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Pop Culture Cheat Sheet: MARCH

courtesy Toby Lowenfels

As moms, our days are filled with countless time-based decisionsapply makeup… or drink coffee? — so we can’t spare a single minute on entertainment that does not entertain. Here are your recommendations for the month; now all you have to do is take off your bra, pour yourself a drink, and settle in for these fun nuggets.

TV & Streaming…
Pen15 (Hulu)

Shows about awkward teenagers will never get old ‘cause we’ve all been there, hated that. Pen15 is a new twist on the format featuring a pair of hilarious 30-something actresses parading as 7th graders. The concept takes a little getting used to—imagine if Kevin Arnold was played by current-day Fred Savage—but totally works. Many episodes will fill you with nostalgia for the days of calling your BFF on the landline and going to Claire’s Accessories for magnetic earrings. While the show is absolutely hilarious, it might also give you some discomfort since one of these days you’ll be throwing your own babies to the 7th grade wolves. After we finished the first episode, I turned to my husband and suggested homeschooling our kids. That gave us a good laugh.

Subscribe…
Sentences

Twitter darling Darcie Wilder delivers a valuable service: reading the entire internet so you don’t have to. Her weekly newsletter, Sentences, compiles the best one-liners from around the web into one compact, poetic email. Sourced hyperlinks are included for when the origin of the lines pique your interest, but I prefer to read them as intended. Taken out of context, in a quick 50-second skim, the excerpts in Sentences feels like one of those surreal conversations you have with your 5-year-old that jumps from tigers to spaghetti to Spiderman. It’s a buzz for your inbox and your brain.

Mom crush…
Taina Licciardo-Toivola

Thank goodness for the algorithm that landed Taina Licciardo-Toivola in my feed. Her video My Morning Routine with 10 Children was enough to get me hooked. Taina, an Aussie, lives in Finland with her 10 vegan kids who are named Nefertiti, Shakespeare, Omega, etc. The family wears all-white in every video, goes ice swimming in Lapland, and lives in a sparkling three-story house. Their entire existence is mystifying. Taina runs her life like a well-oiled machine, waking up at 2am to read scriptures and exercise. But there has to be a team of nannies, housekeepers and grandparents waiting in the wings… right?? A hide-and-seek video that doubles as a house tour answered a few questions but still left me stupefied. The contradiction of being a self-proclaimed minimalist while having ten kids is bizarre in itself. And the mom in me wants to shout at whomever’s filming to put down the damn camera and give the woman a hand. Even though Taina doesn’t seem to need it.

Book…
Survive the Savage Sea by Dougal Robertson

There are so many everyday conveniences to appreciate about life on land: iPhones, Daniel Tiger and epidurals, to name a few. If you ever find yourself taking for granted such luxuries, grab a copy of Dougal Robertson’s Survive the Savage Sea. Written in 1975, this piece of nonfiction recounts in fascinating detail how a family of six survived adrift in the ocean after their schooner was attacked by killer whales. Somehow, with very few provisions, an inflatable raft and a dinghy, the Robertsons were able to survive in extreme conditions. I skimmed over parts that were too intense for my delicate heart/stomach, like when they had to tear apart a sea turtle for food or fashion makeshift enema tubes. But the family’s force of will, led by Dougal’s sailing chops and the mother’s emotional strength (obviously), is a gripping story of leadership and family survival. Required reading for the next time you catch yourself complaining about spotty wifi.

Podcast…
Mama Said

If you’d told me 15 years ago that I’d one day end up getting parenting advice from Meadow Soprano, I would’ve rolled my eyes and drummed my fingers on the table like Carmella waiting for a baked ziti to come out of the oven. Yet here we are! Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler (aka Meadow) has teamed up with musician Jenna Parris to host a parenting podcast that covers everything from traveling with kids to postpartum depression. At the end of each episode, they share their Mommy Win and Mommy Fail for the week, which is super-relatable. Even though the topics can be pretty heavy, the podcast remains lighthearted and humorous. Their episode on couple’s’ therapy made me laugh so hard I woke the baby. So I’d call that a Mommy Win and Fail rolled into one.



Toby Lowenfels lives with her husband and 3 kids in Culver City, California, where’s she’s working toward perfecting the 20-minute dinner. Sign up for her weekly meal plans at DinnerIn20.com.