Ashley Salazar showing her support for TheLadyinRedBlog in a signature t-shirt. She's looking RED hot! :)
So it all started on an ordinary Tuesday when I saw this message come across Twitter:
A surprise! From Ashley Salazar! I was very excited!Ashley Salazar - you may recognize the name - is Playboy's Miss Social of the Year 2013! (Click here to see some of her extraordinary photos from her Playboy photo shoot earlier this year.)
She's a Maxim
model, too. Ashley Salazar (now soon-to-be Ashley Stormborn with impending nuptials) and I had been following each other on Twitter for a while. We have a lot in common: We are both bilingual - although she speaks Spanish a lot better than I do! We share a love of nature and animals (She is highly active in efforts to save rhinos from poaching;) and we are both moms to little girls. I saw her amazing photos, such perfect presentation, exquisite lighting, and of course her natural beauty - and got to know that there was also a beautiful
businesswoman behind it all.
She's the CEO and founder of MissOohLaLaa.com
a professional photographer! She's not only great on
camera, but she's a star behind the lens, too. She's the force behind Lady Ashley Photography
- bringing out the beauty in everyone from aspiring models, to capturing special events like weddings. "
I have experience in front of the camera from my years as a model which I believe makes me very creative and flexible with getting more than just average shots. I can also offer my models make-up artists, stylist work, and modeling jobs," she says.Honestly, her experience posing in front of the camera is invaluable when it comes to photographing her subjects, because she knows not just the technical aspects of how to produce the perfect picture, but all about the posing point of view, as well. It's a rare combination to possess.
In the midst of planning her wedding, this lovely lady had taken the time to pose wearing one of my signature t-shirts and surprised me in the best way possible. Right after I had finished dinner, I saw Twitter and Facebook light up with this fabulous photo of her sporting a TheLadyinRedBlog t-shirt with her starlit smile.
She took my breath away! I can't tell you how thrilled I was to receive this surprise - revealed to the world in the best way. She's got a permanent place in my gallery
.I look to Ashley for inspiration. So do many others. She inspires women to be beautiful inside and out, to be proud of who they are, and do it with a smile at the same time.
And to the guys out there, yes, she's just downright gorgeous through and through.Thank you Ashley!
To keep up with Ashley Salazar you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below!
Stop by Lady Ashley Photography to see her latest work behind the camera, and give her page a "like" while you are there!
MissOohLaLaa.com is her online magazine featuring models, designers, stylists, musicians, make up artists, hair stylists, photographers, nightlife, MMA and more, too!
I'm getting all choked up as I finish this celebration! Wow! Just wow! So many people coming together and supporting each other now all connected through TheLadyinRedBlog after just one year! I'm so happy! I hope that this Red Hot Birthday Bash
has brought many of you happiness, too! Let's keep it going!
I'd love to see you all swing by again to share photos of your swag, read some recipes, leave your comments on blogs I write, or listen to me on the radio from time to time and see what's going on in the world of RED!
There are lots of exciting things on their way - periodic giveaways, the Red Hot Store is opening this summer on TheLadyinRedBlog.com
, and there are plans for this media venture to expand!If you won a prize, please, email a photo of yourself, your pet, your kids, or your friends enjoying it at email@example.com It's not required, but it would sure be fun! :) I'll post it on my blog Facebook page and share it with the sponsors of the prizes! I'm sure they would love to see you having a great time with the gifts!The sponsors and I will be very busy sending out the prizes to all of you who won them over the next couple of weeks. Don't worry! You'll get them if you gave us a mailing address! If you live outside of the USA, it will probably take a few weeks for a prize to reach you once it is mailed, since it has to travel further and go through customs. Thank you for your patience!A HUGE thank you to all of my sponsors for this amazing one year anniversary celebration! I couldn't have done this without you!
Thank you to the Red Hot Sponsors!
The Red Hot Birthday Bash Winners:
The Cheese Cave 1 month of Cheese: Khurt Williams
Chick Nail Polish 4 pack: Ruby Red
Red Cup Living Prize Pack: Bruce Hamilton
Kleen Slate Concepts Prize Pack: Anca Soble
Glitzsee Motion Activated Purse Light: Shanali Davila
Wine with RobYnwitha-Y Wine Glass & T-shirt: Michele McCann
The Purple Heart by Christie A.C. Gucker: Amelia Neo
Soft Claws Nail Caps for Cats: Christie Gucker
Strappys Decorative Red Rhinestone Bra Straps: Fernanda Garcia
Conni Liner Wright
Red Beaded Bracelet by Bella Bling Jewels: Andria Hall
The Hungry Chick Dieting Solution by Chef Jai Scovers:Debbie Norz
Johnny Jalopy Hot Rod Art Prize Pack: Beth Pekar
The Cliff by Christie A.C. Gucker: Stacy Bradley
Mad Hatter Foods Prize Pack: Matthew Wayland
Duff Goldman Baking Set: Georgia Beckman
Pastry Shop Cookies Gourmet Apples: Patty Baskerville
Flirt Energy Drink 12-pack: Robin Fisher-Tracy
s.a.l.t.y. Cosmetics Gift Set: Heather Feimer
willulu Hand Made Jewellery wine charms: Nancy Regan
Guardian Angels by Andrew P. Weston: Deborah Smith Bunnell
The BackSide phone wallets: Amanda Thandeka Niescior
Bella Rouge Gift Set: Felicia Nigro Ballard
Christine Peglar's Cookbok of Hope: Elizabeth Riner Splinter
Calabro Chiropractic 50 Minute Massage: Evelyn Ruhl
The NecessiTeas Tea Gift Set: Denise Paci-Chenavier
Dolce Hair Design Free Haircut Gift Certificate: Melissa Wallack
Take Things Personally Wine Charms, etc.: Sly Smith
Pauline Silva Garcia
Exotic & Domestic Wood Art Wine Table: Tara Chevrestt
2012 Science & ProphecyOfTheAncientMaya: Linda Lopez
Elizabeth Riner Splinter
EveryGirlShouldHaveASpecialGlass Drink Glasses: Lisa Freiling
Red Stone Creations Bar Ware: Elizabeth Riner Splinter
How to Catch a Cold by Adam Newman: Joni Hazlett
Mr. Ghost iPhone EMF Detectors: Daniel Lees
Dobronyi Alexander Selman
My AVON by Fer TheLadyinRed Gift Set: Starr Montemayor
4ASTAR Modeling Contract: Kelsey Parker
YouCanAlwaysFindA Flush in There by Ava Holly Lewis: Anca Soble
Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries $50 Gift Card: Backy Lanzano
SuccessSecretsOfAMillion$PartyGirl by LynnBardowski: Colleen
MommyJuice Wines Wine Glasses: Kris Radcliffe
Audiofly Headphones: Cheryl Sab
Javita Weightloss Coffee (1 box): India Lipton
The Travels of Ching by Robert Bright: Jenna Porter
GreenSwarovski Crystal Necklace by GoToWhitney: Philippa Turner
SLIMROCK Low Calorie Bar Mixers: Allison Kaufman Tankel
Glam Fashion For Less Goodies: Melissa Wright Keeling
"Relax" photographic print by Digital Artscape: Joy Todaro
Old World Gourment Vinolicious: Jennifer Eichenbaum
Jerk Daddy Tropical Catering Sauces: Marc Ullman
Pop.N.Go Scarlet Vines Scarf: Amy Phelps
Tanya Charlesworth Photography Package: Dawn Amodio
Fleur de lis By Romanomics Red Flapper-Inspired Hat: Nancy Regan
Fitness on a Swing Set by Karen Goeller: Andria Hall
It Works! Skinny Pack by Skinny Wraps with Colleen: Whitney Utz
Thirty-One Red Bags + Gift Certificate: Renee Szalkowski
Viva Editions 3 book pack: Maggie Finley
Charles Ramsey, the hero of the three kidnapped girls (Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight)– their angel – was eating McDonald's
when he heard Amanda Berry cry for help and rescued her from her captor(s). The subhuman kidnapper (whom I refuse to name, because he does NOT deserve any notoriety for his actions) had left the house that his victims were in because – he was going to get McDonald's food
I wonder if it was the same McDonald’s that Ramsey and the kidnapper frequented. I wonder if they passed each other on the street that day going to and from McDonald’s not knowing how they would change the course of each other’s lives, the lives of the three women in that house with the young girl, and their families.
Ever notice the irony of life sometimes? The things that we pass off as mere coincidence? Maybe it’s not coincidence. Maybe it’s fate.
Have you ever been driving somewhere with a destination in your head – like you were on your way to work, and have driven the same roads a thousand times before, but for some reason, you kept going straight when you should have made that right turn? Do you ever wonder why
that happened? I do.
Once I was on my way to a drugstore, and I made a wrong turn that didn’t make any sense to my conscious mind. I remember feeling momentarily frustrated that I then had to backtrack to get to where I was going. When I approached the road leading up to the store, I saw that a pretty bad traffic accident had happened about one minute before I got to that intersection on my re-routed journey. I would have been where that now demolished car was if I had driven my usual route. I stopped feeling so frustrated at that moment. Did my “wrong” turn just save my life? Maybe it wasn’t “my time” and fate or Divine intervention navigated those roads for me. Maybe I was meant
to veer off course.
You can’t tell my former co-worker that it wasn’t more than luck the day that he was late for work when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001. He would have been in that building had he not had to wait in a really long line for coffee that morning. He’s alive today because he had a coffee craving, and the checkout wasn’t moving as fast as it usually was. He’s never been so grateful for a cup of java in his life.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the stories where people have missed planes and initially were very bothered by that inconvenience, only to find out hours later that the plane went down and they were thankful that they weren’t able to board.
When I observe situations like this, I can’t help but think that everything happens for a reason.
I’ve read a book about fate and coincidence: When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life –
by Squire Rushnell. It has become one of my favorite books over the years. I’m not a very religious person, and although the book references “God” in its title, it’s really not about God. The message is about fate, divine intervention, or coincidences too strong to ignore that are sometimes life altering. It’s about recognizing those signs in life, and when you do, embrace them, rather than dismiss them as nonconsequential. In this book, Rushnell gives many anecdotes about the lives of those who are our friends, neighbors, and people we pass on the street, to those who are famous, and shows that they are successful and happy because they have chosen to embrace these “signs” sent their way rather than dismiss them along their life’s journeys, and appreciate them, too – the “small” miracles.
It’s kind of interesting when you think about it.
If Charles Ramsey wasn’t walking by the kidnappers’ house that day, and it were a small child instead, playing outside, or an elderly woman hard-of-hearing, or a man on his way to work – too busy to stop and looking the other way – those girls would still be locked up against their will. It took a colorful man like Ramsey, who went with his instincts and didn’t over think things, who wasn’t too busy to rescue these girls and didn’t look the other way, to rescue them. He
had to be in the right place at the right time; not someone else, and not before or after. Fate. Thank God for McDonald's.
By May 13, 2013, this blog was also published via Patch Media all over the East Coast, and Patch rolled it out in Ohio over the weekend and on Monday 5/13, since Cleveland was the area referenced in this kidnapping issue. As a result of the increase in readership and public response, this blog gained national exposure via The Vine on Patch 5/13/2013.
This blog was also published via Patch Media in New York and New Jersey. In addition it was published in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Twinsburg, OH, Beachwood, OH, Stow, OH, North Canton, OH, Strongsville, OH, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Mentor, OH, Mayfield and Hillcrest OH, Avon and Avon Lake, OH, Fairlawn and Bath, OH, Shaker Heights, OH, Solon, OH, Westlake, OH, and Brecksville, OH.
"If you judge a fish by its 'ability' to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it's stupid." ~ Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a smart man –and his intelligence was not measured by a standardized test.
Just the other day I was telling my daughter that regardless of how she does on a standardized test or a placement test, it does not make her less smart, less talented, or mean that she won’t be successful in life if she doesn’t get a perfect score, or place in a top percentile, or qualify for a special program.
It seems that many of her friends feel pressured to score practically perfectly on tests in school. While I agree that children should strive to do academically well, a perfect performance isn’t going to guarantee them a six figure salary upon graduation, nor a permanent position until retirement with a single firm. The stress that some of these children are feeling is placed in part on their shoulders by their parents, and in part by some teachers. I don’t blame them. I just don’t agree with them. Society has said that it’s important that children take these tests, and that you should want to be the best of the best and outperform all of the rest. But I stop and ask myself – why? Bragging rights?
Some of these parents even enroll their children in extra optional math and language classes on weekends in hopes that they will score off the charts. The poor kids don’t get a break to play Barbies or run around outside with their friends, it seems. To me, play time is a form of education, social adaptation, and imagination enrichment at a young age – which is just as important as doing well in school. And everyone needs to blow off some steam – even kids!
The local school district tests kids for a program they call "Reach", which allows selected students to do special projects and additional activities outside of the regular classroom. They can learn about artists and explore topics in science that wouldn’t be covered during a normal classroom stint. It is a great program. It actually adds back to the curriculum a lot of the things that have been taken out over the years because teachers are now more focused teaching towards having kids do well on state-wide standardized tests – so they “teach to the test” and leave out the “rest”. Well, I think the “rest” is just as important.
So now, with a “regular” curriculum, as a result of everything being geared towards “the tests”, there are less field trips, less detours from required reading, less artistic activities, and the kids learn exactly what they need to learn, so hopefully a majority of the students in a school district will do well and make the schools and faculty shine. They learn no more; they learn no less; and they are missing out on other types of learning that are equally essential. Some of my most memorable times in school were when the teacher deviated from a prescribed reading list, and I got to read books that other classes weren’t reading. Taking field trips to museums, radio stations, TV studios, and nature preserves was amazing, and I learned a lot that you couldn’t read from a book or calculate in a math problem.
Sure, people want to have some point of evaluation of how well their children are being educated, but a lot more goes into that than filling in dots on a piece of paper or writing an essay. There are hundreds of colleges that agree with me, actually. Many of them have stopped using standardized tests as admission criteria.
Unfortunately, “ the same cannot be said for k-12, where scores on achievement tests are in part used for everything from admitting students to prestigious public schools to placing students in gifted or remedial programs, allocating federal funding, and even evaluating teachers.”
(Time Magazine, October 2012
) If you need more reasons why standardized tests as a measurement of skill and intelligence is not all that it’s cracked up to be, here you go
. Add in, that for some children, English is their second language, and they may be a genius in their native tongue, but due to their inability to translate the test questions perfectly, they just got dinged for being unequally bilingual.
Here’s some irony for you – I’m a writer and I love to read. I don’t have astigmatism, and I have 20/20 vision (thankfully!) but I can never truly grasp the meaning of what I read the first time around. I always have to read something 2 – 3 times before my comprehension is the same as others who “get it” the first time they read a paragraph, chapter, or book. It takes me twice as long to read a letter, email, book, or contract as your average person. It’s been this way for me since I was five and first learned how to read. Teachers thought my comprehension skills would improve over the years. It never measurably did. And I never let it ruin my love of literature. Does that make me any less knowledgeable? No. Because something takes me a little more time to accomplish, does that make me less “smart”? No. But on a standardized test if I didn’t finish a reading comprehension section in the time allotted, the score sure would make me look stupid!
Tests, do not measure the achievements or the potential of students. Some of our greatest minds in society didn’t have the greatest test scores.
So, my daughter just took a Reach placement test for students in second grade. Not everyone qualifies for the special program. We don't know how she did yet. If she gets in, we’ll be happy; and if she doesn’t, we’ll be ok with that, too. I told her that the end result really doesn't matter because so many people possess talents that they don't even test for! What if you're an excellent horseback rider? They certainly don't test for that in school! You can juggle? Well that's not evaluated. She told me most of the test was centered around logic problems. I thought to myself right away, well, that's not exactly broad. What if you are a creative writer but just stink at math? What if your strengths are in other areas? Are you any less deserving of learning outside of the (test) box?
I told my daughter that no matter what the results are, she should not feel like she doesn't have talent, and she's definitely still special. Some of the most brilliant minds and the most talented people possess skills that can't be measured on standardized tests.
What I want to say to all of the kids out there is – when you don’t get a high score on a test to place into a certain program, or to get into a certain college, or are not in the top percentile on a standardized test – realize that you are off the charts – their
charts. It does not make you any less smart than anyone else. It does not mean you are not talented. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do great things with your life! Because you can! <-- THAT, is what should be taught in schools!
Trying on the Choos at Coco Pari in Red Bank, NJ before I brought them home. I never pass up a GOOD shoe sale. Shoe sales I'll pass up, but not for a brand worth its bucks.
Shopping is a skill – and a practical one! I always thought that they could teach a course on it in college. It’s not just important how to make money; it’s important to know what to do with it when you’ve got it so you don’t spend it all! Shopping is fun. There’s a reason why they call it retail therapy. But if you want to get some bang for your buck, you have to pay attention to the items you buy, their quality, and the timing of your purchases.
Designer pieces mean extraordinary fabric, fit, and quality. The money you invest in a few classic pieces that last a lifetime, probably equals the amount of money most spend annually on less expensive brands that look beat up after you wash, wear, and later toss after one season. Here, one of my Hervé Leger dresses.
I wish I had millions of dollars. I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me from looking like a million bucks. (And not all the time - I’ve got my jeans days, and I break out my flip flops and cut off shorts…. but you can dress me to the nines when the occasion calls for it.)
There are three things I love: shoes, hand bags, and lip glosses. (And men have their addictions, too – I know several who can’t pass up yet one more watch, or another pair of sunglasses.)
Admittedly, I have a lip gloss addiction. There are worse addictions to have! At the last count I had over 50 in rotation, and that doesn't count the ones I carry in my purse. I need my mauves, reds, neutrals, sparklies, stains, and berries. All pinks are NOT the same.
Don’t ask me how many shoes and hand bags I own. I never counted. At last count I had over 50 lip glosses in my current rotation; and yes, I use them all! (But not at the same time!) However, when it comes to my first two addictions, not just any old bag or pair of shoes will do. Now, I don’t need designer flip flops, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t want any – because flip flops are meant to take a beating, get wet and sandy, and I think I would cry if I ruined any pair of Manolos. But to me, certain brands do mean quality, and I am willing to invest in quality that lasts over time, when I know that I’m not going to be in situations that demolish my designer duds. (I don’t paint houses in Prada, and I won’t wear Gucci gardening. Get it?) And even within designer brands, not everything is quality.
My new Jimmy Choo Perfume suede wedge sandals in fuschia. These are from the Spring 2013 line and I got them for 50% off. It pays to subscribe - to newsletters from your favorite fashion houses. Subscriber only sales are not always on clearance merchandise!
I’m not a coupon clipper. I can’t be bothered. I don’t have the time. I don’t want to fish through my bag for tons of clippings for percentages off that I may or may not use before the expiration date. And most of the time, for me, except for make-up, the fashion houses I covet know that their wares are worth it, and don’t even bother with offering the kinds of discounts you clip and snip. However, give me a good online offer, and you’ve got my attention. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for something or didn’t get a freebie at Sephora
. And recently, Jimmy Choo
was having an online sale, and I super clicked my way to savings. That said, there are
sales on premium purchases. You just have to know where to look – and when.
So I will share some of my tips with you for shopping on the chic.
These new Jimmy Choos were on sale! Love them!
I got this Michael Kors Fulton bag for 50% off, too. It was the last one left in the store. The copper-brown color can be worn year-round, but I dream of summer where I can tote around everything from my sunglasses, iPod, and hat around in it with room to spare. I can pair it with neutrals or accentuate navy and white outfits with this bag.
It’s Not the Quantity; It’s the Quality
Yes, I have a closet devoted entirely to shoes. I don’t know how many pairs I have. It would take too long to count. Suffice it to say, the stacks of shoe boxes run as tall as me. However, I didn’t accumulate this quantity of quality overnight. It’s taken years of shopping to find what I like, and to get it at a price I can afford. I also have a large hand bag collection. Again, I didn’t just go out last weekend and buy them all.
What I do is buy maybe two or three high-end designer hand bags, or pairs of shoes every year that I truly covet. I look for luxe materials like the softest, buttery leather that will last a lifetime and in classic colors. Some people buy five, six or more bags a year – but they are cheaper and quite frankly, not quality, and they don’t last a lifetime. They are lucky if they last six months of wear and tear before the zipper breaks or the lining rips. So meanwhile, they are probably spending just as much or more on bags as me, for something that is here today, and gone to the dumpster tomorrow. I choose to spend my money on fewer designer pieces than a myriad of lower quality selections that won’t stand the test of time. Truth be told, I’d rather have one pair of exceptionally expensive sunglasses than 5 dime store shades that fall apart after a day on the beach, or a single big Bvlgari bangle than tons of trinkets I wouldn’t have a place to put. So if you want your brand names, save your money and shop carefully, occasionally, and remember, it’s not a race to the finish line – those with the most don’t win anything – except for disposable deals.
My Michael Kors charcoal Sloan bag has the softest quilted leather. He's one of my favorite hand bag designers. I love it when my bag feels like a leather pillow. This was an outlet find for 50% off. Michael Kors stores might be ready for Spring, but I, like the groundhog sometimes, have to get through at least 6 more weeks of winter. The color and style is timeless and I will proudly accessorize with this for seasons to come.
Don’t Let the Labels Lie to You
I remember about ten years ago, Coach brand bags were “all it”. If you had a Coach bag it was looked upon as a status symbol. It was worth something. Their bags were leather and withstood the test of time. Then something happened. Coach wanted to market to the masses. So they created this line called “Poppy”
. It was perky and trendy and guess what? It was canvas and crappy. The bags were lighter in weight and lower in leather. They were less expensive than their luxury leather line, but Poppy was still a pretty penny. Then, over the past five years, you could still find leather Coach bags, but they started to incorporate larger amounts of cheaper materials like straw, more canvas and cloth, and still charge the same price. So people were paying for the name, but not getting the same quality. Additionally, the lower price tags on some of the items made them more attainable for some to get their status symbols, but what were they really getting for their money?
So while certain brands may signify quality, the buyer should beware and really look at each item in terms of it lasting long enough for it to be worth their money. Every fashion house has higher end pieces in their lines and lower end ones. However, the price tags don’t always reflect this. Look at Louis Vuitton
. You’ll pay almost just as much for a denim cloth bag as you would for another purse from their classic monogram line. Decide wisely. Some pieces are not meant to stand the test of time. Usually accessories that are more trendy are meant for those where money is not a concern and they’ve got a landslide of Louis’s at home. Shop Sales – Designers Do It Differently
This may seem obvious but not too many people take advantage of seasonal sales – because they don’t know where they are and their timing is all wrong. Flagship and local stores want to clear out their winter merchandise and switch over to spring. Summer is barely over and they want to push their winter wares. They want to display the latest and greatest on their mannequins and in their store windows. Yet, the average shopper will never see a 50% off sign in a Michael Kors
store window, or a billboard saying that last season’s Christian Louboutin
s are now reduced. Why? Because these high-end designers do it differently.
Let me explain: About three weeks after the New Year, the flagship stores are gearing up for featuring their spring lines. They ship all of the leftover “last season’s” merchandise to their outlet stores all over the country. This
is where the sales are – the designer outlets. You’ll see sales (sometimes unadvertised) start to surface at the outlets pretty much at the beginning of that third week in January. Timing is everything. Remember, the sales people will get first picks. If they see something come off of those trucks that’s a good buy, they’ll buy it. But you want to be next in line. So stalk those stores. Go at an off-time if you can – like during weekdays. Develop a relationship with the sales people there so they will give you a heads up when the newest, “old” bags will arrive. And when I say develop a relationship – I mean that you have to buy things from the store from time to time. Don’t expect them to just like you for being you. They can spot a mooch in an instant. They know a loyal customer when they see one – come into the store and buy
things again and again (and sometimes that does mean paying full price … so save your money!)
Some people go outlet shopping year-round. While you can find eclectic pieces by chance year-round, the largest offerings with the biggest not-picked-through selections can be found in mid-January and mid-August, when stores do their biggest seasonal swaps.
There are also high-end stores, like Coco Pari
in Red Bank, NJ that cater to designer brands like Hervé Leger
, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, René Caovilla
, and a myriad of others. These stores want to turn over their seasonal offerings, too. Unless you do a drive by their store, you can find out about which lines are marked down periodically via Twitter
. Again, look for incredible finds at a deep discount starting around mid-January through the end of that month, and again in mid-August. There are other sales, but the size selection on those discounted items may be narrowed down at other times of the year. ebay is Your Friend
I’ve bought designer shoes and bags on ebay
. While this may sound scary to some, any vendor worth their weight will show many photos of the merchandise, with labels intact, from all angles, and have impeccable ratings. You can do your research, too, and email the men (and women) behind the madness. Ask them where they got their merchandise from or to send you additional photos if you are still not sure about something. Ask about their return policy. Ask if they have an original receipt or certificate of authenticity. And never, ever pay cash for something to protect yourself from fraud.
A great way to test the waters is to buy a previously owned designer bag or a once-worn pair of shoes in your size and see what you get. These kinds of classic pieces will be in excellent condition (or should be), and offered at a reduced price. Some people never want to be seen wearing the same shoes twice and their “trash” can be your “treasure”. When it comes to bags, look for natural
wear and tear on the leather. Ask to see the lining in photos. Some scuffs can be shined right out with a good leather cleaner and a bit of TLC. Shoes – they can always be re-heeled if they are worn a little thin or lopsided for under $20 at a shoe maker.
If you buy a second-hand pair of shoes, don’t worry – if they are Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, or Manolo Blahnik – they should feel weightless on your feet and more comfortable than anything you’ve ever worn if you get the right size. There are European size conversion charts online
that are very accurate. You’re not buying Payless here. There is no toe-scrunching or heel pinching involved. You’ll get a great pair of shoes for your pennies.
Once you know that certain ebay vendors are not selling knock-offs by getting your goods and verifying that they sell authentic designer pieces, go back and see what they offer from time to time. Sometimes they get brand new designer duds that they offer up for a sale price, too, and you will know that it’s the real deal if you make the investment. I got some new Jimmy Choos this way, and a Prada dress
I don't see Spring 2012 tattooed on this gorgeous navy and white striped Michael Kors dress. I bought it brand new for a fraction of the original retail price just because it's a year old. Its classic cut and colors will seamlessly work from year to year and no one will know that it's not from THIS year unless you tell them.
Don’t Worry About the Numbers
A classic wardrobe addition is when you add something that’s tasteful and timeless to your closet. When I say don’t worry about the numbers, what I mean is that when you are wearing a tweed skirt, or a classic navy blue and white dress, a black pair of stilettos, or sport that charcoal gray handbag – no one will know that it’s from last season and not this one. They don’t tattoo 2012 on the tags or across the chest. If you are not buying a fluorescent orange tank top, that’s screaming “this season only”, you can feel confident that making an investment in something from a coveted designer you can wear year after year, will be worth it. Again, with certain designers, you will find that the comfort, fit, stitching, and attention to detail is what sets these threads apart from the rest.
Not everything I wear is designer, but I like to mix in a few quality pieces with what I have when I can. It’s fun, and I like owning pieces that won’t wear threadbare after one year of washing.
Recently I found this navy blue and white striped Michael Kors dress and I saved a bundle on it. Why? Because it’s from the Spring 2012 collection, and now it’s 2013. I can wear this alone or with a blazer, and not just this year, but I picture myself pulling this out in years to come. Similarly, I didn’t need a purple sweater, but I couldn’t pass up this one from Michael Kors (original retail price $100) that was in my size for $20. The store might want to think Spring, but it’s still 20 degrees outside and I’ve got a few more weeks of winter to wear this! And I couldn’t find one that was as high quality for less at a chain store if I wanted to!
My new Michael Kors $20 lavender sweater. I couldn't pass it up for the price. It originally sold for $100! You can't even get knock-offs for what this cost me.
Stalk Sample Sales
If you’ve got really tiny feet, or can slink into a sample size (0 or 2), it’s definitely worth your while to travel to sample sales. Designers sometimes do a practice run for fashion shows and come out with limited edition shoes and clothing (sometimes even hand bags – but not as often), that they offer up usually for one day only in a metropolitan venue like New York City. These sample sales also consist of items that have been on display in stores and haven’t sold by the time the season is up.
Sometimes you hear about these sample sales from fashion or clothing websites like Net-a-Porter
via their newsletters, or even the big Condé Nast publications (Allure
, etc.) let the news leak on their websites or Facebook pages. Beauty bloggers and vloggers sometimes share the news, too if you subscribe to any. I’ve even seen people handing out flyers on the streets of Manhattan announcing sample sales.
Again, let the buyer beware. Before you go – go do your research. Take a look at the linings, monograms, and labels of your targeted designer merchandise in stores so you know that you’re not getting knock-offs at the sale. And be prepared to pay cash with a no returns policy. This means know your size in each brand – jot them down on a sticky note, or key it into your iPhone – sometimes your size is specific to a designer.
I do mix and match. The raspberry sweater is one that came from my own closet but went perfectly with my new Ann Taylor Loft tweed skirt. Again, I spotted a sale on an outlet item in a classic look and did not break the bank.
It Pays to Subscribe
I subscribe to all of the online newsletters of my favorite fashion finds. You can do this right on their websites. Sometimes that’s the only way you can find out about an online sale! Subscribers snap up the sizes fast, especially when it comes to shoes, so be sure to click on over as soon as you have a chance. It’s not just last season’s clearance that they put up for grabs either! Sometimes designers want to get their new line seen and out and about in the real world, so you can find discounted new items this way, too. The key is to act quick. Most people think subscribing to newsletters provides them with an email box full of spam. While there can be clutter, you can usually quickly weed out the sales that interest you. I like looking at previews of what’s to come down the pike, too!
Happy Shopping! If you’ve got any shopping on the chic tips, please post them in the comments below!
So let’s get down to the business of boobs. No, this is not some x-rated blog – sorry to disappoint. Actually, I got to writing it because of an impending topic for a radio show I will be on soon. (Yes, broadcasts are not all impromptu. There is some planning in advance! But that’s another topic for another day.)
If you are a first time mother, or a mother-to-be, or maybe just a curious guy that was afraid to ask questions about breastfeeding for fear of getting slugged, you might be wondering about what really happens when you try to breastfeed your baby – the stuff no one ever tells you that you can’t find in books or are too embarrassed to bring up over breakfast. This blog is my way of sharing my own experiences with breastfeeding, so that you may have more of a clue than I did, and know what to expect after your baby is born.
Maybe you are even a long-time mom and you may have your own experiences with breastfeeding your children. You might nod your head in concurrence with some of the things I have to say, or perhaps you had a very different experience. (If so, please share them in the comments!) The more women talk about the realities of our boobs, the better off we are. (And call them what you will – our girls, ta-tas, breasts, chests, bewbs, boobies – it’s all good. I’m very laid back and won’t give you any flack.)
Oh, and this isn’t about bashing those who breastfeed or making snide remarks about bottle feeding. Bottom line is, you’re the momma – you get to decide how you want to feed your children. But if you were ever curious about nursing, whether you did it or not; whether you plan to do it or don’t; you might find this at the very least interesting to read.
I remember when I decided I was going to go down the breastfeeding road with my daughter. I tried reading about what to expect, and I spoke to a very limited population of friends and relatives who had also breastfed their children. I was trying to figure out what will happen, and what I should be prepared for, by educating myself. As I later found out, sometimes the best way to learn is by experience, so I will share mine with you.
Where I live, in the North Eastern part of the USA, it seems that bottle feeding is still more of the norm. As I found out, I would still get “looks” when I nursed discreetly in public, and most pediatricians in the area catered to the formula feeding population (and this was in the 21st century!). I felt like the odds were stacked against me for reliable information and help along the way. I did take a breastfeeding class offered by a local hospital, but it’s impossible to think of all of your questions before you even get down to the business of breastfeeding. Things come up while you are trying to get your boobs off the ground. Maybe people sat around campfires back in caveman days, and they watched each other nurse their babies, and Jane saw Jen whip her boobs out over beverages, and they learned from each other. That’s not how it goes down now-a-days, though.
Luckily, I have one of the most stubborn personalities you’ll ever know, and I persevered past my frustrations, nay sayers, and others’ opposing opinions along the way; and can say I nursed my daughter until she was two–and-a-half years old, and she’s healthy, we had an amazing bonding experience, and she’s not any worse for wear.
I’m not going to outline the benefits of breastfeeding here. If you are reading this blog, you probably already know things like how it’s the most easily digestible and nutritious way to feed your baby, the act of nursing aids jaw development and tooth placement for your child, and also helps prevent ear infections, and you pass along many of your immunities to sickness to your child this way, too. I’m sure I could list tons more benefits, even the practical ones, like you will save hundreds of dollars on formula if you opt for nature’s way of nursing, and if you place your breast in your baby’s mouth, it stops them screaming a lot faster than the time it takes you to heat up a bottle.
Ok, so on to the good stuff. Size Does NOT Matter
Let me put it this way: I don’t have DD boobs. I wish I did, but the thought of going under the knife to enhance what I’ve got scares me a lot. Some people fear needles – for me, it’s surgery. Before I had a baby, I always wondered if bigger busted women had an easier time breastfeeding or more of a milk supply. You know what? They don’t. I had the little boobs that could. It’s true; size does not
matter. Bigger is not better – at least when it comes to breastfeeding. Your milk production has nothing to do with your cup size. Small breasts can produce just as much, if not more milk, than larger ones. It’s Gonna Hurt Initially, but This Too Shall Pass
Once your baby comes into this world and you have got your bearings back, nurse, and nurse immediately. Even if you have a c-section, any hospital nurse or midwife worth their weight can show you how to hold your baby almost like a football, so you can breastfeed without having them rest on your stitches. As soon as you can mutter the words, “I’m breastfeeding my baby!” – do so. The nurses can’t read your mind. Don’t let them assume anything. If you don’t state to them that you are nursing, they will feed your baby formula faster than you can blink. To many nurses, a crying baby usually means a hungry baby; and in the nursery, giving them a bottle is their first line of defense. You’re the momma – you’re the boss.
You might think, “Wait! How can I nurse!?!? Nothing is coming out of my boobs!”. Ok, your milk has not come in yet. Don’t panic. This is normal. Babies are like little vacuum cleaners – and you thought Dyson was powerful! Hah! With the combination of your postpartum hormones kicking in and their sucking action, they will start to get the colostrum they need. It will be a small amount, but it’s fine. Don’t panic! The most soothing thing to a baby after they are born is to resolve their oral fixation – that means sucking on you. They are more concerned with being held all nice and snuggly by momma, getting their groove on by using you as a human pacifier, than they are concerned with drowning in a deluge of milk.
After about a minute you are going to go “Oh my God, this #*@$! hurts!” Yes, yes it does. Take comfort that when it hurts, they are latched onto you properly. You are not used to the power of a child nursing on your nipples. I won’t lie, it’s more than a little uncomfortable. But bear with me – it will
get better. When the baby latches on initially, that’s the worst of it. After a while, you’ll be ok. This feeling like you will hit the roof when they start to suckle will only last about a week. And after the first two or three days, you will be so sleep deprived, you won’t care anyway. Most moms give up because it hurts at first. I beg you, please don’t! The pleasure is worth the pain in this case, and the pain is only temporary.
You know what they don’t tell you? You may get “chapped” skin at first when you nurse. They sell special creams like Lansinoh to use after a nursing session. Just rub it right on the nipples. (Yes, I said the word nipples. What else can you call them?) It’s like chapstick for your boobies. After the first week or two of nursing, your body will adjust, and you won’t have to give yourself a rub down when you’re done. I haven’t used any other creams, so I can’t vouch for the effectiveness or safety if your baby ingests some. When Your Milk Comes in You May Think You Have a Fever and Feel Like Passing Out
At the hospital I had my daughter in, they required all new moms to attend a 45 minute long “class” on how to fill out papers to properly discharge yourself from the hospital and answer questions. Babies could not attend this “class” with their moms. So, my daughter went to have some nursery time.
While I was sitting in this “class”, my milk came in. This was on the third day after she was born. She was a c-section baby, otherwise my milk would have come in while I was at home. What I didn’t know in class was that I was having hot flashes and feeling like my head was going to hit the floor because my milk was coming in. Woah woozy…. I thought I was coming down with the flu!
All of a sudden my breasts felt like two rocks. They were hard and engorged and hurt
! I just knew I had to nurse like right now!
As soon as the class ended I had this “Where is my baby?” panicked look all over my face and asked the nurse to bring her to me. What I’m about to tell you next, don’t let happen to you!
See, I forgot that nurses change duty…and I forgot to tell the nurse who took my baby to the nursery that I was exclusively breastfeeding my baby and under no circumstances
were they to give my daughter formula. So guess what? While I was gone, they gave her about two ounces of formula. Meanwhile, my boobs were ready to explode, (or implode, depending on how you look at it) with milk, and Manda would not
latch on. She didn’t want to. Her belly was full. This was one of my worst nightmares. Holy pain! See, Manda had a full tummy and was content. Me, I had full boobs and was feeling like I was about to toss my cookies and have my chest explode at the same time.
I read about engorgement. If you don’t relieve the pressure of the milk, you can risk mastitis which is a breast infection. I called down to whatever department was in charge of bringing up breast pumps for new mothers. One could not get there fast enough for me to use. After I pumped about 2 ounces of milk from each breast, I started to feel better. Needless to say, me and my baby were bunk buddies until I was released from the hospital a day and a half later. Every time she nursed I felt a physical sense of relief. We finally got in sync, and my milk supply was keeping up with her demand. I really wish they gave breastfed babies different color bracelets in the hospital so nurses would know, before they go get the formula, they go get the momma first. Frozen Peas Are A Girl’s Best Friend
When you first start to nurse, your boobs are getting used to being balloons. They will expand with milk and contract with nursing. Your body will be trying to figure out how much milk you need to produce for your baby’s needs. Your boobs will be stretched like rubber bands. This is why they will hurt. When this happens, go to the store, buy some frozen peas, and don’t eat them. When your chest hurts, after a nursing session, pack your boobs in bags of frozen peas. This will help bring down any swelling and give you some relief. You won’t have to do this the entire time you nurse, but it helps you get past the first few weeks of adjustment. Don’t Go Crazy Over Weight Gain – for your baby, not you!
The weight chart of a breast fed baby will not match that of a formula fed baby. You can Google it. I’m not going publish all of the findings for the sake of this blog, but here’s an example:
“Between four and six months, formula-fed babies tended to gain weight faster than their breastfeeding peers, although growth in length and head circumference were similar in both groups.” – Ask Dr. Sears
There is a lot more information on this provided in charts, graphs, and data supplied by the World Health Organization as well. Just because your breastfed baby doesn’t weigh as much as the formula fed one next door, do not fret. If you are doing your duty and eating right, drinking more water than you ever imagined (I will speak more about this in a minute.), and nursing your newborn on demand or approximately every two hours for at least 20 minutes on each side, (but not as frequently as your baby grows into a toddler), everything is ok.
This brings me to the important point of choosing a pediatrician who is breastfeeding friendly. Some doctors may claim they are supporters of breastfeeding, but you won’t really know until you have a few visits with them after your baby is born. A knowledgeable doctor will be supportive of you breastfeeding and actually give you tips on how often you should be nursing, (sometimes you have to gently wake a newborn up to remind them to eat,) and what to do to keep your milk supply up.
The first words out of any doctor’s mouth should NOT be “supplement with formula”. That’s a slippery slope. Once you start supplementing with formula, your baby won’t nurse as much from you. In turn, your body won’t produce as much milk, which lowers your milk supply, and you now have just become more dependent on bottle feeding. This is not
the direction you want to go in. Instead, start paying attention to your diet (eat healthy, reduce your caffeine so your baby will actually sleep) and if you need to bump up your milk supply, spend more time nursing your child and drink more water. It’s not unusual for them to go through growth spurts and have mega nursing sessions sometimes that last for a half an hour or more on each breast. This, is normal.
Let me tell you a story. When I had my daughter, she was born bloated. They had me pumped so full of iv fluids that she definitely put on a couple of extra ounces before she was welcomed into this world.
Manda the day she was born. Her little chubby cheeks were courtesy of all the fluids the hospital pumped into me prior to her arrival.
This, was water weight – which, caused my first pediatrician to freak out when she lost about 3 ounces from the time she was born – and she was a big baby weighing in at 8lbs. 8 oz. She was a full-term, healthy little girl. I have news for him – babies pee. And when they pee, they will lose water weight. Additionally, my milk didn’t come in until 3 days until after she was born. However, she was getting colostrum and quite content. She wasn’t dehydrated. She was definitely doing well.
The last thing a new mom wants to have is her baby’s pediatrician worrying her and almost scolding her for not supplementing with formula. Hello? That’s not what nature intended! When that doctor told me this, I was ready to whip out my boobs and show him “Hey, this is milk, man!” I was definitely producing milk and my daughter was drinking it. And in almost defiance, I went home and started drinking even more water, consciously, as if I were on a mission to create the greatest single milk supply ever.
My little chubster at 6 months old, was not a malnourished exclusively breastfed baby. She may not have measured ounce for ounce to her formula fed friends, but she was totally healthy and within her weight range for her age and length.
So to make a long story short, I had to go through one more pediatrician until I found one that truly supported breastfeeding and understood that you can’t compare apples to oranges, or formula fed babies to breast fed babies, and me and my girl were much better off for it.
In a very backwards way, I also learned that you should plan on drinking more water than a camel when you nurse. Plan on Drinking More Water Than You Ever Have Before Breastmilk is 88% water
and fluctuates a little for fat and nutrient content depending on your child’s needs and stage of development. So it stands to reason that if you want to keep your milk supply up, you will have to drink a lot of water. Water. Not soda. Not energy drinks. Water.
On the plus side, if you find that your breasts are not entirely drained after a nursing session because your baby fell asleep, you can pump a little, so you can freeze your milk in special storage bags, for future feedings, when you may have to hire that babysitter to step in for a minute.
I noticed a big difference in my milk supply when I started walking around the house with a bottle of water in my hand during the day, sipping it, and the first thing I did every morning was drink a big glass of water, and the last thing I did before bed was drink a glass of water, too. Try to get into the habit of drinking water after every nursing session. You are replenishing your own H2O supply. You don’t want to become dehydrated either.
Water – it’s your friend. Breastfeeding Is Nature’s Plan for Losing the Baby Weight Fast!
Don’t wanna diet after having a baby to get your body back? Don’t worry, nurse! Seriously, nursing makes your uterus contract and your tummy flatten faster than 10,000 sit-ups, and your baby will help you burn those calories because your body will need to consume them to make milk.
Manda's first time at the beach with me in 2005. It was 6 months after she was born and thanks to breastfeeding I was back in a bikini. I did not starve myself. I didn't go to the gym every day. This is the truth. I weighed in at about 15 pounds heavier than I am right now.
Your Boobs Will Leak
Sometimes your baby will sleep a bit longer than usual and you will feel your boobs get really full. If you brush your chest against something, you may accidentally stimulate yourself into thinking it’s time to nurse. These are instances when, yes, your boobs will leak. Be prepared for it. You don’t want unexpected wet spots on the front of your shirt. (How embarrassing!) They sell disposable nursing pads as well as reusable organic cotton ones that you can wash time after time. I preferred the reusable cotton ones – they were just more comfortable. Just pop a pair in your bra and you won’t have to worry. Nursing in Public
You would think in this day and age, people would just get over the fact that a mother nursing a baby is as natural as the sun rising. It’s not like we are whipping out our breasts and asking for beads for boobs like at Mardi Gras. Unfortunately, social tolerance of breastfeeding is not universal. I got looks even at the pediatrician’s office when I was nursing Manda at a few weeks old - from mothers! I don’t know – maybe they were afraid that their children would be scarred for life if they actually asked what I was doing, and I said “feeding my baby”?! Even Sesame Street approached this issue in a tactful way
As Manda got older and bigger, it was hard for me to keep her tented with a blanket while she nursed in public. Plus, she would get all hot and sweaty that way. Many times I would go to a ladies room and feed her, or ask if I could excuse myself to a bedroom for a while at a party, or even walk back to the car where I could nurse her comfortably without making others uncomfortable or having darts shot from someone’s eyes at what I was doing. Sadly, all of society has not changed about how breastfeeding is looked upon. But I smile, because I know I did something right when I saw my daughter pick up her first doll, and instead of reaching for a toy bottle, she placed the doll at her chest and pretended she was nursing it. Maybe in another generation or two, breastfeeding in public will become more socially acceptable in the United States – I hope. But until then, be prepared, for at least one time during your nursing experience, to have to deal with those who would rather keep your boobs in the dark. It’s the sad truth. Yes , the Milk Tastes Good
Now, don’t get all grossed out on me. You have to admit you were curious – how does breast milk taste? No, I did not try to nurse myself! Let me explain. I made a habit of pumping my milk whenever I was not with Manda for a feeding. I pumped it into bottles and then stored it in bags and froze it for future feedings. When you thaw out the breast milk, by placing the bags in warm water, you have to check the temperature of it. Of course you can put a few drops on the back of your hand and do this; but I was curious what made this liquid gold so appealing to my baby, so I tasted it when I checked the temperature. It’s not gross. Have you ever cut yourself and put your finger to your mouth and tasted your own blood? Do you swallow your own saliva? Your child is drinking this delicacy from you and they don’t think it’s disgusting.
The best way for me to describe what breast milk tastes like is that it’s sweet and thin in consistency. If you’ve ever tried rice milk, breast milk is a pretty close cousin. It makes sense that it would be on the sweeter side to be appealing to a little one, as well on the thinner side to be highly digestible.
So when all is said and done, let me tell you what made me persevere through the pains and peas, the sleepless, bottleless nights, and the social stares. When my daughter was about a month old and she was nursing in a sling I wore so I could actually get something done around the house, she had enough coordination to move her arms where she wanted them to go. One of her first purposeful movements was to take her little hand, while she was nursing and gently place it on the side of my breast. I can still close my eyes and relive that moment. She literally touched my heart. With that one gesture it was as if she said “Thank you” to me and showed me how comforted she truly was. That
, made it all worth it to me more than words can say.
My 7 year old in 2012 - just a proud momma picture. :)
NJ Transit Headquarters and BlueCross Blues shield, In Newark NJ, had to be to be shut down due to damage sustained from Hurricane Sandy - Credit: Gevon (Servo) Knox of GServo.Com
There has been a lot of photography of the Jersey Shore in recent days where Sandy’s destruction has devastated so many. There are thousands affected inland, as well.
This blog was also published via Patch Media at the above links and went national on The Vine
Superstorm Sandy. Hurricane Sandy. I don’t care what you call it, but this collaboration of storms and weather fronts shared her perspective, jammed it down our throats, and shined some light on the true colors of human nature.
What a bitch.
A fallen chimney separated from a home in my neighborhood courtesy of Superstorm Sandy. So many have suffered greater devastation than this in the North East part of the USA with total homes lost entirely.
I live in New Jersey, one of the most greatly affected areas by this natural disaster.
When I saw the eye of the storm, predicted to head towards my town on weather maps, two days prior to its touchdown, I was nervous; and when I’m nervous, I joke. I add sarcasm to my realm. I guess it’s a coping mechanism that I have. Some may relate. Some make take offense. However, beneath that façade of humor, I never once lost touch with reality and the seriousness of the situation. And in this case, the seriousness couldn’t have been painted on my wall with stronger colors. If God decided to draw a bulls-eye on my town, he couldn’t have drawn the eye of the hurricane with more accuracy.
On Monday night, as I sat on the living room floor with my 7 year-old daughter listening to the winds howl and the sheering of shingles as they flew off my roof in candlelight after losing power, I was scared. When she asked, “What’s that?” with wide eyes and a fearful tremble in her voice, I said “That’s just the wind. It will be ok,” - and in my mind I knew that the shingles weren’t the only thing ripping off my roof, and Tyvek was flapping in the breeze, I put on my brave face and reassured her that all would be fine.
Parents do that. Parents swallow the bad; they swallow the real, and they make everything ok.
I worried. But worry doesn’t stop a storm.
The next morning I awoke to silent winds but I was afraid to look out my window. I had no power since the evening before. The house was cold. No power = no heat. I shivered, but my body and brain could not separate if it were because of the chill in the air or because of the chill in my bones.
I turned on my cell phone which I silenced the night before – because I knew that I didn’t have power and the only way I could count on charging my phone was by the grace of my car. It beeped. It was a sign of life. But – I had no phone signal. And, the battery charge was pretty low.
I got out of bed, in my not-so-designer pj’s, (and definitely not designer heels – shocker!) and told my sleepy-eyed daughter to put on her coat. We were going for a drive. Not a scenic drive. I wanted to charge my phone and get a phone signal. I wanted to find out what happened around me. Were roads open? How badly were they flooded? My mind raced as I thought about who to call first – the insurance company to tell them I needed a roof yesterday, or PSE&G to find out when I could expect to regain power.
I dialed numbers and got dropped calls. I aimed my phone out my car window in the residual rain and prayed for one extra bar of signal. I drove a half a block down and saw a gentleman dragging part of a fallen tree from his front yard. Instinct jumped out of my mouth and asked “Are you ok?”. He turned to me and said “We don’t have power.” I replied, “I don’t either.” He then gave me a dismissive look and said “Good luck” with a sarcastic tone and half slit eyes and then turned away.
He couldn’t even look me in the eye.
I was speechless. Here I was, instinctively asking if he needed anything. What did I have to offer? A woman, with a child – A dry car? A ½ a bar phone signal? A few bottles of water? I had no power. Heck, I didn’t even have a leak-proof roof over my head. And he, wished me, a mouthful of sarcastic “Good luck”.
If his child needed water, I would have given him a bottle. If that tree had crashed through his living room window, I was prepared to offer some semblance of shelter. I didn’t think about it. I just FELT I would be there for someone in need.
His every-man-for-himself reaction shocked me. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe most people don’t walk forth with their hearts set front and center. Maybe I should have expected his heartless remark.
I drove on past uprooted trees and debris.
A few doors down a family whom I did not know was standing outside snapping photos of the chimney that separated from their home. I think my mouth just dropped open in disbelief of what I saw as they stared at a pile of rubble formerly known as their home which now lie on the grass in their yard. I rolled down my car window as tears rolled down my cheeks and asked if they were ok. They replied that they were. Then, despite their misfortune, asked me, a total stranger, if I was ok, too.
In less than five minutes my faith was restored in humanity. Here was a family without power. With a very damaged house – asking me if I was ok.
I guess it takes a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions to display the true colors of people. Maybe in retrospect it’s better to know who has a softer shade of heart and who sports a hardened hue of hate.
With downed power lines in the cold, where thousands
of people shiver as they sleep;
with houses surrounded by waters that have pervasively
permeated their premises destroying decades of delight
with damage along the Jersey Shore;
how is it possible that the human response can be anything
other than heartfelt sympathy and a willingness to help?
The iconic Atlantic City boardwalk – no more.
Seaside Heights boardwalk of summer memories are days of yesteryear.
Roads are impassible because of high waters and remaining sand.
How can there be those who have no sympathy for the devastation left behind? They hoard their generator borne power because ? - it costs them nothing to give the gift of kindness to a neighbor and warm a child’s body while she sleeps?
I hear stories of looters by boat and by foot - preying upon those empty homes belonging to people who have had to evacuate to save their own lives.
There are selfish souls who have generators, too stingy to invite over their fellow man to sleep on their floor so they have some warmth as they sleep.
People starting fights at gas stations. Dirty looks exchanged over the last pack of batteries in a store.
I’m sickened by these selfish actions.
In times like these, we see the bones of the soul bared. We are indebted to those generous people who are giving of the little that they have for the many; and we feel the barbs of the arrows shot from the eyes who selfishly satisfy themselves and do not share a smidgen of sympathy for those who would be most grateful to receive even a glimmer of a gift of grace.
The simplest acts of kindness never go forgotten. They are remembered most fondly and appreciated magnanimously.
Thank you to the woman with the damaged house who looked upon us with her heart. Thank you to my wonderful neighbors who offered a hot meal and their home for a few hours. Thank you to the man and his son who brought coolers filled with bags of ice to my doorstep so I could try to preserve my food for a few days. Thank you to my wonderful friends and even strangers who reached out with concern and compassion near and far, from here to all the way around the world.
You will never be forgotten.
Those who are able to contact The Red Cross or Governor Christie’s office in New Jersey, or any organizations that are trying to coordinate efforts to help all of us in the North East affected by the storm, from my point of view looking at the world from the inside out we need:
· Volunteers who can haul debris away in trucks
· Gas powered chain saws
· Gas for generators, chain saws, and cars
· Warm, dry clothing in all sizes for men and women
· Roofers, carpenters, electricians (especially those who can work with the power companies to restore power)
· Generators (for heat and light – it’s cold here)
· Dump trucks for hauling debris, trees, fallen houses
· Heavy machinery for plowing sand off roads and getting it back on the shoreline
· Roofing supplies, wood to board up windows and doors, nails, hammers
· Bottled water
· Dog food and cat food
· Non electric can openers
· Paper plates, cups, plastic cups, disposable utensils, paper towels, toiletries, paper products, garbage bags
· Clean towels
· Flashlights, batteries, candles, lighters
· Heavy duty and regular extension cords and power strips to hook up to generators
· Non-perishable food and drink that does NOT need to be cooked, refrigerated or opened with can openers. Think nutritious food – juices, granola bars, pop tarts, non-refrigerated milk, cereals, and fruit in containers
· Portable hot spots for Wi-Fi
I have sporadic internet access and unfortunately do not have phone numbers or contact names of organizations in the area who are coordinating rescue and rebuild efforts. I do not know where to send the supplies right now with a specific address. If anyone has that information, please post it here in the comments so those who want to help have a point of contact. The list of what is needed is NOT a complete or comprehensive list of supplies and efforts, but it is what I have noticed is necessary from my personal point of view.
Additionally, if you cannot get in touch with an official organization coordinating rescue and rebuild efforts, please remember, even if you drive here with one generator and remove one tree from someone’s yard or supply one house with electricity you have made a difference.
Driving around is not allowed in all affected areas yet as of November 1st. There are downed power lines, debris and trees blocking roads. Flooding is still in parts. Gas is hard to come by so you need to have a route planned and a few alternate routes as back-up plans and maybe bring extra gas with you. Bring sleeping bags, tents, and don’t plan on getting hotel rooms. Many hotels do not have power and the ones that do are booked solid. Be prepared to “rough it”, bring winter coats, blankets, flashlights, and candles.
We may not be able to offer much in return right now, but please know that the thousands of us are thankful from the bottom of our hearts. There are people with much greater devastation than I have experienced or seen. So many have lost their homes. My heart goes out to them and when I’m back on my feet, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and do what I can to help one person at a time.
(Personally, I will be ok. I have friends and family that I have been in contact with and we are pooling food, supplies, and opening our homes to each other. Love to all – The Lady in Red)
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What do you think about informed parental evaluation of movie appropriateness for children? Do you go by critics’ comments and movie ratings? Or are you like me and look at each movie on a case by case basis to see if your child is ready to watch it?
When I was younger I’d watch Siskel & Ebert
’s movie reviews and I’d find myself constantly disagreeing with them. They would say some movies were so excellent, and I’d go out and see them and be bored to tears. Actually, the movies that they said weren’t that great, I many times happened to like. This started me on the path of forming my own opinions about movies, and not paying attention to critics, at all.
When I was in elementary school they just came out with the PG-13 movie rating. Before that, you went from G, to PG to R. Back in the 1980s, TV shows didn’t have any indicators on them suggesting what age-appropriate audience they were targeting. My parents always used their personal judgment for determining if something was too scary, gory, or mature for my brother and me to watch. As children, my brother and I watched Tom chase Jerry, Wile E. Coyote run the Road Runner off of cliffs, and my brother pretended he was the ultra cool Rambo
Sylvester Stallone portrayed, climbing trees wearing camouflage, bearing fake guns and plastic knives by the age of 6.
Today, my brother is a police officer and I’m not an axe murderer. I don’t remember either of us having terrible nightmares because of what we were allowed to watch on TV or in the movies. At a young age, my parents explained to us that movies and TV shows were not real, and the things that we saw in the movies and on TV were not things that people should do or say in real life for the most part. We understood, and we always took what we watched with a grain of salt.
To this day, I don’t go by movie ratings or movie reviewers’ recommendations when I decide to see movies in theaters or at home myself. I always evaluate them based upon my thoughts whether or not I think they would be interesting to me. Many times I disagree with a reviewer’s thumbs up or thumbs down about a movie. I also find myself questioning sometimes why a movie was rated as being appropriate for someone who 17 years old or older when you hear worse words exchanged walking down the street every day.
There is no censorship for real life.
Recently, I rented The Hunger Games
. I loved it. My 7 year-old heard about this movie from TV and other family members who had seen it and read the book. She really wanted to see it. I was skeptical. I knew that there were violent scenes in it. I didn’t want her to watch it and have nightmares. However, after I saw the movie by myself, I did let my 7 year-old daughter watch it.
Some people may think I’m crazy for doing that. When I watched some of the scenes that some may consider scary, violent or heart wrenching, I felt they were done in good taste. I think the way the movie was done; the scenes were portrayed appropriately without excessive blood, gore, or violence.
I will say that not every child is at the same level of maturity regardless of their age. Not every child can handle watching the same things and not get scared. But blood and gore on the movie screen doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s scary or offensive to everyone. My daughter is much more scared of watching gorillas attack each other – which was featured on the news in a clip a few years ago – than she was watching The Hunger Games
. To her, she realizes movies are pretend, but gorillas on the news are very real, and she recognizes the difference and can process the distinction. This is just one example of how one person may view something and be frightened, but yet something seemingly innocuous and rated PG like gorillas in a zoo, can cause unwelcome thoughts and keep you up at night. The Hunger Games
is rated PG 13, but my daughter was not traumatized by it at age seven. We actually talked about a few of the scenes I felt were scary or violent before she watched the movie, and she said she thought she could watch it without getting upset or scared. She really enjoyed the movie after she finished viewing it, and as a parent I can tell l you I’m not the least bit worried she’s going to go out and stab someone as a result of watching it. She hasn’t had any nightmares either and has told me that she felt bad for Katniss having to go out and fight because the government wanted it that way. She walked away from watching The Hunger Games
with feelings of sympathy and compassion for many of the characters. (She also wants to take up archery, but that’s just a child’s mind and sense of adventure at work!)
My daughter actually saw National Lampoon’s Vacation
recently, too. She knows enough not to repeat certain language because I’ve spoken to her about that; the context wasn’t even just about repeating four-letter words heard in movies, but she understands it’s not something you should do if you hear other people speak like that, as well. As far as Vacation
goes, much of the dirty humor goes right over her head, too, because she doesn’t understand it yet. She’s viewing the scenes where Clark Griswold walks through the desert with a shirt around his head as funny, and giggles at the dog peeing on the picnic basket. Her perspective is very different from someone who is twice her age and viewing this film, and I really don’t see her as any worse for watching.
I feel I’m a parent who evaluates movies on a case by case basis and not by their ratings alone. I’m all for the mature and informed parental take on movie evaluation. Before I allow my daughter to watch a movie that may be questionable, I always watch it first and then make a determination if I think it’s appropriate for her or not. Even with movies that the industry rates as G or PG, I don’t just say that she can view them without knowing something about them. What is not scary to one child may be scary to the next, no matter what it’s rated.
If you are a parent and you don’t have the time to research or view all movies before your child does, then I can definitely see how critics’ reviews, watching trailers, or reading ratings can be helpful to you in determining if a movie is appropriate for your child to see. But, I do also think that parents should keep an open mind when it comes to movies and the level of understanding that their children may have at any age. Just because they hear bad language in a movie, doesn’t mean they will repeat it if you give them proper guidance. And just because they see a scene that is bloody, doesn’t mean they will have nightmares. Sometimes the storyline will take precedence in their minds, and if there is adult humor, it will go right over their heads, but they will be able to enjoy the movie anyway.
“May the odds be ever in your favor” – The Hunger Games
Be sure to tune in at WOND 1400AM this Thursday 8/16 from 8pm-10pm EST! The Lady in Red will be co-hosting 'Girl Talk with Whitney' with Whitney Ullman live out of Atlantic City! You can listen to the live stream at http://wondradio.com. You can also use the TUNE IN app on your iPhone/iPad or click here and listen too: http://tunein.com/radio/WOND-1400-s21757/Call in if you can! 1.609.927.1100
Behind the scenes with Whitney Ullman, the host of 'Girl Talk with Whitney', on air.
Laura Madsen, The Lady in Red, will be co-hosting 'Girl Talk with Whitney' on WOND 1400AM live out of Atlantic City this Thursday 8/16
You're not seeing double, The Lady in Red is BACK on the radio AGAIN (WOND 1400AM
) this Thursday night 8/16 from 8PM-10PM EST broadcasting out of Atlantic City!
'Girl Talk with Whitney' is like the Jersey girl's version of 'The View'.
We're going to be hitting all kinds of hot topics - this time dealing with overcoming your fears. Whitney Ullman
is calling the shots on the show, and Laura Madsen will be co-hosting!Afraid to wear prints or embrace the latest fashion trends? Celebrity stylist, motivational speaker, and author Gina La Morte will be on hand to answer your questions and tell you exactly how to do that in a tasteful and fun way.Considering starting your own business? Or have you thought about getting some permanent make-up but you're just not sure? You'll want to listen to
Amy Druding owner of Permanent Makeup by Amy
as she covers this ground on the show.
Marilyn Kleinberg, Executive Managing Director of the E-Women Network
will tell you how you can overcome fear in life and relate her journey as to how she came to be where she is today. Wait? You didn't know about the E-Women Network
? She'll tell you why it's so beneficial for women and how it's a great venue for meeting new people.
Guest and wellness coach, Kim Schwartz, will be talking about living healthy and overcoming fears of dieting and going to the doctor, too.
Co-host Laura Madsen - “The Lady in Red” will tell you all about overcoming fear of competition when you write, give you insight into popular blogging trends right now, tell you how to market and brand yourself effectively. Oh, and if you've heard her on the radio before, you know that when she teams up with Whitney, these two will be asking all kinds of insightful questions and not holding back any opinions.If you want to get a head start on listening to Whitney's show, she's also going on air Wednesday night on WOND (8pm-10pm EST) for the first installment of Girl Talk with Whitney this week. Guests lined up for Wednesday include Rachael Pagano - an esthetician and the owner of Simple Escape Spa, Tara Rothberg - the author of Etiquette Girl, Marcie Guterman - owner of Lilli Rose Boutique, and Janet Garraty of Go Jane News.
Don't forget to tune in Thursday, though, for some RED
isten to the live stream at http://wondradio.com
- or if you're mobile - you can also use the TUNE IN app on your iPhone/iPad or click here and listen too: http://tunein.com/radio/WOND-1400-s21757/
We'd love it if you can call in! 1.609.927.1100