Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, which means there are a lot of inspirational stories out there.

This news story is a year old, but still heartwarming. It is about a philanthropist who single handedly lifted a town out of abject poverty by paying for childcare and in-state college tuition for all of its residents. Property values have gone up and the town’s high school graduation rate went up from 25% to almost 100%. Amazing.

And this “Open Letter of Love to All Moms” in BlogHer made me smile. A mother of four kids 10 years old and under offered 15 pieces of advice. While she obviously had no tips for moms with tweens and teens, I thought these two pieces of advice were timeless and wise:

…12. Don’t ever judge other mothers. When you judge others, your children can hear you. When you love others, your children can hear you AND feel it, too.

13. Don’t ever judge other children….

At this point I’ve met so many parents and kids — clearly all doing the best that they can — now I know better than judge or be smug about the way that I parent. I know that what works for one kid probably won’t work with another or what once worked for a child won’t work forever…Sigh.

Do you have Mother’s Day plans? What are they?

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


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Update: Thanks for the feedback on “barefoot” running this past Monday. I ended up at my usual women’s running store (See Jane Run) and learned that they stopped carrying the toe shoes because of injury complaints and people stopped buying the shoes. I tried on a couple pairs of minimalist shoes and ended up going with the New Balance Minimus (pictured on right). Honestly? They aren’t much thinner than my beat-up Nike luminars. I will continue to run in both shoes.

In political news: The Washington Post published a front-page article on Sunday on how, in spite promoting family-friendly legislation, the White House remains one of the most family-unfriendly jobs. Most of the top job-holders either don’t have children, have grown children or have stay-at-home spouses.

In health news: In light of preventable illnesses making a comeback — like measles — BlogHer published a blog post on how parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are “jerks” who are basing their decision on debunked science. The comments were interesting, and overall, respectful in tone. Both are worth a read!

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a beautiful column at BlogHer about continuing Christmas traditions after mom and dad have passed away.

Also, I found this guide featured in Mombian to be helpful when discussing marriage equality with family members who are on the fence.

Remember Erika’s piece last year about the candidate for governor in Oklahoma who made an issue of her opponent not being a mother? Guess what she has done as Oklahoma’s governor? Issued an emergency decree eliminating birth as a “qualifying event” for individual health care coverage. That’s right. No coverage for births of any kind, including emergency c-sections. So much for family values!

Now that we have new mercury and air toxics standards rules, let’s see what can be done to help curb coal power plant emissions in China. This Daily Kos diary gives me hope.  

Hate to trot out the bad news after Christmas, but I have to say for the hundredth time here that Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio is a thug. After being found by the U.S. Department of Justice guilty of racial profiling and other gross infractions against the Latino community — including U.S. citizens! — a Latino Army veteran died after being tasered by his police, according to the Mason County Daily News. Why on earth do Arizonians keep voting for this guy who is costing them millions of dollars in lawsuits? Blech!

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


BlogHer Day 2: An Ode to the MotherTalkers Community

I am still recovering from BlogHer. Day two, which was on Saturday, started at 9:30 a.m. with an interview about MotherTalkers, which appeared on the website genConnect. If I may toot my own horn, I think this is the best interview I have given. Here is the link (again). :)

I blogged, and then snuck away to a panel discussion that included Cheryl Contee (Jack and Jill Politics blog), Catherine Stone from the postpartum progress blog, Gina McCaughley at the What About Our Daughters blog and “Dr. Goddess.”

They were really sticking it to Blink author Malcolm Gladwell who wrote an essay for the New Yorker on how “the revolution will not be tweeted.”

The smart ladies on this panel were good at pointing to instances in which actions via twitter did lead to systematic change, like churning out response to the media’s portray of black women. Also, both McCaughley and Contee gave a brief black history lesson and explained why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., if he were alive today, would use twitter to further his cause.  

“Martin Luther King would have been a blogger, he would have had a twitter account, he would have had a facebook page, and he would have been on foursquare because he was an educated man,” McCaughley said.

Catherine Stone echoed the women: “(Malcolm Gladwell) just makes this assumption that none of us know each other. He needs to come to BlogHer!”

From there, I booked it to my own panel, “How do you sustain an online community and keep your own sanity?” This was my first time being invited to speak at BlogHer, and I have each and every woman — and evolved man — in this community to thank for it. Over the years, you have kept coming. You have all made me laugh, cry, question and delve deeper into my own parenting and other topics, and it’s brought many opportunities and joy to my life. When I first started MotherTalkers six years ago with Amy, Erika and Gloria, I never imagined it would evolve to this point. I assumed that I would have a parenting magazine and comments, but not necessarily build relationships with the commenters and gain a fruitful consulting business. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Also, I think it is nice that people at BlogHer actually think I am sane. LOL! We’ll keep that a secret between us. :)

That night, I had the best time with my MotherTalkers-partners-in arms, Gloria and Erika, our “ginabad,” Katy Farber from Non-Toxic Kids and Christina. All of them have been steadfast in their friendship and support. Thank you. Without further ado, here is a photo of us at Rocco’s, this delicious fusion Italian-Latin American restaurant in San Clemente:

Love you all! xo, Elisa


Attention SoCal Moms: MT Meet-up?

Hey all,

I am in San Diego right now for the BlogHer Conference. I plan to meet Erika for dinner this Saturday night at a halfway point point between San Diego and Orange County. Details to follow…

In the meantime, I was hoping to put together an impromptu MotherTalkers meet-up. (Christina, I am looking at you!) Can you pencil us in this Saturday night?

Erika is researching restaurants and will get back to me shortly…


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

Major Update: And how can I forget that today is also the birthday of our fierce and kind Aussieyank? Happy birthday, woman!

Happy hump day all! I’ve been preparing for the BlogHer Conference in San Diego that takes place this Friday and Saturday. I am participating on a panel discussion about sustaining an online community on Saturday at 3 p.m. in room 6A. I will also man the Moms Clean Air Force booth — booth #126 — the following dates: Friday between 8 and 9 a.m. and Saturday between 12 and 1 p.m.. Please stop by to say Hi!  

Also, in case you missed it, our Lisa in Austin is celebrating a birthday today! Happy birthday to one of the fiercest and kindest women I know.

Sorry for the paltry post, but it is crunch time before I board that flight on Thursday. I’ll make sure to do a lot of reporting from San Diego though. What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I saw The Help on Friday with “Rolling” over at MomsRising. I loved it and will review soon. But I learned that she has a blog of her own. (How did I miss that?) You can drop a comment to her at WordyDoodles. Her name is Anita. :)

Thank you to the Coffee Party for addressing the oft-repeated ignorant comment, “only half the U.S. population pays taxes,” which was most recently espoused by Pastor Rick Warren. News flash for the “Pastor”: even if half the population doesn’t pay federal income taxes, they are paying payroll taxes, sales taxes, and other taxes that disproportionately hit the poor and working class. It’s a sad statement of our country that half the population doesn’t even earn enough to pay federal income taxes. It’s even sadder when people like “Pastor” Warren, who is supposedly on their side, attacks them for it.

This doesn’t surprise me: Apple is now the largest manufacturer of cell phones while Google’s Android is the largest smartphone operating system, according to With limited childcare and time this summer, I have found myself checking my e-mail on my iPhone a lot.  

Prudie at the Dear Prudence column advised an expectant mother not to name her baby girl “Lolita.” What do you think?

I had no idea that Padre Alberto — now Father Albert on FOX — has his own show. For Latinos, Padre Alberto was the Catholic priest who became an Episcopalian to marry the woman that he loves. Someone that we know, Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog, is going to be on his show today! It airs at different times so check out Laurie’s post for showtimes.

For those of you going to BlogHer this weekend, my panel takes place on Saturday at 3 p.m. in room 6A. Thanks!

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and loved ones of the Oslo, Norway bombing on Friday. Here is a New York Times Magazine article on the latest death figures as well as story developments. So sad.

Also, in case you missed it, singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse died on Saturday at the age of 27.  

If you haven’t already, please register for a blog radio discussion I am participating in for Moms Clean Air Force. It is an online event leading up to the BlogHer conference in San Diego next weekend. Also, if you happen to be at BlogHer, please stop by my panel discussion on Saturday, August 6 at 3 p.m.: “How to sustain an online community and keep your own sanity?” and the Moms Clean Air Force booth #732. I will be at the booth for a few hours with other members of the Moms Clean Air Force blogging team.

I admit, the next memoir I’d like to read after Tina Fey’s Bossypants — hilarious! — is Jaycee Dugard’s very serious Stolen Life. I was intrigued by this New York Times review on it.

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


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The BlogHer Conference, which will take place August 5-6 in San Diego, is on my mind. I am participating in a couple BlogHer-related events, which I would love for you all to join me.

The first one is a pre-event blog chat at Moms Clean Air Force. It will take place on Wednesday, July 27, at 11:30 a.m. PT/ 2:30 p.m. ET. I will join my fellow panelists to talk about online organizing.  

The other event is at BlogHer, and is slated for Saturday, August 6, from 3 to 4:15 p.m.. The discussion, titled “How to sustain an online community and keep your own sanity,” is about nurturing and growing your community. I am going to also talk about monetizing your blog and discussing the pieces of advice I accepted and rejected from my husband Markos of the Daily Kos. This is not to be missed! :)

In other news: here is a story for new moms. Just to show you that parenting does get better, the Latina on a Mission blog published a wonderful essay by a single mother who suffered from postpartum depression, and is now nostalgic watching her 17-year-old about to leave the nest. Warning: bring the hankies!

In somewhat related, but funnier news: Women’s Health magazine interviewed actor Timothy Olyphant (Justified), who had this to say about parenthood:

It f—ing exhausts you! That’s how it changes you! My buddy on the show is expecting a baby. I said, “Imagine I call you at midnight, and I hang up without saying anything. Then I call you two hours later, and I hang up again. This continues. Oh, and by the way, in between my calls, you’re wondering if I’m dead.” That’s what it’s like.

LOL! I remember those nights, and how, once my children did start sleeping through the night, I was still up to watch them breathe.

Slate published a fascinating article on the history of social attitudes towards breastfeeding.

As a blog moderator, I’ve dealt with trolls — who shall not be named. :) But I came across a new type of trolling at the MomsRising blog when we ran our blog carnival protesting proposed cuts to Medicaid. There were one or two people subscribing under multiple names — including my first name! — to blast me and other commenters. This is called “sock puppetry,” and this is what MomsRising’s Rolling had to say about it:

We’ve noticed comments coming from your IP address that use different names and email addresses. This practice is known as sockpuppetry. It is a bannable offense because it undermines the trust required for honest conversation that we work to nurture on our blog. If we notice another instance of sockpuppetry from your IP address, we will ban comments from that IP address. Sockpuppetry violates our website’s Terms of Use. Thank you for understanding.

How pathetic is that? Also, I would love to see a study on this, but in my experience almost all trolls, even on women and mothering websites, are men. And you could totally tell because of the overpowering, misogynist tone. What is up with that?

In related news, Daily Kos’s Teacherken — now that is an evolved male! — covered an important study on how Medicaid is actually a middle class/working class safety net. Now that I think of it, I do remember that many of the families MomsRising interviewed DID have jobs, including multiple jobs in one family. The whole “lazy poor meme” does seem to be a red herring from the fringe right.  

The Latina Lista blog, which is on Facebook, had a couple interesting stories. One was about an online service to help minority women find potential adoptive parents for their babies of the same race or ethnic background. The other was the transcript of a Univision interview between Jorge Ramos and Andrew Breitbart. I heart Jorge Ramos!  

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


What’s Wrong With Asking the Government for Help?

We vote for it, don’t we?

The other day I spotted comments at BlogHer defending a homeschooling mother of four on welfare. Being the bleeding heart liberal that I am, I immediately went to her blog, The Joyful Chaos, to voice my support.

Then I read her blog and the comments proceeding it, and was confused…and annoyed. Both the writer and her readers seemed to be blaming the government, or “Big Brother”, for the predicament that she was facing. In this case, she felt humiliated by a WIC form that implied that she was not properly feeding her youngest child, who is underweight. Yet, the program does not allow her to buy whole fat milk, which I agree, should be left up to the families receiving the aid. She lamented all the “hoops” she went through to participate in the program, including appointments and being told what she could buy with the money.

But who’s fault is that? Some say the “government” — which again, is voted in by us. I say the people who voted it in: people lamenting the lack of “accountability” and “fraud” in the system.

Too much taxation? Well, as someone who has traveled to places where the taxes are very low to non-existent, I can tell Ms. Joyful Chaos that no matter where she goes on earth, someone is going to “own” her whether it be a warlord, drug lord, the church, the government, or the private sector. My guess is her husband’s job “owns” him as he is not free to come and go as he pleases.  

The power of the private sector in this country has always astonished me because my family pays thousands of dollars per year in insurance premiums with no guarantee that we will get the services we paid for. I am looking at you, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance. At least I see where my taxes go, including public education, sanitation, the department of defense, social security, medicare, public libraries and swimming pools, and yes, welfare. I don’t have a problem with people accepting assistance when they need it, which gets me to the crux of my post.

What is up with people being ashamed of asking for help? In Joyful Chaos’s post, many homeschooling moms admitted to receiving welfare at one point or another, yet disparaged the program as being “defrauded.” Well, defrauded by everyone else other than them, of course.

In all fairness, I think they are rightfully responding to something in our culture that teaches people that asking for help from — gasp! — the government is not okay. In return, this breeds resentment, hatred really, of people on welfare.

Growing up, I heard a lot of disparaging remarks about the program and the people “on the dole”, including from my own family members collecting food stamps. They were the deserving poor, you know? They resented the fact that they worked so damn hard, were struggling, and did not qualify for the rolls. Ronald Reagan’s made-up story about the “Cadillac welfare queen” didn’t help any.

As I got older and realized almost everyone around me had received government assistance at some point in their lives, I sensed another uncomfortable feeling: guilt. We were raised to believe that as long as we pulled ourselves from the bootstraps, we didn’t need the government. Never mind that we pay taxes for these services and even the strongest among us sometimes need help. Having witnessed layoffs and “downsizing” during a recession, I can tell you that the markets are not perfect. In this sense, I am sad for Joyful Chaos and other moms who need assistance, yet are continuously bombarded by negative messages of them asking for help.

What say you? Do you think the myth of the “self-made man” is something we can debunk in the United States? In our lifetimes?