July 5, 2011

underwear for under your sundress

At lunch recently, my gals and I were discussing the best underwear  to wear underneath a sundress. Yes, we talk about underwear. We recommend, we slash and burn, we throw our hands up in disgust. A thong? Nope, your butt looks sadly unprotected. Briefs? Nope, panty lines (God FORBID). Boy shorts?!! Nope, they ride up on your leg.

Neen to the rescue gal pals o'mine. I have two fabulous suggestions:

Under Armour Women's Mesh Boy shorts. Hand to God girlies, these do not ride up, panty lines are non-existent and are extremely comfortable. And, if I do say so myself, they look pretty smokin' when they're on. In fact, while the product description doesn't claim it, I think these little darlings give my tush a smidge of a lift. Yep, I said it!  Word of warning: They are low rise, so if you're jammin' on the Oreos, you may want to stay away from these for a day or two.

Skinny Britches by Spanx:  These are not wintertime Spanx girls. The lightweight yet suck you in material is perfect for summer. They smooth you out under fitted dresses and are quite comfy. I wore a pair recently and truly forgot I had them on. I plan to buy them in bulk, as most of you know I love me some summah-time dresses.

You can find the Under Armour Boy Shorts at Dick's Sporting Goods or at www.underarmour.com

Skinny Britches are available at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks. Or, if you're too busy sipping on Skinny Girl Margaritas, head on over to Spanx.com.

June 29, 2011

Camp Get Me The Heck Outta Here

While driving my kiddos around town to various activities and camps, I wondered allowed, "Wouldn't it be great if there were a summer camp for moms?" I don't mean a girls weekend. I wanted to know if there were any cool summer camps for ME. After a few clicks and Google searches, I discovered many options from Yoga Camp to Healthy Living Camp to Rock Star Camp to Baseball Fantasy Camp to Cowboy Camp to Space Camp.

Off I went to my gal pals, my peeps, my fellow moms who need to get the heck away. The consensus was the same: we would all love to vacate for two weeks, one week or one day to just be whomever we want away from everyone at home. While Healthy Living Camp is a great option, we decided to dream up our own ultimate camp ideas. 

After lots of laughs (and a few margaritas) with my gal pals, we came up with the following ridiculous and dreamy suggestions for Mom Summer Camp. Please note all camps are of the Disney-esque/Hollywood variety: they are NOT based in reality.  Just like kids don't break out into song and dance in High School and friends with benefits don't ever turn into long-term relationships, these camps are figments of our bizarro imaginations. Enjoy.

Camp with the Stars:  Spend the weekend with your favorite celebrity. Go for dinner, drinks, scuba, heck - drinks and scuba-whatever you want! Chat em up all day and night. The best part? They think you're fantastic, funny and they invite you to their house in the Hampton's for Labor Day! (I'm scheduled to hang at the pool bar at the Ritz in Kapalua with Chris Martin. Just sayin'.)

Camp Funhouse:  Funhouse mirrors abound. Wherever you're at, be it the spa or practicing yoga, you look thinner, leaner and your wrinkles magically disappear under the lights and mirrors. Every day is a good hair day at Camp Funhouse! Enjoy special packages like the "What Could Be Suite." Walk in and see how you would look with red hair, green eyes, longer legs, smaller thighs, etc.

Gals and Grapes: Camp at your favorite vineyard. Learning activities are optional, but hangovers are not. Wine taste and sample artisan cheese at your heart's content and wake up fresh as a daisy. Invigorated and raring to go, you can do it all over again the next day! Think of all the different wines you can bring back home.

Camp Perfection: This camp has it all. Walk on site and you are instantly at your leanest and fittest without dieting or exercise. There is a new and perfectly fitted outfit in your closet everyday for any and all situations. When attending Camp Perfection, guests are taught how to never need to color their hair or tweeze an eyebrow ever again! Here, you are injected with the Camp's secret serum which removes all crabbiness and tiredness from your bones! And, for an extra fee, you gain admittance to the "What Would You Tell Your 25 year old Self" Hall of Wonder. Go in and give yourself advice about work, men, hair styles and fashion trends - this is your chance to impart the glorious wisdom of hindsight.

The cost of all camps includes pre-camp services such as packing for you, coordinating your children's carpools and activities while you are away and preparing meals for your family until you return.

June 6, 2011

stop. taking. pictures. now!

I'm just gonna throw something out there. How about we issue a cease and desist order on taking pictures with phones of private bits and sending them to other people. Period. No, don't send them to your boyfriend. No, don't send them to your girlfriend. Heck, stop sending them to your spouse - nothing is sacred anymore!  The pictures will get posted online. For the world to see. Even if it is an accident. I don't know about you, but I don't want my former World Civ teacher to have access to me in a shirtless photo.

It has happened to others, it will happen to you. Can everyone knock it off already. What am I missing here? Am I that old at 41 (hurts every time I type it) that I cannot understand why on Earth anyone, yes, anyone, would take a naked photo of themselves and ELECTRONICALLY send it to another person?

And no, I am in no way a prude. Just ask....nevermind. I just don't like to take acknowledged risks when it comes to my privacy. I am not judging Rep. Weiner or Brett Favre or Kim Kardashian (well, maybe her....NO). It seems, however, by participating in naughty photo taking and sending, people are getting caught, and subsequently hurt. The indiscretions tear families apart and destroy careers. Well, wait a minute. In the case of Kim Kardashian, it actually created a career. I can't keep up. Please dear readers, enlighten me. Tell me why this is a seemingly unstoppable phenomenon. 

It brings me to wonder if we as a culture lost the ability to express our love, like, lust in other ways besides virtually? How about letter writing? Whatever happened to long and luxurious phone calls? Oh, wait, how about a night out or even a romantic night in?  Old school? Maybe. Safer? Absolutely. 

Let's all try to follow the rule I keep preaching to my kids: If you don't want your parents or your principal to see the pictures, don't take them. Insert wife, family, boss, country wherever you like, the sentiment is still the same. Stop taking pictures. Now.

Summer Paradox

It's official. Sing it everyone: "Schools out for summer....." Phew. Another year passes, another summer begins and I'm simultaneously overjoyed and terrified. Overjoyed because summer marks the end of the nuisance of homework and tight schedules and playground nonsense. It marks the beginning of ice cream runs and beach days and my kids falling into who they really are. Terrified because I love solitude and I MISS IT SO MUCH DURING THE SUMMER. That's right, I like to be alone. I feel infringed upon when there is too much togetherness for too long.

Yes, I know there is a time in life for everything. This is my time as a mom who needs to be around for her kids. I love it. I do. And it's part of the package - the kids are my priority, and I take that seriously. I look forward to lazy pajama days and long days in the backyard. I love watching my son play baseball - all 16 games and three tournaments of it! I love to sneak peaks at them while they're running around the neighborhood in search of water gun compatriots. And I love trips to DQ at 9:00 on a hot summer night.

And yet. I'll miss my quiet morning time with my coffee. And I'll miss exercising freely, without the worry of rushing home for pick ups or drop offs or sitter time limits. I'll miss the quiet of the afternoon before the dinner rush. And I'll miss being exempt from refereeing during the daytime hours. I'll miss my secret days I keep just for me; the one's when I do something scandalous like see a movie by myself or sneak to the city just to meander through a bookstore. Those I'll miss most, because on those days, those rare days just for me? I get lost in being just 'me' again. Me, not mom,  not wife, just me. Those days keep me grounded, keep me fresh and keep me whole. I don't have nearly enough of those days.

And again, back on the other hand (good thing moms have so many hands) I revel in the question mark that is the summer. I indulge in the open afternoons and long evenings on our deck that sometimes morph into hilarity. I realize that summer is the best time for memory making. After a few weeks, all the kinks are out of being together again and the summer takes on the feeling of a gorgeous free fall into possibility. Most importantly, I keep reminding myself these days are fleeting. Sooner than I can fathom, my kids will prefer solitude and their friends over me.

So, I'll do my best to linger in the moments that create memories while trying not to cringe about my lack of aloneness. Maybe a babysitter is in order to sneak away from the moments; if only for a little while.

May 22, 2011

let's face it. facebook is fun.

Facebook is everywhere. From 10 year olds to grandmas, everyone is friending everyone. Unfortunately, the bullies have a new playground to trounce upon and the adulterers have easier access to fool around. Big Brother is tracking us even more efficiently. While this is true, sad, disturbing and in need of a voice - can't we also find the good in Facebook among all the bad and the ugly?

I think we can. Let's get real. How many of you have a Facebook account? That's what I thought. I know there are some of you arching your neck ready to say 'Oh I only have it because I like to check in with my kids." Mmmhmm. That may be true. And then there are the other Facebbookers, the voyeur-only types. Those of us that post pictures, but not too many. We hit 'like' occasionally, but resist posting comments. We kind of hide behind our screen, look around and judge the over-posters, but love peeking around their profiles. There are some of us that post pictures, comments, likes and follow 'public figures'. Some of us use Facebook as a way to market a business or cause. And some of us are the Facebookers that love to Facebook, and have no shame in using it in all its social networking glory. We invite mass amounts of friends to dinner, post about morning dental hygiene habits, have complete conversations about who knows what on each others walls....

So we're on Facebook. Why not embrace it? Why be ashamed?  Let's enjoy it while we're there. See it for whatever it is (to you) and leave judgement out of the equation. So what if Friend 62 is going to another poetry reading. Who cares if Friend 129 is going to have a mole removed today. Shake your head and move on and get back to stalking your ex's pictures from his/her recent vacation to Italy.  Admit it, you've done it - I know I have. And it's fun. Especially when an ex is balding....(OOOPs!)

I love when people post funny links from television shows and post comments about their perfect or hellion kids. My favorite? Snarky commentary about anything - who knew there was so much wit behind a screen. How else would I know that a grammar school friend is now a 51 time marathoner and Ironman? I love her daily motivational posts. And another high school friend is so politically active, I enjoy reading his commentary more than reading some of the Op Ed pieces in the Tribune.

Where else can you get questions answered about people you haven't seen in forever without actually picking up the phone or sending an email? It's all as safe and harmless as we make it.

I have reconnected with people I knew eons ago and have gotten to know them better through Facebook. I didn't even realize how much I'd missed them. How cool is that? According to Drew Barrymore (am I really quoting Drew Barrymore?) "If I haven't talked to you in 20 years, there's probably a reason." I agree with this to an extent. I do. And the people I don't want to talk to I don't. In some cases I've tried, but remembered why we parted ways the first time and decided to leave well enough alone. 

But the people in our lives who just slip away because of life, location and distance? Why not enjoy their online company from time to time? I had one of the biggest, loudest belly laughs recently while Facebook chatting with a college classmate I always liked, but never really got to know. As one of my favorite Facebook friends we chuckle often about our kids, life and Prince. Not William, just Prince.

I also enjoy getting to know acquaintances better through Facebook. I get an inside peek at people I normally wouldn't have the opportuntiy to chat with walking around town.  It makes the 'hello' at Jewel mean a little more. I had no idea my neighbor's favorite dog has his very own Facebook page. Cracks. Me. Up.

Don't get me wrong children of the 60s (and 70s, stinkers!) I prefer to talk with people live, see them in person and enjoy a glass of wine or two-together. Sometimes though, with middle age, children, spouses, responsibilities and a country dividing us, virtual friendships can be a nice pick me up.

It's a new world for my generation. One I have tentatively embraced and am glad I did.

For another take on one of the perils of Facebook, check out the wonderful Marjie Killeen's piece at Make It Better: 'The Dangers of Facebook Friending Your Old Flame.'

May 20, 2011

top five gotta have make-up products this summer

Makeup. I love it. Sometimes, I love it even more than shoes and handbags. I don't wear a lot of it, but when I do, oh how I love to play!!!

Someone recently told me I had a glow to my face. My first thought was 'Am I sweating? It's only 40 degrees..." She proceeded to complement my skin and my eyes and I was so joyous I bought her a coffee. So ladies, (and gentlemen if you care for  beauty products), I will share with you what I shared with my friend. This is what I'm using and loving today - hope these work for you too.

Trish McEvoy 24-hour shadow and liner in Topaz
Best product ever! This is so easy to apply you could (and do) do it with your eyes closed. You can swipe it across your lash line lightly for a splash of color and sparkle - or blend it in with a thin pencil and create a smokey eye. The topaz color is dreamy and looks great on most skin tones - the charcoal is great too!

Trish McEvoy Eye Base Essentials
One of my all time favorites and must haves!  This creamy base is applied to your entire eyelid and evens out skin tone while creating a smooth surface for eyeshadow. On low maintenance days, I wear it alone and it brightens up the eye beautifully.

Bobbie Brown Pot Rouge for lips and cheeks
I use a smidge of this on top of a bronzer for an "Oh I just heard a naughty joke" kind of blush. It stays put all day and doubles as a quick lip gloss too. So many colors to choose.

Kiehls Lip Balm #1 scented
Throw this little tube in your car and use it all the time. My favorite scent is cranberry and I swear it lasts through summer and fall - you only need a smidge and your lips feel perfectly pouty. Hint - I've also used it on my cuticles in the winter - great results!

Shu Uemura eyelash curler
The mother of all eyelash curlers - ladies this one takes the cake. Sadly, it is no longer available for purchase in the U.S. Thank goodness you can buy it online via their website. Definitely worth the shipping and high cost - nothing else helps open the eye like THIS eyelash curler. Trust me, I am eyelash challenged and this may be one of the items I'd choose on a desert island....

On one final note, I have to give a shout out to the wonderful ladies at Blue Mercury in Lake Forest. No, I do not get any kickbacks (sadly.) Simply put: the staff are all so helpful, knowledgable and simply fun to be around. Everything but the almighty Shu Umera eye lash curler can be found over there. Check them out!

May 16, 2011

why do guilty pleasures make us feel guilty?

Chocolate milkshakes. Oreos. No, Double-stuffed Oreos! Sitting up in the middle of the night finding great bad movies on cable! Vampire Diaries! Tosh.O! Perez Hilton! Fashion websites! Facebook! 

My list of guilty pleasures is longer than I care to admit. But here I am, admitting it. My name is Nina and I have many guilty pleasures. I am tired and sick of feeling guilty about them. They are pleasurable, after all. But then they aren't. They have layers of shame around them that are begging to be discarded like a Northface on a spring day. Said spring day in Florida, perhaps. I digress....

How can all these 'activities'  feel so good while simultaneously making me feel guilty? Easily - none of them are particularly good for me. None of them promote a healthy lifestyle. Especially eating double stuffed oreos at two in the morning while watching my recorded Vampire Diaries. OH MY!!  My heart be still. But isn't it healthy to feed into our cravings every now and then? Yes. Sometimes it just feels good to act naughty.

I understand the guilt. Oreos undermine weight-loss and my workouts, as does staying up late. Bad movies and CW television do absolutely nothing for my aging mind but perhaps keep it stagnate - maybe watching Bravo actually kills brain cells. Who knows? Internet browsing and Facebooking certainly wastes my time and keeps my productivity at bay. 

I wear guilt like a second skin. I grew up a Catholic school girl with a Jewish father. Guilt and I are fantastic companions. But, I'm done. I'm breaking up with guilt when it comes to these said pleasures. Guilt can take a hike and look me up on Facebook in 20 years! I don't engage in the naughty all the time. Everything in moderation will be my mantra. I can indulge and buy expensive make up and skin care products from time to time. I can dance to 80s house music without embarrassing myself on occasion! I can listen to Gaga in the car and sing so loud I can't hear trains coming once in a while. Okay, maybe I shouldn't do the latter.

My point here is I am giving up the guilt and bringing on the pleasure - sometimes. I'm declaring a boycott to the phrase 'guilty pleasure'  and encourage What Not To Wear marathons everywhere! I've earned the right to slack every now and then, trade in Newsweek for People and NPR for AltNation. Now, if you see me driving, singing and swerving while leaving a trail of cookies in my wake, I most certainly will feel shamed. And guilty.....

May 9, 2011

my mind's eye mania

With humiliating realization, I've discovered who I am in my mind and who I am in the mirror are very different, but necessary people.

Chatting with a friend I met in my early 20s, I came to a startling revelation. We hadn't spoken in a while, and when I informed him I have a step son attending Columbia, he said "That's wild. Is there not a part of you that still thinks of 20 year olds as part of your peer group? I still do. I am not suggesting I try to keep up with them, but that their lives are not far removed from mine."

I chuckled and nearly snorted because I couldn't agree more with his pondering. However, their lives are significantly removed from mine. In my mind's eye though, I am 25, vibrant, hip, edgy - you can't put anything past me. But in reality, I'm a bit hazy, try to retain a smidge of hipness, a bit soft cornered and, well, you still can't get anything past me! My point here is this: my mind tells me one thing, but my reality is quite different. 

For example, in my mind, a favorite friend an I are strong, lean bad-asses while throwing uppercuts, side-kicks and cross hooks in a kick boxing class at the gym. 'Au contraire, mon frere!' said the reflections in the mirror. You know that mirror, right? The one that makes you look more middle aged than you really are, the one with the awful lighting that shines brightly on all your imperfections. The mirror that must be from a fun house because it's making you look uncoordinated and awkward.  Yep, that mirror reflects two girls whose tomato red flushed faces and flailing fisted arms are screaming 'get out of this class now!'. GAH! 

Oh, and how about the window at the grocery store? What a delightful looking glass that turned out to be Saturday morning. Mind's eye had me looking put together in my good to go jeans and new favorite spring jacket. Make up-check! Hair done-check! Mind's eye had me looking and feeling calm and cucumber cool. Reality window? Crazy mom walking chicken quick, eyes darting to and fro hoping to get a first communion card and a gallon of milk before the clock struck 12! What the heck is going on? And where did those lines around my eyes come from and why are they so obvious in the sunlight and can someone throw me a bottle of eye cream?????

How reliable is my mind's eye? Poor, tortured Hamlet saw his dead father with his mind's eye. Am I actually delusional? I started asking favorite friends and neighbors if I am alone in this Mind's eye Mania and thankfully found I am not. Everyone I spoke with said the same thing: They are all a younger age, coordinated, smart and savvy in their head. And isn't that what really matters? Maybe, when reality hits us with a mirror, we don't need to reconcile the inner 25 with the outer 40 something. Maybe that's what keeps us going, keeps us trying new things and forces us to challenge ourselves. I think my mind plays back the true me, the inner me and that allows me to feel my best even when mirror-me is taking a day off. 

On the other hand, maybe that's my mind's voice talking and feeding me heaping scoops of what I need to hear.....Regardless, I think I'll take it!

May 4, 2011

really rihanna?

So, I like Rhianna. I have several of her songs on my ipod. I listen to her with some frequency, in fact. Her October 2010 SNL (http://youtu.be/h8IXGHOnG8k) performance made my brow furrow with a bit of distaste, (she seemed a bit more skanky than I've seen her) but I ignored it. I believe in free speech, she is an ‘artist’ after all. If she wants to bring on the raunch and it works for her, who am I to judge?
I’m a mom, that’s who. Again, I say, I like her songs. I like Eminem and even Dr. Dre, both whom have pretty offensive lyrics and language woven throughout their songs. 
But when my niece started belting out lyrics from her latest hit “S&M” I had to question my liberal views on the music industry. 
The lyrics, sung by aforementioned niece, and now my favorite daughter (thank you very much favorite niece!) are as follows:

Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it 
Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it 
Sticks and stones may break my bones 
But chains and whips excite me "

Um, okaaaay? Does Rhianna have every right to sing about whips, chains and the smell of sex? Sure she does. Does the radio have every right to play it on the radio during waking hours? Of course! Do I have the control and right to change the station? Yes I do!  However, what is a Mom to do when your child is exposed to the song or video when you're not around?

While I was slightly stymied when my daughter asked me what "S&M" was, I don't feel it's enough of a reaction to disallow her from listening to the music. Sometimes I think the more you take something away, the more they want to find out about it. I turn it off sometimes, telling her I don't like this particular song. Having said that, I don't think the song is harmful, or hurtful, or influential in anyway. 

So then why the blog, why the comment at all? I think it's just the ick factor. It's the 'Is it really necessary?' factor. It's the, 'Do i really care that you like whips and chains Rhianna?' factor. It's the 'While I don't usually get bothered by music lyrics, this made me cringe because I hate that my kids are exposed to some things before I'm ready to allow it' factor. 

Really Rihanna?

May 3, 2011

and so it begins...

So, I tried to be witty and charming while composing my first post. I wrote, rewrote and then decided to knock it off and just say welcome and hello. My friends have called me Neen forever, so much so that Nina just doesn’t sound right coming from their voices. And ‘Neen’ is usually accompanied by a ‘you know....’  For example, “You know Neen, I’m not sure you want to wear the printed pink wrap skirt anymore,” or “You know Neen, I don’t think I can make it to the Vic with you Friday night,” or “You know Neen, she says its great in theory, but she wouldn’t be caught dead out past 11:00....”
Admittedly late to the whole world of blogging, I start today at the request of some very dear and encouraging friends that seem to like what I have to say and enjoy updates on certain things I say and do. Boring to most, but maybe interesting to the few who will read on. 
I was a writer and PR gal in my former life and am dabbling again with freelance writing in between walking my dog, being milk mom at school and getting my hair colored.
I hope to write about what my girlfriends and I like to talk about - our life, our kids, our loves, our gripes, our wrinkles (oh just wait), where to go, what to do, when to do it, books, MUSIC and last and CERTAINLY not least, how to make it all REAL, authentic, fun....and funny.
So, (and you'll note I like to begin and end with so) here goes it. Hope you'll come along for the ride!

March 9, 2011

While I Want the Sun, I'm Not Exited For Spring...

I'm really not. Warmer weather means short sleeves and brighter colors. Warm weather means shedding the parka that currently hides all my flaws (except for my laugh lines) and covers my tush. Warm weather means that my closet needs to be cleaned and it is one of my least favorite chores.

I don't know about you, but I am a reader of all articles that begin with "Top Five Spring Favorites," and "What You Must Have in Your Closet This Spring," and "THE Spring Coat." I somehow find temporary satisfaction and inspiration while reading said articles. So, then what happens?

I get cold feet. I start loading my online shopping bag with new tees and boyfriend jeans and peep toe wedges and scarves. And then, I read my email, answer phone calls and leave my lap top. I get stage fright when shopping for myself. Why? What is this about? Why can't I take the leap? This wasn't a problem in my 20s. Is it that I feel guilty about spending the money? Is it possibly that somewhere in my subconscious that I enjoy complaining about what I don't have? 

I'm not sure, but I do know that when it comes to the kiddos, I can load a virtual shopping bag, press submit order and smile in delight in the time it takes to type SOLD! Why is that so easy?

A friend  suggests that it is overwhelming to shop for yourself all at once and it's better to buy a few pieces at a time. The old "Rome wasn't built in a day" theory. Another maintains it is easier to shop for our children because they are easier to fit than we are. 

Whatever the reason, I'm hoping for more cold weather so I can hide inside my parka. In the meantime, maybe a few tee shirts will find their way to my house....