Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preparing for MARCELINE

Andy and I have been spending every night and every weekend finishing up our film, Marceline. The film is about Walt Disney’s ties to his boyhood home, as well as the town and its people. This is what has been consuming every non working hour of every day and why I haven’t been posting too much on here. 

Andy began work on this film five years ago when we still lived in southern California. The idea came on our first trip to Marceline in December of 2006. Being avid Disney fans, Andy and I decided we needed to visit Marceline, especially since we would already be visiting his family for Christmas just an hour and half away.  

Though we arrived on a cold, dreary afternoon, and although the shops and museum were mostly all closed already for the day, we could still feel the magic of this incredible little town. We visited the barn near Walt’s dreaming tree. Inside the barn they had markers and people had scribbled messages and notes all over the walls. You could really see how much Disney means to so many people just reading those notes. We found the perfect place to scribble our note, right above the door and we knew what we wanted it to say; “Here you leave today and enter the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” the same note that is inscribed above the tunnels that go under the railroad and lead out to Main St. USA at Disneyland. But we forgot exactly the order in which the inscription was written. Andy and I are very big on accuracy, so we called Disneyland (yes, I keep Disneyland on speed dial) from that spot in the barn. The cast member that answered couldn’t remember what it said either. He put us on hold and went down to Main St. to check for us! I don’t think I’ll ever forget about that moment on our first trip to Marceline.

We knew we had to capture this town on film. Andy decided to head out there with our friend Frank while I was in school. Andy spent nearly two months filming Marceline and its people and then he came back to California and went back to school and back to work. A year and half later we moved to Columbia, Missouri and began making regular trips to Marceline to film or visit the new friends we had made. We finally had enough footage to begin editing.

Editing can be a really long process. Especially when you have 25 hours of footage and the editors already have full time jobs… It has taken a really long time to get to the point we are at right now. The film is nearly complete. We are just now in the process of adding a few finishing touches.

During the making of this film Andy and I moved 5 times, got engaged, graduated from college, got married, and had our daughter, Lilly Belle (she is named for Walt Disney’s private train car, The Lilly Belle, which Walt named after his wife, Lillian- yes, we are Disney FREAKS). It’s been a long journey to get to the point we are at right now.

I am so excited for the people of Marceline to see this film (and nervous too!) The film premieres in just three weeks during Marceline’s Toonfest weekend at the historic Uptown Theater.  There will be a pretty fun and exciting party afterwards- at which point I think we will finally be able to relax!

Toonfest is a fabulous FREE festival celebrating the art of cartooning held annually in Marceline. They have guest artists come from around the world and speak about what they do. There’s a parade, food, games, a princess tea party and a pirate treasure hunt, a dreaming tree celebration and so much more! I recommend that any fan of Walt Disney or Cartooning visit Marceline, especially during Toonfest.

Marceline will premiere on Friday September 16th, 8PM at the historic Uptown Theater in Marceline, Missouri. Andy and I will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening.

There will be an encore screening Sunday September 18th at 2PM at the Uptown Theater. Andy and I will also be at this screening and available for a Q&A after the film.

Did I mention both screenings are FREE!?
Above: In front of Walt Disney Elementary School during my second trip to Marceline in 2007
Above: With Kaye Malins at Toonfest 2008
Below: Trace Jennings, me, Andy, & Walt Disney World Ambassador, Sara 
Above: Trace Jennings, me, & Andy in front of City Hall, Marceline MO
Below: Artwork for our film, Marceline, drawn by Jason Zucker

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Ok, my confidence has been shaken. One of the women who I believe is an incredible mother and all around amazing person made a very valid comment about the way I feel about letting Lilly cry herself to sleep. I kept thinking about it all afternoon and evening until now when I couldn't take it anymore I had to write something. First off this is what she wrote: 

"Sorry, but we completely disagree with the idea of letting a baby cry it out for any prolonged period of time. Of course every parent has to do what they have to do, I suppose, but it has been proven time and again that babies cry for a reason, even if you cannot figure out the reason. It had been said that it may cause emotional detachment and a sense of abandonment, especially in newborns/infants. Strongly dislike, we NEVER did this with [our daughter] :("

Then here is what happened... We pickedLilly up from daycare and she grabbed something out of nother little girls hand, which caused the other little girl to fall over and cry! I thought OH GOD! my daughter is a bully! Mel was right! We shouldn't have let her cry it out! Lilly might feel like we have abandoned her. We may have ruined her life. She isn't going to grow up to be a well adjusted adult after all...

But then I thought back to the time that we let Lilly cry it out. A time where I could feel my hair turning gray. A time where I cried a lot too. We just didn't know what to do. So I thought about it. We allowed Lilly to cry without comforting her for a total of five hours before she began to fall asleep on her own. It sounds like a long time, but those 5 hours were spread out over 4 days. Just to be fair I'll tack two hours on to that to add up any other time we may not have been able to go to her right away. And we didn't just let her cry all day long. Every other time of day that she cried we would run to her and rock her and hold her. Could these seven hours have ruined her life? Did these seven hours make her feel abandoned? Does she not like us? Is this why she throws tantrums sometimes? 

Maybe. But I really think she throws tantrums because she is a toddler and we told her she can't run around holding a pen, or that she shouldn't rub the bluray disc back and forth on the brick hearth. 

I'm pretty sure she does love us because she lights up when we walk into a room (an incredible feeling). She runs to us and hugs us and kisses us almost as much as we hug and kiss her. Her life doesn't seem ruined. But is this one of those things where the effects won't begin to surface until she is older?

Every night before, during, and after we let her "cry it out" I would bathe her, feed her, rock her and read her a story.  I was trying to get her into the routine and spend some quality mommy and Lilly time together. Now, for our own personal reasons, I was only able to take two weeks off of work. I had just had a C-section that I did not want to have- wich by the way is kind of like major surgery- I was in a lot of pain and I was tired. Lilly would scream all night long and then I would go to work. I am beginning to cry right now just remember how truly awful this time was...

I remember walking around the house holding her, bouncing with her, rocking her, feeding her, and just feeling really sad that she was soooo unhappy. I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted the house to be clean. I just wanted to take a shower. 

Andy and I both began feeling really angry and screaming at one another. Both of us just needed sleep. We both had to go to work the next day. We didn't know what to do. We were both angry zombies and we got to the point where we just couldn't do it anymore. The first night that we let her "cry it out" was less a conscience decision to let her "cry it out", more out of necessity of needing to get at least 3 hours sleep instead of just the one or two and to distance ourselves briefly from the source of our anger and frustration.  The second night we thought hey we will do this just one more night. and then she cried for less time and we thought maybe she will cry for less time tomorrow! And what do you know? It worked. Within a few weeks we had managed to catch up on sleep and begin to truly enjoy being the parents of the best little girl in the world. 

I am glad to hear my friends opinion. I may not have gotten so upset over all this had Lilly not taken that book away form the other child at daycare. I am glad that not everyone does things this way. Every child and situation is different and we don't love Lilly any less. Maybe when and if we have another child this will not be the right way to handle things. I feel better now having written this. I wrote it more for myself. I was feeling like I need justification. But I don't really. This is my opinion and this is how we decided raise Lilly and that is our choice. I do think that this works. In most cases I would say you should wait to let them cry it out until they are older (the child in the original scenario was six months old), but we were desperate. 

My First Bit Of Advice As A Mother!

I just read something that really annoyed me. Someone on Yahoo Answers asked how long they should let their baby cry after they have put them down for sleep, wondering if one, two, or three hours was ok. There were 9 answers. 8 of them appeared to be from the same person who wrote answers like (I did not correct their spelling, grammar or punctuation purely for your enjoyment):

Uh I'm all for self settling and letting baby cry for a few minutes but an hour? Give me a break. This has to be a bull**** post, no mother would let their child cry that long surely! If this is for real you really need to get him up and comfort him. If he cries too long he'll just get so worked up he'll never goto sleep.

 “thats disgusting an hour?? i hope this is fake...i dont let my baby cry it out. i had him for a reason.

And my favorite; “Shame on you for letting your helpless baby cry for over an HOUR!! Your sick and twisted. You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!

The person who answered this post not only set out to make the curious parent feel like a monster, but has no clue how to raise a well adjusted, happy baby. “You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!”? Really? Is it even possible to pick your child up before they’ve cried for a whole minute every time? I’m pretty sure it’s not. A baby will not spontaneously combust if it cries for more than a minute. He will not grow up feeling neglected and unloved.

I am so happy for you that you have a child that must not cry very much, lady. That you must never have felt that deep frustration and anger I have felt after listening to my poor child scream for hours, trying everything when nothing worked. I am no expert, (I cannot stress this enough) but if this is the parenting style you choose to continue, your child will no doubt be an obnoxious spoiled brat. A well adjusted adult will be able to soothe himself after a disappointing day. He will understand that sometimes we don’t get our way and be able to deal with that. A child who is comforted for every little thing will not grow up to be a well adjusted adult and a parent who drops everything at the sound of a whimper will be stressed and tired.

Lilly had a lot of trouble sleeping for her first two and half months. She cried and cried all night long for several nights in a row. We changed her, fed her, checked to see if she was hot or cold or uncomfortable in any way, made sure she wasn’t sick.  We tried swaddling her (which she actually HATED) and changed her position in the crib. We rocked her, read to her and gave her several drops of Mylicon. Nothing worked. Eventually Andy and I had reached a level of frustration and anger no person should experience, but a level I am sure every parent reaches at some point. The doctor had told us not to let her cry for more than an hour at time. “But WHY?” we asked. We asked several parents and pediatricians and not one gave us an answer that was better than “You just shouldn’t!”

We decided that if they couldn’t give us a legitimate reason why we shouldn’t let her cry after we had tried everything else, we would let her cry it out. The next time we got to that point, that point where we could have screamed in poor little Lilly’s face, that point where instead of screaming in Lilly’s face we screamed at each other, slammed doors, and threw, with great force, any object that might have gotten in our way, that instead we would put Lilly in her crib, close our bedroom door, and let her cry it out. At this point it seemed absolutely necessary for all of our well beings that we just walk away from the baby in the crib. We aren’t bad people, we aren’t monsters, we love our little Lilly Belle with all our hearts, but several weeks straight of sleeping no more than an hour or two each night and working all day has a very scary effect on people. We weren’t ourselves.   

The first night we left Lilly to cry, she cried for at least two hours before she finally fell asleep. We were scared and nervous. The crying just didn’t seem to let up. Should we go to her? What should we do?  But we decided that we would just wait it out no matter how long she cried.

The second night she only cried for an hour. For a couple more nights after that she cried for an hour before falling asleep. Then, one magical night, she fell asleep after crying for only 20 minutes! I remember that feeling of relief and our celebratory high five. We fell asleep and the next morning we didn’t wake up until . We turned Lilly’s baby monitor all the way up and didn’t hear a peep. OH GOD! She must be dead we thought. We raced upstairs and I put my hand on her chest. “She’s still breathing” I whispered to Andy feeling a little confused. We very quickly and quietly tip toed out of her room and closed the door. We were in complete disbelief! She slept all night long! She didn’t cry once! Will she do it again? She did. Every night she cried for about 10 minutes and then fell right to sleep!

Lilly is now 19 months old and she likes to go to bed. She enjoys hugging her little blanket. We put a couple of books in there and she has a soother that lights up and projects pictures onto the ceiling, which she knows how to turn on herself. Sometimes we peek in on her and find her reading her books by the light of her soother. She knows when she is tired to put the books down and go to sleep (how she learned that part, I have no idea). Most nights we put her down and don’t hear a peep out of her. Sometimes she cries for a few minutes, but she knows how to soothe herself and how to entertain herself and these are invaluable skills for a one and half year old, or for any age for that matter. They have kept both Andy and I sane and happy people. Allowing her to "cry it out" was the best thing we ever did (other then have her in first place!)

Lilly knows we love her. We shower her with hugs and kisses and tell her we love her at least twelve times daily. She is happy and not the least bit neglected. I think we did the right thing. It was right for us. Not everyone can handle all that crying and screaming from their poor helpless infant. Many people have more patience than we did. Good for them. But I am here to tell you that if you are like me and like Andy and you can’t take it anymore, it is OK to let your child cry it out! They will not explode, or die, or grow up to feel neglected (at least not when they grow to 19 months, we have no experience past that time-yet). In the end you will be helping them learn to self soothe, an important life skill. 

Below: A few of Lilly's crying moments... and a sleeping one!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Number 2: Learn To Swim

Concentration; It’s why I didn’t learn to swim when I was five and my mother sent me to a very expensive day camp. Not my concentration, while that was definitely part of it, that wasn’t the reason. I mean the, um, what would you call it? A game? “Crack an egg on your head let the yoke drip down, let the yoke drip down…” Do any of you know what I am talking about? (See below for explanation if you don’t).

Anyway, instead of wanting to jump in to the frigid pool for an hour each day for swim lessons, I preferred to sit on my Tropicana Orange Juice towel, which my mother or grandmother no doubt got for free for saving all the proofs of purchase, and would play concentration along with the other non swimmers. I think of this “game” now and it’s really ridiculously pointless. But back then we thought it was the coolest thing. I went to this day camp for at least three summers in a row, everyday attending swim lessons. And everyday I refused to learn how to swim.

Summer camp was not my first time refusing swim lessons.

Four years earlier my mother took me to mommy and me swim class. Being that we lived on the beach with the Atlantic Ocean in our backyard, swim lessons must have seemed like a fabulous idea. My mother took me to the first few classes where I screamed my head off for a while before she finally gave up.

So now I am 27 years old and I can’t swim. Don’t get me wrong I can tread water for at least 20 minutes at time (I know because I’ve timed myself at the gym), longer if my life depended on it. I can easily get from place to place in the pool, but I am tired of looking like a golden retriever doggie paddling with my head above the water. It looks especially ridiculous when I swim laps at the gym next to people with swim caps and goggles who can complete 6 laps in the time it takes me to get to the end of the lane.

Lilly is 19 months old now and loves the water. I am of course going to want her to learn to swim. How can I expect her to learn if I never have? Soon she’ll be saying, “Mommy, you can’t go play in the pool without me because you can’t swim and I can!”  Plus swimming is just one of those basic life saving skill things I should just know how to do by now. Being an adult that can’t swim honestly makes me feel kind of stupid. So this is why I want to learn.

It’s funny that I have a husband who I’ve known now for over six years, who is an incredibly strong swimmer and I still haven’t learned, not that he hasn’t tried to teach me. He just assumed (and rightfully so) that since I am an adult in my twenties I would catch on much faster than say, a five year old. Unfortunately when it comes to anything involving rhythmic breathing I can’t seem to be able to do two things at once. In fact, at the gym, when I lift weights or use the machines, Andy has to constantly remind me to breath. Breathing out under water, in out of the water, turning my head, kicking my legs, moving my arms… it is just a lot to be able to do at once.

Andy and I have been going to the gym for six and half week’s straight now, nearly everyday (I’ve lost 8 pounds so far- he’s lost 35-uhhhh, but don’t get me started on that…). Last week instead of hitting up the treadmill and the machines as usual, Andy decided he would teach me to swim.... More than once that evening he referred to my swimming attempts as that of a “drunk mental patient” (the same term he used to describe my first person shooter abilities while playing Call Of Duty). I am sure I swallowed more water than a small child would while learning to swim (I burped up what tasted like chlorine at least twice that evening- gross I know). However I did begin to get the hang of it. I had trouble opening my eyes under water and then lifting my head out of the water because, for some reason, my first instinct was to then close my eyes when out of the water and this kept messing up my breathing causing me to reverse and swallow large amounts of water. So I kept my eyes closed and swam into the wall at least four times. All in all I made some progress. More than I ever had before. I think the reason for that is because this time, I was really determined.

The following night I went swimming at the gym by myself with some goggles. Being by myself suddenly made me really aware of all the other people at the pool watching me, a grown woman, struggle with trying to swim (and even worse, get overly giddy when I did something  right)- I am sure many of the other swimmers were questioning my mental abilities at this point, but I had to just forget about it and not care. The goggles really helped! I stopped worrying about opening and closing my eyes and about swimming into the wall. I made it all the way across the pool twice (so one lap, but not consecutively). My only problem was I then got so excited that I actually did it that I began smiling and forgot to breath…

I am almost there. I think a few more weeks working on it at the gym and I should have it down. I am glad I have gotten over the feeling stupid part because I can’t swim. Lots of adults can’t swim. I couldn’t possibly be the only one out there. And if I am, then soon the world will be rid of all non-swimming adults. Then my work here will be done.

Above: Age 5, being helped by my grandfather Louis, the one Lilly is named for, at my Aunt Hope's pool.
Below: Age 7, still with water wings, at Ed and Ariella Angert's pool. Seven and still wearing "water wings" and for some reason holding an umbrella...
Above: Age 10 after swimming at my Aunt Randee & Uncle Mike's pool. Uncle Mike would always throw me into the pool. I hated that. It certainly did not help me want to learn how to swim.
Below: Last summer with Lilly (age 7 mos) having a night swim at the condo pool.

Above: At the Dead Sea in Israel this past January. So much fun to be able to just sit there and float... No swimming required!
Below: This summer "swimming" with Lilly (18 mos) at the condo pool.  

Let's pretend you're doing this on somebody named Shaniqua (why Shaniqua? I don't know): Ask her to close her eyes and throughout whatever you're saying, tell her to think of her favorite color, unless it's black. It can't be black.

Crack an egg on your head (slap her head)
Let the yolk drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Concentrate, Concentrate. (say this while tapping your hands on her shoulders)
People are dying
Children are crying

Concentrate, Concentrate
Stick some pins in your back, (poke her back with all your fingers simultaneously) Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Stick a knife in your back, (make a fist and gently punch her back with the part of your fist with the thumb and forefinger)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Okay, you're at the empire state building, way at the top. You're walking, walking, walking... Suddenly you hear someone call your name. (Call Shaaaaaniiiiqua.... in one ear, then the other) You look up(angle her head up), down(angle her head down), side(turn her head to one side), to side (then the other). No one there. You keep walking. Then you hear it again(call Shaaaaaniiiqua... again). You look up down, side, to side (whole tilting thing again). No one's there. You keep walking. Look, you've reached the edge of the building. look, there's cars below you, can you see them, way down there? Your name again, but you ignore it. Suddenly you feel a PUSH(push her so she steps forward, but not hard enough to push her down)! Ask her what color she thought of and which one she saw when she got pushed. 

When they open their eyes they’re supposed to see the color they were think of… I think it only works if you were thinking of red.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I am very happy to report that MY EYEBROW IS BACK! That sure was fast. Revitabrow really does work! Imagine that.

I haven't really had time to keep up with my goals over the last month. I cannot believe it's August already. Over the past month I spent time at the lake with some friends, helped an Aunt move from Kansas City to Columbia, have been editing a documentary, and have begun work on the Citizen Jane Film Festival. It's been an incredibly busy month.

One awesome goal related thing is that, thanks to my awesome sister, I am going to be taking a knitting class at a place called True Blue Fiber Friends here in Columbia. I wonder if I can consider that satisfying my "Learn to Knit" and my "Take a Crafting Class" goals? I guess I'll just have to see how satisfied I feel after the class.

In other goal related news, I definitely like all kinds of sushi now. Andy and I took advantage of Jina Yoo's (an incredible local sushi restaurant) annual sushi buffet. It's a little expensive and you are only allowed one hour to consume all the sushi you possibly can, but so very worth it. Andy and I decided not to read the descriptions of the sushi, but to try a little of everything. There wasn't a single roll I didn't like. I must have wolfed down at least seven rolls of sushi. When we were finished I read some of the descriptions and could not believe some of the raw creatures I consumed. It was both delicious and terrifying. And to think I'd never even tried sushi just a few months ago. Jina Yoo's sushi is incredible.

I am hoping to begin working on sewing dresses for Lilly with my mutli-talented friend Monica, in the next few weeks or so... I am also hoping to post more often than I did last month.

Peace. (I don't know why I typed that).
Coming Soon: Pics Of My Brand New Eyebrow