October 22, 2014

What I’ve Been Reading: Long Flight Edition, Plus a Special Bonus

This summer I unexpectedly ended up flying to London and back sans kids, which meant one thing: MINI-VACATION! Sixteen hours to myself, forced to sit in one place without internet and an endless supply of Kit Kats and Coke? I haven’t felt that pampered since the days I thought 8am was an early morning.

There was no way I was going to waste my time doing something as mundane as sleeping. Instead I watched the movie Chef (decent for an airplane movie), five episodes of Orange is the New Black, plus read The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty (which was delightful and I can’t recommend enough but was on my Kindle so will have to be reviewed at another time), and these three books. Sure I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence for the first two days of the trip, but totally WORTH IT.

I have to be honest, it was awhile back (and a couple of time zones ago), but I remember liking all three books a lot and thinking I really need to write a blog post on them (hence the photo) so stick with me while I do my best (I’ve lent them all out so I don’t have them for easy reference).

books-girl-boss-interestings-rosie-project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: 

This book was a total surprise. Honestly, I only bought it because I needed something to read on the flight home and it was on sale for $3, but I ended up loving it.

It’s about a guy who has Aspergers and decides he wants to get married so goes about it in the only way he knows how – very methodically and scientifically. It sounds kind of silly and chick-lit-y, but it actually had a lot of depth and gave me a completely new perspective on Aspergers; Simsion artfully portrays Aspergers as simply a different way of approaching the world (and often a way that makes a lot more sense). I’ve thought about it several times since when my kids were going bonkers and stopped to think, “How can I see this from their perspective?”, which, to me, is the hallmark of a meaningful book (plus, it’s really funny).

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer:

I can’t decide if this was the perfect book to read as I’m turning 40 or the worst. Basically, The Interestings are a group of friends who meet at a summer art camp and become lifetime friends (for the most part). The book chronicles their lives as they navigate fame, success, marriage and unmet expectations. It’s highly readable and the characters are so well-developed I can still picture several of them in  my mind, plus there are some twisty moments to keep it all moving along nicely, but now that I’m writing about I think it may have brought on a panic attack so read it at your own will if you’re approaching a big birthday (so it was probably the worst).

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso: 

I’d been so looking forward to reading #GirlBoss – Sophia Amoruso is an Internet superstar, an all-around bad ass woman, and we have the same affinity for bangs so there was a lot of hype in my brain to live up to. And the book was…fine. There are some interesting parts – I loved all the juicy, behind-the-scenes insight into her early days; she’s incredibly inspiring and obviously a woman who knows how to work hard; her business savvy is beyond belief and, I imagine, for a young girl this could become a kind of tome. For me, as an old lady, I’ve heard most of the advice and while I always appreciate (and need) the reiteration, I think Start is a better, more hands-on business book, one that really made me want to get up and get working, whereas this was a fun, dishy read.

tana-french-secret-place-book

As good as any of these books may be, none of them can compare to the darling of my book club in my mind, The Secret Place by Tana French.

First, know I am over the moon about Ms. French (yes, she makes me want to go all New York Times on her even though if I met her in person I’d be way more UsWeekly) and, second, there is nothing I love more than a good whodunit. This is a page turner to be sure, but it’s deeper than that. She reminds us what it’s like to navigate the complex world of teenage years and how tender our friendships and selves can be at that age. The end was incredibly satisfying, but also left me feeling melancholy for those days when laying around with your friends all day was more than enough. Plus, her writing is, as always, spot on (I believe I’ve mentioned her use of semi-colons and the level of passion they inspire in me), and I realize that none of this is probably making you want to go out and get the book (melancholy! teenagers! grammar!), but just ignore this entire review and do it anyway.

And now I’m a little bit stuck. I’m thinking about reading Lena Dunham’s book? Any other suggestions?

October 20, 2014

Mom-Approved: A Floral Jumpsuit and Long Cardigan to Wear Everywhere

I know that we’re firmly in Fall and I’m supposed to be posting outfits with boots and scarves, but it’s finally nice out here in San Francisco, so, honeys, you’re getting more jumpsuits.

Oh, you didn’t know that I’m obsessed with jumpsuits? Let’s put it this way, if you’ve seen me in the past six months I’ve been wearing either this black version or my new favorite floral number because they go everywhere, match everything, and hold me in. And this floral version has the added advantage of never needing to be washed because stains just disappear into the background, which may be part of the reason I’m always wearing it.

See, look how happy it makes me.

mom-laughing-jumpsuit-backyardI’d like to reiterate a few reasons a jumpsuit is the perfect mom outfit: it’s ridiculously comfortable – it’s pretty much like wearing socially acceptable pajamas, you can throw it on, it pairs well with long cardigans, which are great for covering your rear, and they allow for impromptu leg lunges with no fear of showing your lady bits.

backyard-pose-mom-jumpsuit-fashionSay, you find yourself at your local playground (which I imagine is fairly likely) you can bend down and play in the sand and look totally cool and mom-appropriate.

heart-sunglasses-flower-jumpsuit-topshopSee? W Magazine called and they want their dump truck back.  mom-jumpsuit-heart-sunglassesYou think we’re done here? Oh my little pumpkins, not even close! Later this week I’ll be posting a second way to wear this same jumpsuit because, one way or another, I’m going to convince all of you to go out and buy one even if I have to only feature jumpsuits for the duration of this blog, which might be pretty short if that’s the totality of the content, but YOU GET WHERE I’M GOING.

Linkage:

Awesome jumpsuit that is $30 right now!!!: Top Shop // Long cardigan: Norstroms // Necklace: Common Era // Flip flops: Old Navy // Sunglasses – Nordstroms

Photos by my favorite sister (today): Jessica Swift Photography

October 16, 2014

A Sneak Peek of a Mini Moi Shoot for Momtastic*

*I also just realized it’s not really a “sneak peek” if the post is already up, but I couldn’t figure out what else to call it that sounded cool. A small part of a larger post? A couple of pics from a photo shoot? Two pics out of 15? WHATEVER. Here’s your sneak peek…

I have never dressed like Alice, which I can now see is a total travesty. I’m always talking about how I wish they made her clothes in adult sizes, haha, but I never took it seriously until I started putting together this blog post for Momtastic, featuring my dear friend, Janette, and her awesome kiddo. No doubt, people were literally driving their cars into walls trying to get a second look. But, that’s why we have kids, right? To be so adorable we cause car accidents just by walking down the street. J84A0295_janetteshootUnfortunately, I have completely missed the boat on this one, unless I want to wear a tutu and Ariel t-shirt, and, heaven knows, I look TERRIBLE in t-shirts. My only hope is to get the guys matching while I still control Bennett’s wardrobe and the Batman ratio is still relatively low. 052_Janette+Viv.jpg There’s even more cuteness, if you can believe it, over on the full Mini Moi post – a matching dress and some leopard print leggings that are ridic, plus advice from Janette on how be cool while dressing matchy-matchy. Why do I feel like she’d think the matching tutus is a bad idea?

Flower jeans photo by Audre Ray Photography / Striped cutie photo by Del Rio Photography

October 13, 2014

40 Things To Do Before 40 Because Turns Out That’s the Next Big Birthday

30th-birthday-friendsThe other day I was at the coffee shop, chatting the with gal at the register and she mentioned that her mom’s name is also Kara. I said that is so interesting because I haven’t met many people from our mom’s generation named Kara. The poor gal looked at me like I’d just grown three heads and very gently (too gently, in hindsight) said her mom is 42. You guys, I totally thought I was the barista’s age and we were all, I don’t know, jiving about our crazy moms and their names, but turns out I AM THE MOM IN THIS SCENARIO.

Yes, in six months I’m going to be 40. I thought I was okay with it (“I’m not the sort of person who worries about things like age”), but a recent panic attack and some tearful evenings have led me to believe it’s bothering me a little bit more than I’d like to admit.

I feel really gross admitting it’s bugging me. I have kickin’ kids who make me laugh, an awesome husband, family and friends that I get to see a lot and fill me up, and I live in a city with some of the best cinnamon rolls ever. Yes, I occasionally jump when I see myself in the mirror and there are days when I want to go back and shake my younger self for wasting so much time moaning about instead of actually working on her career (wait a minute…), but I have it very, very good.

I’ve had a bunch of people tell me the big secret about aging is you keep get older on the outside, but inside you’re still a 26-year old hottie who wears turbans ironically. For me, that’s what it is. I’m not ready to be the person who is supposed to remember to bring snacks on the road trip! (To be fair, if you know me well enough to road trip with me, you would know better than to expect me to remember something like snacks. That’s what gas stations are for.). I’m still the gal who gets to show up to Thanksgiving dinner with a bag of frozen corn because she doesn’t know how to cook, not the lady who’s supposed to make the turkey! (Again, to be fair, you would know better than to show up to Thanksgiving at my house expecting me to cook anything. You would know Chris is in charge of the turkey and I’m in charge of some game where we all have to perform different characters from the first Thanksgiving with accents and top hats so I’m actually not sure at all where I’m going with this…)

Actually I do know. In my early 30s I finally figured out who I enjoyed being – someone who was fun and optimistic, liked to laugh, did the occasional crazy thing, took time out of her life for friends and community, rocked high heels, and always had an adventure on the horizon. I am still all those things, but now they’re layered under getting people ready for the day, feeling grumpy with the world instead of open because I’m tired, spending my free time cleaning out the garage instead of helping others, all the responsibilities I associate with “being an adult.” When I get panicked about turning 40 it’s because I’m worried that gal is so buried she can’t find her way out or I can’t find my way back to her, which is ridiculous. That’s like saying you can’t find the bacon in the Cobb Salad because the lettuce is in the way. LOOK HARDER, KARA.

She is there, she just needs a light shone on her occasionally. So, I’m going to do what many 39 year olds who are doing their best to avoid the temptations of convertibles they can’t afford and questionable plastic surgery, and lighten the hell up. I’m going to coax my favorite gal out of hiding by attempting 40 things that seem in line with who I want to be more regularly, and, honestly, make me laugh. No “lose 20 pounds finally!” and “spring clean the house from top to bottom!”; I’ll save those for my 50th.

40 Things To Do Before 40

1. Dye my hair pink.

2. Shower and get dressed (in normal clothes with make-up) for a full week , which sounds like a lot of work, but I feel like I owe it to my neighbors to get out of sweatpants.

3. Start handing out homeless packs again.

4. Run a 10k.

5. Finally learn how to do my make up.

6. Buy a hat that flatters my face.

7. Decide if we’re having another baby because I could really use the space in our garage if we’re not.

8. Tell 20 people in my life how much I love them and why.

9. Stay out late (like past midnight late) partying.

10. See a double feature.

11. Teach my kids the Up With People clap so we can all sing it together and impress my friends at the reunion next year.

12. Go on a family vacation.

13. Have a food fight.

14. Have a month of where I actually post 2-3 times a week here on the blog.

15. Buy a service person a coffee.

16. Spend an afternoon reading a book, guilt-free.

17. Do a backbend.

18. Sing karaoke.

19. Catch up on thank you notes (finally).

20. Go on a segway tour.

21. Relearn all the words to “Rent” so when I meet up with my friend Susie I am prepared.

22. See a movie in the middle of the day.

23. Say something so funny Alice can’t stop laughing.

24. Say something so funny Chris can’t stop laughing, which is going to take a lot more work.

25. Donate a large sum of money to a non-profit.

26. Dress up and wander around the city for an afternoon.

27. Go dancing with Chris (or the whole family).

28. Go to a bouncy castle place or trampoline place and jump the stress out.

29. Eat a huge Ghiradelli sundae all by myself.

30. Decide where we’re living for the next several years.

31. Do something that I know I “shouldn’t.”

32. Catch up on Alice and Bennett’s books.

33. Whiten my teeth.

34. Find a place to volunteer.

35. Get dressed up and cheer on a sporting event.

36. Run up the hill by my house without stopping.

37. Have someone write a love song about me (I have someone specific in mind, but am open to offers).

38. Do one thing that really scares me.

39. Have a slumber party.

40. Give a gift to someone unexpected (I’m not sure who but imagine it will present itself).

What do you think? If you have a big birthday coming up are you with me?

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