couch. BUT I want to make a real effort to watch the shows I already love, to start some new series (serieses?) this summer, and to make it through a full movie once in a while (even if it's over the course of three nights). Because the art of entertainment is my true passion, and I honestly feel the void right now! Last weekend for the first time since March 17 I managed to stay up through a whole movie (Sleepwalk With Me, which we both really liked). And I felt like a new person! The synapses in my brain were on rapid fire for days after! So I know I'm missing this and I know it's good for me. 

2. Read a book. 
It may be slowly. It may be off my phone while nursing. But by God, I am going to read a book. Thankfully, I just started a great just-had-a-baby sort of book. My friend Maurissa chose Tiny Beautiful Things for our book club, and it's perfect. It's a collection of the "Dear Sugar" advice columns Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) wrote. So not only is it fantastic and super well written, it's also in bite-size chunks - each chapter is a letter from a reader and Cheryl's response. It's my goal to finish this by the end of June. I think I can do it!

3. Read worthy stuff on the internet.
Another thing I can do while nursing is surf the internet. Usually I end up reading a lot of nonsense like Facebook posts and Buzzfeed lists, but I am trying harder to save up good stuff to read during these times. Good stuff includes my favorite blogs, interesting articles people send me, anything on Grantland or Vulture or Vox, and, most recently, the Skimm. My sister turned me onto the Skimm - it's bite-size daily news delivered to your email that keeps you current on world events. You can click through to longer articles and more info, or you can just read the funny little blurbs they write and feel mildly in the know. When you're on maternity leave, it's easy to get enveloped in your little bubble and forget that the rest of the world is going through some highs and lows around you. Good internetting (as opposed to the FB nonsense) keeps me connected to that bigger world.

4. Listen to new podcasts.
Jack and I spend a lot of time each day on walks, for all the obvious reasons (exercise, gets us out of the house, grocery shopping, blah blah blah). He usually takes this opportunity to fall asleep. I've decided to take this opportunity to try out new podcasts. Not that there's anything wrong with my old standby This American Life...but I've got to give my brain something new! So my friends Julie and Vy recently clued me into The Lively Show and After the Jump, respectively. They are both women-centric podcasts that dive into the blog/design/creative/small business stratosphere. Some episodes are better than others (as with any podcast), but I do very much love hearing about how other women deal with work/life balance, and I get inspired by the small business tips and creative ideas!

5. And of course, WRITE MORE.
I've been averaging one post per work. And I'm not knocking that - I'm proud of myself for continuing to blog amidst all the life changes. But I truly miss writing more, and I want to up it to two posts a week, if I can. I'm not gonna do it at the expense of my sanity...rather, I'd like to do it for my sanity. Fingers crossed I can swing this!

Hope my list inspires you to dust out a little corner of your brain and use it for something new, even if your life is crazy busy right now. And, if you have other ideas on how to keep your mind well-rounded or firing on all cylinders or sharp or fresh or active or whatever description you like to use, I'd love to hear them!

I just want to feel as mind-blown as Keanu all the time.


In Case You Need a Happy Cry Today

This video by Field Day and Cut is absolutely lovely.


link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9HlHmY-PsA

Oh goodness. Are you crying all over your desk right now like I am? Gosh, I had so many reactions and feelings about this.

My first reaction was I love my husband. And I love growing old with him.

My second reaction was I love LOVE. It's hard to visually capture the feeling of love, but I think you can see it in the way these two react to each other through the ages. Oh, it fills my heart with joy to see love like that! And it fills me with faith that there is someone out there for everyone. Even if you aren't in a relationship right now, trust that you will find this happiness with someone someday and it will be remarkable. 

My third reaction was our bodies aging is just a sign of a life lived with love. And this one truly hit home right now, as I am dealing with a postpartum body that doesn't exactly look like it did when Brandon and I first fell in love nine years ago. But now instead I have my beautiful baby boy...and we have learned to love on a deeper level than I could have ever imagined. These stretch marks and extra pounds are just signs of a life full of happiness and love! And as this video shows, love not only endures those signs and changes, but perhaps grows stronger because of them.

(Man, turns out I needed that reminder. I mean, don't get me wrong - I'm still going to avoid mom haircuts and obsess over my Fitbit. But I'll also try harder to celebrate my badass baby-making body instead of being annoyed with it.)

Major thanks to Angela for sharing and making me cry like a little baby the four times I watched it.

Walt Week - A Celebration of Disney.

In honor of Disneyland's 60th anniversary, I just spent the most amazing week reveling in Walt Disney quotations, inspirations, and affirmations over on Instagram. It was wonderful! Whether you're a dreaming artist or a rational businessman, you've got to admire Mr. Disney and all he was able to accomplish in his lifetime. He built arguably the greatest brand empire of all time while simultaneously bringing pure joy and beauty to children and adults.

I know I'm biased because of my animation obsession (and livelihood), but Walt has always been a role model of mine. It all started with my mother (as it always does for me). When I was in elementary school, once a month a parent would volunteer to come to class and teach us about an artist. The parents taught us about all the big important guys...Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso...it was a wonderful program really. So when my mom signed up, who did she give a lesson on? Walt Disney! She told us all about his journey to Hollywood and how he came to create Walt Disney Studios. Then we all ate popsicles and learned how to draw Mickey Mouse. It was a perfect day, really, by anyone's standards.

But my mom was right - Walt truly is one of the masters. That's why I'm happy to share my collection of Walt quotes that I posted all week on Instagram. Enjoy!











And here's a bonus quote for you too! Try to keep it in mind as you head into this weekend. Give yourself a little time to play!




A Personality Test Follow Up.

Hey! Remember when I posted about that Myers-Briggs-esque personality test?

Thought Catalog has a follow-up on the definition of hell for each personality type! Check it out here! You may have to take the test again to remind yourself of your type.

I know mine by heart (because deep inside I will always be a Resident Advisor and Team Player and Lover of Motivational Speakers and Ice Breakers and Trust Falls). It's ENFJ.

According to Heidi Priebe at Thought Catalog, that means my Definition of Hell is:
Your loved ones are in dire need of guidance but every piece of advice you gives them inadvertently makes things worse for them.
Which, I gotta say, is pretty accurate.

Check it out!

That's me, letting my family down.

About Kara Irene Oropallo

The Formative Years

This exemplifies both my love of toys and my desire to organize.
As much as I love living in LA now, I'm a Midwesterner through and through! I grew up in Michigan, just outside of Flint. My parents divorced amicably and quickly remarried. I have three brothers and two sisters across both sides, and I adore them all. I was the Ultimate Nerd in school - Newspaper Editor, Class President, Key Club Member, Water Polo Team Captain, and of course, Mascot (go Grand Blanc Bobcats!). We had season tickets to the Detroit Lions, where I first learned the importance of a good attitude and positive thinking. I had a very happy childhood.

Currently

Against my mother's Wolverine wishes, I went to The Ohio State University - and had a wonderful time! I graduated in 2005 and moved to Los Angeles to work for Dreamworks Animation and pursue my dream of making animated films. I work in production and (mostly) love my job!

On the side, I'm a freelance producer and script analyst. I'm producing an animated short that we're smack-dab in the middle of animating (more on that as we go). I'm also producing a live action web series. It's probably the funniest thing I've ever been a part of, so I feel pretty good about it (more on that as I am able to discuss it). If you're interested in me reading your script and giving you feedback, read more about that process here.

Love love love...
In 2011 I married the love of my life, Brandon (check out his trivia blog, Puzzopallo!). We met out here in LA in 2006 while singing karaoke at The Bigfoot Lodge. He sang Britney Spears' Lucky, and I fell hopelessly in love. No joke. Mega swoon. Hearts, stars, moonbeams - the works.

In March 2015, we welcomed our son Jack into the world. He's the best thing that's ever happened to us! My blog has grown way more baby/parent/mama-centric since then. I can't help it - Jack is the only thing I think about!

When I'm not taking care of my child, blogging, producing, or reading scripts, I like to swim, garden, and watch movies. I love movies! I think my top three favorite films are Toy Story, Ocean's 11, and Best In Show. But I'm also a huge fan of film noir (Double Indemnity and Chinatown) and romantic comedies (Bringing Up Baby and Bull Durham). And pretty much every Coen brothers film ever (especially Fargo and Raising Arizona. So good!).

How "That's An Affirmative" Happened

As I get older, I find it's hard to remember on a daily basis what's important. It's harder to stay centered with all this stuff swirling around us. All these to do lists and feelings and house payments and guilt and pre-conceived notions and family drama and comparisons of success. It used to be so easy when we were kids - get up, play with Legos, eat a peanut butter sandwich, be happy, live life. Somewhere along the way, we all forget how to do this! It's hard to remember that, buried among this swirl of stuff, is the good stuff, the happy stuff that makes up our lives.

So we have to find ways to focus on the good stuff. And to surround ourselves with as much happiness, as much positivity, as possible, so the good stuff in the swirl outweighs the bad. So we can stay grounded among the swirling.

The past couple years pre-Jack were hard for me on a number of levels. I was certainly going through (and still am...?) a mid-life crisis. A questioning of what's important. I turned to positive quotes and affirmations to keep me focused and grounded. I turned to words of wisdom from the past and present. And I felt comforted!

So I wanted to share them with you.

And...because we are all fractal beings with so much more to offer than one viewpoint...I feel this blog becoming a place to discuss other issues...thoughts on Los Angeles...on movies and the business of movie making...on what it's like to be a woman in this industry...on what it's like to be a working mother...basically what it's like to be a woman in America today!

Let's Talk!

I welcome all forms of communications - let me know what you like and don't like! It will help me shape That's An Affirmative as we move forward.

Contact Info:
Instagram: @thatsanaffirmative
Twitter: @kionimation
Email: thatsanaffirmative@gmail.com

Our little family unit.

Ten Things I Learned in Two Months of Motherhood

Hello, adorable one.
Our baby is two months old this weekend! I've got that thing going where I feel like he just arrived but also like he's been here foreverrrr. What was life like before Jack was here? I don't know! (Mostly I don't know because I'm so tired I can't remember.)

Two months is a super delightful age. This sweet little worm is turning into a person! He smiles, he makes eye contact, he knows us...it's so satisfying to feel that connection after devoting so much to him over the past two months. 

It's also positively thrilling to see his personality emerging! We are so lucky to have a happy, bubbly baby. Jack talks non-stop - coos and yelps and oohs and aahs. He loves the outdoors and baths and his activity mat. He's perfectly happy at restaurants (or cafes or breweries) if someone is holding him and he gets to look out at the world. He's just delightful.

Parenthood continues to be the biggest challenge of my life so far, and of course we're learning TONS every day. Here are Ten Things I've learned in the last couple months that I wish I knew...well...two months ago!

1. Breastfed babies can go 12 days without pooping, and it's totally fine. Sure, that poop is gonna explode out of them on day 12, but it's a-ok. (Note: Jack didn't go 12 days - he went more like 6. I think I called the Nurses Hotline three times though. Man, I call that Nurses' Hotline all the time.)

2. Before you wash all the clothes you got as gifts, check to make sure the later age clothing is season-appropriate. This sounds bitchy because I'm critiquing gift giving. But I do wish, when giving clothing, that people would think about what season it will be when he or she wears said clothes. Because you don't need long sleeve fleece pajamas in July, no matter how adorable they are. But this is all on me, really, cuz I should have thought about that before washing everything. I could have had some sweet gift cards for this baby.

3. Speaking of clothes...so hey, none of your clothes fit after having a baby. Your maternity clothes feel too big (or just don't fit right anymore without the bump), and your regular clothes certainly do not fit yet. I could do a whole blog on post partum clothing, but for now I'll sum it up by saying - get some Old Navy/Target nursing tank tops, a couple pairs of leggings (maternity or just large sized), some yoga pants, and a variety of flowy shirts and tank tops. If you want to look cute out in public, get some elastic-waist skirts from Old Navy or H&M and some jeggings from Target. (Yes, it's true...I bought jeggings. Motherhood does weird things to you.)

4. Even if you changed his diaper just minutes ago, if he won't stop crying, change his diaper again. We still forget this simple fact.

5. Their nails grow SO FAST. I guess it makes sense - everything about a baby is growing super fast. My sister gave me the tip to cut his nails while he sleeps, to lower the chances of me snipping his skin. I've also done it while nursing him; he's so into the boob, he doesn't even notice.


They love each other.
6. Here's one we're still working on - let your husband take care of the baby too. This is important for both of you. I think mothers often have a hard time letting the husband (or partner) help. It's a natural place to go - you are (often) the provider of food, you are the smell the baby knows, you are usually the one who stays home longer while your husband goes back to work. All this adds up to you being the "expert" on the baby who says, "Here, let me take him" when he starts crying every single time. Now, I'm not saying this is all on the mom - this is a parenting issue that goes both ways. But I think mothers can be better (myself included) about letting their partners be equal parents. It means you will have to stand by and watch them fumble a little. But in the long run, it feels like it's better for both your partner and the baby (and for you too). Brandon and I are trying to be conscious of this issue as we go. It's still a work in progress! I'll let you know how this pans out.

7. Daytime television is terrible.

8. It turns out babies are very resilient and rubbery. I mean, you shouldn't purposely drop them or anything. But if you bonk your baby's head, just know it's gonna be ok. Every parent does it. Every parent feels terrible the first time they hurt their kid (the guilt is almost insurmountable), but it really will be ok. Your baby won't remember, and he or she will be fine.

9. We tried so hard to resist the "sleep crutches" - the swing, the automatic rocking feature on the bassinet, the falling-asleep-and-then-putting-baby-down (as opposed to putting them down "drowsy and still awake"), the nursing-to-get-to-sleep, and countless other things I'm probably forgetting. But guess what? We do whatever it takes to get that kid to sleep. WHATEVER IT TAKES. I think every parent does. I wish we had just done it from the start instead of trying to be all self-righteous for so long.

10. Is your baby being crazy? Yeah, that's JBBB! (Thanks to Julie for this bit of sanity!)

I'll keep cataloguing the lessons as I learn them. They're coming fast and loose these days!

Happy Two Months to my perfect little man!


Your New Favorite Monday Read.

I'm always trying to find ways to make Mondays a little happier...like allowing myself to buy coffee instead of making it...or letting myself do nothing on my (non-work) to do list...or taking a bit of a longer lunch...or having a glass of wine after dinner...(I know. I'm so crazy. I just splurge, I can't help myself.)

But this Cosmopolitan.com column I just stumbled upon is truly the cat's pajamas of Monday Happy-Boosting Splurges. It's called GET THAT LIFE, and it's delightful! It's a weekly series of in-depth interviews with successful women talking about how they got to where they are now.

Kristen Anderson-Lopez co-wrote the music and lyrics for FROZEN.
And the women are so diverse - they come from all walks of life and are successful in all sorts of arenas. From Frozen composer and lyricist Kristen Anderson-Lopez to the sommelier Chantelle Pabros, from Style Me Pretty website creator Abby Larson to championship boxer Mikaela Mayer, the interviews are inspiring, thought provoking, and a real celebration of hard work. It's so much fun to read about where these women came from and how they achieved their dreams!

They are almost all penned by Heather Wood Rudulph, who is probably my new favorite person and role model. Heather Wood Rudulph is killing it as a journalist and writer focusing on women and culture with a feminist slant. She's the co-founder of the online magazine Sexy Feminist and, in addition to Cosmopolitan, writes for Huffington Post, Elle, The Guardian, and many more websites that we all go to all the time. Follow her on twitter here

Incidentally, today's interview focuses on world-famous blogger, Heather B. Armstrong, founder of Dooce.com. Sure, Heather and I are on different paths to world-famous bloggerdom (I'm just assuming my inevitable rise to fame here), but I can't wait to read it and be inspired by this kick ass woman making it in this industry!

Be sure to bookmark Get That Life to read every Monday!

And have a super great week.




Some Days.

Some days as a mom are rough.

Some days your child has a cold. It breaks your heart to see him sick, and then you get sick, and then everyone is sick and not sleeping well. And so then it breaks you emotionally and physically when you wake up at 1a, 3a, 6a because the poor child's cough keeps him up. Plus he can't eat very much at a time and who are you to deny him nourishment when he needs it most?

Some days your child won't let you do anything other than tend to him. Not eat. Not shower. Not go to the bathroom. Definitely not do laundry, straighten up, or God forbid write. You just need to do the basics like eat, wash yourself, and sleep. When that's a struggle, there's no time for anything else.

Some days you make plans to get out of the house, to meet up with someone else, but it's just not in the cards. The kid isn't having it today. You better just give up and cancel and turn on some crummy daytime television.

Some days you plan everything perfectly in order to get something done, something checked off the to-do list, but the baby doesn't know about your to-do list. And so he wakes up just as you get inside Old Navy, and he screams bloody murder, even though he never screams. And you want to turn to everyone who is looking at you and say, "He's not usually like this. Usually he's very chill! I mean it! He's a very calm baby!" And you don't get to make your returns or buy the new stuff you need (and you really do need it because you don't fit into any of your pre-maternity pants. Or shirts. Or bras.). And so you turn around and leave. But you walked there, and so he screams and screams as you run/walk the mile back to your house. And then he falls back asleep, just when you get far enough away from Old Navy that it would be silly to attempt to go back.

Some days you get crazy and have a Coke or a coffee or even a glass of wine in the afternoon. While you're breastfeeding. Sometimes you have to eat while you're breastfeeding too. Some days the food gets on the baby.

Some days you don't know how to do it.

And then...

And then...

One day he smiles. At you.

And everything is totally one hundred percent absolutely ok.

Swoon.






If You're 21 to 40, This Was Written For You.

This is what comes up when you google "having it all."
How could I not include a disturbing gem like this?!?
The other day my friend Josh posted this terrific Ask Polly Q&A from nymag.com that I had to share entitled "Should I have a baby or establish my career first?" alternately titled, "What the hell am I doing? Is any of this right? Can someone tell me what's important and what I should be focusing on here?" (To be clear, that's my alternate title, not Polly's. But I mean, I'm right, right?)

You totes should read the whole thing (warning - the letter to Polly is long) because I guarantee that you have felt exactly how this woman feels, whether you're a man or a woman. But if you don't have time, at least read Polly's response - because it is honest and kind and difficult and right.

In a nutshell, Polly tells the woman to do both. Here, in Polly's own words:
Choose both. Choose the career AND choose the baby. Don't put off one for the other. Choose both now and later and accept that you'll be juggling for years no matter what you do. Even if you never have a career, you're going to feel like you're juggling. Parents juggle. Why not juggle things you love? Sure, you'll have to work hard and make some sacrifices. Accept it and move forward.
I love this advice. Because who do we think we're kidding, when we try to avoid the juggling? It's hard enough to juggle our lives before babies enter the picture. Before spouses. Before we got that promotion and had more responsibility. Before we graduated college. Basically, every step of the way, our lives have felt full and stressful and difficult to handle at times. But then we figure it out and we move forward and we accept a new challenge. And we juggle more. That's what living is, right? Adding babies to the mix is just taking the juggling to another level (albeit a challenging one!).

Naturally all this talk of juggling leads you to that phrase looming over every woman I know - the dreaded "having it all."  Polly gets into that, too:
Because having it all, by its very nature, implies that you have a lot more than you can handle. Who can handle "it all," anyway? "ALL" IS A WHOLE FUCKING HELL OF A LOT. If you have some kids and a career and you don't have big piles of cash and a staff of five, you're going to be busier and more conflicted than you've ever been before. Okay, even with the money and the staff you'll be busy and conflicted.
And she's right! Why do we think "having it all" means everything is great and perfect and easy? Having it all is hard! Because having it all means you've got a lot going on. And I think this is true no matter what that phrase means to you. Yes, there's the career plus babies contingent, but there's a buffet of other goals that may or may not fall into your definition of "having it all" - starting your own business, spending time with your aging parents, home schooling your kids, pursuing your writing/acting/art (probably while working a full-time job), volunteering in your community, finding time for your spouse, running marathons, hitting that next milestone at work, seeing your friends, keeping your house and bills and life in order...I could keep going, but it's exhausting to think about!

All of this stuff takes a lot of work...and a lot of juggling. But that's what life is. You are juggling the things you love, and sometimes it's hard because all the balls crash into each other. But they are all good balls, balls you worked hard for and balls you love (stop snickering), and just because they sometimes collide doesn't mean you should drop one.

I am writing this down, not as a lesson to you, but a reminder to myself.

"Having it all" is just a fancy way of saying you are juggling. And juggling is just a fancy way of saying you are living.

So in the words of Matthew McConaughey....just keep livin.

 

Your Friday Distraction - Movies!

Summer movie season is upon us! The biggest challenge thus far with having a baby is figuring out how Brandon and I can still see all the movies we want to see in the theater. :o) He has already gotten out to see Furious 7, and you better BELIEVE I'm seeing Pitch Perfect 2 opening weekend. And of course we've agreed our first night out together will be to see Jurassic World in June. Like any sane person would (and should. and will.).

Here are two super cool movie-based distractions for your Friday afternoon.

First, from Distractify, here are 50 photos of actors behind the scenes on set.

These are not just fun; they're also surprisingly heart warming and inspiring. Let's all be friends and make movies together! It looks like a magical, wonderful time (which it is...but it's also very hard.).

Some of my favorite include this one of Spielberg washing E.T.


And this one from when they shot the MGM logo (!?!?!?! cool!).


Second, here's a supercut of opening and closing movie frames.

You can go to the link but I'll also just post the supercut for you right here. It's fun to make a game of it and see how many movies you can identify. But it also stands alone as a lovely, well constructed tribute to filmmaking...watch it and let the beautiful imagery wash over you! Dang, these people sure know how to make pretty movies!


First and Final Frames from Jacob T. Swinney on Vimeo.

Have a great weekend! Hope you find time to watch lots of movies! And let me know what summer movies you are most excited to see!

An Ode to Los Angeles, Served Two Ways.

This city. I'm crazy about it.

There are lots of Los Angeles haters, for all the typical reasons. But I haven't lived in New York, so I don't compare the two. And I never lived in a city with amazing mass transportation, so I don't miss that. (I mean, I grew up in Michigan where they encourage solo driving even more than they do out here. CARS CARS CARS BUY CARS.) I have no problem with the gritty, urban sprawl - when you live just outside of Flint, MI, you're used to that, too.

And as a former Midwesterner, I know Los Angeles is quite beautiful! It's sunny and full of palm trees! The temperature is delightful! The ocean is half an hour away! The mountains are an hour! The desert is two hours! For God sake, my sister lives in Chicago where her daughter hunted for Easter eggs in a temperature of 26 degrees. If that little girl can be happy in 26 degrees (and she can), we should all be over the moon with our 75 degree MLK Day weekends. It's positively delightful here.

Plus, Los Angeles is so much more than its outward appearance (what an ironic sentence to say in a city where, admittedly, we care a lot about looks). Moving out here meant (and still means) realizing a dream to make movies for a living. What a glorious and ridiculous thing - to earn money by creating visual stories. To support my family by making stuff up. To be part of the cultural zeitgeist while bringing home the bacon. That's bananas! We mustn't ever forget what a luxury it is that we get to do this!

I know I'm rambling. I know I'm re-treading ground many have tread before. I'm still figuring out how to put my love for Los Angeles into fresh and poetic words. In the meantime, read the two columns below. If you combine them, you get my sentiments on this city. Check them out:

Wall Street Journal's Joe Queenan on the Joys of Los Angeles.

Cameron Esposito's take on working in LA (via her A.V. Club column).

Los Angeles! You're fantastic! And I love you.




Back At It. I Hope!

So last week I didn't get any posts up. This is for two reasons:

A. I finally ran out of the posts I wrote pre-baby. 
B. It turns out babies take up a lot of time. 

I'm trying to carve out snippets of time here and there to write. I'm trying to learn how to blog from my phone. I'm trying to create a new routine cuz my old one done got blown out of the water (in the best way possible, of course). 

So thanks for putting up with me as I figure out my new life and, specifically, new ways to balance everything in it. For the record, I have been doing a LOT of Internet perusing while nursing and I have found a TON of links, topics, and thoughts I want to share with you. So let it be known I'm thinking about you a lot, dear readers. I just haven't gotten my post baby shit together yet. 

Speaking of, here are some the great things I've come across at 2:30a in the morning that I must share with you:

This 100-year-old woman has great advice for everyone, particularly young women. She is super saucy and I super love her.

Here are 14 inspirational quotes from celebrities on women and equality.

This is me as a Barbie (except for maybe the body proportions).

An obituary for the death of hope for a female late-night host.

A pregnant newscaster in Canada gets hate mail for her maternity clothes, and she addresses it on-air.

Sarah Thomas is NFL's first full-time official! It's about time!

A hilarious fake scene from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory after Grandpa Joe & Charlie leave the house...and Mrs. Bucket confronts the other grandparents about laying around in bed all the time.

A mom takes amazing pictures of her daughters for a series called "Strong is the New Pretty."

The brontosaurus IS BAAAACK.

From Cup of Jo (aka my favorite blog ever), here's 20 career tips for female entrepreneurs.

Have a great week, and I hope to be back on here more regularly! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these links!

Basically this is what my mind looks like right now. WAIT NO...
THIS is what my mind looks like. MOTHERHOOD WOOOO.

PS. Go here for more amazing gymnastic fails turned into gifs.

Prepping for a Newborn - What to Buy (and What NOT to Buy!)

My sister's sister-in-law, Trish, is having a baby in June!

Hooray for Trish. Hooray for new moms!

She asked if I had any recommendations on what to buy - or what not to buy. And while I am certainly not an expert on babies, I can definitely tell her - and you - what is working for us. And for Jack, the most beautiful, perfect baby ever.

Let me be clear - I have only been doing this whole mom thing for three weeks. So please take everything I say with a grain of salt. In fact, mothers with more experience - please comment below with your thoughts on these items (or others!).

Ok, enough with the caveats - here's my list of DO's and DON'Ts when it comes to purchases for that little bundle of joy that will soon be pooping his or his way into your loving arms!
Here's my little hunk on a portable changing pad.

DON'T buy fancy covers for your changing pad. I registered for (and received) super cute ones and guess what? They aren't waterproof! So those lasted a day. Try something like this or if you must have your cute cover, something like this that can lay on top of it. We have four to six of each of these that we can cycle through (and we cycle through many each day due to poop and pee missiles). Which leads me to...

DO set up a second changing area in your family room so you don't have to travel to change his or her diaper all the time. I know "travel" sounds silly but when you're changing a diaper every 45 minutes (or every 15 minutes, as the case may be), you'll be happy to have all supplies in a basket nearby. AND you can use one of those waterproof pads I mentioned above. (This pro tip is from my sister!)

DON'T buy lots of newborn clothing, if you think your baby is going to be eight pounds or over. It will only last the first three weeks or so. Then they enter into that weird between-newborn-and-three-months stage. But you'd rather have your baby in slightly loose 0-3 month clothing than too tight newborn clothing!

Regarding clothing - mostly you want onesies (short AND long sleeve), pants, and sleepers. And some socks and mittens and hats (after all, one mustn't forget to accessorize!)

DO buy wipes in bulk. 

DON'T buy Honest diapers (sorry, Jessica Alba). I know they are super cute and supposedly good for your baby, the environment, and Jessica Alba's bank account, but they don't work well. It's such a bummer! I really wanted to use them! They don't absorb that well (Picture pee shooting out the top of the diaper at my husband. Or don't. I understand.), and they don't have a wetness indicator if the baby has gone to the bathroom or not. I know an indicator doesn't seem that important, but it REALLY matters if you're trying to decide whether to wake a sleeping baby or not. 

DO buy the diaper of your choosing with an indicator strip. We love Pampers Swaddlers, but they aren't the most eco-friendly. This website does a great comparison of 24 types of diapers...maybe I'll try their Editor's Choice diaper - Bambo Nature. The only worry I have is they rank Honest Company diapers kind of high, so maybe they don't really know what they're talking about.

While we're on the subject of disposables, DO become an Amazon Prime member. Also, in case I haven't made it clear already - you cannot have enough changing pads, burp clothes, or wipes. You just can't. Buy them up. Buy them ALL. (For burp clothes, I should clarify - you only need to buy cloth diapers. Don't worry about getting fancy burp cloth thingies. The Gerber cloth diapers are cheaper and work the best.)

Bjorn-ing at the Pasadena Farmers Market.

DO buy a Baby Bjorn, and try to put the baby in it soon, to get him or her used to it. I put Jack in at three weeks, and he loves it. But my friend Emily waited too long and her daughter haaaated it and she was never able to use it.

DO have a place for the baby to sleep in your family room. My sister uses the Pack n Play, and I use the Rock n Play.

DO buy a Rock n Play. IT IS THE BEST THING EVER. It's what our baby sleeps in both day and night, and it's where I put him when I have to go to the bathroom/take a shower/do anything and want to make sure he's secure. It's super comfortable but also super portable. Here's the one we have.

DO register for things you will need later down the line, including clothes (we do not have enough six months to a year stuff) and toys (like a Jumperoo or a Bumbo).

DON'T buy fancy diaper creams. Just use Vaseline or Aquafor. It's what's best for them anyway.

DO get Dr. Brown bottles, if/when you plan to bottle feed. They help prevent gas and slow down the baby's drinking to alleviate indigestion. 

DO buy Avent Pacifiers, if you're planning to use pacificiers. They are perfect for newborns. 

If you're breastfeeding, DO buy a MASSIVE water bottle for yourself because OMG you get sooooooo thiiiiirrrrssssttty.

DON'T buy too many snap-up sleepers/pajamas because man, are those snaps hard to navigate when you're sleep-deprived. May I recommend buying jammies with zippers (this tip courtesy of our friends, the Saccentis). The Circo brand at Target zips from the foot, so you don't have to undress your baby as much to change the diaper.

DO invest in some swaddles or sleep sacks. We are partial to the Summer Infant SwaddleMes.

Jack's favorite toys (at three weeks old).
Also, Jack loves this book and this moose. They are great for newborns. Thanks, Julie and Mary, respectively!

OVERALL just remember that you need to figure out what works for you and the bebe. So it's ok to wait and purchase stuff after he or she arrives (which you will do, no matter what). And it's ok to over-purchase and then return. And it's ok to be wrong and be annoyed with yourself for spending $20 on something it turns out you never use (hey, you can always donate it!). 

So hopefully some of this stuff that works for Jack and me will work out for you and yours! Good luck!

PS. I'll be sure to update this list as Jack gets older! We'll see if it all holds true.

You Are Exactly Where You Should Be.

Here's a keeper:


I posted this Monday on Instagram and it's been rolling around in my head ever since. I just keep thinking about how basically 99.9% of humanity feels, as Mark Sutton says, behind. Isn't that sad? It's such a bummer that we ALL spend a LOT of our lives thinking we are "supposed" to be doing something else...something better. 

We are "supposed" to be married by now. Have children. Make more money. Have a better job with a fancier title. Own a home. Have a better degree. Have learned how to scuba dive or sail or golf.  Have more friends. Be more experienced in our field. Have slept with more people. Have traveled more. Have tried more foods. Own a boat or a better car or maybe three cars. Be more successful.

ACCORDING TO WHO, THOUGH? Your parents? Your friends? People on social media? Your own mind? Ugh, all those people (including yourself) are such a drag. A drag with arbitrary life deadlines. 

I think listening to Mark Sutton's advice is how we achieve happiness. It's about being mindful of the moment. It's about enjoying what you have and being comfortable where you are as you strive for the next thing (whatever that thing may be for you). Yes, it's good to look ahead, to work towards that next rung on the ladder, but there's something to be said for enjoying the rung you're on too! It's a very nice rung! And you're there with lots of very nice people who love you.

Anyway, it's something I'm working on. Having this little baby helps. I can't help but be in the now. But when we were trying for a baby, you can bet your baby booties (the ones you bought and you're going to send me) I felt like I was lagging big time. And I'm certain when I get back to work and start thinking about my career again that I'll be feeling behind after taking all this maternity leave.

But I have to try to not do that! I have to embrace the now and go from there. Because there's nothing wrong with where we are. 

After all, what (or who) am I trying to catch up to anyway?