Monday, February 27, 2012

Are Bold Print Platforms For Me?

For spring and summer, I've been seeing bold print platform and wedge shoes everywhere.  The vivid designs are complete eye-catchers, but I'm just not sure if I'm going to be able to rock this trend being upwards of 40-something.  What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Mia Riba, $59
Michael Antonio Genoa, $59
Not Rated Safari, $59
Pour La Victoire Bonita, $295

Splendid Whirl, $119


All shoes available at Piperlime http://piperlime.gap.com/





Friday, February 24, 2012

Jonesing on January

January Jones as Betty Draper
In some Southern California school districts, instead of just getting President’s day off, the kids get “Ski Week.”  Now, isn’t that ironic.  However, I suppose if SoCal kids never get to experience the luxury of an unpredicted snow day than I guess Ski Week is the next best thing.

Both of my boys have been gone since Monday, so I have been in Mad Men Marathon mode since the moment they packed up their skis.  With the pending approach of Season 5, I am desperate to make it through Season 2.  And, with three episodes a day under my belt, I am getting close to realizing my objective.

<><> <><> <><>
January Jones
The only problem is that I have watched so much Mad Men; I’m having a hard time discerning reality from fantasy.

Now, it is no secret that I enjoy watching Jon Hamm as the dashing Don Draper.  To me, he is actually starting to resemble my husband a bit.  Could this be a part of the reality versus fantasy issue?  Now hold on, this is not like when I was obsessed with Twilight and dreamed constantly that Jason had turned into a vampire;  This is more about my hubby being debonair.

But this post is really about Betty Draper who is portrayed by January Jones.  Over the past season of the show, Betty’s character has transformed from a “desperate” 1960s housewife to kicking Don out. 

Her character spends a lot of time drinking red wine – I get it – while trying to come to terms with her crumbling marriage and liberate herself as a woman.
<><> <><> <><>
January at Golden Globes
I have become fascinated with not just the character Betty but the actor as well.  You could say I have a little bit of a girl crush.  First, I love her name and thought for sure it was a stage name; second, she has such a natural beauty; lastly, she is an amazing actor.

For the past 13 years, January has been seen not only on the small screen but on the big screen too.  Mostly recently, she starred alongside Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger in the thriller film Unknown and portrayed Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class.

But it is in her role as Betty Draper that she has received the most attention. So it is no wonder she has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, Golden Globe and Emmy; I am just surprised that she did not win.


But, with the new season just a month away, she has another chance to wow the critics and bring home the gold.  I just hope that I can catch up in time to see it before I grow old.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For The Love of Shopping

Back in the days before I had kids, I would hoard gift cards and checks sent for my birthday and Christmas.  I would savor them for a day in the future when I could get my “shop” on. 

 My master plan was to set out – all by my lonesome – to my favorite local mall on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  I would always splurge and stop at Starbucks for a Venti latte.

Then I would walk the mall, checking out all my favorite stores and scouring the fashion, sales and prices at various shops. Comfy shoes were a must because I never, ever purchased on my first walk through.  This was my research.  Being on a budget, I felt compelled to find the right pieces for my wardrobe but, even more importantly, at the right price.

One shopping trip in particular, I ventured into my local mall’s double-decker Forever 21.  I had my coffee, the music was pumping and a gift card was in my pocket:  I was on a natural high that was fueled by the endorphins of shopping and my high octane java. 

 I found myself at a large table of Navajo print sweaters that I was drooling over.  I put said latte down amongst those beautiful sweaters and, in my excitement, starting probing the piles in search of my size, when my elbow (inadvertently) knocked over my full coffee. The worst thing imaginable happened, the lid came off.

I stopped in mid-shop – mortified and shocked – at what I had done.  I looked around and, since it was early in the morning, no one was around. I am ashamed to say that I high-tailed it out of the store. 

I felt so bad thinking about all those sweaters sodden with Pike Place ® Roast.  And, I am truly a loyal person, but at that moment, I knew that F21 would absolutely make me pay for my sins and I would have had to say buh-bye to that gift card.

So, I did a quick lap, only to reenter Forever 21 about 20 minutes later. Even though I wouldn’t score a Navajo print sweater, I still had my gift card.  I was chagrined to see one of the associates at the sweater table with her headset on frantically speaking and gesturing about the mess.  I broke out in a cold sweat and drove a few miles to my “less than favorite” mall to complete my mission.

I may not be Catholic, but I definitely carry enough guilt to be a full-fledged parishioner.

However, those days of leisurely shopping are a thing of the past.

Today, I have a full-time job in which I log more than 9+ hours a day and a seven year-old son to co-raise.  On the weekends, my shopping sojourns have been replaced by soccer games, play dates at the park, and tutoring homework.  The only shopping I get out to do these days is of the grocery kind and it is usually late Sunday afternoon along with the 7 trillion other people that live on planet earth.

Yet my love of shopping has not waned, just the time to do it.

Currently, I am holding onto a few gift cards from Christmas but I swear I haven’t had a second to shop and experience the joy of using them; so the quick fix is to go down a virtual road.

I have become an online shopper. I never really thought this would be my forte but, without the time, I have switched into survival mode. 

In the beginning of my online shopping career, I was very hesitant.  Growing up on the East Coast in a more traditional family setting, my initial thoughts were hesitant and suspicious of shopping on the Net.  What if it is not a real store? What is someone steals my credit card number?    More importantly, I was worried that what you see is not what you get. 

And, to validate that concern, I have certainly had a few hit and misses.

One online purchase brought a pair of buttery boots to my home. http://allthingsfashionating.blogspot.com/2011/09/to-be-brown-or-not-to-be-that-is.html 
I felt I could not live without these shoes after seeing them on the website.  I found myself disappointed when, I excitedly unwrapped them, that they were like melted butter.  Those suckers were so slouchy that I looked like I was wearing leg warmers.  I wanted them to work so bad that I kept them for as long as I could, asking all my best BFF’s opinions.  All the responses were the same, “Please return them.”

On a more positive note, I recently went online after the holidays and purchased a pair of Nine West booties that were 60% off.  These were to replace the butter boots and the booties lived up to every expectation.  Not only do they look cool, but they are comfortable.  In addition, they seem to go with 98% of everything that I have in my wardrobe.  Score!

But I have been a consistent online shopper for almost 5 years now and have learned a few tricks:

First, always look for an online coupon.  RetailMeNot (www.retailmenot.com) is my favorite and I have certainly had the most success with this site.  But, there are plenty of other coupon sites not to mention when individual stores have sales.

Second, NexTag (www.nextag.com) and Shopping.com (www.shopping.com) are just two of the shopping comparison sites out there, so you are able to see which online providers offer the best deal.  Events like Cyber Monday and various other online shopping sales make this strategy worthwhile to online shoppers.

A word to the wise: I always read reviews.  Whether it is the inside scoop on buying a size larger or smaller, or information about the quality; I look to my online shopping peeps to give me their feedback.  They may be complete strangers, but I trust them more than the online stores.

Third, I always try my hardest to find free shipping.  Living in the Los Angeles area, our sales tax is 8.75%.  I am completely traumatized by this fact.  When you buy something online, it can all be for naught if – when you add tax and shipping –you are paying double for the item.

Growing up in New Jersey, I was spoiled.  We only paid sales tax on luxury items and they still do today.  Anything that is a necessity – such as clothing, shoes and food for home consumption – does not incur tariffs.  Other lucky states that follow this protocol are Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Lastly, please make sure that your online store offers a good return policy.  Not being able to return a dud can make the whole experience worthless.  Take it from my experience and, I can honestly say, not everything you try to sell on eBay makes a profit. 

So there are unquestionably a lot of factors that come into play when buying online. 

Personally, if I can get out there and actually shop in the stores, I will do it.  But, since that is “virtually” impossible, I get almost as much satisfaction from shopping and buying online.

And it is definitely for the love of shopping.
















Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Awaiting New York Fashion Week Only To Have It Pass Me By

DVF at NYFW FW12
 
Last week, it was with great anticipation that I awaited to be a voyeur – since I am here in LA and had nary a ticket – into the runway shows of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. However, an amazing opportunity to contribute a fashion article as a guest blogger for a new digital magazine, which will launch later this month, introduced a tight deadline and changed my plans.

Albeit a tad late, I am happy to (finally) post my fashionating feedback about the best of the New York Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2012 collections.
As fashion week progressed, it became profoundly apparent to me that – for women – next season is all about being feminine. So many of the collections at NYFW offered impressions of femininity and age-appropriateness, which is a super-hot topic for me personally right now. 

I had already made a vow to introduce more ladylike silhouettes into my wardrobe and, even though I do have grandiose visions of looking like Victoria Beckham out and about in her daily life, the reality is I am not.
Victoria Beckham at NYFW

So it was reassuring that designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Michael Kors, Derek Lam, Rodarte and L’Wren Scott are all finally creating looks that can be flattering on real women of any age in their real lives.
As if it could get any better, mid-priced collections are giving high-end designers a run for their money by producing lavish looks that don’t concede on style.  Designer collections such as Tory Burch, Alexander Wang, Theory, Helmut Lang, and 3.1 Phillip Lim are just a few that stood out at FW12 shows.

These lines are more affordable and offer head-to-toe looks; yet they don’t compromise the trends for next season. 
Speaking of trends, bright color blocking still reigns supreme, but it better watch out for black and white graphic schemes which stole the show at Ralph Lauren.

Other dependable trends – which are so basic – yet so classic are back: white suits as seen at Phillip Lim; the mixture of navy and black, not an easy feat but done successfully by Proenza Schouler;  Asian-inspired, particularly red silk seen at Paul Gaultier’s show and (my personal favorite) Anna Sui’s inspired prints; good old basic black seen everywhere; and hemlines, some of which have fallen down below the knee again but, in some cases, just have flair.
If your style aspirations are realistic -- such as mine -- you may be just as excited to see that J. Crew has launched a lux line called J. Crew Collections.  The results were well received.  The line offers a more custom-made looks in edgier fabrics such as python, pleated leather skirts, metallic pants, and accessories pared with curly lamb fur.

Rachel Zoe Collection FW2012

My favorite stylist turned celebrity designer – Rachel Zoe – wowed the critics for a second year in a row.  Her new Rachel Zoe Collection continues to imbibe a vintage vibe with polished sweater dresses, velvet tuxedos, gaucho jeans and her signature maxi dresses.  According to the designer, the line was inspired by London’s 1960s Rock N Roll scene. Compared to last year, the collection represents more color and sophistication and makes me think more of old Hollywood than beatnik Liverpool.

Across the pond, hard-core fashion bloggers are now reporting on London Fashion Week, but I am busy getting a head-start on finding my perfect white suit.






Monday, February 20, 2012

Crushing Hard: Pleats That Please the Palate


While flipping through the pages of my most recent Glamour Magazine, I came across an advertisement for Dillard's Department store that caught my eye.

Vince Camuto's pleated colorblock dress in a sherbet and melon color scheme made me feel like I was back home on the boardwalk eating some ice cream on a hot summer night.

The dress was soothing, yet refreshing, and was pleasing to my palate. I am only sad that I don't have an excuse..I mean ocassion...to go out and buy it. 

As far as I can tell, the Vince Camuto Pleated Colorblock Dress, $128, in melon is only available at Dilliard's; Vince himself and Nordstrom only carry it in an aqua blue color scheme.

http://www.dillards.com/shop/Vince-Camuto/Women/_/N-173cuZlfx6/Ntk-all/Nty-1?catalogId=301&langId=-1&storeId=301

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentine’s Love Story Spans the Continent & the Years: Part II

Jason & Tracy on Ios

As soon as we exited the ferry, I knew the island of Ios was going to be a lot different. Where Santorini was more built up and had a more sophisticated crowd, Ios was much smaller and it was definitely a younger, party group.

Jason had lived on Ios for almost a month, so it was as though he was coming home.  We returned to the inn that he had stayed and rented a room – which just happened to be in someone’s house – where we would stay for the rest of our visit.
Ios was less Greek than it was British (i.e.: there were a lot of Brits and consequentially a lot of pubs and a lot of drinking).

By the time we arrived on the isle, we had been drinking pretty much all week straight.  Jason was excited to show me all of his old haunts and had planned a fun night on the town.
We arrived at our first bar of the evening and I broke it to Jason that I just couldn’t drink alcohol tonight. He looked at me incredulously.  He said, “We are one of the most happening party islands here in the Aegean Sea.”  He pointed up to the drink menu – which was posted up above the bar and listed almost 100 drinks – and said you have to be able to find one drink that you can drink.  He was pissed and then I got pissed because I didn’t want to drink.

Uh, oh…trouble in Paradise.
Eventually, I succumbed to a Margarita. WTF?   Basically, on Ios, it was a cup of tequila with a splash of sour – no lime and no ice. Arghh! I cringe just thinking about it, even today; although it was better than the Bloody Mary which was spaghetti sauce with vodka in it.

It got me over the hump, but beer and wine were definitely the way to go for the rest of the trip.
Once we got over that very minor speed bump – and our very first summer lovers quarrel which was nothing like Michael and Cathy’s – Ios was a blast.  We spent all our time on the beach and in the clubs.  By now, I was as brown as a berry which doesn’t happen often for this pale Jersey girl.  My skin only knows how to burn and freckle, but we had been in the Mediterranean for so long that I was beginning to assimilate and acclimate.

While there, we met a bunch of mates from London.  I had only been to Europe once – when I was 10 years old and with my Grandmother – so this was a whole new Euro experience for moi. 
But sadly, our week in Ios came to an end.  Jason had researched and decided to end our backpacking adventure on the sleepy island of Paros.  It was a short ferry ride from Ios and then we would be only be one more ferry ride from our final destination.

By now, it was early September and the weather was definitely starting to cool off.  Our last days on the Greek Islands were spent exploring the 20 by 10 mile isle by moped.
These were lazy days and we were melancholy knowing that our month was almost up and the reality of life back home was looming large ahead of us.  But, we had one more stop ahead of us.

Tracy at the Temple of Nike
With only two days left until we got on the plane to return to the states, we found ourselves in Athens.  Jason had a familiarity with Pláka, the old historical neighborhood which surrounded the Acropolis.  This area boasts no motor vehicles down its narrow streets and is abundant with cafes, shops and museums.
Being in the most famous example of ancient Greece was mesmerizing.  We walked along the famous monument high above the city of Athens and were blown away by the Parthenon and the Temple of Nike.  Despite its decay, it was easy to try and imagine what life in Ancient Greece throughout its tumultuous existence.
Jason at the Acropolis
While there, we stumbled upon a flea market in Pláka.  Without really discussing it, Jason and I were looking for a pair of matching rings.  Not really promise rings, but just cool symbols of our love and a reminder of this amazing trip.
We had been in search of this meaningful souvenir for the duration of our trip but have had no luck.

As we explored Pláka, we found ourselves peering into the window of an old machine shop.  In the frame, there was an old dusty display of rings.  We tried to communicate with the owner and machinist pointing to the rings and what we wanted.  He merely measured our fingers and then created two thick and chunky rings made out of the world’s softest silver.  They looked so heavy but, when you held them in your hand, they were as light as a feather.
This was no jewelry store, so we considered ourselves lucky to find this artisan but were scared to ask for the price since he had already made the rings.  We could not believe our luck when the machinist, who spoke no English, gestured that the price was only around $50 U.S.

Despite being sad because it was the last day of our amazing trip, we found solace in knowing that we had found the perfect rings that would be reminders of this amazing trip for the rest of our lives. 
Little did we know that, when we got married five years later, we would have those original rings melted down into one mass and then recreated into our wedding bands as true symbols of our love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine’s Love Story Spans the Continent & the Years: Part I

Tracy & Jason at the beach on Santorini

St. Valentine’s Day got me thinking about when I found my true love.

Jason and I met in Southern California during the summer of 1994.  I had just landed in Los Angeles after having spent some time with my Mom in New Mexico after my college graduation; and Jason had just returned to LA after living in Europe for several months while playing professional volleyball.  http://allthingsfashionating.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=50#!/2011/08/celebrating-13-years-of-marital-bliss.html
Jason had spent the last few weeks of his European adventure on the Greek Island of Ios.  This tiny island – 11 miles long and 6 miles wide – had made such an impression on him that he vowed to take me there one day.


On our first Valentine’s Day, Jason surprised me with the arrangements for us to travel to Greece and back-pack through the Greek Islands later in the year.  We were both in our early 20s and weren’t working in our career fields yet; so we had nothing to really tie us down…except that we didn’t have a lot of money.
But who needs money when you have parents.  Jason’s mom had worked for United Airlines for almost 30 years, so he was able to use a family pass to make the transatlantic flight.  I had to ask my mom for the cash but, having had her own adventures in her 20s, she happily sent me a check.


Since Jason was flying on a pass part of the way and I had tickets, we had to come up with some tricky coordination to find us the best (inexpensive for me) and direct flight (to make sure Jason didn’t get bumped) to Greece.  Back then – almost 20 years ago – purchasing airfare online didn’t exist. I remember Jason and I going to a travel agency in El Segundo to buy the tickets; but we were extremely excited for our trip even though it was several months away.
In preparation, Jason suggested we watch the movie Summer Lovers.  The movie – which stars Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah and Valerie Quennessen – is about a couple who, upon college graduation, vacation on the Greek Island of Santorini. 


While there, the couple gets caught up in the uninhibited energy of the island and Michael (Peter Gallagher) decides he wants to sleep with Lina (Daryl Hannah).  Michael’s girlfriend Cathy (Valerie Quennessen) decides to retaliate by cheating on Michael but she chickens out.  Then Michael admits he doesn’t want to break up with Cathy just have his cake and eat it too.
Cathy seeks out Lina to discuss this unfortunate turn of events in her relationship and they hit it off.  Just when you think it is about to turn into soft-porn, Cathy and Lina become good (platonic) friends but share Michael.


The plotline of the movie did not excite me as much as seeing the beautiful and intriguing landscape of Santorini and knowing that I would be there in six months’ time.
It seemed like forever, but August finally arrived. Jason and I – each with one back-pack – which would prove to be the hardest pack of my entire life.  How does a clothes horse like myself fit a month’s worth of clothes in one measly backpack? It was hard, but I finally did it and we boarded our plane.


Jason’s mom had mentioned our trip to her friend – America (yes, that really was her name), a senior flight attendant – who upgraded us to first class; Not business class, but actually first class. 
I am embarrassed to admit that I had never flown First Class before and it was better than anything I could have imagined.  I had a champagne buzz before the flight even took off and, when they served our first course, I thought it was the main course, and Jason still teases me over my naiveté.


Somewhere along the way, the memo seemed to have gotten confused because everyone assumed that Jason and I were on our honeymoon.  We did not correct them and certainly did not complain as a bottle of Dom Perignon was thrust into our hands as we disembarked the plane.
We had a pretty long layover in London at Heathrow Airport.  Since Jason and I had only been together a little more than a year, we shared the expenses of our trip 50-50.  So, while at the airport, we needed to exchange our money.


When the women in the currency exchange booth asked me what money I wanted to convert my American dollars to – to my horror, my  most ignorant quote of the trip slipped through my lips, “Whatever money you people use here.”
I wish I had had a million Euro for the look on that woman’s face. Well, if Jason could love me after that comment, I was one lucky girl.

After a few hours, we boarded our second flight of the trip – on Olympic Air – from London to Athens.
Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in First Class Kansas anymore.

At the time, Olympic Air, which is now Olympic Airlines, was a government run airline.  Our trip entailed being stuck in the smoking section of the plane while rude flight attendants spilled hot coffee on passengers and dared you to complain as they gave you the evil eye.
We made it to Athen’s alive without any Greek voodoo put on us.  Then, we climbed into our prop plane that would take us to the far reaches of Santorini, our first destination.


When we got out of the small airport where goats and chickens wandered outside, I kid you not, we were bombarded by locals who tried to get us to come stay in their hotels or use their taxi service.  It still strikes me at how intrusive these men were, but that is how business is done on those tiny islands.  When you have a family to feed, you have to be aggressive.
It had been a long journey and we were so tired.  But we finally agreed to stay at one hotel – yes the price is negotiated right there on spot, sight unseen – but just a bed to lay our heads at that point was all we cared about.


About an hour later, we entered our super clean and brand-new room.  The owner had just built the establishment, which was purportedly on the water.  It was dark and we were tired, so we crashed right away.
We awoke the next morning and were pleasantly surprised to be located right on the water. To me, it seemed just like Mexico.  I was actually annoyed when Jason said we were packing up and going to a new hotel.  I was very happy – and still a little tired – so I wanted to just stay put for a bit.  But Jason said he knew what he was doing.


So we told the owner of the establishment that we would need a ride into town as we had bartered into our price from the night before. 
However, when he realized that we were checking out, annoyed doesn’t even cover it.  The owner of the hotel refused to give us a ride anywhere.  As I said, our hotel was new and on the beach; far away from anything and everything else.


So, Jason and I picked up our backpacks and began the purpose of our trip -- and hiked to the nearest bus stop.  I couldn’t believe how rude these guys were.  But, once we made it to Fira – the city center – I know why they didn’t want us to leave. 

Tracy sitting at dinner on Santorini
Fira is built high upon the cliffs of a volcanic caldera overlooking the Aegean Sea and is one of the most beautiful places on planet earth.  Cruise ships looked like little toys as the sun dazzled down on them. I love Mexico, but there was nothing Mexican about this view or the town.  It was amazing.


A room with a view

We found a hotel built into the side of cliff and from our balcony we experienced the most spectacular sunsets that I still have ever seen.  In the morning, we would throw open our window and look at the ships and boats bobbing on the sparkling sea.  Jason would proclaim, “It happened again, another day in paradise.”

Our favorite restaurant on Santorini
Fira had the best restaurants, exclusives night clubs and beautiful beaches.  Our week spent on Santorini were some of the best days of my life. 

And, as if it couldn’t get any better, while walking down the cobblestone streets of Fira one night, Jason said he thought he saw someone he knew.  He yelled, “Bill,” and the gentleman turned around. 


Bill and Shirley, Jason’s parents' best friends, just happened to be on the same Greek Island as us.  We spent the next two days with them and enjoyed a gourmet dinner and wine on the balcony of their hotel. (Which was a five star and sophisticated property.)
Once we parted ways with Bill and Shirley, we only had a few more days left on Santorini. 

We rented a motor bike and cruised the whole island, which was 28 square miles.  One day, we could have sworn that our original inn keeper had tried to run us off the road, but possibly we were just being paranoid.  I just felt lucky to avoid a crash and any road rash, which was definitely prominent among the other tourists -- especially the Americans.


After a week, Jason and I boarded a ferry and were on our way to our next destination, his beloved island of Ios.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow...

Oompa!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crushing Hard: I Love Choo


With Valentine’s Day less than 24 hours away, Cupid has struck me down with the love of Choo. 

Jimmy Choo’s Summer Surfer clutch – in both orange and turquoise color schemes – delivers a little sunshine to our lives during these February cold spells.

From the Jimmy Choo S/S 12 collection, this fun purse reminds us that – even though Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter – summer is indeed on its way.  (Unless you live in SoCal like me and have had the good fortune of experiencing summer weather all winter long.)

Summer Surfer, a glossy acrylic bag finished in a photo-realistic print, retails for $795 and is available at Jimmy Choo and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Christmas in February: The Gift of Time

I have been given the greatest gift.

Last Thursday, I began working an altered schedule – albeit temporary – on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I am able to be more involved in my son Shane’s education.
When Shane was three-years-old, I began working full-time.  It was a blessing for both of us. After staying at home with him since birth, I was ready to re-enter the corporate world and bring home the bacon again; Being an only child, Shane was ready for the socialization of pre-school. It was a win-win situation.

We found an amazing pre-school that also offered an accredited Kindergarten program.  So, for four years, Shane progressed along with the program. Small classroom sizes and a nurturing staff did all the hard work and Shane excelled.
However, almost five years later, Shane is mid-way through First Grade in our local public school district.  He is doing well but, unlike private school, there is much more parent accountability and participation required at Hermosa View.

For the first month, Jason and I found ourselves scrambling almost every week to figure out which Saxon Math worksheets were completed and which needed to be turned in, due dates for special projects, lunch money, yearbooks, and so on.
This was a whole new ball game.

Luckily for us, Shane had built a great educational foundation at Journey so he was doing very well.  But Jason and I felt like we were playing Wack a Mole: Feeling successful only when we were able to actually make contact.  And, I must admit that we had quite a few misses.
A few weeks ago, Shane came home and revealed that it bothered him that he was so behind on his Accelerated Reader tests while the rest of his classmates had thousands and thousands of points.  The AR program is a daily assessment software that monitors the practice of reading. 

In Shane’s school, it is the parent’s responsibility to find the time for the student to take the test at the school library before or after school hours.  Since both Jason and I work full-time, the after school time slot was not feasible.  Jason attempted the before school time-slot but 15 minutes just wasn't enough time.  So, we had dropped the ball on the AR program.
In addition, homework has also been getting the best of us.  Each Monday, Shane receives a packet of homework to be turned in Friday mornings.  The work – which is right on track for a 7-year-old – is realistic.  And, if each days work is completed on schedule, it isn’t too overwhelming; but that doesn’t always happen and we are usually squeezing it all into two or three nights -- which certainly raised the anxiety level in our home

Not to mention that getting home at 6pm wasn’t always conducive to a stress-free evening. 
But, we have done our best to turn it into a positive experience.  Homework is actually called Homefun in our house.  Whenever it seems that things are getting a wee bit stressful, we really try to turn the pressure into positivity.  Not always easy at 7pm, when our little guy has been on the go since 8:30am and just wants to kick it.  Can you blame him?

This is why the new work schedule is so amazing. 
Each Tuesday and Thursday, I pick Shane up from school which, in itself, is a special treat for my boy.  His face just lights up when he sees me waiting outside his classroom and this makes my heart sing.

Then we head to the school library and take at least one – if not two – AR tests.  Then it is home for snack and a quick break before we head to the library to get started on our homework.  We are home at 6pm but then have the whole evening ahead of us, which usually entails me going to bed with Shane by 9pm.
The only sacrifice of this whole arrangement is that I am off to work at 5am on those two days.  This allows me to get a head start at work, in which our clientele is mostly on the east coast and overseas.  I am out of the office by 2pm, but still working virtually for the rest of the day.

In my role as a Marine Analyst, I am 24/7 regardless so this is no big change.  If I need to work on an urgent request, I’ve got my Blackberry and laptop to take care of business.
Back in 2009, I read an article in Working Mother magazine.  It was about the top 100 family-friendly companies out there.  The article discussed the flexibility that some companies offer to working mothers out there.  I only dreamed that I could attain that motherly support in the workplace.
I always felt that I was lucky enough to land a role that I loved with a reputable company and was complacent with my status.

Two years ago, I was transferred into a different department at my company. The gentleman that I work for is only a few years older than me and a very open-minded and forward-thinking intellectual. 
Having his own family, I believe he understands the constraints a full-time job can have on a working mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I have worked hard since being promoted to my division and proven to my team that I am dependable.  I will continue to work hard to make sure that this temporary situation doesn’t compromise my role in the office.

But when it came to my family and helping Shane get up-to-speed on his studies, I was blown away by the support of my colleagues. I never dreamed that all I had to do was ask. 
This whole arrangement feels like Christmas morning to me and I've received the best gift ever.