Coffee Break: Fiorentina Pump

Sofft FiorentinaI love a good purple suede pump — and this one from Sofft is on a super sale at 6pm: was $115, now $38. It’s available in grape and brown suede, as well as black calf; at 3″ high it’s just right. I’m really digging the chunky heel; it feels like it has a bit of a vintage vibe. Sofft Fiorentina


  1. I also have a thing for purple suede pumps. I have three pairs of dark purple suede pumps and one pinky purple. Yikes!

    • Wow, that’s dedication! Cobblestones destroy my heels and I hot desk so it is flats and boots for me, can’t wait for a proper office so I can store a pair of pretty heels under the desk.

  2. Chemicals in personal products :

    Do you attempt to avoid harmful chemicals when you choose your cosmetics, personal supplies (shampoo, lotion, etc.), and household products like cleaners? There are so many chemicals that have never been tested/proven to be safe (or are known to be downright harmful) and I’ve decided to do the best I can to limit or eliminate them. I’ve switched to organic shower products without sulfates, parabens, phlalates, etc. and have found some good alternatives for cleaning my apartment, but I haven’t found a good make-up brand yet. Has anyone else done this and do you have any good make-up brands to recommend? If you don’t keep an eye on the chemicals in your products, what are your reasons? Hope others find this discussion as interesting as I do!

    • Lyra Silvertongue :

      I do limit chemicals in my products, and I like Tarte makeup.

    • A Nonny Moose :

      I try to. I haven’t really extended to the makeup realm yet because I’ve just recently found makeup I like. I found that changing shampoos, body wash, and lotions, etc., was much more manageable.
      You probably already know this since you’re so conscious of the issue, but Sephora lets you filter products by things like “natural” “paraben free” and “sulfate free.”

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      On this topic, has anyone read Paula’s discussion on parabens on the Paula’s Choice website? Thoughts? She says they’re not harmful, and in fact “natural” products can be more harmful (due to bacteria, mold etc.).

      • Paula’s products contain them, so of course she’s going to defend them. Some people are less sensitive to them, but they wreck my skin and I won’t use anything with parabens.

        • Mary Ann Singleton :

          Just out of curiosity, how do they wreck your skin? Do they make you break out? I have skin problems sometimes, and if I could pinpoint the parabens as the culprit I’d be very happy. It hadn’t occurred to me that I might be sensitive to parabens.

    • Kind of? It depends. If something irritates my sinuses or skin, I won’t use it. If I can smell the scent of the product even though it’s sealed, not buying it. If the light scent irritates me, it gets donated to a friend or family member. It’s my highly scientific method of weeding out what doesn’t work for me.

      Method has this mint toilet cleaner that smells delightful, tho (I think it’s Method) (Kanye, I can review every product I ever used right here, on this site, just for you).

      • Wannabe Runner :

        I love Method products! Use them as much as possible at home.

        I basically tend to pick “natural” products when I can, but don’t always succeed. Especially in cosmetics, as there isn’t much selection.

      • This is my approach as well, although I’ll add that I try to use cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals. I second the recommendation for tarte cosmetics – I really like their foundation and concealer, and though I’ve used better mascaras theirs works just fine too. I use sulfate-free hair products because they help my hair retain moisture, and natural cleaning products don’t irritate my skin like a lot of the chemical-y ones do. But I’d be lying if I said I check the labels on everything – after a while, it just becomes too paranoid of a way to live for me.

      • We use mostly Seventh Generation and some Method cleaning products. Method has an almond oil wood cleaner that works and smells good (but not too strong), and we’ve been using their unscented laundry detergent for a while now and like it a lot–I can really tell the difference if we do our laundry with another product when we’re on vacation.

        I also try to use cosmetics and personal care products that are not tested on animals. I currently use Costco brand shampoo/conditioner, Kiss My Face lotion, Paula’s Choice tinted moisturizer, and I’m trying Yes to Carrots face wash.

        • I use some Seventh Generation cleaning products, but really do not like their dish soap. It doesn’t get our dishes clean. Or maybe they are clean, but it leaves a film on everything. I like other Seventh Generation products I’ve used though.

          • I like their dishwashing liquid soap (for cleaning by hand), but had the film issue with their dishwasher detergent.

        • anon-oh-no :

          we like method products, but we’ve tried seventh generation and they smell so, so bad that we simply cannot use them

    • If there is something that is known to be harmful like lead in some lipstick I would avoid it, but I feel like there is a lot of misinformation out there about what is a “harmful chemical.” Sulfates and parabens don’t really fit the bill in my book. Science reporting in the media is so, so awful, so don’t always believe what you read, especially when it comes to women’s magazines and popular blogs like Jezebel, or even the news. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

      If you’re looking for a makeup brand that avoids those things, try Korres. They list out what is and isn’t in them on the label.

    • Yes – Sephora has several natural brands: Korres, Tarte and Jose Miran. You can check individual products in the environmental working group database (look at their website). I haven’t switched over completely, but I have bought those brands when possible.

    • Anne Shirley :

      I do not. There are lots of unsafe things in the world. I choose to worry about things that I know are bad for me (lack of exercise, failure to floss) instead of products that are not causing me present harm and haven’t been proven unsafe. I simply don’t have the bandwidth to take that on as a concern.

      • Chemicals in personal products :

        Many of the products in question may be causing you harm that isn’t visible now, but that could affect you in many ways down the road. Just the other day, Scientific American published an article about pre-term birth being linked to phthalates, which are found in many personal products. There is still so much that is unknown about chemicals, but there seems to be more research than ever demonstrating correlations with known health problems or with undesirable health outcomes. I completely understand the idea about not having the bandwidth to take it on as a concern – we would all drive ourselves crazy if we tried to prevent EVERY harmful thing in the world. I just disagree that some products aren’t causing you present harm – depending on what you use, many common products certainly are.

        • Chemicals in personal products :

          Also, I second the plug for the Environmental Working Group’s database (SkinDeep). It’s been really useful to me, even if the layout is a bit weird sometimes.

        • Anne Shirley :

          That’s nice. But as I said, I just don’t care about this. I’m not an idiot, I’m familiar with the research, I don’t find it convincing, and it’s not something I’m investing time in avoiding. Like GMOs and non-organic food. You said you wanted to hear people’s reasons, not have an opportunity to jump on your soap box about why we all need to choose the same things.

          • I’m with ya Anne Shirley!

          • Chemicals in personal products :

            I did want to hear people’s reasons – thanks for sharing. I just disagreed with one small portion of your post. I agree that it’s an investment to even get an introduction to all this stuff and it’s not one that everyone can or wants to make.

            Thanks for the make-up brand recommendations, everyone! I’ve actually never shopped at Sephora, but it sounds like they have some good options for searching for the types of products I’m interested in.

        • “The researchers say current studies remain inconclusive in assessing whether avoiding perfume, deodorant and other personal care products, and eating more fresh foods that undergo less processing and packaging, could lower women’s phthalate exposure levels.”

          I don’t know, I don’t find it that convincing.

      • Seconded.

      • This. I just can’t get worked up about this issue. I have too many other things that I know are risks to worry if my Pert Plus is secretly killing me.

        I also think that this is just another unrealistic standard that society is telling me I need to achieve. Not only do I have to look perfectly polished and have a perfectly clean house, I need to research every product I use to make sure it meet an ever-evolving standard. I am choosing to opt out on this one.

        • Ugh. Seriously. If it smells nice and makes me feel clean/good/pretty, I’m happy. There are enough things to worry about and this whole “go natural or you’ll die” thing is just too much for me.

        • Anne Shirley :

          Yes so much of this. It’s yet another issue (breast feeding. Home cooked meals. Cloth diapers.) that is a) time consuming, b) has costs associated with it, and c) not something men are constantly being told they need to do to avoid being classified as irresponsible uncaring people. I don’t like seeing vague “healthy” issues imposed as requirements on women when so much of what is being pushed back upon is the types of things that got women out of their homes and into the work force. And setting these expectations means lower income women can be increasingly marginalized as making irresponsible choices for their families.

          • Yes. Also, Anne Shirley, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your comments. While I don’t always agree with the content of your comments, I always appreciate your straight forward and down to earth manner.

          • Along the lines of breastfeeding and cloth diapers– sunscreen. It’s super fun to be a mom and try to wipe that $40 nontoxic sunscreen on your kids. It’s like white paint mixed with cement. But when you bust out the Coppertone, you get side-eye from the mommy mafia.

          • I’m so late to this discussion, but I’m catching up on the last few days and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with this.

        • I get this, and if the products you’re using don’t bother you, that’s great. But there are people with severe chemical sensitivities who would literally have to live in bubbles if things like fragrance-free and irritant-free products weren’t available. It irks me when the backlash gets so loud it drowns out the people with legitimate concerns (see also gluten and “paleo” diets).

          • Anne Shirley :

            I’m thrilled they’re available! I just dislike the implication that all of us must use them (which I didn’t get from your comment at all). Kinda like LeanCuisine- I’ve decided it’s just not food and I won’t eat it, but I can see people completely reasonably coming to the opposite conclusion, without deciding that they obviously just don’t know any better (which again Kanye not getting from your post at all).

          • I completely agree Kanye but think there is a world of difference between avoiding certain products that you *know* adversely impact your well-being (ie not using products with certain ingredients because you are allergic to them, they make you break out, they trigger a migraine, etc.) and just trying to be “greener” or “more organic” for unproven (either to you through experience or through genuine science) reasons.

            I completely support people’s rights to constrict their environments and the product within them for whatever reason, I just hate that society is making this into another area in which I need to meet a difficult, time consuming, expensive, and ever-moving standard.

        • thank you for saying this–that this is yet another pressure that women have to worry about but that men are largely oblivious to.

    • Lady Harriet :

      I avoid silicone and sulfates in my hair products because they make my curly hair frizzy and greasy, rather than any larger safety concern. I wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, use tons of cheap conditioner (V05), and a little bit of olive oil and cheap hairspray when I’m out of the shower.

    • Olivia Pope :

      I focus on effectiveness first, but I am open to natural products. Many of my hair products are all natural. That market is exploding, so effective and reasonably priced products are available. That said, I used cheap conditioner chock full of chemicals as a pre-shampoo detangler (78 cents a bottle? I accept, Vo5).

      I’ve also switched to castile soap. The lack of harsh chemicals and the olive oil base is better for my dry skin. I haven’t thought about switching makeup, because it takes too much effort. As a dark skinned woman, most makeup products don’t match me at all. (I’m looking at you, every single BB cream).

    • Hurray for Kitties :

      Yes, I try to limit these chemicals in my personal care products, but mostly because those are precisely the type of things that are cosmetically tested on animals. Natural brands—with plenty of exceptions!— tend to use ingredients that don’t require that unpleasantness.
      If the USA would finally restrict the testing of cosmetics, or their ingredients, on animals, I think we would see less of this crap in our products.

    • Yes, I do.
      Boscia, Korres, and Bite are some makeup products I’ve found limit phthalates, parabens, and other potentially harmful chemicals. Cetaphil too I believe. I use the EWG’s guide to makeup to sometimes guide my decision if I’m trying to decide between two shampoos for instance. Unfortunately though, I still use products that EWG ranks as harmful if I don’t have a good “safe/natural” alternative.

    • Bare Minerals works for me. Still trying to find a moisturiser with SPF though, any suggestions?

      I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and that knocked my faith in science a bit. I mean, it’s something that millions of people have and has a huge economic and social impact, so if science can’t figure that out, I’m avoiding talc, aluminium, sulfates, phlatlates, parabens etc and eating organic foods till they do.

    • I have rosacea and switched to natural products several years ago in an effort to avoid irritants that made me more red. I can’t say that any of them worked in particular but I found a lot of products that I like that are less chemically than the ones I used to use:

      Say Yes To Carrots face wipes
      Burts Bees everything – radiance face wash and moisturizer, facial scrub, sunscreen, and Gud shampoos, conditioners and body washes
      Shea Moisuture acne soap (makes my skin so soft!)
      Alba – various face washes and body oils
      Physicians Formula tinted moisturizer (love this)

      Just started night cleansing routine with coconut oil – other than that it smells really good, I can’t say whether it has done the wondrous things the internets have promised me it would. I like it though.

      Haven’t found a lot of all natural makeup that I liked, but I also feel like (and I could be totally wrong) that makeup doesn’t have the kinds of harsh cleansers in other stuff.

    • Everything is made of chemicals. Everything. Even you. This whole discussion is making me itchy. You cannot avoid chemicals!

  3. Leather portfolio recs? :

    I posted late yesterday, but didn’t have much luck so I’m trying again today. Any recs for leather portfolios for use in interviews and such? It’s a gift, so preferably $100 or less, please.

  4. Any good stuffing recipes? I feel like that’s the one Thanksgiving dish I can’t conquer.

  5. Chemicals in personal products :

    And whoops, that should be phthalates. Spelling fail.

  6. OCAssociate :

    Has anyone done the Whole Foods parbroiled (?) turkey? That’s what we’ve ordered – apparently we get the turkey cooked to rare, then finish it off for a couple hours in our oven.

    I’m wondering if I should do any additional prep before finishing it off (i.e. butter under the skin, herbs/lemons in the cavity). Or is it too late to add anything when the turkey has been mostly cooked already?

    • We did a Whole Foods turkey this wknd, I think it was pre-cooked. It was pretty well seasoned with sage and thyme. I did find it a bit on the dry side, so some butter might be a nice touch.

    • I heard Bobby Flay on the radio this morning say you should keep a pot of chicken/veggie stock warming on the stove so when you’re ready to serve the turkey, you pour that over it and the stuffing and that way everything is warm, flavorful and not dried out. Maybe try that?

      • ….not to be snarky, but wouldn’t that just result in wet turkey? I’ve never heard this recommendation and it just strikes me as odd, though I’m not usually one to criticize Mr. Flay’s advice.

        If you have already made gravy, surely that is enough?

        Ultimately, I don’t think either broth or gravy is going to do much to camouflage turkey that is overcooked and dry. It will still be overcooked and dry, just….saucy.

        • If the turkey were already carved, a little bit of stock (not a lot) would definitely help if you poured it over the sliced turkey. If you’re just pouring the stock over the uncarved bird, of course it wouldn’t do anything but sog out the skin.

          It will save a slightly overcooked turkey. Not a severely dry one.

  7. Short sleeve or 3/4 sleeve wrap tops :

    Does anyone have any recommendations? I’d like to take advantage of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale. I feel like wrap-style tops are flattering on me and I’d like to get some that I can wear to work with or without another layer on top. Something under $40 would be even better! Thanks ladies!

  8. Nontraditional Engagement Ring Ideas :

    I was curious if any of you have a morganite engagement ring? I love the look, but am wondering if it would keep its luster over the long term. I’m looking at eventually designing my own engagement ring (with my now-BF of course) and I have no idea where to start.

    • wildkitten :

      If you are going to be researching online you may want to put your browser on private, lest every article and website you visit for the rest of your life is covered in morganite rings.

      • and clear your history. because even when you browse private, somehow they still know it’s you. or at least that’s my guess since i’m constantly stalked by cute purses/shoes.

      • Nontraditional Engagement Ring Ideas :

        Ack. Too late. I’m looking at a Blue Nile ad even as I type this! I guess if I get tired of looking at them, I’ll know I should go a different route.

    • Lady Harriet :

      The Pricescope forum is great for this kind of thing. I first found it from a recommendation here a couple of years ago. The posters there are very knowledgeable about all aspects of jewelry and gemstones and you can learn a lot just by lurking and reading old threads.

  9. I have Christmas party overload. I was just invited to attend an industry Holiday party/networking event (that’s the title of the event) by my boss. I was the only associate invited (all of the partners are going) so I feel like it’s especially important to do everything just right. The event is at 6 on a Thursday and the dress code is “C*cktail (no jeans please!).” Does this mean I have to change into a dress, or is it better to wear a work dress or skirt suit?. I look and sound like I’m 19, and I want to appear professional and responsible.

    If I should wear a c*cktail dress a) Is the Anthropologie “Minuet” dress appropriate? and b) Can I wear whatever dress I wear to the industry party to our work holiday party a week later?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Orangerie :

      Since it’s right after work on a weeknight, I would go for a suiting-material sheath dress (preferably black) that you’d normally wear to work. You could wear a blazer over it during the day, and at night shed the jacket and maybe add a glitzy necklace or bracelet. I’ve been to a similar event for the my city’s CFA chapter and everyone was in work clothes.

      That Anthro dress is beautiful, but I’d save it for your office holiday party since those tend to run more formal.

    • I think this really depends on what type of law you practice and where in the country you are. I’d say err on the side of being more formal and less s*xy or cutesy.

      I’d say that I would go for something like the J Crew Oragami dress in black with fancy, clearly cocktail-ish jewlery and clearly dressed up heels. When going to a work cocktail party, particularly if I will be one of the few young women there, I don’t feel comfortable bearing skin (either back or cleavage) at all.

      • A Nonny Moose :

        I wore the oragami dress to one of my law school’s cocktail party. It was perfect for networking with professors after hours.

    • Thanks! It seems like the answer is that I need to buy two dresses, since I don’t own a suiting style dress (well, I do, but it’s about 3 sizes too small). Any suggestions for a suiting dress, preferably one that has sleeves and will fit a pear shape (6 on top, 12 on bottom) well?

  10. Bridal overload :

    Anyone have any suggestions for a website where I can (quickly) order save-the-dates? As in, I can upload address list + get them within a couple of weeks? TIA!

    • A Nonny Moose :

      Minted is pretty quick and I am 98% sure they let you upload address lists. They also have *gorgeous* designs. Google around for a coupon code– they almost always have some sort of promotion going.

      • Carrie Preston :

        +1 for Minted & they do allow you to upload addresses & everything I’ve seen from Minted is pretty & they’re fast.

    • National_Anthem :

      My friend used Vista Print for this recently… it was super fast. However, I am hesitant to recommend them because all of the Save the Dates showed up with the first line being “[Person's actual name] or Current Resident.” I thought it was hysterical, but Bride-to-be was not super thrilled.

    • Vistaprint :

      Vistaprint[dot]com Google for groupons and retailmenot first also, they always have deals. They have a bunch of different templates you can choose from.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      For what it’s worth, I was invited to a wedding this year that used emailed save the dates. I’m sure some people would find it odd or tacky and it might not work if some of your guests aren’t regular email users, but thought I’d mention it as an option. I thought it was a perfectly fine idea and an easy way to save money. I can’t remember what the company was called but I think it was connected to their wedding website page.

      • Flying Squirrel :

        I did this…with an otherwise pretty fancy wedding. I personally hate all the piles of Save the Date cards that pile up. I almost didn’t do them at all, but we designed an image we really liked and emailed it to everyone (the people we know who don’t have email also wouldn’t really know about/care about a STD card). Saving money really had nothing to do with our decision.

        I suspect some people found it tacky, though most seemed to just like the image. I also just much prefer everything on email. Even though we also did paper invites, I always lose those things. I’m much more likely to forget to RSVP if there’s a card I have to fill out. I love it when I can just rsvp online (FWIW, we mailed out RSV cards, but also had a website where people could rsvp online instead).

  11. Parenting Advice :

    I hesitate to ask because sometimes people can be snarky, but on the other hand, sometimes people have really good ideas that I never would have thought of. So, here goes:

    Ideas for a 23 year old who routinely flaunts the basic rules of etiquette? The worst offense is accepting invitations to do stuff with his Dad and me, continuing to say he will be there when his Dad confirms with him, and then at the last minute telling us “Oh, I can’t come, I have other plans [that came up after I RSVPd yes to you guys].” He has his own apartment across town, so other than planned events, we do not see him.

    He has been told many times that when you receive an invitation:
    1. you check your calendar before accepting
    2. if you accept, you write it down in your calendar
    3. every time you get an invitation, you check your calendar and if you are already booked, you decline the new invitation.

    I can think of all kinds of excuses. He’s a guy. He has (controlled — by his own admission, the medication works well) ADHD. He’s 23 and would rather be with his friends (except it’s usually a swoop-in by the other side of the family, not his friends).

    We are hosting 14 people tomorrow night, after a full day of work for both of us, for latkes and dreidels and candle lighting, specifically because this is the day that he said he could come. We have been planning it for at least a month. Last night, when asked to confirm (a 4th time), he said, “Oh, I can’t, I have some place I need to be.” (We believe but have not verified that “some place” is with the other side of the family.)

    I would love ideas. Any ideas. About how to deal with any aspect of this. I’ve tried to give as much relevant info as possible, but will check back for questions. Also, he and Dad and I have good relationships, and he is unfailingly enthusiastic about spending time with us. So I don’t think it has to do with his not wanting to spend time with us.


    • I don’t get who “the other side of the family” is? Is he hanging out with his grandparents? Are you his biological mother?

      • Parenting Advice :

        The other side is his mom and her extended family. My extended family is local. My husband’s extended family is an ocean, a sea and two continents away.

    • Bewitched :

      This sounds like my (almost 20) year old son. Mine has additional issues beyond the ADHD which magnify this type of behavior. From my experience, I can almost guarantee you that any type of etiquette advice will not work-at least not immediately. I chalk it up to immaturity. I’m hoping that the behavior will change by age 25 or so. That’s when my brothers became normal human beings, e.g. not 1000% wrapped up in themselves. Also, it sounds like you have the divorce/stepparent thing going, so it will likely never be 100% perfect. In the best light, he’s juggling a tightrope himself. Hopefully, word will trickle back to him about your event(s) and he will decide to be there in person himself. In the interim, I would just try to make the most of the time you spend with him. IMHO, it’s also ok to express disappointment that he won’t be there-again, with my son, I think it eventually sinks in that he’s being somewhat selfish and those are the times he tries to self correct. Others may think my approach is too soft/forgiving, but my view is the race is a marathon, not a sprint, and I don’t want our long-term relationship to be irretrievably broken.

    • wildkitten :

      Wait 5 years.

    • Anonymous :

      Stop letting yourself be disappointed. You know how he is. Tell him your hurt but other than that you can force him to come

    • Don’t have advice, but since you mention he is 23, I wanted to add that this seems to be a thing that 20 something year olds do. I had friends do this during law school, at which point, I stopped investing in them as friends (I realize it’s different when it’s your spouse’s child). I think that what you’re doing, noting that he needs to keep his calendared commitments, is great. He just needs additional reinforcement from the outside world.

      Perhaps make it point to only be available to do things you have committed to? ie. if he says, “oops, sorry, I am not coming to X afterall, but would you like to take me out to dinner the next day,” respond with “nope, can’t. we made other plans since we planned on seeing you at X”

      • Orangerie :

        Sorry, but I think saying that being flaky is “a thing that 20 something year olds do” is inaccurate and extremely over-generalized. Many people in that age group have zero problems keeping their family and friend commitments.

        OP – as others have noted down thread, this sounds less like flakiness/lacking etiquette and more like guilt from the other side of his family. I’m sorry you have to deal with him choosing not to spend holidays with you and his father, but I think you might just have to come to terms with it and accept that it’s part of your family dynamic.

    • This is not an etiquette issue. This is family. Do you love him, want to spend time with him and see him at holidays? Then tell him that. Do you feel like something’s missing when he’s not with you for holidays, which is why you make such an effort to schedule around him? Then tell him that.
      Making this an issue about the formalities of invitations, RSVPs, and etiquette is a way to be “right” (because sure, you are), but is it really what’s important?

      Finally, as the adult daughter of divorced parents, I have to say that holiday scheduling (particularly since my husband is also in the same boat) can be so stressful, and guilt-inducing. There’s a reason we do whatever it takes to see some of them and try to hide from the ones who make an already difficult situation harder. The only thing that keeps grown kids visiting are (1) genuine affection and (2) obligation / guilt. If 1 versus 2 doesn’t matter to you, then by all means keep talking about RSVP’ing…

      • Parenting Advice :

        This is so interesting. I specifically don’ say “we really love you and want to see you on [holiday] and miss you when you’re not there” because I thought it seemed too guilt inducing. And I do love him and want to see him and am genuinely happy to see him and affectionate when I see him. But I thought saying it out loud would be too Jewish-guilty. That’s why I reverted to RSVP etiquette, which seemed less emotional and therefore safer.

        • Former Biglaw :

          He is an adult, as are you and his dad–therefore, I think it’s fine to have an adult conversation with him instead of lecturing him about etiquette. When he calls to flake out, I’d honestly explain that you scheduled the event around his availability and are really disappointed that he won’t be making it and that you’ll miss him.

      • This.

        I wouldn’t harp on the RSVP thing, since I think you have to give 23 year olds some slack on that issue.

        Also, given the family dynamic that you explained, I think there is more at play here than just average flakiness. I would instead just say something like “We all missed you at XYZ event. I was really looking forward to celebrating the occasion with you” and move on. If you want to escalate it further, I would have your husband raise the issue to him in a more thoughtful way focusing on how his son is a very important person in his life and he wants to spend more time with him in a meaningful way but it’s hard to do that when he keeps canceling. I would then suggest some alternative times to get together (ie dinner out every other wednesday or sunday brunch) that might take some pressure off getting together at big scheduled holidays.

    • Abby Lockhart :

      If he is lying or being evasive about his whereabouts when, in fact, he is spending time with his mother and that side of the family instead of you, it sounds like he may be feeling pressure from one side of the family not to spend time with the other side. I’d start there. If this is the case, it could mean that every time he has conflicting invitations, he feels like he can’t be honest about it and must accept both invitations. Then, at some point, he’s stuck and just gives an evasive excuse for his non-appearance to one or the other at the last minute. At 23, he probably doesn’t quite have the skills to manage this situation or the power in the family dynamic to put his foot down with the offending party/parties. If you think this is the case, I would suggest having the conversation Stepmom suggests, laden with the (sincere) message that you understand the complications, that he does not need to be secretive about plans with his mother’s side, and that you want to help him coordinate his plans to ensure sufficient time with everyone, not keep him from the other half of his family.

      • Parenting Advice :

        I like this idea because it is direct and transparent. Based on my observations of the dynamics for many years, I strongly suspect it will result in his “feeling free” to spend every holiday with the other side of the family and “making it up” to us on non-holiday days. And I think I can predict that the response to that is, “So? You have preserved the relationship (a la Bewitched, above) and he will be grateful that your household does not create pressure for him.” Right?

        And then we (his Dad and I) just have to figure out a way to be OK with the fact that he always chooses his mom’s family over us? Any idea how to be OK with that? I guess maybe Stepmom (above) would say that if he is seeing the other side out of obligation/guilt, that’s no prize?

        • No first-hand experience with either having stepparents or being a stepparent, but I do have experience dealing with in-law relationships and balancing their expectations with my own parents’ expectations! It seems to me that it all evens out eventually, and that if one side is willing to be open and transparent about “we love you but understand you need to spend time with the other side of the family too,” it is easier to choose them for the next holiday. If your step-son is too immature to ever turn down an invitation from his mother, I don’t know what to tell you.

          I do agree with other posters that getting to the heart of the matter seems so much more beneficial than focusing on the etiquette of RSVPs. If my MIL harped on that and never mentioned that she loved us and wants to spend time with DH & me, I would be much quicker to flake out on her invitations at the last minute (because I’m an adult and I have had a full-time job and I understand social etiquette. I think social etiquette rules don’t really apply with family because it’s family. For example, I don’t shake hands with my family members when I see them – we hug.). FWIW, I’m in my 20s.

        • Abby Lockhart :

          Oh, no. I don’t see that as an acceptable solution at all. I’m trying to think of ways of fortifying as a team of 3, not letting him steamroll you and dad. I was thinking more that you help him balance his schedule in an open way by acknowledging his dilemma and giving him permission to tell you the truth about scheduling conflicts, but also suggest that he needs to open a similar dialogue with Mom so that he is keeping commitments to both — including both seeing him on holidays. Dad, as someone who knows Mom, may be able to give Son some reassurance that Mom really is still going to love him even if he sometimes turns down her invitations. Dad knows Mom well, I assume. Knowing he has support and understanding on your side might make it easier for him to take a stand with the other. Nevertheless, it is true that without directly engaging the other side, you can’t fix what they are communicating to him. I definitely see that this is tricky. You’ve got to do this without disparaging mom and her family in any way, too.

          • Parenting Advice :

            “You’ve got to do this without disparaging mom and her family in any way, too.”

            Mom will love him (because she’s his mom), but she has a furious temper and uses it to get people to fall in line with her plans, and she will likely not stop doing that. When I fell in love with my husband, even though I knew he had two teenagers, I *so* did not see this tightrope walking act coming on!

            Thanks, everyone, for all the ideas. They are very helpful.

          • Abby Lockhart :

            I was just going to add — I don’t think that acknowledging a “personality quirk” is disparaging.

          • Frankly, all of your posts (speaking to the OP) have been thinly veiled “this is all his mom’s fault and she’s such a problem”.

            I suspect this has been a problem for a long time. I suspect that son probably doesn’t know what to do about it. I also suspect it’s not *entirely* just that “the other side of the family” (aka, his Mom) is causing problems.

            YOU can only control YOU. So my first advice would be that, when the “child” is twenty three years old, it is probably time to stop setting it up as “Us vs. Her”. If she is doing that, you can’t make her stop. But YOU can stop. And I suspect you think you have stopped, but honestly, from the tone of your posts, it doesn’t seem you have. He’s an adult. Yes, he needs to stop accepting invites and canceling. It’s rude.

            But it’s also time that you and his dad might also need to be gracious about him wanting to spend time with his mom. Maybe even, *gasp* preferring to on occasion. She is, after all, his mom. Maybe he says yes to you because he doesn’t know how to say no? You are just presuming that he *really* wants to be with you and his mom is somehow strong arming him.

            Seems like a big jump. He’s a grown man.

      • I do agree with this.

        As someone who is only a few years older than your son, I would not chalk this up to immaturity. Rather, I think he feels caught between the two “families” and might even be feeling pressure from the other side to reneg on your events. I would sit down and talk to him about etiquette, but also in doing so, try to figure out if it does have to do with the other family and if there is anything you and his dad can do to help him with it.

    • Anonymous :

      Can you ask him to find time over the holiday to meet up and let him decide where and when? That might be a way to see if he has real scheduling problems. He seems to be in a difficult situation with the other side of his family. It is fine for adult children of divorced parents to spend more time with one parent than the other. If your gatherings included your friends and family that he doesn’t know well, he may not be comfortable at them and might prefer to see you and his father another time.

    • No advice, but just wanted to commiserate about how hard coparenting during the holidays and sharing holidays can be. It’s really hard and complicated.

  12. Anon. associate :

    I am wondering if anyone has had an experience with their spouse being unsupportive about a career change. I am a 6th year Biglaw associate. My husband is in his thirdyear of residency (out of seven–he changed specialties partway through) to become a surgeon. I have hated Biglaw since I started, and have come to believe over the past few years that an in-house position really would mesh with my personality better. I finally am starting to get interviews for these positions, and now my husband is balking at the lifestyle change the associated reduction in my salary would mean for us.

    Right now I make 4 times what he does, and the in-house positions would be a significant reduction. However, I just don’t think I can mentally do the Biglaw thing much longer. I also want to be in a more family-friendly position by the time we have kids (no timeline for that yet). My husband thinks I just need to “tough it up” and do Biglaw until my loans are fully paid off (I still have 2 years to go on them) and we can save for a baby and a house.

    I am really frustrated because my husband believes that it is my responsibility to support our expensive lifestyle, pay off my loans, and save for a big down payment and baby, and that he will support us once he is done with his residency and making a surgeon’s salary. The problem is that his residency is seven years (plus possible fellowship), and to me being happy in my career for the next half-decade plus is much more important than paying off my loans as fast as possible or being able to live in the best part of the city or saving for a huge down payment. I also want to work post-baby (at a job that I WANT to come back to post-maternity leave) and have a job that has reasonable hours in which I am well-established so that they are willing to be flexible with me.

    Has anyone else had experience with dealing with a spouse like this? I feel like I landed myself in a trap–I put on these golden handcuffs and held myself out to my then-boyfriend (now husband) as a “power” woman, and that’s what he signed up for–and I don’t know how to make him understand that to me life is about so much more than having the highest income possible.

    • Carrie Preston :

      I haven’t dealt with the spouse aspect of this, but I’ll give you a couple of points you can make (which you might already know). While you take a salary hit to initially go in-house from a lot of firms, it’s not forever and there are often other perks that make up for it (stock options/bonuses/better heath care/401K matching). I think there’s more mobility in-house too, where you can move to the business -side and ultimately have more options that pay more with a better lifestyle than law firm associate. It also can be very hard to go in-house — there’s a lot more competition these days and a lot more people are interested in it, so even if you start interviewing now, your lifestyle/salary may not actually change for a couple of years. If you get lucky and get an offer sooner, and you know a firm isn’t for you long-term, take it, because you might not get the offer again at the time you actually want to make the move. In short, I think your H needs to better understand your long-term options, which for many many Biglaw lawyers is not partner at Biglaw firms or that kind of money indefinitely/as long as you might like to make it.

    • Aside from the unsupportive nature of his views— have you explained that as a 6th year associate, your marketability is at its peak now, and will only decrease as you linger in Biglaw? If you wait a couple years, the market will assume you couldn’t hack it and make partner in the up-or-out system, when in reality you never had any intention of staying.
      If you can only a crap job in 2 years, the money you’ve earned in the meantime won’t be that much of a consolation.

    • Oh! As the wife of a surgical attending, I’ve met so many jerky male residents that my head exploded when I read your post. Re: your last thought – flip it around: did you sign up for someone who would flake out and switch specialities mid-residency? Nope. But part of marriage is accepting that people change. I strongly recommend that you see a therapist together if he’ll go or on your own if he won’t.

      • +1. You signed up for a life together. There are changes in life. Sure, some things aren’t appropriate to fight about if you went into the relationship with clear expectations (e.g., religion, IMHO), but most things are open to change and discussion as time goes on. You *could* get fired — would he be angry at you for making a lifestyle change then? Hopefully not.

        In any event, I think you should let him know that you appreciate and understand the financial impact that leaving Biglaw will have on him, you, and your future family. It might help if you at least talk with him about how a new salary will be allocated to pay for all of your joint expenses, just so it doesn’t remain unsaid. He might be afraid of having whatever “fun” budget cut down, or he might have a legit reason for being concerned. Nonetheless, if you want a new job, get a new job. Be happy and confident and a powerful career-minded woman in a job you enjoy!

    • ugh to his attitude. I’d start weaning off the “expensive” parts of the lifestyle right now; then it won’t be such a shock when you switch jobs. Bonus, even more debt repayal.

      No amount of optional luxury is worth suffering in a job that sucks.

      • +1. I totally agree with Parfait. Just get rid of one or a few expensive parts of your life and learn to live a little more humble. I know there is a tendency to live a lifestyle that is proportionate to what you make but its not a requirement. I know the idea is “I work hard so I play hard and try to live the life I’ve worked hard to get” (i.e. nice car, nice home, brand name items) but it doesn’t have to be that way.

        Talk to your husband and ask if you can drop/alter one expensive thing. Then try to do more of it and overall, you’ll save money. Enough to be able to “afford” working in-house. He should understand. Pretty soon, he’ll make a surgeon’s salary and he better bring home the bacon!

      • +2. If he insists that you pay off student loans before switching careers (which, you have to give it to him does make financial sense to someone who doesn’t understand the timing of legal careers) then just start putting all your discretionary income towards paying them off. If he balks, try to have a conversation with him (or therapy) that you feel he is putting his lifestyle preferences above your happiness.

    • If he is really being this unsupportive, tell him to shove it and cut back on his expectations for his lifestyle while you make career adjustments necessary for your sanity and happiness (and for your joint financial security!), which he should care a lot more about than your fancy lifestyle. My husband is a second year surgical resident and initially adopted a similar attitude (“I’ll make plenty of money later, so we can definitely afford a lavish lifestyle now!”) Hello, what about our half a million dollars of law school and medical school debt and hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra interest we are paying if we wait until you pull $300k as a thoracic surgeon to pay it off?

      Even being married to a power woman doesn’t mean that said power woman can or SHOULD support an unlimited lifestyle. It might take some fighting (I had a month-long battle with my husband about the kind of house we should buy) but if he has any sense at all he’ll come around. I always told my husband that I didn’t want to work so hard and still have a ton of debt and feel like we’re not making any progress financially. If your husband doesn’t rein in his lifestyle now, he sure won’t when he’s pulling in seven times more (“I work hard for my money; I deserve nice stuff!”) and that will make it so much harder to keep your financial house in order. It’s why so many upper middle class (by income) folks are often in crazy debt.

    • Another lawyer married to a doctor (resident) here… But I work for a local government so no golden handcuffs. I did summer at a biglaw firm, so we had some taste of that. My first reaction is that your husband is being unbelievably hypocritical given that he switched residency programs, setting you back significantly on a financial level, presumably because he wasn’t happy with his first career choice. You should absolutely remind him of that, not in a “you owe me” way, but in a “hey, remember when I was completely ok with that financially damaging career choice you made for the sake of your professional sanity/happiness? You need to understand that our roles are reversed now, as I see it, and you are not cutting me the same break I gave you.”

      To give your husband the benefit of the doubt, is he going through a tough time at work now? how many times have you discussed this? I imagine starting residency over from the bottom is difficult and he may be anxious about his performance, adequacy, future financial potential. He may also feel guilty for switching residencies and be projecting that guilt and inadequacy onto you. Only way to get to the bottom of that is to approach him about it calmly and gently probe why he feels so strongly about your career change. Make him name his specific concerns and then figure out how to address them, to the extent that they are legitimate (like the debt issue). Others already gave you great advice on making lifestyle changes. Tell him you’re fine with buying a smaller house or waiting a year or two longer to buy. Maybe you can agree to pay down debt heavily for one more year before you leave. Try to address his concerns, but be firm about what you want. How much input did you have re his decision to switch residencies? I’m curious if you are giving his opinion more weight than he gave yours.

      • Anon. associate :

        At first when he said he wanted to switch specialties I told him to think long and hard about it and be sure it was what he wanted–we originally only signed up for 4 years of residency, and planned to start a family after that, which would be thrown off track if he added 3 more years to his training. He thought about if for a bit, and then said yes, this is what he wanted to do. And I was 110% supportive. He actually was a bit surprised at just how supportive I was! But I told him that this was his life, he needed to be happy with his job since it takes up so much of it, and he would just resent me if I held him back… so I was going to support him.

        Flash forward to now. I’ve reminded him that I supported him in his change, and his response is, “Yeah, well, my change will result in us making much MORE money over the long run, not less.” I told him I would have supported him no matter what the change was, because to me money is not the be-all end-all, happiness is. But he doesn’t have any proof of that, just my word.

        I think he is having a hard time generally–he is a surgery resident! He actually said to me, “I know I SHOULD support you. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time doing so. I don’t like who I am right now.” But that doesn’t mean he WILL support me. When he said this I asked if he wanted to go to counseling or something to figure this out, but he said no. (I think doctors as a rule don’t think they should need any help, either medically or emotionally.)

        I told him I would take these next few months to show him we can spend less. Fewer dinners out, less random discretionary spending, smaller Christmas presents. I am hoping that will show him I am serious. We already have been putting all extra money to loans and paid off $60,000 this year alone.

        • Have you looked at Loads more ideas of how to pare your costs down. Especially see this one:

        • He might make more money eventually, but he still moved the goal post on you- if he stuck to his original plan, he’d be almost done residency and I imagine that you switching to a lower paying job wouldn’t be so scary.

          My husband is in an “easier” specialty but he still works a ton and feels incompetent most of the time. He’s almost a completely different person when he’s feeling good about how things are going vs when he’s having a tough month. And the first year of his specialty (PGY2) was the worst. It seems like at least some of your husband’s concerns relate to him feeling overwhelmed and stressed in general. Is there any hope for things being better in a month or two (i.e. different rotation) when it might be a better time to address it?

          Otherwise, I think you have to think about to what extent he gets to veto your career choice. That’s a tough question and only you can figure that out based on your situation. For me, I think I would proceed forward slowly but firmly. Start taking interviews for attractive opportunities. Emphasize that it’s the best time for you career wise (As others have pointed out, you’re nearing your peak of lateral marketability) and this is what you need to do. Let him get used to the idea and hope he’ll come around to it. After all, part of marrying a “power woman” is accepting that she is in control of her own career. Good luck!

  13. Perhaps overreacting :

    I sit in a cube right outside someone in an office. She seems to take all her business calls with the door open, and she is really loud. It’s driving me nuts. Am I overreacting in finding this really inconsiderate? I mean – why doesn’t she just close the dang door?!

    • Lady Tetra :

      We have a loud guy on our hall, and he doesn’t mind when we (politely) close his door for him while he’s on the phone. He knows he’s loud and just forgets to close the door before calling, or can’t close the door once someone has called him.

    • Close it for her. It’s hard to realize how loud you are in an office sometimes. If she says something, you can nicely say that you it was a bit loud. At that point, she can either lower her volume or shut the door herself.

      • Anonymous :

        Or she can fire you. I can’t even imagine what my reaction would be if someone was that passive aggressive.

        • Which part was passive aggressive? I didn’t say slam it, just be polite and professional. It’s pretty common in my office for someone to close another person’s door if they are being loud. My assistant has certainly done that for me.

          • Maybe its a work place thing. If someone came into MY office and closed MY office, we would have a real problem. The polite and professional thing is to talk to the person and let them know its a little loud

    • Hmmm. I do this all the time. My main reason is I have been told multiple times by my fellow associates that it is frowned upon by the partners to have a closed door. Also, I don’t want to have to be up and down opening and closing the door ever time I have a 2 minute phone conversation. If I know I am going to have an extended phone conference I do close the door.

    • Orangerie :

      No, you’re not overreacting. If you don’t want to tell her to pipe down/close the door personally, tell HR that it’s affecting your ability to concentrate.

      • Perhaps overreacting :

        Y’all are awesome. Thanks for your feedback! And for letting me vent. I moved into this department a few months ago and am finding it’s very hierarchical around here. It’s hard not to see this loudness/unwillingness to close the door as an example of just being dismissive of the more administrative folks.

      • Anonymous :

        Please don’t go to HR with this. Go to your supervisor. If this person is your supervisor, go to er supervisor.

        • Uhhhh…. Resolving conflicts between employees is part of HR’s core job description.

          I’m fairly certain that when presented with this sort of problem any senior level manager’s response would be something along the lines of “figure it out on your own.” Not that the noise isn’t a valid concern, but OP’s supervisor’s supervisor has much more pressing things to deal with.

  14. Christmas Cards? :

    My mother just reminded me that its time to send out Christmas cards again! How is it that time already? While I enjoy writing a short, handwritten note to my loved ones, ever year I wait until the last minute, buy whatever I find, and then inevitably run across really fun cards shortly thereafter. Anyone have recommendations as to where to find fun cards?

    • I like Peter Pauper brand cards (available on Amazon).

      • Christmas Cards? :

        Wow. I did not realize this would start a fire storm. For the record, I have friends of all denominations, and my cards generally say Happy Holidays. Personally, I celebrate Christmas, and my friends and family realize that, and are not surprised that I send out all my cards around that time. I typically find that people appreciate more the thoughtful note once a year more than they care that the timing is just right for their particular holiday.

    • Please don’t send out cards before it’s even December. I think any earlier than December 10-14 is just unreasonable. As for the fun cards, I buy them after the holidays and use them next year. It’s usually 50-75% cheaper and then I already have them taken care of when I have to mail them off at the last minute. Papyrus, B&N and PaperSource all seem to have nice ones. I also like museum shops for this sort of thing.

      • Wildkitten :

        She hasn’t bought them yet, so I doubt they’ll be written, addressed, stamped, and at the post office before Saturday.

      • Christmas Cards? :

        I should have clarified, by “time to send out cards,” I meant time to begin the process (make my list, gather addresses, order the cards, let them sit around while I think of witty things to say, etc.). My mother, on the other hand, will be at the post office on December 1, without a doubt!

        Thanks for the suggestions!

      • Candles and Latkes :

        Ours went out this week so that they would arrive in time for Hanukkah.

      • Anonymous :

        Why is it unreasonable to send them out earlier? Not everyone’s holiday season revolves around Christmas.

        • +1. This is a very Christmas-oriented perspective. Chanukah starts tomorrow.

          • The OP specifically said “christmas cards”… To the extent that you want to wish someone a happy holidays in the more generic sense (whatever that may be), the cards should have been sent by now. FWIW, I was joking about it being “unreasonable” – more of a complaint about holiday creep.

            Personally, I solve this problem by sending cards wishing people a happy new year and all the best for 2014 or whatever. I’m not particularly religious and my family celebrates any number of holidays so it just makes the most sense for me.

          • Well, someone bi*$ched that saying they shouldn’t go out till mid december was a very Christmas oriented perspective – the implication being how RUDE to assume the cards were for CHRISTMAS and not other non-Christmas december holidays of other cultures, because we must be CULTURALLY AWARE AT ALL TIMES….even when the OP specifically said “CHRISTMAS” cards…

            So yeah, actually, there was definitely an implication that there is something wrong with assuming “Christmas”, even when the op SAID it.

        • oh my goodness! the OP’s holiday season does revolve around Christmas. She is sending out cards, to her friends and family, to celebrate “her” holiday! Are you looking for things to be wrong? There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to recognize their own holiday, amongst friends, in their own way. Sending out cards, to those she knows personally, is her own personal way of communicating a message. I get that more public communications should be more general, but she is amongst friends here and is making a positive gesture (sending out cards). Are we really finding fault with Christmas cards now? There is nothing wrong with saying “I celebrate Christmas, and I decide to do so by sending Christmas cards to my friends and family.”

          • No one has written that there is something inherently wrong with sending out Christmas cards, so I’m not sure who you are responding to. One commenter wrote that the cards shouldn’t be sent out before mid-December, others disagreed.

        • Anonymous :

          +1 my hanukkah cards are already out.

  15. hi ladies, do any of you know why someone would want an ipad mini (with retina display?) as opposed to a regular full size ipad? Two somewhat not tech savvy kids are thinking about a present for a parent. i have not yet been into an apple store to see either of these in person, side by side, and dread the day that i must go, as the closest apple store is always a madhouse. i have read the details on each on apple’s website, and i am still not sure what the difference is (other than the smaller size). the hope is that this will be used primarily for travel time in airports, as a way to browse around online and also to read books (is this possible?). i have to honestly admit that i don’t know what the retina display is, even after trying to find the answer on apple’s site…

    • Carrie Preston :

      It’s really the smaller size. I had a regular sized ipad & upgraded to the new mini because it’s much smaller and easier for me to travel with. For me, it made a world of difference in terms of weight to haul around, and the screen size is only a little bit smaller than the earlier generation ipads (which is what I had). Personally, I would choose the mini over the regular size for the uses you’re talking about. The larger one may make more sense if they’d use it as more of a laptop/hybrid. I use it for what you’re talking about (access to the internet when I travel, kindle app, browsing at home on the couch).

    • The smaller size is lighter weight so that can be a big plus for some. We got an ipad for my MIL and she went to the Apple store to try out the various options. She decided on the mini because it was less heavy to hold and she thought it would put less stress on her wrists.

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