September 27, 2011
It was October 2002 when I first became a working mom. Full time job. Four month old baby at home. Someone — other than my husband and me – who was helping with the care of our first child.
Fortunately, ever since that day, I have had the benefit of employers who champion flexibility in the workplace and the ability to work from home several days a week if I choose. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t utilize day care, babysitters, and currently, after-care at my children’s school. I have and I do. And I’m actually a pretty big believer in the benefits of GOOD, group daycare, especially when the child care support system reinforces our Christian faith.
I know however, that as fortunate as I have been to take advantage of these benefits and have the money to pay for them, and am able to leave work to ensure I’m there for important milestones with my children…. there are many many women (and men!) in the working world who are ball and chained to desks, living the 9 to 5 grind with employers who neither take advantage of today’s technology to provide flexibility or (in my mind) worse, don’t trust their employees with the freedom to manage between work and home in creative ways.
I’m not sure where she’s going with this but I’m glad to know that the First Lady is helping to shine a light on the issue (as noted in this Politico story) by championing flexible work.. recognizing that in this Century, we need solutions that can accommodate the rigors of family life and thriving careers, both. I hope she gives her staff the flexibility that she touts. Because hers is a powerful voice….and with the “I Don’t Know How She Does It” movie in theatres, the timing is good!
January 20, 2011
I’ve lifted this entirely from NYMagazine. but I have to say I go ga-ga every time Michelle makes at entrance for a big State Dinner. She has a way of striking the right fashion tone in her choices.
By Amy Odell
The Obamas with President Hu Jintao.Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
The State Dinner honoring the Republic of China is underway in Washington, and Michelle Obama has emerged for another super-glamorous State Dinner moment wearing a stunning Alexander McQueen gown, which could be a commercial version of a look like No. 29 from the label’s 2011 resort collection. She had good reason to get extra fashionable tonight, since the guest list includes Anna Wintour and Vera Wang.
May 20, 2010
I keep uncovering new blogs from a variety of women in D.C. who are at various stages of life. This week, I uncovered DC Ladies, written mostly by a mom and daughter who just wanted to do something creative together. They manage to highlight great city locations and activities in a personal way. Wonder if my little Mia will do that with me when she’s old enough to choose otherwise?
There are thousands of DC blogs, really. Who has time for all of them? My colleague Mark has introduced me to a number of those worth following and I trust him on this, as he’s the cheeky social set master. Two of my favorite – mostly because I get to live vicariously through them – are Kate Michael at KStreetKate and Pamela Sorensen at Pamela’s Punch.
From the Daily Candy emails to high end caterers like DesignCuisine to my new favorite… the Mrs. O Watch… these only skim the surface of the breadth of eye candy content available. On my simple mind this morning… what Michelle wore last night to the State Dinner…. And I’ve gotta say, she was stunning in her Peter Soronen..(photo by the Washington Post). How does she always manage to work in a belt?! I mean, seriously!
Coming soon… the best issue and government blogs in DC…(yes, there may be a Microsoft connection somehow….)
January 7, 2010
It’s funny. Mention Michelle Obama and it seems to me that you get either fawning adoration or back-handed compliments from those who don’t really like her but aren’t quite sure how vigorously to oppose her. As with most First Ladies, the majority of the U.S. public are indifferent; they are happy to see her stick to her “issue” whatever that might be, and don’t want her to ruffle too many feathers.
Sunday’s Style section had an odd piece on her — at once acknowledging the duty portion of her role as first lady in hosting more traditional “women’s issues” events — such as around Breast Cancer and mentoring — and simultaneously showing how much more effective and warm she is when she comes out from behind the podium. The Robin Givhan article suggested that Michelle’s first year lacked focus… I disagree…Yes, she tried to do a lot, and honestly, that is one thing I like about her. She’s not afraid to try a lot of new things as she finds her way as First Lady. Yet even her key ”pet” issue, promoting healthy childhood and family eating, got a TON of traction and attention.
It’s probably no big surprise that I often find myself on the opposing political side when she takes to the airwaves and whitehouse.gov videos in an attempt at amplifying her husband’s policy (read: healthcare) agenda. However, in most settings, she comes across to me as refreshing and fun. Here’s my top 4 list of things I love about Michelle:
4) Her honesty about finding balance in managing work and family — while always putting her family first. Sure, she now has a lot of help so probably no longer has to manage the tasks that many of us do, including laundry, makeup, packing lunches, errands, and shopping. However it wasn’t always this way for her. She often refers to times when her husband was off politicking and she was the one who had to find a way to manage the essential meeting at the office while tending to a sick child at home. It may be because she still has young children that she seems to “get” the tug-of-war struggle that most working parents feel.
3) Her kitchen garden! This has been an amazing hit — it almost seems crazy that the White House inhabitants haven’t created or magnified the benefits of a White House garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden plot during WWII! Not only does it tie nicely to Michelle’s platform on healthy eating, but it allows her to bring in everyone from local children to the Iron Chef America crew in order to get the message across. Her team has done an amazing job of creatively promoting the garden.
2) Her inclination to tease…starting with her husband. We first saw this right after Obama was elected and the incoming First Couple sat down with Barbara Walters. Babs asked then President-elect Obama what chores he did around the house. Obama started to wax poetic about finding relaxation in washing the dishes. Calling bull*&%@ on him for the world to see, Michelle said bluntly, “Really, when you have last washed dishes?” So busted. Of course she’s much more cautious now, as it seems people didn’t like how she would pick on him. I found some of her “he doesn’t pick up his socks” comments just plain real.
1) Her style!! Yes, I said it. I am always looking to see what she is wearing!! Very shallow yes — that is if you think fashion is shallow – - I actually don’t. Like no First Lady since Jackie Kennedy has one taken such an interest in fashion (publicly). Although she has some misses and people make fun of the JCrew get-ups as if JCrew precludes her form truly being a fashion diva, I actually think this all makes it more real. What woman doesn’t hit and miss sometimes if they are truly adventurous with fashion? Yes Jackie had the storied relationship with Oleg Cassini. Yes, Laura Bush stuck pretty much with Oscar de la Renta. All perfectly fine, perhaps wise and safe. You could argue that these women knew what worked for them and didn’t drift far from their ”uniform.” But, Michelle is young enough and her personality vivacious enough that she’s willing to explore. In in the process, she’s given new life to the State Dinner Red carpets…. and, since Inauguration, kept us guessing as to ”who” she’d wear next. One need only to read Robin Givhan’s 2009 summary on fashion hits and misses to see that Michelle is all over the BEST of the year.
So, we’ll see what 2010 brings…My vote is for less of the President and more of his wife!
May 23, 2009
Our Microsoft internal site, MSW, this week had a great story on Lisa Gurry, a long time Microsoft employee who was recently named one of the top 30 Working mothers, along with Michelle Obama, by Working Mother magazine. It highlighted for me the balance, real life struggles and success of some smart women, but it reminded me of the benefit of working for Microsoft where flexibility is a reality and a huge benefit.
It’s a nice tribute that showcases the complexities that Lisa now juggles. The internal site notes:
One of the questions Gurry was asked on stage (at the Working Mothers event) was whether she considered technological advances in the workplace a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to work-life balance. She answered, enthusiastically, that without laptops, mobile phones, and other mobile devices and connectivity, “many of us wouldn’t have the flexibility we have today.” “One of the reasons I value [Microsoft] is that we are able to do some special activities with Taylor while having a little bit of a flexible work arrangement. And Microsoft insurance has been an absolute gift,” Gurry said. “We would not be able to give her the care that she was getting otherwise. I’ve always been a very grateful Microsoft employee, but I’ve never been more grateful than in my current situation.”
January 20, 2009
Of course, that was the song today, the one they danced to over and over at the balls. But the real two words we’ve really been waiting to hear are those that reveal the name of the designer of Michelle Obama’s dress. I was wrong about when it would be revealed. We had to wait til today, tonight even, to hear: Jason Wu.
Not al all what I expected, but i thought she looked beautiful. This dress, by a young, relative newcoming to the fashion world, Wu, may be nothing like the sketches that have been circulating in Womens Wear Daily for the last month. However, it really managed to convey a sweetness, softness that contrasted her otherwise potentially powerful and strong features (her height, shiny/straight dark hair, toned arms). Already her spokesperson has said it is headed to the Smithsonian — hooray!!!!
I was equally struck and in probably more in awe of the gorgeous ensemble she wore all day today. The golden dress and matching coat just sparkled. In some ways, as Laura Bush did 4 years ago, choosing a color so neutral (not the traditional black/blue/red) helped her stand above the fray, stand out and look fantastic.
I love the way Robyn Givhan of the Post put it: “The easy shift between price points has captivated observers who are so accustomed to recent first ladies who have dressed in either pricey designer fashions by Seventh Avenue heavyweight Oscar de la Renta or nondescript blahness. Obama dresses the way contemporary women do, mixing J. Crew with the splurges in their closet. They combine pragmatism with polish. And for this inauguration, despite the dire shape of the economy, they also brought glamour.”
January 15, 2009
As an impressionable 21 year old, way back in early 1992, I had my very first college PR internship in DC at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. As luck would have it, I arrived at the perfect time — the overhaul of the First Lady Exhibition. The most popular exhibition at the museum had the gowns, dresses, even jewelry of the nation’s First Ladies (not all wives, mind you) — I loved to stop and just admire it all — from Nancy Reagan’s red suit to Jackie O’s little pillbox hats. I even remember meeting then-First Lady Barbara Bush, ever gracious and funny. She joined us to cut the ribbon on this exhibition, which took a first step in looking beyond just the gowns to also showcase the important roles that each First Lady played in their leading man’s presidency and for the nation.
So, here we are at the dawn of a new presidency. A new opportunity for another very special woman to put her mark on the role of First Lady and present an important image not only to American daughters but to the world. What is one of the first ways she will do that — by choosing an inaugural gown. Maybe it sounds silly to speak in such symbolism, but I’ve taken a few cues from Robyn Givhan and heck, I’ve watched “The Devil Wears Prada” so i know the message that fashion sends!
So, I for one, have been watching with anticipation to see when we’ll get introduced (my money is on this Sunday the 18th) to the designer of and the gown itself that our incoming First Lady, Michelle Obama, will be wearing for the evening inauguration festivities here in Washington.
There has been so much written already about her style (or lack thereof, according to some). How she’s still figuring it out… how Mr. de la Renta, who’s enjoyed such promenence not only with Laura Bush, but with Cindy McCain, will likely not be the sylist of choice. As classic, stunning, and flawless are de la Renta’s creations, Michelle (we’re on a first name basis!) is more likely to take chances, try a variety of young up and coming designers — Maria Pinto of Chicago or even stick again with Narciso Rodriguez, who designed the election nightdress she wore.
Robyn Givhan, who will most likely be the one who gets the big news first, is already driving the discussion around what “The Dress” could look like. In Sunday’s edition of the Style section, Givhan announced the winners and entrants in the “Formalwear Design Contest” to design Michelle Obama’s gown. The winner…..a sleek deep green gown, symbolizing what else, “Hope, Optimism.”
By a budding fashion designer, Katie Ermelio, this dress is gorgeous, even if this is not what we see next week…
For the record, I have actually liked how Michelle Obama has taken chances with her fashion choices. Maybe she hasn’t always gotten it right, but she will bring some new names, styles and statements to the White House. I can’t wait to watch…..