Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Manners Matter

As my kids grow up I am more and more struck by how much manners matter, and how much they seem to be lacking. I am working hard on my kids in the area of table manners, phone manners and speaking to adults. My kids (ages 8 and 11) are learning to open doors, clear the table, stand when a lady enters to the room, answer the phone politely, write a thank you note when they receive a gift and speak respectfully. These things matter. It drives me crazy at family dinners when the young people sit around and let their parents do the dishes. These are not children but young adulys of 15 to 20. I usually shame them into helping by sending my smaller aged kids into do the work. I understand that todays society things are less formal. This especially holds true in Northern California where people think they are dressed up if they wear a navy blue hoody instead of a gray one. I must go on record as stating that I do not think this is a good thing. How you behave is important. I also think this extends to how you dress. My sons are not allowed to wear basketball shorts and ratty tees to school. And I mean not allowed by me, the dress code allows it. They do wear nice quality tees or polos and chino shorts, khakis or jeans. My daughter does not wear shorty shorts or tiny tanks. This is considered old fashioned of me by several of my friends. I am teaching my daughter that if you respect yourself others will respect you. Part of respecting yourself is taking care of your appearance. I try and model that for her. I love these books from Brooks Brothers for that exact reason. I often give the "How to Raise a Lady" book as a shower gift and I gave the "50 Things a Young Gentleman Should Know" to my oldest son when he turned 10. He and I often read parts of it and talk about what they mean and how they apply to his life. I think these are important lessons. What do you all think? Am I hopelessly old fashioned?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cousins at the amusement park

This summer we splurged and bought season passes to an amusement park about 25 minutes from our house. It's really been great. Because we know we can come back there is no pressure to stay if it gets really crowded. We've run down for an hour or two after work, stopped by in the morning for one ride, you get the picture. Last weekend we went with my sister and her oldest son, T. We really had fun!

T and OPB. Despite the fac that T is a year younger, they get on great!

All the cousins!

Which way do we go?

The boys of summer!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Brooks Brothers Fall Collection for Kids

I know it's the middle of the summer but fall collections are starting to hit the stores and I totally adore these pictures from the new Brooks Brothers Fleece line for kids. I love these looks on kids. It's hard these days to find cute clothes for kids (especially girls) that are age appropriate. My daughter will be 8 at the end of August but is very tall and is often take for 10. I don't want her dressing like Brittney Spears. I'll certainly be checking these looks out.

Aren't these boys cute? My boys have much shorter hair but I'm digging the red pants. My youngest son would love them.

I just love this dress. I might have to find it for CMB. It's a wool crepe. It would be perfect for the holidays!

I think all these looks are cute. They might be just a tiny bit to old for CMB but its a great start!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What to wear when you aren't at work

I've noticed a hole in my wadrobe recently and it's casual weekend wear. I had this down when I was a stay at home mom. Having morphed into a working mom I am set for pencil skirts, work trousers and good tops. I'm also covered if I am coaching AGB's baseball team or horse riding with CMB. I'm even covered if I have something special in the evening. However, if I am running around doing errands or having brunch/shopping with a friend or watching (as opposed to coaching) one of the kids activities then I am at a bit of a loss.

This is my current fashion problem. I want to look pulled together and moderately stylish. But for a weekend I want to be comfortable as I can. Call it "relaxed elegance" The trouble with that is that often my idea of "elegance" does not fit with my idea of relaxed. Still I'm going to try and define what relaxed elgance could look like, since it's me there has to be a classic twist. If you are more funky consider adding your own twist whether it be edgey, punky or country.

First, consider the right basics. They shold be well done but don't have to be insanely expensive. Consider what might happen if you step in mud or have to deal with other potential messes of a weekend type. However, that is not an excuse for worn, stained or ill fitting.

Second, think about you. What works for your life and your body type. I am comfortable in boot cut jeans, waist defining tops, blazers and comfortale flat shoes. Find what works and replicate it.

Third, think about color. If I could wear granimals I would. I tend to pick a color schem and stick with it. Right now it is navy, gray and white. For a splash of color I usually chose green. Figure out what suits you and go with it. Don't be afraid of brights if you like them, coral, red, yellow.

Fourth, look at the fabics you are using. It is a requirement for me that my weekend clothes be washable. I don''t want to wear a dry clean only blouse to a little league baseball game. Still, a cotton/silk blend blouse or tee has a lovely drape and somehow looks a little more pulled together. Jcrew makes some lovely blouses like that. The same principal applies to tees, consider a model blended top as opposed to the college tee. The fit is nicer.

Fifth, get good pants. These can be jeans (in whatever shape you prefer), Khakis, capris or even a nice pair of jersey draw string pants. Pay attention to shape and fit. Just to be clear, your lulu lemon workout pants don't count here. We are shooting to get above that look.

Sixth, think about shoes. During the winter I lived in my hunter wellies because we had such a wet winter in Northern CA. When it was cold I had the fleece sock liners. These don't have to be dressey but should not be cheap and should work with your choice of pants. Loafers, driving mocs, gladiator sandles take your pick. Cheap rubber flip flops? No, save those for the pool or beach.

Seventh, have a few informal basics. A short trench, a sweater pea coat, a knit jacket, a pretty scarf. These can help elevate your look and yet remain casual.

Eight, think about accessories. These don't need to be elaborate. A fun watch, a cute bracelet. This is a great way to show your fun style.

Finally, think about your hair and other personal grooming items. I don't feel you need to go all out in your grooming routine as you might do for a Monday morning meeting but please, wash your face and comb your hair. No fair sticking on a baseball hat. That look has it's place but not here. My hair is about shoulder length right now and I am tending to the smooth pony with a fun clip. I also try and add a tinted mositurizer and lip gloss. Takes 5 miutes and goes a long way.

The above is actually what I strove for as a stay at home mom and would work equally well for all most any non-professional office type wear. What's your style? Is it different on the weekend?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Troop 32599 has an Aqua Adventure

Last week Troop 32599 celebrated a great year of Brownies. We all went to a water park called Aqua Adventure. There were water slides, a "river" hot dogs and general fun. The girls were proud that the money they earned through cookie sales funded their trip. The troop also contibuted $500 the Red Cross for Japan tsunami relief. A very good time was had by all the girls.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Better Kind of Beauty?

I don't exactly consider myself a "style blogger". But I read alot of them. As the mother of a daughter who is about to be 8, I do worry about the pressure on girls to be "pretty". Not just pretty but to look a certain way. Namely thin and blond. That's one of the reasons I love that the US Women's soccer team is going to the finals of the Worlds Cup! Look at Hope Solo (she plays goalie) for example. She's strong and toned. From her pictures it even appears she might be wearing a little makeup and has had her eye brows done. She appears to care about her appearence. Best of all, no one is judging her on it. No one is wondering if she's had botox or telling her she should lose weight or wondering about her dress size. Instead she looks strong, confident and yes, pretty and feminine too. Now that's a person I want my daughter to look up to. Now that's a role model.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Can Kate Bring Back Hose?

Ok, I apologize for yet another Kate Middleton based post. I've been looking at the pictures of the recent royal trip through Canada and LA and drooling at her clothes. You have too, admit it. One thing has struck me, she's clearly wearing hose. Sheer nude hose!? Wow, I thought those went out with the dodo birds. Now she's not wearing white nylons or some weird non leg colored hose. But she clearly is wearing very nice, very sheer nude hose. So are they coming back? There seem to be two schools of thought around hose. One is that they are a torture device and should be left for dead on the side of the road. The other is that they really can look elegant and keep your feet from chafing and sweating in your shoes. I confess that I am in the second camp. As long as they are good quality, sheer hose I don't mind wearing them. I've never found them to be all that uncomfortable. Now, I live in Northern California where it does not get thathot. I could see they might be be great in Atlanta or Florida in July and August. There is a third school of thought which is that she is just following royal protocal. Maybethose Brits are just more formal than we crazy Americans are? Note that most of her shoes are closed toe pumps? The one time she was wearing a peep toe shoe, she did not have on hose. I think that hose with a lovely dress and pumps is perfectly appropriate and I confess that I sort of hope they come back. I am all for dressing up. Yes, I love pretty dresses and nice clothes. I am not a khaki pant and polo girl. What do you all think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Makover your attitude?

I love makeovers. New hair cuts, new make up, closet cleanouts, all high on my list. Right now, however, I am concentrating on making over my attitude. I've just been in a funk all summer. Summer is the time I most hate being a working parent. My kids are home with the sitter or at camp. It's expensive and I'm missing the fun. I guess I just got grouchy. I've been distrcted at work and cranky at home. Ive been making poor food choices and skipping workouts. All of which ads up to not a fun mommy who feels like she has gained about 5 pounds. This weekend though I feel like I've turned a corner. I got up this morning and did my workout and made sure I packed a good lunch instead of relying on grabing something from the shop in my building. I'm focusing on being thankful that I have such a good job instead of feeling resentful I have to do it. Lots of people are in worse shape. Every now and then I have to remind myself to look on the brighter side of things and be thankful for what I do have (which is a lot of wonderful things) instead of wishing for what I don't have and missing what's important.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Not Just a Pretty Face

We all know how beautiful Kate Middleton is. I know I loved watching the royal wedding on televison and have followed the varrious news outlets and blogs drooling over the pictures of the current Canadian trip. But it was this picture that brought tears to my eyes. This little girl has stage 4 cancer and meeting "Princess Kate" was her wish to Canada's Children's Wish Foundation after watching the Royal Wedding from her hospital bed. I read the story here, It totally brought tears to my eyes. Clearly this woman is more than a pretty face and nice clothes. I've been feeling down and having a rought week at work but tonight I plan to go home, hug my kids and feel blessed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hooray for the Red, White and the Blue!

As we prepare to celebrate our nations independence I wanted to take a moment to drool over the ever lovely Kate Middleton, or the Duchess Katherine, as I suppose she must now be known. I just love these two navy blue looks she has worn on her trip to Canada, especially the lace one. Navy is one of my very favorite colors. It's crisp, it's nautical (or naval if you prefer), it's somehow less harsh or draining against your skin. All and all it's the perfect color. And as always Kate looks great in it. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday weekend!