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.

Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I did it! I completed one of my life goals and finished a sprint triathlon in 1 hour 49 minutes.

I am so glad I took the plunge. Originally, I was reluctant to sign up for a number of years because I didn’t know how to swim. My form the day of the race was still terrible, but it didn’t prevent me from finishing a quarter mile swim on my own in 18 minutes! (I thought I was out there much longer than that — lol!)

They broke us up by ages, and initially, I was disappointed at how far behind I had fallen in the swim. But my spirits picked up when I started passing people I had started the swim with on the bike! I really do love cycling, and lately I haven’t had time to train on the bike — just tool around town.

I feel great. I made it in time for Ari’s soccer game, and when we got home I took a nap. Completing a life goal, family, rest — it doesn’t get better than that!

How are you? What’s on your mind today?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up? This is what I’m up to on Sunday:

Doing a triathlon — in this case, a “sprint” that includes a 400-yard swim in open water, 11.1-mile bike ride and 3-mile run — has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years. It’s not unheard of in the active Bay Area, and honesty, what kept me from signing up was the swim.

I am a terrible swimmer, and even signed up for beginner’s classes at the YMCA. Between that and swimming at the Y once a week, I am hoping to survive the swim part and move right along to biking and running, my fortes.

Here’s to a swim, in which I don’t swallow half the bay…enter nervous laugh here. Have you done a triathlon? Please share your tips!

What are you up to this weekend? What’s on your mind today?

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Lately, I’ve seen some icky Facebook memes against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour because fast food workers are simply unworthy. One meme pitted them against soldiers, making the false statement that soldiers are paid less, when soldiers at least receive housing, healthcare coverage, and aid for an education. I still think they should be paid more, but so should many civilians who also work hard to provide for their families and pay their taxes.

This response — thanks Vegas for highlighting! — was a ray of sunshine:

Have you seen any good FB memes lately? Please do share!

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

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Four Good Reasons to Encourage Less Soda Consumption

BERKELEY, Calif. — This past weekend MomsRising.org co-sponsored an educational panel on soda. Berkeley and San Francisco, California, each have ballot initiatives to tax soda as a way to curb consumption, and in San Francisco’s case, fund certain public programs.

Up to now, every single soda tax ballot initiative in the country has failed as the industry has pumped serious money to defeat such measures. And as healthy and aware as many citizens are here in Berkeley, the measure faces an uphill battle as the industry has dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat the measure, including blanket every single lamppost in downtown Berkeley with signs.

On Saturday, MomsRising was on hand to pass out information on our food justice campaign, and also listen to dynamic speakers on the insidious practices of the soda industry: Anne Lappe, author and founder of Small Planet Institute; Lori Dorfman, director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group; Xavier Morales, director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California; Kristine Madsen, pediatrician and research scientist for the University of California in San Francisco; and Vicki Alexander (pictured on right), retired maternal child and adolescent health director and health officer for the city of Berkeley.

As an organizer with MomsRising, I thought I was aware of the rising tide of diet-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, but I walked away from the event appalled. The statistics in California and certain communities in terms of soda consumption and type 2 diabetes was staggering. The soda industry’s hands are not clean here, check out the following stats:

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda are the largest source of added sugar in children’s diets. 1 in 3 kids will develop diabetes, yet kids in California drink more soda than adults. California researchers found that 41% of children (2-11) and 62% of adolescents (12-17) in the state drank one soda a day, compared to 24% of adults.

The soda industry is predatory of children. It is disingenuous for the industry to simply tell parents to say “no” while it spends billions of dollars creating addictive products and placing them in view of children everywhere: school vending machines, store shelves, happy meals, and even video games.



The Latino community has a lot to lose if the industry’s power isn’t reigned in. One in two — 50% — of U.S. Latinos will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes if no policies are in place to address it, according to Xavier Morales. “Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic-like proportions in the Latino community,” he said.

While Latinos have a genetic propensity for type 2 diabetes, the industry shamelessly advertises to the community in the form of Spanish ads, billboards and other promotions. In fact, the industry has altered the culture in that it isn’t uncommon for Latino families to have a two-liter bottle of soda on the dinner table as opposed to water or milk, Morales said.

Type 2 Diabetes is no joke. The slides that most haunted me — I will spare you the gory images! — were that of fatty livers, and the havoc type 2 diabetes can wreak on the body: amputations, blindness and certain cancers. Morales said there are more amputations among Californians with type 2 diabetes than war soldiers from Iraq!

Considering the disproportionate impact this epidemic is having on low-income and communities of color, Morales called it a social justice issue. And while he’s received pushback from the industry, he said it is imperative that we forge forward to reverse a trend, in which children today will live shorter and sicker lives than their parents.

A small glimmer of hope:

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Sportsmanship in youth sports has been on my mind lately. After a one-year hiatus, Eli has joined a recreational soccer team with girls from her class. She prefers to ice skate, but DH and I really want her to develop friendships with other girls her age. Up to now, Miss Eli has been tagging along big brother and his friends.

Big brother, on the other hand, lives and breathes soccer. He is in a competitive soccer league, which requires travel over the weekends and three practices a week. It’s a commitment for our family, but seeing that he likes it and is thriving, it’s been a joy shuttling him to the suburbs for games.

My least favorite aspect of being a soccer mom? Seeing hyper-competitive coaches publicly berate their players when…they. are. kids. This past weekend, I was appalled to hear some of the feedback from the opposing team’s coach. Gems like, “If you want them to score again, keep doing what you are doing!”

Um, the kids are 10. This isn’t FIFA. And if the goal of a coach — or a parent for that matter — is to raise the best soccer player, this isn’t the way to keep a kid interested.

Eli’s soccer league passed out a helpful pamphlet on being a “good sports parent.” Yes, some of the language is a bit touchy-feely — hey, I’m a competitive person, too, I own it — but so much of it spoke to me. There was a part about the importance of filling a child’s “emotional tank”, which the book pointed out is true for adults, too.

When someone is inundated with nothing but criticism, it can be draining and cause low motivation and self-esteem. The book recommended a ratio of 5:1 compliments to criticisms. This has become a running joke in our household, by the way, as DH is highly critical. I started keeping tabs on how often he compliments and criticizes me. “Hey, you have not filled my emotional tank today!” I’ll say. lol!

How do you instill good sportsmanship in your children? What do you do or say when you hear obnoxious coaches or parents?

Chat away!

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Soccer season is back up in Casa Nueva. Also, we hit a major milestone last night. I took the kids to their first concert: Marc Anthony. I scheduled this post before we left so I’ll update you this week on how it went. :)

Here’s a topic we haven’t discussed in a while: family-friendly workplaces. The Huffington Post published a column by an executive coach who pored through stories by professional women who were demoted or discriminated against after they had children. Most of these women successfully sued their former employers, but no one knows about it because they are not allowed to talk about their cases as part of the settlement.

Definitely give this story a read and sign off on whether you have a family-friendly employer or not.

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

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Here is a pic of my latest obsession. (I know what you all are thinking: Elisa obsessed with exercising — whaatt?)

I go to boot camp every Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning at 6 am. It’s over at 7 am, I come home and wake up the kids for school. And I. feel. great.

Boot camp is a good mix of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. We do a lot of burpees, sprinting, pull-ups, box jumps and exercises that involve weights or kettle bells. I have found a newfound strength and energy that keeps me going all day — without coffee. (!)

I’m a fan. Have you tried something new lately? It doesn’t have to be exercise-related — if it piques your fancy, please do share!

ICYMI, comedienne Joan Rivers died yesterday at the age of 81. I had no idea she was 81, not surprising considering how often she had — and joked — about undergoing plastic surgery. RIP, Joan.

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

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

It’s a short week this week and I couldn’t be more grateful. This week marks back-to-school and the first week in three months, in which things are back to normal at home — lots of extracurricular activities and now school! — and at work.

How are you?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I’ve read a lot of incredible analysis about the criminalization of poor mothers in the United States. The inconsistencies in outcome for the parents of the 9-year-old who killed her shooting instructor with an uzi and the mom of a 9-year-old who left her daughter in the park to go to work were mind-blowing in this article.

July 28, Associated Press:

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Plenty of working parents can relate to the dilemma Debra Harrell faced when her 9-year-old daughter asked to play unsupervised in a park this summer. How do you find the time and money for child care when school is out?

Harrell’s answer to that question got her arrested. She spent 17 days in jail, temporarily lost custody of her girl, thought she lost her job, and still faces 10 years in prison if convicted of felony child neglect.

The decision of this 46-year-old single mother and McDonald’s shift manager has been picked apart since police were called when Regina was spotted alone in the park.

August 27, Associated Press:

PHOENIX (AP) — “All right, full auto,” the firing-range instructor tells a 9-year-old girl. She braces the Uzi submachine gun and opens fire at a black-silhouette target. But the recoil wrenches the fully automatic weapon upward, and the instructor is shot in the head and killed.

The death has set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle an Uzi.

….And while the tragedy in Arizona has indeed “set off a powerful debate” about kids and guns, it hasn’t brought the parents of the girl at the gun range, tourists visiting from New Jersey, anything close to the kind of sociological scrutiny that fell upon Debra Harrell, an African-American single mom trying to make ends meet with her fast-food job.

Wow. If there was any doubt that America hates poor people, read this article. The Nation had even more in-depth analysis on the over-the-top punishments doled out to poor single mothers of color.

Nightmarish stories about about the criminalizing of motherhood have been making headlines of late. There was Shanesha Taylor, arrested on child abuse charges for leaving her kids in a car to go to a job interview; Debra Harrell, locked up for child abuse for letting her 9-year-old play at a nearby park while she worked her shift at McDonald’s; Mallory Loyola, the first woman to be charged under a new Tennessee law that makes it a crime to take drugs while pregnant; and Eileen Dinino, who died serving a jail sentence because she was too poor to pay legal fees from her kids’ truancy cases. Other countries provide social programs and income supports for poor single mothers; in the United States, we arrest them.

I hate to end on that note, but glad that some media outlets are covering this important story. The New York Times once estimated that it costs, on average, $60,000 a year to incarcerate someone in New York, and $168,000 a year for someone in the city. (!) I thought of this story and compared it to how much cheaper it would be for us to simply pay for childcare for these moms or allow them to stay home with their children…and better for the kids, too.

What do you all think?

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

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