Wednesday, September 28

Secret's Fall 2011 Collection: Which Personality Are You?

I recently received a parcel full of Secret's new Fall 2011 collection (I know, my life is rough), and the first thing that came to mind as I examined the all of the leggings, tights, pantyhose, and (yes) legwarmers, was that there's certainly something for everyone.

The "Animal Instinct" line (with ad copy like "make an outfit roar by displaying a little animal magnetism") is definitely for the gals who are a little wilder than I am. I just don't find that my day job teaching at a Catholic elementary school is the right fit for the Sheer Zebra Pantyhose or the Leopard Mesh Tight (I may save them for nighttime)...although with a long enough skirt, I think I might be able to do the Leopard Legging underneath. These styles are definitely edgy and eye-catching, and retail for under $12.50.

Next, we come to the "Colour Block" line. Very retro and right on trend...which I guess I am not, but you fashion-conscious gals will be all over the bright tights ($7.50 each)  in shades like "Deep Teal", "Sangria" and "Chilli Pepper". I realize I am totally giving up any hope of being called a fashionista by admitting this, but I tossed a couple of the brightest colours into my "Halloween" bin. They'll come in handy for something. If any other boring old schoolmarms are interested, the line does come in "Dark Charcoal" and "Black", both of which have already found their way into my rotation. (Note: I like to think I dress fairly well, but considering that this is the first time I have used the label "fashion" for a post, obviously I don't blog about the subject much!)

Finally, we come to the "Sweater Appeal" line, which I found very...well...appealing. All in a soft grey, there's a "Heather Tight", a "Floral Circle Tight" (I feel like kicking things up a notch with a pattern is still appropriate for my workplace) and a really cute "Sweater Cuff Legging", featuring a chunky little cable-knit cuff. These three styles are all available for under $12.50, and will be seen regularly in my classroom this winter. (Except on yard-duty days, when only long pants will cut it.)

And though I really, really, hate the cold, I still don't know if I'm ready to pull off (or, more accurately, pull on) the "Light Rib" or "Cable Rib Leg Warmers". They're under nine bucks, available in white, plum, charcoal and black (fairly safe colours, even for me) but I don't think I have it in me to set this trend locally. Though I could be encouraged to follow it, should someone else start it, for the sake of the extra warmth. (Hint: if any of my friends or coworkers would like to borrow a pair of mine to get the ball rolling, feel free.)

Leave it to a pantyhose company to set me straight about style for this season!

Something else noteworthy about all of the Secret products is that they're comfortable and durable, especially given the reasonable prices.

Secret's Fall 2011 Collection is available at retailers across Canada.

Which personality are you?

Disclosure: I received samples of the products for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Monday, September 26

Calling All Family-Friendly Companies and PR Reps!

Christmas is only three months away, and I have just begun putting together two exciting holiday features that you won't want to miss!

The "Christmas Extravaganza" at This Mom Loves will feature reviews and giveaways of great Christmas gift ideas, not just for kids, but for grownups too! If you want to promote a family-friendly item that one of my readers would love to either find or place under her tree, this is the place to do it.

"Companies That Give Back" will profile products (including photos, descriptions, prices and websites) which are donated through This Mom Loves to my school's annual toy drive. This could include gift ideas from infants right through to teens.
If you're interested in jumping on board either of these features, please email me at katewinn77 at yahoo dot ca for more info. Don't miss out on a great advertising opportunity, and a chance to give back!

Wednesday, September 21

Wednesday Words For Women

Sometimes I quote scripture, sometimes famous philosophers...but today's gems are just for fun!

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure,
but I don't know many of them.

Sylvia Plath

Genius is of small use to a woman
who does not know how to do her hair.

Edith Wharton

Monday, September 19

Anastasia's Picks: Scary School and Unlikely Friendships

Two enthusiastic recommendations from my ten year old book-reviewer niece, "Anastasia":

Scary School by Derek The Ghost (and Scott M. Fischer)

This is an amazing book. I mean, it's hilarious! It's monsters mixed with humans! There are several funny stories with creepy people to go with them, like Mr. Spider Eyes or Mr. Snakeskin! My favourite part is when it explains how the "writer" of the book died. I didn't find any parts that weren't interesting. This is one of my all-time favourite books!

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories From The Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland

Unlikely Friendships is an adorable book. This book is about animals making friends with other animals. The pictures are cute and the stories made me smile. The pictures are for any age to look at. The book is for ages 10 and up to read. This would be a lovely thing to put up in your room, so if you're sad you can look at the pictures. I would rate it a full-on five stars.

Thanks, Anastasia!

Friday, September 16

Sweet Spammers: An Open Letter

Dear Spammers,

To begin, I must thank you, because so far you have not overwhelmed my blog with your attempts-at-free-advertising comments, and I have not yet had to resort to using word verification or other time-consuming methods of slowing you down.

A few of you though have taken a shot, and your efforts are nothing short of entertaining. For example, those of you who go flat out for the kill and hope for the best, with no attempt to disguise your comment. Case in point:

"Great place to get for (sic) bankruptcy public records at lowest cost and fastest delivery on internet."  (This was left on one of my "recommended reading" posts.)

Some of you see a natural opportunity, and you know what? If my post is about a butterfly party, and you actually sell related party supplies, I actually don't have an issue with sharing your information. That's okay.

There are mom bloggers among you who are just innocently eager to share your own projects, and I can handle a few "Love your blog! Please come visit my (fellow mom blog) site" comments. (I left a few of those myself back in my early days. You know, WAY back in 2010.)
However: "Love your blog! Please come visit my (erectile dysfunction drug) site"...not so much.

Those of you who amuse me the most are the spammers who try to kill me with kindness before dropping your absolutely apropos-of-nothing link:

"Nice blogging. My review is very good example." (Link is to a site for a venture capitalist.)

Then there was "Eric" (probably not his real name): "I discovered your web site via Google while looking for a related subject, lucky for me your web site came up, its a great website. I have bookmarked it in my Google bookmarks. You really are a phenomenal person with a brilliant mind! Please Visit ------ -------- Training Class." Maybe there are bloggers who get so many comments that something like this would just slip through...but not I.

"I really like your blog its really nice. I really enjoy here. and Your article its so unique its amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing.Keep blogging." Aw, shucks...thanks, "Cheap Essay"! Sarcasm warning: as a teacher, I can't wait to promote your essay-writing service. Though based on your comment, I question whether your customers are really going to get their money's worth...

As with all spam in general, a weaker command of the English language tends to be a giveaway:

"Randomly explain each things very detail in this blog, thank you." Is that supposed to be a compliment? (Link is to a party supply site.)

But here's my favourite one yet:

"What an exciting experience! Hilarious! Delightful! True! Wonderful stuff! Thank you!" (someone selling... well, something) But what a nice ego boost!

If any of you (spammers or regular readers) would like to leave a similar comment without trying to make money off it, I promise I will post it with pleasure.


This Mom

Friday, September 9

More Must Read Books

Just so you know, I rarely accept adult fiction for review. I love being exposed to new non-fiction (biographies, parenting books) and children's literature, but I am very choosy about the novels I want to read, based often on friends' recommendations. Here are my faves from my summer reading.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The story of a woman's journey with early-onset Alzheimer's, this is a book that you will not be able to put down, and that will stay with you forever. Telling it from Alice's point of view makes it all the more real, painful and illuminating. I forgot to copy down my favourite quotes before returning this one to the library (not an early sign, I hope!) but I cried at least a dozen times, based on a single line or moment.

Left Neglected also by Lisa Genova

After loving Lisa's first book, I couldn't wait to read this one: the story of a busy wife-slash-mom-slash-80 hour a week career woman whose life comes to a halt when a car accident leaves her with a brain injury and a condition called "left neglect". When you suffer from this, your brain forgets that you have a left side. It doesn't process anything on the left of your field of vision (in a room or on a page) and you cannot make your left arm or leg obey your commandments (even if you can convince yourself that they still exist.) A great story about changing life plans, and a lesson in slowing down.

(The author has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard, and her background knowledge of subject matter really adds to power of the books.)

On a totally different note:

Bossypants by Tina Fey

This memoir is full of funny stories from both Tina's childhood and adulthood, always told in her self-deprecating manner. My favourite chapter was the one about her daughter (perhaps because I can relate to parenthood more than I can to improv comedy or photo shoots). 

"I chose to breast-feed, and it was an amazing time in my life. It really changed me as a woman, and is the most gratifying thing I've ever done.*

*Except for several very satisfying work-related things."

"'How do you juggle it all?', people constantly ask me, with an accusatory look in their eyes. 'You're f---ing it all up, aren't you?' their eyes say. My standard answer is that I have the same struggles as any working parent but with the good fortune to be working at my dream job."

Tina gave birth to daughter number two, Penelope, on August 15th. The final chapter of Bossypants is all about her struggle to decide whether a second child was right for her  ("Science shows that fertility and movie offers drop off steeply for women after forty") but clearly the decision has now been made!

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Yes, this was my first time reading the award-winning (and by award, I mean both Pulitzer and National Book Award) classic. This story of two black sisters is compelling and disturbing...and now I want to watch the movie. (No, I've never seen it, either.)

The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark

Teachers must read this. If you're not a teacher, but you are a parent, you could certainly take away a few tidbits as well. I'll save the teacher talk for another time, but some of Ron's (as in, Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy, Oprah favourite and past American Teacher of the Year) gems for parents:
  • Limit chaos in the mornings
  • Read everything that is sent home from school, and return forms on time
  • Use car rides to discuss what your child is learning in class
  • Never speak negatively about a teacher in front of your child
He has strong opinions, such as: "Not every child deserves a cookie." Too often we give rewards to everyone just to be fair...which means, they aren't really rewards. Not every child deserves an A, a merit award, a trophy, a spot on the team. He also includes great tips for what to do if you are unhappy with your child's teacher. (Hint: always go to the teacher first. Not the principal, superintendent, newspaper or entire PTA.)

You can't help but be blown away by the incredible work being done at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia...and I am already implementing some of his tips in my new class.

Tuesday, September 6

Marci Ien Welcomes Baby Number Two

Canada AM's Marci Ien tweeted on Sunday:

"Dash Joel Ien Exeter was born at 7:40 this morning. 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Thanks so much for all your support these past months."

Dash joins big sister, seven year old Blaize, who said: "Thanks for having my little brother, Mama. I've waited a long time."

A pic of Dash with Marci's niece, Melayna:

Congratulations, Marci! We are all so happy for you and your family!

For more on Marci, check out my first ever Momterview (for which she will always have a very special place in my heart), and follow her on Twitter!

Monday, September 5

Back To School Inspiration

"Education is not the filling of a pail,
but the lighting of a fire."

William Butler Yeats

Fellow teachers and parents...throw away those pails, and let's get ready to light some fires!

Saturday, September 3

Quagmire Kids ColorFusion Clothing

Just in time for back-to-school, Frannie received a Quagmire Kids heat-sensitive color-changing ColorFusion shirt to try out...and if you're looking for a kid-pleasing item to spice up your child's fall wardrobe, look no further.

We were sent the purple/pink polo for review, which means the shirt is purple, but when activated by body or external heat, it turns pink.

When Frannie first tried it on, she thought it was cute before she even realized that there was a trick to it. As her body warmed (or when her sister planted a hand on her!) the shirt became spotted with pink. That morning she went for her back-to-school haircut and the heat of the hairdryer changed the item's color purple to be seen.

After laundering it for the first time, I realized the shirt had gone totally pink, and I freaked out, thinking that perhaps I wasn't supposed to wash it, but I realized that the heat from the dryer had worked its magic (and by the way, all items are indeed machine washable).

Boys' and girls' styles run from size 4 to 14 (I find they fit a bit slim, but you don't want to go too baggy or you'll lose some of the effect) and retail for a reasonable $25 - $39.

ColorFusion does come in adult sizes, but I'm pretty sure that's not for me. People don't need to know where my hot spots are!

You can purchase ColorFusion from, or from The Bay (Queen St., Toronto.)

Disclosure: We were sent a shirt for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Winners: Pampered Chef, Scholastic, Skechers

Pampered Chef Large Stoneware Bar Pan:

Jessica of  Brantford, ON

Scholastic Back-To-School Books:

Kathleen of Windsor, ON

Skechers Shoes:

Pamela of Kitchener, ON

Congratulations, ladies! Enjoy your prizes, and thanks to everyone for entering!