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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm Not Here For Your Entertainment: Summer Survival

Schools..out..for summmma!  Crap!  The last day of school is today.  A time that mothers from all over cherish, spending day in & day out with their children bonding, connecting & secretly drinking in the basement. I'm kidding... (well, half kidding)  We all start out the summer with good intentions with lists of things to do, places to go, people to see.  For some reason it takes about 15 minutes for those plans to go kaput.  "I'm bored, I'm tired, he's touching me."  It can be a challenge, this summer vacation survival thing. I need to figure out how I'm going to get through the next 70 days, 8 hours, 34 minutes & 22 seconds.

When I asked my boys what the would like to do this summer their suggestions were actually not too bad.  The Mystic Aquarium, Science Center, Lake Compounce are all good places.  Aside from costing me about $125 each for a few hours they are tolerable. OK, that's 3 days down.  Only 67 more to cover.

I'm not one of those alpha moms.  You know the really spunky, excitable, over-achieving moms?  Not me.  This often makes me feel inadequate.  Am I the only mom out there that feels like this?  Sure, my kids are sent to school clean, with matching clothes, no bed head with lunch money.  I do not orchestrate lavish birthday parties with rental ponies & bounce houses.  Nor do I schedule my kids morning, noon & night with play dates, chess practice or French lessons.  I am old school.  I say "go outside & play."  No good?  I think it is important for the kids to be able to entertain themselves once in a while.  What ever happened to chase & kick the can battles that lasted until the sun went down?  This is what I remember summer vacation being about.  Playing for hours & of course, the ice cream truck.  Where is that ice cream truck now-a-days?

I think it is nice to sometimes NOT have a plan. No structure.  It is very freeing you know.  "Mom, what are we going to do today?"  "NOTHING!  Go run laps around the yard as fast as you can.  I'll time you.  Ready, set...GO!"  Still, no good?  When I was young, my parents were not totally consumed in making sure we were entertained.  It was not how things were done.  We were the kids.  We got up, got dressed, had breakfast & went outside for the day.  That was it.  I do not remember daily trips to museums, parks & tours of Europe.  If we were lucky we went to the beach.  There, the adults sat down & we went off & played. Outside. All day.  Are you seeing a theme here?

Now, I am not saying that we should never do anything "special."  I'm just saying that if you do these things all the time, they are no longer special.  They are common-place & then, in turn, become expected.  I don't know about you, but I am not an ATM.  Everything "special" really means "IT"S EXPENSIVE."  Hide & seek is pretty cheap.  As is kickball, Frisbee, basketball & napping. 

As I bask on the last few hours of child-free coffee & quiet this morning I hope to have an amazing summer with my kids. I know it will have it's share of arguments, smart-mouthing, whining & temper tantrums.  (And that's just me I'm talking about.) Seriously, summer vacation is here for all of us to enjoy.  I hope I make it through in one piece.  So get out there, have fun & ENJOY!!  If you can't reach me, I'll be in the basement.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My CUPS Runneth Over: A Memoir

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Crying in the department store dressing room.  I was 14 and had no boobs.  None. No boob-lets, nothing!  My mother likes to remind me of this when I am complaining now. I resembled Olive Oyl.  Flat-chested with big feet & a huge nose.  It was depressing.  I was a late bloomer.  Really late.  Then God decided to play a bit of a trick on me.  The next summer, there they were.  Boobs!  Suddenly I had them, along with a number of awkward, teenage boys who were unusually friendly.  It is amazing what having a rack can do to your popularity at that age. I finally had what I wanted...and I HATED it!

Having a large chest is not all it is cracked up to be.  In college, I had to wrap an Ace bandage around my chest in order to play sports.  I'm not kidding.  I also have never had actual eye contact during a conversation.  People, to this day, talk into my chest like it's some sort of make-shift PA system.  Check 1..2?? Look up you idiot!  I also longed to wear cute tank tops, halters & strapless dresses.  It was not to be.  The support apparatus that needed to be in place for these items rivaled a crane trying to hoist a piano up to a 5th story window.  Are you getting the visual?  Pretty hot, huh?

I would see Victoria Secret ads.  They have pretty, sexy bras.  Unfortunately, they do not come in "my" size.  I got to go to a little place they call "Lady Grace."  This place sold bras that looked like turn-of-the century torture devices.  The average age in there was 86.  To get the support I needed meant wearing a bra that came down to my belly-button with a padlock on the back.  ( it looked like my father could have designed this thing, and he was probably happy about it.)  This, my friends, is depressing.  No lace, no front-closure, no black.  They were white, polyester, ugly & once again, I was crying in the dressing room.

The problem at a younger age is you never "embrace" your shape.  You try to cover it up.  (Of course, this does not apply to Snooki)  I never felt comfortable in own skin.  This is not including the wet t-shirt contest I entered in Cancun on spring break.  Tequila was involved and that essentially doesn't count.  Friends would say "you are so lucky" and "I wish I had those."  No, you really don't. If they were fake, then maybe they would be fun, stand at attention & not disappear into my armpits when I lay down.

After 25, some-odd years my once perky buds have changed.  After 2 kids, nursing & that damn gravitational pull, my girls are looking a bit tired.  Deflated, if you will.  Thank god for the push-up bra.  I have become a master at the tuck & shove technique.  You stacked girls out there know what I'm talking about here.  The art of jamming your boobs into the bra.  My nipple is sometimes sticking out the back.  But damn it, I'm wearing this killer lace bra.  I am often aware of the uni-boob situation as well.  There should appear to be two of them.  Strapless bras are out for me.  Boo!

In this day of the breast augmentation & lift I have no shot of comparing to those works of art.  I understand that men have several opinions about "enhanced" boobs.  Some love 'em & some hate 'em.  (I think I love em.)  Mine are real.  There is no denying this, especially when the bra comes off.  (Is it bad when you can kick your nipple with your thigh?)  Really, it is not that bad, but I have that awful visual of them in another 25 years.  Here it is. The lady on the right...yep.

I have finally made peace with my lady pieces.  The girls, sweater-puppies, funbags or whatever they have been called are here to stay. ( Maybe just not in the same place)  I guess I was blessed..at least I have heard that throughout my life. I'd like to thank my mother for this gift.  Nice work, mom! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lash Out: False Lash Application 101

Fake it till you make it!  This can be applied to many things, but today I am giving you some hints & tricks on how to apply & wear false lashes like a pro.  I get so many questions on how to put these bad boys on without looking like a total drag queen.  Like anything else, it takes practice & patience.  So, lets get you some killer lashes.

Before you get started you will need the following:

Lash Glue
Orange Wood Stick

I purchased this little kit (shown below) from Sephora that has all the tools you need.  (I would not recommend the lashes that come in the kit.  They were a little cheap & hard to apply.)

STEP ONE:  Buying the Right Lashes 

Lashes are very hot right now & can be found at any drug store, beauty supply & even the grocery store.  There are a number of different colors, sizes & styles from casual to outrageous.  I like ones that give you a little glam without being too over-the-top. 

These examples below are from Ardell & can be found for about $3.00-$4.00 a pair.

As you can see, they range from a natural thickness to super-lush.  I like to stick with something that adds length but still looks like real lashes.  Ones in the short to medium range are perfect!

You will also need the glue to apply them. I opt for the creamy glue for Strip Lashes in the dark shade.

STEP TWO:  Prepping Lashes

There are different techniques used by many artists, but this is what I find works best for me.  I do my eye makeup first.  If you are a beginner, you may want to practice putting the lashes on a few times before you do this.  It does take some trial & error to get it right.  I do not curl my lashes as the curl sometimes makes it hard to place the lashes flat on your own lash line, but some say this helps if your own lashes are short.  I apply a light coat of mascara to create a nice base for the lashes to adhere to.  Now, on to the application!

STEP THREE: Applying the Lashes

With Strip Lashes (not the individual ones), they need to be the correct size in order to fit properly.  They are generally longer than your actual eyelid & need you need a custom fit.  Remove the strip gently from the tray & hold it up to your lid.  Place the shorter end at the corner of your eye & make a note of the overhang at the longer end.  Take a scissors & trim away the excess.

Then hold the strip in your hands by the two ends.  Slowly roll the strip in a U-shape to create a natural curve that emulates your eyelid shape.  This makes the band flexible & helps the lashes lay down when your are applying them. 

Now it is time to open the glue.  I like to put a small dollop of it on the lash tray & allow it to get a little tacky.  It gets rubbery as it dries so the stickiness will make your application easier.  You can also apply it to the band of the lash straight from the tube, but this can get messy & we want a controlled amount of glue.  Take your orange wood stick (fancy name for a wooden cuticle stick) and dip the flat end into the glue.  Gently dab the glue onto the band of the lashes, being careful not to get any on the actual lashes.  Add a little extra to each end.  Hold the lashes for a minute or two & allow the glue to set a bit.

 Now....Let's get 'em on!!

While looking down, gently place the strip as close to your natural lash line as possible.  you can use your fingers, a tweezers or a lash applicator, whatever is easiest for you.  I use a tweezers.  If the glue is too wet hit it with the heat of your hair dryer or wait another minute or two.  Carefully slide the strip tightly against your lash line.  Using the pointed end of your orange wood stick helps here.  Tuck down the band, concentrating on the ends.  (you don't want these sticking up & poking your eye.)  Hold the band down & allow to dry for about 2-3 minutes.

Repeat on your other eye.  Now this can be tricky, so take you time.  The glue will not set that fast so you have time to manipulate them into position.  The closer to the lash line the better.

You are looking "glam" already!

Once the lashes are in place & dry, there are a few finishing touches you can do to blend them into your own lashes.  I like to take a lash comb & run it through the lashes.  (For the advanced: You can also use a lash curler if you find that they are sticking out took far.)  Place the curler as close to the eyelid and pump GENTLY to give the strip some lift.  Finish with 2 coats of mascara for a more dramatic look if you want.  You can also blend in the strip by applying black eyeliner after the lashes are set.  This picture below is a perfect example of the ideal look, in my opinion.  Not too crazy but beautiful! 

I hope this help you get that fab lash look you crave.  It is fun to do for a special occasion or a night out.  Have fun, practice, play & you will have luxe lashes in no time.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's My Age Again?

How old are you?  I am 41.  I don't feel like I'm 41.  Do I really have to act my age? What exactly does that mean, acting your age?  There are very specific stereotypes when it comes to how old you are.  Now that I'm in my 40's, I'm not completely happy with what society "expects" from a woman "my" age.  I think there are lot of you out there who might agree with me..and maybe some who may be appalled at what my view on this topic is.  Whatever the case, let's do this!

The world tells us that we are mothers now.  No more fun for you, you know.  Time to wear mom-jeans, drive a minivan, let our hair go gray & go quietly about our business.  I am leading the charge against this heinous & disgusting infringement on our rights as "rocking mamas!"  There are a lot of us out there.  Women who say "no" to housecoats, frumpy-ness & lights-out missionary!  I may have a little problem, I admit.  I'm not much of a follower.  Like every woman out there, I do secretly care what others think of me, but I'll be damned to let it dictate who I am.  Love me or hate me, this is me! 

For those who may not know me personally, I was a singer in a band for the past 3 years.  (hence the "rocking mama" nickname)  I would often look out into the alcohol-soaked crowd & think "this kid could be my son."  Depressing, yes. I would always joke that it was time for me to hit the piano bar scene, pour myself a gimlet & sing show tunes at the Capri Lounge.  Singing in Dirty Blonde defined me for a while. In my new neighborhood I was the rocker.  Along with that came my fear that I was being unfairly judged as well.  After all, I am a mother of 2 small children.  What would they think of the woman coming home at 4am with the blow-up doll in the garage?  Come to find out, it was not a curse but a blessing.  My friends enjoyed getting out of the house, rockin along with us & having the same escape as I did.  No one cared that I was 40...including me.

Why do we feel the need to change who we are?  Who are we trying to impress? I understand that my days of doing funnels are over, but I can still have some fun right?  Having children or getting older does not mean closing the door on being true to yourself.  I can still dress up, wear makeup, feel pretty, be sexy, act crazy & change diapers, right?  Mama does not = boring.  I love how my age feels to me.  (I wish I had this much confidence when I was in my 20's.) 

I was never a "barefoot & pregnant in-the-kitchen" type girl.  Luckily, the man I married did not expect this either.  He understands who I am & what I needed to be happy.  If that included rocking late nights with the band, he accepted this.  He surely didn't love it, but got it!  I love him for that.  Expecting someone to completely abandon who they truly are is unfair. 

For a while there, I was worried.  I looked at myself & thought "who am I?"  This once happy, funny & spontaneous girl had become grouchy, miserable & dare I say...a nag.  I didn't like this girl.  I mean, I used to be a good time.  I could blame it on 2 kids within 15 months, lack of sleep and just overall bitchiness.  I could blame it on a number of things.  I had allowed myself to become this shell of a girl that was not me.  I had to do something about this. I wanted that girl back.  The girl my husband fell in love with.  The girl that I am.

I think I found her again..and she is much more fun!

Monday, June 6, 2011

WORKING Marriage

After I put the kids on the bus I look forward to my morning ritual.  Coffee, newspaper & quiet.  Now the Hartford Courant usually doesn't get my creative juices flowing very often, but this morning they had a small excerpt that caught me.  The heading reads "Work Stress Can Strain a Marriage."  Wow, really?  Who knew?  All sarcasm aside, this is something I deal with & I'm sure we all do.  Work as taken over our lives and puts our marriages in a very fragile place.

Long ago there was a time where the work day ended at 5pm.  9-5 jobs have gone the wayside and more & more of us are in a position where our jobs fully consume us.  Throw some kids in there and you are talking full on exhaustion.  This obviously creates some tension.  The Courant article states " Strong marriages take investment.  Today, people work longer hours, make less time for their spouses & feel too tired for sex."  HA!  No kidding?  There is no down time, ever.  Weekends once reserved for family time & fun are now riddled with baseball games, recitals, birthday parties & random running around.  Sunday night comes with that dreaded stomach ache and the thoughts of "where did the time go?"  I see this more & more.  Our relationships are on auto-pilot.  This is a scary thing.  When you forget about your actual connection with your partner eventually bad things creep in.  Doubt, fear, resentment.  All destructive things in a marriage.  Most of us don't like to admit feeling this way toward the person we love, but we do.  This doesn't make us bad people, you know.  This makes us human.

Marriage is an amazingly difficult undertaking.  The life-cycle is ever-changing & with each new day there is a new challenge. Our jobs & our children take first priority now.  Our relationships are in the back seat and there comes a time where you need to move it back to shot gun.  Surely it is not going to be bliss everyday but it is important to get back to that once in a while.  I am guilty of taking out my own frustrations on my husband.  Most of the time it has nothing to do with him.  It is me & my own head-trash.  What is lacking in many marriages is effective & honest communication.  Bad or good..you have to talk.  Like anything else, if you wait too long it's gonna blow.  That fight you had over the laundry really has to do with other things you failed to address 2 weeks ago.  We all do this.  It is the most vulnerable thing you can do, to tell the truth.

Work has driven a wedge into even the most solid & stable of relationships.  We all have something else we should be doing.  Maybe if we turned off the laptop, ditched the iPhone & just talked things would be better.  The house, the yard work, the bills will all still be there.  I sometimes forget how nice it is to just spend time with my husband without worry.  Have a few drinks & laugh.  I love those times.  You get a glimpse of your former self.  Remember that fun, carefree & spontaneous person?  It's still in you, you know.  You just have to coax it out. 

The pressure is all-consuming.  The pressure of being a good, wife, husband, father, mother, provider & partner.  We have to give ourselves a break and just breathe.  Maybe recognize the good things instead of dwelling on the negative.  Say thank you instead of criticizing. Perhaps we should work as hard on our relationships as we do in the workplace. Interesting thought.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Right to BARE arms, legs etc...

Summertime came in quickly, as usual.  With all these shorts & tank tops waiting to be worn, we all have to deal with yet another grueling grooming task.  Hair removal! I'm talking full-body here. Being an woman of Italian decent, I have had this battle my whole life.  I hate hair.  I don't want hair, anywhere!  Oh, how I long for smooth, silky legs.  There are a multitude of products that promise this hair-free heaven.  I have personally tried all of them over the years.  But which one is best for you?  Let's discuss....


I remember the early days when I was introduced to shaving.  Razors for women were much different than their male counterparts.  They were pink, round & pretty; as in pretty useless.  Woman may be soft & delicate but their hair is not.  Let's just say 6 hours after shaving I could grate cheese on my legs.  Lovely, isn't it?  I need the heavy duty razors.  Titanium, steel..something tough.  Shaving is still the easiest way to a a hair-free existence.  Leg's, underarm, even those little wiry hairs on your toes are gone in one sweep.  My fave is the Venus Embrace.  5 blades, easy to hold & can also be used to peel vegetables if necessary.  This thing rocks!  It's old school, cheap & gets the job done.


Who wears short-shorts?  (Not me, I can tell you that)  Nair was always the staple in this category.  Just apply this foul-smelling cream to your hairy parts, wait & rinse for a smooth result.  Sounds easy, right?  My experience was less than pleasant.  I applied the cream to my legs.  After about 5 minutes I experienced pain that I can only compare to what having sulfuric acid poured on you would feel like.  It burned.  They don't tell you this on the package.  I was not able to wait the full 10 minutes as instructed.  My legs were red, prickly & still covered with hair.  Sorry, Nair.  Who can wear short shorts when you look like a burn victim?  I think we'll pass.


Now I have covered the popular topic of bikini waxing already.  Waxing larger areas of your body takes patience & lot's of pain medication.  I am not a candidate for waxing my legs.  You must grow the hair out so it is long enough for the wax to grab.  This is not a good look for me.  I have made attempts, I assure you.  I got about 1/4 up my shin.  Wax + front of shin + rip = lot's of expletives being screamed aloud.  God love you if you wax your legs.  I think it is good for those blonde girls out there.  I was always jealous of the soft, billowy hair on the blonds.  Damn you!  I can compare my leg hair to the Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop.  Remember that toy?  You can make the guys hair grow in thick, long locks.  That pretty much sums up the texture of my hair. Waxing does work if you stick with it.  It's just the growing out part that makes it pretty much impossible during the dead of summer.


Laser hair removal is an amazing thing.  It reduces the hair growth significantly. I am a candidate for laser, unfortunately, my bank account is not.  It is an investment, for sure.  It works best on lighter skin with dark hair. (sorry, blondies)  Getting a treatment is NOT virtually pain-free as they would like you to believe.  If you want to get an idea of what it is like, take a rubber band, pull it back as far as it goes & snap it against your skin about 1000 times in a row.  That's the gist of it. Getting zapped over & over would weaken anything, right?  Again, it does work over time, but you have to decide if you can take the pain & if you can get approved for a home-equity loan to pay for the treatments.

There are also many other contraptions out there that promise soft, kissable skin.  I have foolishly bought into most of them & they now sit in a make-shift graveyard along with my other as-seen-on-TV purchases.

Smooth Away

Claim: No Pain, No Chemicals, No Razor Burn.. No Hair! & exfoliates too!

Truth:  It is basically low-git sand paper.  It exfoliates by buffing the hair & what is left of your skin off. 

Grade: F


Claim:  Fast & through Hair removal

Truth:  Do you see this thing?  It vibrates & catches your hairs in the coil & rips them out.  I think this was also used to torture prisoners of war.  OUCH!

Grade:  Can you go lower then F?  Maybe a G.

I am now out of money & still searching for a miracle. I will buy anything that claims I will be hair-free for more than 45 minutes.  I hope that in using my body as an experiment you can successfully spend this summer hair free.  Let me know which one's you've tried, love & hate.  I'm game.  Enjoy!