Wednesday, January 28, 2015

THE BEST $12 I EVER SPENT!

The story of this dress (how I obtained it and where I wore it) took place over nine years ago, back when The Hubs and I were dating.

Yet it remains one of my favorite stories to relive...

Twelve is the amount in dollars I paid for the dress I am wearing in the photo above.

I bought it in a pinch from…wait for it…Value City department store.

At the party to which I wore this dress, some of the guests had breath mints in their pockets that were worth more than $12.

Some background: On the Friday night before the Super Bowl, Scott and I were set to attend the NFL Players Association's Super Bowl Party (more on that in a minute), and the shoes that I was planning to wear that evening were being delivered to my condo that morning.

So I take my lunch break at noon on the dot and drive home to collect the shoes off the porch. And when I get home, I can’t resist trying on the entire ensemble, which seemed like a pretty good idea.

Until my dress’s zipper became jammed and I had no one there to help me.

I ended up tugging so hard that I busted a hole in the back of the dress, and the language that spewed from my lips at that moment is not suitable to share on a family-friendly blog.

I needed to do something – and fast.

I had to be back in the office in 17 minutes, and the best mall was a good 20 minutes away – one way.

But Value City was around the block.

I LOVED this dress from the moment I laid eyes on it, and I found it on the junior’s clearance rack. 

Now, let me tell you more about this party.

I may be dating myself here, as it has been quite a while since The Hubs and I have been Up In Da Club.

But I do know a good party.

And the absolute best I have ever – EVER – attended was this one.

The NFL Players Party is a private, invitation-only affair for active and former NFL players, and it is, undeniably, the most exclusive party of Super Bowl weekend. Period.

This party is everything you’d think an NFL party would be. And then some:

Heated red carpet? Check.

The best booze? Check.

Celebrities? Check.

LL Cool J and Ciara performed and Kid Capri served as the main DJ.

Diddy walked right by as I made my way to the lady’s room.

Was I star-struck? Hell-to-the-yeah.

But in parties like this one, rule number one is to not get all camera happy because your cool card would be revoked immediately.

And the night was, in a word, amazing.

Until night’s end when couldn’t find our car…but not in the way you might think.

When everyone arrives in a black limo, it’s difficult to determine which one is yours.

I know, I know: NFL problems.

But the difference is that some players roll like that all the time, but our limo was rented.

Because former NFL players who remain members of the NFL Players Association automatically receive two free tickets (one for them; one for a guest) to this party for life, Scott and I plan to go to one of these again.

Someday. 

Just not while Thing One and Thing Two are still little.

This is yet another thing to add to our When the kids get older file...



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Sunday, January 25, 2015

99 PROBLEMS BUT A BLITZ AIN'T ONE

When you marry a man who has spent most of his life playing the game of football – and nearly seven of those years in the National Football League – the presence of pigskin is nonnegotiable. 

And if you like football – which I do – then this is definitely a good thing.

But like any situation in life, there are two sides to the coin.

I've already written about the bevy of misconceptions.

So here are the the things that are very much a part of my reality as an NFL wife.

In honor of the most popular weekend in American sports, I give you the following list.

You know you’re an NFL wife when…

1. Your husband snaps, crackles, and pops upon getting out of bed in the morning, and he’s not even 50.

2. When watching a game with your husband, he is able to identify – and announce – a penalty several seconds before the referee does.

3. Letters arrive in the mail at random from fans who kindly request that your husband autograph his enclosed football cards, and then send everything back in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided…all so that said fan can sell the cards for profit on eBay:

4. Your husband may be 6’6” and weigh over 300 pounds, but you think his size is average.

5. Your son’s first football jersey…is his dad’s:

6. Your nose becomes neutralized to the scent of Biofreeze:

7. Your husband possess two names: The one he was born with – and the nickname his teammates bestowed upon him after he was drafted. (The latter is used so frequently, it may as well be added to his birth certificate.)

8. Your favorite gourmet chip dip cannot be found at your local grocery store, but rather is something your husband’s team’s executive chef whipped up…and you stumble upon it one afternoon while taking in a game inside a suite at the stadium:

9. You never tire of hearing all the stories from his playing days.

10. An entire section of your closet is dedicated to your husband’s team color:

11. ...and much like a stay-at-home-mom and her black yoga pants, your husband’s jersey is acceptable attire for most anything. That is, if you can fit into one: When I was six months pregnant with Scotty -- and a mere four months pregnant with Kennedy, I was too large to fit into one of Scott's jerseys. (Oh, sure, I can laugh about it now, but I shed a lot of tears about it back then.) So I had to get creative about my attire during my backyard maternity photo shoot:

12. Complete strangers will talk $h!% about your husband’s team, and then turn right around and ask for his autograph...or...wait for it...ask if you can hook them up with tickets.

13. Your husband’s 3XL-sized professionally-framed jerseys adorn the walls of your home, becoming mainstays of the d├ęcor. They’re like Lay’s potato chips: You can’t have just one because there’s the home jersey, away jersey, college away jersey, college home, etc. Here is one of three in the hallway leading to our bedrooms:

14. And then there are the action shots. (And trust me, we have plenty throughout our home.) But here's my favorite, the one in our foyer of The Hubs (#76) taking on the late great Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers (#19 is then-Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell, who was on the current season of The Biggest Loser):

15. Football will be worked into your wedding day ensemble, some way, somehow – i.e. a garter belt bearing your husband’s team logo, a groom’s cake or thong with your husband’s number on it, etc. Yours truly may or may not have had these items in her possession (wink, wink):

For more on the NFL, check out The Day My Husband Was Drafted into the NFL



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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Snow Day...NFL Play 60 Style

We live in Michigan.

And as you probably already know, it's damn cold here.

So cold, in fact, that a radio host on my favorite sports talk radio station recently described our current weather as "Colder than a well digger's backside."

Well, I don't know anything about a well digger's behind. 

But I can tell you with complete and utter certainty that a windchill of -30 will make anybody's backside balmy -- including mine and my kids'.

So after breakfast, we go straight to the playroom downstairs, which is where we put these items (pictured above) from NFL Play 60 to excellent use.

Play 60, which the NFL has dubbed movement for an active generation, aims to make the next generation of youth the most active and healthy. Launched in October 2007 to tackle childhood obesity, the youth health and fitness campaign focuses on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. In addition to national outreach and online programs, NFL Play 60 is implemented at the grassroots level through NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. The NFL Play 60 initiative is supported by many NFL players and coaches year round and to date, the NFL has dedicated over $200 million to youth health and wellness through NFL Play 60. 

If you have children (and even if you don't) chances are, you've got a few of these items lying around your house. Our Fit Kit includes:

*Jump rope

*Water bottle

*Authentic NFL Football

*A beach towel

*Fleece scarf

*Canvas Tote bag

And I used 90% of these things to preoccupy my children indoors for an entire day.

Now, mind you, my kids are 3 and 1 years old, respectively, so I can virtually make up any game/activity, and they will think it's cool and follow suit. 

I know, I know. This will come to a screeching halt in the years to come.

But for now, I'm riding this until the wheels fall off.

So if your kids are a bit older, you may have to be a little more creative with regard to what you propose:

Football Bowling
As you might surmise, one thing we aren't lacking in this house, being an NFL family and all, is footballs. But Scotty was downright giddy when I handed him this Play 60 football and told him he could actually play with it, and here's why: In an effort to prevent him from throwing a football into one of our fireplaces -- or into his father's flat screen TV -- I may have told him once or twice that if I catch him throwing that sucker in our home again, so help me God, I'm throwing it over the cliff in our backyard. So here's what I proposed: A game of football bowling. Sound strange? Oh, what the heck, Scotty is three and has never been bowling. He doesn't know the difference. I pulled our Lions tumblers out of the cupboard and told him that the objective was to knock over the cups by rolling the football. He ate it up.  So this is the only way Scotty will be playing with this ball until the weather breaks and we can take it outside in the spring:

Hip-Hop Jump Rope
If your children are a bit older than mine, than they can probably jump rope. But not only can Scotty not jump rope, even if he could, Kennedy would walk right into it in mid swing. Not wise. So, I used the rope as part of my obstacle course design: First, I told them to crawl through the tunnel, hop into the bouncy house and jump up and down until I blew a party noise maker, then exit the house and hop along the jump rope path, climb up the slide, and then slide down. And guess what? They actually did it. But only once. I tried to photograph them in action, but their energy coupled with my less-than-stellar photography skills resulted in too-blurry photos:

And then Scotty took to dragging the jump rope through the playroom, with Kennedy marching behind him like the Pied Piper:


Scavenger Snack Hunt
This one still has me laughing. Scotty thinks grapes and apples are candy. I have taken it upon myself to keep this lie going until he enters college. I hid a few apples in select places throughout our home, gave Scotty the tote bag, and told him that whatever he finds, he can eat. His reply, "Cool!!"

Water for Kindle
Since the prospect of watching two back-to-back episodes of Team Umizoomi or The Backyardigans is more precious than gold, I gave Scotty the Play 60 water bottle 75% full of water and offered him the following proposition: If he finishes drinking the water by dinnertime, he can watch two back-to-back Nick Jr. episodes on his Kindle Fire. And you know what? He had that sucker finished by nap time. Boom!

So there you have it.

Come join us!

Grab your jump rope, a football, and a water bottle and get Play 60 fit!


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Sunday, January 18, 2015

7 things you shouldn't say to an auto show model

This week the North American International Auto Show (the granddaddy of them all) is in full swing.

I was an auto show model (Read: narrator and product specialist) from 1998 through 2007 (Honda and then Jaguar).

But don't let the appearance fool you.

Gone are the days when they'd smear some make-up on us, squeeze our feet into a pair of heels, and throw us on stage next to a car.

For some time now, this gig has required lots of studying, hours of training, and then more studying.

And although it's been eight years since I last stood on a turntable and pontificated on everything automotive from torque to tinted windows, I still kind of miss it.

But I'll tell you what I don't miss: Hearing the eight items on the following list:

1. "Do you drive this car?" 
This question is usually rendered with sexual overtones by a male who looks to be more than twice our age. Auto show models get paid damn good money, yes. (I actually drove a Jaguar X-Type back then.) But c'mon. If I could afford to drive a Jaguar XJR -- the $95,000 one on the turntable -- do you really think I'd be standing here talking to you?

2. "Can I have a car brochure?" (And then snatch 10 of them.)
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they aren't worth anything. They are made of recycled paper. Not platinum.

3. "Hey, little lady, who can I talk to about this engine?"
To which I would reply with a smile through clenched teeth: "Well, for starters, it's a 4.2-liter supercharged V8 that produces 420 bhp (brake horsepower) at 6,250 rpm and 413 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. So, it is capable of propelling the coupe version of this vehicle to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. Any more questions, @**hole? I mean, sir?"

4. "I don't like any of these colors. In fact, I don't like anything on display here! C'mon honey, let's go over to Mercedes!" 
This statement is usually uttered with shade by a female who, for some strange reason, feels threatened by our presence and is somehow under the delusion that her words hurt our feelings when, in fact, we could care less.

5. "Your feet must be so tired in those heels! I bet you need a pair of slippers."
Not as bad as you need a breath mint.

6. "How 'bout I come back after you get off so I can show you a night on the town?"
How 'bout I call security right now?

7. "Can you make this turntable go faster?"
I sure can. There's a speed on this sucker called Fly Me to the Moon. Wanna come up here and try it out? But let's make a deal first: You puke, you're cleaning it up All. By. Yourself.

And I've saved the best, I mean, worst, for last. Consider this one a bonus...

8. "Do you come with the car?"
Wow! How creative. I've never heard that line before. Really, pal? Really??? 
Is that the best you can come up with?


But sometimes good things happen on the auto show floor. 

Unexpected things. 

Like running into celebrities. 

Click here to find out what happened when I ran up on Kid Rock.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to drink more water. (Seriously.)

I get it.

If water tasted like soda, beer, or champagne, consuming eight glasses a day wouldn't be a problem for most of us. 

But until someone figures out a way to make that happen, here are some useful tips from the Southeast Michigan American Heart Association on what we can do to bump up our H20 intake.

Know what you're drinking
Read those ingredients. Beverages, like energy drinks, can be deceiving because they advertise that they are healthy but usually are loaded with calories and sugar. Common forms of added sugars are sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrups, concentrated fruit juice and honey. Also, look at the label carefully as many drinks provide more than one serving, which can double or triple your sugar consumption.

Cut back slowly
If you consume sugary drinks on a regular basis, start by cutting out one of those drinks a day. A week later, drink two less a day. Continue until you’ve cut out nearly all the sweetened teas, soda, and other drinks from your daily routine. (I know, I know, this may take a minute; remember Rome wasn't built in a day).

Work up to water
Here's how to approach this challenge if you're not a big fan of water:
  • Carry a refillable water bottle or have a permanent glass at your office desk.
  • Add slices of oranges, lemons or even cucumbers for an added boost of flavor.
  • Try seltzers or sparking water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.
  • Join the juicing trend. You may have seen infomercials for juicers or read articles about the benefits of making and drinking your own fruit and vegetable juices. 

Try to limit your juice intake
The calories from juices can add up quickly. For example: ½ cup (4 ounces) serving of 100% orange juice contains 60 calories and a ½ cup of 100% grape juice has 76 calories.

Sip a smoothie
When you are in the mood for a milkshake or want an afternoon snack, keep on the heart healthy track with a budget-friendly homemade fruit smoothie! Blend ½ cup frozen fruit with no added sugars, ½ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with no added sugars and ½ cup fat free milk. If you don’t have a blender, mix small pieces of fresh fruit with yogurt and milk, then freeze for an hour. Experiment with different fruit combinations like mango-pineapple or strawberry-blueberry.

Here's another resource: Check out the American Heart Association's My Life Check. It's a simple tool that let's you know where you stand on your road to good health. 

C'mon. It's the New Year.

Baby steps.

You can do this.
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

HAIRstory: My Wash & Blow-Out Routine

When it comes to my hair, I don't mess around.

Some might even say that I'm obsessed, and I would not disagree.

I've never styled hair professionally.

I've never stepped foot inside a cosmetology school.

I don't read hair magazines to keep up on the latest trends.

But I know my hair, and I've come to understand what it takes to make it healthy, which has made my hair the longest it has ever been.

While it is true that, for the most part, the growth of our hair is determined by genetics, the length of our hair is somewhat within our control because it hinges largely on how we treat the hair we already have.

But here's the best part:

It's not hard.

Anybody can do what I do.

And I've broken it all down from the beginning, starting with my wash and blow-out routine.

Click here to visit my newly-revamped About My Hair page, which features a video tutorial, to learn more...
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Monday, January 5, 2015

7 Things I Use Everyday

With the holidays in our rear view mirror, the truth about most of the gifts you've received is probably known.

It is abundantly clear by now which of them are useful and which ones aren't worth their salt, and, consequently, will either be recycled or thrown away altogether.

And because some of us are still in the shopping mood (for ourselves, anyway), I thought I'd share a short list of things I've come to depend on.

You know, if you're in the mood to accumulate more stuff...

Louis Vuitton Sac Tote I cannot say enough about this tote, which was unfortunately discontinued several years ago. (It has since been replaced by Louis Vuitton's Neverfull tote.) But I like this Sac tote better, and you can still find some good ones making the rounds on the luxury resale market. This tote serves as my diaper bag at the moment -- and will continue to for the foreseeable future. I demand a lot of my diaper bag: I want it to be roomy, functional, fashionable, and, for God's sake, it has to be durable. This bag fits the bill. And long after I'm done using this bag to schlep diapers, Hot Wheels, and apple sauce pouches, I'll rock this as a large purse. I love love LOVE this bag. The end. 

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder Okay, so I don't use this recorder everyday, but I swear, I use this sucker at least once a week. As a blogger for the NFL and USA Football, and as a freelance writer whose largest client is based in New York (I live in Michigan), I conduct phone interviews often with people across the country, and I use this recorder every single time I do. It's compact, easy to operate, performs impressively with regard to energy usage. (It only calls for two AAA batteries, which seem to last forever).

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Natural Lip Gloss in Juicy Peach I bought this lip gloss at Whole Foods on a whim back in 2010. As crunchy as I am now, I was super-duper crunchy back then and gravitated heavily toward environmentally conscious cosmetic lines. I was rolling the dice because I bought this gloss without having tried it...but when I got home and tried it, I thanked my lucky stars and asked where this has been all my life. It looks great alone or over lipstick. Heaven help me, if Burt's Bees ever discontinues this...


Udderly Smooth Udder Cream The story behind how I came to know this body cream is quite unique...Several years ago when I was making the transition to write from home, I accepted a long-term substitute teaching assignment in an SXI class at our community's middle school. The students in my class experienced severe multiple impairments, which means that they were wheelchair-bound or bedridden and could not eat or use the bathroom without assistance. Translation: My two aids and I washed our hands a lot, so our hands became so dry that it looked as though we had rolled them around in flour by the end of the day. One of the therapists gifted me with a jar of this cream as a Christmas gift. "You will love this stuff," she said, and she was right. 


Modesa Elastics for Very Thick Hair If you know anything about me, you know that my hair is quite long. It is also very, very thick. This combination has proved finding durable hair elastics challenging. Most can't cut the mustard. Sure, they all work in the beginning. But I wear my hair in a ponytail 75% of the time when I'm home, and after the third wear, the elastic looks more like a garter belt than a hair tie. And then I found these. The best part? They're cheap as hell. I've only found them at Family Dollar. They come in packs of 20, and I buy them several packs at a time.


TRESemme Conditioner Luxurious Moisture Rich Conditioner Those of you who've followed this blog for a while know that I did the unthinkable this past July: I wore my hair in its crazy, naturally curly state. And I'm not talking about for, like, a day. I committed to this for several weeks before I threw in the towel and said To hell with this sh!t and went right back to my comfort zone (i.e. conducting my signature three-hour blow-outs.) What can I say? I'm addicted. I did glean one nugget of wisdom during my experiment, though: I now wash my hair with conditioner. That's right. I use conditioner as shampoo. It's quite common and is recommended for those with curly hair. Shampoo actually contains a crazy amount of detergent, which is extremely drying -- and conditioner does actually cleanse hair. This brand is just what its label claims: Moisture rich. And less than $5 for a bottle this size makes it a steal. I don't wash my hair everyday -- not even every other day. But when I do wash my hair, I use this conditioner. (P.S. I'm going to post my brand new hair washing regimen very soon!)


Lululemon Nice Asana Jacket Brushed Black You're looking at the absolute very best of Lululemon. I know, I know: Anything Lululemon makes costs an arm and a leg. But this jacket is worth every single penny ($125; ouch! I know). But hear me out: it washes like a dream, hasn't lost its shape, is the perfect length (no worries of exposing muffin top with this jacket!), and it is so versatile that I've worn it while on walks with the kids, on grocery store runs, and, of course, while doing yoga when it's super chilly in the studio. This, my friends, is a true keeper.

I hope you've enjoyed this list.

Happy shopping!



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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Know this: Someone is depending on you.

I recently underwent a ginormous closet purge, which I documented on Facebook.

I have been known to hold onto anything and everything, and among my favorite things to hoard are newspaper clippings.

That's because when I would find something that I thought possessed even a modicum of wisdom, I always knew that there would come a time when I'd need to read those words again...

Here's a clipping I found from the Detroit Free Press; the date of publication is unknown, but  I can tell you that it's so old that the clipping is now a golden brown.

Read the piece below, by then-columnist and former Detroit news anchor Mort Crim.

And then we'll talk:

Somebody today is depending upon you. Think about that. Then think about the people you depend upon.

Some people say our society is built upon law, but I say dependability is the real glue that holds everything together. Without that, society would collapse.

Recently, a plane trying to land in Scotland was forced to circle in a holding pattern for half an hour because the air traffic controller was at lunch. Scotland's rules say a controller can't work more than two hours without a break, so she took one.

And early last summer, a driverless train in Argentina rushed out of control through six stations before a guard managed to bring it to an emergency stop. The driver had stepped off a few miles back to check a faulty door system. The guard, not knowing the driver was gone, closed the doors and the automatic train took off.

It was only as the train came within a few feet of the last station on the line that a guard finally got the thing stopped.

Today's Thought: Most of us don't control airplanes or trains, but we're all responsible for something. And though we can run away from our task, we can't escape our duty.

What do you take from that?

I took this: No job is too big, and no job is too small.

And, yeah, every job matters.

But the person behind the job matters more.

Me.

You.

The receptionist at your doctor's office.

The guy who's responsible for maintaining the football field your kid's team plays on.

The intern who turns the teleprompter for your favorite evening newscaster.

The person working the drive-thru window at Taco Bell.

Remind someone of this whenever he or she uses the word just as an adverb. 

As in, She's just part-time.

Or He's just a mechanic.

Or She's just a dispatcher.

Or She's just a cashier.

Or He's just a dad.

Or, my perennial favorite, She's just a mom.

On any given day at any given time, we could be the person who makes the automatic train take off.

And for that reason alone, we're all important.
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