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?


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?


Four Good Reasons to Encourage Less Soda Consumption

BERKELEY, Calif. — This past weekend 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:


Weekend Open Thread

So I hate to be a downer, but I can’t stop reading about the abuse allegations against NFL star Adrian Peterson.

Everything about it appalls me. His son is four years old. FOUR. The same age as my son. And I can’t begin to imagine what my son could possibly do that would merit being hit multiple times with a switch. I look at my son’s face and the very thought of leaving welts on his body makes my stomach hurt. Yet Adrian Peterson thinks he did nothing wrong. Just some good old-fashioned discipline. And the sickest thing is that way too many people agree with him, if you go by the comments I’ve been reading on teh Interwebs.

But I agree with this Minnesota Vikings blogger: Peterson needs to be released. Yesterday.

Many times, in situations like this, there’s a healthy ‘he said/she said’ element to what happened. There are two wildly differing versions to the story, and the truth, the ever elusive truth, usually lies somewhere in the middle.

That doesn’t seem to be the case here. There are pictures. Pictures of a four year old that wasn’t disciplined, but was beaten. Beaten by a man that trains to withstand beatings, ironically enough, of 300 pound men moving at car crash speed into him. The father,Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, admits to it. He admits to ‘whooping’ his son. My father ‘whooped’ me when I was kid.

What Adrian Peterson did to his son isn’t a ‘whooping’, it’s child abuse.

Damn straight.

What are you up to this weekend? I will be watching my 4-year-old son play in his very first soccer game. And I will give him extra hugs and kisses, win or lose, because that’s what every 4-year-old child deserves.

What do you think? Chat away!


Thursday Open Thread

My 4-year-old son will play in his very first soccer game this Saturday! I was so stoked with visions of him darting across the field in a bright, tiny jersey.

Then I got a look at his team uniform:


Wow. Way to harsh my mellow. Desert camo?! Who the f*ck had the brilliant idea to put itty bitty 4-year-olds in desert camo? Not only is it aesthetically hideous, it’s just NO.

Sigh. Because I was stumped, I asked for team name suggestions on facebook, which kicked off a lively (and funny) conversation. My BIL, in particular, came up with name suggestions that made me chortle:

-Military Surplus
-Industrial Complexities
-Shock and Awesome
-Camel Spiders
-Improvised Scoring Devices

In the end, our very own Rachel suggested the Scorpions, which DS liked. When it came time for the team to vote on a name, he said Scorpions, and all the boys loved it. So Scorpions it is. Quite a difference from DD’s first soccer team: they wore bubble gum pink and were called the Pink Ponies.

Ah, parenthood. You so crazy!

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


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!


Tuesday Open Thread

It’s Picture Day around these parts. I will be up early to curl DD9′s hair and make sure she is sufficiently primped. How much longer do you think she will want me doing her hair and helping her pick out what to wear? In any case, I’m enjoying it while I can. :-)

And for the record, I find the optional “retouching” service offensive. Removing blemishes will set you back $6, while $12 will whiten teeth, even skin tone and remove scars and blemishes. WTF? It’s a school photo, not an Instagram. Hmph.

What, if anything, do you do to prepare for Picture Day? What else is on your mind today? Chat away!