Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This past weekend was the Daily Kos holiday party. Here are some group shots from Navajo.

I took a few of my own. The party was held at Daily Kos headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., and there were even readers who came from out-of-state for it. We had so much fun. There were a lot of delicious foods and drinks. Our Jewish Kossacks held a Menorah lighting for Hanukkah. There was a Christmas tree and gift bags for the kids — thank you, Navajo, you’re so sweet! — and life-size cut-outs of the Obamas wearing Santa Claus hats:

One of the Kossacks brought over this delicious beets dip to go with Rye baguette. He was kind enough to share the recipe with me:

Basic Beet Spread:
Per medium-large beet, add 4 tbls almonds (or walnuts), 1-2 cloves garlic, 4 tbls olive oil, 2 tbls red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, small slice dry bread or rye cracker (or small baked potato). Blend it all together with an immersion blender. Adjust as you wish, the one tonight had a little extra red wine vinegar.


Speaking of holiday parties, here’s some interesting research on red wine at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website:

The red wine ingredient resveratrol has had a lot of good press in recent years – research indications that it can improve metabolism and reduce problems with metabolic disorders such as diabetes. But the research has been done on people with those conditions. So at Washington University in St. Louis, Samuel Klein tried it on healthy people.

Klein tested resveratrol supplements on 15 middle-aged women, to see if their bodies handled sugar – their insulin sensitivity – better than 14 other women who didn’t take the supplements. He found no difference. And he concludes:

“If you’re relatively healthy to begin with, there may not be any kind of beneficial effects in taking this supplement.”

I am a red wine drinker. No health benefits for me? Boo! :)

Here is a blog giveaway that I dig: LadyDeeLG — she has commented here before! — is holding a contest giveaway for a signed copy of a beautiful picture book called NYChildren. It highlights the wonderful diversity that is New York City.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

48 thoughts on “Monday Morning Open Thread

  1. halle freaking lujah I survived a week that included
    one middle school chorus concert
    one mainstage show at my theater with requisite intermission party for donors
    one major ask to a new potential sponsor
    one board meeting
    one ‘annual meeting’ complete with on stage reception
    one “midnight merriment’ requiring the theater to stay open for tours, storytelling cookies and cocoa
    one performance of the girl’s Christmas teen show at her theater
    one dance concert which involved five costume changes and three hairstyle changes — all of which the girl did BY HERSELF so mom didn’t have to spend the whole show going backstage to help.

    I feel like I deserve a medal.

    • And Christmas isn’t even here yet.

      I understand totally. This time of year is nuts for us. I’m getting good at ditching things that aren’t totally necessary (this morning’s school council policy meeting), and simplifying others. But the choir concerts, gym things, judo gradings, netball windups, teacher appreciation days (it’s the end of the school year as well), and various work Christmas parties are enough to send me totally mental.

      I’ll give you your medal. Take a bottle of wine to go with it.

  2. hello!
    wanted to get some momma advice,
    i will be traveling on a transatlantic (read: long!) flight with my 20 month old… any suggestions for not going crazy?
    am hoping that he will sleep, but i probably won’t… would love to hear from mommas that have already been through this! thanks!!

      • Oops! Anyway carseat is safest plus they’re used to sitting in them and not getting out. Don’t let the flight attendants bully you into checking it! Having the extra space of his own seat is worth the cost.

        Also my advice is always to buy gear at your destination, or rent it. It’s just as expensive to check a pack n play as it is to buy a new one and donate it when you leave.

        Also we have a t strap thingy that attaches the carseat to a rolling carryon. The kid can even sit in it while you wheel thru the airport! It costs like $10.

        • The downside to the carseat, though, is much less room to move around compared to the airline seat. My boys would spend part of the flight kneeling on the floor and playing on the seat. Yeah, I know – not the safest option. But for a long flight it’s hard to imagine a toddler staying strapped into one position, and my high energy boys needed to move.

          • True, but it’s so much easier for a 20-month-old to nap in a car seat. Whenever I took DD on a plane without a car seat, she would not fall asleep! Every time she had her seat we could count on 2-3 hour naps.

            • I bought an airplane seat restraint system that gave us the best of both worlds ( It’s a harness that makes the seat feel like a car seat, and they can’t get out (and it’s safer), but leaves enough room for playing, etc. Highly recommend it. And the booster vest for the other side (can be tucked into your suitcase pocket).

              As far as other things…we’ve done 24 hour plane trips with our kids since they were born. We’re good at it, but the years between crawling and interested in videos were LONG. It’s not fun. Pack lots of new, individually wrapped little things in your bag (post it notes and stickers are more entertaining than you think). Pack LOTS of little snacks. And don’t have any expectations of sleep.

              • post it notes?? haha! how easy! i would’ve never thought of that!! thanks!!
                yes right now i dont have ANY expectations that he will sleep, even though we are leaving at 7pm, so technically he could have fun for two hours and knock out, but i am trying to prepare for the worst case scenario!
                thanks for the tips!

    • A bag-o-tricks:
      •Lollipops (even if normally you wouldn’t give a 20-moth-old a lollipop, on the plane they can be really great ways to subdue a fussy kid and the novelty can buy you many moments of peace)
      •Little snacks like Cheerios or maybe even junk like Lucky Charms
      •Small cars he can roll around on the tray
      •Coloring items (there are flat-sided crayons for toddlers that won’t roll off the tray)
      •Empty bottle or sippy cup you can fill with water/milk/juice on the plane
      •Comfort item if he usually has one at nap time
      •Light blanket to cover him if he does nap
      •Extra clothes for him in case of spills/diaper issues. Maybe for you, too…or stick to wearing yoga pants that dry quickly in case you get a lap full of apple juice.
      •Kid-friendly headphones? I found some at target, and if you are ok with him having some screen time, the headphones will allow for movie-watching.

      Novelty is the key. Just having new, cheapie items you can pull out of your bag every 30 minutes can keep him occupied and distracted from his confinement!

      In my experience, when traveling internationally, people and staff are much more understanding than those on domestic flights. Have fun!

  3. I travelled a lot with my two boys when they were infants/toddlers, but never did longer than 5 hrs in one stretch and I’m not thinking you have a lot of layover options here. But here’s a few of my better tips:

    Choose foods for their entertainment value and suspend all nutritional rules. Froot Loops are a special treat, a meal, and an activity (string them into bracelets, stack towers, play “checkers” on the tray, etc.) Cheese cubes plus (blunt) toothpicks is another good activity food. Don’t serve all the food at once, stretch everything out slooowly to fill the time.

    DVR or iPad. Obviously.

    Buy lots of tiny new cheap toys to pull out as surprise gifts when patience wears thin. A party store is a good source. If you keep them all in one bag he will quickly figure that out and get to the entire bag; if you hide, stash, or wrap them individually and let them pick one at intervals it might stretch things out. Remember that any toy that rolls will be need to be retrieved from the floor many many many times. I never had success with stickers or coloring books, but playdough works well (keep the bits corralled).

    My #1 pro tip: buy him his very own roll of scotch tape and let him wreak havoc with it. Nothing occupied my kids better.

    My #2 pro tip: Near the end of the flight is when patience is at its lowest. But you’re giving him a lollipop for the descent anyway (best strategy for the ears), so here’s my evil secret: if he really looks likely to lose it, but hasn’t yet, present him with TWO lollipops. One in each hand, different flavors. Whoa! I’m willing to bet he’s never experienced such riches before, so it will blow his little toddler mind and possibly short circuit the screaming instinct. (Don’t forget to peel what’s left off the seat and/or floor before deplaning.)

    Easy access pants, and spare clothes. A plane is no place for diaper changes.

  4. From the tech guy:
    Has anyone seen this error when registering?

    ERROR: Unknown session.
    ERROR: Invalid session status.
    ERROR: Registration stopped by Sabre.

    He will be working on the login issues mainly after Wednesday. We apologize for the delay! He’s cramming for a big interview Wednesday afternoon.

  5. Yesterday I took pictures of a friend’s kids for her holiday cards with my DSLR. It was my first time taking pictures in a non-casual type situation, and using manual settings as well (that part I have practiced at home but still don’t feel super confident with it). I was a little anxious that I wasn’t going to do a good job, but she ended up emailing me that she loves them and is putting three of them on the card. Yay. I can’t even imagine the pressure people must feel when they have their first time taking pictures at a wedding. I have to thank baker baker for pointing me to a good site with videos about photography, and I also accessed some other online resources.

    Meanwhile I am working on convincing the 12 year old that in junior high people actually study for tests. It is … interesting? … how long it can take to accept some realities of life. The parenting session the district ran last week that I went to was full of parents with the other type of child, asking questions like, “How can I get my kid to not spend 80 hours on an assignment?” and I have the reverse problem. The grass is always greener!

    I saw “Anna Karenina” last night with some friends. I love the book, but the movie was sort of disappointingly stagey. I downloaded the book (for free! thank you Kindle and copyright expiring) and started reading it again last night.

      • It’s not the response- it’s the giant headline. My kids read the comics- often they grab them out of the paper before I even see it. I don’t care if they read just about anything else in there- we don’t censor much, but the 1″ headline shouting “The Truth About Santa” just seemed…unnecessary. It’s not even so much about my own kids (I’m pretty sure we’re all just going through the motions to make each other happy), but to put it in the headline where it would catch the eye of even a not-interested reader…I don’t know. It seemed almost intentionally grinchy.

  6. I’m gonna cry… the manager at dance tonight pulled me aside and told me Liza is going to be invited to go on pointe in January … we’re to give her a present representing the pointe shoes at Christmas and keep it a surprise until them…

    she has worked SO hard.. I can’t wait for Christmas morning now!! Forget the laptop I’m getting her – this is going to be the best present ever!

  7. I’m so excited and wanted to share… Please excuse my personal brag! Today was my last day of class. It’s the first time I’ve taught this course and I redesigned almost all of it. There have been a few hiccups and some revisions as the semester has gone on but I’ve been pleased with how it’s gone. Overall I’ve also really enjoyed teaching it – there were some really fantastic students and fun work. And today after I did my closing speil, the students came forward to thank me for a great class. They all wrote notes in a card and got a gift certificate to a local restaurant. I was SO shocked. And almost cried :-) It really made my semester. I’ll be saving this for a LONG time.

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