Pop Culture Cheat Sheet: JANUARY

courtesy Toby Lowenfels

As Moms, our days are filled with countless time-based decisions — apply 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
Sorry for Your Loss (Facebook)

The next time you find yourself in a scintillating Facebook Group discussion on rear facing vs. forward facing car seats, shift gears by tuning into Sorry For Your Loss instead. The Facebook original series stars Elizabeth Olsen as Leigh, a young widow in the throes of grief. Picking up three months after the sudden death of her husband, the narrative slowly teases out clues about how he died and how little she actually knew about him. In the third episode, “Jackie O. and Courtney Love” when Leigh befriends another young widow, I started dropping big, fat tears on the keyboard. The show is obviously short on laughs but is nonetheless an engaging story of how a family can approach grief together. And, if anything, it’ll give you a deeper appreciation for your lovable slob of a husband.

3 in 30

I get most of my parenting advice from the grandmothers and moms I meet in the diaper aisle at Target. But, still, I was excited to find the 3 in 30 podcast. Hosted by Rachel Nielson, an Idaho mother of 2 and former high school English teacher, each episode features interviews with experts in their fields, as well as three tangible takeaways you can apply to your daily life. Recent episodes were on time management, sex, and “how to document your family without torturing them.” These are obviously super-personal topics, made even more intimate due to the nature of podcasting, but Rachel’s the right host for the job. She asks insightful questions while being concise and stunningly real. Mainly, though, I appreciate that these conversations don’t last longer than half an hour ‘cause that leaves me more time for my Target networking.

Book it…
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

We’ve heard it a million times from pediatricians and teachers alike: kids thrive on routine. Turns out, some adults do, too. At least that’s the case for the protagonist of the quick-reading, dark novel Convenience Store Woman. Keiko Furukura is a 36-year-old Tokyo resident who shocks her conservative family and friends by living contentedly as a freeter, someone who lacks full-time employment. Instead, Keiko is devoted to her lowly part-time job at the local Smile Mart. I have a feeling many readers may catch themselves relating to Keiko’s attachment to rote tasks. Some of us (no need to name names) actually find it meditative to fold miniature clothes or make sack lunches––the way a PB&J fits into a Tupperware, four corners neat and square.

C’est La Vie by Phosphorescent

What’s that? You’re tiring of listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat? If your end-of-year Spotify stars were Kacey Musgraves and War on Drugs with a little Paul Simon sprinkled in, you’ll appreciate the twangy, laid back charm of C’est La Vie by Phosphorescent. In the past five years since his latest release, Phosphorescent front-man Matthew Houck moved from Brooklyn to Nashville and had two kids. The result is an open-hearted domesticity that runs through C’est La Vie that recalls Paul McCartney’s Ram. This album will fill your cup with the patience needed to let the “Baby Shark” phase—including tantrums and potty talk—run its course.

Mom crush…

Instagram gets a lot of flack for being too posed-picture perfect, but it’s still refreshing to zone out on your phone to look at sparkly images whenever you have the chance. @Burtsbrisplease has a knack for making dreamy pics that capture the magic of childhood. Bri lives in Minnesota with her adorable family, has good toy recommendations, and shares fun DIY projects. I’ve been following for a few years now and will say she definitely hits her stride in the winter. A California poppy like myself can live vicariously through her dazzling snow pictures without having to deal with the soggy socks or runny noses. Likewise, she’s about to have a third kid, so now’s the time to follow if you want to get your newborn baby fix minus the late night feedings. Win-win.

Toby Lowenfels is a writer and mom of three in Nashville. Follow her daily musings at @tobyfels.