How to Look Like You Know What You’re Doing During Air Travel, with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2016 by Corinna Allen Cook

CoCo traveling solo with 3 year old Ava, and and a 1 year old Sloane

Traveling with a baby can be challenging under the best circumstances. But traveling with two, by yourself, is an all out obstacle course. Worse, I can think  of no situation where strangers feel more justified in making “helpful” observations about the state of your child’s hunger, teething, need of a nap, etc. Stop those busy bodies before they start! Below is a list of tips on how to “look like you know what you’re doing” during air travel, with kids.

  • Check your bag, preferably curbside. Traveling with out kids I love being able to breeze past baggage claim with my 20 inch roller bag. But with kids, I find it’s better to keep your hands free to juggle only the essentials. You’re less likely to loose anything!
  • Put your carseat on wheels. We’re all familiar with the idea of putting your infant car seat on wheels, but not for the larger convertible seat. Thankfully some smart engineer changed that recently by outfitting a folding luggage rack with hooks that allow you to clip your “big kid” car seat in, child and all. I’ll admit to feeling very smug as a wheel past a dad who is struggling to carry an awkwardly large carseat, sans wheels. Does that make me a bad person?


  • Order a wheelchair assist. Not all airports offer them, but the larger ones do, at no cost to you. And it’s totally at your own discretion whether you “need” one or not. No physical justification necessary! I find it’s better not to waste too much explanation on the gate agent. Just make the request, and when the person arrives, ask them to ditch the chair and pull one of your carseats. The best part? The assist bumps the line at security so you and your babies just breeze on through! I usually tip the person between $5 and $20.
  • Outfit toddlers with their own (small) backpack. Inevitably your toddler will want to get out of the carseat to explore the gate area. A small back pack with a few select toys can go along way to keeping her entertained. We also have a fancy version that can double as a tiny roller bag, but I find that I end up carrying it, more often than not. The plain old back pack tends to stay put longer.


  • Bag your carseats in the jetway. All airlines will let you check your carseat and stroller, alongside your oversize luggage, for free. But what if they lose it? They all say they have loaners, but really? Enough for all six kids on the plane? In good repair? I’d MUCH rather gate check my $400 carseat to have it waiting for when I deplane.


  • Wear your baby in a sling. I like the Second Skin for infants, and the Ergo when she gets bigger. The sling essentially helps the baby to sit on your lap, and, ultimately fall asleep on your chest. The flight attendant will make you unfasten it for take off and landing, but, outside of that, you have a happy baby. It also makes for very discreet breast feeding. And, the best part is that, it leaves your hands free to read a magazine! Or feed the toddler sitting next to you.
  • Pack Pirate Booty. Pirate Booty, or it’s generic corn puff equivalent, is the ideal snack food on a plane for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s delicious, and, inevitably, mommy will need a snack, too. Eating Cheerios is demoralizing. They’re still calories, and they don’t even taste good. I also like Cheetos, but the orange paste can make a mess. The solution there is to dress your children in orange, so the stains are less apparent. No, I’m not kidding.


  • Have the person picking you up get a gate pass. You can also request another wheelchair assist! The flight attendants are super helpful, as they are not allowed to leave the plane until every last passenger is gone. Again, don’t forget to tip. The twenty dollars I mentioned earlier went to a guy who not only helped me off the plane, but also loaded my things onto a cart at baggage claim, then hailed a cab and strapped in my car seats! After that, go home and put your feet up! You’ve earned it.


Got a travel tip to share? I’d love to hear about it!

  • The 40 Year Old Mommy




How To Look Like You Know What You’re Doing… when buying a gift for kids

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2, 2016 by Corinna Allen Cook

Buying a gift for kids is tough. Most have far more than they need already, and they pull no punches if what they unwrap fails to impress. Plus, I can tell you from personal experience that, most parents are loathe to haul home any more crap!

Below are some gift ideas that are kid tested and mother approved.

bubble machinebubble stuff

A bubble machine, (with batteries and bubbles). I love it by the pool, but it works indoors or outdoors. Don’t forget to throw a screw driver in your purse to install the batteries!

unicorn and goatgoatunicorn


A book with a matching stuffed animal. I like “Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great” because it’s a story that appeals to both boys and girls. I matched it with beanie babies.


Whoopee Cushion. Great for kids of all ages! I bought a package of a dozen and distributed them as needed. The cushion does tend to pop if over inflated.

dollar store balloons

Balloon bouquet. The Dollar Store is a great source for last minute gifts. I like the mylar balloons because they feel more special, and rubber balloons are a choking hazard when they pop. Either way, watch toddlers to make sure the strings don’t wrap around their little necks.

starbucks cups

“Not So Hot Chocolate” from Starbucks. The cup is a mini version of what mom drinks, so little ones feel VERY grown up. I like to stick with warm milk for toddlers, who tend to spill chocolate down their freshly laundered outfits!

Enjoy! If any of these ideas work, (or don’t work), for you, I’d love to hear from you!

– The 40 Year Old Mommy



Well Behaved Mothers Seldom Make History

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , on February 17, 2015 by Corinna Allen Cook
Mis-behaving mommies

Mis-behaving mommies

I admit it. I am not always a well-behaved mother.

With two daughters under the age of three, I persist in taking them on airplanes and out to restaurants and generally putting them in situations not ideally suited to the diaper and spit-up set.

“A Well Behaved mommy would hire a sitter.”

And I agree! But there’s not much I can do about the air travel, and my six month old likes to be attached to me. All the time.

So when it came time to celebrate my birthday, I decided to be a Sassy Mommy and bring my baby with me.

To lunch.

At the historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

My resolve was borne up by strength in numbers.

A fellow Sassy Mommy of two agreed to join me, with her four month old in tow.

To our surprise and delight, the wonderful staff in the lobby bar could not have been more kind and supportive.

Our server, Valerie, even brought me a special birthday dessert and snapped this photo of my birthday toast.

Sassy Mommies at the Pfister Hotel

Sassy Mommies at the Pfister Hotel

I was so impressed, that I sent Val a note, and included a copy of her photographic handiwork.

And guess what? I got a response!

Apparently, the Pfister has it’s own narrator. (How do I sign up for that job?!)

Anja Notanja Sieger wrote back asking if she could include our story on the hotel blog.

And she included an original poem!

An original poem, written after my birthday lunch at the Pfister.

An original poem, written after my birthday lunch at the Pfister.

Of course I jumped at the chance to be part of the history of such a landmark hotel.

Which got me thinking…

Well behaved mothers seldom make history.

Sassy mommies, unite!

Children’s Books for Halloween

Posted in Motherhood, The Morning Blend, Uncategorized, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , on October 22, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook

Carol E Borrowman, the book expert on The Morning Blend came up with this list of fun reads for your kids this time of year.

Thought I’d pass it along!

1. “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd

young readers (2-5)

This is the perfect picture book for Halloween, especially for children 3 and under. It’s about an old lady who’s followed through the woods to her house by a ghostly pair of shoes, pants, shirt and then a giant pumpkin head. It has colorful illustrations, a great story (appropriately scary) and lots of SHAKING and STOMPING, CLAPPING and COMPING.

A great book for an older sibling who likes to read aloud to a younger one.


2. “Halloween Night” by Marjorie Dennis Murray & Brandon Dorman

young readers (2-5)

A group of scary characters–zombies, witches, ogres, mummies, monsters and more–gather in a haunted house the night before Halloween. The book follows the traditional “T’was the night before Christmas,” but it starts “‘Twas Halloween night, and all through the house/Every creature was stirring, including the mouse.” The images are exciting and it ends with a surprise.

Bone Soup

3. And finally for the young monsters in your house, the classic picture book, “Bone Soup” by Cambria Evans, which has Finnigan the ogre making soup with “spider eggs…dried mouse droppings…toe nails” and lots of other yellow greenish grossness. Always a favorite of mine.

For the older ghouls and boys

4. “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake

This book has the perfect balance of gore and romance about a young man, Cassio, a ghost hunter, who encounters Anna, a murderous ghost. She’s killing anyone who enters her haunted Victorian mansion.  Except she spares Cassio. Why? Full of secrets and curses and lots of bloooood! This was one of last year’s best teen horror novels of the year. A great read.

5. “The Diviners” by Libby Bray


This book came out last month. It’s a terrific supernatural mystery. Evie O’Neill, a libvely likeable teenager, is running around New York in the 1920s “with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets.” But home life is far from glamorous. She lives with her Uncle Will, curator of “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies” (the Museum of American Folklore and Superstition). Together they get involved and Evie discovers a supernatural secret about herself.

Don’t cry over spilled cabernet…

Posted in Feel Good Stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 22, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook

Now and then you hear a story that makes you say — “Wow, that’s great! I’m glad you told me that!”

When I hear those, I like to share them.

Click here to see us talk about this on on “The Morning Blend”.

So here’s one from a good friend and former producer of mine who lives in Portland, Oregon.


So it was a crazy week at work, so on the way home I decided to stop and get a couple bottles of Cabernet for the weekend. When I went to leave, it was pouring down rain so I decided to fish my keys out of my purse… sat the grocery bag down on a bench… and bam!!! It went crashing to the floor ~ both bottles SHATTERED on the floor!

Before I could take my hands off my face (ala *Home Alone*) three guys rushed to my side and made sure I wasn’t hurt. And the very gracious employee told me to go get two more bottles as he started mopping up all of that delicious red off the floor. I decided to *skip* the wine tasting at John’s Market!

All I can say is the guys at Fred Meyer Burlingame ROCK! TGIF!!!!

Married Hair

Posted in Beauty Obsessions, Grocery Store Glamour, Motherhood, Uncategorized, What's Corinna Wearing?, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook

Jessica Simpson sporting “married hair”.
(Showing my own married hair this early in the conversation was just too painful).

Since when do I have “Married Hair”?

Click here to see us chat about Married Hair on The Morning Blend.

This alarming realization about my hair came to me recently, on a rare evening out with my husband.

In celebration, I’d taken some time in getting ready — showering “all the way”, (ie washing my hair), and taking the time to blow it out with a round brush.

To the casual observer, this may not seem like a big deal.

But, considering I did it all under the supervision of my six month old daughter, I think it rates up there with juggling plates. In the circus. Complete with organ music.

I digress.

The point is, I was looking my relative best, when a woman walked in and I immediately thought, “Oh, she’s clearly on a date”.

Writing that now, it sounds snarky. And I guess it did at the time, too, because I immediately asked myself, “what made me think that?”

And I realized, it was her hair.

Long and blond, it curled and glinted it had clearly taken hours to achieve and now basically  screamed, “Look at me!”.

And mine didn’t.

No longer called upon to style it everyday, I’d let my layers grow out and was now obliged to wear some kind of clip every day to pull it back.


Me and my six month old daughter, (notice the alligator clip on my lapel).

To help better understand my alarm, allow me to provide an example of said hair, in extremis.

It was several years ago, at a holiday party and one of the organizers showed up looking like, well, Hell.

Tall, and blond, she was my age, but had married young and was now one of city’s most active philanthropists.

She was a phenomenal host, and in huge demand for her fund-raising skills.

But on this particular night she looked like she’d gotten dressed in the dark. With out benefit of electricity. Or comb or mirror.

Her normallycoiffed blond bob was pulled back on either side by a small alligator clip. The kind she might normally use to hold while washing her face.

Shocked, I said nothing at the time. But the following day I told a friend what I’d seen.

Her first question was whether the woman in question was married or not.

When I told her, “Yes, as a matter of fact, she IS married,” my friend’s answer was, “Well there you go, then.”

There you, go, indeed.

Both of us thoroughly single at the time, we said nothing more.

Smug married woman running errands in sunglasses and a pony tail

Apparently in addition to the privileges of knowing who the father of your children would be AND  having automatic plans for all national holidays, married women were also afforded the right to forgo showering before leaving the house.

Because, as a rule, they weren’t concerned about calling attention to themselves. Whereas single women are obliged to follow the example of a taxi cab,wearing a light that says, “available”, married women aren’t.

That’s when I realized I’d seen other examples of “married hair”. Tooling around town in their SUVs at 11 am on weekday wearing ponytails and sunglasses.

Yes! That made sense! They’d left the house with out showering! And this was their accepted alternative.

To my single girl mind the look boasted: “Yeah, I look like I just rolled out of bed, because, guess what? I did! Jealous?”

Don’t get me wrong, I was single and proud, defiantly self-reliant and all that, but yes, faced with that kind of security, I was a little envious.

Fast forward five years and here I was, ensconced in that fleecy layer of love and security that I’d so coveted, and rather than feel smug I was feeling just the opposite.

The irony.

But getting up and doing full hair and make up before running errands is, in my opinion, the equivalent wearing a fur coat to the grocery store.

Some of the hair gadgets that I tried.

Who are you trying to impress?

Clearly I needed to find a happy medium.

So I did some research.

After scouring the reviews on Amazon, I took to the grocery store and bought some of the highest rated hair gadgets and went to work.

Again, with my infant daughter supervising from the sink, I tried them all.

And while none totally failed, one has emerged as the clear winner.

It’s called the “Simple Styles Modern Updo Pin” and it’s made by Goody.

Simiple Styles Modern Updo Pin

Deceptively simple looking, it does take some practice. But the results are worth it

This example shows a cascade at the top, but with longer hair, the look is closer to a french twist. But unlike the ones we wore to prom, this one goes up in seconds and stays in place for hours.

My up do from above

My up do from behind

I even wore it to bed last night!

The best part is that, unlike a ponytail, it doesn’t leave a kink mark when you take it out, and it lays flat against your head, so you can lean back in relative comfort.

All in all it’s married hair that a single girl might actually wear out of the house.


Crying is a luxury

Posted in Motherhood, Uncategorized, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook

I started crying this weekend while sorting through baby clothes that my daughter has recently outgrown.

She’s just about to turn six months old, so all the sweet little things that I bought before she was born are now too small. So I need to get rid of them to make room for new things. But I loved the old things and chose them before I actually had a baby daughter, and the thought that they are now too small makes me sad. Now I’m crying again just thinking about it.

But before you feel too sorry for me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put the whole crying jag in context:

My gorgeous, healthy, growing daughter was sitting in my lap. We were in her beautifully decorated bedroom, in our lovely home, with a wonderful supportive husband on his way home.

So I have NOTHING TO CRY ABOUT! I am very lucky and I know that, and I am very grateful.

So why am I crying?

My husband says: focus on moving forward, on all the good things to come.

Yes, I do look forward to her first words, first steps, to dancing with her one day at her wedding…

Oops, there I go again. Blubber blubber blubber. I’m going to have to put a box of Kleenex on my desk!

So clearly I’m planning to cry at my desk again.

That makes me think of an article I read once about grief and the process of grieving. The author had lost her father, and was frustrated that her grief spilled out at inappropriate times. Like while writing a check at the grocery store. Her advice was to “schedule” your time to grieve. Given that your body would grieve, and that it would most likely show that grief, she advised setting aside a quiet time each day to let it out.

My mother agrees. She says: “Go ahead and cry. Holding it in will only give you wrinkles!”

Again, I have no reason to cry. I am so fortunate and blessed. I am not grieving the loss of a loved one. I’m crying over pink ruffly things. But it’s still grief. And lucky me, I am in a position to let it out.

Which brings me to my ultimate conclusion: crying is a luxury. And right now it’s a luxury that I am in a position to enjoy.

How many times in my life did I tell my self to “suck it up”, staying stoic through athletic injuries, career frustrations and emotional heartbreak.

But no more! I am now safe and secure and loved. And so so so lucky. So here I go again, crying like the baby that I am so grateful to finally have.

It’s a luxury that I am finally, at long last, in a position to enjoy. And I’m going to, dammit.

Pass the Kleenex.

Raising a Rock Star

Posted in Celebrity Snapshots, Motherhood, The Morning Blend, Uncategorized, Where's Corinna?, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook


Experienced parents roll their eyes at my naiveté when I say this, but I am determined to raise a musical child.

I had a girlfriend in college who impressed all of us one night when she started making beautiful music on a piano that, until she arrived, none of us had even noticed in the common area of our dorm. She said yes, of course her parents had made her take lessons, and forced her to practice. But then, when she got to high school, they said, ‘enough, if you don’t want to play, that’s up to you’. From that point on, she couldn’t stop.

The lesson I took away from the experience is that, as a parent, it’s my job to lay the foundation. What my daughter does with it from there is up to her.

So, the last time I filled in on The Morning Blend, I was thrilled to interview singer/song writer Inda Eaton.

“Let’s be honest,” says Eaton. “We all want our kids to be part of the arts, but we don’t want them to starve.”

One might argue that she’s living proof of the challenges of earning a living in music. She and her band are traveling the country in a 31 foot RV.

But on the other hand, you could say she’s living the dream.

Each city on their tour represents the home town of one of her band members, and at every stop they make an effort to experience local culture.

In Wisconsin that meant sampling local cheese, and tail gating at a Packer Game.

She says the experience has brought her band together, but she also hopes they’ve brought something to the communities they’ve visited, showing first hand that a career in the arts is attainable.

And that’s what I want to share with my daughter. What she does with the information is up to her.

The tour is called “Go West” and promotes the album of the same name.

Click here to see our interview with Inda Eaton on The Morning Blend.


Personalized thank you cards, instantly!

Posted in Motherhood, The Morning Blend, Uncategorized, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook


Filling in on The Morning Blend is always a blast!

So the last time I was there, I wanted to send a thank you card to my co-host, Tiffany Ogle.

It was the perfect opportunity to try out Red Stamp, my latest iPhone App.

Red Stamp App

This magical service allows you to create a virtual thank you card, using your own photo, and one of their dozens of templates.

You can then send the “card” as a text or email, or, in my case, as an real honest to goodness post card!

It even syncs with your contacts, so you can send then card right away.

Perfect for a new mom like me who has good intentions, but often lacks on follow through.

I was a little nervous, because I wouldn’t get to see the card before it arrived.

But the results were beautiful, a high quality, glossy card stock that arrived on time and in one piece!

Click here to see the video of me chatting about it with Tiffany.

The whole thing cost just two bucks, and that includes postage!

I will definitely be using it again!

One handed photography

Posted in Motherhood, Uncategorized, Yummy Mummies with tags , , , on September 20, 2012 by Corinna Allen Cook


This is a photo of me and my daughter Ava dressed up to cheer for the Green Bay Packers.

I took the photo last week, to send to my husband at work and let him know that we were gearing up for Game Day.

But, as many of you know, doing anything one handed, (ie while holding a small child), can be a challenge.

Just take a look at the photos below.

If anyone suggest a gadget or app to make photographing myself, (while holding my daughter), any easier, I’d appreciate it!