A Really Great Present

It’s officially holiday season now (holy shiiiiiiit when did it become December 9th!!!!???), and that means getting to daydream (or more likely stress) about the perfect present to give a loved one.

But the thing is, I am totally terrible at buying presents! I can spend days researching online and reading all the best gift guides (this one being my personal favourite), but when it comes to pulling the trigger, I always get cold feet. I hate shopping, and I’m pretty sure shopping hates me.

And although generally I’m a firm believer that the holidays aren’t about presents and are about the time we spend with each other, I still find the joy in giving a meaningful gift. Which is what reminded of my favourite present I got this year for my birthday.

My dear pal Nick Fabin made me THIS piece of art! He surprised me with a self portrait, and when he handed it to me I got chills it made me feel so ridiculously special. The piece never fails to make me smile, and I still love looking at all the details that make me “me”.


So if you are stumped this holiday season of what to get someone that you love dearly, be sure to check out Nick’s work at his shop Folded. In addition to custom pieces like mine, he has done festive holiday cards, and also has a beautiful series of cards called Make You Grow which always pull at my heart strings.

Traveling with ANOTHER FAMILY!

I know there are countless blog posts in the world about traveling with kiddos, but this post is about something way different: adventuring with ANOTHER FAMILY!

See our dear pals had a baby roughly 6 months before us, and we all agreed that once we make it to a year of parenthood, we should celebrate and go BIG. It took a bit longer than expected to plan, but we freakin’ did it. We traveled to Hawaii with a 1.5 and 2 year old for a 10 day adventure to the North Shore of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.

We’ve been back for about a week, and now that we finally have stopped finding sand in all our clothes, cracks, and beds, I am so excited to share our biggest take-aways (and a few pics) of the trip:

  1. Your Homebase is the most important factor of the trip. And I say this for 2 reasons: First off, the kids nap for 2 hours during the day (hopefully!), AND go to bed crazy early, and it is so nice to NOT be stuck inside. We rented the most amazing mid-century modern home that had not changed since the 60s, and it had a huge yard, and beach access. Which meant while the kids were sleeping, we were swimming in the ocean naked and/or enjoying dinner outside. Second of all, you need a bit more SPACE when traveling with another family. Sometimes kids need a break from sharing toys and need to watch their iPads in peace. Sometimes one kid wakes up at 1 am crying and the other wakes up at 4 am crying. A bit of space makes it feel like you aren’t on top of each other, and that is so appreciated when spending so much time with another crew.

  2. Go with people you love. This is also twofold. Go with other parents you love because when the kids go to bed, you get to hang out with them! This is obvious, but it is even nicer than we imagined. After almost two years of always having to leave our friends’ place to go put our kid to bed, we got an entire week of social dinners with our best friends and there were so endless cocktails, belly laughs and good times. And secondly, if it is people you love (and they love you), they won’t judge when your kid is freaking. I thought we were way past this point of caring what other people thought, but there were moments when I felt insecure about what our child was doing and would look at the angel child of our pals and wonder why there kid was so perfect! But luckily, I knew they weren’t judging us. I know they really do understand, and love our babe and us no matter what.

  3. Think of it as an adventure, not a holiday. This trip had relaxing moments, but all in all, it was far more of an adventure than anything else. And that could be because we chose a place that had so many fun things to offer and we wanted to explore every morning and afternoon, but it is also due to the nature of traveling with 2 toddlers. They need time to adjust to each other, and even with that, they are going to probably have a relationship of extremes. They will cry and fight over sharing toys, but they will also have moments of SUCH INCREDIBLE JOY together! And although that had it’s trying moments (especially with our kiddo being the wussier and winier one), we wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Living life down the middle is so mediocre. Those highs were so worth the lows.

The following photos will show just a sliver of how magical the trip was. It was a true family vacation – and not just for our family (or as they say in Hawaii, OHANA!) but with the family we created with our pals – that we will hold dear to our hearts forever.

[But let me take a moment for some online honesty and realness before these photos make everything look too perfect! There were VERY TRYING TIMES as well. Our toddler got sick (we even took her to the hospital! But that is a whole other story mainly about my craziness), I got sick, refereeing 2 toddlers sharing toys could be exhausting, our kid had major separation anxiety and didn’t want our family to ever be apart, time change insanity, red-eye flights, ETC. Basically ALL the emotions and challenges of parenthood were still there on this trip, we just happened to be with friends in paradise!]

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The Biggest Surprise From Leaving My Baby

Last weekend was my first weekend away from my baby (and by baby I mean CRAZY TODDLER). Before having kids I would never have guessed it would take me 17 months to make that happen, but due to a few unforeseen circumstances (mainly LIFE) that is how long it took. And although I was SO, so ready for it to happen, a small part of me was still nervous about abandoning my child for the weekend (totally crazy I know).

And I am so happy to report the following:

YES sleeping in (till 9 am! WOO!) felt so good on the body. YES having long un-interrupted conversations felt so good on the brain. YES getting straight up silly with my favourite old friends and new friends was so good on the heart. And YES, at moments we missed our little one terribly and snuck into corners to watch videos of her which was good on the soul to be reminded of how lucky we are.

All those things I expected were completely and utterly true, but the most surprising thing by far was how much she’d grown when we got home. I mean we were only gone for 2 nights and of course we expected her to SURVIVE, but I never thought she’d THRIVE.

And it really serves as a constant reminder for me that it is ALWAYS beneficial to step out of our comfort zones, no matter what our age is, because that is how we grow as people. Yes it may be scary at first to be in unfamiliar waters, but when we are tested, that is when we see what we are capable of.

So remember, no matter if you are 1 years old or 100 years old, keep pushing those boundaries and growing!

PS. Thank you to my mum – the world’s best Nana – who took such good care of our little bean. You take such good care of ALL of us.

PPS. Thank you to Shalin and Bibi for the most kick-ass magical wedding of all time.

#mamaread: My favourite article on parenthood


I read a LOT of articles on motherhood. I don’t really know why, there is just something about wanting to read ANYTHING about ANYONES experience that I find so addicting. Maybe it’s because I’m yearning for the solidarity that someone else out there feels like I do. Or maybe I’m always on the hunt for someone to be more articulate about the experience than I have ever been. But recently my pal and inspirational-mama Grace sent me an article that did both those things, and totally floored me. I felt like it summed up a change that I had gone through that I had never been able to find the words for.

In her article The Single Biggest Difference Between Parents and People Who Don’t Have Kids, Laura June describes a Sunday pre-baby, and then post-baby, and it is so bang on, and how the loss of time is difficult to grasp. But she also goes on to say this about the endless balancing act of time and life, which really hit home in a visceral and beautiful way:

This is very stressful for parents as partners, I have found: My husband and I worked together for years and I was still surprised by the amount of collaboration that was necessary to keep our daughter alive. Remember: She must be accounted for 100 percent of the time. That’s a given — “No shit, Laura,” you might say. But mentally, it’s a real accomplishment! And it is weirdly deflating to your sense of self sometimes. Even when I’m alone, my time isn’t wholly mine. I am mentally, often, just partly, somewhere else.

There’s an upside! I don’t want to make it sound like there isn’t. I am the very center of someone’s world and as such am truly never alone — how wonderful and how stifling. How awesome and how weird, after 35 years alone on this big planet, to feel always naked when I walk out of the house with just a purse. What a ride.

Oh the dichotomy of parenthood! So real, and what a wild ride it is. I highly suggest the full article as a must-read for all parents and parents-to-be out there!

 And if you have a great #mamaread out there, please send it my way! I guarantee I will love it.

Join An Army (of hearts!)


Making my short film Big Lew with a Storyhive grant last year has been one of the greatest highlights of my life. I got to work on a project with my husband (who I happen to love working with), involve my entire crazy family, tell a fascinating story and give my dad the greatest gift (he always says, “who else do you know that has a documentary on them? How cool is that?”).

And on top of all that, one of the most surprising benefits was that it allowed me to have my own “stella’s got her groove back” moment with motherhood and creativity. For the first 8 months my babe was born I had no desire to work or sit at a computer. But once I had the idea for Big Lew, I literally couldn’t sleep all night, and not because a baby was crying, but because I had a billion ideas running around my head. It’s like I flipped a switch that had been temporarily turned off. It became a defining moment for me as a mother, and as a creative woman.

Partaking in last year’s Storyhive was such a meaningful filmmaking experience, on so many levels, that I have decided to apply for a Storyhive grant again! And this time, I have teamed up with the creative powerhouse Alex Duncan to turn her illustrated children’s book, An Army of Hearts, into a live-action short film. Alex inspires me, her story inspires me, and I know if given the opportunity, we will create something beautiful. So please, watch our pitch video and vote for us! You don’t need to sign-up or do anything, just click on this link and press vote! (and you can do it every day for the next 5 days!)

And thank you to all those who have supported my filmmaking efforts and Alex’s Army from the get-go!

PS. This Storyhive also has a special place in my heart as it is Female Directors version, and I couldn’t be more impressed that the Storyhive team is supporting female directors. Big ups to all the women out there behind and in front of the camera.


Working With Your Partner


Working the red carpet at Hodgee Film‘s Pistol Shrimps premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival – Photo by Marcus Jolly

I’ve always been oddly obsessed with couples that work together and wondered how they do it. Jay-Z and Beyonce, The Obamas, my massive film-maker-duo crush The Mercandantes, I’m a sucker for their LOVE and their WORK. I’ve admired from afar their mutual respect, and always wondered how they handle giving each other feedback (without it being personal and crushing the other persons soul).

See my husband and I both work in media production, but for years, he said he would never work with me. But when we decided to have a family, I transitioned into becoming an independent producer, and the opportunity arose organically for us to work together on a few projects.

We shot a crazy web series down in LA about a home renovation. We filmed a short film about our family in 8 days over Christmas. And most recently I was my husband’s production coordinator – handling contracts, finding locations, sending out call sheets, etc – for the hilarious This is That videos. And after a year of working together, oh how the tables have turned. Now he says he never wants to do a project without me!

Now I have by no means figured out any secret to making it work (recently I broke the cardinal rule of bringing up a work thing in bed and I had the most guilt-ridden sleep of my life), but I have realized at least one thing worth sharing: Being able to support one another FULLY, has been worth the risks that people often associate with working with your spouse.

Yes we have terrible moments where letting each other down in work is the absolute worst feeling, negative feedback is tough, and days where it feels like it’s just a bit too much. But in an age where it feels like the work/life lines are already so blurred (thanks SMARTPHONES) and where we are both trying our best to balance parenthood and work, being able to fully know/acknowledge/understand/support each others struggles of our jobs has made it work for us, and beyond that, thrive to the point where we wouldn’t want it any other way. (And this study shows that it might not just be me that loves it!). Basically we don’t give each other grief over a time-consuming deadlines that make one of us miss dinner or force us to work on weekends, and we do our best to take advantage of the slower times.

So, anyone else have thoughts on working with your partner? Please share your secrets! (And here are some tips from The New York Times for “co-preneurs”.)

And in case you missed them, be sure to watch all 6 episodes of the latest CBC This is That web series, that I was lucky enough to work with my husband and a bunch of other insanely talented people on (and bonus, episode 6 features that other thing he and I collaborated on: our BABY!):

Episode 6: COMMUTER





Episode 1: COOKS


Post-Kid Puberty


My dear blog that I love with all my heart (and ANYONE IN THE WORLD that reads it), my apologies for not writing for the past 2 months, my excuse is that I now have a toddler. And that doesn’t mean life is any harder, in fact I find it more wonderful and hilarious than ever, it’s just that my toddler thinks my phone and computer are strictly for videos of puppies and cats, so it’s hard to sneak in a blog post.

But to be honest, the easy excuse for my lack of writing is to blame it on the baby, but truthfully, I just haven’t really felt like it. And that is far more complicated reasoning, but I’ll do my best to explain: I’m currently in the process of finding out WHO I AM again.

My brilliant friend Grace captured it best after we had a serious venting session over wine a few weeks ago: “Now that the baby haze has settled we’re able to address priorities that were put on pause, and that is a marker of growth, even if it feels like treading water at times.”

Obviously it is different for everyone, but I think new-parenthood causes you to put SOMETHING on hold for a period of time. For many people (especially nursing moms) it is career, but it could also be soccer, or band practice, or a blog, or whatever it is you do with all that free time you had. Some of those things that make you YOU get put on hold. But the thing is, at SOME POINT your little human becomes more independent (and/or you have amazing childcare), and YOU ALSO gain a little more independence! And as Grace said, we get a moment to address those things that we put on pause.

And although that can be wonderful to be able to address those priorities again (and it is a privilege I know!), it can also be daunting. That question of “what am I doing with my career/life/hobby?” obviously does NOT get any easier when becoming a parent. And maybe the hobbies you did before don’t seem to interest you anymore either. Thinking about yourself again can even feel strange, and if you are like me, it can lead you down a black hole of existential questions like “WHO AM I NOW?”.

So as my baby now officially becomes a toddler, part of me feels like we are kind of going through something oddly similar. We are figuring out the world. And how we fit in it. It’s a bit of a weird and unexpected phase I didn’t anticipate, but I’m here to say to other parents who may be going through it that I am here for you! I’m awkwardly going through that same post-kid puberty to re-anchor who I am. What is the work I want to do? Am I still a soccer player even if I haven’t played in a game in 2 years? Am I still a blogger if I haven’t written in 2 months? Has my chat become insanely boring to everyone? And does this mom hair cut suit me?

And like all puberty phases – it’s scary, yet exciting. So to celebrate the joy and even the hardships of independence, here are some adorable photos of our miss independent from hands down the best week of her life while we were home at the cottage on Prince Edward Island. (And for the record, last weekend she was the flower girl at her aunt’s wedding, and she totally fucking nailed it! Made it down the aisle all by her big girl self.) So I’m going to take some inspiration from my little 15 month old – if she can figure out the world, so can I!











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ps. For anyone out there gaining a little independence due to weaning, this is a very important read! I think what I am feeling is distinctly different than the hormonal changes of weaning, but I think it’s crucial to be aware of depression caused by weaning.

ANOTHER Phrase that Needs to be Abolished from Parenthood

Another phrase (in addition to this one!) that I personally believe needs to be abolished from the journey of parenthood (and that I find I say far too much) is: “My baby never does this!“, in response to my baby’s freak out or fussiness when visiting with friends.

I would say it when my baby girl was a newborn, and I even caught myself saying it at her first birthday party! I really don’t like when I hear myself saying it, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I say this is two-fold:

#1. I want friends to love my baby. Especially friends that don’t get to see her often, I want them to feel a bond with her. I want them to get joy from her. I want them to think she is amazing.

#2. And the much harder one to admit – I want people to think we’re doing a good job as parents. Obviously I know it’s totally not fair, but deep down I think that is a big part of trying to get my babe to perform or being embarrassed when she isn’t the perfect child when visiting with friends.

So to fellow parents (and mainly myself), this is a reminder to not put pressure on your babe to “perform”. They are just a baby, and not a show dog.

And to friends, if you want to make a new-parent feel good and relaxed when visiting with you, right off the bat just say: “I love you and your baby so much, and I think he or she is amazing, and on top of that, I think you are doing a kick-ass job at this whole parenting thing.”

So here is just another Friday reminder to not be too hard on ourselves, or our little ones, because we are all just doing our best…and everyone is allowed to cry at their own party if they want to.

The 5 most important baby products

I have a lot dear friends that are preggo right now, and I want to share any sliver of wisdom I have gained from parenthood, and that includes consumer reports. I remember being really overwhelmed when pregnant when it came to GEAR, and desperately wanting to feel prepared, but also feeling insanely lost with the millions of options (and cost).

Besides a crib, stroller, and car seat which are the big 3 must-haves (you do need a car seat to leave the hospital here in Canada, but crib and stroller I’d say don’t stress on having them for day 1! We didn’t start using both till like month 3), here are the 5 products that we seriously can not live without:

  1. Sound Machine – I have no idea if my baby cares about the sound machine and the fact that it sounds like she is at the beach every night, but it has been a life saver for MY sanity! We live in a pretty small 2 bedroom apartment, and to make sure I don’t freak out if anyone wants to make the slightest noise, or to be able to enjoy watching TV, I need to know that the soothing “beach sounds” is louder than the violence of Game of Thrones.

  2. Lovey – We didn’t really see the pay-off of this until we started sleep training, but having this lovey for our little one from the beginning has become HUGE. When we sleep trained it became her “thing” that she nuzzled and helped her fall asleep, and now whenever we travel it is the most important thing we bring (basically equal in importance to our passports!).

  3. Bouncy chair – They are literally ALL hideous, but so worth it to be able to shower every day. “Baby holders” such as the Jolly jumper, bumbo, activity-center-thing all had pretty short shelf lives with our baby (she barely used any of those), but the bouncy chair she used a ton, and even as a 1 year old sits in it for 5 minutes a day, so I can shower!

  4. 360 Ergo – Our baby has spent more time in this carrier than in the car seat or stroller combined (to be fair – we don’t own a car, and we walk everywhere). There are lots of different options for carriers (bjorn, solly wrap, etc), but the thing that is extra cool about this one is that you can wear the babe in a ton of different positions, as they grow. It’s one of the few “baby things” we’ve used almost every day of her life.

  5. Nuk Pacifiers – There seem to be like a billion different kind of pacifier options but these ones are magic. Simple as that. Our babe starting taking one at 3 months when a friend told us about this brand. We were shocked, and thrilled.

Oh and don’t stress about clothes – you will receive a whole slew of used clothes from pals, and a few insanely-priced-but-adorable pieces of new clothes as gifts!

Any other parents have a must-have item? Lemme know! Share your insider info with the new parents of the world!

#BOSSMOM: My current favourite book on work + motherhood (and what it taught me)

New York 2016_Lauren Shots-14[This photo is when I stumbled onto the wonderful and famed Pistol Shrimps Radio podcast, but this week I am the ACTUAL guest on the podcast Who’s Your Mama!]

You may have read an article on the Atlantic in 2012 called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (it was one of the most-read pieces in the magazine’s history!), and had ALL kinds of feelings (most likely infuriating and/or sad). But what you may not have read, is Anne Marie Slaughter’s FOLLOW-UP novel to her article, called Unfinished Business. The gist of it is that she realized her article hit a serious cultural nerve and caused a bit of a shit storm, but was certainly flawed, so she spent years talking to people from all walks of life to really get to an in depth understanding of the modern struggle of working moms.

Suffice to say, I loved the book. As someone currently obsessed with the topic of motherhood and work, it spoke to me completely. And I encourage everyone to read it, but in the meantime, here are the 3 greatest points I took away from it (that I repeat to myself constantly when I’m having a work/motherhood freak out):

1. Careers are NOT a “sprint” (ie. a graph with an only-upward trajectory), they are “intervals” (ie. a graph with peaks and valleys). No one’s career is a straight shot to the top. There will be times when we can gear up, and times when we need to gear down. And sometimes we gear down not even because of having kids! Sometimes there is personal illness, or need to take care of an elderly parent, or maybe even just a sabbatical to shift perspective (get your eat, pray, love on!). And it is OK to gear down! As a society we need to acknowledge that gearing down is normal and not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean you can’t gear back up at another time.

2. We don’t hit the peak of our careers till like age 50. So relax. When I read this line I had a big sigh of relief. We have SO MUCH TIME. Taking 3 months, or 8 months, or 12 months, or how ever many months off from work will not kill your career or have the negative impact your brain has convinced itself it will. My incredible mother in law took 10 years off from full-time work to have 4 kids, and returned after a decade to be a radio show host for over 25 years and is now in politics. BOOM!

3. This is an EVERYONE problem, not a woman problem. Sometimes trying to figure out how we make massive paradigm shifts like flexibility in the workplace and valuing care-giving as much as we do bread-winning can be overwhelming (especially while trying to live the day-to-day life), but knowing this is an everyone problem, and not just mine, or women’s problem, makes it a little less heavy on the heart.

And speaking of #BOSSMOMS, this week I was featured on a podcast called Who’s Your Mama that is all about moms striving to maintain a creative identity while raising a family. I highly suggest listening to the show (I reveal who I have a huge mom crush on!), and following/liking/giving rave reviews on itunes to the show. Thanks again for having me on your awesome show Corinne!