What About Me?

  Earlier this week I had a very long and stressful day at work.  I'm sure everyone has experienced it. No time to run and get coffee or even lunch, for that matter.  Everyone is demanding something from you all at once, and your stress level is rising. You do everything possible not to scream, and try as hard as you can to keep a well poised smile upon your face. Once the day was finally through, my co-worker suggested that we run somewhere to get a drink and relax a little bit before heading home. I couldn't help but accept the invitation. I knew that I needed to unwind a bit, and the thought of walking in the door and dealing with the bedtime battle seemed too grueling to pile on top of my frazzled state. I quickly texted my husband to let him know that I would be home late, as my friend and I turned to our phones to find the closest Upper East Side bar that wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg to get a martini. After a couple of much appreciated drinks and a yummy appetizer, we parted ways, and I headed towards the 4 train to get home. During my 45 minute commute on the train, I had a lot of time to sit and think.  Quiet reflection was a good choice, since not only was I was a little buzzed and still fatigued from the long day, and the thought of searching through my over-sized bag for my iPod was too much.  (We have all been there, one way or another, right?) And then I realized how long it had been since I had gone out without my husband or had done something … [Read more...]

Copyright Laws Vs. The Fashion Industry

  After an overly productive day off from work, when I went running around the city doing all sorts of errands with my boys, I found myself in a very unique situation. It was 8pm and Branden had asked to go to bed earlyand my hubby was finishing up some school work, giving me some dah dah dah...FREE TIME! Gleefully, I grabbed my computer and decided to do some online shopping for spring dresses, since spring/summer in the city is awfully sticky and I want to be wearing the least amount of clothing that I can get away with in public! I started by doing a general search and quickly received a plethora of results, so I started skimming for something that would flatter my figure while remaining within my price range. I stumbled upon a cute Marc Jacobs option that looked quite familiar. Sure enough, as I ran to my closet, I could see that I had a dress that looked identical hanging next to my Banana Republic trench coat. I grabbed the tag thinking "I don't remember spending that much money on this dress" and saw that the tag read H&M. This really upset me because I personally refuse to buy pieces that I consciously know are knock offs, so I am careful about what I select in stores like H&M or Forever 21. But this surprise knock off really got me to thinking...what role do copyright laws play on the fashion industry? It is obviously a HUGE fashion NO NO to go to Canal Street and buy knock off handbags, sunglasses, wallets, etc...but that's a WHOLE different … [Read more...]

The Tango of the Unwanted Parenting Advice

Since Branden was first born, I have been in many different situations where I look at people as if they had four heads while thinking to myself, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know this was your child!" Last I checked, I gave birth to Branden, and the only names on his birth certificate are mine, his, and my husband's. I'm sure that all of you Mamas know exactly what I am talking about! I have come to refer to this awkward situation as The Tango of the Unwanted Parenting Advice. Let's face it, this title is quite fitting. It really is a dance around the subject of what is right for MY child, and what someone else THINKS is right for MY child. We have all been in this situation where people come out of the woodwork to offer parenting advice, leaving you to wonder silently, "Did I ask you for your opinion?" It is just plain miserable, awkward, and humiliating, whether it comes from friends, family, or strangers. (By the way, what is up with strangers who approach you and think they instantly know what is best for you and your situation? Kind of presumptuous, right? I will never understand.) Dealing With Unwanted Parenting Advice Let's be real here for a second (as if I'm not being real enough already!). Each generation has their own debates about child rearing issues (ie. circumcision, breast-feeding, immunizations) that must be decided upon. Due to medical and technological advances, additional research, and current trends, there seems to be an ever … [Read more...]

Thank You Very Much, But My Plate is Full!

  Normally my motto is "pile it on", but today my plate is full.  OVERWHELMED is my all-encompassing word of the day (possibly the week), and I need a break! I usually tend to be the kind of person wh0 needs to have a million things on my to-do list, or else I get bored. I find extreme amounts of satisfaction as I successfully complete tasks and cross them off my list.  I love watching the list get smaller and smaller, until I add more, of course.  But every once in a while, there comes a time when adding that last item to the very bottom of my list can really push me over the edge. I normally don't know when it's coming; this feeling seems to just creep up upon me. It's like I hit my breaking point, and there is no turning back. This poses the question : How does a Fashion Forward Mama know when it's just too much? According to kidshealth.org: "Stress is a feeling that's created when we react to particular events. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness." It is important to note that there are such things as 'good stress' and 'bad stress', and even more important to know how to tell the difference. Good stress gives us the motivation to do something really well through practice and planning, or to react in a certain manner during emergency situations. Bad stress stays with us for the long term and can have negative effects on our overall health. After … [Read more...]

Being Fashion Conscious: Dressing For Your Body Shape

Dear Diary, While turning my apartment completely upside down yesterday to find a matching shoe to one that I had lost, I came across some pictures of myself from high school. I couldn't help but cringe whenever I looked at what I was wearing. Obviously fashion has gone through quite a transition since then, but it wasn't necessarily the fashion that bothered me. What stood out to me like a misplaced accessory was the fact that I was wearing the wrong cut of clothing in absolutely every picture! It became so apparent to me at that moment how important it is to always be fashion conscious and dressing for your body shape. At this point in my life, I can walk into almost any store and know right away before trying something on if it is going to be a good fit for my body type or not. But back then, I was in a quandry about how in the world to dress for my body shape. Even though I have thinned out a bit since high school, I still consider myself to be an apple body shape, in that I carry my extra weight in my mid-section. In order to hide this, my family and friends often suggested that I should wear things oversized to hide the problem area. Now, considering everything I've learned about my body, and shopping, and fashion as a whole, I know differently. So, I thought that it would be beneficial for my lovely readers if I explained the different body types and how to identify where you fit in, and then point out some key pieces that are more likely to work with your … [Read more...]

“But…I Don’t Like This”

  It's official! My little guy has developed a taste palate that is identical to his father's, which translates into PICKY! PICKY! PICKY! I feel like I am one tired Mama who is sick and tired of hearing Branden's infamous words: "But...I don't like this." Since my meat and potatoes husband is set in his ways, I feel like I still have some time to turn my little man's dislikes into likes. In the meantime, I have found that I have developed many tricks of the trades to get Branden to make healthier choices and learn about nutrition from a young age. Whenever I make vegetables such as broccoli, squash, carrots (really anything that can easily soften) for dinner, I set a little bit aside and overcook so that I can form a paste out of it. The next day, whenever I am making Branden something like grilled cheese or a cheese quesadilla, I smooth the paste onto the sandwich and (most of the time) he doesn't notice the difference! So that we can get away from drinking so much juice (even though I always use the half juice/half water method), I have taken to having Branden help me freeze pieces of fruit inside ice cubes. Once they are frozen, we place these frozen nuggets inside juice cups filled with water so that he's a little bit more eager to drink it versus plain juice. We also freeze yogurt in between vanilla wafer cookies for bedtime snacks. You can even freeze yogurt or organic fruit juices in ice cube trays as well. I know that Popsicles and Go-gurt exist, but … [Read more...]

Mother Bird Syndrome

Editor’s Post by Deborah Hetrick Catanese On a Monday in Virginia, I saw  Newly Fledged Children Flying on their own, Shot down Before their wings had fully spread.   On a Monday in Virginia I see A tiny bird flying High in a still, crystalline sky, Frantically chasing a hawk Fifty times its size.   I want to shriek, To attack, to fight, to madly protect! Like Mother Bird.   So fierce. So determined. So small. Just like us all, On a Monday in Virginia. Project Motherhood has touched on a number of thought-provoking topics. Branden’s irrational fear of spiders, described in Allison's "Facing the Fear", made me realize how similar we “grown-ups” can be to children when it comes to anxiety-driven thinking. And “The Many Styles of Parenting” brought to mind the exterior chatter that comes at us about how we are “supposed” to feel and act if we are to be good parents. These pieces make me think about how we can manifest our desire to protect our children even while staving off “attitudes” about our parenting. This potentially crazy-making combo is something that we as parents need to navigate without letting either fear or second guessing control us. I wrote the above poem in one of those states, when fear rose up in me like fat to the top of chicken soup.  I could hardly breathe when I heard about the shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, even as my own daughter strolled through her far away college green, unguarded and blissfully unaware. You … [Read more...]

The Many Styles of Parenting

  Remember when you were in high school and got caught doing something you weren't supposed to be doing with a  group of people? Some of your friends would start freaking out because they knew right away that they were going to be in "big trouble"; some even knew EXACTLY what their punishments would be. While others were more relaxed about it, knowing this wasn't going to be a big deal with their parents. It makes me cringe just thinking about being on the disciplinary side of this insinuation with Branden someday. Anyways, this scenario got me to thinking about the different parenting styles that exist in the world and how as a parent it is so important to make sure that we are parenting with the appropriate methods that work for our children. In some cases, we must parent each child differently, based on their unique qualities so that they are able to grow in their individual ways. I remember learning about parenting styles in Child Development class in high school, but after becoming a parent, I'm not sure I really see how important it is to categorize ourselves into a specific parenting "style". After all, each day we are faced with new obstacles to overcome and different situations. I personally don't want to feel bound to acting in a certain manner or always react a certain way to everything that comes my way as a parent. But as usual, this thought got me to doing some research because I do think its important to stay on top of these things, so here are … [Read more...]

Alterations and Fit 101

  While shopping online recently for a dress to wear to an upcoming event, I came across the perfect BCBG dress. It looked like it would fit my body type to perfection, and I instantly knew that I simply NEEDED to have it. But, since I was running on typical Mama time (late!), I only had enough time to run to one location while praying to the "fashion gods" that this dress would be in stock. When I arrived, I saw that my coveted dress was part of their window display. "Oh no!" I thought. "It's probably really popular since its in the window! I really hope they have my size left!" Being that I am a fairly average-sized female, they didn't have any middle sizes, only XS and XL, of course!!! "Crap!" So I tried on the XL to get an overall idea of how the dress flowed, made the purchase, and headed straight to my trusty tailor. (See post "Size Matters?" to help yourself get over buying a size that is larger than what you typically wear.) It is IMPERATIVE that every fashionista befriend an amazing tailor.  (Seamstress is a suitable word too, but for the purpose of this article, I am using the word "tailor" interchangably with seamstress to describe a man or a woman who can sew and alter clothing with great skill.) So, yes, we need a tailor who really knows what he or she is doing and who will make your clothing fit your frame perfectly and therefore look fabulous! But I've met so many people who struggle to find a tailor, while not even being certain of the proper way … [Read more...]

A Natural Disaster

It was just like any ordinary Tuesday in the Cooper household, me writing on the computer, Branden playing with his toys, and my husband at work. But in my parents' household, all the way in Pittsburgh, Pa, all hell was breaking loose. You see, Tuesday is the day of the week when my parents are in charge of my [then] three year old nephew Shane, while my sister goes to work. During our regular phone calls, my mother and I often vent to each other about the two little ones, especially now that my Branden is entrenched in The Terrible Two's. It helps us try to keep our sanity! But, on this particular Tuesday when I checked my email, I was surprised to hear from my father instead of my mother.  You see, my father is a man known for rolling with the punches that come along with raising a family of four children, but NOT for emailing about family news.  I guess we could say he was especially "inspired" to write on this particular day, to put it mildly! "On Tuesday August 2, 2011, MSomma wrote: Subject:  Shane did this today Today started just like any other day:  first work, then a quick stop at the pool to pick up Anna where she was hanging with her teenage cohorts, then head for home. I am well aware that when I arrive at our house on Tuesdays, ANYTHING can greet me. You see, Tuesday is the day my wife Linda watches our grandson Shane, and depending on his disposition,  he can be tons of fun or a handful.  And whatever the state of his mood, it tends to take over the … [Read more...]