Feeling Lucky?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends! Many of you celebrated over the weekend, I’m sure. I did as well, though my St. Patty’s Day fun was without green beer or a shamrock painted face. Instead, the festivities began at the crack of dawn with a 6.2 mile run in my hometown. My second year running the Get to the Green Race was not easy, but despite my lackluster performance, I survived and look forward to continuing this annual tradition.

Still smiling!

Still smiling!

While in Columbia, the place I still refer to as “home”, though I haven’t lived there in nearly a decade, I reached out to many friends, family members, acquaintances, and even complete strangers in an effort to share Noonday Collection with as many women as possible. You see, I have a personal goal to introduce Noonday whenever I can in an effort to create stronger brand awareness for this amazing company. Of course, I’m almost always decked out in our accessories, which is the easiest and most obvious way to show off the line. But additionally, I am striving to inform those around me about the jewelry we sell, and the stories those pieces tell. It’s not always comfortable or natural, and there have been times, much like a few moments during Saturday’s 10K, where I feel like I am not doing what I set out to do. However, like with running, no single moment or minor setback can undo the hard work or dedication you put forth.

As I continue to learn more about Noonday Collection and explain to others how this company is creating change and economic opportunity using beautiful, handmade designs, I have realized that my passion to share what we’re doing is about much more than brand awareness. I think Noonday has something to offer every woman and I want others to see that as well. Whether it’s the story, how it began, the vision, the artisans, the ambassadors, or simply the jewelry alone, Noonday Collection is reaching women all over the world. For me, it’s about connecting with others: women in my community, among my family, old friends, new friends, even those I barely know. Most of all, it’s about feeling connected to the many women I have never met, but who make the gorgeous pieces I wear each day, and are grateful to be able to do so.

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One of those pieces from our new spring line serves as a reminder of these connections. The bold, yet feminine Linked Lace bracelet is a chain wrapped with sage-colored cotton, it’s materials as intertwined as we are with one another. Leave a comment for your chance to win your own Linked Lace Bracelet, made by our artisan group in India. Here’s hoping you have a little luck of the Irish with you today!

Linked Lace Bracelet in Sage

Linked Lace Bracelet in Sage

To those of you who have been following the Noonday blog train, thank you for stopping by! If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, head over to Bex & Bestie to catch up! And tomorrow, be sure to check out Annie’s blog as we chug along, rolling out more Noonday Collection love for all.

Noonday Collection: Style Your Friends. Change the World.

I truly love being a stay-at-home mom. Spending my days with Madeline is a privilege to me.  She’s not without flaw, and I’m definitely not a perfect mother, but I adore her. Beyond that, I genuinely like her.  She amazes me and challenges me every single day and I can’t imagine not having our time together. I am blessed to have her as my daughter and feel so grateful I have been able to stay home to care for her.
With my sweet sidekick

My sweet sidekick & me

Recently though, I realized I have time to do more, give more, and be more in addition to my role as a stay-at-home mom. Like many women in similar situations, I have spent hours questioning if I’m enough, and while the answer should be a resounding, “YES!”, my desire to be involved in something more persists. So, when I learned about Noonday, I not only fell for the company’s mission, but also felt compelled to be part of the movement they have started. And now I am!
Noonday  LOGO
That’s right! After much contemplation, and some serious (over) thinking, I decided to become a Noonday Ambassador!
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Noonday Collection began with a vision to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship. The primary goal is to help women in vulnerable situations across the globe by providing jobs, creating fair work conditions, and increasing income opportunities that will ease their hardships.  Talented artisans from around the world create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry and accessories designed for Noonday. By purchasing with Noonday Collection, you can impact the lives of those in need while shopping your favorite styles and discovering the latest trends. If you’re like me, you are sure to become obsessed with our gorgeous fall line and the story behind each piece.
 Gatsby
If you feel inspired by Noonday or want to learn more, please be in touch! I would love to help you share Noonday Collection with others, so email me if you are interested in scheduling a trunk show or hosting an adoption fundraiser (jodie.noondaycollection@gmail.com). I am thrilled, terrified, excited, anxious, and overwhelmed by this new venture, but mostly I am eager to get started and see where my path with Noonday will lead!
Shine On

shop. style. share. advocate. 

Emmy Rundown

Did you watch the Sixty-fifth Emmy Awards last night? If so, were you like, “Whoa!”? Yeah, I had a few of those moments too.

So, I love Neil Patrick Harris and found him charming as ever. I’m nearly certain that watching anyone else try to pull off a mid-show song and dance number would have made me roll my eyes and take an unnecessary trip to the kitchen, annoyed. But NPH? Nope. In fact, I’d happily watch his little routine again right now…he’s just adorable. And beyond talented. Oh, and funny too.

Then there was the first award of the night, in which Merritt Wever surprised everyone with her unexpected win for her supporting role on Nurse Jackie. Even less predictable was her brief speech, quickly deemed, “The best ever” by countless summations on Twitter. The actual best speech of the night (by an actor at least) was Michael Douglas’-holy hilarious!

But I think it’s fair to say the real shock of the night was not an Emmy win, but two snubs. I thought I heard an audible gasp when Aaron Paul didn’t win Best Supporting Actor, but it was just me. Bryan Cranston not winning was an even bigger blow, magnified not in the moment Don Cheadle’s name was announced as much as when he later presented beside Best Actress winner Claire Danes, who almost seemed to be at a loss for words (hint: read the teleprompter). Clearly everyone had the most current, über intense, and brilliantly acted episodes of Breaking Bad in mind when Paul, then Cranston didn’t win. Or maybe that was just me again.

Breaking Bad did take home the big drama award of the night, which brought some redemption to the show and it’s remarkable cast and crew. None to me though, as I had moved on to rooting for the Netflix hit House of Cards.

Not nearly as much drama among the comedy categories, which I guess is appropriate. Clearly I need to be watching Veep. Memo received. Modern Family won again, and I do love that show, but Parks and Recreation is the best comedy on television in my opinion. And I would have been thrilled to hear the hilarious Louis C.K.’s acceptance speech.

Most importantly, who was the best-dressed of the night? Here are my favorites:

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65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

Kaley Cuoco in Vera Wang was my #1 pick-love, love, love that gown!

Do you agree the Breaking Bad boys were robbed? Any other shockers? Favorite moments? And of course, who is your pick for best dressed?

Madeline is One!

…okay, getting quite close to turning two, actually. Yes, I realize my girl is twenty-one months old and will have her second birthday is three short months (cue the tears!), but I still want to document her special day, no matter how late.

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Madley turned one on Saturday, December 15, 2012. We had a safari party at home on her birthday. By the day of the event I was so wrapped up in one thousand details, I blinked and it was over. I didn’t take enough time to reflect on what happened that same day one year prior. I didn’t even take any pictures! Cal and I immediately decided that in the future we will spend our girl’s birthday as a family and throw her a party beforehand. Being born so close to the holidays made the rest of 2012 seem like a blur, so we just want to be very aware of the timing in the years ahead.

animalcutouts

Fortunately, some of our family was able to join us in Brooklyn for the party, but sadly not everyone could make the trip north. Madeline felt lots of love from many local friends, both big and small, though. She had no clue why we were celebrating of course, but it was a wonderful, fun-filled day regardless. After hours of nonstop action (and an excessive amount of sugar), she was exhausted but remained in good spirits until late in the evening.

bdaygirl

I wanted to make most of the party decorations and food, which took many nights in the weeks leading up to the big day. Some days I felt completely discouraged and didn’t know why I tried to take on so much. But in the end I was glad I did, mostly because I was able to personalize so much of the party that way. And of course it saved us a lot of money. Despite being more of a DIY wannabee, the projects I attempted all turned out just fine and everything came together nicely.

Madelinebanner

Madeline Banner

Sugar cookie party favors

Sugar cookie party favors

Of course, Madeline tasting cake for the first time was adorable and pretty hilarious. I expected her to dive right in once she tasted the rich, sweet icing, like her mama would but instead she slowly picked at the smash cake’s edges, with wide eyes fixated on everyone gathered around her as she nibbled a few bites. While the birthday cake didn’t impress her much, she was definitely eating up all the attention she was getting.

Ooooooo...for me?

Ooooooo…caaaaaake!!!

cakefun morecake

Mmm! Try it, Mama!

Mmm! Try it, Mama!

After a bath to wash away all the stickiness coating her little body, it was time to unwind a bit. We settled down with some dinner and opened presents before Madeline crashed. Hard.

It was a lovely and memorable day…a perfect close to our amazing first year as parents.

Weekly comparison pictures we took throughout the year

Weekly comparison pictures we took throughout the year

We just can’t figure out how our girl went from this:

Our little Bebe's first day home

Our little Bebe’s first day home

…to this:

I'm One!

I’m One!

…in a heartbeat.

Well, Hello There!

Whoo. That turned into quite a pause, huh? I’m not really sure what happened, but a week off for the holidays quickly turned into many weeks, then months, and now here we are: eight months and nearly two seasons later. At this point I’m honestly not sure where this blog is headed, what will fill my posts, or how often I will write. I do know that I have missed this space. Therefore, I am going to wade back in, slowly and thoughtfully, searching for my voice.

While it might be tough to catch up on everything that has changed in the past few several months, I thought I would attempt a brief update and recap nonetheless.

Our 2013 (so far):

  • Cal and I both celebrated turning 31 with practically no pomp or circumstance. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule once you become a parent, so yay us!
  • Madeline had a babysitter for the first time. Okay, it was a close friend, and our sweetie slept almost the entire time, but it definitely counts! Cal and I went to see Nick Offerman’s show and it was hilarious-obviously. I actually might have enjoyed it more than Cal, which is slightly ironic because the tickets were a present for his aforementioned uneventful birthday.
  • I ran my first 10K (hopefully replacing a former St. Patty’s Day tradition in Columbia, SC with a much healthier one).
Chugging along...

Chugging along…

  • Miss Madley started walking! It took fifteen months, but she hasn’t stopped since.
Walking!

Double fisting

  • We bid farewell to NYC…
Our Brooklyn home for three years  (that's the longest either of us has lived anywhere post-college)

This was our apartment for the last three years
(that’s the longest either of us has lived anywhere post-college)

Bye-Bye Brooklyn!

Bye-Bye Brooklyn!

  • …and are making our new home in Raleigh, NC
Welcome to Raleigh, NC!

Welcome to Raleigh!

  • We took a wonderful family vacation to St. Augustine, Florida with Cal’s parents and siblings.

pooltime beachbaby familypic

Clearly a fun time was had by all!

Clearly a fun time was had by all!

  • Madeline decided she has way too much to talk about these days to spend anymore time nursing. As Rosewood Elementary School’s “Best Conversationalist”, class of 1993, I could relate, and completely understood.
  • Cal and I celebrated our three year anniversary with a night in: a delicious steak and a couple beers. It was perfect.
  • We said good-bye to Cal’s grandmother, a very special lady who was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.

GrandmaWatson

  • My sister Mimi started her final year of college, my sister Hannah began her first, and my little brother Spencer is a freshman in high school, officially making me old. But not really.

So now you’re caught up on all things Watson…the highlight reel at least.

Merry Christmas! Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Style

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Ours has been low-key, but very nice so far despite each of us being hit with a cold that slowed things down pretty quickly. Tis the season for that too I suppose. After Madeline’s birthday party, which was a wonderful whirlwind (more on that soon!), we were totally exhausted and in desperate need of some down time. Fortunately, everyone was feeling mostly recharged by Christmas Eve, so we decided to extend Ava’s evening walk and take in the neighborhood lights. We bundled up and headed out hoping to beat the sleet that was on its way.

Bay Ridge is a very residential section of Brooklyn, where some families have lived for generations. Each year from November 1st until mid-December, the wreaths, lights, and yes, inflatables begin appearing, with more houses getting bedazzled each day. Some even hire professionals to adorn their windows, doors, trees or whole yards with holiday cheer (that’s right, there are companies you can hire to decorate your house for Christmas-and around here, a lot of people do just that). All that effort-or money-put into Christmas decorations deserves to be seen, so we figured we should get out and enjoy the displays. And success! Madeline loved seeing houses that we pass everyday illuminated, some completely transformed, in the darkness. Her little index finger stayed extended, nearly frozen, pointing to one home after another as we strolled by. Who can blame her?

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Do you go all out with your Christmas decor? Is your home festive both inside and out?

Merry, merry to all!

Mission Possible: Hope for Our Schools (Plus a Giveaway!)

*This is a sponsored post. While I was compensated, all opinions expressed are my own.*

I am an advocate for public education and I hope I always will be. From first grade through college, I only attended public schools. And while my overwhelmingly positive experiences surely influenced my decision to become a teacher, my passion didn’t fully blossom until I realized that not all students are so fortunate when it comes to their schooling. Now, as a mother myself, I want to support education more than ever. All children deserve to be nurtured in a safe school, learn in an effective environment, and be taught by a knowledgeable educator. Every young person should be given this opportunity regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, or geography. It should be the highest priority for everyone in this country. Especially because we are currently so far from this goal. Today one-third of all fourth graders in the United States cannot read at a basic level, a quarter of American students do not graduate from high school, and the U.S. has fallen from first to ninth among countries whose young people have earned a college degree. These statistics, from Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School, are disheartening to me as an educator and as a parent. How did we get here? More importantly, how can we change the state of education in our country? Where do we even begin?

Mission Possible:
How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School

Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia believe they have the solution. Their book, Mission Possible, outlines what has been accomplished in a few short years at the Harlem Success Academies in New York City. As a former NYC public and private school teacher, I have heard of the Success Academies. The amazing results they have seen, particularly on standardized tests, are undeniable. This growing group of schools is known for taking a predominantly underprivileged population, getting their parents involved, intensely training their teachers, having high expectations for their students, and turning reluctant learners into scholars. Because the Success Academies are charter schools, the students are admitted by a random lottery, which means thousands of children are turned away. If more schools were to implement their practices and adopt their unique philosophies, many additional children would benefit from the changes that have started with these campuses. So how have they done it? Their approach is simple. By, “embracing rigor, working with grown-ups to improve their teaching skills, and demanding excellence from all”, we can break the cycle of mediocrity that has come to plague our schools. A large emphasis on this methodology starts with the adults. Principals, teachers, parents, and policymakers are expected to strive to be better, to do better. Therein lies the key to student achievement.

Why isn’t that already happening? Why aren’t principals demanding more, beginning with themselves? Why aren’t teachers eager to improve their instruction? In large part it’s because this country treats teaching so differently from other professions. And why is that? Because it’s too easy to become a teacher. Please understand me here. It’s not easy by any stretch to be a teacher. Which goes to my point; the standards and expectations to call yourself a certified teacher should be higher. After eight years, over three grade levels, between two school districts, one private school, and two states, I have never heard a worthy educator say, “I decided to be a teacher because I knew it would be the easiest path”. And I have worked with and known a lot of truly talented teachers. Instead of trying to mold new teachers and motivate experienced ones, then preaching about accountability when undesirable results come in, we need to look at college programs and make the study of education more rigorous. At the Success Academies, teachers attend a boot camp of sorts to prepare for the school year. Its purpose is, “filling the role that colleges of education have failed to assume”, because they know their staff needs more training to meet their high standards. But what if all colleges of education did assume those roles? What if there was more practice and modeling for students studying education, in addition to learning the necessary theory and lecture? Perhaps in addition being respected for their work, educators would be viewed as the professionals they are, experts in their craft, who deserve to be aptly compensated. No one goes into teaching for the money (or for the summers off, thank you), but if the education field was more demanding and teachers were able to accomplish what they set out to, we might see a turn around in the low teacher morale that is practically endemic in many schools today.

Is Mission Possible the answer to what’s wrong with our public schools today? The truth is, it’s too early to tell. We don’t yet know what the long term impact of this program will be on the students who have attended the Success Academies from it’s inception. Based on how strongly they have emerged as leaders in only a short period of time though, it seems the outcome will be a positive one. Is this curriculum and it’s approach flawless? Certainly not. How special needs students are accommodated, for one, is not thoroughly addressed in the book. I know all students are welcome to attend if they are selected through the lottery, but I am not clear on what services they are provided, or how learning disabled students are assisted when necessary. Also, I am curious about what happens if a child’s parents are not cooperative or as receptive as the school demands. I fully understand, and wholeheartedly agree, that parental involvement is crucial to a student’s school experience, as Ms. Moskowitz and Ms. Lavinia clearly believe. I’m not implying their schools’ success is solely because of the parents they are working with by any means. But sadly not all parents are willing or able to devote enough time to their child’s education. Those who make the effort to apply to these schools obviously are, but when implementing the “secrets” of the Success Academies elsewhere, what strategies can the faculty use if parents are resistant? Most parents simply want better for their children and will do what it takes to ensure they provide all they can, but teachers need support when that isn’t enough. And sometimes it isn’t.

When I was a teacher, I craved a strong administration to lead me, help me improve, and then trust me to do my job. Many teachers all over the country feel the same way. Mission Possible may not be a manual for how to make this happen, but it is definitely an excellent resource that can provide guidance to principals, teachers, parents, and policymakers across the country. We need change. We should be demanding it. Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia have laid the groundwork. It’s up to us to move forward.

To learn more about Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School, visit ReadMissionImpossible.com.You can also connect with Ms. Moskowitz, founder of the Harlem Success Academies, on Facebook here, or through Twitter, here. In the meantime, I am giving away one copy of the thought-provoking and encouraging book to one lucky reader. Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

Together we can work to improve the state of education in our country. Refuse to accept mediocre schools in your state, city, and neighborhood. Your child deserves better. All children do.

   

And We’re Back!

Excuse me for my absence…

Good Morning from St. Augustine, Florida!

…but I’m sure you understand

After a lovely vacation, which resulted in an unintended blog hiatus, we are back in NYC and finally unpacked settled.

Normal posting will resume tomorrow with “What I’m Loving Wednesday”, but in the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to:

New friends were met
With Hazel

With Marley

 At the pool!

Sand time was enjoyed by all and eaten by some

Bebe’s first time in the ocean

Cousin Love!

First trip to the zoo!

We saw many animals at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC with Grandma and Uncle Spencer.

Flamingos!

Daddy and Baby Baboons!

Bears!

Elephants!

Playing at Nana and Pop Pop’s House

Needless to say we had a wonderful first trip home and already miss our friends and family down south!