Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Hi all!

I am back with your weekly parenting and caregiving diary. What did we talk about here this week?

All the rage surrounding children in public places. Literally. A Wal-Mart shopper in Georgia was charged with felony cruelty to children and held without bond after he repeatedly slapped a two-year-old across the face, according to this CBS report in Atlanta.  Roger Stephens, 61, warned the child’s mother if she did not quiet the child then he would. Then he struck the 2-year-old girl three times across the face, leaving red marks.

We had a similar discussion — although different take — on a California mother and an 18-month-old who were asked to leave a theater at a museum. The two men “shooed” the 18-month-old who they say disrupted the movie. The mother proceeded to argue with the men. Have your children been reprimanded by strangers in public? What was your reaction?

Now that school has started, we discussed strategies to get kids moving in the morning. Some of the suggestions included a checklist, or for smaller children, pictures of them doing morning chores. How do you get everyone ready and out the door in the morning?

In related back-to-school news, we talked about kindergarten being the new first grade.

In light of the Jaycee Dugard case, our 1plain1peanut wrote about the number of moms in her neighborhood who won’t let their children walk to the bus stop without an adult. She advocated for teaching our children common sense — and independence. Have you become more protective of your children in light of the Dugard case? How have you broached the topic of kidnappings with your children?

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids wrote about Connecticut banning medically unnecessary ultrasounds. What do you think?

Also, are any of you as outraged as I am over the conservative outrage over President Obama’s addressing students next week? Oh. My. God.

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell just signed a bill into law banning the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups and food and beverage containers. I agree with Katy Farber at Non-Toxic Kids that a federal ban would be nice. But every time a state bans BPA, companies are less likely to sell such toxic products anywhere in the country as they are loathe to create separate product lines for different states.

Forbes just named West Point the No. 1 college in the country for its rigorous curriculum and free education, according to the Yahoo Shine portal.  

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco have identified a mother and daughter with a genetic mutation that causes them to require only six hours of sleep, according to USA Today. The bad news is that this rare mutation is found in less than 3 percent of people.

Also in USA Today: The newspaper ran a series of stories on how to help students pay back loans when they are unemployed during the recession.

Bazaar Magazine ran an article about open marriages. The actress Tilda Swinton said she and her husband John Byrne have such an arrangement.

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


Late-Night Liberty: Gratuitous Picture Edition

My dear brother-in-law and sister-in-law sent us a CD with photos from our trip to Connecticut and Washington D.C.. Since I wrote about the trip, I thought I would share.

This first picture pretty much sums up the mood of the trip. It is one of many casual moments. I am reading Outliers, while DH is surfing the Web on his phone — of course! — and the kids are playing Jenga, or more like they are each building their own structures with Jenga pieces.

Olive the dog accompanied us on many outings in New Haven, Connecticut, even claiming her own seat in the van. Even though Olive was sweet and friendly, Eli would have nothing to do with her on our trip.

Here is a picture of the family at BIL’s graduation from Yale. (From left to right: Markos, Ari, my mother-in-law Maria, BIL Alex, me and Eli. Not pictured: My SIL Morgan who took the photo). Funny story: During BIL’s graduation from the modern art school, a speaker told the graduates that their degree from Yale would be a double-edged sword. Eli yelled at this time, “Nooooo!” People started cracking up. Alex was very proud of his niece.

Here is a photo of me, my mother-in-law and Morgan — who Eli called “Tia Doughnut” — in front of the White House.

After a monumental tantrum on our way to the Washington Monument, Eli fell asleep under Tia Doughnut’s raincoat in the stroller.


Travel Tidbits

Hi all — it is good to be back! We went away for a week to attend my brother-in-law’s graduation in Connecticut and managed to squeeze in three days in Washington D.C.. But, man, traveling with a five-year-old and a two-year-old — okay, just the two-year-old — is exhausting.

Toddlers really are creatures of habit and the slightest thing — like a six-hour plane ride — will set them off. :)

But overall, it was a fun trip. We got to see Hillary Clinton receive an honorary law degree at Yale. We got a White House tour, which usually takes something like six months to secure. But let me tell you, for at least the adults, it is worth it. To Ari’s chagrin, we did not see Barack Obama in his house. As for the rest of us history buffs and TLC-viewing junkies, we saw plenty of beautiful old furniture and portraits of former presidents. “Look Ari, another portrait of another U.S. president!” I would bellow. (Poor Ari used every excuse to get out of this tour from “I am hungry” to “I want to go home to Berkeley.” Eli just wanted to be held by Papi.)

Every night, we played Liverpool Rummy with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. A big part of the reason I am tired is we were getting by on five or six hours of sleep a night. I would put down the kids and then stay up playing cards. I never play at home and I love card and board games so I seized the opportunity.

We walked a lot in D.C., which allowed me to devour food and dessert to my heart’s content. There were a lot of good fusion restaurants like Greek tapas. But here are some things I discovered about DH and I:

We hate taking pictures. And it’s terrible, considering we have blogs and nothing tells a story better than a good photo. But we left the camera because we deemed it yet another bulky item to carry on top of a stroller, two computer bags, two suit cases and the hands of two small children. (We forgot the car seats and ended up paying for them at the car rental place.) Also, getting the kids to sit still for a photo is a pain in the butt. I am afraid the kids’ photo albums are going to be quite slim.

Any tips on how to travel with a two-year-old are welcomed. Fortunately for her, Eli is cute and easily wins us over with her Shirley Temple curls and killer smile. But damn that girl can throw tantrums. She threw some major fits on the streets of D.C., which left people either smiling (grateful she wasn’t their child) or annoyed. She wanted to push her stroller by herself but we would not let her because it would have taken us all day to get to the Washington monument and she was running into people. For her, this was a tragedy.

What else is there to say about this trip? For me, it was nostalgic. As we were riding through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in our rented van, I realized that I was the only east coaster in the car. When my father came to the United States from Cuba, he immigrated to New York. I was born in New Jersey and spent my childhood summers in Pennsylvania. I let Ari know all this and told him that when I lived in New Jersey, I lived in a house with Mamá (my grandmother), Papá (my grandfather), his abuelos, my sister and my uncle. It was a little piece of family history I did not want lost.

How do you keep your family history and stories alive for your children? What are some of your favorite vacation memories?