Friday, August 31, 2012

In the Park

I always love when I get to meet my sister for photos. The conversation goes like this:

Me: "Hey, can you take pictures of me today? Please."
Des: "Yeah! I know the coolest place!"

I've written about my little sister before, but I swear we are the perfect complements for each other. She's the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly,the ketchup to my fries, whatever, you get it. She directed me to a street that I've passed a million times and never even noticed. And on that street- this cool abandoned fountain. I guess at some point this must have been a small, park-type area, but now it's an idyllic island among the hustle and bustle of suburbia. It definitely seems out of place.

Button-down Shirt- Old Navy (last year, similar)
Denim Pencil Skirt- Old Navy
Wedges- Kohl's

Des is always good at finding cool places and cool angles, and I love the time we get to spend together- even if it is just a few minutes. I love how through her eyes I can see beyond what's there- does that make sense? I would try to say she elevates the ordinary to extraordinary, but I don't really like quoting from Fifty Shades of Gray. Oops, too late.

And now we are all uncomfortable... Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Changing My Stripes

I usually wear graphic black and white prints with red- that's just my go-to look, my comfort zone. The good thing about blogging is that it often forces you to try different things, to get out of your comfort zone. I realize pairing black and white with mint isn't life-changing or front page fashion news, but it was a new thing for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Sunday Scramble

I actually wore this last Friday (hence the jeans), but I figured we could all use the color blast on a Monday morning! I really loved this outfit, although now I have a few students who think I am some weird, fruit-wearing freak since I wore fruit tops on Monday and Friday. Technically, these are the only two fruit items I own, but perhaps I should have spaced them out a little more.

Cardigan and Boyfriend Jeans- Gap
Wedges- Kohl's
Top- Forever 21+

So my least favorite day of the week has got to be Sunday. I feel like I spend the entire day preparing for the week ahead- washing clothes and dishes, preparing dinners and lunches, picking out clothes for myself and Sean. It's so hectic anyway, but then throw in a big dose of lesson planning and paper grading, and hopefully you can feel my pain, or at least my pressure.

But all of that aside, I had a great, restful weekend and I am ready to go kick Monday's butt! And wear something that's not covered in fruit. Guess it's time to find a carrot skirt or some eggplant earrings ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Constructive Criticism?

I really struggled with writing this particular blog post. I kept putting it off and procrastinating until I had no time left to procrastinate. I thought about just letting it go. I thought about ignoring it, but if anything I am bull-headed, and I knew if I blogged about it I would be able to let it go. Back in the beginning of July I posted a swimsuit blog post. It was more than photos of me in a swimsuit, it talked about this idea that women of a "certain size" shouldn't be allowed to wear certain things.

Lucky for you! I am covering up all of my offensive body parts ;)

The blog was received very positively and I loved and cherished every comment I got from it. It was such a great experience. This week Kiyonna uploaded photos from that blog post on their public Facebook page. I wasn't expecting it, since it had been so long ago, so I was surprised when I ran across it. "Hey alright!" I said to myself. "500 likes and loads of comments. That's pretty cool." So I looked at them, and while the majority of them were super positive and wonderful (these women clearly got the point), I was shocked and amazed at the vitriolic hate that spewed from the fingers of several women (many of them plus-sized themselves). I am paraphrasing here, but I promise I am not far from their exact words- the photos were lewd and disgusting, plus size women should never model anything, there was NO way I was a 1X, I have flabby arms, fat legs, and a gross ass, I should never be seen in public in a swimsuit.

I mean suffice to say I was a little shocked. Kiyonna is usually such a positive place, and I grew up repeating the adage of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." It's one thing to criticize the swimsuit. In fact I complained within the post about sizing up and losing bust support, so I agree with posts that said I needed more bust support. But my flabby arms disgust you? Yikes, not much I can do about that. And that is the difference between constructive criticism and just plain ol' hate. I will admit I was secretly quite pleased at the women, all of them complete strangers, who jumped to my defense. It was a pretty amazing feeling.

Thoughtfully wondering what the hell is wrong with some people!

I also feel like many of the women completely understood and appreciated the story behind the bathing suit and the guts it took to bare all. I can't say my feelings were hurt. One woman remarked that I shouldn't have posted it for everyone to see if I didn't want them to talk about how gross I looked. Fair enough, I opened myself up to the criticism. Another came to my defense (?) and told her to come to my blog and tell me how ugly I was. Her logic being- I have so much confidence that I wouldn't give a crap about what she had to say. Lots of my defenders mentioned that the women must be self-loathing, and it brings up an interesting point.

Confidence is not thinking "Damn, I look awesome in this. I am the finest thing in the world." Confidence is loving and accepting yourself. There's a huge difference between cockiness and confidence. I make no bones about it- I am big. I have flabby arms, a big stomach, big thighs, a couple of chins- I don't look like Kate Upton or Kate Moss in a swimsuit. I won't ever look like that. Confidence is loving and accepting myself enough to not be bothered about it. I am what I am. Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it photoshopped? Nope. Is it me? Yep. And I love me.

I wasn't upset by the comments. Interestingly enough, when you are a model of confidence for other women and they are commending you for your bravery and beauty and celebrating a body that looks like the one they see in the mirror, it's really hard to get down or lose confidence. I couldn't dwell on it. I read the comments, sharing the really mean ones with my husband, laughed, shook my head, and closed the window. The end. Would I want to print it out or see it everyday or have these women comment on my blog every day? Hell no! I'm not a masochist! 

I think it's a sad world when people purposely look for things to criticize and troll on (Allie wrote so much more eloquently on this subject, so read it here!). They can say it has nothing to do with jealousy or their own body issues, but I hope and pray they aren't raising girls. Can you imagine growing up under a woman who would so violently despise someone because of some arm fat and a bathing suit? What message are these children hearing every day? So I end by saying I am often complimented on my confidence, but it wasn't until this happened that my confidence was truly tested and I saw what I was really made of. Women always comment that they wish they had my confidence, so I share with you and implore you  to love and accept yourself and from that you will see your confidence grow.
Thanks for sticking with me :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tunesday Tuesday: "Cherish"

"Cherish the thought /Of always having you here by my side /Cherish the joy/You keep bringing it into my life /Cherish your strength/ You got the power to make me feel good (and baby I)/Perish the thought/Of ever leaving, I never would" Madonna- "Cherish"

Take a deep breath. Whew. We made it through the first day relatively unscathed. The jury's still out on how the year will be though- it's still too soon to make a safe judgment ;) When I picked this outfit out for this week, I wasn't sure how it would look. I told you earlier in the month I wanted to concentrate on separates for fall and these were two pieces I've had for a while. I was very pleased with the effect of the ruffles on the blouse and the fullness of my beloved Old Navy skirt.

Last week while driving around town I heard Madonna's "Cherish" on the radio and I knew immediately that I wanted it to be my Tunesday Tuesday song for this week. It's such a fun song, but really the video is amazing! I don't think Madonna has ever looked more beautiful. AND mermen? What more could we possibly want from a video?!

Top- Cato's( similar) Skirt- Old Navy
Flats- Express Bracelet- Urban Outfitters (similar)
Necklace and Earrings- IN Pink

A quick read of Wikipedia (my go-to for all information as you know) uncovered that the mermen were actually water polo players, which explains A LOT especially if you watched any water polo during the Olympics. The tails were pretty functional and they were able to swim with a great deal of agility. If you decide to read the Wikipedia article I would stop there because it get really weird after that- talking about the symbolism of mermen among other things. Kinda ruined it for me! You've been warned!

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Year Resolutions

 Every year on New Year's Eve people make resolutions, but really any teacher knows the REAL new year begins on the first day of school. Everything is new and fresh and bright. You have new, high in the sky, expectations for yourself and your students. Here are mine:

I resolve to work out at least three days a week, just not today because I will have to go to my house to change clothes, and then once I get there I will want to grab a drink and relax for a little bit, and then it will be dinner time, and soon it will be bedtime. Tomorrow.

I resolve to pick my son up from daycare and prepare a real, home-cooked meal three nights a week. This has been largely neglected for the past few years because I was super busy with getting a masters degree and other distractions, but now that my teaching certificate is firmly in hand and that terrible graduate school is a thing of the past,I feel the guilt to absolve some parental and kitchen neglect. In my lazy butt defense, the daycare IS on Curtis's way to and from work and ten miles out of my way, and teaching is exhausting and so is cooking, but eating at home will save money and be healthier. The main reason I don't cook more is by the time I have transformed something from raw and ingredients into something edible, it loses its appeal. The magic is gone and I don't want to eat it. Does this happen to anyone else? OK, daycare and dinner TWO days a week.

I resolve to continue to be the coolest ass teacher ever. Yes, I am pretty much a big deal.  My principal LOVES my room. No, seriously loves it. This makes me super proud, because 1. positive recognition is rare and so wanted and 2. we worked a LONG time on the room. I meet my students today and I am so excited for the school year. I wanted to blog or keep a diary my first year, but I was so overwhelmed with a new baby, a new house, a new job, and going back to school full-time that I time for little but grading, creating work, and sleeping. This year is different. This is "supposed" to be the year a teacher hits her stride, so I am excited. The kids seem great and that's always a relief. One girl said to me today, "My brother said you were a horrible teacher." To which I retorted, "Well, your brother sucked, so is he really the best judge of character?" Technically that's what I said in my head before I jumped across the table and ripped her throat out all "Mean Girls-style"( I was going to say all "Alley McBeal-style" but I didn't want to show my age....

Top- Forever 21 Skirt-Kiyonna
Shoes- (Similar) Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses- Urban Outfitters

I leave you with a quote that continues to resonate with me about the importance of teaching:

I am a teacher! What I do and say are being absorbed by young minds who will echo these images across the ages. My lessons will be immortal, affecting people yet unborn, people I will never see or know. The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad. The pliable minds of tomorrow's leaders will be molded either artistically or grotesquely by what I do.

Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves or murderers of the future.

Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.

Ivan Welton Fitzwater

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letters from the Heart

I got the sweetest email yesterday from one of my readers (ugh, so impersonal- can't I just call you all friends?), and it really brightened my day. I am always in awe when someone takes time out of their busy day to send me an email, and the stories they share are inspiring. I feel so humbled and honored- I hope that doesn't sound cliched because I mean it sincerely.

Heather wrote in the email, "It is crazy how taking a little bit of time each morning to get excited about my clothes increases my confidence and my energy. I have even ventured out of the house with the kids because I felt as if the public was allowed to see me, or better yet the public should see me." Does it get any greater than that?! This is not a post, or really a blog for that matter, dedicated to wearing the trendiest outfit of the moment. This is a blog about being confident in your own skin and in your own style- whatever that is. Do I think that I belong on the pages of Vogue because of my stellar fashion sense? Do I care?

What I do care about sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. I originally started this blog because I was disappointed in the lack of bloggers like me. I was feeling down because I still hadn't lost the baby weight. I had just turned thirty. I wanted to feel confident. I wanted to feel like the public would be honored to see me. By blogging about my outfits I was able to gain confidence in myself and my style. I was able to begin writing for fun again. An incredible side effect of the blog is the influence I can have on someone. That was never intended or expected, which adds to the "specialness" of the whole thing.

We aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover or a man by his clothes, but far too often snap judgments are made like that every day. I'm glad no one documents what I wear to bed or to the gym or to clean my nasty classroom. I'm glad no one was around to document my grunge phase in high school. I don't think what you wear is as important as how you wear it. Can you look polished and pulled together in jeans and a t-shirt? Of course. It's all about the attitude you bring to the outfit.  Thank you, Heather, for emailing me. And I am going to let all of you in on a secret. This awesome dress I'm wearing? It's an old maternity dress. I haven't been pregnant for five years. Yep, I'm wearing it. So there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I am not going to turn this blog into a constant whiny, rant-filed journal, but I do want to say that yesterday sucked. Not going back to school, that was fine. But I probably should have visited my room this summer because right now it is the stinkiest, smelliest place ever. I'm thinking some of our torrential downpours must have leaked in. Couple that with the ancient carpet I have in there and the fact that it's been closed up since May, and you can imagine it's pretty gross. I can only shudder to imagine what's growing under the carpet!

So I won't be in this outfit very long today, but what I will be wearing to clean my room will not be nearly as glamorous. Could you love these shoes anymore than I do? Aren't they awesome? They were on sale last week at Urban Outfitters and I was feeling a little glum so I indulged in some retail therapy. Now I guess it's time to indulge in some candles. Or a carpet cleaner!

Dress- Chaps for Kohl's Belt- Target Necklace- IN Pink Style Wedges- Urban Outfitters

Monday, August 13, 2012

Earning My Stripes

I really love this striped skirt. When I bought it back in early spring I was unsure of the stripes and the length, but now it's a go-to staple of my wardrobe. I can't help but feel feminine and happy when wearing it, and I knew I would need all the happiness I could get for today.

Teachers head back to the classrooms today. We have a week of meetings and workshops before we meet these year's crop of students, but for all intents and purposes- summer is over and school's back in session.

T-shirt- New York and Co. Skirt- Old Navy Wedges- Kohl's

Oh, how I will miss sleeping late and mid-day naps and staying up super late to read books! I know most of you don't get summer vacation, so I will keep it brief. Summer 2012- you were awesome. I remain concerned as to how I will balance family, working, and blogging, but I know it will work out! I hope you all have a great Monday :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dreams for a Dancer

For some weird reason today's outfit totally reminds me of a ballerina. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the top knot? Maybe it's the swirly skirt? Maybe I just needed something to write about?

I actually took dance lessons for five years as a very young child. Every week after a healthy dinner of McNuggets at the local McDonald's, my mom would drive my sister and me to a huge pink house- Miss Beverly's Dance Studio. Miss Beverly is pretty much a legend in these parts. She taught my mom and my aunt when they were young girls, then me and my sister, and she still has a dance studio! I never had real aspirations of dancing- I honestly just wanted the cool five year trophy I would get at the annual recital.

Tank and Skirt- Old Navy Wedges- Payless

It's funny though- I remember almost all of the costumes and the songs- one year we did the songs of Mary Poppins, and I remember being super jealous that my sister's class got to perform to the Bangles' hit "Walk Like an Egyptian" (such an awesome song!). I remember begging to do a solo to "Uptown Girl", but my mom insisted I do a trio dance to "Stop in the Name of Love". She pacified me by assuring me that I was the star, a mini Diana Ross. We still argue over who was the most important to this day!

I really wanted to be a gymnast, and I swear I'm not bringing this up because of my obsession with the Olympics. My mom was a state champion when she was in high school, and I can still remember all the cool tricks she could do on our backyard trampoline. It was awesome, and I wanted to be able to do it too. So she agreed to train me before spending the money on professional lessons. Night after night we practiced skills- handstands, back bends, splits, stretches, cartwheels and so forth, but I was a lost cause. Not only am I really inflexible, but I am also terrified of flipping, cartwheeling and standing on my head. It wasn't going to happen.

Now all I can do is dream about dancing and ooh and aah over gymnastics on TV. And spin in circles till I'm dizzy in my swirly skirt!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Things Unsaid

"Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid. "
Bernard Meltzer

 "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. "
Benjamin Franklin

Dress- Old Navy Sandals and Belt- Target Earrings- so old I can't remember :(

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. "
Harriet Beecher Stowe

"We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. "
Winston Churchill

You know what I mean?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Struggling With Self- Doubt

 This time of the year I always struggle with self-doubt about my abilities as a teacher. As I have mentioned before, teaching was never my intention, and it was frankly something that fell into my lap at a time when I was feeling completely fed up with the direction my life was going. I took the job with no idea what I was in for, and my first year was truly the definition of a "baptism by fire" or being "thrown to the wolves" ( you can chose). What I lacked in experience, I think I made up for in enthusiasm and natural ability,but that entire year I was terrified that any day someone was going to escort me out of the room and the jig would be up.

I was always nervous that I wouldn't be able to teach the material or control the class or handle the work load, and frankly, on the eve of my fifth year, I feel exactly the same way. It gets really discouraging sometimes to still feel so unsure of myself in this role. I've had plenty of people- teachers, parents, students, subs, observers- tell me I am a great teacher, but for some reason that just doesn't sink in.

Dress- Kohl's Necklace- In PINK Heels- Forever21

Being a teacher is such a daunting responsibility! What if I don't teach them the right way to write? What if we don't make it to The Scarlet Letter or Tom Sawyer or Shakespeare? What if they never understand the difference between a verbal and a verb? Have I failed them for life? Is their future ruined? Sorry to be harping so much lately with school re-starting but it's weighing heavily on my mind. So, tell me, how do you deal with self-doubt?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Calm Before the Storm

Ah, the calm before the storm. You know what I am talking about. Everything is eerily quiet and still. The air is heavy with expectation. Time stands still; you see everything clearer. It's a peaceful time, but also a time of fear.  Does that even make sense?

Tank- Forever 21 Skirt- Old Navy Sandals- Wal-Mart Necklace- Gift

I imagine (because that's the closet I will ever get) that Olympic athletes know exactly what I am talking about. Yes, my Olympic obsession continues. They are standing on the edge of greatness or the precipice of failure- these things are decided in seconds. For the rest of us, our calm before the storm may take longer, but the possibilities are the same.

This is my calm before the storm. One week before school starts back. Every year it's so tough to get back in the groove, just one of the reasons I wish my school would go to a year-round calendar. I dread this week more than the actual first day of school. This is when the nightmares begin, the anxiety returns, the storm clouds gather overhead. You've never had a nightmare till you have a teacher nightmare about an out-of-control classroom. 

Eventually the storms blow over. The skies clear. The sun comes out. But in these final moments, I try to embrace the calm, the still, the quiet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Meet & Greet

Last night was "Meet the Teacher" night at Sean's preschool, aka "There Goes All Our Money" night. Wow! Kids' extracurricular activities start costly and just get more and more expensive every year. My own "Meet the Teacher" will be here before I know it, so this was good practice for talking to strangers and not being completely awkward!

Top- Forever 21 Jeans- Gap Flats- Express

I cannot tell you how long I have been searching for something apple-printed that wasn't either too small or too expensive, so I was head over heels when I saw this top online at Forever 21. Even though it's not in my list of Fashion Must Haves for fall, I couldn't resist the sweet print and the even sweeter price!

I admit I was a little wary of the Peter Pan collar (seems a little young to me), but unbuttoning it seemed to loosen it up a little. I liked pairing it with the boyfriend jeans for a casual look, but I will definitely be tucking it into a pencil skirt for work, and maybe even for my own Meet the Teacher" night!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Dressing: Light and Minimal

Ever have a week when it feels like you haven't slowed down at all? I am living that week. It's been super fun, but hectic. We took a quick vacation out of town Monday and Tuesday with my mom, sister and nephew. We all had a great time. My least favorite part? Sean falling asleep during a firework show leaving me to carry him up hill for at least a half-mile. I felt like I had gotten quite a work-out!

The heat continues to be relentless- daytime hours are nearly unbearable, so clothing is light (like this chiffon dress I got from Old Navy last year) and accessories are minimal (like this necklace. Also purchased last year from New York & Co.). Hair is air-dried and that's it. It's too much effort to do anything else!

And our wireless router is broken. While we wait on our new one, I have to get on the old desktop and do everything. It's super annoying. I know I shouldn't complain, but all my passwords are saved on the other computer. The desktop can't climb in bed with me at night and read and respond to blogs. I feel a little lost. And a lot annoyed! So if it takes me a couple of days to respond or comment on your blogs, please don't think I am ignoring you. This will be good practice for school starting back and having to limit my daily blogging time. Ugh. Sorry to end on a depressing note! I'm going to climb under the covers without my laptop and read Wikipedia articles about former Olympic gymnasts on my smart phone ;)

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