Me Too

Me too campaign

One of the things that often goes unmentioned and even forgotten, is how sexual abuse doesn’t just effect the victim for her lifetime, but for generations to come. My mother was sexually abused by someone close to her. She didn’t talk about the abuse other than to tell me that I couldn’t have a canopy bed when I was a kid because they give her bad dreams. Come to find out, she was abused in one. She has since passed away after a lifetime of dealing with depression, borderline personality disorder, severe anxiety and often had suicidal thoughts (which she acted on a number of times). I miss her terribly, but I know with certainty she is in a better place where she no longer feels the life time of pain that her step-father inflicted upon her.

Growing up with a mom that suffered sexual abuse brought it’s own struggles. Because of the trauma she endured, she didn’t quite have the capacity to be a mother (or to know that she didn’t have the capacity to be a mother). She was committed to mental health inpatient care units numerous times when I was a kid. Despite her trauma, she did her best and I’m stronger for it, but it took years and years of therapy to get to the point where I am today. I’ve spent so may years being angry at her for everything — having kids, being mentally ill, not putting the abuser in prison where he belonged, making me grow up too fast. Then, there was that time a teenage boy (son to my babysitter) asked to see my privates. I was in kindergarten and scared and I showed him. ME TOO. I mustered up all of my confidence and guiltily told my mom what I did. She said “okay” and I kept going to the in-home day care where he lived. What hurt way more than being taken advantage of at that age was being taught that it was ‘okay’.

I hated my body after that and grew ashamed of it. I developed an eating disorder that lasted almost two decades and spent the same amount of time believing I didn’t have ownership over my body. It left me deeply insecure and unable to have healthy relationships. Men made me very uncomfortable for most of my life. I saw them as potential threats vs allies (even the ones I really liked — except my husband of course). I didn’t capitalize on relationships with girls/women because I had too much anxiety and never felt like I fit in. I felt unhappy and alone for most of my life and felt guilty for feeling that way. Years later, I realized that we’ve all had trauma. Perhaps not sexual, but it’s not unlikely. That is not okay.

Sure, we can all talk about our abuse and I applaud all those who have com forward, but we need to change our whole culture if we are going to fix this. As one friend put it:

Culturally, it starts before your daughter is even born. Men, when telling their friends they are expecting a baby girl often tell each other, “better get your guns ready.” Think about what this actually means. You are accepting that men are creeps and that your daughter will be subject to some sort of predator or harassment. This is not funny. This is not something to laugh about nor congratulate each other on. Yes, it’s your job to protect her from the sad inevitably that someone will likely hurt her one day but this should not be the most defining or anticipated quality about her… give her a chance to show you that she will bring more to this world than physical attraction. Nor is she a burden, something to look out for. She is not the problem to fix. -Rachel Melby

Be conscious of minimizing the issue, by just writing “ME TOO” on social media. Instead, think of what we can do as a members of society, male or female, to shift our cultural beliefs about sexual abuse and mental health because they go hand in hand and they won’t just go away. We need to stop the silence, but more importantly, we need to show up and support those that need it and end the cycle.

Graphic by my friend Max Rosero

Our favorite books right now

books for 2-year-olds

It’s a lesser known fact that October is National Bullying Prevention month in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month. Luckily, we haven’t had a big problem with bullying yet, but Harlowe is starting to hear (and let’s face it, probably even say) some unkind words at school. Regardless, as a victim of bullying myself I don’t think it’s ever too early to start teaching kids about it and brainstorming ways to be kinder to people, animals and our planet. As any parent can attest, sometimes mom and dad’s words go in one ear and out the other. Books on the other-hand, are super-entertaining and filled with facts…or at least, fun non-facts that kids want to read about over and over again. Since books are so wickedly wonderful at helping me parent better and Harlowe has to read for 20-min a day (1st grade homework) we’ve been collecting books each month based on themes. We  kind of have a self-awareness/kindness theme going on in our house right now. I’m listening to Present over Perfect on Audible and I love it! It’s about living more simply and choosing to be present over trying to be perfect — something that really hits home for me and I’m guessing most of us. It has a religious undertone for sure, but is really good content for anyone regardless of your faith. So far, I think it’s helped me model self-regulation in so many areas: less technology, less snapping, less consumption, more control, more rest.

empowering books for kids

The kids and I have been enjoying these together:

You Be You is about a fish who goes on a journey alone and realizes that every fish in the sea is different and that we all have something special that only we can share.

I Like Myself about a young kid who celebrates themselves both on the inside and outside no matter what. A good reminder to kids that they are great the way they are (even if they have  a porcupine spine!)

What Does it Mean to Be Kind talks about what is and what is not ‘kindness’ but doesn’t take the road you may expect. There’s loads of inspiration for kind activities listed on the back that has been really fun to tackle with Harlowe.

I am Peace is a moderately hippy-dippy book on mindfulness that gets kids find peace and calm on their own. There’s a guided meditation in the back that we have yet to master. 🙂 I like this because if kids are to hit, bite, scream, etc. it’s usually because they got scared/angry and lost control. This book helps them find the “anchor to their ship” and find their own peace. The illustrations are adorable too.

Batty Betty about a giant who dances unapologetically to her own drum, who unsurprisingly is quite different. The story shows the kids that their differences are actually their strengths and makes it an amusing lesson.

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night not about self-awareness at all, but Gunnar can’t take his nose out of it. If you have a young boy and don’t have this book — fix that!

best books for empowering girls best empowering books for kids

5 Tips I wish I Knew Before Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom

As many of you know, I left my corporate job at Google/YouTube earlier this year to pursue my dream of building a small business out of sharing my life on the internet. Before I left, I really knew nothing about being a work-at-home mom or starting a business, but I knew a lot about YouTube and was ready to transition to a more creative endeavor so I dove in head first and never looked back. Here I am about 7 months later with a whole lot of knowledge about working at home and I am super excited to share it with you.

  1. Get on a schedule. I used to be the type of mom that would roll her eyes upon hearing other parents speak of the rigid schedules they kept for their toddlers. I mean, take a chill pill, it’ll all work out, right? That was because my whole day from 7am-7pm was planned out by default. Wake up, make breakfasts and lunches, drop off both kids, drive to work, meeting, meeting, meeting, eat lunch at desk, more meetings, pick up kids, make dinner, bedtime routines… you get the picture. Each day I did the same things over again and it was exhausting so on the weekends, we lived carefree with no schedule. As soon as I started working from home, I realized I need to have everyone (including my husband) on a schedule because if one ball falls, this juggling act will come crashing down.
  2.  Refine your process constantly. Once you get on a schedule, you will likely find that the juggling act will come crashing down at home just as it did at work. Only 2x what you’re expecting because at work everyone was professional (except that one girl who is miraculously is still employed — there’s always one) but, at home everyone acts like a 2-year-old because well, some of them are. You really, really, reeeeallllyyyy need to refine your process multiple times when it comes to just about everything especially how you make peanut-butter sandwiches (which this week are made with NO jelly whatsoever).
  3. Be open to failure. You may not have failed a lot in your corporate gig which is why you were confident enough to work for yourself. Remember that juggling act we just talked about? Now when you are juggling work inside the home with kids, your offspring are in your care vs. someone else’s so anything you need to accomplish (including going to the bathroom) comes in second. Here’s a list of failures both big and small that I’ve had in the last 24-hours:
    1. I burned (and still ate) an entire frozen pizza.
    2. I left the house 4 min late for school. We all had to run to make it on time.
    3. This post was suppose to get written last night, but I fell in to a NyQuil induced slumber while listening to The Goal Digger Podcast.
    4. I don’t recall anything from yesterday’s episode of the The Goal Digger Podcast.
    5. I was less than nice to my husband too many times to pick just one.
  4. Ask for help. If you’re like me, you seldom ask for help or even hire help because by golly, you can do it all! (Isn’t that why you left your plush corporate job to make a bigger impact on the world and your bottom line anyway?) Girl, you can totally do it all, but sometimes it’s best that you get a little help with the house work so you can FINALLY edit that YouTube video that is over a month old (like I did yesterday, yay!). Invest in yourself and lean on friends, family, previous colleagues, etc. Just don’t forget to pay it forward and help them out the minute they need it.
  5. Slow down. I’m type A so when things start accumulating on my to-do list I want to stay up extra late to accomplish them all and I give little thought to what a nutcase I will inevitably be the next day. When you’re working from home, you will have more to do than you ever imagined, but children live in the moment and get stressed when we push our hectic schedules on them. Here’s a few things I am doing to try to make life a little slower for the kids:
    1. Eliminate “hurry up” from my vocabulary and say something like, “let’s work together to get X accomplished” instead.
    2. Read for 20 min a night and discuss what we read.
    3. Eat one meal together a day.

I hope these tips help you whether you are working from home, outside the home or staying at home with your brood. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips to share! P.S. Thank YOU for reading because if it wasn’t for you there is no way I could have the flexibility to spend the time I do with my kids and work on projects I truly love. It truly means a lot to me.

Museum of Ice Cream

You guys, we FINALLY got out to the Museum of Ice Cream here in LA and it was just as beautiful as I imagined. Seriously, it was really well done plus, they fed us ice cream or treats at every new room. It was hard to tell the kids no in that environment so we all had stomach aches after and the kids went to bed about 2 hours after their bed times. Each room had a different theme. I tried to capture a picture in all of them, but it was difficult because one of my kids was always running to the next room. My favorite part was definitely the pool of sprinkles. They have faux, anti-microbial sprinkles in a shallow pool that you can jump in to and roll around in. Gunnar was v confused, but he cam around to it.

Surrounded by his favorite food and not sure what to do!

You pick up phones in the first room a a celebrity ice-cream fairy (Seth Rogan) gives you the scoop.    
This tee is so soft and obviously, I love the message.

Huge thank you to my friend Brett for getting us tickets!

My shirt /shortsHarlowe’s dress / shoes / Gunnar’s outfit

I drank Bone Broth for 2 weeks and Here’s What Happened

You’ve probably heard of bone broth by now. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow drinks it so aren’t we all a little curious, if not devout bone broth guzzlers? I recently tried drinking bone broth each morning for 2 weeks after doing some research on it  and finding that it is considered liquid gold by many. I read Bone Both Diet Book which discusses all of it’s benefits and also has a wild diet that last for 21 days and requires you to give up lots of food and wine (no thank you). After reading it and doing some heavy internet research, I decided to give it a try in hopes that some of my fine lines would be less noticeable. I got my hands on some  Kettle & Fire Bone Broth (which was so much more convenient than boiling my own bones for 24 hours) and sipped the syzurp broth each morning to find that the claims are actually pretty true. Watch the video to see what happened!

Wearing: Dress  / Necklace

PS I’m thinking of making this a series so let me know if there is anything you are interested in so I can consider it for the next ‘WTF is…’ post.

Everyday Natural Makeup (With Mostly Natural Products)

I began experimenting with non-toxic, organic &/or cruelty-free beauty products during my 1st pregnancy. That was seven years ago and the products were not nearly as good as they are now. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many eyeliners I disposed of because there was no color! Or eyeshadow with no shadow. In the last yea,  l’ve actually LOVED so many natural products like, ‘OMG you guys have to try this!!!’ level of love. I put together a little video about my everyday natural makeup look using my fave natural, organic and cruelty-free products — please excuse the sound. I ended up doing a voiceover on the application part because well, I forgot to turn on my mic during application. There aren’t a lot of times I have to sit down and film and I just wanted to get this out to you! Ugh, the joys of video. 🙂 I know one shoudl never apologize for what they put out in to the world. I am only saying this here because blog readers are legit bethanimalprint family. You’re animals! Thank you so much for reading and watching loyally. Your comments on Instagram, the blog and youtube seriously mean so much to me.

Popsugar Must Have Unboxing: August 2017

If you know me, you know I love my subscription boxes. From workout clothes to beauty products, receiving a pretty little box of curated goods makes it feel like Christmas morning. One of my favorite subscription boxes is the PopSugar Must Have Box. Heck, my first Must Have Box review was in 2014! This month they are turning 5 and are celebrating by giving subscribers the chance to win some major prizes. Sign up here and use code: PARTY (expires 8/31) for $10 off your FIRST Must Have Box. Don’t worry, all current Must Have subscribers are eligible for a chance to win too! Here’s a peek at the contents of the August box:

A dogeared friendship bracelet and a First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 Bouncy Mask. I’ve already used the mask and it is legit. I looked like I had no pores after using it.

The cookies above are gluten-free (and delicious!) and you better believe I used the candles in Harlowe’s cupcakes when we celebrated her 6th birthday this past weekend. They are so pretty!

A metallic-pink journal is always a good idea. Especially since you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis (according to Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California). I’m off to get my goals written down now. Have a good day!

Wearing: shoes / shorts

How To Meal Plan For Picky Eaters

how to get your kids to eat healthy
Before becoming a mother, I was never much of a meal planner. Heck, I didn’t even know what meal planning was. We had plenty of meals out because why live in San Francisco (where we lived pre-kids) if you weren’t going to enjoy the world-class food scene? I supplemented eating out with eating whatever was on hand at work (sugary snack bars galore) and I had the bloat to show for it. After Harlowe was born, we got more diligent about cooking in (mostly because eating out with a baby was not the same), but she did enjoy her trips to Tacolicious., our favorite Bay Area haunt. She’s almost 6 now and we’ve tried just about everything under the sun to make meal planning easier and bring healthy meals to the table without much fuss as neither of us are of above average skill in the kitchen. Our kids are just as picky as the next, but it’s really important to me that I teach them to make healthy choices and not eat a quesadilla 3x/day which is what she would do if she had her way. Here are a few ways I save time and even money planning and prepping healthy meals for the family. For the first time in 5 (almost 6!) years Harlowe actually likes…even loves what we eat most days. The best part is, I don’t have to put forth a huge effort to plan our meals, it’s basically done for me and all the meals are easy to prepare and require no more than 30 minutes in most cases. Watch the video for more details!

What I use:

Super Healthy Kids
Sunbasket Get $35 off your 1st delivery!

Mamas Making It Summit

A few weeks ago I got lucky and was given a free ticket to attend the 1st ever Mama’s Making it Summit. Thank you, My Domain! Here’s a recap of what went down, lessons learned and why I’m taking a break from colour pop lipsticks.
This is irrelevant, but I stood inches away from Jamie King and her skin was flawless. She was seriously glowing from the inside the way only the nicest, sweetest of humans can. Swoon.
There were several booths there sharing their products. Spiritual Gangster was dolling out custom embroidered millennial pink hats. (pssttt… if you like millennial pink as much as I do check this out!) I got a hat that that says ‘bethanimal’, but my favorite thing about the booth is that sign on the right. All the mama’s I met at the summit + the speakers are the most gangster women in LA.
Above is Natalie, moderator and founder of Fashion Mama’s speaking to Simone LeBlanc CEO of Simone LeBlanc, Ashleigh Dempster co-founder of Akid and Tylynn Nguyen designer at TyLynn Nguyen. All three women started their own companies because they saw a gap in the marketplace that needed to be filled. Ashleigh resonated with me the most because she started a kid’s shoe line after having a son a deciding that kid’s shoes were not that cute. Her husband is a sneaker head and luckily has some experience with factories so he set her up 3 years ago and she launched the business that sells kids shoes that look like they could be in Vogue.
Lunch is served. Can i be honest? This was my favorite part. I was so hungry after running out of the house without breakfast!
Okay, so even though I have never watched the Bachelorette, Ali Fedotowski was seriously cool. Like, I was attracted to her. She had such a good attitude and was really honest about monetizing her blog. Key lessons learned during this panel were primarily from her (probably because she is also a blogger) and they were:

  • Spend money on photos. She says she spends loads of money on her photos and she had recently shot 14 looks in one day changing in her car between shots.
  • Save money on clothes. She told us all that she returns most of what she buys and Nordstrom is her favorite place to shop.
  • Use rewardstyle for everything. She’s a top 25 publisher, so a bit of an outlier, but she only works with brands that are on reward style. This was if they don’t pay her a lot for the sponsored post she still makes commission.
  • Don’t devalue yourself. She calls it blogger devaluation when you accept an unpaid or in-kind job and it’s bad for you and the whole blogger ecosystem.
  • On that note, never give your rate first. Always ask the brand’s budget. This is a sales tactic I think many of us use, but when it comes to selling yourself, it can be difficult especially when it’s a brand we adore. I used to have creators taking product from luxury brands for exposure when they could have asked for thousands of dollars and got it.

Note, Ali mentioned that she asks other bloggers what they make to get a feel for the landscape. I’m not sure how accurate that will be or how much it will help of bloggers you know are devaluing themselves, but I had my partners use social blue book when I was a Partner Manager for fashion and beauty creators at YouTube. I also just heard about Dash Hudson which will tell brands which influencers will make them the most money. Could be a great resource to know your theoretical value to a brand.
My Domain was there taking headshots so I hopped on over to their not-suprisingly stylish set to have a professional photog capture my mug. When I showed up the photographer kindly let me know I had lipstick on my teeth. Yikes, I had JUST checked my teeth in the bathroom mirror because well, I often have lipstick / leafy greens all up on my grill. I was embarrassed so I gave them my smile of shame. Of course, I don’t like the picture, but there you have it internet.

Wearing color pop chandelier on my lips. I actually lost my tube that day and it was new. Luckily they’re only $6 and there’s one in my cart right now! Any other colors I should get?

All photos by @howlandrose courtesy of @fashionmamas

My Hair Extensions Experience [Hair Loss After Pregnancy]

what to do if you lose your hair after pregnancy
I recently went to a ‘mom’s night out’ and some of the mamas were asking me about my new ‘do.  While flattered (really, good hair is not something I pride myself on thanks to lack of time and propensity for frizz) I can’t take much credit because it was my friend and stylist Katie Carroll that hooked me up with my new-and-improved mane. Talking with many of the moms that night made me realize many of us had the same issue — hair loss after pregnancy. We just weren’t talking about it. Sure, we have a thousand (give or take a few) more important issues to discuss, but if you’ve ever experienced hair loss you might agree it’s tough to well, get out of your head.

To combat my hair loss after having our youngest, I tried a multitude of things. Some days the kitchen looked like a pharmacy meets chemist lab with Viviscal, Biotin and DIY yogurt, avocado, name-that-trendy-oil hair masks strewn about. I don’t want to say none of them worked, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted as quickly as I wanted them so I turned to Katie for tape in hair extensions, cut and color. Now I am wondering why I didn’t go sooner. Oh yeah, she’s in AZ! (Insert sad face). If you happen to be on the Phoenix area, her contact info is below. 🙂 If you’ve ever thought about getting extensions, watch my video because I’m breaking it all down for you!

Find Katie on Instagram and if you’re in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, I couldn’t recommend her enough for cuts, color or extensions. She’s done them all for me over the years and left me happy. Her contact info is in her Instagram profile. 🙂