It’s December 1st and the holiday season is officially underway. Today’s the day that many people break out their advent calendars and start the countdown to Christmas. Inspired by other advent calendars and the need to instill gratitude and giving thanks for my kids, I created a Gratitude and Giving Thanks Advent Printable Calendar.
I recognize that there are so many wonderful calendars floating around promoting kindness and the importance of the holiday season. I wanted to create something that would give my kids ownership for their actions. While I absolutely believe in the importance of acts of random kindness, I think showing gratitude and giving thanks is of equal importance.
We’ve done every kind of toy and candy calendar out there, but in my house, I think the significance of Advent got clouded by all the milk chocolate and daily gifts of tiny Legos. Gratitude is an extremely vital virtue that seems to be an afterthought in our age of entitlement. I curated acts of gratitude that can be done with the whole family throughout the entire holiday season.
I researched various organizations that are kid-friendly or that can help achieve the end result as described in the calendar. For the red underlined items I will provide the links to the organization’s website for addresses below. I think showing gratitude is a relevant act for the whole year, but for this calendar, I filled in suggestions until the end of the month.
If you’d like to print out this calendar, click here for a larger PDF of the file above. Feel free to share this printable!
I will be cutting out each day of the calendar to tuck into my kids’ Advent Calendar, right next to their little morsels of candy. I hope you join us on this journey of showing gratitude throughout the holiday season. If you do, be sure to share on Instagram and use #givethanksgiveback
While researching for this calendar, I found this especially thoughtful quote that moves me on so many levels.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
When it comes to music, we can only hope that we’re doing our best with influencing our kids’ taste and appreciation for great music. Thanks to stellar family games like Rock Band Rivals from Harmonix, we can rock out to both classic and current songs while instilling a stellar rock repertoire from one of the best music games series.
Rock Band 4 carries over the well-known drum, vocal and guitar games in a fun play back format. Players can choose a song to play and earn points collectively while sharpening their musical chops.
My guys and I had the chance to give Rock Band Rivals a spin in our own living room. Let’s just say that my kids were born ready to rock and have no problem performing on a stage, even if it’s just our living room.
A photo posted by Jen Rabulan-Bertram (@jenrab) onNov 20, 2016 at 6:48pm PST
Since most of the songs in the music library are classic hits, my older guy wasn’t familiar with the songs that I loved. The kids, of course, were familiar with the likes of modern pop hits from Imagine Dragon and Maroon 5. I, on the otherhand, could comfortably sing Elivs’ Suspicious Minds and R.E.M.’s The One I Love—by heart, no less.
The drum kit controller in the Rock Band Rivals set is user friendly and easy to set up. Each player was comfortable with playing the drums in Rock Band Rivals. We even brought out our own drum stool because we’re crazy like that. The guitar, styled like a sleek Fender, is cool and also easy to use.Though we found it hard to maneuver for smaller hands, those of us with more dexterity could strum the Fender like a rock boss. The instruments/controllers were seamless throughout the whole game. I especially loved how you could switch from bassist to guitarist from song to song. The microphone felt sturdy, yet basic. Obviously, as a component of the game, the microphone didn’t amplify as loudly as one would expect.
Overall, we enjoyed the different playing modes of Rock Band Rivals. Although we’re musically inclined, albeit a bit rusty, we appreciated the no fail mode since we have younger kids who needed a learning curve (as much as we did.) The music library, as previously mentioned, has a lot of great songs that I love, as well as great songs that my husband loves. Since I love pop and alternative and he listens mostly to country and classic rock, Rock Band Rivals complemented the whole family’s musical taste.
Though it took some time to familiarize ourselves, it was easy to read the screen in playmode. The different colors and areas for notes made it easy to follow, even for people who aren’t familiar with certain songs. There were so many great features that made this game especially more fluid as a family game. Each player could be assigned a different difficulty level. So, if one person was more advanced, and another was a beginner, each player was challenged just enough to make it enjoyable all around.
We also enjoyed the playlist selection, where we could answer a few questions and the game would help assign a playlist so that we could continuously jam out to said playlist. And speaking of jamming out, we all got a kick out of the rockers in the game. Each song had a different backdrop and band appearance. Some were more eclectic than the next.
The highlight of Rockband Rivals is that it could be played in various modes, which makes it truly engaging for the whole crew. You can perform through a rock documentary about your band in the campaign mode and join Crews to show off skills and battle opponents in challenges.
We spent hours trading places in Rock Band. For one song I’d be the singer, the next the guitarist, the next the drummer. My husband and the boys all loved taking turns playing the drums.
My older son decided he loved the bass more than the guitar. He could feel the bass in the songs, which gave him a better understanding of the way music blends together. My younger guy, who is under the age bracket for Rock Band Rivals, had a fun time rocking out, even though he didn’t quite connect the dots.
Rock Band Rivals is a fun way to get the family together and rock out collectively. This latest iteration of Rock Band doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I can’t wait to check out the other songs available so that we can have more current songs for the kids to enjoy!
Rock Band Rivals is rated T for Teen and is available at major retailers. The Rock Band Rivals ($199) kit includes the drums, guitar, mic and game. Be on the lookout for great deals for the Holidays!
Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with KidzVuz and Harmonix. I was provided with a review unit and compensation to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.
The Holiday season is officially here, and what better way to kick it off than with friends and style. Last week, Momtrends hosted their annual Holiday Soiree, where, together with fellow bloggers and editors, I got a glimpse of some stylish gifts and entertaining ideas.
Nambe offers a beautiful selection of gifts, including place settings, serving ware, jewelry and so much more. As a major silver fan, I fell in love with several of the rings. What I loved about Nambe’s offerings was that they look highend, yet at an attainable price range. I have this fun ring on my wish list!
Arizona Teas shared an array of 100% natural Good Brew teas. I kept going back for the delicious Lemon tea and Peach tea. The fresh taste of these teas are ideal for those who like iced tea all year round.
Avery as a perpetual DIYer, I loved absolutely everything that Avery was showcasing at the Soiree. While I loved the funny emoji labels that use the circle tags, I also love those square labels and gift tags. I plan on doing several DIY projects to showcase here on the blog, so keep your eye open for those fun gems.
Mabel’s Labels is another one of my all-time faves and staples. Mabel’s Labels are the preeminent brand in personalized labels, so it’s no surprise that they have personalized gifts covered too. I’m definitely eyeing those personalized books. My little guy loves Paw Patrol, so we’ll have to ask Santa for those fun books. The stocking stuffer label set are my faves. I decided that I’m going to use those as labels for my nephews this year. Fun and functional!
American Girl Doll has a beautiful lineup of classic dolls. Wellie Wishers are a popular segment that features a diverse cast of sweet dolls. I personally fell in love with the Asian doll, Emerson. Like the other gorgeous Wellie Wishers, Emerson is a lower price point at just $60.
Avon always has a fantastic variety of makeup and other beauty products to pamper yourself or to save for gifts. Aside from Avon’s gorgeous palettes, these wonderful products are a great option for a home-based business. I loved learning how some people sell Avon to offset school expenses and other expenses.
Armigami is a glamorous multi-function shawl that comes in a variety of fabrics and textures. It can be worn as a shawl over the shoulders, a cape, a bolero, a skirt and so much more. This unique shawl would be ideal for nights on the town to traveling to use in lieu of a blanket or coat. I was so fortunate to win the gorgeous black sequined Armigami which I can’t wait to wear to my community holiday party!
I loved learning about Pearhead, a fun gift company that offers so many unique novelties, many of which can be personalized. In addition to baby handprint gift sets, Pearhead offers pet gifts, ornaments, fun signs and even photo prop sets, which we had a blast trying out ourselves!
A photo posted by Jen Rabulan-Bertram (@jenrab) onNov 15, 2016 at 7:17pm PST
A big thank you to Nicole and the rest of the Momtrends crew for throwing another fabulous Holiday Soiree! Thank you to the sponsors for the generous gift bag, many of which were mentioned. Keep your eye out for my gift guide which will feature more items from these companies.
Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit the set of Kevin Can Wait, CBS’ new hit comedy starring Kevin James and Erinn Hayes. As a longtime Kevin James fan, I was so thrilled to get a closer look at what it takes to make this funny new show and to hear the stars thoughts on the story, upcoming episodes and much more.
Just an hour outside of Manhattan, Kevin Can Wait is filmed at Goldcoast Studios in Bethpage, NY. The show’s premise revolves around James’ character, a middle aged, newly retired cop who is excited about finally focusing on himself, after years of working long hours protecting others. Much to his dismay, Kevin’s focus on himself quickly shifts to everyone else, including his kids’ various needs.
James plays a lovable, yet flawed and extremely relatable Kevin. His counterpart, Donna, played by Erinn Hayes, is a likable working mom hoping to find her own balance. Together, their chemistry and storylines make for a comical portrayal of a middle class family and enduring the highs and lows of life.
Our Q&A was hosted by accomplished director and equally funny Andy Fickman. Fickman read our questions to Kevin and Erinn, while interjecting his own commentary in between. We learned about how Kevin grew up in Long Island, and how his character is based off of one of his friends. Erinn shared that she, herself, is a working mom whose family is still on the west coast. She relates to the juggle and trying to make it work.
I’ve participated in another junket with Kevin James, and just as one would suspect, he is just as funny as the characters he portrays. He’s obviously not as physical and bumbling as his comedy; he carries himself professionally and is a much more subdued person than the silly characters we know. I had no idea that he is a father of 4, but as always, I enjoyed chatting about how he loves the Mets.
Since we have baseball on the brain with the World Series going on, one of my questions had to do with the Mets. I said, since your love for the Mets is like a secondary character in your films and shows, will there be a Mets cameo on Kevin Can Wait?
Photo credit: CBS Television
As soon as I asked this question, it’s as if the Mets heard me over in Flushing and revealed a teaser of none other than Noah Syndergaard dressed up as a Viking on the Kevin Can Wait set. So, tonight, in time for Halloween, beloved pitcher, Syndergaard, who is also nicknamed ‘Thor’ will have a cameo as a Viking who has an altercation with Chale, Kevin’s daughter’s fiancé. When I told my husband and sons this news, I think they squealed louder than I did!
I’ll have more to share from my Q&A and set tour, but for now don’t forget to tune in tonight to check out the crazy shenanigans on Kevin Can Wait. Kevin Can Wait airs on Mondays at 8pm on CBS.
Full disclosure: I was invited to participate in this set tour and Q&A. I received a stipend for my participation. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.
Like so many of you, I’m very brand-loyal, especially when it comes to products for my kids and gifts for friends and family’s kids. Tommee Tippee for years has been a mainstay in our home. From bottles to feeding supplies, we’ve always used tommee tippee products because they’ve worked for us. I even searched the archives for a baby Josh wearing a Comfi Neck Bib.
Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature Comfi Neck Bibs are just some of the many feeding products that I’ve always used for my babies, and they’re staples for baby shower gifts. I love the soft texture of these bibs which are 80% cotton and 20% polyester. They’re soft and suitable for sensitive skin, which is something I always appreciated.
The newer line of Comfi Neck Bibs are reversible, which gives the bibs a little splash of color and style and added functionality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to flip over bibs to extend the wear because it’s all I had in my diaper bag.
Speaking of functionality, the cushioned neck—hence the Comfi part—are such a smart feature for bibs. Both of my babies were major dribblers, so whether they were being bottle-fed or breast-fed, their dribbles were absorbed before dripping to their neck. The easy velcro fasteners are soft and subtle; it works quietly when it counts.
There are several colors and styles to choose from in the Comfi-Neck Bib line. The Comfi-Neck Bibs can be found at major retailers where Tommee Tippee products are sold.
Full disclosure: I was provided a sample and compensation to provide this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.
A mysterious and surreal tale that celebrates peculiarity and the power of friendship, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hits theaters on September 30. The film, directed by the illustrious Tim Burton and based on the best selling novel by Ransom Riggs, left me enchanted and wanting more of this incredible story. It was a vivid portrayal of good vs. evil and how finding your true self is just as important as making and creating lifelong friends.
When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is.
This week, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a few roundtables with Ransom Riggs, the bestselling author of Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Colleen Atwood, the costume designer for the film and several stars of the film.
I enjoyed hearing what Ransom Riggs had to say on what seeing his book created into a film by Tim Burton.
Well, it helps when the person changing it is a director you’ve looked up to for 25 years. So, you know, if it had been anyone else, I might have been more nervous. But, I think also, I went to grad film school and I’m a total film nerd, and I’ve written screenplays that no one is going to buy or anything like that.But I’ve dabbled enough to–I think to have a good perspective on how much work needs to be done and adaptation to make it a genuinely satisfying cinema experience that stands alone as a movie. So, I totally respect that. And, yes, I don’t watch the movie and go what about this? What about that? I just try and remove myself as the author and say, “Am I enjoying this as a movie?” And, yes, absolutely, I think it works so well.
Because the film was set in modern day and then went back in a time warp, the costumes helped depict the story in such an eloquent way. Colleen Atwood had a unique task to create timeless and elegant costumes for this unique cast.
On her inspiration behind Miss Peregine’s beautiful look for the film:
Well, the main thing that, that Eva Green [Miss Peregrine] and I talked about was having the costume sort of have some kind of quality that was birdlike without saying I’m a bird. So she has such an amazing shape. I mean she has an amazing physique so she lends herself to that sort of slim kind of goth middle and the kind of pointy shoulder. She was a little bit pointy as a character. So, we kind of did those instead of doing a puff sleeve we did the points on her sleeves. I didn’t really want to put her in a black costume. I really badly wanted it to not be black, and, and I found this amazing piece of navy blue, navy blue wool crepe which is what I ended up making the costume on. And, then I sponged into it a little bit with a little bit of green and some other colors, like how feathers reflect different colors. So, you really probably don’t see it in the film in the sense. It only just keeps it from being a really flat surface to photograph. It makes it more interesting photographically, and inside her shoulders there is a little inset. There’s a box pleat. There’s a feather that’s embroidered in a metallic and silk thread that sort of–I like how animals in nature sometimes they have a little piece of color or something that’s sort of bright that their own species catch but other people don’t catch, and then sort of that was my inspiration for that in her costume. And, I wanted to make her long – her things are all pointed kind of like feathers, and her jacket goes down in a little V in the back that, that kind of helps sell bird a little bit without being too aggressively birdlike.
We also had the chance to talk to several of the actors from the film. Varying in age and experience, these young actors were all so well spoken and so some thoughtful things to say about their work on the film. We interviewed Asa Butterfield (Jake), Ella Purnell (Emma), Lauren McCrostie (Olive) and Finlay MacMillan (Enoch).
On their key takeaway from being in the film, Asa Butterfield said:
You make a lot of good friends in a film, with every film you do, because you’re working so closely with people for a long amount of time. You get close, and you’ve made these friends, and you probably, hopefully, going to know for the rest of your life.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in in theaters September 30. Be sure to catch this amazing film!
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, with Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson Directed By: Tim Burton Rated PG-13
Full disclosure: I was invited by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporationto participate in this roundtable. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a Curious George fan. I can still remember my librarian in elementary school reading to us from a well-loved hard back copy of Curious George. Curious George and his many adventures have grown with me, and I’m so happy to see that he’s grown with my boys as well.
Lucky us, the Curious George exhibit is back at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, and it’s fantastic. The Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit features everyone’s favorite curious monkey and the The Man in the Yellow Hat.
The exhibit, which is at LSC for a four month engagement, celebrates the 75th anniversary of George’s debut. The exhibit embraces several educational concepts in science, math and engineering and geared to the preschool and grade school contingent.
What to See and Do
Upon entering the exhibit, you’re greeted by a picturesque cityscape background reminiscent of the iconic Curious George books. At the Apartment Building, kids can operate wheels and pulleys and the climb up the fire escape and then experiment with color, light and shadow.
The Space Rocket welcomes the littlest space explorers for an Outer Space Adventure. The slide down is a favorite feature, and one that we found ourselves doing the most.
The Sidewalk Produce Stand reminded us of a little street vendor or bodega. The kids had fun playing cashier and shopper and taking turns (somewhat) and interacting with other children. The produce stand gives kids a chance to explore shape, sorting, weighing and counting with fruits and veggies.
The kids visited a little farm to pretend play with small animals and explore wind power, windsocks and whirligigs. My little guy had fun opening and closing the little chicken coop and making the piggies smooch each other!
The golf area was a fun way for the kids to learn cause and effect with physics, and engineering, while exploring with pipes, ramps and funnels.
The Construction Site was another fun station where kids enjoyed climbing into the trailer and exploring different building materials. Both guys had a fun time operating the conveyor belt and sorting bricks and trying to work together. This spot got pretty hectic at times, but it worked well when all the kids were taking turns.
My Little guy stopped in his tracks when he spotted a full-size Curious George in the City Park. He planted a big smooch and hug on George before running off to check out the Park’s busywall activities.
My personal favorite of the entire exhibit was the Museum Within the Museum. There were many historical posters and literature on display, including the manuscript’s escape from Europe during WWII.
I loved learning about the historical timeline behind this beloved character. I also got a big kick out of all the little kids playing with the retro landline phone on the desk—perhaps something they don’t see enough in the time of iPhones and smart phones.
Curious George at LSC
My preschooler and third grader had a wonderful time exploring; we quite honestly could’ve stayed there all day. There are enough features in this exhibit to entertain the kids for an hour or two. While a majority of the activities are geared to toddlers and preschoolers, my older son had fun interacting with the conveyor belt and helping his brother with certain aspects.
LSC remains one of our family’s favorite NJ museums, and Let’s Get Curious exhibit is a complement to the 12 museum exhibition halls, live animal collection, aquariums, 3D theater and their huge IMAX Dome Theater. Whether you’re in NYC, NJ or elsewhere, Liberty Science Center is worth the drive for a fun day of science and exploration.
Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! will be at the Liberty Science Center form September 17, 2016 until January 8, 2017. This super fun exhibit is included in general admission tickets ($21.75 for adults and $17.75 for children 2-12)
And in partnership with Liberty Science Center, we are giving away a 4 pack of tickets for you and your family to enjoy. Enter below for a chance to win!
As Biggie starts to get older, he’s been expressing a lot of interest in blogging and taking a more active role on The Next Kid Thing. J has often been the subject of my posts, not to mention a key reviewer, so it’s fun to help him take on these new responsibilities. Because of J’s obsession with Nerf, I gave him a job to write a post and recap his summer. Fun barely scrapes the surface—it was a phenomenal summer with memories to last a lifetime! And without further ado, I give you J’s first blog post:
This summer was the best! I live in a lake community, and we spend almost ever day outside and play fun games such as Nerf guns. I got to play with all of my friends with Nerf guns every day. Besides swimming and playing on the sand, that’s all I did and I loved it.
This summer I had a Nerf war I could not wait. It was a bunch of fun. We had target practice and capture the flag.
In the battle, I used a Doomlands Lawbringer and got a lot of my friends. I thought capture the flag was fun because we used cardboard boxes as walls. Even when we’re not at our lake, we have fun with our Nerf Guns. We had a Nerf battle where most of us had vests.
I also got a bunch of Nerf guns—they are so BIG! A neighbor who was moving gave us a bunch of classic Nerf guns. My dad, brother and I have fun shooting each other. Sometimes, my dog gets scared of our Nerf guns.
Now that summer is over, I will always remember this as the endless summer of Nerf!
Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Nerf guns and gear are supported by this boy’s obsession and our own checkbook.
We’re a week into the new school year, and so far, so good. Since we’re all about gear and gadgets that make life easier, I thought I’d share just a few favorite lunch box gear & goodies that have gotten our school year off to a great start!
Genuine Thermos Brand
Probably half of my lunch box gear is Genuine Thermos Brand simply because these products work well and are durable. The Dual Lunch Kit in teal is replacing a branded Thermos lunch box that we’ve had for a few years. We’re loving this lunch kit because the dual compartments make for great space while not over complicating it. The side mesh pouch is perfect for a small water bottle or even a banana. The little pocket with a zipper is great for ice cream money.
The Funtainer Food Jar is another staple in our lunch box. The boys love the licensed characters, especially Star Wars; I personally love the versatility of the food jar. I’ve packed spaghetti, salad, mac & cheese and oatmeal, but Little’s absolute favorite lunch that I pack for him in the food jar are easy chicken fajitas (more like nuggets) with tortillas on the side. I’ll have to devote a whole post on different ideas on what to pack in these fun containers.
I used to waste money on juiceboxes, until I came to my senses. Genuine Thermos Brand Funtainer Bottles are a must for kids who have outgrown sippy cups. The ease of washing the straw pieces, lid and stainless Funtainer Bottle make bringing milk/juice/water to school that much easier.
GoGo SqueeZ Yogurtz
We’ve been longtime fans of GoGo SqueeZ, but after being introduced to their new Yogurtz line earlier this summer, we’re officially smitten. These shelf-stable yogurt packs come in three delicious flavors: banana, berry and strawberry. GoGo SqueeZ Applesauces have been some of our go-to travel snacks, so I’m glad we have another option. These convenient yogurt packs are so easy to pop into the lunch box or throw in my bag for after school snacks. And, as if we don’t love GoGo SqueeZ enough, it was recently revealed that GoGo SqueeZ was named the official applesauce for Disney World and Disneyland.
GoGo squeeZ is the presenting sponsor of allrunDisney Kids Races, a fun way to engage kids early in healthy activities as part of Disney’s race weekends. The brand is also a sponsor of the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and of all Disney Social Media Moms Celebrations.
Hummus is such a versatile snack, I love including it in the kids’ lunch box. Sabra makes it super easy with their single packs. The classic flavor hummus is a great complement for veggies, pitas, pretzels and crackers. Sabra also has individual packs of guacamole, which adds lunch quesadillas and chips.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
I’m slightly obsessed with Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars because of the great ingredients, great taste and better nutritional offerings than similar bars. Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are non-GMO, cholesterol-free, dairy free, kosher, whole wheat, and the now have gluten-free bars. While apple is my personal favorite, we’ve been known to have a box of blueberry fig bars in our car since we’re constantly on the go.
Sneaky Chef No Nut Butter
Like many students, my preschooler cannot bring nut products for lunch. Though Sunbutter has been an option, it’s nice to have other alternatives onhand. We recently had the chance to taste No Nut Butter from Sneaky Chef. This delicious option is creamy and is made entirely of peas. So, not only is it a great alternative to peanut butter, it also has veggies! While I don’t typically hide ingredients, I did find this No Nut Butter a fun way to include veggies in my kids’ sandwiches. My little guy love dipping carrot and celery sticks in the No Nut Butter. It’s been an overall hit in our house! I’m currently working on a couple of recipes to keep things interesting. I’ll be sure to share!
Nalgene Lunch Buddy
Nalgene, the maker of the incredibly durable water bottles, now makes a great lunch box. The Lunch Buddy is a lunch box that has a convenient outer case. I love the Lunch Buddy because I can easily pack my guy’s lunch and just strap it together. My 4yo can easily open and close it, which makes it ideal for preschoolers and younger grade schoolers. I love that I can just throw the lunch box into the dishwasher if something leaked. Also, the outer case can be thrown in the washing machine! So cool! Nalgene offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products, so it’s great to know that we won’t be going through a lunch box every year!
Full disclosure: I received some samples from Genuine Thermos Brand, Sneaky Chef, Nalgene and GoGo SqueeZ to facilitate these reviews and round up. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.
Bridget Jones is back, and this time, she’s having a baby. Finally, her career is on track, but her love trials are as interesting as ever…and now, there’s a baby on the way!
Bridget Jones came into our lives several years ago when Helen Fielding’s popular books became a pop cultural sensation and inspiration for the movie franchise. In the films, we watched a 30-something Bridget (Renée Zellweger) struggle with her career, love life and, well, life in general. Her self-loathing and bigger than life adventures are realities that so many of us—30 and 40 something moms, especially—have endured ourselves.
I’ll always remember Bridget’s love triangle with Darcy and Daniel, and how she wanted nothing more than to be loved and to love someone else. As a 20-something, working as an editor in NYC when Bridget Jones’s Diary first came out, the film resonated with me and became the Rom Com anthem of my life. And now, as Bridget’s life reaches a parallel to my own now that I’m in my 40s, the latest installment is as endearing as ever.
Bridget finds herself in quite the predicament when she literally falls for an American math/love guru named Jack. Their romance was quick and spontaneous, but progressed into something sweet and dreamy. Around the same time, Bridget kept bumping into Darcy who was on the verge of a divorce, but still very consumed with his work. After a sweet connection, Bridget and Darcy found themselves together again. The rest of the story is cunning and hilarious, and kept us laughing and guessing. I was laughing so hard at some scenes, I’m almost positive I snorted at the premiere! That would’ve been so Bridget!
This week as part of their promotional tour, I had the chance to participate in an intimate blogger roundtable with director Sharon Maguire and Renée Zellweger. These roundtables are always so exciting, but this one was especially lovely. With the London NYC as the backdrop, Maguire and Zellweger sat with us for afternoon tea.
Zellweger arrived in a stunning Reem Acra tea length dress and Maguire had an equally elegant outfit as well. Their demeanor was as gracious as one would imagine, and I remember that I couldn’t stop smiling.
On playing Bridget Jones again
Q: So, what was it like to come back to this character after all these years?
Zellweger: It was exactly like you said. When they sent the script, it felt like this fantastically happy reunion, and it’s reminded me how much I love her.
I love her friends and her parents and her world, and then, I got really terrified because I thought, “Oh God. I really–I don’t want to mess this up” because, I mean, I know that like–like myself, you know, who, when I discovered her in the books, like so many other people, you know, we fell in love with her.
It was so much fun to be back in her shoes or her boots and her walk and her laugh and her voice and her not quite altogether wardrobe and, you know, and back with her friends.
During our roundtable, we talked about a lot of things, but I particularly loved our conversation about being creators. Zellweger and Maguire had so many deep answers to all of our questions, but this was one of my favorites:
On Women in Hollywood and Being Creators
Q: Sharon, since the first one 15 years ago, as a female, as a working woman, as a working mother in Hollywood, how has it changed in terms of getting the type of movie made that you wanted?
Maguire: I kind of took time out after I made the movie really because I needed–I felt I needed to go away and breathe. And so, that’s what I did. And so, then, I kind of got hooked on that. You know, I kind of thought, “Oh, okay. I don’t need to be on the runaway train of work and, you know, define myself just like that. You know, I can live a life.” All I know is that I don’t understand why there aren’t more women directors in Hollywood. I really don’t understand because I can’t believe the whole movie industry is sexist. But, you know–so, the only thing I think that we need to do is I think we need to make–there needs to be a stronger thing about–in the curriculum for schools, there needs to be storytelling.
And I think part of storytelling is by film or by novels or whatever, and if we all learned storytelling from the roots up, I think there would just be more women filmmakers. You know?
I think probably Hollywood goes with what’s worked before. And if a man’s directed it before and that’s worked and it’s made money, we’ll go back with a man, you know, because people put a lot of money into these things.
But, I know loads of women directors in TV everywhere. You know? So, I don’t know why they haven’t translated it enough to Hollywood, you know, yet. I really don’t understand it.
Zellweger: I do think it’s changing because women are creators, and the things that are being put out there are becoming recognizably financially viable.
And when there’s a financial incentive to do something, people come running and sexism takes a backseat to–to, you know, capitalizing on somebody’s work.
And also, on this tour, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting ladies like–no offense–ladies like you in the room.
Ladies like you who are not waiting to be invited by the establishment to express yourselves. You’ve created forums for yourselves to share with likeminded people, women, who will share your interests and gives you an opportunity to express yourselves creatively, to exercise your creativity as writers, producers. You’re editors.
You are basically your own channel. You’re your own, you know, entertainment entities. Young women on AOL have their own channels, and they develop the content.
And they edit it, and they get, you know, access to whomever it is that they’d like to speak with because it’s effective. People are interested in what they have to say.
They’re not waiting, again, for that invitation. And, again, when there is a recognizable response, then people have to change and–and–and adapt and embrace that, “Oh, you know, we’ve been wrong. The conventional way of doing things is kind of passé, and we should start to recognize that all of these women have something to say and it’s valid and it’s important.” I loved it.
On Motherhood and Friendships
Q: What is a scene that you can relate to or one that resonated in your life?
Maguire: I kind of probably relate most to the jump around scene. Probably that. You know, sitting alone at home thinking, “I’m in my forties, none of my fantasies have come true. Great. Great birthday.”
Zellweger: Well, I guess more than a scene maybe a theme in the film that her friends have kind of moved on. And they have families, and they have partners. So, their lives have changed.
And I believe that with–from what I’ve experienced with the people that I’m closest to, you evolve when you become a mom. You become a bigger version of yourself. You become a more powerful version of yourself, a fully realized version of yourself.
And I’m watching all of my friends and my, you know, family members evolve in this way. And I’m a bit of a late bloomer, and so, it’s interesting to kind of be chronologically in that place, but not have–not experience that same transformation at the same time as your friends and the people closest to you.
It’s very strange, and it’s–it is a very unique kind of loneliness. It’s a bit of–yeah. It’s–it’s very unique because then it means defining your growth in a different way and insisting that it happen despite the absence of this thing that makes it happen naturally.
This roundtable with Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger will do down in the books. What a lovely conversation; I wish we could’ve chatted even longer. We did, however, get to hop in the photo booth with Renée and Sharon after the roundtable. What a surreal experience!
Bridget Jones’s Baby is, perhaps, my favorite film from the series, and definitely the most hilarious of the bunch. It’s a great film for date night with the husband, but an even better night out with the girls! Bridget Jones from Universal Pictures is in theaters now.
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones and Emma Thompson Writers: Helen Fielding, Emma Thompson, Dan Mazer Directed by: Sharon Maguire Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward
Full disclosure: I was invited by Universal Pictures to participate in this roundtable interview. I did not receive compensation. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.