Friday Open Thread

I am off to Denver to visit a dear childhood friend who had a baby girl a few months ago. It will be a girls’ weekend — another mutual friend is coming, too — and the guys will be watching the kids.

It will be my first big break in a long time sans kids. But it is the holiday season so I will be filling out my Christmas cards on the plane and keeping up with work on the computer.

I will be showing up at my friend’s house with a few gifts from Santa, including a must-have gadget I just bought for myself and need to share with all of you. Thanks to fellow MTer Erika who visited me this past weekend, I learned about the vegetable chopper at Williams-Sonoma.

Prior to this $30 purchase, I was hand-chopping all my veggies — keep in mind we are a vegetarian household — which would take me forever to prepare dinner. With the vegetable chopper, I simply place big chunks of onions, potatoes, or whatever, and with one press it is chopped for me. Sweet!

It has officially become the gift I plan to give every new mom.

Have a good weekend all!


Hump Day Open Thread

Have your children taken their photos with Santa? Fellow MTer Kay was shocked that her two-year-old daughter sat still and even thanked the jolly old guy for the candy cane.

Ari has always loved Santa — from afar. Recently we were in downtown San Francisco and walked by a store with a long line of kids waiting to have their pictures taken with Santa. I asked Ari if he wanted to go in to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas. “Prefiero escribirle,” he told me. I prefer to write him. We did just that when we got home. But the expression on his face was funny. Clearly, he was freaked out by Santa.

Who is in the news? Unfortunately, Sarah Palin still is. Most recently, the New York Times reported that the McCain campaign spent $110,000 in two months for Palin’s various stylists. And we thought John Edwards’s $400 haircut was expensive…

Also in the news: Not that we didn’t already know this, but retailers reported their worst November sales in 30 years, according to the Washington Post.

Readers rightfully blasted Working Mother for this trite piece on mothers and caregivers. Just curious: Do fathers get jealous of their children’s nannies?

Here is a pat on the back to Strollerderby for highlighting an AP story letting parents know it is okay to say no to kid requests this holiday season.

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


Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

The mommy wars have re-reared their ugly head with this Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus, the latest writer to criticize Michelle Obama for taking on a more traditional family role as First Lady. My take on it: Can we become strong women secure in our decisions? Why must we continue to judge women for the way we balance work and family? Ugh.

Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, was arrested and charged for the murders of Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crazed Parent had a diatribe against crocs for safety reasons. Her son broke his toe after a metal seesaw fell on his foot. He was wearing crocs. There is also a $7 million dollar lawsuit against the company after a little girl wearing crocs got her foot mangled in an escalator.

Dooce admitted she does not enjoy being pregnant and recommended everyone wear a condom. I could relate in that both my pregnancies were riddled with morning sickness, bad acne breakouts and too many emotional highs and lows. What about you? Did you like being pregnant?

The Mormon Church is being investigated for some of its donations to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California, which banned gay marriage in the state, according to Pastor Dan at Street Prophets.

Keeg’s Mom reviewed video game consoles over at her blog Kids’ Flix.

Here is something every new sleep-deprived parent can relate to: Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column was about a couple that stopped having sex after their first child was born.

MOMocrats have been debating the proposed automotive industry bailout. Initially, I was for it because I thought it would save my father’s job. My father works for one of the suppliers in the automotive industry. But after talking to him I changed my mind. He thinks the proposed $25 billion will benefit only the people on top and not him. At this point, I can’t help think we would be better off investing the money in unemployment and job training for auto manufacturing workers like my dad rather than give it to CEOs who have run the companies to the ground. What do you think, MotherTalkers?

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


Tuesday Open Thread

What’s up?

Despite the pounding Wall Street is taking, Manhattan’s elite private schools are flush with cash and receiving a record number of applications, according to the New York Times.

In somewhat related news, the Anti-Racist Parent ran an essay by a mom who is of West Indian descent and uncomfortable with buying her child a fake cleaning cart from the FAO Schwartz catalogue. She doesn’t want her kid to become a maid or a janitor. Oy vey. To be fair, she did poke fun at her elitism. But I can’t help but think we have a vendetta against workers in this country. Sigh.

BlogHer’s Erin Kotecki Vest pointed out that three of five major cabinet positions in the upcoming Obama administration are women: Janet Napolitano (Homeland Security), Susan Rice (United Nations) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What do you think of these picks, MotherTalkers?

Also in BlogHer: Another writer fretted about what to buy her co-workers for the holiday. Good question. How about scratch lottery tickets? I remember participating in a “secret Santa swap” at work and someone wrapped up 10 scratch tickets. Of course, there is the danger that co-worker may become a millionaire and leave the job….No, seriously, I thought it was clever and even dropped my own scratch tickets for the holiday party. What other ideas do you have?

A mom over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog described the intensity of shopping on Black Friday, although she said it was nothing like the Wal-Mart in Long Island, in which the crowd trampled an employee to death. Ugh.

Here is a freaky post at Boing Boing about disappearing acorns and starving squirrels. At least one botanist said it could be due to unusually heavy rainfall in the spring that washed the pollen out of the air. Global warming anyone?

Also in Boing Boing: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in controlling long-term depression, according to a study in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Boing Boing writer Cory Doctorow talked about his own battle with depression and recommended a book, The Feeling Good Handbook. For holiday gift ideas, he had another post of recommended non-fiction books, including parenting, science and technology.

Chicago Teacher Man gave an overseas perspective of Thanksgiving. Chicago Teacher Man, who is in India, gave his take on the recent Mumbai terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of at least 200 people and injured hundreds more, according to the Financial Times.

More and more elderly people in Japan are committing petty crimes like shoplifting due to loneliness and poverty, according to the Washington Post.

CityMama shared pictures of the food she served on Thanksgiving. Yum!

Crabmommy displayed these cute craft Christmas ornaments. Good idea!

In Celebrity Gossip Break: Celebrity Baby Blog had a summary of an interview with Britney Spears, in which she talks about her two sons and the love-hate relationship she has with her postpartum body.

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


Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

It seems like everyone is already on break or fretting about Thanksgiving dinner.

We are having some friends over this year. One family plans to prepare a turkey, mashed potatoes and dessert. We and another family will purchase our share of the food from Whole Foods and split the cost. Considering I cook every other day, including weekends, I am looking forward to a night off!

Are you cooking? What are you cooking?

CityMama shared her Thanksgiving menu. Edgy Mama also shared her favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Cookie’s Crabmommy had a funny post — and picture — of her hideous childhood school uniform. Unfortunately, my mom has all my Catholic school photos because I think I would beat Crabmommy in the ugly uniform department. Our uniforms were these simple dresses in pastel pink, yellow, green or blue and buttons all the way down. The problem was the buttons easily faded or fell off, prompting us to put safety pins in their place, making the dresses look even more hideous.

Also in Cookie: Crabmommy reviewed Gwenyth Paltrow’s new website, Goop. While some of the criticism is fair, it is cool that Paltrow is sharing her secrets from favorite hotels to personal recipes with her fans.

Daddy Dialectic cited research and even mentioned a book to confirm his suspicion that young children segregate themselves according to race.  Also, Daddy Dialectic described the nightmare that is the San Francisco public school lottery system.

A Miami judge declared Florida’s ban on gay adoption unconstitutional, according to a diary at Daily Kos.

Dooce is pregnant with her second child. Loved the headline: “Internet, I’m craving Doritos.”

The Swiss Army has banned vegans along with thin people from serving in the military, according to Eat. Drink. Better..

Edgy Mama had a funny column about the toys parents hate, but children love. I found myself nodding throughout it.

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


Friday Open Thread

What’s up in the news?

Please take notice: Two Melissa and Doug wooden toys were recalled for containing barium, according to Non-Toxic Kids.

The California Supreme Court voted 6 to 1 to listen to legal arguments against Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama’s tour of private schools continues, according to the Washington Post.

Time, Inc.. is shutting down the magazine Cottage Living, according to media trade publication min online.

Via Salon Broadsheet: Former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist, “Slash,” and his wife Perla Hudson released a video advocating for gay marriage. Also in Salon Broadsheet: 61 percent of women say there is gender bias in the media, yet only 20 percent of women consider themselves “feminists,” according to the Daily Beast. Even more depressing, only 17 percent of women would want their daughters to identify themselves as the f-word.

Feministing wondered why former Harvard President Larry Summers, who said women were not good in math, is being considered for a cabinet position. Good question.

Writer Liz Dwyer wrote a compelling essay for Anti-Racist Parent on how her tall black son is always presumed to be a “natural” basketball player.

Reading this piece by fellow MTer Hillary at her blog Actually gives me hope now that Ari has dropped out of swim class. He would simply hang off the ledge and not listen to his teachers, a total waste of money. Anyways, Hillary’s Miles, who is a brilliant kid with borderline Asperger’s, also refused to swim some time ago. But now the sport has become a ritual in their family.  

In celebrity gossip break: Funnyman Stephen Colbert will host a one-hour Christmas special on Comedy Central this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET, according to Associated Press.

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


Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up in the parenting world?

In case you missed it, Motrin pulled a commercial, in which it offered pain relief to baby-slinging mothers, after mommy bloggers had a field day with it, according to the Chicago Tribune. Parentopia had an overview of online mom reaction to the ad.

Via Silicon Valley Moms Blog: It is heartening to see parents bring their young children to the No on 8 rallies here in California. As our Dana over at Mombian pointed out, 64 percent of voters with children under the age of 18 voted to pass the anti-gay marriage amendment.

BabyCenter ran a survey showing that while most parents still do have sex, they prefer to sleep than get it on. Also in BabyCenter: The number of women who fear childbirth is not statistically different now than it was 10 years ago, according to Reuters.

Thomas Beatie, the pregnant man who is on his second baby, has received death threats, according to ParentDish. ParentDish had a lot of interesting discussions, including this one on whether students should be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. What do you think?

Parenting doled out tips on how to “lose (or hide) your mommy tummy.”

You have got to see this cupcake-cake of Barack Obama at Strollerderby. I wish I were that creative! Also in Strollerderby: Writer Miriam Axel-Lute wondered if the library would go the way of the video store? What do you think?

Jill C. over at New Jersey Moms Blog had a powerful essay of when she was molested as a child. She recommended a children’s book on the topic, My Body Belongs To Me.

More heartbreaking news surrounding Nebraska’s safe haven law: The 34th child, a five-year-old boy, was recently abandoned at a hospital under the law, according to the Associated Press. Nebraska legislators are now debating whether to put an age-limit on the law, either one month or a year, said another AP story. Fellow MTer Kay raised some good discussion on the topic at her blog the Workin’ Mom.

In Celebrity Gossip Break: Omigod! Will Smith’s son, Jaden, may star in a remake of the ’80s Karate Kid, according to the Los Angeles Times. I know, I am cheesy.

Malia and Sasha Obama were invited to appear on Hannah Montana, according to Access Hollywood.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin may receive a consolation prize after all in the way of a $7 million book deal, according to Strollerderby.

Via SweetHype: Tyra Banks surprised Isis King, the first transgender contestant on America’s Next Top Model, with a sex change operation paid for by the surgeon, according to Us Magazine.

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


Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Devra over at Parentopia wrote a beautiful tribute to her husband and father-in-law for Veteran’s Day, which was yesterday. What did you do, if anything, to mark the occasion?

Reaction to President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory last Tuesday is still pouring out on the blogs. Fellow MTer Lorin wrote a heart-felt reaction as well as some history from her native Tennessee to capture how far we have come as a country. Also, San Francisco Mom of One in Austin, Texas, apologizes for her misplaced cynicism in the American public. The PBS Engage blog captured reaction from across the country. I love reliving that moment.

This generation of Down’s syndrome children will be the first to outlive their parents, according to the Washington Post. The Post covered the challenges faced by parents seeking services and making plans for their children to live independently. In related news, Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Can this marriage be saved?” columnist counseled a couple bickering over their severely disabled son. The ending was bittersweet.

ParentCenter doled out tips on how to keep children in their beds at night. In BabyCenter: Moms offered tips on what they wish they had known in preparing for the arrival of a newborn.

Outdoor Baby offered this great tip of the week: The Hyatt hotel now offers this service, in which it delivers baby supplies, baby diapers, infant formula, organic baby gear, etc. to your hotel room. The service is called “Babies Travel Lite” and is available worldwide.

Orange County is experiencing an uptick in domestic violence calls due to the economic downturn and family tensions, according to the Orange County Register.  

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids reviewed the book Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous Eco-Friendly Holiday Season.

Keeg’s Mom over at Kids’ Flix reviewed the documentary Sharkwater.

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


More Reaction to Proposition 8

I was going to stick this all in an open thread, but the outpouring from the blogs is worth its own space. Also, emotions around me are still running high as the passage of the anti-gay Proposition 8 is dominating the news here.

From the blogs:

“No I am Zoe” over at BlogHer wrote about Proposition 8, the lawsuits surrounding it and the provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. Melissa Etheridge’s response in The Daily Beast to the passing of Proposition 8 was awesome. The discussion over at Strollerderby was interesting, too. Finally, the No on Prop 8 campaign released a final statement.

The Daily Beast had a roundup of gay, black and black gay reaction to Proposition 8, which was overwhelmingly backed by African Americans who voted for Barack Obama. I thought this reader comment was right on and important to run:

“It seems like the frame for the passage of Prop 8 is going to be “It’s because Obama’s candidacy caused increased black turnout, and the black community is homophobic.”

Never mind that it was voters 65 and over who put Prop 8 over the top, or that one of the whitest institutions in America–the Mormon Church–funnelled millions of dollars from Utah to California to make sure that 8 passed. The parts of the state that went solid for 8 were the inland areas, which are overwhelmingly white.

There’s no question that homophobia is a problem in the black community, especially the churchgoing segment of said community. And even though I understand why Obama (and all of the other serious Democratic candidates) weaseled on marriage equality, that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed in him for not taking a strong stand against 8.

At the same time, I’m frustrated and angry by the rush to pin this defeat on African Americans. It wasn’t a black group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, and paid the signature-gatherers and bankrolled the ads. Nor is it fair to say that Obama’s have-it-both-ways position meant that black voters were going to march sheeplike to the polls and vote as Obama dictated.

Writing off an entire race as hopelessly unenlightened isn’t going to help; in fact, a lot of the rhetoric I’ve seen in the left blogosphere tonight is only going to serve to reinforce the idea that “gay” = “white”, and that the gay community only notices people of color when there’s a comparison to the Civil Rights Movement to be made. And the Blame the Brown People push leaves those of us who are queer people of color marginalized by both of our communities.

That’s not the way to build a coalition, and it’s not the way to win.”

Proposition 8 was an unjust law and I fully expect mourning and venting — and not just from gay people. But it is important to remember that there are gay people of color also grieving this injustice.


High School Dropout Rate Remains Steady

This story is already a couple weeks old, but I just spotted it in the blogs. The high school dropout rate has not budged in recent years and children today are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents, according to the Associated Press.

The problem is states are setting their high school graduation targets too low.

High schools are required to meet graduation targets every year as part of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law.

But those targets are set by states, not by the federal government. And most states allow schools to graduate low percentages of students by saying that any progress, or even the status quo in some cases, is acceptable.

•In North Carolina, schools must improve by 0.1 percentage point each year. At that rate, it would take nearly a century to raise the graduation rate, now 72%, to the state goal of 80%.

•In Maryland, schools must improve their graduation rate by 0.01 percentage point each year. At that rate, it would take most of a millennium for the graduation rate among African-American students, now 71%, to reach the state goal of 90%.

•In Delaware and New Mexico, schools will never have to meet a state graduation goal as long as they maintain the same graduation rate. Delaware’s graduation rate is 76%; New Mexico’s is 67%.

Why are states setting the bar so low?

Because they can, said Bob Balfanz, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

President-Elect Obama, by the way, has proposed “reforming” the assessment aspect of No Child Left Behind and funding it. According to his website, he plans to address the dropout rate by investing in “intervention strategies in middle school – strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.”