Monday, April 30, 2012

Backyard Blues

If I had one piece of advice to give bloggers, and this is totally unsolicited advice by the way, it would be to buy the best camera you can afford. Earlier this year I invested in this blog by purchasing a Canon Rebel T3. It's a very basic digital SLR camera, but its price point (~$500) was a price we were comfortable with, and I knew it would have more than enough features for me to figure out. I hope to spend the summer getting to know it better and working on self-portraiture.

Almost immediately I was kicking myself for not buying a DSLR before Sean was born. I struggled for the past four years to capture smiles and action photos, and my crappy point-and-shoot cameras were never fast enough. Many of my photos captured me with my eyes closed. Again too slow. The speed of a DSLR makes it  worth every penny you'll spend on it. Truly.

I accidentally left my camera at work over the weekend. This meant we had to pull out the old point-and-shoot, and the difference was amazing and painful. Photos blurry and out of focus. Over exposed and blown out. My eyes were closed in most of the photos. Ugh! I have so much to learn about taking pictures, but a good camera makes good photos so much easier!

Cropped Cardigan-  Apt. 9 for Kohl's
Skirt- Thrifted- John Paul Richard (similar- Chaps for Kohl's)
Ruffled Tank- Old Navy (old- similar)
Wedges- So for Kohl's no longer available on-line (similar)

Friday, April 27, 2012


Update on the "pee situation"- no pee on the seat today! However, I still felt a little "rant-y" most of the day. However, today is Friday, and that's a good thing- a really good thing.

Fridays are more casual at the school. We are allowed to wear blue jeans, and I usually take advantage of that. But usually I just wear a more casual version of my daily outfits. Especially as it gets warmer and warmer, it's easier (and cooler) to wear skirts and dresses. So I paired a comfy graphic t-shirt with a straight khaki skirt. Then I threw on my trusty coral friends and called it done!

Sweater- Thrifted (Jaclyn Smith for K-Mart)
T-Shirt- Target (On sale through Sunday for $6)
Khaki Skirt- Old Navy
Coral Wedges- Mudd for Kohl's

I don't really have anything planned for the weekend, but sometimes those are the best kinds of weekend. We will wash 10 loads of clothes, watch lots of TV, play with toy trains and robots for hours, take naps (I hope), and eat a ton of terrible food- that's just a hallmark of the weekend. Don't judge me!

Super cute earrings from a super sweet friend. If you look closely you can see my gray sparrow tattoo ( in hindsight, a "faded gray tattoo" was dumb)

Odd pose, but I loved that you could see my peek-a-boo hair color!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Mid-Week Rant: Passive Aggressive Peeing

So, I kinda have a secret that I've been keeping...

... While I try to project this image of positive, fun-loving gal, sometimes I have a bad attitude. Sometimes I get grumpy. Sometimes I feel the rage growing and I have to rant. This is one of those times. Here's my mini-list of things bugging me today.

1. People who drive under the speed limit on the interstate.
 Look- I've gotten three interstate tickets over the years. I know they suck. I know you shouldn't speed in work zone or text and drive. But why, for the love of God, are you driving fifty MPH when the speed limit is 70?!?!

Dress- Dorothy Perkins online (sold out)
Wedges- American Eagle for Payless

2. I am the last person to criticize people for their parenting skills. My own parenting skills are often lacking and I am by no means a  perfect parent, but why, oh why, are you not picking your kid up from school? Some afternoons I get home before the bus gets to my neighborhood (4:00 pm), and I can barely turn onto my street because of all the cars parked, waiting for kids to get off the school bus. If you aren't at work and you have a car, go pick your kid up at 3!!!! Why make them ride all over town for an hour?? I'm sure there is a legitimate excuse, but I'm struggling to find one.

3. Cleaning up pee in the teachers/ lounge. Look, I'm going to be honest, I'm not much for cleaning. I don't really like cleaning my own home, so I can assure I really don't like cleaning at work. I especially don't like wiping pee off the toilet seat in the dang teachers' lounge! We are all college-educated adult, yet some how we don't have the common courtesy to keep it clean? What the crap?!? So starting tomorrow, I'm going to post a sign in the bathroom. Yes, it's totally passive aggressive, but sometimes that's just how I roll.

It's going to say, "If you can't sink it in the hole, then put your butt on the bowl!  Signed- Not Your Momma (so clean up after yourself)" If you can come up with something better than that, I'll make TWO signs or TEN signs. Whatever. I just need to get my point across. That's just ridiculous. Seriously.

And now one thing I am happy about!

I love this new Dorothy Perkins dress (sold out online, but also available in a pencil skirt). It's so bright and colorful! I bought it the same time I got the white dress and I can tell they are going to be well-loved!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Future's So Bright...

People have lots of misconceptions about teachers, and I'll be honest, I believed a lot of it before I was a teacher myself. As the school year draws to a close and summer rapidly approaches, I know I will be talking about my summer a lot. I also know that *most* adults don't get a summer vacation. So I thought that I would address the misconceptions the revolve around a teacher's summer today.

Curtis always gets a little grumpy about my "summer off" and I don't blame him really. From an outsider's view, teaching looks like a super easy gig- no nights, no weekends, no holidays, and summers off. If only it were that simple! Two years ago I got a birthday gift from a student. It was a little wooden sign that said, "I teach for June, July and August off." Well, I'm here to tell you that I don't know any teachers who get a three month summer vacation anymore. There is exactly eight weeks between the last day of school and the first day of school. My first day of school in July 30! I also have a five-day workshop the week before that so technically my summer ends on July 22.

Add to that the fact that I am taking a June mini-mester course at a local college, four days a week for the entirety of the month, and technically I only get three weeks of vacation- not that different than what Curtis gets each year from his regular job! However, I stand by a teacher's right to summer vacation. If you are a teacher, or you know a teacher, then you know that a teacher's day doesn't end when the bell rings at 3 o'clock. Many teachers take work home or work at school until late in the afternoon- grading tests and essays or preparing lessons. Teaching is not a job that you can just leave at work when you clock out. 

Teaching is mentally and physically exhausting. Teaching is often thankless and stressful. Teachers need that summer break to recharge and prepare for the next school year. Am I going to go on vacation? Probably. Am I going to sleep late and spend days in my pajamas? Probably. Am I going to have nightmares about disastrous school years? You betcha! Am I going to spend hours cleaning my room and re-doing lesson plans? Without a doubt! I think it all evens out in the end, but I apologize in advance if I seem braggy about my time off :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fake It Till You Make It

Now THIS is a Monday I can get used to! Sleeping late, not having to fix my hair, no school. One of the awesome perks to being a teacher is the occasional event known as a weather day. These are days the school builds into its yearly calendar to cover for bad weather that may cause the school to be closed (snow, tornado, etc.). However, if you spend your year blessed with good weather, then you get extra time off! And it is awesome! And I feel like I've earned an extra day off after the past few days.

This weekend was hectic- bowling on Friday, prom on Saturday (blog post forthcoming), photo shoot with local photographer on Sunday- and the first two events wreaked havoc on my old-lady back. Remember the Judy Blume book Deenie? The main character (Deenie, duh!) has scoliosis and I sympathized with her in junior high, especially when I was diagnosed with scoliosis myself. Because of the scoliosis, my back pretty much hurts all the time, but it's just something I've grown up with and pretty much deal with. However, between bowling, and standing for hours at prom in super-uncomfortable shoes, Sunday morning at 4:00 A.M. I awoke in some serious "can't roll over to get out of bed and pee" back pain.

Dress- Old Navy
Cardigan- Gap Outlet (Similar here)
Sandals- Wal-Mart (old! Similar here)
BTW- Old Navy is not a sponsor or an affiliate link.
 I make NO money from them, I just spend WAY too much with them!

Somehow, seemingly overnight, I have gotten old! How did this happen? It's a struggle because as a teacher, each year I get older, but my students stay the same age! Heck sometimes I feel like I am still 17, okay, well maybe 25. But no, here I am with gray hairs and foot pains and I've "thrown out" my back. The other day a student said to me, quite cheerfully and sincerely, "You're not old! Just think, you were fifteen when I was being born!" Geez, thanks a lot! That doesn't make me feel old at all.

Come on, I still recognized the music being played at prom! I can't be that old... right?

And if all else fails, Curtis will still be older than me!

My handsome and eternally patient husband!

Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Wear a Little White Dress, a.k.a. Santa Baby

True story... while I was getting ready for photos and listening to my iTunes, the Glee version of "Santa Baby" came on. I'm not one of those crazy people who likes to listen to Christmas songs year-round (no offense!), but I really, really love "Santa Baby". Like I love it so much that before the advent of iTunes when I could download and listen to it anytime, I was a little obsessed with hearing the song during the holiday season.

We have a local radio station that starts playing Christmas music 24/7 in November, and I would literally leave it on that station for two solid months hoping to hear that tune. I was lucky if I caught it twice a year. Now I can hear it anytime. It really put me in a sixties, Marilyn-esque mood for photos. I feel like I might have been born in the wrong decade maybe??

I'm pretty much in love with this dress. I saw it on Hips and Hangers in a post Tashia wrote about wanting to buy a white dress for work. I had heard other bloggers, specifically Jessica at Surely Sonsy, raving about Dorothy Perkins, so I bit the bullet and placed the order. I was a little concerned about ordering from a UK company, with sizing and shipping, but they have an American version of the site, so it was super easy. Shipping took a while as I expected, but it was so worth it. The best part? You got free shipping with a purchase of $75- so for a little more than the cost of shipping, I bought ANOTHER dress. And I love it... even more than this one!

Merry Christmas to me! I mean... Happy April to you!? Oh, whatever! It's Friday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Gonna Be a Bright, Bright, Bright, Bright, Sunshiny Day

I think the way a person deals with disappointment reveals a lot about them. Take for example my students. Today they received their test scores for a state-mandated graduation exam they took last month. You can always tell the kids who passed from the kids who didn't. The kids that passed the test rush to you with big smiles and proudly present their test results to you, like a little kid with an A+ on his report card.

It's kinda cute really. And frankly, it's teenagers at their most lovable. Even if they are usually a jerk in class, they are so proud, you can't help but be proud of them too. However, the kids that didn't pass fall into two distinctly different, but equally sad categories. For many failing students, the is the first  *true* disappointment they have ever experienced, compound that with the fact that the person that failed them was not a teacher or a parent or a boyfriend, but themselves, and it's a recipe for disaster.

You have the kids who are quiet. So quiet they are clearly trying to fade in the background. So quiet they hope that amongst the cheering and excitement no one will notice that they are there. Hoping no one will ask them how they did, they keep their eyes downcast. Encouraging words, "Oh you were so close" or "You'll get it next time",  fall around them and make no impact at all. These kids have internalized their disappointment. Some of them may never pass. You can tell they know this and have resigned themselves to that reality, but they are disappointed nonetheless. 

Then you have the other end of the spectrum. These kids are loud about their disappointment. They complain. They call the tests dumb. They blame their teachers, the school, the state- anything but themselves. These kids say the test doesn't matter and that they don't give a crap. They say they aren't going to try anymore. Some of them mean it, but some of them will continue to try. Someone once told me that test-taking was purely psychological- if you think you are going to do poorly, then you will. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Sorry, I am rambling... I think what I am trying to get at is how I deal with disappointment. It's probably not surprising that I am a total brat like that last set of kids.  But why? Are we hard-wired to deal with disappointment in different ways, and clearly there are way more options than the two I laid out. Can you change the way you react?

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life...The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
 Charles R. Swindoll 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nobody Likes My Dumb Shirts

So we have the bedtime routine down to a fine science here in this household. Curtis and I alternate nights with Sean, who, I admit, has been a poor sleeper since birth. With Curtis it's an in and out affair- he's got Sean down in ten minutes or less in most nights. However, Sean knows a sucker, and I am a sucker, for him at least. He will come up with every reason in the book for me to stay with him.

He needs me. He's afraid of the dark. He's not tired. One more story. He's thirsty. He needs to pee. I know I should have put an end to it long ago, but I'll let you in on a little secret. I really don't mind it too much... I know one day Sean will no longer need or want me to lie down with him and scratch his back. One day he will tell me to go away. So I cherish these quiet moments in the dark with him. He's at his cuddliest and he talks a lot. Usually he talks about funny things, but last night, he didn't.

Last night as I lay under fresh Spider Man sheets with my gangly four-year-old in the crook of my arm, he told me he didn't have friends at day care because they don't like his "dumb shirts." I don't know if this is true or a stalling technique (well, I know he has friends, but I don't know if maybe one day a kid said something mean or if he was making it up). Either way he sounded sad about it and it made me sad.

And it made me mad! How dare some mean kid make fun of mine because of his clothing choices! Does this teasing really start this early? I remember being teased for what I wore in fifth grade at the earliest. It didn't get any easier as a teen. And even now, I spout "Be confident. Wear what you want. Don't worry about others", but I still worry if I will look stupid or if someone won't like my grown-up equivalent of a "dumb shirt." It's dumb and irrational, but it's still a real fear, so I felt his pain and a fierce protectiveness. Not just for a 4-year-old spinning tales at bedtime, but for a 10-year-old or a 14-year-old Sean. For a child I won't always be able to hold and protect. For a child who one day may not tell me his biggest fears and saddest moments. For the child I was.

I kissed him on the head as I assured him, "Everyone likes your shirts and if they don't they don't deserve to be your friends anyway." And I meant it. And I mean it. For him and me and you. If someone doesn't like us for who we are, then we don't need them in our lives. I'm always nervous when I wear the peacock feather. I get many compliments, but I also get some weird stares and some giggles. But now I am going to work on not caring about that because those people don't matter.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's a "Plaid, Plaid" World

Ugh! There's nothing worse than a Monday. Well, maybe waking up and thinking it's Saturday only to realize it's actually Monday. That's really bad, but ultimately it's still an awful Monday! Bleh! But now that I can literally count the number of Mondays left in the school year on one hand, I feel like it's time to buckle down and grin and bear it! Not that I'm counting down ;)

So what's better on a Monday than super obnoxious plaid and colors? I hadn't owned a plaid shirt since my unfortunate venture into the grunge scene in the 1990s, but when Old Navy issued these paper-thin, beautifully colored plaid shirts for the spring, I couldn't resist the siren's song! Pair the plaid top with a pair of coordinating cropped pants and I am ready to face anything- even a Monday!

I thought about ending the blog with another music video ("Manic Monday", anyone??), but decided against it...

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Whole New World

I had a great response to yesterday's blog. Apparently, lots of you watched crappy TV growing up, and listened to cheesy music- this pleases me to no end! Here I am at my blog's "half birthday" and I can honestly say I've never been happier. I love writing blogs; I love reading blogs. Every day I read- I laugh; I cry; I am inspired.

As a girl, and then a woman, who spent her life trying to blend in and avoid attention, I am amazed at the responses I get with every post. It's exciting and humbling. When a woman tells you she never thought she could wear this or that, but after seeing me wear it now she's going to buy it and wear it proudly... There is nothing more amazing than that. Nothing.

Sorry, I didn't mean to get all mushy on you! I just want you to know if you are reading this, I thank you sincerely. If I read and comment on your blog, know that I sincerely enjoy it and support you. I have connected with so many awesome girls and women, Hems for Her has opened a whole new world for me.

Oh, you just thought you were getting away without a little cheese!

A whole new world 
Don't you dare close your eyes 
A hundred thousand things to see 
Hold your breath - it gets better 
I'm like a shooting star 
I've come so far 
I can't go back to where I used to be -

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blue Jean Baby Queen

"Still looking for that blue jean, baby queen
Prettiest girl I ever seen
See her shake on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean
(James Dean)"- Rock On 

I watched a lot of inappropriate television growing up. My formative childhood years were spent with Marlena and Roman (and later John Black) and Bo and Hope and the cast of Days of Our Lives, not the Muppets and Sesame Street. So sue me!

Apparently at some point, we must have watched Young and the Restless as well because all day I was humming Michael Damian's hit song "Rock On". A quick search of Wikipedia reveals that Damian released the song in 1989, so I was all of 8 years old, but I remember thinking he was the most handsome man ever, and I still know EVERY word to the song.

Embarrassing, I know! But just in case you were feeling nostalgic, I've embedded the video for your viewing and listening pleasure. I think it's held up quite nicely in the past 22 (Good Grief!!) years ;) My point is, I guess, that a great chambray dress, is like a great song. It's gets better with time and is appropriate any time of the year.

Rock on!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

(Pencil) Skirting the Issue

So, I am almost ashamed to admit that I never owned a pencil skirt until Kiyonna sent me this beauty as a part of their Blogger Brigade. I have featured this particular skirt here, and I still love it as much as I did then. I foolishly thought that a "big girl" couldn't wear something as form-fitting as a pencil skirt. Clearly I was wrong.

Pencil skirts are great for all body types because of the classically flattering length and design. They are made to make women look curvier, so who better to wear it then a girl already rockin' curves?! The seaming in this skirt works to slim my thighs and the defined waistband gives me the illusion of an actual waist!

This skirt is a staple in my wardrobe. I wear it nearly every week. The style is simple and elegant which nearly defines a wardrobe staple! For my second day of "A Week Without Pants" I couldn't resist showing off this beauty! Be sure to check out what Marissa from Shabby, Chic, and Cheap, Tori from My Thrifty Chic and Tranae from Becoming Fabulous are rocking today and every day this week!

Monday, April 9, 2012

All Matchy-Matchy

Yep, I admit it- I am one of THOSE people. Those people who like to be all matchy with the family when I know family photos will be taken. It drives Curtis crazy; Sean's too young to understand. I can't help it. We don't do it every year, but I think it's so cute and put together. We skipped last year because Curtis so hated the year before when I made us all wear navy blue and bright pink, but this year we were back in our matching glory!

Curtis hates when people comment on our coordinating outfits, but I think to myself, "Uh-huh. I bet you looked as good as this family." Interestingly, at the church on Easter Sunday, I ran into a huge high school crush when we were both taking our kids down to the children's church. I never would have recognized him, but Curtis leaned over and whispered in my ear. All the sudden I felt 15 and insecure again. Do I say something; do I avoid him?

In the end, I said a polite hello, and he said hello back and that was it. Nothing exciting. Nothing to write home about. I just find it interesting that I would still care after all these years. I even asked Curtis afterwards,"Do you think he recognized me?" I was so unforgettable in high school that it wouldn't surprise me at all (but that's another story for another day!).

To which my husband said, "How could anyone ever forget you?" I love that man. Even more than I love this yellow and blue color block dress from Kohl's. Although this dress is pretty amazing- and unforgettable.

I'm teaming up with Marissa at Shabby, Chic, and Cheap and declaring it a "Week Without Pants". This isn't *really* a stretch for me, but I love a challenge of being told I can't wear something! Join in! I used to hate wearing dresses because I felt like I was being to dressy or drawing attention to myself, but now I prefer dresses and I think if you spent a week without pants- you'd feel the same :) 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Guest Blogger: Shabby,Chic, and Cheap Does Denim

Since I am out sick this week, Marissa from Shabby, Chic, and Cheap was gracious enough to help me out with an awesome post on wearing colored denim. We do share an affinity for these super popular pants!

This is one trend that is going to be hard to avoid! They're EVERYWHERE! So go ahead and give in to the peer pressure and buy a pair, or two...or if you're me 4 {with one on the way!}
As awesome as this trend is I've spoken with quite a few women who are hesitant to try them out because they aren't sure how to wear/style them. Here are a few examples of how I style mine with a few rules! 
1. Don't be afraid to pair your colored denim with fun pops of color elsewhere, I opted to add some mustard wedges with my magenta jeans. I kept my top half fairly neutral with a sheer grey leopard print top. 
2. Don't be afraid to do 2 trends at once, here I did a zebra print top with my bright red jeans, I also did a big bracelet. 
3. Don't be afraid to dress them up for work, I added a blazer, sequin clutch, and some snakeskin pumps with my pink jeans. This could work for a date night too!
4. Layers are always a good choice! I paired my rust colored jeans with some oxfords and added  feminine touches with the lace on my shirt. Perfect for running errands around town. 
PS: Most of my colored denim came from Old Navy and one pair from Target. Can they just sponsor me already?!!
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