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By the time I turn forty I’ll have my look all figured out.

It’s what happens when a woman turns that age.

All of my mom’s friends had it figured out by forty. Turn forty and you’re a grown up at last with a real grown up look.

These were the thoughts of my twenty something self as I pondered my many incarnations.

The day before seventh grade I walked through school in a Flashdance one shouldered sweat shirt, leopard print zip jeans and flourescent pink jellies, while wearing fish bait earrings (rubbery, not real) dangling near my shoulders. I ran into a teacher who said, “Oh my, Miss Martha! Haven’t you changed this summer!” She was over forty-ish and her look hadn’t changed at all in those short sweet months.

In the tenth grade I went mod accessorizing my Catholic school uniform with illegally pointy toed black flats, black tights, and a black second-hand men’s cardigan. My hair was worn in a tight clean bob, my eye lids liquid painted, carefully winging upward. After school my mod boyfriend would pick me up on the back of his mod scooter and we’d make plans for Fishbone concerts that I would lie to my mother about to be able to go.

Early nineties? The beginning of grunge and I cut my hair Amber Valetta pixie short, just like hers on that one cover of Vogue. I did wear plaid, but styled myself more eclectic/fashion forward; a pea coat embroidered with flowers (early Free People I wish I’d kept), Minnie Mouse minnie skirts, big fat clogs, Big Star jeans and lots of Betsey Johnson.

I always took risks; tattooing my left middle finger because I thought it would be cute (early twenties), pierced my nose so there’d always be a bit of sparkle emanating from my face (mid twenties), and more than once changed my boring blonde locks to shades from platinum white to sleek dark brown (over and over again).

As I drove the kids to school on Tuesday I took a good look in the visor mirror. No makeup, except for the Mac Omega eyebrows that are brushed on daily. No colorful cheeks, no lined eyes, too grown out highlights, no sparkle whatsoever.

I looked down at my outfit; Be Present yoga pants (okay fine, they are the ones with the lotus on the back, but still) and a gray t-shirt. On my feet? Havainas. God forsaken Havainas; not even a decent pair of shoes.

While looking in that mirror I wondered. A pierced nose? Double pierced ears? Maybe committing to liquid liner? Maybe committing to a daily red lip.

I have an appointment to get my hair colored next week and I’m taking a break from boring buttered blonde. The upkeep on red might be too much. Too dark isn’t right for my complexion. Pink? Ombre? The hair world is my oyster.

Mom clothes? They are a job requirement, but I’m done buying yoga pants for a while. Instead, I am going to focus on shoes beginning with the Swedish Hasbeens that appeared on my doorstep just yesterday.

I was wrong in believing that by forty I’d have grown stylishly wise, settling on my appropriate grown up look. Its a new world these 2010’s, so maybe the old rules don’t apply.

Besides, I think it’s true what they say about forty being the new thirty.

If that’s the case, I have almost ten more years of creative expression before I turn fifty, a very grown up age. Let’s hope fifty will not be the new forty or I’ll be one very confused lady.

How about you? Are you happy with your look or do you mix it up? Do you agree that change is good or is consistency a better approach?

Original 1980’s Jellies. I had the pink and the clear.
Modern Mod. Richard Bush for i-d magazine September 2011.
Free People embroidered pea coat. Mine had the embroidery up and down the front along the buttons. Loved it madly.
Betsey Johnson Fillmore Street store was like a home away from home. I loved walking through those doors.
The libra symbol I had tattoed on my left middle finger. Didn’t take long to remove, only a few visits to the zapping machine. Didn’t think it was appropriate when I became a teacher. Too many questions.
Gold Havainas. I was so determined not to buy a pair (or two) this year and instead opted for Tkees and Ipanemas. My resolve failed when the Tkees got killed on the New York streets and I found this pair at Club Monaco on the Upper West side. Boring, right?
Be Present Agility pant with the pink lotus embroidered at center back. I do love these.
Lauren Conrad apparently got tired of her blonde, too.
Butterscotch reddish blonde for Fall. But is it different enough?
Swedish Hasbeens Classic Slip On Super High (Hello Kitty stickers not included). They’re super easy to walk in even my four year old can do it. Do yourself a favor, if you buy a pair online, and buy an entire size up. They rum really small! 

XOM

Back To School Shopping

Back to school shoe shopping is not easy especially with fashion forward four-year olds.

Their father won’t be happy when he sees the Nordstrom bill, but his little ladies will enter “The Fours Room” next Tuesday with Twinkle Toes by Sketchers so blinding that I think I need shades.

It’s perfect timing, actually, since my Zeals have bitten the dust.

Before we left the mall (after making wishes in the fountain) we stopped at the sunglass store where I tried on a Red Ridinghood trifecta of Maui Jim’s; Baby Beach (too small), Cliff House (too big) and Sugar Beach (just right)!

What shoes are your kids wearing back to school? What sunglasses are on their mama’s?

XOM

Twinkle Toes = Happy Feet
Bling Bling.. they flash little lights! Is their teacher going to hate me?
Maui Jim Sugar Beach in Rootbeer. Did my research…good for running. They weigh only one ounce, are polarized, and shield-like enough to protect my sensitive eyeballs. Image from Nordstrom.com.

Sunglass Shopping

I’ve been living in my Zeal Optics for almost two years.

They have taken me through hours and hours of running, 26.2 miles of my first marathon, a sun screened summer in Maine and many many days behind the wheel of the Sequoia. But their time to be retired has come, mostly because of the big chip that has appeared in the left lens. They’ve lasted far longer than they should have. I’m far from gentle with my glasses.

As I wrote about in Girl in Glasses my effort to find another pair of sunnies and my savvy Internet shopping led me to a pair of Kaenon’s.

The Kaenon’s, while oversized and cute, have turned out to be a much better headband than eye cover. They aren’t all that comfortable and leave a big imprint on the bridge of my nose. It’s not a great look and does horrible things to my face when wearing my Glo Minerals powder. I’ve succumbed to dusting my face once the glasses are on to miss that spot that rubs my makeup into my skin causing roughness, little bumps and redness, too.

Yesterday, since I was sans kids and at the mall for a scheduled visit to the genius bar (another story entirely), I figured I’d use my time to investigate sunglasses.

When I enetered the first store the girl behind the counter asked me to hand over my Zeals. Her bright face and happy voice warmed me instantly.

“Here, let me clean those,” she said.

Embarrased I handed them over. She sprayed them with magic (they never looked better when she was done) and worked away while we talked.

“Try the Tory Burch,” she mentioned as she pointed to the case.

The first pair I picked were coded TY 6006; gold rimmed aviators with pink gradient lenses. They were light and chic and sized right (not too big or small) and the sales girl and I had a bonding moment; she still working on my Zeals and smiling at my face that had lit up over the discovery of sunglass awesomeness!

The next pair I tried were TY 6016; rimless with brown and like the others had pink gradient lenses. Without a rim they look the complete opposite of every other pair of glasses I’ve ever owned, but were so pretty and felt comfortable on my face that they make it hard to decide which of the two I liked better.

As much as I feel the pull toward grown up ladylike sunglasses, I inquired about the running selection next. The store carried Oakley and I was handed a pair of Polarized Overtimes, similar to the Kaenons in shape, plastic rimmed glasses with polarized lenses and a rubber bridge piece to keep them from sliding while sweating. At $170.00 they were not cheap, but their lightness and good size made up for it. I wished I’d found them before the Kaenons.

Oakley also makes an aviator and to compare to the Tory’s, I tried them on. They were okay, but didn’t have that lightness and chicness thing that Tory does so well.

I moved down the case.

I used to wear a pair of RayBans, black and wrap around they were great to shield me from the sun. But like the Kaenons, they weren’t comfortable on my nose and would slide down my face while wearing. They also failed the headband test and wouldn’t stay put atop my noggin (a deal breaker). I passed them onto my sister. They looked much better on her anyway.

The RayBan aviator was a no the moment I put them on. Too big. Too heavy. All wrong.

Next, I tried the wayfarer.

Again, they weren’t right for me. Maybe it’s because I wore the same pair in the mid eighties? I don’t know, but I’m glad I tried them, since I’d been pulled toward a Kate Spade pair that I’d seen on Gilt.

I left the store feeling like I really need new glasses, but must decide if I should stick with Zeal, which I know perform for me or just keep the old ones for sweaty running and buy a new pair of pretty glasses for when I’m attempting to play the part of “forty-year old mommy in desperate need for some chic in her life.” Hm?

I dropped into another shop before leaving the mall.

The girl behind the counter asked if she could help me and I said I asked about Kate Spade, since I hadn’t seen any all day. She said they didn’t carry them and added that Kate Spade doesn’t have much control over the quality and control over her glasses anymore.

This can be a problem when designers expand and sell their names. I’m sure Kate Spade is making more money than she ever dreamed, but for a consumer like me, the overselling and lessening of her control makes the brand less special and less likely that I’ll buy anymore. I hope this doesn’t happen with TB, though she’s expanding at similar speed.

This store carried more luxury eyewear and avant-garde designs than the last.

My interest fell to the glass case filled with Dita frames, a manufacturer/designer I’ve been hearing a lot about. Dita is made in Japan and currently being worn by a ton of celebrities in the know. The frames were priced around high, around $500.00-$600.00 a pair.

I wished I had really great things to say about the brand, but overall I found them overpriced and while certainly quality, not worth the retail price tag. The stores selection was small, which I was okay with. They ones they had were too weird; even for me.

Below the Ditaa was another company who produce their glasses out of the same factory in Japan.

Matsuda, similarly priced and beautifully detailed were made famous by Linda Hamilton when she wore them in the movie Terminator 2. I learned that the producers of the new Iron Man film, being shot down the road in Cary, N.C had requested a bunch be sent for their film as well.

Apparently, with the death of Mr. Matsuda in 2008 there has been a new demand for his glasses, evident by the auctions on Ebay and the $1000.00 price tag for certain styles.

Sunglasses are an important accessory and I left feeling glad that I’d done a little research in the area.  I was enlightened by what I’d learned, intrigued by the many choices and thoroughly convinced that sunglasses, like running shoes, should be purchased in stores.

What glasses are you wearing?

Did you buy them online or in a shop?

Think it’s too much Tory to have her on my face, while carrying the Amanda bag and possibly also wearing TB Eddie’s on my feet? Decisions!

Tory Burch Aviator TY 6006. I’ve never been the aviator type. These changed my mind.
Tory Burch TY 6016 rimless brown/pink. Surprisingly flattering.
Oakley Overtime
Oakley Overtime. When I say these were feather light, I am not exaggerating. Loved them!
Aviator Large Metal Gold / Crystal Rose
Ray Ban Aviator Metal Gold/Crystal Rose. Supposedly made for women, but looked hard on my face.
Original Wayfarer Black / G-15 XLT Polarized
Original Wayfarer
Matsuda style similar to the Terminator 2 pair. These with blue lenses also show the details that Matsuda is known for. Very pretty.
Kaenon Zaza. I have the tortoise.
Dita.
Tory Burch Amanda Hobo. I’ve been carrying this since my birthday. Don’t think I can part with it for a summer bag. It’s too good.
Tory Burch Eddie. Best flats ever. Loathe the Revas, btw.

Coola and Kiss My Face Sunscreen Review

A vacation is the best time to test drive new batch of sunscreens.

This week we’re trying Coola Mineral Baby in SPF 45, Kiss My Face Sun Spray Lotion SPF 30 and their Kids 100% natural Pink Sun Stick SPF 30.

The Coola was on the expensive side at $35.00 for three fluid ounces. It’s chemical free, 100% paraben free and thick like Crisco. The active ingredients are 10% titanium 7% zinc.

With that much protection (i.e. zinc) and due to its heavy nature, the stuff goes on white and stays that way. I’m using it on my face (and on the girls’ faces and shoulders). It’s protecting us great, but leaves me feeling like a living, breathing, walking grease ball. It’s the price I pay for serious coverage. I’ve yet to find a  chemical free brand that leaves me unbuttered, but I continue to test and try (Skinceuticals makes one similar and a bit less expensive, but with a similar texture and terrific protection).

I bought the Kiss My Face at Whole Foods the day before we left. I like the larger size and the spray top makes application really easy. It doesn’t go on thick (much more watery than the Coola), but I like that about it especially when it comes to re-application for the kids. I sprayed them right over the stuck on sand and it blended in great. I think I’ve found my newest family favorite, which is always exciting.

The Sun Stick is a cute idea and I bought the pink (they also make blue) knowing the girls would be into it. It’s a good thing to have in the beach bag and like I figured, the kids want to wear it. The only drawback is that the color isn’t brighter. Maybe I’ve been too bombarded with neon colors this season, but I wished the pale pink was more flourescent. I would streak it across my own nose and cheeks if it was!

What sunscreens do you swear by? 

Kiss My Face SPF 30 Lotion and Coola Mineral Baby SPF 45
Kiss Mt Face Pink Sun Stick SPF 30
Sophie all buttered up and wearing my hat by Mud Pie. $25.00 at Paper Buzz, Raleigh!

Girls in the Sun

When I was fourteen, after a fun-filled day with my friends where we slathered ourselves in baby oil in an effort to get Ban De Soleil brown, I walked home and flattened my towel on the grass in our backyard. The sun had moved from its place high in the sky and I lay stomach down dozing in the warmth of the afternoon.

I still remember the prickle of the grass coming from underneath my towel. When I woke, my head was turned to the side and it took a few minutes to find my focus. Blinking lazily I watched my beach bag and listened to the sounds of the ocean waves in the distance. I was rested and warm even though the sun had moved over the house. Content, I stayed there for a while embraced by the end of a beautiful summer day.

I think about this often, because it’s one of those times where my pleasure filled every last cell of my being. How many times are we granted a memory like that? A memory attached to pure bliss that stays with us forever.

It seems ironic now that my memory was really truly being etched into my cells. Melanoma must have begun during those years and didn’t show its face until my pregnancy hormones (and maybe the infertility drugs, too) sent my body into cancer cell turnover overload.

As summer nears closer, as the weather warms, and as the Internet is inundated with (Oh my gosh I want everything) summer fashion, I am reminded of the importance of caring for one’s skin.

We should all be wearing sunscreen. Melanoma is a gene and you can have deep gorgeous African skin and you can still get the disease.

To all of the beautiful moms across the Earth, I implore you to teach your kids about the dangers of the sun. It’s not a lesson that they will hear, though if you spend your own summer getting cooked to a crisp. You can chase them down with Coppertone, but if I learned anything from my years teaching other people’s monsters, it’s that kids learn by what is modeled.

Wear a beautiful hat. Be chic in a gorgeous long caftan. Get sporty and adorable in an Athleta rashguard or J. Crew’s fab striped board shorts. Boden always does great tunics. Free People and Georgie make amazing beach pants and even Lululemon does UV running tops. The choices are endless and your skin (and dermatologist) will thank you.

As a result of my sun soaked adolescence, I now have a hideous scar (one of many, but the one most difficult to conceal) across my back, near my neck. I try to hide on a daily basis. I have hated it for the over four years I’ve had it and have endured steroid injections and laser treatments hoping to make it disappear.

It isn’t going anywhere.

A few nights ago after watching episode two of The Big C where Laura Linney’s character (in the last stages of her own melanoma fight) tattoos a large C over her scar, I’ve decided to do the same.

When you see it, please ask me about it. I’m not afraid to share. I want to feel proud and I think it will help.

Would I change that dreamy afternoon memory (or any of those delicious days cavorting in the sun) if it meant no cancer?

No way.

The only thing I would change is my insecurity about not knowing who I was and my inability to feel beautiful in my own….. skin.

My wish for the fourteen your old me and what I hope for all girls everywhere is that we can find the beauty within ourselves to not have to change what God has given us.

Oh yes, and I would have slathered my unblemished skin with sun cream.

Hindsight is so twenty twenty!

Calypso Yellow Cotton Terry Caftan.
Buddha Beach Pants
Buddha Beach Pants. It’s not funny how badly I want these.
Calypso cotton sarong. Wear over shoulders or over knees when sitting on the beach.
Wide-stripe board short
J. Crew Striped Board Short. Even I realize that it’s unreasonable to be totally covered all the time. A good dose of sunscreen and a few hours in shorts is healthy. Just re-apply.
Athleta Intrepid Sun Shield. Comes in five colors. I like the zipper to help cool your body when it gets really hot.
Athleta Summer Shape Tee. I have these in a few colors. They are UPF50.  A staple at Althelta, you can always get them on sale.
Real Board Short from Girls4sport.net. They run a little small, so go up a size. Great for teenage girls; they’re kind of cool looking. I’m no teenager, but I have these and they’ve lasted a bunch of seasons.
Gap Sunhat. I tried this on in the store and was surprised by it’s cuteness. The big brim and the fact that it isn’t too floppy make it a winner.
 Whole Hearted Rashguard - Roxy
Roxy Rashguard. Zexy, I think!
caftan! caftan!
Caftan. How cute is this?!
beach pants
Billabong Beach Pants
Tunic #beach season
Emerson Fry New York Beach Tunic.

Hunting at Lululemon

I always love a trip to Lululemon. It’s best when I’m on my own, but since it’s spring break and I’ve got the girls I convinced them to behave and we made the trip together.

I went in on the hunt for the new white Yoga Camp Crop that was uploaded on Monday. I already have the full length Yoga Camp Pant in black, which has become a wardrobe staple. I usually like to buy my LLL bottoms a bit bigger for added ease and comfort, but since they didn’t have 10, I tried on the 8.

They were okay, but unlined, thus showing my flowered britches. I’m sure a nude pair of undies would fix the issue, but they were also pulling in weird places, so I sadly left them behind. I had purchased the white Studio Crop last year, which are basically the same without the cargo pockets, but had buyers remorse when I realized that they’d stay clean and bright for less than half a second with the dirty birdies with whom I live. Not to mention, the online reviews said they were impossible to get clean, which would only lead to frustration and lots of wasted bleach.

For now the urge for white crops has passed, but we’ll see what happens as summer nears and my suitcase gets pulled out as the packing for Maine begins.

Since I can’t go into a Lululemon dressing room with only one item to try, I grabbed the Every Yogi Tee in ink blot and a pair of Tracker Shorts in the new fossil/heathered fossil.

I tried the tee and was almost convinced I should have it when I asked Sophie for her opinion.

“It looks like a cow, Mom.”

“It looks like what?” I asked again.

” A cow.”

I didn’t misunderstand the second time and quickly stripped off the top and placed it back on its hangar. I am not interested in looking like a cow thank you very much.

The shorts were a bigger hit with the little helpers and they liked the pink (flash?) zipper. It’s a good and bright addition to the light gray print that reminds me of the map of the world puzzle the girls and I finished yesterday. I think the print is actually imprinted flowers, but they do have that special agent map sort of quality. Agree? Maybe?

I really like them and Sweet Mary convinced me I’d love them on the road. Let’s hope so. I’ve been on the hunt for the right shorts for quite some time.

Lululemon Run Tracker II. I don't like my shorts tight, so I always go up a size. These were cute on, much cuter than they looked lying flat.
Yoga Camp Crop. A lot like the Studio Crop, but with pockets.
Yoga Camp Crop
Now that I see this picture, I think the 8 fit me fine. I was a bit bothered by the pulling, but it seems that's how they fall.
Every Yogi Tee
Every Yogi Tee in ink blot. I've tried this on a few times and even with my DD's, the 8 was big enough. Looking like a cow, however will not do.
Map of The World Puzzle. I was never any good at geography, so putting this together was a lesson for me as much as for the kids.

Re-pinning Pinterest

Oh, Pinterest!

How I’ve fallen in love with you.

I was hesitant to try you, which is silly, but you reminded me of those old record stores with too much to weed through. I always had I anxiety attacks in those stores. I’d have to wait outside.

I was wrong about you.

Who knew that such inspiration would appear when I gave you a click? Certainly the genius who made you.

Pin, re-pin, like, like, like.

I want to follow people I don’t even know and innocently stalk the ones whose visions increase my heart rate.

I can pin something that I find as I search the grand expanse of the web and never ever lose it again.

If only everyone was pinning, we could all be connected on that cool and clever plane.

Share the love. It’s fun. Really fun!