Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I am pleased to announce that we will have another live blog chat here at MotherTalkers THIS WEDNESDAY, March 30, at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET. This time, we are speaking with Ellen Moran, chief of Staff to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

Prior to being appointed to the position on April 23, 2009, Ellen was the White House director of communications during the early months of the Obama Administration. I have seen her described as a “progressive’s progressive” online, having served as executive director at EMILY’s List and held a leadership position within the Democratic Party.

On a personal note, Ellen is married and has two children. Surely, she has a lot to say about the balancing act of a working mother with a job that is critical in supporting the economic stability and growth of this country as well as on the world stage. I thought it would be great to pick Ellen’s brain on not only the economic concerns close to our hearts, but how she balances her interests and activism with the responsibilities of motherhood. Please join us! I will make sure to gather some of your questions beforehand in a nagging diary. :)

Speaking of, thank you for participating in our live chat last week with Arcelia Hurtado, whose non-profit organization, Equal Rights Advocates, is defending women for pay discrimination against Wal-Mart. I thought you’d like to know that the National Organization for Women is hosting a rally on behalf of the women of Wal-Mart tomorrow in Washington D.C. between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.. Here are the details:

Who: National Organization for Women and Allies
What: Rally for the Women of Wal-Mart
Where: U.S. Supreme Court
1 First St. NE between E. Capitol St. & Maryland Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20543
Metro: Capitol South (Blue & Orange Lines) or Union Station (Red Line, Amtrak)
When: Tuesday, March 29
Time: 9:30am-11:30am
Questions: Contact Anita Lederer at fieldorg at now dot org or 202-628-8669 ext. 134

There have been a lot of stories about obesity lately. Most recently, ran a piece about how religious people tend to be more overweight in middle age than non-church goers. My initial reaction to this piece was “duh!” especially since researchers listed no reason for the disparity. How about this: most Americans go to church so it would make sense that a fair share would also be overweight or have dark hair or be short. Also, obesity seems to be striking minority communities more than most and we tend to be a church-going bunch, so again, I think it’s no coincidence we would also have a disproportionate number of obese people.

I will say though that churches could definitely do a better job of encouraging people to bring healthier foods to the potlucks. I know my kids look forward to the doughnuts and gogurts there every week, especially since I don’t buy it for them at home. For those of you who go to church, do you find the potlucks laden with lots of sugary and fatty treats?

In other news: one in six Americans is Latino/Hispanic, according to the Los Angeles Times. We are expected to make up one-third of the population in 2050.

Mamapedia Voices had an article about environment-friendly and healthy products to clean the house.

Next time we concoct gift ideas for MTers, we may want to consider something from this site, Books and Cookies. Started by Chudney Ross, the youngest daughter of Diana Ross, the company creates themed gift baskets — like potty training — with books, learning activities and sweet treats. They’re cute!

In other celebrity-related news: Madonna has failed to come up with the money to fund a girls’ academy in Malawi, where 67 percent of girls don’t go to secondary school, according to the New York Times.

Finally, I enjoyed this essay in the Huffington Post about our reaction to Tiger Mom and why mommy war books like hers are stupid. It somewhat reminded me of my all-time favorite parenting essay, “The Good Enough Mother” by Anna Quindlen. (Oh, how I miss you in Newsweek!)

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


Tuesday Open Thread

Laugh for the day: Berkeley Parents Network is still running letters by readers on when boys are old enough to go to the men’s room without mom. I laughed my ass off when I came across this letter by a local dad:

What goes on in a men’s room? Lots of peeing, and occasional pooping. Unless you’re a conservative Senator… then there might be some foot-tapping. I can understand you concern; you can’t see your son, and that there are occasional worrisome stories in the news (pervy priests in the bathrooms come to mind), I can assure you that as a man, I have never ONCE in my life witnessed anything weird going on, or overheard anything weird going on in a bathroom, other than someone who really overdid it on the cabbage soup last night. Of course, I would think that it might depend on the area — if there is a park known in local areas as a place where people go looking to hook up or buy drugs, well, I’d be a little worried. But I think the risks are minimal, and frankly, what are your alternatives?

God, I love Berkeley Parents Network!

In Sarah Palin Watch: Veep GOP nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin dominated the tabloids, including People, US Weekly and National Enquirer. My jaw dropped upon learning that she giggled during a radio program, in which an Alaskan shock jock made fun of her Democratic opponent, who was a cancer survivor, by calling her “bitch” and “cancer,” according to US Weekly. Also, Palin may have some pastor problems of her own. According to Salon, Palin’s pastor Larry Kroon invited the head of “Jews for Jesus” to speak at the church — at the same time Palin attended. AND, she’s a hypocrite, too. She used the word “choice” to describe her 17-year-old daughter’s decision to keep her baby. Yet, she is virulently opposed to teenagers securing abortions without their parents’ consent, according to Slate.

In related news, Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen called out the blatant sexism by the Republican Party choosing Palin as their vice presidential nominee. Also, I was struck by this tidbit in a recent Newsweek article: Palin’s daughter Piper was born on Monday and she returned to work the next day as mayor of Wasilla. Who are her doctors and how can they allow her to fly eight hours with leaking amniotic fluid with one pregnancy and return to work the next day with the other? How is this even physically possible?!

The “media elite” responded to Palin’s attacks in her Republican National Convention speech, according to Politico. Edgy Mama over at the Mountain Xpress makes a compelling case why she should be vice president. Now this is disturbing: Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews were dropped as anchors on MSNBC for being too liberal, according to the Washington Post. No mention of whether Fox News will drop Bill O’Reilly, or heck, all their anchors from the air.

Finally, in case you have not heard, Cindy McCain was sporting a $300,000 outfit for the Republican National Convention. Her ensemble included three-carat diamond earrings that were worth $280,000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Elitist? Nah.

Also, was anyone uncomfortable with how the McCains used their adoptive daughter Bridget in promo videos and biographies as evidence of their benevolence? Salon’s Joan Walsh was.

Oprah Winfrey, by the way, has said she would have Palin on her show — after the elections, according to Salon.

And in one last piece of Palin news — I promise! — Jon Stewart picked up on Bill O’Reilly’s hypocrisy when it comes to Palin’s teen daughter’s pregnancy and what he said about another famous pregnant teen, Jamie Lynn Spears. Hilarious. Thank you, Batmom, for the tip!

And one more hilarious video — I promise, really I do! — here is a Sarah Palin look-alike rapping. The comments in the Salon thread are funny, too.

Check out Jennifer Garner’s cute belly and t-shirt at Celebrity Baby Blog. Congrats to her and hubby Ben Affleck who are expecting their second child. The picture of Jon Bon Jovi with his 4-year-old son, Romeo Jon, in Celebrity Baby Blog is adorable, too!

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


When Children Leave For Good

Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen recently wrote an essay, which made me stop to savor the time with my two small children. Oftentimes, when we are stressed and exhausted, we forget that these little people do grow up — and find their own way.

A friend whose children are just a little older than my own told me once that parents fool themselves, pulling away from the quad with an empty SUV and tears in their eyes, that sending a child to college constitutes the great separation. The real breach, she said, came after the car, full once more, left the quad with a mortarboard and a diploma tossed in the back seat.

During college there were those long winter breaks, the occasional weekend, the summers in which the high-school friends reappeared at the breakfast table, if pancakes at 1 p.m. counts as breakfast. But then, college over, real life began. The unfamiliar names of workplace acquaintances. The inconvenient or nonexistent holidays that come with the bottom rungs of the employment ladder. The tiny apartment in the new neighborhood. The frying pan…

First they are helpless. The rocking, the burping, the bathing, the nursing. The endless nursing. And then they learn to use a spoon, and then a knife, and chopsticks, and the oven, and a panini press. I don’t believe food is love, precisely, but I believe everything looks better in the morning if there are eggs Benedict. I learned to cook from my mother, me at the stove, her in a wheelchair, when I was doing a college year abroad in the country of chemo. Her message was pretty clear: a full plate is what you will need to survive…

First they are in your arms constantly, so that your joints go stiff and your back aches. Then they hold your hand, then tolerate an arm around the shoulder, then shrug and pull away. And finally there’s that hug that always seems to vibrate with the adrenaline of near-escape. They recede into the distance, leaving vapor trails of memory and dinner for two, a culinary trick I cannot master. After my mother died we had a housekeeper who had been the house mother at a fraternity; she made smothered chicken and pork chops with onions and pepper steak in quantities so enormous that it looked as though Congress was expected to drop by. I merely make enough food for eight, which is what I always did when I was cooking for five. It is a good thing my husband likes leftovers.

Chris still comes for dinner sometimes, for the kinds of meals you can’t make in a frying pan: beef stew, short ribs, spaghetti and meatballs. He eats the way you eat when you’ve been cooking for yourself, with a sigh and a smile. His room upstairs has not changed much, except that it echoes because some of the furniture is gone, and sometimes he goes up there to see if there’s anything he’s forgotten. But eventually he stands and says, “I think I’m going home now.” How would he know how that feels to me? First the cradle, then the crib, the big-boy bed, the posters on the wall, the prom pictures on the desk. And then the U-Haul and the tiny kitchen with the lone pan. His home now is elsewhere.

This piece left me in tears. I love Anna Quindlen! I thought I would share…