I had no idea I was a huge Jack Johnson fan until I got into the car Friday afternoon and this song was playing and OH, HEY, NAILER OF LYRICS, SINGER SONGWRITER OF MY DREAMS.

If you add us up 
then subtract my lack of sleep. 

I didn't sleep much last week for reasons that have no rhyme. And I'm a little embarrassed by my flare for the dramatic. It sucks being a human being sometimes. And there are plenty of times when I wake up and I'm like "NOOOO! Why did you write that thing?"
I've been erasing. 
Rewrote the second half like this 
So my protagonist 
might find his way back home. 

Anyway, this week I promise not to take myself so seriously. But first, because it's Monday, a song.

Found my foundation
It was underneath me all along

Sing it, Jack Johnson. Fist to the chest. Feet on the floor. 
181. As I was Saying by: Jack Johnson 



light work

When I was little my mom used to tell us, "many hands make light work," which, of course, meant, many hands make LESS work. As in, if we all pitch in, there will be less to do. I did not know that is what she meant until she said it to my kids a few years ago and I realized that she meant "less" and not ACTUAL light. I assumed "many hands make light work" was in reference to light itself. As in illumination. As in, if we come together we can make everything glow.

I was embarrassed by my misunderstanding at first. Like that time I thought "quitting cold turkey" was actually cold turkey as a thing people eat to help quit smoking. 

But then I realized that LIGHT and light are the same thing. That many hands make less work but also LIGHT work. That by coming together, everything is illuminated. All that perspective, man. It helps. 

I struggle with this in a major way. I want to do it all on my own or do nothing at all. When I feel overwhelmed, I close the door instead of picking up the phone. I fake it. Or write about it here in vague terms. (Kind of like I did this week). But I also picked up the phone. I called in favors. I asked for help. Which probably doesn't sound like much but it was for me. And then I felt amazing because everyone was so kind. And helpful. And oh so THIS is how this works. Like that game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board and how it feels like magic because how is it possible for fingers to lift someone wayyyy up high? Well? It is. Many hands can do that. 
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(light on.)

Stories We Tell

I've been spending a lot of time inside my head lately. Maybe you've noticed. Maybe you haven't. Sometimes I feel removed from my life in a way I can't really explain and sometimes I feel like everyone lives in my head with me in the computer. Not everyone, obviously, but people. Some people.

I feel affected lately in ways I don't usually feel. So books and films and music have been medicinal in a way. I'm looking for answers in places where I don't belong. 

So when Hal and sat down to watch Stories We Tell, with very little knowledge of what we were getting into, it was like standing on top of the answers without knowing it. 

It was like opening a door to a place that had always existed but was suddenly revealed. 

Ten years ago I wrote a novel called The Envelope. It was the last of three unpublished novels I wrote before I got pregnant with Archer, and in the beginning of the manuscript is this:

“Lies can only be embedded in truth. They have no separate existence… A good lie reveals more than truth can ever reveal. To the one, that is, that seeks truth.”

—Henry Miller, Sexus

The book was an homage to the truthful part of lies.

I wanted so badly to be a novelist but I wasn't there yet. I'm still not. Someday. But I believe that truth is complex and nuanced and far from factual. That the reason we love books and films and fantasies, the reason we want to write them and make them and dream them is that they act as guides for us, the writers and the readers. They help us find our way to the answers. Or better yet, remind us that there are none. 

There would be no story then. 

These words found themselves into my fingers the night Hal and I watched Stories We Tell so I wrote them down. And now I'm writing them down again, here, with the hope that they may trigger something in you. 

Or maybe I just need a place to put them. 

I don't want to publish any more books. Not now, anyway. 

But I do want to keep writing. 

Here, for now, but not forever. That was made very clear to me this week. There is an expiration date here. Which is a scary thought but also an exciting one. It's why I'm pushing myself in different directions behind the scenes, trying to reorganize my time to write about things outside my story so that I can realize some of the truth I seem to have misplaced. 

Because if I don't...

There would be no story then. 

In the beginning of Stories We Tell,  Sarah Polley's father reads a quote by Margaret Atwood. It says:

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness...  It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

This is why we write.

Like cleaning up a mess.

This is why we push on.

And reflect. 

And come to terms with our ridiculousness. 

By telling stories. 

Out loud or on paper, in songs and on screens. 

This is supposed to be a post about Stories We Tell and I have made it into Story I Am Telling because for better and for worse, that is what I do here. Because this film affected me deeply and made me want to share things I might otherwise have kept to myself. It made me feel grateful for the storytellers.

Whether we recognize it or not, we live for the stories. We wake up for the stories. We point our children in the direction of the stories.

"Bring back the moral," we say.

"Find the meaning and put in your heart."

These are the fables. 

We sit down every day with the hope that we can find them within ourselves and outside ourselves and somehow smash them together to make something that matters.


That's what connects us.  An honest story will always be a universal one, beloved, despised, universal. 

If she hadn't..? 

If he didn't..? 

If she wasn't...? 

If they weren't...?

There would be no story then. 


Thank you, Sarah Polley for sharing yours. 


Liner Notes 9/24

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My little brother's getting married. I don't know why I just typed "little" because he's about to be thirty and he's a legit adult and, like, ten feet taller than I am, but when I think of him, I think of him being this little kid.

And everyone in the neighborhood is wearing rainbow suspenders. 

And every car on the road is a Datsun. 

My mom recently called me all excited because her friend's son, who I used to babysit, is "now an associate editor at Vogue magazine" and I had a full-on Romy and Michelle moment where I was like, "NO WAY! BUSINESS WOMAN SPECIAL!  I INVENTED POST-ITS!" And then I went back through my Vogue magazines and looked for his name and pictured this five-year-old boy sitting with Anna Wintour a la Devil Wears Prada and her saying, “THIS STEAK ISN'T RARE! WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT SCARVES!” And him saying, "Yes, ma'am!" 

This is what always happens, and I realized why, over the weekend, while kids' birthday party hopping. I have a very hard time being myself around most parents. I assumed this was something I'd grow out of but here I am, almost a decade later and I'm just as hopelessly uncomfortable around large quantities of parents. Kids, on the other hand. I can totally sit with and introduce myself and carry on a conversation and feel... myself. 

Maybe because children are unapologetic when it comes to being oddballs. They talk about the best stuff, and after spending the last eight plus years embedded in their world, my experience is that they just get it. Because honest people usually do. 

Plus, most parent-on-parent situations feel... forced? (ED: In LA it's especially weird. You are regularly introduced to people you already know because they play characters in movies and shows or they're in bands and then you have to pretend you don't know who they are which makes you feel like a total asshole because you know their names already and now they're introducing themselves and you can either A. be the girl who lives under a rock or B. come off like a fan which you cannot do even if you are one. It's socially illegal.)

So, anyway. The other day at one of the kids' friend's birthday parties, I sat in the sandbox with my social circle of five-year-olds and we talked about our poop and superheroes and how awesome glitter is and it was more insightful than any conversation I had had in weeks.  Meanwhile Hal hung with his social circle of six year olds, running around in the grass with everyone going, "AHHHHHH!!!!" 

And I fell in love with him all over again. 

Because that's the kind of man I'm gonna marry. 

Anyway, the point that I sat down to make before I went off the rails and became a total misanthrope/aspiring daycare teacher/vaguenamedropper was this: my little brother is getting married. And I'm so thrilled for him and his unbelievable girlfriend, who is going to be my SISTER-IN-LAW, that I have spent the last week all verklempt for my brother.  And Fable? Oh, man. She is the most excited person on earth because she gets to be a flower girl, Uncle David SAID! (Bo and Revi will be, too. I think my mom is already making their dresses as I type this.)
And, yes, it takes everything not to picture my brother as a fifteen year old kid, playing MAGIC: The Gathering, surrounded by friends in capes, but that's only because I love him. 

That's only because, that boy is in there somewhere and I still see him. I look for him. I have to. It's how I connect to the people I love. Show me your inner child and I'll show you mine. It isn't sexy and it sounds totally weird but it's how I make friends and sustain relationships. It's why I'm so incredibly 
grateful for the friends I have. (And why judging from the tone of this post, I need to make more time to see them. Sheesh.)

....This just went way off the rails again, sorry. 

David? If you're reading this? I love you as my little brother but ALSO as a grown-up man person and I'm so incredibly happy for you and Alyssa. Love and light. 



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It's Fall, all! Here's a sweater for your soul in case it was feeling a little chilly. (It has a few holes, yes, but they're in all the right places.)

180. In The Middle by: Lily & Madeleine

P.S. Lily & Madeleine have a new album coming out next month and I can't stop thinking about the cover. (See below.) And this song, which is on the album and tearing my heart out through my ear holes. 

I say the same thing every week, don't I? 180 weeks of me being like, "this song will change your life, you guys! CRANK THIS INTROSPECTIVE TRACK! IT'S ACOUSTIC AND HARMONIOUS!"

I always get dumb chills watching that scene in Garden State where Zach Braff tells Natalie Portman that The Shins' song will change her life but I just realized it's because we dislike in others what we fear in ourselves and I am totally him in that scene. 

I used to have a friend to do the mix tape thing with and he's not here anymore so maybe that's why I feel this need to shout music at you guys and be like DUUUUUUDEE. THIS SONGGGG AHHHHH HEART EJACULATION! 

Pass the sock, amirite? Pass ye olde bedside sock.


"The joy brings itself. I just get my fears out of its way."

I first met Heidi when she taught music classes at The Little Seed. Fable was a baby and we lived in walking distance to the store and attended classes every Tuesday with some friends and it was the highlight of my week. Heidi is very much a beacon of wonder and light and her new children's album, My Cup of Tea mirrors allll of that goodness and more. 

GGC:  Lady! Congrats on CUP OF TEA! Tell me about it!

Heidi Swedberg: My Cup of Tea is a seriously diverse grouping of songs with very little in common on the outside.  The two great musicians I work with, John Bartlit and Daniel Ward, give it the unified sound.  What the songs all really have in common is that we love them. They are songs I really want to share, I want everyone to know. They come from around the world, some of them I wrote, some are more then a century old, but they all connect with me, and I think they give everyone something to connect with- to a broader world.
back to back
GGC: What was the process like? Any stories to share?

HS: Recording can be something of a painterly process, laying down a sketch, adding layers, varnishing...  We recorded this over about 3 months, mostly in New Mexico, where a great friend, David McRae invited us to work in his incredible studio.  I teach and am a parent, so I fit my work in during school holidays.  We laid the base tracks at Christmas, Daniel and John added more layers and we waited until Easter for me to return and finish up.  Then the really hard work began- mixing- which I leave to Daniel and our David McRae, our amazing engineer.

We had so much fun working together.  It is ALL ABOUT the food.  Well, and the beer.  Being a seriously maternal/foodie type I did a lot of cooking.  I would get up early and do a bunch of prep for posole or a stew, throw all the elements into a crock pot, then we'd head to the studio in the mountains. We'd plug in the crock pot and get to work.  5 hours or so later we would be starving and ready for a break- right when some great smells would be making their way through the soundproof booths. There's several great breweries in NM, like the Marble Brewing Co. Marble IPA and posole with green chili can make a session waltz by.

GGC: You played an iconic role on Seinfeld  and acted for many years before transitioning into music. How has your professional history influenced your professional present? 

HS: I think working in Hollywood made me practically fearless when it comes to doing my own thing. The TV world is so restrictive, so conservative, and frankly, dog-eat-dog, un-supportive and not at all fun.  Walking away from that is a great relief.  I feel so free now.  

My vocals are often dramatic- more than I realize when I am recording them. Acting is really all about communicating and connecting. Not that I think much of my acting chops, but I think in some ways I act a song more then sing it. 

GGC:  At what point did you decide you wanted to write and perform music for children?

HS: I have always found children incredible to connect with.  They are open, honest.  Before they reach the age of shame (about puberty- and most people forget to grow out of it) they are amazing creatures.  Drive, energy, uninhibited.  When I walk down the street, or through a grocery store I see their eyes- and they see mine.  They are unafraid to see people, and much of the time, unafraid to be seen.  

Once I had kids I wanted a way to be able to be present in their schools, to interact with the classes my girls were in.  I knew I didn't have it in me to do a lot of the volunteer opportunities presented to me.  So I began to make up my own- music programs, song and dance parties...   I would teach the kids little songs with dances,  Play Party songs from the early part of the last century.  Then I'd pull together musical friends and we'd have a song and dance party at the school.  The band, the teaching all grew from there.

GGC: You have two daughters. How do they inspire your work? 

HS: My younger girl and I wrote the title track of My Cup Of Tea together over a cup of tea at breakfast. Kids are great rhymers.

GGC: What brings you joy?

HS: The joy brings itself.  I just get my fears out of its way.
GGC: What's next? Any plans for more music classes?

HS: Always!  Trying to form a class on Larchmont Blvd right now. And there are ongoing classes at McCabes in Santa Monica, ukulele for families plus a new program of early childhood classes.  One of my favorites is one we are calling McBabes- an infant class. 

GGC: Can you tell me how you came to the ukelele? Any advice for those interested in taking up the instrument or introducing the uke to their children?

HS: The uke came to me via the Easter Bunny when I was 5.  My family lived in Hawaii and my 3 sisters and I woke up to chocolate bunnies wrapped in foil and triangular shaped boxes with inexpensive but solid starter instruments.  I would still have it today if I hadn't loaned it to my high school boyfriend. (Curse you, Jeff Page!)

The uke is the easiest instrument to learn besides the kazoo.  Get one for yourself, the nicest starter model you can afford.  Buy one for your kid which costs $30, like the Diamond Heads they have at McCabes.  They are so affordable, cheap as a toy.  

I love to teach parents and kids together in families.  I do a class this way at McCabes and privately.  I had a family over the summer, Dad, 2 boys and grandpa. It was incredible. 

So, yes. Play songs, sing- don't take it too seriously. And be fearless! Fail. Suck. Just do it.  After all, what are they gonna do...fire you?

GGC: What are you listening to right now? Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

Christmas Music! AHHHH!!!  

I teach (of all places) at a Catholic School- St Brendans, and already it is time to start getting it together for their annual Holiday Show. Elizabeth Mitchell is putting out a GORGEOUS CD of Christmas Music this year, and she gave me an advance copy. Inspiring. 


Speaking of inspiring... 


And if you're local to LA, Heidi will be be making the following appearances this month and next:

9/22 - McCabes Guitar Shop, Santa Monica 11am
9/29 - Abbot Kinney Festival, Venice, 3:15
10/13- Dragonfly DuLou in Los Feliz, 11:30am
10/19 & 20 - Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge, 11am
10/19 - The Talking Stick, Venice, 6pm

And in Albuquerque... 

10/26 - Outpost Performance Space - 11am. 


Heidi has offered to give three copies of her new CD away here on GGC. To win? Tell us about something that brings you joy. In the meantime, you can find Heidi on twitter and facebook. Thank you, Heidi. You are fantastic. 


Drive Safe

The following post Is sponsored by Graco. Thanks, Graco!
On Sunday we installed two new carseats a la "today, you are both two and will be riding like the big kids." Which is music to a toddlers ears.

At least to MY toddlers' ears. 
When we first took Archer home from the hospital, we were totally clueless as to whether or not we were restraining him correctly. (The nurses cannot assist you with this. At least not in our experience. Which I still think is insane but what do I know.)

I think that was the moment I realized we were on our own. Hal and I were screaming at each other and Archer was hysterical and the nurses were, like, "peace out, young idiots!" and we were like, "why are we such idiots? We are idiots! SAVE THE IDIOTS!" and then we drove home  at 15mph with the hazard lights blinking and me in the backseat and my arms like human seat belts over Archer.

Later that day Hal went to a local police station to have them re-install the carseat which was NOT installed correctly, even after all of that.


So. In light of my writing this post and our installing new seats for the girls, we decided to take a family trip down to our local Car Inspection Service LAPD station. Because kids love police stations and we're naive and thought we could just call and be like, "what's up? We're gonna stop by in the next hour or so, is that cool? And you can check our carseats to make sure they're properly installed? Great!"


That was not how the conversation went when I called. Apparently you have to make these kinds of appointments WAYYYYY in advance. The soonest we could come by to have carseats checked was October 16th.

"That's the very soonest?"



At which point the officer asked if I would like to speak to a Professional Carseat Installation Service which I had NO IDEA was a thing. And yes, I did want to speak to that service.

"Her name is Tamara."

"Solid. Tamaras are my favorite!"

"Oh... kay. Well, she can see you sooner, I bet."

So I called Tamara at Carseat Savvy LA and made an appointment for Monday at 11 at Traveling Tikes on Santa Monica where Tamara (typically!) spends Monday afternoons helping parents install their carseats. (She also does house calls all over LA. And she's amazing. Super cool and warm and wonderful and I got to meet one of her daughters as well and she was super cool and warm, too. GOOD PEEPS. More here on Tamara and Carseat Savvy LA.)

ED:  I had no idea that professional Car Seat Installation Services existed until Monday and maybe I'm the exception in this respect but my feeling is that MOST parents don't know that such services exist. According to Tamara there are only a handful in Los Angeles so I'm guessing there aren't many elsewhere but the point is, they exist! And they make house calls! Which I WISH I would have known about when Archer was first born ahem.

Anyway, Monday I went to see Tamara at Traveling Tikes and she checked out Bo and Revi's carseats and (go, Hal!) they were both installed correctly. Except they could have been "tighter" so Tamara showed me how to get your knee into the seat and really tighten.
She also told me that the head rests in the back seat needed to be higher so that if there was an accident, Archer and Fable's heads would have proper neck/head support. Roger that.
It took about fifteen minutes for Tamara to go over everything with me and afterward I felt a sense of community that I had not felt in a long time. Like, how awesome is this? That I can get on the phone and call the Sheriff's station and they can give me the information of a Professional Car Seat Installation Service and then BAM, I'm in a parking lot with this amazing woman whose job it is to help parents with their carseats and they're the people that you meeeet. each. dayyyyyyy. 

To be honest, had I not teamed up with Graco to write this post I don't think I would have taken the trip, spent the time to find out about Tamara and the service she offers. But it felt really good meeting with her. I felt a sense of relief and camaraderie I didn't expect driving away.

Anyway. Bo and Revi are officially two, forward facing, in newly (and expertly!) installed car seats.
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Thanks for the seats, Graco. And thanks for the assistance, Car Seat Savvy/Tamara!


In honor of National Child Passenger Safety Month, Graco will donate $1 to Safe Kids Worldwide for every Buckle Up for Safety pledge made, up to $10,000. Visit facebook.com/GRACO to pledge your commitment. You can also join me on the Graco Facebook page later today @ 5:00pm PST where I'll be hosting an hour long chat about carseats and car travel and anything else you want to chat about. 

In the meantime, I'd love to know if you've ever had your carseats checked. If so, where? What was the experience like? Where in your town/city/neighborhood do they check carseats?


P.S. Carseat boxes make for great clubhouse/coloring books. 
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Story Time: Rosie Revere, Engineer

I posted about Iggy Peck a couple years back and as several of you pointed out, Andrea Beatty and David Roberts have come out with a new gem, Rosie Revere, Engineer. Which from a title perspective I'm 100% in from the get. I ordered the book last week and it arrived yesterday, moments after I stepped out of the shower c/o of a gasoline pump incident prefaced by a no-good very-bad day. Garden variety life shit WOMP WOMP WOMMMP.

... So I opened the package and sat down with the kids to read to them.
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And then this page happened and it blew the top off the entire day and the last couple of weeks and children's books aren't just for children, you guys:
Before it crashed, Rosie... before that... It flew. 

I read it and cried. Which I tried to hide at first but then it was no use doing that so I confessed to everyone that my day was utter shit and sometimes it sucks to be an adult and are you listening to these words, you guys? PLEASE LISTEN TO THESE WORDS THEY ARE SO WONDERFUL and then everyone was quiet as we finished the book and read it two more times.

"Again," Bo said.

"Again," Revi also said.
Afterward Archer sat with me and asked if there was anything he could do and I said no and Fable tried to braid my hair even though she doesn't know how to braid hair. (I've been braiding her hair most mornings and by the time we get to school the whole thing falls out and then we both get super frustrated and yell at each other.)

Looking back on my Iggy post this morning I realized I was going to start featuring children's books here and never did. Is that something you guys would be interested in? I'm not an authority by any means but I do adore children's books and there are so many great ones out there. (And some duds. Sorry, Pinkalicious but you are the worst. And don't even get me started on The Rainbow Fish's "give up the things that make you special so that you can look like everyone else" message. Hideous.)

In the meantime, four thumbs up for Rosie Revere. And if you don't already own Iggy Peck, I highly recommend taking Iggy for a spin during storytime as well. (Even if you don't have kids.)
A great children's book is wise beyond its years. Bravo to Andrea Beaty for her words and David Roberts for his images. Thank you for reaching through the page and giving this sister something to pump her fist to on a day she needed it most.

a post-birthday weekend... post

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We didn't throw them a party, although we did think about it. We decided long ago that we'd wait until the kids were four before we celebrated with an actual party. Archer's first party was his fourth and Fable's first party was her fourth and even though two years plus two years equals four years (I am SUPER good at math) we decided to be fair and wait until Bo and Revi turn four as well. Which is a huge relief because parties are not my favorite thing to throw. I'd rather be throwing up, honestly. Heyyyyaaaa! 

That being said, I just sent out the evite For Fable's fifth birthday party and know only two of the kids we're inviting and one of the parents. #newschoollyf

Anyway, we have two kids who aren't old enough for a birthday party and one who refuses to have one so I am sucking it up and hosting a full on four course birthday party with a petting zoo and a cake made out of dairy-free quinoa for Fable's five. It's going to be seriously epic. (Not really.)

Meanwhile Bo and Revi got a half a dozen balloons to hold for an entire day before they deflated:
And a Pee-pee Hermie marathon. (Pee-wee Herman is called Pee-pee Hermie in our house for obvious reasons.)
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And two plastic shopping carts I bought at Target but didn't have enough paper to wrap. So I was just, like, "HERE!" and "HERE!" as I pushed them down the hallway with their price tags still on. 
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And it was perfect. My mom made birthday dresses for Bo and Revi. (Thanks, mom!) Which she did last year as well. (Those dresses are now shirts. Sigh.) My parents also brought up TWO Cozy Coupes which blew their ever-loving minds because they have been fighting over the one at my parents' house since always and didn't even know what to do with two cozy coupes! (They totally did actually.)
My aunt bought the girls gorgeous dresses as well and Hal's parents sent a care package of goodies which included the favorite gift of the weekend: "da baday cake."
And then we played with bubbles for, like, twenty minutes because that was how long it took before the entire bubble thing spilled everywhere and everyone became hysterical.
Who needs a party, am I right? Especially when the best things in life are hoses to water while barefoot and covered with bubble soap. 
photo-9 photo-29 photo-30 photo (It was a grand ol' lovely time.) photo-5 photo-7photo-20
P.S. This was last year. Whoa with the growth.