Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trend Alert: How to do the Sheer Trend, Maternity style

The Fall 2014 sheer trend we saw on fashion runways is making its way onto the award season red carpet. Maternity wear designers are not getting left behind in the movement and have been updating their options to accommodate the trend as well.

If you are one of those moms-to-be who like to keep up with trends, you'll be happy to know there are options out there tailored to you too.

Here are a few items we found while scoping our partners at Shopstyle!

photo collage: lingerissimi/bellyitch
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Best Snow Day Announcement: 'School is Closed' set to Frozen's 'Let it Go' (VIDEO)

When our kids' school is out, we get an email or an automated call or perhaps we get the word watching the local news.

Moses Brown High School principal Matt Glendinning of Rhode Island took a creative and fun route by capturing the news in a hilariously funny YouTube video to the very popular Oscar-winning tune "Let it Go" from the blockbuster Disney animated film  Frozen. 

Too funny! Check it out: "School is Closed":

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VH1's 'Love & Hip Hop's Yandy Smith welcomes daughter

Congratulations to Love and Hip Hop's Yandy Smith on the birth of her daughter yesterday, Monday January 27. The music manager shared news of the baby's impending arrival on her Instagram account yesterday.

"The Princess is coming," she captioned a photo of herself in a maternity ward gown with her fiance Mendeecees Harris giving her a smooch. "We can't wait to meet out little princess."

This is the second child for the couple. They have a son, whom they welcomed in July 2012. He has two boys from previous relationships. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

10 Family-Friendly Winter Vacation Locations

The Westin Lake Vegas Resort  Spa - Vegas.com

If you live in a cooler climate that experiences wintry weather during the colder months, but aren’t a fan of toughing out the colder days or participating in winter sports, the idea of escaping to a warm, sunny locale for a quick family vacation during winter break can be incredibly appealing. While there are a staggering number of places around the world that enjoy warm weather during the winter months, these are 10 of the best and most family-friendly spots to visit if you’re looking to escape the winter doldrums with your brood.
  1.     Florida Keys – With average temperatures in the 70’s, even during January and February, the Florida Keys offer American families the chance to get as close to the equator as possible without leaving the continental United States. In addition to the many beaches and water sports, there are also ample opportunities to learn more about marine life on a glass-bottomed boat or a chartered eco-tour.
  2.     Dominican Republic – Skipping the country in search of warmer climates doesn’t have to empty your bank account. During the winter months, most resorts in the beautiful and exotic Dominican Republic slash their prices dramatically, leaving their prices well within most budgets. Temperatures during the winter months also tend to hover in the high 70’s to 80’s.
  3.     Maya Riviera, Mexico – With year-round temperature averages of about 78°, the Maya Riviera is a popular destination for those who aren’t wild about winter weather. From sparkling beaches to spectacular Mayan ruins, there’s definitely something to suit every member of your family in the area.
  4.     Hawaii – If you don’t mind a bit of crowding, the Hawaiian Islands may be the perfect choice for your winter getaway. Because each of the eight islands has their own attractions and offer something different to tourists, you’ll be able to find activities everyone in the family will enjoy. Luxury accommodations can get quite pricey, however, because the winter months are quite popular for tourists to visit Hawaii.
  5.     Las Vegas, Nevada – Vegas might have the dubious honor of being dubbed “Sin City,” but it’s also a surprisingly suitable family destination, and ranked number one on Getaroom.com’s list of wintertime bargain destinations in the United States. Average temperatures fall a bit short of tropical in the winter, hovering in the low 60’s during the winter months, but you still won’t need to pack those heavy jackets and scarves.
  6.     The Amalfi Coast, Italy – During the winter months, the Amalfi Coast region is one of the warmest areas of Italy, with average temperatures in the 50’s. Some hotels and restaurants are closed or on limited schedules during the winter months, but there are still plenty of attractions to keep everyone entertained and out of the snow during winter break.
  7.     Phoenix, Arizona – With spring-like temperatures hovering in the high 60’s, the many attractions and activities in Phoenix make the city a great escape from winter weather for a short jaunt during winter break. There are plenty of activities for kids, including museums and other educational pursuits, as well as a variety of outdoor activities.
  8.     Guanacaste, Costa Rica – From zip-lining through rainforests and thrilling canopy tours to surfing lessons and low-key horseback trail rides, there’s plenty of tropical fun to be had in Costa Rica during the winter months. The crowds are almost non-existent and prices are dramatically dropped during the winter season, which can be quite rainy in certain areas but is easily avoidable by traveling a very short distance.
  9.     Orlando, Florida – Families have been making the pilgrimage to Orlando year-round for decades to visit the Happiest Place on Earth and take advantage of the many amenities. It’s significantly less expensive during the winter months, provided that you avoid peak days like Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, and will have average temperatures in the low 70’s.
  10.     Cyprus – The third largest Mediterranean island is dotted with olive and citrus groves, mountains and beaches, and is an impressively low-cost winter vacation destination for families. Temperatures are in the high 70’s from November to February. The island also does not shut down during the winter low season, so you’ll still be able to visit historical sites, go hiking, and enjoy the many amenities of hotels whose rates drop by almost half from November through March.

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Chasing The Duggars: The Bates from 'Bringing up Bates' are expecting the 20th child in the family

So the other TV family with 19 kids also has a family member expecting a baby. 

This January 1, The Bates family, consisting of dad Gil, mom Kelly Jo and their 19 children, ages 2 to 25, got their own reality TV show on UPTV after appearing on several episodes of TLC's 19 and Counting.

The show, Bringing Up Bates, premiered this January 1 and featured a storyline where the oldest daughter Erin, and her husband, Chad Paine, discovered that they miscarried their first child. However, since that airing, the couple has gong on to conceive again.

Erin shared a sonogram of her baby on her Instagram account this weekend.  She wrote:
I’m so glad and relieved that last night's episode has finally aired! Chad and I have been waiting to share our big news with the rest of the world for quite some time now. The news is true! Chad and I are having a baby! To say that we are thrilled would be such an understatement. ;) We can hardly contain our excitement as we prepare to be parents. As many of you know, starting a family.

As we reported before, over at The Duggars household, their eldest daughter Jill announced last October that she and her husband Derrick Dillard are expecting their first child. This will be the 4th of 5 grandchildren in the family because Josh Duggar and his wife Anna have 3 kids and announced this past December that they are expecting their fourth child. Jessa Duggar just got engaged to her beau Ben Seewald last August.  

It looks in the production of children competition, the Duggars are pulling ahead! ha!
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Tax Filing Season: 8 Tax Credits for Parents

As you prepare to file your taxes and consider all the recent changes associated with the new healthcare law, make sure you do your own research and check with their tax preparers to make sure they are up to speed.

In the meantime, we thought we'd re-share a past post highlighting some of the tax credits people with children can take advantage of as  you prepare to file your 2014 taxes.

1. Child/dependent care credit - This one depends on your income. But if you have one child, you can get a credit of 20 to 40 percent of up to $3,000 of childcare expenses; that goes up to $6,000 if you have two or more children. The amount of the credit changes along with your family’s adjusted gross income.

2. The child tax credit  - This gives you a $1,000 per qualifying child. That means $1,000 right off your tax bill. The catch: Your modified adjusted gross income has to be less than $110,000 for a married couple filing jointly.

3. Earned income tax  credit - This is a credit for working families subject to income limitations – ie, if you make a high salary you probably won’t get it. The EITC is a refundable credit, which means that even if it exceeds the taxes you owe, you still get money back. This isn’t only for families with kids, but children make you more likely to qualify.

4. The American opportunity credit - This is an education credit of up to $2,500 (subject of income limits) for folks with dependants in college. It can offset tuition (not books or meals) for a student in a degree program, for up to four years. Up to 40 percent of this credit is refundable – that means you get it even if it exceeds your tax burden.

5. The lifetime learning credit -This one is up to $2,000 per tax return. There’s no limit on the number of years you can take it, and you do not need to be in degree program. You can’t take it along with the American opportunity credit, though, and it's not refundable.
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(Valid until 3/31/14)6. Pay your child a salary - If you have your own business, pay your children and write their salary off as an expense. They get taxed at their tax rate, so it’s a savings for the family. Yes, you can do this.  There are a bunch of rules, though – the kid actually has to work, for instance; and no, you can’t send them to the coal mines – so check out some websites before you put Junior on the job.

7. The adoption expense credit -The adoption expense credit. This one is up to $13,360 for the 2011 tax year. It phases out when family income hits $185,000.

8. Student loan deduction - Student loan deduction. You can deduct student loan interest up to $2500 a year if the annual gross income for joint filers is under $150,000.

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2015 SAG Awards Red Carpet rocked by Celeb Moms

The stars came out at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards tonight, January 25  at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. And as usual many of the past and currently expecting celebrity mothers we cover and have covered looked their best on the red carpet before the show. A few were also nominated for the coveted awards that many say are the predictors for who will take home the Academy Awards later in the year. 

Camila Alves McConaughey look tonight was one of my faves in this gorgeous deep eggplant colored aubergine Donna Karan dress. The simple make up played up her natural beauty and she worked the draping and train like only a professional Brazilian supermodel could. 

Another fave was the custom white one shoulder Giorgio Armani dress Reese Witherspoon wore to a fitted T. The award nominee for her stand-out role in Wild put the A in A-list as she was dripping  in pearl drop earrings, a cocktail ring and elegant bangles from Tiffany & Co and Harry Winston.

The dress that The Good Wife star Juliana Margulies wore looked a hot mess on the runway this past fall, but some inventive tailor managed to cinch that Giambattista Valli dress at the waist and make it her own. She was fabu in this number which she polished off with a Salvatore Ferragamo clutch, Jimmy Choo "Lucille" sandals and Fred Leighton jewels.

Didn't hear much positive thing about Lupita N'yongo's chosen dress, a deep v neckline  Pre fall 2015 multi-colored Elie Saab gown, worn with Fred Leighton earrings. I loved it and thought it was a complex yet still simple and elegant complete stand out look. And as a fan, wearer and advocate for braids, I was uber psyched to see the 2014 Best Actress Academy Award winner in cornrows and a braided bun. The Twelve Years a Slave star's  make up was everything.  Nice!

Maggie Gyllenhaal was uber glam in Thakoon accessorized with a box clutch and jewels from Bvlgari and Fred Leighton. I'm digging the red lip and the pixie cut. Work it mama. So classy, as per usual.

Amy Poehler did her thing in a black shimmery Jenny Packham gown. I love the Parks and Recreation actress' hair the best in this look. The soft loose ringlets to one side is the money ball and very feminine.  Yass. Go ahead Miss funny lady. 

Claire Danes guzzied it up in a deep green Marc Jacobs Spring 2015 dress which was bold though a bit overly designed with too many elements. I'm thinking lose the belt or the halter or the side embellishments or all three. She looked comfortable and happy so that's what matters most, right? Make up was boss though, especially the smoky eyes and matte nude lip.  

Past feature adoption mom Viola Davis was stunning in a fitted white Max Mara dress. I love how the halter makes her defined shoulders stand out. I don't care for the shape of the bracelet but the natural parted afro rocks! Congrats on winning the award for Best TV drama actress for her role in How to Get Away with Murder.

Mom-to-be and nominee for her role in The Imitation Game Keira Knightley wore a purple jewel-tone lace Erdem dress. It was so Keira but also so fluffy and foofy and meh.

Can't believe Togetherness  actress Amanda Peet just gave birth six weeks ago and looked this va va voom in this pink with black accents chiffon J. Mendel dress. I do not love the hair at all. I think it should have been let down for max effect.

The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik finally went big and glam in Christian Siriano tonight. She usually looks frumpy in whatever she wears but tonight was a stand out. Bravo! More of this. Yes?

Equally gorg was Paula Patton in Kimberly McDonald. The jeweled embellishments really popped and set off this look as did the beaded accents. We could have done something more fab with the hair, but still, overall a good look.

Julia Roberts  never disappoints in a classic black Givenchy  tuxedo jumper with a box clutch and accent cuff on the wrist. She could've really taken this look to another level had she gone with some different colored shoes and in a strappy sandal. She's been keeping it 100 for the gingers for over several decades now. 

We saw Veep's Anna Chlumsky looking nice in a unique silver and burnt sienna-colored  Escada gown. I really loved her smoky eye with a tinge or orange and pale pink matte lip. It's such a refreshing departure for her that I can't help but love it. 

Though not a mom and not previously featured on this blog, my absolute fave look tonight was won by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. This crimson Romona Kevelza belted dress was perfectly tailored to her body and the silver tube clutch and cuffs really made the sultry look stand out. I loved the hair too. Perfect!

photos: Getty

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Problem with Baby Swag blogs and Instagram sites

Bellyitch Rewind 

With the advent of blogging and social media, one would expect that there would be websites and other platforms set up where families can post and share adorable images of their children dressed up in super cute and fashionable clothes.

The trend started on Tumblr blogs like Swag Babies, Well Dressed Babies and Children with Swag, among many others. It has since catapulted to image sharing social media sites like Instagram. Many of the photos from these sites have landed on Pinterest (where we got all of ours featured in this piece from).

Many are to die for and very cute!

The schtick is sharing of young children, many wearing designer or high-priced clothes, and styled or outfitted to look like miniature adults. The kids in the photos usually are photographed giving off certain air of confidence (or pompousness, depending on your perspective) and attitude. Some, I'd say, are pictured in sexually suggestive poses. Didn't we all get on some brands for something like that a little while ago?

However, I've witnessed from viewing the comments under photos how the baby swag trend can go wrong. There are parents insulting other people's kids, calling them names or ugly and competing ferociously to get their submitted photos of their kids on the blogs or IG pages. Some will comment on how their kid has more swag. Then, you'll have some parents complain or feel bad when their child's photo doesn't get sufficient "likes" or comments to their pleasing, when compared to other kids' photos. 

There are popular kids whose parents set up their own pages and who have thousands of followers. Some have become social media superstars in their own right.  When I looked at some of the photos from the Baby_Swagg instagram account, I was surprised to see some of the behavior from adult men and women on there.  Most of it is harmless,  some not so much. 

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Seemingly harmless, but when you step back there is also something damaging about it especially when the parents share the photos with their children and they start counting the likes. It's understandable once in a while but when it becomes excessive, it's time to worry.

Besides the focus on brand names, the practice also sort of teaches kids to value approval from others based on their outward appearance and clothes.  Usually, pre-teens and teens have self-esteem issues based on things they see in the media, their own perception of self, and their interactions with family and peers. That's a whole lot. 

Then imagine we now have parents setting up their children from very toddlerhood to early childhood on a pedestal to be judged on the superficial. It's sort of like pageant moms but on steroids because instead of an audience and judges, they're throwing their kids on sites to be scrutinized and picked apart by the public and deemed worthy or not of a "like" or comment based on something that has nothing to do with their true value.  

There is just something not right about that. Or is it just me? 

Sound off with your thoughts!

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Trend Alert: Swap parties let moms get new wardrobe for FREE!

Bellyitch Rewind

A few years ago, during the early stages of the worldwide downturn in the global economy, a new trend emerged where women of various age ranges and demographics would get together and exchange clothes, accessories, shoes, coats and more. Swap parties were all the rage because they were a very easy way to get a new wardrobe of gently worn clothes for FREE! It's a great place to get transition clothes too for new moms working on getting back down to their pre-pregnancy size.

I attended my second swap party this weekend after scoring BIG during my first one this past spring.  Before attending, I went through my drawer, closets and storage containers and assembled a barrel of clothes and accessories I don't wear any longer, don't think will fit me or I haven't been able to make work in my wardrobe fashion-wise. About a dozen of  us met at a mutual friend's home. We arranged clothes by season, style and garment.  There was a pile of work pants, a pile of party tops, a clothes rack for dresses and coats, a section for shoes and handbags etc. Some items came with the price tags still attached. You know how women tend to purchase items and then never wear them ever and they just hang out in their closet for months or years?

Value of 10 old Toys THEN and NOW (INFOGRAPHIC)

The month of January is often reserved by families to clean house, including dumping old toys their kids no longer play with and make room for new toys they got for Christmas or Winter holidays.

Be careful as you chuck old dolls, you may be throwing away a collectors item. I recently purchased a collector's edition Barbie Irish doll for $3 at my kids' school holiday bazaar and when I looked up its value today, it's $69!

Check out Two Little Fleas' infographic sharing 10 toys that have increased or decreased in monetary value compared to the price at the year of purchase:

Play Interactive Version (via Two Little Fleas Bingo).

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Bump Watch Round Up: CaCee, Haylie, Beverly & Carrie

What's new with some of the moms-to-be and recent moms we've followed in recent years? Check out these links:

Second-time mom-to-be CaCee Cobb and Donald Faison on a walk. (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

Moms-to-be Haylie Duff and Beverley Mitchell snap a photo on Mitchell's birthday.(Instagram)

Carrie Underwood uses her bump for a bowl stand. (Twitter)

Kerry Washington gives a tribute at the Daily Front Row Fashion Awards in LA on January 22 to wearing Christian Louboutin while pregnant (Yahoo!)

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