Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Essentials with J.Jill Life Stylers

The ladies at J.Jill offered to send me a few items to spruce up my fall wardrobe WAY back at the end of August. Now, at the end of October, it is finally cool enough down here to get to wear it. I know it's a totally blogger cliche, but fall really is my favorite season. I love the clothes; the candles smell awesome, and apple cider is my drink of choice (not pumpkin spice latte, though it's near the top of the list!)

Yorkshire Pullover- c/o J.Jill
Smooth-Fit Straight Leg Jeans- c/o J.Jill
Scarf- Old Navy (similar here)
Booties- Target (similar here)

You can't go wrong with a nice pair of jeans and a super chunky sweater, as far as I am concerned. Throw on a scarf and a cute pair of booties and you are ready for a nighttime football game or a late-night showing of Gone Girl. I'll let you guess which one I talked my husband into taking me to...

I've kinda sworn off buying jeans because we can't wear them to work, but when I read on J.Jill's website about these new Smooth-Fit jeans, I couldn't help being intrigued. One of the most unflattering qualities about most jeans are the pockets. They puckered up and poke out, adding extra girth exactly where I don't want it! However, the pockets in these jeans are super deep and then securely sewn into place- giving the front of the jeans a nice, smooth appearance and giving my stomach area just a little extra, well, you know--- a nice, smooth appearance. I will tell you this. If you are a long-legged gal then these jeans will be perfect for you, but if you are a little stumpy like me, you may want to size down to petite or be prepared to cuff or hem them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lessons Learned from The Most Magical Place on Earth

October has descended upon us. Halloween is just around the corner. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are in the hands of everyone, not just cliched fashion bloggers, trust me! I've been pretty quiet around these parts because September just totally kicked my butt. Between my "catfishing" issues and student privacy problems, I was feeling pretty beat down by the blog. Add to that "real" responsibilities, like shaping and molding the minds of the future and chaperoning the sophomore class homecoming float, and I was just too stretched to blog. Not to mention "real-real" responsibilities like raising a child and washing clothes (sometimes) and cooking meals (rarely in September) bearing down on me. Sometimes life just gets to be too much.

In the midst of all that, I was also planning a huge surprise trip to Disney for my son and my nephew. I've known about it for months now and have been keeping it a secret. Not an easy thing to do! Every night leading up to the big trip, I was out at the homecoming float site, trying to stay out of the way of twenty super-competitive sophomores.After working all day, followed up by a 3:00 PM- 8:00 PM shift at the float, I collapsed into bed, no energy to do anything other than sleep. I am a super planner and early packer, but I literally found myself throwing clothes haphazardly into a suitcase while Curtis was packing up the back of the van. I've never felt so unprepared for something I've been planning for months. Well, except maybe my wedding, but that's a story for a different blog post!

By most accounts my trip to Disney would have been considered a total disaster. It was unbearably hot and muggy, except on the 4 straight days that it monsooned on us. If I heard one Orlandoan comment that "It never rains this much", I heard one hundred say it, and the control freak in me was, well, freaking out. None of my FastPasses were for good times or we had to cross over the 2,000 miles of park to get to one attraction to the other. Sean sprained his ankle a few days before we left and walked with a limp that slowed us down considerably. I think by the midpoint of the vacation I had finally calmed down (or given up) enough to enjoy the imperfection of it. I finally realized that the 5-year-old and 6-year-old I was bending over backwards to create the "perfect magical experience" for would never know the amount of stress and planning that went into the trip or have the capacity to understand the stress and planning that went into it. They don't know that they missed certain attractions or shows or parades or fireworks or the extra Halloween party that cost almost $70 a person that I just couldn't afford to get, and you know what? They don't care.

They had an absolute blast. I've never seen my son happier, which is a little sad, or maybe that just means we need to move to Disney World? My nephew was thrilled with everything, though he much preferred the "Frozen' sing-along to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. They met so many characters, and because we were celebrating both of their October birthdays and both were wearing big "Happy Birthday" buttons, approximately one million people wished them happy birthday. Y'all, MICKY MOUSE, sang "Happy Birthday" to my child at the Magic Kingdom! I don't know how that slightly creepy, animatronic, speaking costume worked, but I had tears in my eyes as it conversed with my slightly amazed, slightly freaked out child. It was truly one of the most magical moments of my life, maybe not of his life, but definitely in the top ten of mine!

I've never actually seen the movie "Frozen", blasphemy I know, but I think I kinda understand the whole "Let It Go" mentality. I may not be able to create frozen castles or anything cool like that with my magical fractal fingertips, but I was able to let go and enjoy the little  moments. No matter how imperfect they seemed to ME, it was magical and perfect for them. I learned a lot of lessons from my trip to Disney: always pack EXTRA ponchos, don't play around with those FastPass reservations, expect EVERYTHING to take TWICE as long as you planned, your kids won't like thrill rides or ice cream, and they will want every souvenir they see. But I also learned that a little magic goes a long way and that you are never too old to experience some fairy dust-infused magic. I've learned to appreciate the perfection that can be found in the imperfections of life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catfishing with Katie

A reader/friend emailed me the other day to check to make sure I hadn't fallen off the face of the earth, or stopped blogged, either one being awful, I suppose. Granted, I've fallen behind in my blogging, but I think I'm hopefully in the upswing, and back to it. I'll be honest, I thought about just shutting things down all together, calling it quits, more than once in the past month. You've heard all the usually reasons from other bloggers who have fallen by the wayside--- takes too much time, feel like a sell-out, don't feel inspired,etc.,etc. And in the past three years, I've seen a lot of bloggers bow out, but not for the reason I'm about to give. 

I'm too famous. Or maybe the problem is I'm not famous enough. Now before you just cuss me and close out of this screen, thinking to yourself, "Katie, has done lost her fool mind for real this time!", hear me out. Read me out, whatever, you know what I mean.

 I'm clearly not famous. I make just enough money from blogging that I can occasionally buy myself some new clothes from Old Navy (hence the Old Navy-heavy #OOTD in this post). But I'm not famous enough that Old Navy wants to work with me, even though I do ACTUALLY WEAR their brand, unlike most of the bloggers currently shilling for them. Alas that's a rant for another day, so back to my original point. 

I've never been stopped on the streets by a  "fan", but apparently I'm all over Pinterest to the point that my students want to mention it during class, while I'm teaching, on a daily basis. This is not something I expected from blogging---this intermixing between my regular day-to-day life and my blogging life, and it is not something I enjoy. Why are my students so obsessed with the fact that I actually do something in my spare time? Again, another day...

I'm not going to be able to quit my day job and blog full-time ever. But it has recently come to my attention that someone is using my blog photos to catfish people on OKCupid. Until two weeks ago, I really had no idea what OKC was, other than another dating site like Match or Christian Mingle or J-Date or whatever that Wanna Date a Cowboy dating site is. I think it's a step up from that hook up app, Tinder (which I literally had to Google the name of, that's how out of the loop I am), but since I have been married for over ten years and don't use dating sites, I'm not entirely sure. Oh, I'm so simple and naive.

Let me start at the beginning. I wake up one Monday morning, and since I am dreading getting out of bed and actually starting my workweek, I am wasting time on my phone. I see that my blog's Facebook page has a new message, so I click over to check it out.  Expecting one of my usual FB messages about where to buy cardigans (I know, I own a bunch) or just a general "Hello, I like your blog" (which I love to receive), I'm reading still half-asleep with one eye open and picking crusty eye boogers out of the other one---glamorous I know! Well, here's the message:

Ummm, awkward?! Feeling pretty wide awake by this point, I debated what to do. Originally, I wasn't going to respond to the message at all. Curtis thought the whole thing was hilarious, but I was (and still am) seething over the fact that someone is using me to try and hook up with other people. And clearly, the whole thing was a ruse because they would never be able to meet face-to-face because they aren't me!

Truthfully, as much as I was creeped out by the whole thing, I felt kinda bad for dudeman. I mean he went through all the trouble to reverse image search my photo and track down my blog and then my Facebook page and then message me. And it was all for naught. After explaining that I do not have (and never will have) an OKCupid account, I asked the guy to give me the profile link, so I could check things out for myself. Sure enough, a photo of me, with a promise of more photos if I "click" with the suitor.

Now there are people who will say that when you put your life and photos on the internet, then you are fair game to whatever happens with them. I have seen photos of myself on Pinterest with horribly degrading comments. I have dealt with plus size women criticizing my photo's on a plus-size retailer's Facebook page- oh, the irony. I have seen my photos on Tumblers dedicated to the fetishism of  plus-sized women. All this abuse and degradation for a couple of new fall items at Old Navy? Hardly seems worth it sometimes.

I started my blog as a way to feel better about myself and encourage other women to get out of fashion slumps and dress for the bodies they have. I know first-hand that self-esteem and confidence are slippery slopes and that sometimes something as a simple as a new dress can make a huge difference. That is still the main reason I blog, but it gets harder and harder to justify it with this kind of insidious invasion. It gets harder to enjoy blogging and sharing photos when I worry about where they may end up, you know?

I've contacted OKCupid three times asking for something to be done about the profile, but I've yet to receive a response from them. Not that I'm surprised really, but it's frustrating nonetheless. But the fear is, what if this is just the tip of the iceberg? What else is out there that hasn't surfaced yet?

Cardigan: Old Navy (Buy Here)
Camisole: Old Navy (Buy Here)
Skirt:Old Navy (Buy Here)
Shoes: Kohl's (Super old, but Similar Here)

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