Fashion

Get Your Glitter On

HO, HO, HO, it’s time for presents, pie, peace on earth, punch, and my favorite – party outfits! Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good party, and dressing up is one of my favorite pastimes. The way I see it, a woman is never too old for some silver and gold, especially during the holiday season.

Today, we’re rounding up some ensembles you can feel fabulous in, even if you’re in the f word of the forties. Some of the pieces are currently trending, while others can be paired with staples a forty something may, (read should), already have in her closet. Shopping info provided! 

Does anyone else dream of living in Anthropologie? You know you want to. Seqionskirt2 This outfit is head to toe Anthro. I’ve had this skirt for a couple of years, and I’ve dressed it up or down. Wore it to a winter wedding with an off the shoulder black top. Put my hair up, dangled some earrings and slipped on a couple of bangles. Done.

This red top from Anthro is everything. Everyone should own a statement top; this one is timeless. I’m not wearing it in a picture only because my friend borrowed it for a party! You can pair it with jeans, or if you really want to turn heads, get some faux leather leggings, which are everywhere now. (I love Spanx leggings. I thought they would feel tight on my skin, but you barely know you’re wearing them.)

The beauty of being forty is we’ve lived through trends and probably have some kind of leopard top or shoe in our closet. The one featured is also current from Anthro, and currently being borrowed by a friend! Like all things Anthro, it’s classy and somewhat trendy. The back has a small opening – just enough to add some mystery. I love it.

A friend of mine once said to me, “You love sequins.” My response was, “Who doesn’t?!” And sequins are everywhere right now, as they are EVERY holiday season. If you don’t own a sequined skirt or pair of pants, get on it. The pants here are from Ann Taylor, but I’ve seen similar ones this year at BCBG, and Polo Ralph Lauren has a beautiful pair in black.  Banana also has a beautiful rose gold sequin skirt, (not on sale), and Free People has a sequined trumpet mini I’m stalking.  My cami is Topshop, and my faux fur jacket is actually Forever 21. Purchased that two years ago, refusing to spend a lot on a trend. Guess what? They are also everywhere now; my small investment paid off. Sequinpants 

Jumpsuits have been the new dress for a couple of years now, and you don’t want to know how many I own. They make dressing up so easy. Snagged this one at Nordstrom a few weeks ago; the color is a beautiful bronze. I’m wearing a small, but if you’re short like me, (5’2″), you will need a hem. 70s2USE (Gettin’ my 70’s vibe on.)

This red one I’ve had for a few years now too. It’s from Polo, but do a search on Nordstrom and a bunch of beauties will pop up. I’ve worn this one a least once a year!Redjumpsuit2USE So what are the takeaways here? Let’s review:

Every woman needs sequins during the holidays. (If you’re me, all days.) A sequined skirt or pants paired with a current trendy top can be worn year after year.

Jumpsuits aren’t going anywhere yet. (Thank goodness)

Invest in a statement top – or two, three…

Anthropologie is life.

Mix and match – find something from your closet and pair it with something trendy.

What’s old is new, and that’s the beauty of being old enough to have lived through trends. Enjoy the ride.

Food

Holiday Habits – Stay Healthy & Still Feel Joy

Everyone wants to tell us how to stay healthy during the holidays, but who really wants to listen? All the food, cocktails, and festivities – not to mention the sparkly attire. It’s too fun! (See next week’s post for a roundup of party outfits.)

And even though I love being active, the way I can eat has caused a zipper or two to break on its way up my indulgent behind. This weekend, I was particularly liberal with my food and beverage consumption. Joe was away for three days, speaking at a coaching conference in St. Louis, (big props to my better half), and the kids and I were alone to decorate, bake cookies, and eat all kinds of kid friendly food. I openly admit, I threw all mandatory vegetables to the wind and ate like my five year old. Well, come Monday, and I do not even feel like donning sweatpants, let alone sequins. However, I’ve learned how to accept and enjoy this time, while maintaining my health. Here are some words of encouragement and tips I use to stay on track, while not missing out on all the fun.

 

  • ACCEPT THAT YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT THIS TIME OF YEAR. For those of you who can keep up carb/dairy/sugar/gluten/everything free this month, I applaud you. I just know I cannot be you. I’d like to think I won’t have a cookie, but I’d also like to think I’m Gisele. I will have sweets; I will just choose which are worth it. Cookies I made with my kids = worth it. My mother in law’s desserts = worth it. Stale cupcakes from the teacher’s room = not worth it. Once you differentiate, it makes the indulgence so much more enjoyable.
  • DON’T BERATE YOURSELF WHEN YOU GO A LITTLE NUTS. JUST GET BACK ON THE HORSE, AND LIVE FOR TODAY. As my intelligent husband, and plenty other smart people have said, there is no past, there is only now.  I refuse to feel guilty for the times I indulge. You won’t see a piggy face on my Instastory or a  #weekendeating, #dietstartstomorrow. If you read my post on foodshame, you know this is a sensitive topic for me. I grew up listening to my mom and grandmother constantly talk about how fattening holiday foods were and how they shouldn’t be eating something. It zapped the joy out of every holiday meal and made me feel ashamed for eating them. Not the way I want to live. So today, after my super fun weekend with the kids, I’m back to my daily breakfast of plain oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon, and three egg whites. Lunch is plain tuna, butter lettuce, and baby carrots. (A lot of baby carrots.) My workout is at 4:00. Back in the saddle – no matter how heavy my body feels after the weekend.  
  • 3.WATER, WATER, WATER. This is my water bottle: waterbottleIt’s 2.2 liters. My coworkers constantly comment about it – tease is probably more accurate. They may also get annoyed because I run to the bathroom in between almost every period. But water works. No pun intended. I drink this all day, and today I filled it twice. Sometimes I drink it when I feel like eating something sweet. Not nearly a substitute, but it makes me feel full. If I know I’m going somewhere I will face a lot of unhealthy choices, I drink a ton of water beforehand. I know I’m also supposed to chase every cocktail with a glass of water, but I tend to forget that one while in the throes of a party…
  1. SPEAKING OF COCKTAILS…..Dare I say replace some of them with club soda? I know.  And if you know me, you’re laughing out loud. But the older I get, the harder it is to function after drinking, so Joe and I both try to do this. (Read – try) We stock up on flavored seltzer, and we use it as a habit replacer during the week. It works – a lot of the time. (She wrote, while simultaneously sending rsvps to three holiday gatherings on random days of the week.) A cocktail can also consist of a splash of alcohol with a ton of club soda, rather than the other way around. Gift yourself a real cocktail jigger, and check out the height of a professional pour. I hope you’re not as shocked as I was!
  2. MAKE FOOD PREP YOUR MOTTO, AND USE SEASONAL VEGGIES.  Preparing lunch for the week is annoying, but fall and winter are the perfect seasons to line baking sheets with butternut or acorn squash, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. (I tend to ignore that squash is a “starchy veggie.” It’s yummy.) I got my husband to love vegetables ten years ago when he tasted the way I roasted them. And it doesn’t take a lot of time. You can roast at 400 degrees for thirty minutes, or longer at 375. Timing may depend on your oven. Drizzle with a good olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and go.
  3. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFESTYLE. Ever have someone say to you, “Oh,come on, you don’t have to be good all the time.” (Well, I’m not.) Or, “Don’t tell me you can’t eat that.” (Well, I can, I’m just choosing not to right now.) What you eat, don’t eat, drink, don’t drink, is no one else’s business to comment about. If you choose to go to a fitness class after work on a Friday rather than meet people for cocktails, that’s your prerogative. They don’t need to know you’re waiting to enjoy a glass of wine with your husband, or that you have a party the next day and intend to splurge a little then. This philosophy may cause some people to be miffed at you, but honestly, if they don’t support you, they may not be people you want to surround yourself with. I know this because I live it.

I’m no expert when it comes to restraint, and the holidays are no exception. I love it all – the family time, the food, the way it’s okay to wear sequined skirts. These tips are helping me today, and they remind me that perfect is the enemy of good. I’m not perfect, I’m still full from the weekend, but I sure as heck had fun, and I will continue to do so. Thanks for reading!

Fitness

Fitspiration

womenfitness

Women either cheer for each other or hate on each other.  Weird, right?

Maybe not so weird if you’re a woman reading this. You get it. There are many of us who  are genuinely happy when things go well for another member of our gender. I know a decent amount of these women who enjoy making their friends and other females feel good. I also know plenty who don’t – who let comparison override joy – but that’s not what this post is about.

Today I’m writing about the aforementioned bunch – the inspiring and encouraging ones, those who aren’t just there for you when things are bad, but root for you when things are great. I encounter some of these women in my OrangeTheory Fitness classes. No, they are not my friends. I barely know them. But I am one hundred percent sure that if all females conducted themselves the way these women do, we could take over the world with goodness.

Of course I have a story. And be warned: if you do not want to be inspired in a corny, Rocky Balboa movie sort of way, you don’t have to read on. But if you still get giddy when Rocky throws his hands in the air on top of the steps, this is for you.

“Lori” was taking her first OrangeTheory class the weekend after Thanksgiving. She was visibly nervous and rightfully so. The class was completely full, and if you’ve ever taken one, you know they are legit. You also know that your identity as a newbie is made known:

“Leeeett’s welcome LORI, everybody! She’s ready to do some huffin’ from all that stuffin!” (I swear this is not fiction.)   

Lori’s spot happened to be in between me and a woman named Mary, who wasted no time. She did a “WOOT WOOT,” clapped her hands, and shouted, “Oh yeah, Lori, you GOT this, let’s GO!”

The class took Mary’s lead, clapped, and added some WOOTS of their own.  Lori glanced around and gave an unceremonious wave.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” she whispered to no one in particular. I smiled at her and said, “You’ll love it.”

Twenty minutes later, there is huffing – to the point of wanting to throw up that Thanksgiving stuffing. Lori may have wanted to end my life. Mary, however, did not let Lori, or the rest of the class down. Every time one of our names got called out, she cheered the loudest. Every time someone reached what OrangeTheory calls a splat point goal, she sounded like we all won the lottery. I found myself shouting things like, “We got this! C’mon OT!” Things that would make a non gym lover literally throw up.

At the end of class, we were on the floor, ready to collapse, and it was time to plank. For three minutes. Lori may have been near tears.

“No way can I do this!” She shouted this time, again to no one in particular.

“YES. YOU. CAN!” Mary, of course. Thanks to her, for a solid three minutes we cheered Lori – and ourselves – on. It was the stuff you see in Rudy. Call me cheesy, corny, whatever you want, but I had never seen a group of women devote this much time and effort to supporting someone else, and I loved it.

When our coach announced it was the last ten seconds, we did the countdown in unison like we were celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square. When it was over, we actually did collapse in laughter and in tears – and the tears were not from pain.

“Thank you,” Lori now spoke to everyone. “Seriously, you guys. Thank you.”

I will never forget the power and positivity these women showed during that class. Imagine how things could be if women, and all people, were like this all the time. It reminded me to be thankful for the females in my life, (actual friends and family members), who behave the same way – who aren’t negative when someone else’s life is positive, who actually want others to succeed, no matter the goal. To you, I say, thank you guys. Seriously, thank you.

Family

Mirror Images

4:45 pm in the Northeast, mid November. Darkness is looming, and the temperature is beyond brisk when I arrive for pick up at aftercare. My son waltzes in from the playground, waving and smiling at me with an ungloved hand. He’s also sans jacket.

“Hi Mommy, how was your day?” (How can you get mad at a kid who starts every afternoon with that sentence?)

“My day was pretty fun, thanks for asking. I’d love to know about yours, but first, I need to know wh–”

“I know what you’re going to say.” He points a gloveless finger at me. “I am NOT cold. My gloves are in my backpack.”

“Great,” I reply, “but where’s your jacket?”

Pause.

“Ummmmmmmmmm. I’m prrreeeety sure it’s in Mrs. Nelson’s room.”

Mrs. Nelson is not his teacher.

“Who is Mrs. Nelson? And why would your jacket be in her room?”

“She’s the lady whose room I wait in for the bus to take me here. It’s gotta be there.”

Let’s not go into the litany of reminders I begin rattling off to him, including that he already lost one jacket last week, the one his grandmother bought him, and no way could we lose this one too, it’s expensive, and it’s 34 degrees outside!  

“Here’s Mommy, Charlee,” a voice interrupts my grade a lecture. “I told you she was coming.”

I spin around to see my daughter, holding hands with one of her aftercare counselors. She’s doing the sniff and shoulder shrug thing she does when she’s upset.

“Chachi!” I default to her nickname, kneel, and stretch out my arms. “What’s the matter?”

She buries her head on my shoulder.

“I don’t feel good.” Sniff. “I want you.” Shrug. “I didn’t eat lunch or snack.” Sob. “Please don’t take me to the doctor – I don’t want a shot!! What if I starve to death?!”” She’s full on wailing now. I feel a hand on my back. Joey.

“Don’t worry, Mommy. It’ll be okay. She’s pretty dramatic.”

I pull away from Charlee and look at them with a wry smile.  One thought floats through my brain: They are me. Mirror Images

It’s humorous and sobering when you realize your children have inherited your least desirable character traits. Joe and I don’t even pretend to blame one another when Joey or Charlee exhibit our objectionable temperaments. We own it. Joey has inherited my forgetfulness, a problematic f word. I was the kid who left any/all belongings on the bus, in my locker, on my desk, you name it. Something was, and still is, always somewhere; I just don’t remember where. In middle school, I even threw out my glasses with my brown paper lunch bag. (This may have subconsciously been on purpose; in 1987, my glasses transformed me into Uncle Junior from The Sopranos.) Fortunately, Joey also inherited my desire to make people feel good, hence the backrub. He also thinks like my husband – with reason, logic, and common sense. Thank goodness.

Chachi is all emotion. She dances, sings, hugs, jumps for joy, expresses her love, and her discontent. From the day she was born, Joe said she was smart. I said she was fun. She also cries – a lot. She worries, dramatizes events we see as small setbacks, and when in the throes of emotion, is unable to see beyond what’s happening in her five year old world. She speaks before she truly understands what she’s about to say. Yes, that is all me. This one is tougher to write about because I’m aware of how my emotions and quick reactions have affected my ability to make decisions. (Just ask my twenties.) I’m tons of fun, but I also create tons of worry that is unnecessary. I often say things before thinking about how it will affect those around me. (Just ask my husband.) Figuring out how to coach Charlee through this will require patience and self reflection.

Someone once told me, “No one likes to look at themselves.” Having children forces you to do that – literally and figuratively. Because we share their character traits, Joe and I may or may not react well to the flaws of Joey and Charlee. Our children having some of me, some of Joe, and a whole lot of themselves sprinkled into their human nature makes parenting a wild and reflective ride. They are us, and they are also each their own unique little person; we have to honor and accept that.

This day, I lift Chachi in my arms and tousle Joey’s hair. “Chachi,” I begin, “I guarantee you won’t starve to death. And I don’t know yet if you need to go to the doctor. Joey, we may have to tie a string or something around your finger so you remember your jacket tomorrow. Now let’s go home.”

 

Fashion

It’s My Forties, I’ll Shop Where I Want to..

The other day I had to spend some time with a woman whom I had never met before. One of those mom events that force us to awkwardly make conversation, the whole time silently hoping, “maybe she could be my new Mom Friend?!?” Meanwhile, I had to remain cool – can’t let desperation show its weird, high pitched voice as I calmly discuss random topics. Fortunately for me, she opened the floor with something I can relate to – clothing.

“Your outfit is super cute.” Her voice was level, matter of fact. 

Me: “THANKS!” I moved to the edge of my seat, believing my high pitched squeal was purely due to excitement over a discussion about fashion – a favorite f word. “It’s all from Old Navy,” I began to prattle, “Super cheap, and it’s so comfy, I…”

“Old Navy?” She cut in. The corner of her mouth turned up. “Ugh. I only shop there for my kids, never for myself.”

Me: (in my head) “Why the F not?!?”

Out loud, I unfortunately said nothing. I may have made some kind of mature noise and shifted back to the rear of my seat, away from her judgy, upturned mouth. A surge of  emotions washed over me, most of which included being miffed at myself. For not responding, not letting her comment roll off my shoulder, and for letting my enthusiasm evaporate. (How much fun is it to tell someone how inexpensive your outfit is, especially when they like it?) After a moment, however, these feelings subsided. My forty something self actually let out a giggle.

Wait a minute, I thought. Did this stranger just fashion shame me?

OldNavy “Super cute” outfit.

This was new. After my slow processing skills took effect, I found it comical. She was the one who said my outfit was super cute! I thought about the day I had bought it. I had two hours alone with my daughter, Charlee.  Luckily for me, she shares my passion for fashion, and luckily for Joe, I chose Old Navy – an inexpensive place for us to try on clothes and just be girls. We had a blast. She even wanted to get matching shirts. (I realize that Charlee is five, and this may further prove The Stranger’s point, but who cares?!) I’ll never forget how much fun she had and her reaction when she saw my outfit: “Mommy,” she breathed, “that is sooo soft. Get it! Get it! GET IT!” She clapped her hands. Best $44 I ever spent.

I, and a lot of women I know, often struggle with how to dress in our forties. Lack of time, money, online purchase mishaps, (that’s a whole other post), and not quite knowing where we fit in make it easy to don some leggings and call it a day. But I’ve never been that girl. I’ve been planning my outfits every day since I was ten. Sometimes I get confused about where to shop or about what’s appropriate for my age; I try to laugh at the struggle. Forever 21 is pushing it at 45, and I’m sure Chicos is a lovely store, but I’m still not ready.

It may sound frivolous to some, but fashion was always one of the few arenas in which I had courage and confidence to express myself. The only part of me that couldn’t care less about other people’s opinions. Why would I let a stranger’s comment affect me now? I also could have totally misinterpreted what she said. Everybody loves a bargain; maybe she doesn’t like to score her’s at Old Navy. I don’t judge.

I’m well aware that one day someone may snub Charlee’s, choice of attire, but Lord help me if I’m going to get her hung up on labels or judgements at the age of five. She does have her own mind, and our future shopping trips may not run as smoothly as our time at Old Navy. But for now, she can rock rainbows and tutus for as long as she wants. And as long as she’ll have me, I may even join her.

 

 

 

Family

Parenting like Jack Pearson…

is the equivalent of talking to people like I’m in an Aaron Sorkin drama. Imagine knowing just what to say, in just the right moment, with just the right tone and inflection for each word. Unfortunately, when it comes to parenting, (and life in general), after any incident is over, my verbal reel is award winning. In the moment, however, not so much.

I’m blessed beyond belief with two little ones and a husband who pretty much is Aaron Sorkin when it comes to the perfect line. (I mean that as a huge compliment.) Joey, my eight year old son, and Charlee, my five year old girl, are very different in nature. That means my husband and I learn to approach them differently. Since parenting is pretty much doing then learning, I often turn to Jack Pearson for guidance when I have a less than stellar moment, say the wrong thing, or say too much without saying anything at all. Thanks to Jack, I’ve learned a few things. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll know just what I mean:

  1. That breathing technique works. When Joey gets upset, he breathes fast and heavy. Nothing feels better, for me at least, than putting his little face in my hands and telling him to just breathe, while locking my eyes with his. Eventually, his breathing slows, and we can talk it out or come up with a plan of action. Note: This does NOT work when Charlee is in the throes of a full on tantrum. In those moments, she is unable to process anything. I just give her a big ole hug and wait it out. (Learned that the hard way and from some books on parenting.) Once the storm passes, then she can learn a coping technique.
  2. On the spot stories can assuage physical or emotional pain. My husband can instantly make up a story to rival the magic shirt one Jack uses on Kate when she feels left out by some mean girls. Joey and Charlee love them. I never realized the importance of a good story when it came to kids, especially when it’s us doing the telling. This is the time they want to listen to us, and I want to take advantage of that.
  3. We can make our own traditions. Thank you, Pilgrim Rick. This is something I embrace wholeheartedly. Whether it’s as simple as taco Tuesday, breakfast for dinner, (aka Brinner/Dinfest), or making our own pizza. (Wait.These are ALL about food! What can I say – we love that f word.)

Sometimes I wish I did more of these – that I wasn’t so rushed during the school year when I’m teaching, that I was more creative, more calm, more present. There’s still so much to learn; I’m just grateful these two little ones are my forever students. I hope they feel the same.

I also learn from my own husband, who is not Jack, but Joe. He plays this game called Daddy Boss with our kids. It’s basically rough housing at its finest, and Joey and Charlee both live for it. They beg him for it. Charlee has been in it to win it since she was two. If a neighbor heard the squeals coming from our house, they wouldn’t know whether to call the police or laugh out loud. Daddy Boss usually ends with Joe suffering some kind of male related injury, but he never lets the kids down. He has not done push ups with our son on his back, (yet), but he has bench pressed Joey into gales of laughter, accepted that his son may never play baseball, given Charlee all the love and respect a man should give his daughter, (He would totally vogue for her), and embraces who they are as individuals. Sometimes I forget those things when we are bickering, or when we are less than stellar humans to each other.  I lead with emotion, while his verbal reel is always on point. That doesn’t always end well for me, but at the end of the day, he – and those two little humans – are my favorite f word.

Ferraro info

About me

About me studyI started writing this blog in 2010. In my head. Then I did what most people do. I got “too busy.” Got scared. Swallowed my words.

I thought the fact that I had countless mom fails, fashion escapades, fitness journeys, food adventures, and a family life was just a ME thing.

Who would care if I take the worst selfies in America, or that I’m in my forties, I’m still  trying to figure out how to be an adult?

Recently I was told I’m about 15 years too late to start a blog. Oops. Add that to my list of fails. I say the time to start anything is the time you actually start it. I feel compelled to write for women, both younger and older than me, but once I hit the F word –  40, I realized women my age need someone to relate to.

We may not be the greatest at Instagram filters, we may not be able to sport the resurgence of 90’s midriffs, and we may still use Facebook, but we, (like all women) are empowered, wise, bold, creative, and it’s time to finally be comfortable with who we are.

I’m still a work in progress, straddling the line between a wanna be influencer and what some people call middle age, but I want to share this time of my life. I’d like to offer hope, swap stories, make people think, laugh, and to remember how pure it is to laugh at myself.

So here goes.

Ready or not.

F it.