Getting Over My (non)Runner’s Shame

I’ve gone through a running journey that will (God willing) probably continue for the rest of my life…yet for a long time, I refused to label myself a “runner”.

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My SIL Jennifer is my runspiration…I literally run after her!

I took up running when my sister-in-law Jennifer was looking for a running buddy and I was interested in losing some weight, and have been hooked ever since.  No matter if I’m training for a marathon or barely squeaking by on 5 miles a week, I have finally gotten over myself and admitted to myself that I am a runner!

I go through phases when I stop running altogether but I will still read about running, look at other runner’s instagram posts, and even sit and think about speed training programs.  Yet, even when I was looping White Rock Lake (only real runners do this on Saturdays) at the butt crack of dawn, I was somehow intimidated to call myself a full-blown runner.

Why?  I’ll tell you why…I was stuck on this idea that runners had to look a certain way.  They had to have those long, thin limbs that make them look like they can get carried away by the wind at any moment and they don’t have anything that jiggles, flops or bounces.

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The reality of the sport of running is that runners come in all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.  And that is what made me fall in love with running.  It’s inclusive of everyone, regardless of bodytype, and the results are undeniably good for your health.  It’s one of the only sports where you can literally go out to a park, or where ever, and join a runner’s group and no one will think you are a freaking weirdo.  They will welcome you and say, “Oh hi, what’s your PR goal?”.  Then, they will proceed to ask you about your nice running pants or shoes.  Amazing, because this actually happened to me when I joined a running group!

That’s when it all clicked for me…I am a runner.  I started looking around and found these incredible, yet normal people like me that are running like the hilarious genius of Kelly on Run, Selfie, Repeat and the mold breaking covers of the Women’s Running magazine that dared to look like this and this, and I was further inspired to show my pride for the running community that I belong to.

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Running for the past ten years has helped me overcome post-baby weight, served as therapy for stressful job situations, and helped keep my sanity when life’s pressures are threatening to spill over.   Not to mention it brought me closer to some of my dear friends like the other two NonBlondes!  My unicorn will often tell me to, “Go for a quick run” when he sees the crazy behind my eyes.  He would rather spend an hour putting kids to bed on his own than having me be a miserable mess all night because I didn’t get to put in the miles.  So, I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t matter where or how or why I run, and the important part is that I continue getting out there and proving to myself that I am a runner and I’m actually kind of good at it!

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Running the half with my sister Rocio while 3 mos prego with Babyzilla
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Antonio at a Color Run 🙂

I’m currently in one of my running modes where I run often, but not for long distances.  I can’t seem to balance my time between life’s responsibilities well enough to get away for hours, so I cherish anytime I can get to hit the street or gym treadmill.  I mostly run on my own, but lately, I’ve had the luck of bribing having the company of my sisters or my friends and other times it’s just me and Babyzilla in the stroller.  I used to run half marathons and even ran one while pregnant with Isabella and then shortly post-baby, but that goal is not in my short term future.  Instead, I try to make the most of every short run that I get and keep pushing myself beyond my limits.

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Babyzilla is often my running buddy!

So, if you live within a twenty mile radius of North Dallas and need a running buddy, let me know!  Do you like to run races?  What’s your best PR?  Are you a closet runner like I was?  Share your stories with us in the comments section.

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Budgeting or a Pap Smear?!?!

Which is worse? As Elisa said, they both leave you feeling violated. I have never been a budgeting gal. My college roommate would chase me around the house to take my credit cards away from me and cut them up per my momma’s request. I would try ridiculous things to not spend money like freezing the credit cards so if I really needed  wanted something I would have to defrost the damn things just to go shopping.  I was a sucker for a “wanna open a Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor, Gap, Harold’s, Express, Target, etc, etc, etc, credit card and save 10%?” Well heck yes I do, having that credit card will save me $30 on this purchase. (Never mind that I would pay that $30 back 20 fold in interest in the years to come.) That is exactly what those devil credit card companies wanted, and they hit a jackpot with this shitty spender. And we wonder how I ended up with 13 credit cards and in $30k worth of shopping, eating, drinking, and traveling debt when I graduated college?? I also foolishly thought to myself “when I get out of college I will make good money and pay off the debt in no time!” I guess I forgot I would have other bills to pay and that the government would want about 20-30% of that so called income. Fast forward to 10 years after college I FINALLY paid off all those damn clothes I no longer had and bar tabs I had recovered from.

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I have been very lucky that I have stayed out of that kind of debt for quite some time now and while we do have a couple ‘debts’ now, these are things we have 0% interest on and pay on monthly so we don’t end up paying more for them in the long run. With the building of the new home and what I am sure will be expenses I can not even fathom when we have kids in the future, I think we need to get our act together and ASAP.

I have taken classes through the church on spending and budgeting. I have a MINT account. I have tried a few different things but this blog series will be a chronicle of my experience with a new budgeting software and hopefully a new lease on life when it comes to money. I hope you will join me on this little rollercoaster ride as I am sure I am going to snap and need  want a new Mulberry or pari of Tieks soon because I don’t like budgets.

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So what are we doing here?

Kyle and I just had a sexy, steamy, 3-way WebEx date while he is in Oregon with YNAB. (You Need A Budget) Actually more like a 30-way but who is counting. What I find appealing already is there are WebEx classes to help you get started and continuing education once you do. While Kyle had already started looking into this and had cheated on me with the WebEx classes before, he decided to kick up the romance and invite me to join. I must admit, this approach sounds great! I think the YNAB logic aligns more with my mindset on budgeting and I am excited to get started. The WebEx allowed for questions and was very interactive. They also have a blog to help keep you on track and for information.

First things first.

This weekend we will be going through our MINT account to itemize our excessive spending to see just where we blow the most cash each month. Just a highly educated guess, next to car and home payments, Sephora and Nordstrom will be the top winners. Once we see where we are spending we will also have a good idea of what are top ‘priority’ line item budget items are and we can start working on our budget accordingly. Second educated guess, Sephora and Nordstrom won’t be making the cut. Super sad face. Once we start setting our budget we will have to be super diligent in keeping track DAILY with what we spend and if we are sticking to this budget. Luckily there is an app for that, shocker I know. So instead of looking at Facebook on the pot, I will be budgeting. You know you are old when…..

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The coach on the WebEx tonight said he spends about 5 minutes a day checking and updating the budget daily, surely I can do that if I can play on Facebook for much longer periods of time.

So check back in a week or so and see how the whole budgeting process is going. Kyle and I have another hot date/WebEx this next week on how to budget while putting everything on the credit cards.

What do you do for a budget? Ever used YNAB? Any advice?

Amanda Sig

My Favorite Things: Dallas Edition Part 1

I often get this question from family or friends who want to show visitors around town – What is there to do in Dallas? It is a pretty loaded question. With so much going on in a small area, it can be hard to narrow down. Here is Part 1 of my favorite things in Dallas.

Espresso at Cafe Strada

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Cafe Strada is on a great little pedestrian side street in downtown Dallas. After ordering your coffee (or gelato!), grab a seat at one of their small tables and do some people watching. With the Joule hotel across the street and a 30-foot giant sculpture of an eyeball, there is plenty to see while you enjoy your coffee.

Catch a ride in an e-frog

Getting around the different neighborhoods of downtown can be difficult if you have a large group. While many areas are walkable, it can be overwhelming to get around if you are new to town. So when you need to go from downtown to Deep Ellum, Uptown, the Arts district, Fair Park, the Cedars, or anywhere in between, text an e-frog! These electric motor, open-air carts can hold 5 adults comfortably and are easily reached via text. Just let them know your name and how many in your group and they will send someone over. We recently coordinated 2 carts to take a group of friends from our house to Klyde Warren Park for a few hours of fun. No one had to find parking and we had a great time.  Note – these guys do not charge a fee for the ride, so tip your driver well!

See the sloths at Dallas World Aquarium

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Sloths!!

While I would argue the DWA is more tropical forest and less aquarium, it is still a great place to see some animals and other creatures when it is too hot or too rainy for the zoo. Also, my attention span for museums and zoos is pretty short, so the smaller footprint of the aquarium suits me just fine. After you enter, you will wind through 2 levels of rain forest with all kinds of monkeys and birds. Because you start at the tops of the trees, you have lots of opportunities to spot different animals. Moving further down, the exhibits with lizards and snakes start, and at the very bottom of the building are all the tanks. There are also sloths, penguins, and a panther. While the small footprint of the building makes for 1-2 hours of fun, it also means it can be crowded. Aim to be there when it first opens to avoid the crowds, or go during the week.

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My adorable nephews had fun too!

Take a stroll on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail

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I’ve posted about the Santa Fe Trestle Trail before, but you truly can’t miss this bit of nature in the middle of the city. Whether you have 20 minutes or 2 hours, experiencing how quiet it can be inside the levees while you are right next to the city is something you shouldn’t miss.

Klyde Warren Park – See what happens when you build a park over a highway

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We returned soggy kids to their parents after this trip. Pro tip – bring a towel!

This 5 acre park is built over a highway and connect the Arts District with Uptown. On a nice day, every bit of this park will be packed with people lounging in the sun, playing in the fountains, enjoying some free yoga, or grabbing a snack at the many food trucks. My favorite thing to do is find a seat and do some people watching while enjoying a beer. While the park offers plenty of space for people, there is very little parking. Grab a trolley or an e-frog and leave the car at home.

Meet new friends at Full Circle Tavern

This patio is Tucker approved.
This patio is Tucker approved.

After all this exploring, you will be starving. Make your way to the Cedars and grab a drink and a meal at Full Circle Tavern. They have a great shaded patio and are dog friendly, so bring along your four-legged friends too. The owners at FCT are super friendly and take extra care to be sure you enjoy your food and your time in their tavern. The servers and bartenders complete the experience by making you feel right at home. The husband says order the grilled cheese with bacon and an egg – you won’t regret it.

End your day with a drink and some music at Lee Harvey’s

Lee Harvey’s was a neighborhood staple long before we moved here. Considered a dive bar, it has evolved over the years into a great place for a burger and a beer. Seating is mostly outdoors and long picnic tables give you space to hang out and chat with friends, or enjoy some live music. Bands are booked on most Friday and Saturday evenings. It is a great place to wind down your day before heading back home.

My list could go on forever, but I’ll stop Part 1 here. What are some of your favorite places in Dallas?

Kendra Sig

Not Your Mom’s Shorts: Summer Style

 

Rules are meant to be broken, right?  Or at least bent a little…or a lot!  When I turned 35, I was suddenly hyper aware of the clothing I was choosing when I went shopping.  In the back of my mind, that annoying little voice of “fashion rules” kept telling me I needed to choose age-appropriate clothes and sensible shoes.  Well, I decided I didn’t give two effs about that voice and I refuse to style myself in Mom jeans and flats.  I love shorts and unless these legs turn into an atlas map of veins, I will wear them proudly.  And since the weather has technically transitioned into Spring, I ran to Francesca’s and found the perfect shorts outfits to kickoff the season! And they were having a bogo half off sale!

Before we get into the fabulous pieces I found at Francesca’s, I want to share with you a piece advice I practice when getting in the mindset of shopping…

Don’t compare yourself to anyone…At 5’3 and not 120lbs, 99.9% of the models pictured in the stores I shop at look nothing like me.  This does not deter me from trying on outfits or make me shy away from stores.  Sometimes, I miscalculate and the waist of a dress falls way too low or a hem doesn’t fall right, but you will never know how something fits unless you try it on.  Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and take pictures with your phone so you can examine your look.  And don’t buy anything unless you LOVE IT and it makes you feel FABULOUS!

Cher Poloaroids

My favorite looks this season came from Francesca’s.

Peplum chambray and woven shorts.  Peplum is my absolute favorite because it is both flattering and comfortable.  Paired with some ultra short bottoms and you are ready for summer fun!  These shorts have a little peek-a-boo knit side panel which lets you dress them up or down.  And the best part about these shorts (besides the elastic waist) is the price…under $15!

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Shirt: Francesca’s chambray peplum (similar) $34

Shorts: Forever 21 crochet paneled shorts $12.90

Shoes: Francesca’s lace up wedges $58

Olive green embroidered shorts.  Olive green is my latest obsession and I have recently made several purchases in that color.  These shorts from Francesca’s are so soft and feel like pajamas.  They are high-waisted and have that cute front tie, but you can wear them with a crop top or with a long, flowing shirt.  They are so versatile and the embroidered details provide a more feminine look to a classic style.  I liked pairing them with my tan wedges to elongate my gams.  Hehe.

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Shorts 03

Shirt: Forever 21 striped crop top $6.99

Shirt: Francesca’s Veronica scalloped tank $28

Shorts: Francesca’s Olive Kadie embroidered shorts $24.99

Shoes: Francesca’s lace up wedges $58

Chambray shorts.  There are so many different kinds of denim shorts from short cutoffs to long, long culottes.  These high-waisted, belted chambray shorts are very comfy and can also be paired with a tucked in or untucked shirt.  I really liked the untucked look for a casual yet put together look for weekend wear.  It’s a great option instead of throwing on cutoffs and a t-shirt.  Pair them with a pair of sandals and your’e ready for a busy weekend!

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Shirt:  Forever 21 V-neck cami $1.90

Shirt: Francesca’s Jessica solid blouse $34

Shorts: Francesca’s chambray shorts (similar)

Shoes: Francesca’s lace up wedges $58

Oh my, it’s skorts!  If you are a child of the nineties then you probably had a pair of these babies.  These skorts are girly and also very comfortable and I love them in navy.  A perfect solution for a date night on a hot, summer day when you don’t want to wear regular shorts but also don’t want to commit to a dress.  Let’s face it, some dresses or skirts can really restrict your dance moves.  These skorts are the perfect solution for functionality and cute shorts.

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Shirt: Francesca’s Jessica solid blouse $34

Shorts: Francesca’s Kalea printed skorts $24.99

Shoes: Francesca’s lace up wedges $58

I can’t wait to wear all of my new Francesca’s outfits this spring and summer season!  What kind of shorts do you like to wear?  Do you dare put on those tiny shorts like I do?  Let us know in the comments!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Bloody Hell; I Got A Vampire Facial

**Please be warned, there are some slightly gorey photos below, if you have a weak stomach (Kendra) be prepared to look away**

 

Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way I will proceed with my description and review of my first vampire facial.

So what is a vampire facial?

Glad you asked! No one was biting my neck but then again I think that is just a Hollywood spin on what a real vampire would do. We all know after Twilight that vampires are sparkly! This facial was not. It is called a vampire facial because your own blood is drawn, spun down, and the plasma is applied to basically a giant open wound created on your face by teeny tiny needles. This is not for the faint of heart, there are needles and blood, and some down time. But it was awesome!

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Here are my torturers/ friends. Thank goodness I love these two people or this would have never happened.

What the what?!

You maybe wondering why someone would subject themselves to this. I guess I am a glutton for punishment. Actually not that much, I have just always been a face person. If you can inject it or apply it to my face to keep me young, I will try anything once. About a month before this adventure I tried a permanent filler called BellaFill. I wanted to work on my chicken pox scars and the filler was step one, step two was to abuse those damn scars and make them my bi@&!. I have had these scars since I was 3 or 4 and hate them, most people don’t even notice them. We are our own worst critics.

How this went down.

I got to the DejaYou spa ready for a good numbing. If you are keeping track, the spa is in Collyville, I just moved east of Dallas to the suburbs. That was an hour drive just to get my face beat with needles. I might be crazy. Any-who, the numbing is essential because while I like to think I am a bad a$$, I am more bark than bite. There really are only a few places that it gets somewhat uncomfortable but I think it is like child birth. The pain is worth it when you see the end result.

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So far so good, now it starts getting messy! That little DermaPen has 10 little micro needles that basically scratch the surface of your skin which is supposed to motivate your skin to repair itself. In doing so it brightens, rejuvenates, and promotes more collagen growth. While the skin is still ‘open’ my own plasma was applied to my skin to enhance the rejuvenation and repair. It looks worse than it is. That is basically a lot of dried blood and plasma that basically creates a mask over my face. It was super stiff by the time I got home.

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The whole thing took about an hour. While I felt fine, my husband wouldn’t come out of his office the rest of Saturday after the procedure. He said it hurt him to look at my face. Obviously not what you want to hear from your sweet husband but I know he still loves me. After waiting a few hours I washed the blood and plasma goop off my face. I felt like I looked so much better instantly. Kyle didn’t, he stayed in his office.

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The next day there was already some great improvement but still some puffiness. Day 2 I had to get to work so I found some great makeup and got after it. As with most things in life, I got crazy busy and didn’t do a good job taking post pictures after day 2 or 3.

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So was it worth it?

I think so!! There were some breakouts after that I expected just like after a regular facial. I felt great going without makeup most days or only a light powder, still do. I know that we opted to go heavy on a few of the big scars but if you don’t have big scars you won’t look as scary and will still see great results! I really loved it and look forward to finding another weekend soon where I can do it again.

I think I will wait until Kyle is out of town so I don’t scare the poor guy again.

If you don’t think you are brave enough, I highly recommend IPL peels or regular facials. If you want to save some money and get a good facial, there is always the ol’ Shave Your Face Facial.

What is your most extreme facial or beauty routine? I am always up for an adventure in the beauty department.

Amanda Sig

 

Urban Living, Dallas Style

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Everything is bigger in…Dallas

In a few short months, my fellow NonBlonde Amanda will be moving to the suburbs permanently. I recently visited her part of town and I was surprised by how out of my element I’ve felt! I’ve lived in the city for almost nine years and I’m no longer used to the daily life of suburbia. Although I would say Amanda’s new part of town is still just a little bit country too. 🙂

I love living in the city. We can walk to our neighborhood bars and restaurants, there is a great local coffee shop, and we even have a movie theater now. A short bike ride puts us in Deep Ellum or the Arts District, and a 5 minute ride on the #2 DART bus puts us right in the heart of the Main Street District.

Surprisingly, even land-locked Dallas County has some great natural beauty. The Trinity River runs nearby and the Santa Fe Trestle Trail runs in between the levies and is a great place for biking or walking. The city noise fades away and you can enjoy some time in a natural space, with the downtown skyline just behind you.

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I’ve spent the majority of my life living in suburbs or smaller towns. Moving into a more urban area was a whole new adventure. Our part of town is under a renovation of sorts, so many of the residents were new as well. Within two weeks, my husband and I had met more neighbors than the two years we lived in North Dallas. Everyone had an interest in knowing their neighbors, for various reasons. First of all, the neighborhood still had some rough parts, so knowing who should and shouldn’t be on the property is important information. Second, many of our friends and family didn’t live close enough for regular gatherings, so meeting neighbors led to new social circles. Once we learned a nearby restaurant had half-price food on Wednesday’s, a group of neighbors regularly met there for delicious food and good company. Our new home had a true community feel, something I didn’t even know we had been missing.

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View from the neighborhood

Will we live in the city forever? Who knows! Every now and then we drive through other neighborhoods farther away from the city center, but it always comes back to how much we love our community, and we aren’t quite ready to leave that.

Kendra Sig

Jackets, Joggers and Jeans: How to Dress Your Man

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Joggers are here to stay

Floral Hawaiian shirts and pleated Dockers.  That was my husband’s outfit of choice when I met him fifteen years ago.  We were twenty years-old and in college and Michael didn’t even own a pair of jeans!  He’s a smart, witty, kind guy who is basically an IT genius but he has zero interest in clothes.  So when he mentioned he would love for me to help him out in this area, I knew we were meant to be.

I’m lucky enough to have a guy who is willing to be my blank slate when it comes to fashion for men.  I try to keep his look “timeless” by picking classic patterns and colors and not picking things that are going to go out of style.  Michael understands my passion for fashion and his only rule is, “Please don’t make me look stupid”.  He’s willing to try skinny jeans, joggers and cardigans.  And he also doesn’t mind being inspiration for his clone Antonio.  Somehow, these two don’t mind twinning.

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#Twinning

There are a few basic rules when dressing a guy.  Comfort, cut and style.  The most comfortable fabric is cotton, so I tend to stick to mostly cotton pieces that will not chafe or rub.  Cut is important because like women’s clothes, men’s clothes can differ greatly in size depending on the brand or department store.  Familiarize yourself with brand fits by trial and error and yes, you have to drag your man to the store every once in a while so he can get a good fitting.  I hardly ever take Michael shopping anymore because I stick to what I know works for him…Nordstrom’s, Banana Republic Outlet store and Gap.  Style is a tricky one to explain.  The best way I can describe it is don’t put your guy in an outfit that doesn’t reflect his personality.  Michael is the kind of guy that can pull off preppy or hipster-inspired outfits, but I wouldn’t dare put him in biker outfit or a Axl Rose inspired ensemble.  Unless it was Halloween of course!

Halloween 2015
Why, yes! Those are leather pants on both of us!

When it comes to fashion, I find inspiration browsing through Pinterest.  Here are six Pinterest inspired men’s fashion outfits that I asked (O.K. bribed) Michael to model (Thanks babe!).

Dressy shorts.  Just because your man is in shorts doesn’t mean it has to look sloppy or like he’s about to do yard work.  I found this dapper shorts and sweater look on Pinterest and put Michael’s outfit from existing pieces in his closet.  I dressed it up by putting Michael in a wrinkle-free button down shirt, but your guy could easily just wear it with a t-shirt underneath.  It’s all about comfort!

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Shorts don’t have to be boring.
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Feeling a Zoolander moment.

Shirt:  Banana Republic Outlet $51.99

Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet (similar) $47.99

Shorts:  Kohl’s Urban Pipeline $24.99

Shoes:  Canvas slip on shoes $45

Jogger inspiration because guys in joggers are hot.  You can dress them down or up and they are appropriate for almost any occasion.  I bought Michael a pair of joggers online and asked him to keep an open mind while trying them on.  After a moment, he said they felt comfortable and he was glad he didn’t have to wear a belt with them.  Success!  So, joggers may not be for every guy but if you’re man is willing to go out of his comfort zone and try them, you may get lucky like I did.  And to be honest, I think they are way better than cargo pants.  No matter how old a guy is, if he’s wearing cargo pants, he always looks like a little kid.  #notafan

Below are three ways your guy can wear joggers.  A simple polo paired with a pair of joggers looks casual yet stylish.  For a more rugged look, put your man in a flannel in joggers.  Again, he can be comfortable by keeping his shirt untucked and wearing sneakers.  For a dressier look, put him in a clean and crisp button down shirt with a pop of color.  Volia!

 

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Embrace the jogger look!
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Flannel + joggers = perfect
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Babyzilla photobombed our photoshoot!

Shirt: Banana Republic Outlet Polo $21.99

Shirt: Plaid Flannel (similar) $24.99

Shirt: Gap Wrinkle Resistant standard shirt (similar) $59.95

Pants: Gap Utility Jogger $59.95

Shoes: Calvin Klein Chukka boots from Nordstrom’s $120

Jeans and a Blazer.   Every single guy out there should have a pair of nice jeans and a blazer they can throw on for a date night or special occasion.  Jeans and blazers is a classic yet sophisticated look for any guy.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a nice blazer…we found this awesome style and cut at Kohl’s!  So, get your Kohl’s cash and coupons and start shopping.  The point is, your guy can wear a nicely tailored blazer and a t-shirt and jeans and still look like a rockstar.

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Grilling and modeling. We know how to multi-task.

Shirt:  Boss Sharp Fit Check Dress Shirt from Nordstrom’s $125

Blazer:  Haggar’s Suite Jacket from Kohl’s $100

Pants:  Gap Skinny Fit 1969 Jeans $69.95

Shoes:  Calvin Klein Chukka boots from Nordstrom’s $120

The Gingham shirt.  If you don’t know what gingham is, it’s the picnic blanket pattern and it’s extremely timeless and fresh on guys.  A gingham print shirt is a must for any guy of any age and it looks amazing paired with jeans.  Michael is wearing the black version of the Gap skinny jeans and it’s a very 50’s inspired look.

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Gingham…that’s hot
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Gingham and BBQ…and Babyzilla

Shirt:  Banana Republic Outlet Gingham Shirt $51.99

Pants:  Gap Skinny Fit 1969 Jeans $69.95

Shoes:  Oxford shoes from Banana Republic Outlet (similar) $148

Dress Shirt and Chinos.  Work clothes don’t have to be boring.  Chinos that fit can make a difference between looking outdated and looking like a young professional.  Pair them with a button down crisp shirt and some dress shoes and you’re ready to tackle corporate America.

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Business casual with style

Shirt:  Urban Pipeline button down shirt (similar) $24.99

Pants:  Banana Republic Outlet Chinos $44.99

Shoes:  Cole Haan Wingtip dress shoes (similar) $129.90

Classic blue dress shirt.  The dress shirt has made it to the weekend.  Michael is wearing a pair of comfy chinos and a chambray dress shirt to show how you can keep it casual and look like a boss while manning the jalapeno poppers.  The great part about the weekend is you can wear dress shirts and not have to tuck them in.  This act alone makes the shirt look appropriately casual while also serving as an alternative for a t-shirt.  I can tell you right now Michael has no idea what chambray is but he does know this button-down blue shirt looks good and feels great.

Another great thing about the dressy blue (chambray) shirt is how you can take it from a casual look to a dressy look.  I paired Michael’s chambray shirt with a bowtie and a long coat and it creates a completely different look than before.  Simple acts like tucking in a shirt or putting on a blazer can completely change an outfit.  Pretty cool, huh?

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Weekend casual just got fancy
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Bowties and jean…oh my

Shirt:  Banana Republic Outlet tailored chambray shirt $51.99

Pants:  Banana Republic Outlet Chinos $44.99

Coat:  Zara (similar) $299

Shoes:  Cole Haan chukka boots (similar) $120

Does your guy have style?  Or, do you help him look his best by taking over the shopping duties?  Tell us your favorite men’s fashion trends your guy likes to wear and your favorite stores to shop.

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

What Kind of Parent Will I Be

**Disclaimer, I am not pregnant and this is not me announcing that I am**

The hubby and I are ‘practicing’ making babies monthly now, hopefully soon one will stick and we will get a lil peanut but until then I want to share with you what kind of parent I will be.

What are my qualifications you ask?? Listen, I know everything there is to know about having a kid. I nannied starting as young as 15. I couldn’t even drive myself to my first gig however I was apparently responsible enough (or cheaper than good help) to take care of a 9 month old and a 1st grader every day after school from 4:00 until 6:30pm. I took care of kids in day care settings, babysat through college, and even post college on some occasions for friends with their own actual kids. I pride myself in being very knowledgeable as I have read a few books and ask my actual parent friends a ton of questions and pick their brains, so clearly I have this whole thing figured out. Plus there are the dogs, I think that in and of itself is great training, right?!?!

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I hear my friends say you can never pee alone after having kids, clearly these two are warming me up for the big show.

Here is what kind of parent I will be and what my kids will and will not do.

I will not be the crazy new mom who calls her doctor for everything strange that happens to her body. I got this! Millions of women have gone before without the help of having their doc on speed dial. Who are we kidding, I call my doctor, my doctor friends, and nurse friends for anything and everything because being in the medical sales has caused me to become a hypochondriac. I have a feeling my doctor will fire me before 5 months.

I will not change my life for a kid, this kid will fit into our life. We will still brunch and travel and host great gatherings at our home as usual. Ha, I will be lucky if we get out of the house the first 6 months. I will have forgotten what a mimosa tastes like and forget having people over, I won’t even want a housekeeper to see what state of disrepair my house has fallen into.

I will have my kids sleep trained by 3 months at the absolute latest. Yeah, just like I have my dogs sleep trained. They never wake me when they need to pee, or when there is a thunderstorm, or when they decide it would be nice to play with their ball at 3am or when there is a full moon…I could go on.

I will not allow my kids iPads/iPhones at the table, in the car, or out in public as a distraction. I was raised in a time when we had to self entertain with stupid toys at the doctors office or play the ABC/123/License Plate game on road trips. If I can do it, so can my kids. Except when they can’t and I haven’t had a mimosa in 21 months and I want to snap and give in to their every whine just so I can sip on a damn OJ and Champs mommy drink.

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Keeping kids distracted at the doctor since 1970’s.

I will not allow my children whatever they want for dinner, I am their mother, not a short order cook. And then I will be because after working all day and dealing with the craziness that is a 9-5 I won’t give a rats ass if you want hummus and Fruit Loops for dinner, if it will keep you from throwing a fit and get something decent in your stomach, I will pull up a chair and have the same.

I will keep my house and car clean. I can have nice things and kids too. I actually don’t think this one will be hard to accomplish. My girlfriend has discovered the perfect way to keep her adorable daughter entertained and her house clean at the same time. I mean, look at the genius mom invention!

No children were harmed in the making of this picture, actually she did this to herself.
No children were harmed in the making of this picture, actually she did this to herself.

I will not lose my cool and spank my child or raise my voice. When I was naughty I got a belt or a spoon or a hand or anything close enough to grab. Then there were the looks and the groundings. I don’t think those shaped me as a person at all! I don’t think learning to respect authority and what my limits were did any good for my development as a child or adult. Oh and being a strong willed child who pushed the boundaries never led to said spankings. Who are we kidding, I deserved everyone and probably more. And before I get all the emails saying spankings aren’t good for children, my husband and I  will make that call with our clones, you do you and we will do us.

I will not allow them to dictate what they wear or where we go. My kids will wear what I say and their very rare poor behavior will not cause me to change our plans and leave a grocery store buggy full of groceries. I think I have a decent sense of fashion and my children will appreciate that and agree with all my wardrobe choices for them. I will never let them leave the house in a Disney dress, a super hero cape, and their cowboy boots. Unless I am trying to get to a HH with a girlfriend and then I will care less what they wear as long as I can have one sip of a glass of wine, then they can wear what they want as long as they let me drop them off with a sitter, or a stranger. I will need the wine.

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His daddy loved the furry leg warmers!

I will not teach them bad habits or bad language. But if they do shout “Fu@&ing Move Dude” at random drivers then they surely picked that up from the nanny/day care/church pre-school because we all know I would never say anything like that, ever. Oh and I definitely wouldn’t wet my pants laughing when they do. And when my daughter reaches an age to start imitating me she wouldn’t do this.

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“Mommy, I want some fancy juice for NYE too!” *It was sparkling grape juice, don’t email me please.

Lastly, I will not stick to a single one of these because like every mom I know, you do the best you can to keep them happy and alive and not lose your sanity some days. But I know they will be worth it and I can’t wait!

What did you think you would or wouldn’t do as a first time mom?

If you are about to be a first time mom, this was actually a great article, http://www.parents.com/baby/new-parent/motherhood/what-i-know/

Amanda Sig

It’s THAT Time of Year: A Guest Blogger Helps Ease Parents into the School Year

I’m excited to introduce our readers to our friend, Teddi Fulenwider. I met Teddi through a local running group (many years ago when I still ran more than 10 seconds at a time). After over 30 years of teaching, Teddi decided to step away from the school environment and make a full-time dedication to educating other teachers. She also launched an iPad app that parents can use and customize to help with teaching kids to read, and getting them excited about reading. As an avid reader, I share her excitement about creating an environment that cultivates life-long readers, so I invited her to guest blog today on preparing kids for school. You can learn more about the Read with TedDee app, as well as connect with Teddi through her website at http://www.readwithteddee.com/

I know some of you are thinking what time of year?   Tax time?  Elf on the Shelf time? Diet time?  No, that time of year when parents feel they have not done enough to prepare their child for school – preschool, Kindergarten, doesn’t matter.  I want to tell you – you have!  I can say that.  I have the credentials to say that.  I have been in the education profession for over 30 years.  I have taught Kindergarten.  I have and continue to train teachers.  So again, I can say you have prepared your child for school.

Let me be clear, I am not bashing teachers or teaching at all.  In fact, the opposite, I have the utmost respect for teachers.   After all, I was one, came from a family of teachers and have a daughter and daughter in law who are teachers.  However, the line between the teacher’s job and the parent’s job has become blurred.

I visit with many parents who are upset and overwhelmed because they have been told or have heard from the BFF that their child needs to know all the letters and sounds before they enter school.  They need to know all the numbers and count to 100.  They are led to believe that the child should be able to write his or her name before entering school.  My response is always the same…Sooooooooo what will the teacher be doing once school starts?  Likewise, I have had teachers proudly share with me that they send home packets of ‘stuff’ for children to do over the summer so they are ‘prepared’ when they enter school.   Again, my response is…..Soooooooooo what exactly is YOUR job?

 For children in Texas, many of the skills teachers would like children to have are exactly the skills that are taught that year.   Would it be nice if every child entered school already able to do everything?  Absolutely!  That would be a teacher’s dream child.  You see, it wouldn’t matter what I did as a teacher, that child would be successful.  That leaves time for me, the teacher, to do ‘fun’ stuff that has nothing really to do with learning – enrichment yes.  Per the State of Texas children are not required to leave Kindergarten being able to read a book.  Many do because of what they are exposed to.  But it is NOT a reason to hold a child back or make a parent feel guilty because their child can’t.  Reading is a developmental thing as is most things we learn. (So a little side note – when your BFF shares with you that her child is reading at 9 months, just smile politely and realize that your child is doing something ahead of hers. It’s all developmental.)

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So what is YOUR job as the parent?  Your job is to provide experiences for your child, read and talk to your child.   Your job is to increase your child’s oral vocabulary, which in turn increases his or her background knowledge (schema) and in turn enables that child to make connections.

Your job is to use purposeful talk.  Instead of general talk, use specific language. It really is easy!  Here are some examples.

At the grocery store

  • Color words in the produce department
  • Describing words with fruit- rough, smooth, prickly
  • Specific Words – apple, pineapple, lettuce
  • Concept words – sit in the cart, walk beside the basket
  • Math – weight, size

Parking lots – Math concepts

  • How many steps from the car to the door?
  • Which one is farther away?
  • Which one is nearer?
  • Color words – Do you see the red car?
  • Specific words – Jeep, SUV, car, motorcycle, tires, bumper

Playgrounds – besides having fun

  • science words, insects, (everything isn’t a bug!) grass, dirt, soil
  • high, fast, swing
  • position words- on the swing, under the slide, beside the slide
  • Writing with chalk

In addition to reading to your child everyday, purposeful talk is the most important thing we can do as parents to make sure our child is ‘ready’ for school.

And truth be told, your ONLY job to do before sending your child to school is to love your child and hopefully raise a compassionate person.  The actual learnin’ stuff is the job of the teacher.  SO the next time a teacher tells you what all you need to be sure and have your child know before coming to school you have two options.  First, you can smile politely and just say okay, thanks.  Or two, you can say, So, if I teach him or her all of that before I send him or her to you, what exactly will YOU be teaching?  Most of you are probably nicer than I am so my guess is hopefully you will at least do number one.   Promise me you won’t feel guilty and teach it all to your child!

 

My Favorite Things: Zulily Online Shopping

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Babyzilla’s Flash t-shirt was originally meant for Antonio…oops, I misread the size chart

I hardly ever have time to shop at an actual department store, so I do quite a bit of online shopping.  When Babyzilla was just a baby, my mother-in-law  suggested I take a look at Zulily’s website because she had recently signed up and there were so many adorable kid outfits at reasonable prices.  It just took one browsing session to hook me onto Zulily sales.  If you are not familiar with Zulily, it’s an online store where you find heavily discounted products (clothes, shoes, health & beauty, toys, furniture, etc.) everyday and each collection is only available for a limited time.  They have unique styles you would not usually find in department stores and also familiar brands that you would see in department stores.  If you are thinking of buying from the Zulily website, I have some tips on how to maximize your shopping experience.

Tip #1: Zulily packages take a while to get to you, so order way in advance.  Zulily does NOT have two day shipping, like Amazon Prime, so you may have to wait anywhere from two weeks to a month to wait for your order.  It’s not that bad, but if your’e like me, you want instant gratification and also procrastinate so you order things at the last minute and expect to get them yesterday.  That’s not going to happen with Zulily so you may as well place your order, forget about it for two weeks, and then find yourself pleasantly surprised when that package shows up in the mail.  Last September, I ordered some Halloween outfits for the kids and I was tracking the package which seemed to have gotten lost.  I called the Zulily customer service number and the folks gave me a credit for my items and were extremely apologetic.  The items finally showed up and then I had some credits to spend!  I have placed about a dozen orders with Zulily and this was the one time I had a shipping incident.

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Babyzilla often picks out her own outfits, so I will browse online with her to get her stamp of approval. Antonio, not so much.

Tip #2: Kid sizes run small, so make sure to size up.  Most of my Zulily shopping has been for my daughter and son, so I’m not familiar with how adult sizing compares, but the kid’s clothes does run small.  My kids are both big for their age so I often get one to two sizes bigger than what they usually wear.  Especially with tops.  I once ordered a Flash t-shirt with the intent on buying it for Antonio and it ended up fitting Babyzilla.  So, make sure you pay close attention to the size chart and go up from there.  I would much rather have a larger item than a smaller one because then I would at least be O.K. knowing the kids can grow into it.  There’s not much you can do with an article of clothing that is too small besides exchanging it or giving it away.  I have not had to exchange anything from Zulily and I’ve been sizing up since the beginning.

Tip #3: Extensive brand selection is their strong point.  I used to shop at several local boutiques for Mudpie items until I started noticing Zulily carries the same exact brand, at a discounted rate.  Why would you want to pay more for something you can get for less money online?  I felt a twinge of guilt for no longer shopping at the boutique but my pocketbook won that battle.  On the flip side, they also carry very well known department store brands like Spanx and Jessica Simpson in their collections.  I recently bought Babyzilla two Jessica Simpson bathing suits and Antonio a Nautica sweater at discounted prices that were way below store prices.  Again, there is a whole world of adult clothing and furniture and many other things that I have not yet experienced at Zulily because my shopping has been focused on children’s clothes.

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Antonio’s Nautica sweater is one of my favorite purchases
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Antonio’s Swag T-shirt by LC Trendz
Jessica Simpson bikini
Babyzilla’s Jessica Simpson ruffle bikini

Tip #4: Last Chance Deals and Ready to Ship!  Two gems from Zulily online shopping are Last Chance Deals and Ready to Ship products.  As indicated in the name, Last Chance Deals are sales which are nearing their end and you need to get a move on if you would like to purchase.  Ready to Ship! deals are marked with a rocket and will ship within two days of ordering.  These items are meant to be “fast track” items that can get to you in a much quicker timeframe than normal Zulily sales.

Tip #5: Utilize their great website and app.  I have the Zulily app on my phone and I can shop, track, and view my latest orders from the palm of my hand.  This can be a little dangerous if I have some time to kill…The order status on their website and app make it very clear to see the status of your orders.  This is helpful when you’re like me and you forget when you placed the order and need a reminder on when to expect that fun Zulily package.

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In summary, buying kid clothes from Zulily has been a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for me so far.  I will continue to find frilly outfits for Babyzilla and cool t-shirts for Antonio.  My next adventure on Zulily will be to buy myself something.  Have you ever shopped at Zulily?  What is your favorite online store to buy from?  Happy shopping!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig