Prom Fashions with Mr. Kate!

**Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.**

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I got to travel back in time last weekend, waaay back to my Prom in high school! I was invited to check out the prom fashions at Macy’s. It was a blast! First, I got to meet online fashion guru, Mr. Kate! (In case you don’t know, Mr. Kate is actually a woman! She said she likes to encourage people to think outside the box, thus her name!)

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She had lots of fantastic ideas to share with us, like don’t be afraid to mix patterns. Just look at what she’s wearing, I never would have thought to pair that black & white blazer with an animal print dress, but she did & it works! She also showed us how to use a sock to make a Sock Bun! She demonstrated the technique for everyone and here’s one of the models sportin’ her cute bun and gorgeous Ombre’ Prom Dress:

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Isn’t that dress beautiful! Prom dresses sure have come a long way since I went to Prom, I pulled a couple of my old pics out to compare, here’s what I wore:

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Yep, It was big & fluffy and very difficult to move around in. Gone are those dresses, today’s young ladies have so much to choose from, I was a little jealous! Here’s a Hi-Low Dress, kinda like the one I wore, but without all the fluff… if only I’d known then what I know now!!!

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Here’s Mr. Kate talking about how to create a cool look by layering bangles & cuffs together, take a peek:

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Check this out, Prom dress and Combat boots! I kid you not! I actually like how it looks. Would you let your daughter wear it?!

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After all the models were done strutting their stuff, I had a chance to speak with Mr. Kate (she is a sweetheart & so cute!) and check out all the prom dresses for myself. Macy’s Prom Dress collection is huge, I could not believe how many different styles and colors there were to choose from. Not only that, the prices were extremely reasonable. I know for a fact; my mom paid more for my dress back in the day, than these dresses were selling for. I even got to pick my favorite! I went with a red dress! What do you think?

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I had such great time, thank you Macy’s & Mr. Kate!

 I am a member of the Everywhere Society. Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post however, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.
 

Top 5 Things Never To Say To A New Mom Over 40

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I am a member of a very elite group, (or so I’d like to think!) I had my little one at the tender age of 40! (Applause, Gasp, Applause!) Although he was not my firstborn, I know many women that have had their first child at forty or older. There are many different reasons for this: career, infertility issues, personal choice… this list goes on and on.  When you have a baby at forty, folks sometimes do not know how to react, and can say the weirdest (rudest) things!  I have put together a list of  things that you should probably not say to a new mother over the age of forty, (unless you want to get slapped!) I have experienced one or two (ahem), of these myself! Without further adieu, here it is!

#5: “Cute baby! I’ve thought about adopting too!”  Umm, she’s not adopted, I gave birth to her! Don’t get me wrong, adoption is a beautiful thing, but don’t assume a baby is adopted just because the mother is a wee bit older than you. 

#4: “Cute baby! Surprise pregnancy, huh?! Umm, no, this pregnancy was very carefully planned ahead of time, thank you!  Our baby was/is very much wanted. Just because a woman is over 40 when she gets pregnant, doesn’t mean it is an “oopsie” pregnancy! 

#3: “Cute baby, but why would you want a baby at your age? You’ll be so old when she graduates high school!” Excuse me?! Who are you to judge me  based solely on my age? I’m going to be old anyways, regardless of whether or not I’ve had a baby! It doesn’t matter how old I am, what matters is my ability to care for my child and provide her with all she needs. I know a few twenty-somethings that never should have had kids, so put that in your pipe and smoke it! Yes, parenting can be challenging when you are older-but parenting at any age is a challenge! 

#2: “Cute baby, I didn’t know you were a nanny?” I’m not the nanny, I’m not the babysitter-I’m the MOM! I can understand how some may get confused; not only am I an older mom- but my children are mixed race (as am I), so the curly hair and tan complexion may throw a few folks off! Just because I’m pale as a ghost, with bone straight hair, don’t assume I’m the nanny! 

That brings us to my favorite (sarcasm), numero uno! You ready for it? You think you know what it’s gonna be? Let’s see!

#1: “Cute baby, is that your Grandson?! Umm, NO! This is my son, I’m his mother, I gave birth to him! Not every woman you see over the age of 30 is a grandmother! I realize you may come from a region where girls are popping out babies at 13 and having grand babies when they’re 26- that’s NOT ME! I may be old enough (barely!) to be a grandmother- but I’m not. Please do not assume that an older woman with a baby is the grandmother! That will get you slapped! 

And there you have it, my Top 5 List. Please remember what you have learned here today! Having a baby at 40 was a blessing-I know how lucky I am to have been able to carry my baby to term & deliver a healthy little one. I thank God for the gift of life He allowed me to bring forth.

Suicide-Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

I recently learned someone I went to school with committed suicide. I met this person in elementary school, and we graduated high school together. I had not been in contact with this person in decades- we weren’t close in school- but I felt the loss none-the-less. I would often see her post comments on the FB pages of mutual friends, and all seemed well. If you were to take a look at her FB page-it appeared she had the “perfect” life… always traveling to some exotic locale, basking in luxury, both here and abroad. Looks can be very deceiving.

I wonder if anyone really knew what her life was like, or did they only see the glitz and glamour? No one’s life is perfect, no matter what they post on their social media pages. Did she have contact with any of her friends? Did she speak to them on a regular basis? Did they know she was in trouble and thinking of ending it all? I have no idea. I wish she would have reached out to someone, I wish they could have helped her realize her life mattered. She left behind a child that will now grow up without a mother. My heart breaks for that little one. My heart also breaks for her. How much pain must she have been in, to believe the only way out was to kill herself? She saw no other solution to her situation.

I have often wondered about suicide victims, and yes, they are “victims.” Anyone in that much pain, be it physical or mental, is a victim. Do they ever regret the decision to take their own life? That man that jumps off a bridge, does he regret it the second he steps off? Or are they so deep in anguish, that it is a welcomed relief? 553449_482186875125542_889552880_nI’m sure we would like to think we all know our friends pretty well. Surely, if one of my friends were contemplating taking their own life; I’d be able to see the signs… right?! I pray that I would. As I said before, no one’s life is perfect. I’d start right there. Do you have a friend or family member that constantly posts about their “perfect” life? Maybe you should reach out to them and just touch base. Give them a call- make a real connection with them. Ask them if you can come over for a visit, just to chat, maybe over a cup of coffee. See how they’re really doing. Maybe they are doing fine, and maybe everything is “perfect”… but it’s better to see for yourself, than to take their word for it. Ask them about all aspects of their life… work, family, health, finances. I’m not saying to be all up in their business…Wait! Yes, yes I am saying that! They’re our friends, people we care about, take that extra step and find out if everything is ok. They may not be pondering suicide, but they could very well be going through a rough patch. Your act of kindness could be the one thing that brings them back from the cusp of depression. If they posted about a great trip they recently took, call them up and tell them you’d love to drop by and discuss their recent adventure. If everything they post seems too good to be true, maybe it is.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t always believe everything you see. Take that extra step and reach out to your friends, make sure they are doing well. If they have a history of mental illness, by all means, stay in contact with them. They need you, whether they say so or not. Have regular outings with them, meet up at the park, call them up on the phone. Be there for them! We are all in this world to take care of each other. I hope my classmate is at peace now, and I hope she knows that her life really did matter.

Empowering Women Together

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If you have been following my blog, you know I’m all about being frugal and saving money, right? You also know I’m an advocate for women and children, right? Well, one of my favorite places for finding great deals is now also helping to empower women! How cool is that?! Walmart has just launched a program called Empowering Women Together and I am so excited to share it with you!

During my trip to DC, with Shot@Life, I realized how truly dirt-poor people in most developing countries are. They have so very little, things you and I take for granted on a daily basis, they don’t have… like food in the fridge…or a fridge, for that matter! If only these women had a way to earn money-they’d be able to make their lives, and the lives of their children so much better. Many of these women are talented artisans and can create everything from jewelry to clothes. It’s not enough to be able to create something to sell, you also need to have people to sell it to. People that can afford to buy it, you need customers. That’s where Walmart comes in!230784_322517377853262_812898594_nThey’ve created an online destination, called Empowering Women Together. You can go online and buy unique and interesting products from small women-owned businesses around the world. With each purchase you make, you will be helping to empower the women behind the products to support themselves, their families, and their communities. Through Empowering Women Together, these women are going to be able to reach customers they’d never be able to otherwise. I think this is a terrific idea and a win-win for all involved. Take a look at this video to learn more.

So far, Empowering Women Together has over 200 different products, representing nine different countries and and 19 businesses. I can’t wait to take a look at the jewelry from Peru, Rwanda, Kenya & even the U.S. That’s right, the U.S. and Canada are represented too. This is a world-wide program, and women everywhere need to be empowered! There are home accessories from Haiti, iPad & iPhone covers from Nepal, even specialty foods from the U.S. and Canada. If you don’t follow Walmart on FB yet, you can Like them here or follow them on Twitter. I’m a big fan of Pinterest, and I follow Walmart right here. I get all kinds of great decorating ideas from them. Empowering Women Together is an element of Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic 5-year commitment, through 2016, to help earn $20 billion for women-owned businesses. I applaud Walmart’s efforts and will be doing a lot more online shopping with them… and I don’t have to feel guilty about spending money, because I know I will be helping empower a woman by doing so!

How about you, what do you think of Empowering Women Together? What’s the first thing you’re going to buy?!

 

 

** Disclaimer: I am part of the Mom It Forward blogger network. Mom It Forward and Walmart partnered in support of this campaign. Walmart compensated me for participation in this campaign. With that being said, all thoughts and opinions are my own and I was happy to help spread the word about this awesome program!**

 

 

The Jane Doe Project: I Lost My Virginity to a Date Rapist!

Here is the first in a series of posts that I am calling The Jane Doe Project. If you have a story to tell, but are too embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to share it-then this project is for you. You can tell your story here & no one will ever know your true identity, because you will be known as Jane Doe. Help yourself, and someone else, by coming clean and sharing that thing that you’ve been holding onto for far too long. Let the healing begin…481858_10151147259766851_1149835456_n

Hello, my name is Jane Doe. Back in high school, I was totally in love with this one boy. He was my first boyfriend and the first person I ever kissed. He was kind, and gentle and sweet. He had this ex-girlfriend that I really did not care for at all! She was always trying to come between us & break us up. She didn’t like me and made it very obvious every time she came around. One day, she told him that I was messing around with another guy, an older guy that was in one of my classes. Truth is, I wasn’t! I was very hurt when my boyfriend did not tell her to go to hell… instead, he believed her. I made the mistake of telling the guy in my class that my boyfriend thought we were messing around. Right away, he started saying that we should, since my boyfriend already thought we had. This went on for weeks. The more he mentioned it, the angrier I became. Not at him, but at my boyfriend. How could he believe his ex over me? He was the first guy I ever kissed, and I made him wait months before I kissed him. I was scared that he wouldn’t want to be with me if he know I had never kissed anyone before! That’s all we had ever done, was kiss.

I finally gave in to the guy in my class. I know it was stupid, but I was just so upset at my boyfriend and the guy in class was relentless. He kept saying we needed to hook-up, to teach my boyfriend a lesson. I agreed to go out on a “date” with the guy in class. I knew what I was agreeing to. We were going to go to his house and have sex. It would be my first time- I was a virgin. When we got to his house, he started kissing me. It felt weird, I had never kissed anyone but my boyfriend. I didn’t have feelings for this guy. I mean he was attractive and many girls liked him, but I didn’t like him in that way. Before I knew it, we were on the carpet & he was pulling down my pants. “I can’t do this!” I said to him. “I”m sorry, but I changed my mind, I can’t do this!”  He was on top of me, much larger than me, I knew I couldn’t push him off. I tried to keep my legs closed. I was using all my strength, but it wasn’t enough. I kept saying “I can’t do this, I changed my mind” over and over, but it was too late. At one point, he said, “Shh, just a couple more minutes.”  The whole thing was over in a matter of minutes.

I remember sitting up and asking him, “What if I’m pregnant?” He assured me I wasn’t, “I pulled out,” he said. I then asked him to leave the room so I could get dressed. After I was dressed, we left his house. On the way out, he asked me why I didn’t “get into it”… all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Inside I was thinking, “Umm, because I asked you to stop, because I changed my mind and did not want to do anything with you! Because I don’t love you, I love my boyfriend!”

The next morning, when I was getting dressed for school, I noticed the bruises. I had very large bruises on the insides of my thighs. At first, I didn’t know what it was from-then it hit me. It was from trying to keep my legs closed so he couldn’t penetrate me. I bled for three days after the incident. In school, we didn’t didn’t really talk about it, we pretending everything was still the same, but it wasn’t. Every once in a while in class, he would give me this creepy smile.

It took me years to grasp what had actually taken place. He raped me. Yes, I had originally agreed to go with him, to “hook-up”, but then I changed my mind, and I told him I had changed it, but he didn’t listen. That’s date rape! I had always pictured rape as a very violent act, someone raping you at gunpoint or knifepoint … but it doesn’t have to be that way to be rape. I was never in fear for my life-this guy did not have a knife to my throat. He wasn’t beating me up. But he did not listen when I asked him to stop. He forced himself on me. He raped me. I was a virgin and then I wasn’t.

Rape does not have to be violent to be rape! If you say no-and the sex continues, it’s rape!

Recycling Is A Beautiful Thing – How We Got Started

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Does your family recycle? Mine does, but we didn’t always.  When our son was in 4th grade, he came home from school one day and asked me why we didn’t recycle. His class had been learning all about recycling in school. He went on to share how recycling is one of the easiest and most beneficial ways we can all help the environment. Did you know only about 30% of PET plastic bottles get recycled. For recycling to work, we all need to do our part. After talking to my son about the benefits of recycling, I knew it was something we needed to start doing. It’s a no-brainer. Recycling is easy, and doesn’t cost you anything – it just takes a little time.

We have 2 sets of recycling piles. One contains paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic that we cannot get a refund on. Those items go into our big blue recycle bin and the city collects it on a weekly basis. It is taken to the local recycling center. The other pile we have is for everything we can get a cash refund on! (Y’all know I’m thrifty!) We save them all up until we have 3 or 4 big bags full, then we turn them in for some cold, hard cash! All our aluminum cans (we don’t have very many of those, we rarely drink soda), glass bottles, and plastic juice and water bottles. Lots & lots of water bottles! Here’s a pic of the bags all loaded up in the car & ready to go. (The small blue bag has all the bottle lids in it).SONY DSCSpeaking of water bottles, we like to drink Arrowhead Water. Not all water is created equal.  With a heritage dating back to 1894, Arrowhead® Brand 100% Mountain Spring Water comes only from carefully selected mountain springs that are continually replenished.  What starts out as rain and snow, soaks into the ground and is filtered naturally by the earth with a distinct balance of minerals to create our crisp refreshing taste. I also like their commitment to helping protect our environment.  Arrowhead’s new ReBorn™ bottle is made with 50% recycled plastic and demonstrates how the plastic you recycle can be given a new life.

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Recycled plastic is simply a better source of plastic. It’s part of Arrowhead’s ongoing commitment to preserving our natural springs, and ensures that every bit of Arrowhead, both inside and out, is truly Born Better. Due to the limited supply of high quality recycled plastic, we need your help in recycling so companies like Arrowhead® 100% Mountain Spring Water can use more recycled plastic in our products!  You can learn more about the Reborn Bottle on Facebook, and while you’re there; watch “Recycling Is A Beautiful Thing”, a video on the the beauty of recycling and Arrowhead’s initiative.

And our son, that 4th grader who taught me all about recycling? He’s now 19 years old and still making sure I recycle everything I possibly can!

 

**Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Arrowhead Waters, all opinions are my own. **

Ways To Protect Your Child From RSV

How much do you know about RSV? If you are a parent-you need to know all about this nasty virus. We are still in RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season, which usually runs from November through March… but can vary depending on where you live.image-2With an estimated 82% of children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years old spending time in a daycare setting, you can easily see how quickly germs can spread. RSV can live on surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, toys, bedding) for several hours and is often spread through touching, hugging and kissing. There is no cure, which is why prevention is key.  That’s why it’s always best to keep a sick child home whenever possible, to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. During RSV season, parents should always wash their hands and their children’s hands and remember to keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean. Make sure your daycare is doing the same. Ask them if they are familiar with RSV and the methods to prevent it. Share this blog post with them, and have them go to this website to learn more about RSV protection.

When I worked in pediatrics, we would see a steady stream of children with RSV every winter. They would usually leave the office with a breathing machine, so they could continue treatments with Albuterol at home. The symptoms of RSV include persistent coughing or wheezing – trouble breathing (look for flared nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe), with difficult or rapid breaths – fever – blue color of the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails – extreme fatigue – difficulty feeding. If your baby/child displays any of these symptoms, please call your healthcare provider and have them seen. RSV usually causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms; but some infants can experience a serious lung infection. Preemies are especially at risk. If your child is a preemie, talk to your pediatrician about your RSV concerns. Severe RSV causes 125,000 infant hospitalizations every year in the United States. I know two moms that had to watch their little ones suffer with RSV this season. Clara, (pictured below while she was ill with RSV), was a preemie at birth. While she did not require a hospital stay, she did have to be seen in ER and urgent care on more than one occasion. She was given breathing treatments and is now feeling much better.

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Such was not the case for Brooklyn, (pictured below) she was hospitalized for 11 days! During that time, she was hooked up to IV’s, oxygen and feeding tubes. Eleven long days in the hospital, all because of RSV.

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There’s nothing sadder than a baby in the hospital, as a parent you feel helpless. Please take measures to help prevent RSV this season. Talk to your friends and family members, help educate them. Special thanks to the parents of both Clara & Brooklyn, for letting me use their photos and share their RSV stories with you! I am so glad they are both healthy & happy babies again!

 

**Disclosure- This is a sponsored post through Latina Bloggers Connect. The opinions voiced are mine. **