I Can Do Tricks WITH MY HAIR*

I probably find this funny because it’s 2 a.m. and I just finished a project for school. Have you seen the Pantene ads on TV that ask if your hair can pass the needle test? Apparently, you’re supposed to try to stick the ends of your hair through the eye of a needle. If they go through there, your hair is awesome. You’re probably a supermodel. If your hair doesn’t go through the eye of the needle, you have issues.

Lucky for you, though, some Pantene conditioner will fix your ratty hair. Soon, you too will be able to stick your hair through the eye of a needle. Whenever you want! You could carry a needle with you at all times to prove how awesome your hair is.

I get what they’re trying to do. No one likes split ends. As far as I’m concerned, though, a conditioner ad could just tell me that my hair will no longer be frizzy with the grossness of a million split ends. That’s all it takes to make me happy! Say my hair will be smooth and silky! Now I have to find a needle and try to stick my hair in it to see if this conditioner is working?

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

*I can’t actually do any tricks with my hair. :(

These Are My Mom Jeans

Mom Jeans

These are my mom jeans.
And yes, I’m just walking around by the corn field in this getup. The corn doesn’t judge me!

Every time I hear someone talk about “mom jeans,” I cringe a little bit. Most of the moms I know don’t wear those high-waisted, awkwardly cut jeans that others like to foist the mom label on. I’m a mom. My jeans are mom jeans. Currently, my favorite mom jeans are a pair of skinnies from Maurices. They’re cute. They’re comfy. They’re less than 30 bucks.

I hate the idea that becoming a mom carries the assumption that you’ll lose your sense of style. I’ve always loved clothes. And accessories. AND SHOES. Why should that change now that I’m running kids to sports practices and chasing a toddler around? Sure, I don’t wear 4-inch heels as much any more, but I still love putting together an outfit for the day. Even if that day is going to be boooooring.

Do you have a “style?” Mine tends to be casual and comfortable, but a little bit dressier than average for my part of the world. My husband regularly says, “oh, I didn’t know this event was formal,” when we’re getting ready to go out. While I like to be put-together, I don’t like a lot of fussy things that need to be re-adjusted constantly. A skirt that shifts up? No. Jeans that slide down? No. A shirt that might gap open in front? Noooooo.

My “uniform” is probably comfy (not baggy) jeans, a cute top, statement necklace, cute shoes, and a very large purse.

On the modesty front, I don’t go out of my way to cover a specific amount of skin or make sure my collarbone is covered or whatever. I like fitted clothes. I like v-neck shirts because they’re flattering. If it’s cut low, I either wear a tank top underneath or make sure I put my hand over the neckline if I need to lean over. If someone is close enough to look down my shirt, I’d say that’s on them.

Lately, I’ve heard some of my friends lamenting their lack of style. While I don’t consider myself to be the fashion icon of 2014, I take note when other moms compliment what I’m wearing while bemoaning their lack of stylish clothes. If you’ve ever wanted to feel a little more fashionable when you’re out and about, here are a few tips for developing your own personal style.

  • Make sure your clothes fit. I don’t care if you’re a size 0 or a 24! There are clothes available in all sizes and you can find some that will accentuate whatever part of your body you like best. Don’t try to hide in your clothes.
  • Try on something new and interesting any time you go shopping. Make it something that you like on the rack or on a mannequin, but probably wouldn’t buy otherwise. One of my favorite outfits is one that I never would have guessed would look good on me.
  • Know what you like. I will try almost anything, but I know I won’t wear leopard print. Ever.
  • Know what colors look good on you. If you aren’t sure, take a friend with you and try a few things out. I’m fair-skinned but have red undertones. If I wear certain shades of red or orange, I look like a tomato.
  • Make sure your clothes are comfortable. Can you sit in that skirt without feeling awkward? If you walk around the store, does your shirt shimmy up past your midriff? Do the jeans give you a wedgie? You don’t want to spend all day tugging on your clothes to keep them in place.
  • Accessorize! Jewelry, scarves, hats, belts… Find some accessories you love and wear them with abandon. I don’t love belts on me, but they look super-cute on other people. I almost always wear a necklace and other jewelry that coordinates with my outfit.
  • If the shoe fits, buy it. But make sure it’s comfortable and appropriate for your lifestyle first. I love spiky-heeled Louboutins as much as the next girl, but I live on a farm in Kansas. Sparkly flats and boots are a little better suited to my wardrobe and my life.
  • Don’t underestimate your underwear. Seriously, get rid of your old undies and that bra with the straps that always slide down. Everything looks better on the outside when the undergarments fit well. If you’re self-conscious about your post-baby belly, get some Spanx. It’s OK to wear Spanx to the grocery store if that’s what makes you feel awesome.

What tips do you have for moms who want to up their style game?

Kid Stuff – Late September

School is in full swing here, for my kids that attend public school and for my homeschooler. We have cross-country meets, football games, field trips, homework, and softball games to juggle on our schedules. Life is busy. Maybe a little too busy, since I’ve dropped a few balls from my own schedule this week.

The house is noisy. A side-effect of the constant business is that the laundry piles up. Fast. The kids get tired and slack off on their zone chores. I get tired and slack off on my mom chores.

The other day, the kids were running around and playing hide and seek together, all 5 of them, while I was making dinner. The noise level was epic. I was just about to yell down the hall for them to be quiet when I opened a cabinet door in the kitchen and saw this….

mayacabinet

Oh, hello.

So I laughed, and remembered that there was a time when my heart ached for the sound of lots of kids running around in my house. Now it’s loud, and it’s messy, and we may never finish all of the laundry, but it’s home.

Being Social – Meet a Few New Bloggers

I tend to stick pretty close to my existing group of friends. The funny thing is, though, I met loads of my friends online in various forums and sites. Lately I’ve made an effort to meet some new people online. Not in a match.com kind of way. More like a networking and friends kind of way. :) If you’re looking for some new blogs to follow and new bloggers to connect with, I’d suggest participating in a blog hop.

This month, I joined in a Twitter hop and a Facebook hop. Basically, it means you visit the sites that are linked up, and you can check out what others are posting on social media and their blogs. Here are the two I participated in. Do you have other blog hops or link up sites you use to connect with others online?
Facebook-Blog-Hop4Up All Night Blogging Twitter Blog Hop

This entry was posted in Other.

New Blogger Giveaway Opp

Curious about participating in giveaways as a blogger? Here’s a great chance to get started! Up All Night Blogging is hosting a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway, and you can participate if you’re a member. If you’re not, sign up and mingle with some other bloggers, and take advantage of fun giveaway opps like this one. :)

Blogger Opp: Amazon Gift Card Giveaway #UANB Event

Organized By:

Reviews 411

and…

Up All Night Blogging

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Signups will close once all Co-Host spots are filled. The giveaway event dates are TBA.

sign up now

 

This entry was posted in Other.

The Lifestyle Change Post

Steak and asparagus

A perfect dinner. Actually, this would be 3 perfect dinners for me. Flickr/Dollen

For the last 6 months, I’ve been losing weight. Lately, the difference is dramatic enough that people who haven’t seen me in a while do the “whoa! You look different!” thing. People have also started asking what I’ve been doing differently. My stock answer has been, “basically, I don’t eat.” That’s true, sort of.

Part of the reason I’ve lost weight is because I was ill for a long while and I had surgery on part of my stomach and now I’m not hungry pretty much ever. The other reason is because I’ve made the choice to eat a lot of protein and veggies. The weird thing about not eating that much is that if you make bad food choices, you’ll still gain weight. Even with miniscule portions, if I fill up on rice and bread and sugar, I don’t lose weight. Thank you, jacked up metabolism!

As for the protein, I make sure I get at least 60 grams a day. 80 grams is better. The best way is eating lean meat, but I will grab a protein shake or bar if I’m low for the day. I don’t use protein supplements as a regular thing, though. They’re not real food. Lifestyle change means you can keep up with it for your whole life, right? There’s no way I could live on protein shakes, especially when a serving of steak is so much tastier. After I plan proteins, I eat as many veggies as I can until I’m full.

Because it’s a life change, I make room for a treat when I want a treat. My daughter is making these Nutella and peanut butter cookies right now, and I am absolutely going to eat one or four. I’m still a fan of potatoes, so I might grab a couple of fries or a small baked potato occasionally. Being overly restrictive doesn’t make life fun, in my opinion.

Before you think to yourself, “gee, self, I’d like to have this mysterious illness that makes Heather not hungry,” you should know there are downsides to having a metabolism that wants to kill you. First, there’s no way I can go crazy on Thanksgiving any more. Even if I wanted to have a luxurious food binge day, I couldn’t. It would make me sick. A luxurious food day for me is having a half-slice of pie instead of a few bites. Second, my hair fell out. It’s not the end of the world, but I’m rather vain, so I was not pleased. More on that later. Third, it means that I make things for my family to eat that I would actually love to eat, but I can’t, because I really have to focus on the high-protein foods and veggies. Last, having very much sugar also makes me sick. That’s pretty good motivation for not raiding the cookie jar too often, but there are times when a girl just really wants some chocolate already.

So that’s the story. My lifestyle change was half forced and half by choice. The choice part is not easy, especially not at first, but the results are worth it. The high protein and loads of veggies method has worked for Erica, too – 5 Lifestyle Changes That Helped 20 Pounds Disappear. Like Erica, I don’t follow a specific low-carb diet plan like Atkins or South Beach or whatever is popular these days. Paleo? That’s still a thing, right? I don’t even call it low carb, because I’m not focused on restricting. It’s all about making healthy choices with an occasional indulgence thrown in. But, the “healthy choices with an occasional indulgence” diet doesn’t sound as catchy, huh?

Spirit Airlines – Not a Great Choice for Large Families

empty airport

Pictured here: all of the passengers who are delighted to pay for a boarding pass and a cup of water.

When I booked a trip recently, I was wooed by Spirit Airlines’ very low fares. The airline is new to Kansas City, so I didn’t have the benefit of previous experience or word of mouth reviews. I liked the flight times, the price was right, so I booked it. Frankly, I should have done more homework. However, what I learned about flying Spirit might save other people the trouble. Large families are often looking for cheap airfare, so I’m writing this post to let you know that those low fares are just the tip of the iceberg. When you book via Expedia or another aggregator, the extra fees are NOT mentioned. If you’re booking for a family, you’ll probably end up paying quite a bit more than that ticket fee you see on your computer screen.

Spirit’s extra fees and terrible customer service are so bad they’ve even been parodied on The Onion and mocked on Buzzfeed. According to the Washington Post, Spirit has the highest rate of customer complaints in the industry.

First, you’re getting a seat on a plane for that ticket price. That is it. Period. You are not getting to choose your seat. That’s another charge per seat, per flight. You need to sit by your kids on the flight? That costs money. According to the airline website, the seat fee ranges from $1 to $50. On my flights it was $18 per seat. For my family, it would have cost an additional $216 just to make sure my kids were seated in the same part of the plane as one parent.

Even on an empty flight, you won’t be allowed to switch seats until the plane has reached cruising altitude. So if your kids are seated elsewhere, you likely will not be able to re-arrange until the flight is well underway. I paid for a window seat on my flights because I get airsick otherwise. For that $36, I was rewarded by having all of the other passengers with random seat assignments packed around me on a mostly empty flight.

The man sitting next to me on my departing flight apparently did not believe the flight attendants about not switching until we were in the air. He was still un-buckled with his carry-on bag on his lap through the whole taxi time. When the plane started to pick up speed for take-off, he finally decided he needed to buckle up and did the T-Rex contortion dance to shove his bag under the seat. The flight attendants saw him like that during all of the pre-flight checks and said nothing! Not reassuring in terms of safety, eh?

spirit twitter

People are talking about Spirit on Twitter. Not nicely. But they’re talking.

The seats are much closer together than other airlines. You get 28 inches of legroom, which is the smallest available on U.S. airlines. I’m barely 5’6″ and my knees were touching the seat in front of me. There was absolutely no way to get comfortable. The tall man behind me had to apologize non-stop for 2.5 hours because if he dared move his leg he accidentally kicked my seat. Imagine that setup with young kids. It’s hard enough to keep children from wiggling and bumping the seat in front of them on a regular airplane. Move the seats even closer together and I guarantee you’ll spend the whole flight holding your toddler’s legs in place to prevent seat-kicking.

The distance between seats also makes it very difficult to get anything out of your carry-on bag during the flight. This isn’t so bad if you’re seated by someone in your own family and can practically lay on them in order to scoot your bag out from under the seat in front of you. It’s likely that you’ll end up with your face pressed against the seatback as you try to get your arm down to that bag, though. It’s like you’re the T-Rex from Meet the Robinsons, trying to reach your prey in the corner. It’s not pleasant.

Speaking of carry-on bags, you will need small ones. Taking a regulation-size carry-on with you will cost $35 if you pay ahead of time. At the gate, that’ll cost you $100. You’re allowed to carry your book or Kindle or a snack onto the plane, or a briefcase/purse type bag for free. It has to fit in their 16″x14″x12″ bag sizing box, so double check that it meets their size requirements or you could be out more money. Most large families I know travel with big backpacks as carry-ons because everyone can tote their own stuff that way. A big backpack would not fit in that sizing box. Again, for my family, taking the backpacks on the plane would cost $245 each way if we paid when we booked the tickets. At the ticket counter it jumps to $350 for a family of 7. At the gate – $700. Continue reading →

CPS Week: A Giveaway and A Challenge

hc symphony giveawayIt’s Child Passenger Safety Week. That may not mean much to some people. As a Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor, this week is a reminder of how far we’ve come in improving safety for kids on the road. It’s also a reminder of how far we still have to go. Children are still dying in crashes that they could have survived. For every child that dies, several more will be injured in ways that affect them for life.

Of all the things we worry about as parents, I’m consistently surprised at how low car seat safety tends to be on the parental concern scale. You buy the car seat, you plop it in the car, you strap the kiddo in. What’s to worry about, right? Based on the photos people post online of their smiling or snoozing kids in their car seats, there’s still plenty to worry about. The straps are too loose and twisted. The harness isn’t even completely on the child. A tiny infant is sitting forward-facing. A petite 3rd grader has the shoulder belt tucked under their arm because otherwise it covers their face.

And people laugh at those who express concern or take great care to buckle their kids up correctly. One mom I know recently posted a picture of her child, properly restrained in a booster seat, and received several comments about wrapping her kid in bubble wrap or sending her to driver’s ed with a booster seat.

This is one thing we can do as parents that makes a real difference. I cannot ensure that my child doesn’t become ill with a rare disease. I cannot protect my kids from freak accidents. But I can make sure they have the best possible chance of surviving a car crash, and reduce their chance of injury so they’re more likely to walk away on their own two feet.

Vehicle crashes are still one of the leading causes of death and injury to kids under 14. We can do better. Cars will crash. Accidents happen. Our actions now can definitely improve the outcomes later, though.

My challenge to you this week is to find one thing you could do better to protect your kids in the car. If you have little ones, check out a few of my car seat safety tips. If your kids are older, make sure they know how the seat belt should fit, and remind them that they should be buckled up every time. If the seat belt doesn’t fit your 8 to 12 year old, get a booster. The Safety 1st Incognito
is a great one for older kids since it blends in with the vehicle interior. Clear out the junk that accumulates in a family vehicle so it won’t fly around and hurt people in a crash. Make sure you’re buckling up every time, too, because the kids won’t if you don’t.

I’m giving away an Evenflo Symphony DLX 3-in-1 car seat to celebrate CPS Week! This is a fantastic car seat that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, and as a booster. It’s super-easy to use and I think it’s one of the best available right now – get all the details and features in my Evenflo Symphony DLX review. All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is follow my Facebook and Twitter pages using the Rafflecopter widget below. For bonus entries, you can share some of my car seat safety tips so others can take on the CPS Week Challenge, too.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2014 Baby Gear Bonanza

 

Mutsystroller

Mutsy’s leather-accented stroller models.

I’ve just returned home from the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, where I browsed thousands of booths filled with new and cool baby and toddler products. There are some very interesting new strollers and travel cribs/play yards coming out this year, and as always, I scoped out the most beautiful diaper bags so you can stay stylish and keep that baggie of stained baby clothes and the blown-out cloth diaper under wraps.

A few trends to note – leather accents are EVERYWHERE. Several stroller manufacturers were showing luxurious leather-wrapped stroller handles. Mutsy had some (shown below), as did iCoo (with copper stroller frames to complement the color), and Cybex (whose new Priam stroller can even be outfitted with skis on the front for colder climates). Diaper bag companies often have leather, but even their offerings were just a little more posh than previous years.

oemidiaperbag

Yes, I bought this Oemi bag. Yes, I will love it FOREVER.

My favorite was the shimmery Italian leather bags from Oemi Baby. There was even a stunning leather bassinet from the Spanish baby gear company BabyHome.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to run some giveaways of neat items I found at ABC. You can be part of the giveaways by following me on Twitter (@HeatherCPST), Instagram (@HeatherCPST), Pinterest (SoybeanQueen), Facebook (Heather Corley Baby, Family & Style), or Google+ (Heather Corley). Follow one, follow all, but follow something because I think you’ll love the products I’m going to share with you. Most aren’t sponsored giveaways. They’re products so cute or useful that I just want you to have them. Lucky you!

suriteethers

These silicone Suri the Octopus teethers from MayApple Baby are adorable and super-squishy.

In the meantime, take a look at my Instagram or Twitter for pics of some great items from the ABC Kids Expo. More yet to come!