Jul 292015
 

Check these amazing dress finds at Belk! Your wardrobe--and your budget with these FANTASTIC deals--will thank you!Let’s be straight: I drool for fashion. I sit in my perfectly ensconced-by-budgetary-concerns world of preschool pick-up-friendly athleisure and fantastize about more. More pretty things. Less advertising to the world at large that I work solely from home in my yoga pants. I reverently flip through the pages of People Style Watch and think, “This could be me??”.

True story, with a teensy more effort and some savvy bargain hunting skills, it could be me. Sites like ShopatHome make it ridiculously easy to bank the savings while scoring big on the goods you’re crushing on.

What is ShopAtHome.com? It’s an online coupon and cash back site that partners with thousands of online retailers and more than 60 million members to deliver savings and rewards. In short? It’s a sweet deal!

It allows me to pop over to one of My Favorite Stores of All Time, Belk, the Southern fashion mecca, and snatch up some fantastic savings for a fraction of the original cost. Currently, ShopatHome is offering 12% cash back at Belk! Score!

Belk was the source of my go-to amazing leather boots I snagged a few years ago that I wear non-stop come October; I trust this store endlessly to provide fashionable, quality choices for my wardrobe. Belk has a skilled knack for snagging incredible finds that look fantastic. To prove the point?

When the most fashionable (and incredibly sweet, nice) gal I know (seriously, I was floored by her savvy gorgeousness and fab Southern-style at BlogU), Harmony Hobbs of Modern Mommy Madness, sent an urgent heads-up that AN AMAZING SALE was happening at Belk, it was time to pay attention.

This is how cute Harmony looks when scoring an adorable dress at Belk:

Check these amazing dress finds at Belk! Your wardrobe--and your budget with these FANTASTIC deals--will thank you!

I know. I KNOW. She is TOO adorable. I hate her a teensy bit too ;)

When I’m not busy jealously scowling at Harmony’s beauty, I am swooning over these Belk finds:

The jeans everyone needs. Seriously, they flatter every body shape.

This is the cutest fall dress of all time. Hip, fun and comfy? A total win!

Check these amazing dress finds at Belk! Your wardrobe--and your budget with these FANTASTIC deals--will thank you!

This one statement necklace will go with everything you own and that will make you feel like a rockstar every time you put it on.

These comfy chic slip-on boat shoes feel like a dream and work with so many outfits.

I would swoon to snag this leather watch that goes with EVERYTHING and would make you feel boss every time you slip it on.Oh my goodness! I am crushing on this watch BIG-TIME. Adorable, trendy and will go with so much. Go here to save a ton on it!The fall tote that carries everything you need while looking uber-cool.

The agenda notebook that makes you feel boss while schooling your insane days.

The one pair of stud earrings that will go with over half your wardrobe and you will never regret buying.

Looking for a pair of simple earrings that will go with over half of your wardrobe? Delivered! These are simple, sweet, and fit the bill! Plus, link through here to snag INCREDIBLE savings on your pair!

As Harmony reminded me, every Southern gal needs a good hat. Not sure how Southern this is, but the fedora is SO in!

A trendy tunic sweater to match up with your fav pair of skinny jeans? Yes, please!

Listen, I can’t realistically promise to shed my yoga pants in the interest of fashion every single day of my mom-fab life, but with the tremendous savings-power of shopping Belk through ShopAtHome, my reasons-not-to are fast fading. Bring the sweet Southern-style, bargains included, on! It’s time to get fashionable, friends!

Check these amazing dress finds at Belk! Your wardrobe--and your budget with these FANTASTIC deals--will thank you!

****Thanks to Belk for sponsoring this post so I could share some sweet fall fashion finds with all of you! My hope of actually snagging and sporting these fab duds remains 100% genuine!**** 

Jul 172015
 

Cape May, NJ is FULL of sweet, small shops, but trust me--this is the ONE that you can't miss! And here are 4 reasons why--did I mention that it's kid-friendly?? ;)I have endless memories of my mother, a natural-born shopper, delighting in browsing the shops at Cape May, NJ on our vacations. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’ve inherited her shopping gene. That’s cool; he can go ahead and roll his eyes in the corner, I’m too thrilled with my hunting for special treasures to notice his silliness. I’m shopping it up on our vacations and I’m loving it.

In the past couple years, in between wave jumping and pitiful sand-castle-building while sneaking out for my shopping fix, I discovered the most incredible shop in Cape May: Across the Way. This gift and home decor shop was opened seven years ago at the end of the Washington Street Mall across the way from it’s sister store, Madame’s Port. It’s been so successful, they recently opened a second store in Stone Harbor, NJ.

 

Why do I love Across the Way and why is it so popular?

Finding a sweet shop you'd love to return to again and again can be hard! Here's the 4 things that keep me coming back--small business owners take heed! I'll bet you never thought #4 through before!

1) They sell really cool stuff. Like, really. The owners are uber-dedicated to finding unique items, buying from local artisans and American-made product as they can. From gorgeous jewelry to trendy bags to pallet-board wall art to games and books for the kids to eco-friendly gifts, you’ll have fun looking around and checking out their stock. Find something perfect for whomever you’re shopping for–yourself included! They are also known for the tremendous line of Lenny and Eva jewelry they carry and as a sweet treat, are giving away a large sentiment/brass combo to one of you readers! Find more details about this below.

Cape May, NJ is FULL of sweet, small shops, but trust me--this is the ONE that you can't miss! The selection of unique one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces is supreme. And you can even design your own bracelet cuff with the amazing brand featured in the shop--and online! Here are 4 reasons why you will go back to this shop again and again! Check out this boss leather cuff my sister put together!

Check out this boss leather cuff my sister put together!

Cape May, NJ is FULL of sweet, small shops, but trust me--this is the ONE that you can't miss! The selection of unique one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces is supreme. And you can even design your own bracelet cuff with the amazing brand featured in the shop--and online! Here are 4 reasons why you will go back to this shop again and again!

I love the sweet matching rings my sister and I found!

2) The store is set up really well. Aside from the fact that they have two register stations so you never have to wait in a long line (always a plus when you have whiny kids in tow), they very smartly have some kids items stashed towards the front of the shop. And they encourage the children to play with the display toys (I know–awesome!). Even cooler, they have some guy-friendly items (puzzles, books, games, etc.) right beside the kids’ area. This allows Mommy to at least hope her family will be happily occupied while she shops through the rest of the store.

Love shopping but hate having to worry about bring your kids with you and having them crash into or break something? Finally a small shop with unique treasures and finds for mom--and a family-friendly environment for the kids!

3) The staff is really nice and helpful. Of course I fell in love with a particular necklace that happened to be in the front display window, buried in front of about a zillion display stands and other items. Basically, the staff had to dismantle the entire store front to retrieve the necklace. And they never batted an eye during the whole process. Not only were they not grouchy with me for making them work so hard, they were very friendly and kind. They were also more than willing to answer my questions about different products as I sorted out all selections.

4) They have a very cool online presence. I understand that as a blogger, I may more into this than most, but here is why this is a good thing for you too: so many small local shops lack an online site where you can order their products. Across the Way does have a website to order from, and this is fantastic. If you aren’t visiting Cape May soon, or were in the store, saw something you weren’t sure about, then got home and were kicking yourself that you didn’t buy it? No sweat! You can pop over to their website and get it sent straight to your house.

In addition to being on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google +, Across the Way also has a gorgeous Instagram account–follow along to capture some more inspiration and beauty in your day!

Cape May, NJ is FULL of sweet, small shops, but trust me--this is the ONE that you can't miss! The selection of unique one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces is supreme. And you can even design your own bracelet cuff with the amazing brand featured in the shop--and online! Here are 4 reasons why you will go back to this shop again and again!

I love my favorite shop, can you tell? When I leave Across the Way, I feel inspired. And it’s not just the inspirational quotes on the wall decor or engraved in the jewelry, it’s the the store is dedicated to genuine things of beauty and artisanship. I never got to shop here with my mother, but I know she would have LOVED it.

This sweet wooden sign says it all. How to find your own perfect sentiment to snag for your own home.

This sweet wooden sign I found at Across the Way speaks volumes to me!

If you’re headed to Cape May, NJ, swing by and tell them hello from me and pick out something fun! It’s the kind of place you want to visit again and again–in-person and online. If you’re looking for something special, Across the Way is the way to go.

Cape May, NJ is FULL of sweet, small shops, but trust me--this is the ONE that you can't miss! And here are 4 reasons why--did I mention that it's kid-friendly?? ;)

And be sure to enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below for your very own Lenny and Eva bracelet (a wide cuff of your choice with the pictured antique silver sentiment). As long as you live in the continental United States, are 18 or older and enter before 5:30am ET on 7/24/15, you are eligible!

This sentiment on this bracelet is this perfect way to honor what being a Mom of the Year is all about. Enter and then get your shopping on at Across the Way!

The greatest thing she learned is that there's no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.

“The greatest thing she learned is that there’s no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****Many thanks to Across the Way for creating such a gorgeous shop and sponsoring this post and giveaway so I could share them with you!****

 

Jul 122015
 

Have a purchase to make? Pop by here first and save yourself a bunch of dollars. One quick click makes all the difference! Wish I knew this trick from the get-go!Readers, we know I love my bargains. We also know I love to shop, but we can also all see Dr. J cringing visibly in the background while he vigilantly stands guard over our family budget. God bless him.

The thing is, how is a Mom of the Year, with all of her dedicated commitment to providing the best for her family sans breaking the bank supposed to get by? She gets savvy. Very, very savvy. She learns her ins and her outs of online deals and steals and learns to bargain-stalk like no one’s business. It gets real.

She falls in love with sites like Groupon, which allow her to grab sweet finds for a song from the cozy comfort of her jammy pants at home. Someday she may be able to get dressed before 10am, really. For now, she rocks the bargains with a few clicks and feels like boss for being so smart about saving money.

When Groupon makes a mind-blowing announcement that they are introducing Groupon Coupons? The Mom of the Year swoons. World rocked.

Yes, it’s true. Groupon recently launched Groupon Coupons, which features over 77,000 coupons from more than 8,900 stores. Your favorite deal-scoring site just went and made themselves bigger, better and snagged its way into every place you want to shop.

How does it work? If you are planning to buy from store online, first click over to Groupon Coupons and search for the store you are shopping. Click on that store and all the available coupons for that store will pop up. Select your coupon, and it will automatically take you over to the store site, applying the coupon to your purchase. Nothing else you need to do!

Have a purchase to make? Pop by here first and save yourself a bunch of dollars. One quick click makes all the difference! Wish I knew this trick from the get-go!

You could shop without Groupon Coupons, true. But this would be silly. Before making an online purchase, why not pop in through Groupon Coupons and snatch up the savings waiting for you at sites like KohlsNordstromNeiman Marcus, and Macy’s? Linking in through Groupon Coupons leaves more money in your bank account, and in my case, leaves Dr. J less snarly scowly at me.

You work hard for your money, friends. Be smart about it. Shop through Groupon Coupons and stretch those dollars further. Here’s raising my piggy bank to our coupon-saving genius!

****Thanks to Groupon Coupons for sponsoring this post and allowing me to share their money-saving genius with you!****

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:19721969, Copyright:robynmac

Jul 102015
 

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Rocking an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience? Get your jam on this summer with Pringles® and it could happen--really! Get the scoop--and all the silly musical laughs here!Do you remember that hip little beat we rocked at summer camp, the one made by tapping and flipping cups in the dining hall? Kind of like what Becca did when she tried out for the Bellas in Pitch Perfect. I was so boss at this. When Pringles® asked me to partner with them to spread the word about their Summer Jam Promotion, I cued up some of the Pringles® Percussion Prodigies videos and was thrown back to these camp jam sessions.

I doubt I’ll ever be that cool again with my groovy beats, but music is a tremendous part of our family life. Not only does my husband play in the weekly band at our church, he’s dedicated over half of our basement finishing project to display and storage of all his guitars, amps, and other musical paraphernalia. It’s a struggle to cut a path to the washing machine, I won’t lie.

We also work hard to teach our kids to play the piano, sing often, and almost always have tunes playing in the background in our home or in the car. And I couldn’t even count the sweet nights we spend out on our deck, chilling with some albums after the kids are in bed. Music has this gorgeous power to energize, relax, and feed your soul. It’s a gift.

We value music so much, and if there is something that celebrates it and makes it fun, count us in! This summer, Pringles® Summer Jam is the perfect treat for music fans nationwide. This campaign is offering exclusive access to favorite artists and cool music. Since people have been Pringles® cans as instruments for ages, Pringles® challenged M4Sonic and musicians of other styles and backgrounds, officially calling them the Percussion Prodigies, to incorporate the brand’s iconic can into their musical expression. Check out their videos and score some inspiration on how to rock your own Pringles® can as an instrument.

Even more, Pringles® is offering you and a friend the chance to win a VIP experience to a Live Nation concert in the U.S. How do you get in on a chance to win this incredible prize? Just pick up a specially marked can of Pringles®, enter your code online before 7/31/15 at 11:59pm ET.

Rocking an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience? Get your jam on this summer with Pringles® and it could happen--really! Get the scoop--and all the silly musical laughs here!

Feeling inspired by all this musical fun? Go ahead and get your groove on, friends! All you need? A can of Pringles®. Drumsticks and cute kids are optional. Actual musical talent? Definitely optional. Check our fab rendition of Old MacDonald had a Farm below to what I’m talking about. It’s amazing, I know. Old MacDonald will never be the same.

Then go create your own fabulousness and share it on social media with #PringlesSummerJamSweeps.

This summer? The jam is on! Go rock it out with Pringles® and feel that beat!

Rocking an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience? Get your jam on this summer with Pringles® and it could happen--really! Get the scoop--and all the silly musical laughs here!

Abbreviated Rules. No Purchase Necessary. Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry, and are a registered Twitter user. To enter and/or for complete Official Rules, go to https://www.pringles.com/us/promotions/summer-jam-2015/percussion-prodigies/official-rules.html. Promotion ends on 7/31/15 at 11:59:59 PM (ET). Subject to complete Official Rules. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Kellogg Company, One Kellogg Square, Battle Creek, MI  49016.

****This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pringles® Summer Jam.****

Jul 082015
 

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Socks that are comfy, soft, uber-washable, silky and QUALITY? I never knew they existed! Pure bliss! Treat your feet now!My sister and I recently had an intense fight about socks. I was, of course, right, and she was wrong. Obvs. You see, I was standing in defense of socks. She had this not-fun dry heel situation going on with her tootsies, yet still foolishly persisted in favoritism of going barefoot. Having a recent uber-delightful experience with Gold Toe after they asked me to partner with them for this sponsored post to check out their new Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. socks, my (very wise) commitment to covering up those peds with some coziness was only further solidified.

I won’t lie, I first started wearing socks at night as a young child as I believed that they would protect me from any rogue snakes nibbling my toes. I know, the logic of a preschooler cannot be denied. Regardless of how my love affair with socks kicked off, my passion for them  remains deep. I could not, would not, sleep sans a pair of socks.

While a somewhat bizarre habit in toasty summer months, a major plus is that, with the addition of a sweet foot cream, my feet never, ever, dry out out. Seriously, I have the softest tootsies around outside of the newborn-baby crowd.

Since I hang out with my socks so much, I tend to get a bit particular about which ones I like. I need them to be warm, but not too warm. I need the exact proper rise over the ankle, so they look hip with my sneaks (because when you are rocking three day-old yoga pants, this is what matters…), and I really, really need them to be soft.

The Gold Toe Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. socks? Fit this bill and then some. Last night as I was dozing off in my fancy new socks, I thought (don’t laugh at me), “My feet feel silky.” They do. You know how some socks are bulky, almost difficult to jam inside a sneaker? Not the case with Gold Toe Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. The quality is obvious in the smooth fine fabric that slides easily into a pair of shoes. They almost made lacing up my sneaks for exercise seem fun. Almost.

Socks that are comfy, soft, uber-washable, silky and QUALITY? I never knew they existed! Pure bliss! Treat your feet now!

Even better? They wash like a dream–none of the silky soft quality was lost after being tossed through the wash/dry cycle a couple times. And they are so reasonably priced. Gold Toe Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. defines affordable luxury. I wear my socks from sun-up through sun-down so I need them to stand up to frequent wash and wear. This brand delivers.

Socks that are comfy, soft, uber-washable, silky and QUALITY? I never knew they existed! Pure bliss! Treat your feet now!

Learn more about Gold Toe Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. socks by following along with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. And don’t hesitate to hands-on check out the sweetness for yourself!

Socks that are comfy, soft, uber-washable, silky and QUALITY? I never knew they existed! Pure bliss! Treat your feet now!

Let’s be honest, as moms we rarely snag the chance to treat ourselves. Go wild and snag some Gold Toe Ultra Soft, Oh. So. Soft. It’s a handy way to sneak a little bliss into your everyday without rocking the budget. Pamper yourself with these socks, friends. Really.

Your feet will thank you from their blissed out state, I promise.

****This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gold Toe.****

Jul 012015
 

Moms! Finally a shoe that is TRULY comfy AND stylish. They amaze me, and did I mention they are machine-washable?? You have to check these out!Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.

Oh don’t mind me, friends, that’s just the noise of my feet waving their white flag of surrender to all the insanity I’ve already put them through this summer–and it’s only the first day of July. Truth told, the rest of me might be waving that flag right along with my feet, as these intense days are indeed rather intense and Mommy may be feeling a tad cranky-tired from all the fun together time, but another story for another time…

My feet. You see, as far as seasons go, summer is pretty demanding on the peds. There is the whole no-shoes bit, with bumpy driveway gravel, hot sand and roughed up grass. The constant battle against cracked heels and the endless attempts to pedicure-up toes with a pretty polish. Add up lots of park runs, swing pushing, pool swimming, and the unified commitment my children and the dog make to jumping on my baby toes at least 16 times each hour and you have yourself a summer in the life of feet.

It’s a wonder they haven’t up and walked out on me, really. I feel horrible for them, I do.

So when Bzees introduced their shoes to me, they had me at their tagline, “light feels right.” Something light and refreshing for my tired soles? Yes, please.

And then Bzees explained more, “Filled with magical unicorn down, Bzees Cloud Technology is designed to feel, well, like a cloud…weightless, energized and free.” I laughed at their fun humor, my feet cried in relief, and together, we were completely sold.

Moms! Finally a shoe that is TRULY comfy AND stylish. They amaze me, and did I mention they are machine-washable?? You have to check these out!

What does Cloud Technology actually mean?

The Mom of the Year answer: My Bzees arrived, I put them on and wore them for five minutes. I was so amazed, I took them off and made my 13 yr. old Mother’s Helper put them on. She is the coolest 13 yr. old in the history of the world, so she didn’t bat an eye and fully agreed that they were blissful. Bzees are so incredible they demand to be shared.

The official answer: there is an air-infused outsole (micro-cellular air bubbles trapped within that enables them to be lightweight, extremely soft and bouncy), dynamic stretch uppers (a dynamic fitting stretch upper material over/across the top of your foot that enables your foot to move freely with support),  free-foamTM footbeds (specially blended micro-cellular polymer foam that delivers high resiliency without compacting and creating a low pressure walking experience that’s like walking on a cloud), and THEY ARE MACHINE WASHABLE.

Really. I know. I’ll let that last point sink in. Kids’ dripping ice cream or those horrid melty red ice pops? No match for Bzees. You can wash them, mom!

Moms! Finally a shoe that is TRULY comfy AND stylish. They amaze me, and did I mention they are machine-washable?? You have to check these out!

 

As Bzees explains, their shoes are “the simple and stylish footwear choice to add a spring in your step through your day’s highs and lows. Easy-to-wear and easy-to-wash, they’re your ideal companion for everyday reality: all that’s unexpected, whimsical, and downright messy in life.”

Let me break this down: we moms are horridly rough on our feet. Bzees has created stylish, fun options that feel like a dream and are okay to throw in the wash after our kids work their worst on them. In short, they are a miracle.

Even cooler? One pair is up for grabs to one of YOU, readers. Any in-stock pair of your choice! Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible! Giveaway will close on 7/8/15 at 5:30am ET.

In the meantime, shop Bzees, friends. Your feet will cease sending you daggers while you press on through the summer frenzy of toddler butterfly-chasing, I promise.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Moms! Finally a shoe that is TRULY comfy AND stylish. They amaze me, and did I mention they are machine-washable?? You have to check these out!
****Thanks to Bzees for sponsoring this post and introducing me to a brand that my feet will love for years to come!****
Jun 282015
 

Well, crap. We’ve been at the beach this whole past week, and when my dear friend Femme Frugality asked me to help her celebrate her four year blogiversary, I was eager, but didn’t have a chance to read her post until right now. And now I’m tearing up.

As I told my sister this week (before I even read Femme’s words), Femme was my first friend in this blogging world. We dove into this online business right about the same time. I have met and hugged her in person, but moreover, the blessing of being able to cheer on and support each other as we have grown has been an incredible blessing. She has such a sweet heart and is wicked smart. If you don’t read her, do.

While I love her blog, above all, I love her. She gets me. Read on, and you’ll see why. And then help me celebrate her four years with this boss giveaway! xo, Femme!

Celebrate the heart of friendship--and the very real coolness of blogging with this sweet anniversary giveaway from this amazing woman!Hi, Mom of the Year readers! I’m Femme Frugality, a personal finance blogger and mother. I know what you’re probably thinking. Personal finance is boring. You’re right. It can be. But it can also be the means to achieving major life goals, the methods for tracking your progress, or figuring out how to afford the little luxuries that you want. (Or your kids are begging for.) In my book, that’s some pretty exciting stuff.

So that’s what I do. I started doing it four years ago yesterday. Very early on in that process, I met Meredith who was also staring out. And I fell in love. While I feel like I’ve got my money in order, I totally don’t feel like I have this whole parenting thing down. Simultaneously, I feel like every other mother around me does.

Or at least I did four years ago. The Mom of the Year was a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t alone in my struggles. I wasn’t alone in the sheer joy that comes with all the small wins. Meredith was with me. As time went on, I started realizing something. The moms who look like they have it all together? Most of them are faking it. The moms who say they have everything together? Most of them are lying. I don’t know that I ever would have gotten over my feelings of isolation in my struggles without Meredith’s honesty, and good humor to boot.

As if that weren’t enough, she’s also been an amazing friend. We’ve worked on navigating this whole blogging thing together over the past years. While we write about different topics, we’ve found that many strategies are similar, and the help she’s provided along the way has been such a propelling force in my growth. We exchanged guest posts at least once. She wrote about some awesome ways to save money as a mother. I wrote about the optionality of hair brushing, and other ways I was screwing up with my first-born.

The past couple of years, I’ve been sharing giveaways with my readers on my blogging birthday. I make some money from my blog, and without readers that doesn’t happen. So giving something back at least annually feels like the right thing to do.

This is one of the many times Meredith’s friendship comes in, and this time I’m not the only beneficiary. She’s always generous enough to take part in my giveaways. When she takes part, she extends the opportunity to enter to all of you, her readers.

This year that opportunity is to enter to win a $75 Target Gift Card. It’s open worldwide. My hope is that it helps someone struggling with their budget this month, or allows someone who’s been keeping their nose to the grindstone to finally go out and splurge. Really it’s the winner’s to use as they wish, and I’m wishing The Mom of the Year readers the best of luck as they enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 172015
 

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!We play it pretty tame around here. Our wildest nights consist of deciding to start an episode of the fantastically addictive Orange is the New Black after 8pm. I’m sadly not joking.

So when I trekked off to BlogU the weekend before last and came home with blue hair, it was of note. Not of note in that my husband was particularly concerned. He asked if this was my version of a midlife crisis, I said “probably”, and we left it at that. We do a pretty decent job of letting each other do our own thing.

No, it was of note in the sense that my hair, depending on the last time I’ve made a pass at one of my at-home highlighting kits, has always remained solidly hued in the blonde-to-light brown spectrum. Blue was definitely something new for me and my strands.

My children captured the seeming lack of logic behind my new color splash best, “But why, Mommy?” I, of course, tried to pacify their questions by lying and telling them I did it because I knew blue was one of their favorite colors. A useless explanation and they knew it: “But why, Mommy?”

Why did I dye my hair blue?

Why not?

I’m 35 and work from home. I’m my own boss in more ways than one. This helps lend sense to my reasoning, but still doesn’t explain, I know.

A week before BlogU, I broke into one of my dye kits in the midst of a very full weekend. In my haste, well…let’s just say it didn’t go well. I posted a spoofy advance apology in our conference group for my wonky color job, and some how the conversation turned to how I should just dye my hair blue and forget about it. And I thought, “why not?”.

I mean if Kelly Ripa can rock her pink, and my beloved People Style Watch reports that vibrant locks are the way to go, why not bandwagon it up and hop in on the trend? Plus, in my book, blue is always prettier than brown.

So I had no reason not to dye my hair, but yet I had a very real reason to dye my hair.

You see, I’ve talked a lot about my mother dying 3 years ago. And while this will never become any less horrible, I do us all a disservice by not talking about the blessings that have come from her death. Screeeeech…hold the phone. What’s that, blessings from her death? Yes, blessings. Changes in family functioning, new friends, discovery of fellow kindred spirits, and most namely, abandonment of fear.

I have written about this before, but since my mom took her exit, the things of this world don’t matter as much. I have no control over what happens and I’m very aware of this. Clinging to a careful protection of what transpires seems pretty useless…and this is very freeing.

Four years ago? This would have been my hair! That which I cared for and styled and presented to the world at large. Now? It’s just hair.

It’s just hair. 

Still, this is only further explanation as to why dying my hair was of no consequence, not what the actual reason was that I did dye my hair.

There was only one reason. Jessica D’Pirate.

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!

Who is she? Until 10 days ago, I didn’t know aside from the fact that she has a cool blog (seriously, go check out Domestic Pirate, you’ll thank me later) and a fun online presence with a rockin’ Instagram account. Now I know she is a mom of four who loves her family so much. I know she has really boss friends who throw her awesome birthday parties and how incredibly gorgeous the bright shade of her purple hair is when you see it in-person. I know that she can cut a dance move like no one’s business and that she is so easy to laugh and is one of those precious people with whom you can be real.

She was the one who kindly offered to hook me up with the blue in that Facebook thread before the conference. And she’s the one who welcomed me into her dorm room at Blog U without knowing me at all and shared her color-changing magic.

I know that she is kind. That she is nice. That she has a sweet spirit and that I will miss her a ton if I don’t get to meet up with her again.

I know that she is a fellow soul on this earth and that if I had been precious about maintaining my ill-highlighted blondeness, I would have totally missed the chance to connect with her. What a loss. What a colossal, colossal loss.

The gift of sharing a moment with someone else? It’s a gift. Meeting someone as boss as Jessica and bonding over hair dye? Worth it–whatever the result looked like.

She was worth it. She was the reason dyeing my hair was a good idea. She was my why.

That I really, really love my blue streak? It’s only a bonus.

Go find your own blue, friends, it might be far, far more valuable than the color of your hair.

Jun 122015
 
Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

Binkies and Briefcases wears braces like boss!

Last weekend I had one of those Experiences-of-a-Lifetime-You-Will-Never-Forget. That’s perfect because I don’t want to forget it. Ever.

After a year’s worth of endless behind the scenes planning and four days worth of running like a mad woman lifting boxes heavier than my Jillian Michael DVD-trained muscles should ever be allowed, WE DID IT. We pulled off an amazing Blog U 2015 Conference.

It was boss.

Really, there is no other way to put it. It might be important to note that my hair is now dyed blue, but more on that later.

For now, let’s just focus on the fact that BlogU was incredible. Full of hard-hitting blog how-to that you need to know and tons of co-blogger bonding, it was, in short, EPIC.

I could go on and on about the pride that soared through my soul reflecting in the heart-bursting moments when the Term Paper of the Year awards were read (really, this ended me) or when the faculty showed off their savvy brilliance schooling us during sessions. It was beautiful, the kind of beautiful that words don’t accommodate.

But let me focus on the highlight of the weekend–the #MiddleSchoolAwkward Night sponsored by Nickelodeon. It was aces. A gorgeous mix of poignant ungainly pre-teen memories coupled with the extreme coolness of ginormous scrunchies. The chance to throw-back to these years was a gift. A really, really fun gift.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

The thing is, back when we were in Middle School, we were awesome. We were fearlessly committed to our hideous neon accents and off-center ponytails/t-shirts. It was a Lifestyle of Awkward and we were its spokeswomen. It was fabulous in its tragedy.

We were a mess and we didn’t know it. God knows if our mothers actually knew it or they were just too traumatized by our appearance to give us a polite head’s up. Either way, we were rocking it. We were rocking it in the way that we so passionately believed in our NKOTB paraphanelia, we wouldn’t have believed any naysaying anyway.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

You see, we were cool back then.

There was an intrinsic beauty in the awkward. There was a full sold-out dedication to ugly neon hues and our staunch refusal to recognize their hideousness. We were a culture, an age, a generation committed to our flashy colors and acid-washed denim.

I don’t believe teens and preteens today experience the same level of anti-fantasticness we did in our early years. Today’s generation nails it–they actually look human when they leave the house. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms explains this perfectly. We did not look enjoy this level of refinement. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was dicey. For two decades, middle schoolers existed solely on a continuum of awkward appearance.

Every generation has their tangible components, their jelly shoes and glitter-filled snap bracelets that are unique to their place in history. Ours were just far more ugly than those of today. In today’s world, the girls actually look pretty. In my day, we said, “screw pretty as long as our trainer bra straps hang out abundantly from our off-the shoulder tees”. Let’s be honest; no one ever looked good in neon. Ever. 

But do you know what I saw when I looked around at the Nickelodeon #MiddleSchoolAwkward dance at Blog U on Saturday night? I saw a sea of happiness, a sea of people who didn’t care.  As the beats of Mickey throbbed through the crowd, I saw a celebration of all that our younger years held, however ghastly they were. And this, this willingness to give it up and go with it regardless, is what side ponytails and t-shirt clips left behind.

And for one night, Nickelodeon allowed me and my fab middle-age homies to travel back to our age of neon innocence and live it up–live it up despite the modern siren call to abandon awkward. Live it up with all our clashing colors and too-large tops and too-tight bottoms. Live it up in the fabulousness of our Middle School selves–side ponies and t-shirt clips most definitely included.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

Being tulle twinsies with Christi Campbell? Rocked!

For one night, we were our stunning awkward selves, and this is why Blog U has captured my heart. It’s a chance to embrace yourself for whatever and whoever you are–poofy tulle skirts included. See you in 2016, friends?

****I wrote this post as part of Nickelodeon’s® sponsorship of The Blog University. The series “100 Things to Do Before High School” premiered on June 6 @ 8pm on Nickelodeon.”****

May 242015
 

Got curls? Learn to love them and wear them proudly! The new Dove Quench Absolute products and Love Your Curls campaign/book, helps girls of all ages keep their hair healthy and wear their ringlets proudly!As I child, I remember my mother endlessly oohing and ahhing over my curls. I thought they were ridiculous and she was insane. They curled up and made my hair shorter; I looked like a boy. Then I got a little older and started showing those curls who was boss, wielding mad power with over-sized barrel curling irons and massive amounts of hairspray and poofy scrunchies (I grew up in the 90s, you know). My mother cried, “I don’t know why you can’t just let your hair go!” But she was my mother, you see; she knew nothing. Then my mom went and took an early exit from this earth, long while I was still gripping tightly to my flat iron, yet some where in the back of my mind her voice stuck. Last summer, fully in the midst of running after two active kiddos through a relentless humidity, I gave up one day and let my hair air dry. A friend saw me and said how much she liked it when my hair was curly. That voice of my mother started echoing, “Let your hair go…just let it go.” So you know what? I did. About one year ago, I stashed the flatiron and hairdryer under the sink and haven’t really looked back. Three cheers for a far simplier and shorter morning routine. While I still battle to properly apply eyeliner without looking like an enthusiastic raccoon, my hair has become a relatively easy-peasy matter of wash-and-go. Except for one sticky-wicket: what products am I supposed to use with this free-for-all going on top of my head? I might have very little time to fancy-up in my world of busy days and young kids, but I would still like to look my best. I want to embrace my curls, but feel lost with the stymeing variety and amount of products in the hair care aisle. Where do I even start? What do I use to help my curls keep their shape? To help them stay smooth and not dry-out? Got curls? Learn to love them and wear them proudly! The new Dove Quench Absolute products and Love Your Curls campaign/book, helps girls of all ages keep their hair healthy and wear their ringlets proudly! Enter Dove to the rescue! Dove recently came out with a whole line of products just for us curly girls. The new Dove Hair Quench Absolute products provides four times more defined, natural curls while nourishing hair with protein, nutrients and Buriti Oil to provide a nourished, smooth finish.

What products are available?

  • Dove Quench Absolute Ultra Nourishing Shampoo
    • Gently cleanses curly hair, leaving it feeling soft and smooth
    • Nourishing formula leaves hair strengthened from the core
  • Dove Quench Absolute Ultra Nourishing Conditioner
    • Absorbs effortlessly into the hair
    • Increases manageability of curls for a smooth finish
    • Naturally curly hair is revived and strengthened from the core
  • Dove Quench Absolute Intensive Restoration Mask
    • A rich, creamy formula
    • Envelopes each curl to deliver intense nourishment for ultimate smoothness and hydration
  • Dove Quench Absolute Supreme Crème Serum
    • Dove’s first curl leave-in nourishing treatment
    • A fast absorbing, lightweight and creamy serum
    • Contains high levels of glycerine to penetrate and nourish hair
    • Can be used on wet or dry hair

After using these products for a week, I’m thrilled that they work. I’m thrilled to have all that I need to keep my curls healthy and looking their best this summer. I’m even more thrilled that Dove hasn’t just introduced a cool new line of products, but that they have launched a whole “Love Your Curls” campaign to encourage women to celebrate their curls and inspire future generations to do the same. Did you know that only 4 in 10 little girls with curly hair think their hair is beautiful, and only 10% of women in the U.S. with curly hair feel proud of their hair? My mother would be rolling over in her grave if she heard this; she thought curls were beautiful and were to be worn with pride. Dove does too. Believing that girls are more likely to feel beautiful and proud of their hair if people around them do, in addition to the campaign and new product line, Dove has created a gorgeous book celebrating curls in all their beauty. The new Love Your Curls book is a poetic tribute to curly hair, inspired by the thousands of stories from women with curly hair. Written by best-selling author, Taiye Selasi and illustrated by Annick Poirier, it is intended to represent and inspire curly girls of all ages.

Download and the free e-book to inspire a curly girl in your life. Personalize it with a custom dedication and illustration for a curly girl in your life, and share it with your friends on social media. It’s such a sweet gift with such a lovely purpose; make yours now! As for me, I’m going to be holing up with my new products, loving on my curls, and doing my best to make sure my daughter crushes on her own curls. I tell her every day how pretty her curls are. Who knows if she’s listening, but you know we moms can’t stop trying when it comes to getting girls to love their curls!

****Thanks to Dove for sponsoring this post. My delight in their new products and campaign is 100% original.****

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