Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

And I’m feeling thankful. Thankful that this is just another busy weekend for us– that we have the disposable income to take DD to a “Beethoven for kids” concert this morning, and grateful that the same healthy, energetic girl will play her first spring soccer game this afternoon.

Thankful for the beautiful weather– sunny and 70 degrees today, perfect for watching little girls run up and down a soccer field.

The devastating images from Japan reminded me to hug my loved ones tight and embrace each and every ordinary day.

This link offers several ways to donate to relief efforts, including sending a simple text.

Oh and one more thing I am thankful for… last night I found out our fabulous Gloria GOT THE JOB SHE WANTED!!! Woo-hoo!!! Here’s to full-time employment and the BENNIES, baby!

What are you thankful for today? And what are you up to this weekend?

Chat away!


Monday Morning Open Thread

Good Morning, MTs. How is your Monday looking? I hope all of you in California haven’t been affected by the quake, and moreover that anyone with family in the Mexicali area have heard from your loved ones. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

A Chinese oil tanker has come aground on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with the risk that up to 900 tons of oil could leak onto the precious, fragile ecosystem, according to this article:

The Chinese bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 is wedged on a section of reef and has leaked four tonnes of oil in marine park waters.

Maritime safety experts say it will be another day before they can assess the full extent of damage and work out how to move the ship from the reef.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will inspect the site tomorrow and the Federal Government has moved to establish a special panel which will assess the damage to the reef.

We visited the reef about 18 months ago and it truly is as miraculous as it is hyped to be. I hope that the combined efforts, containment technology and plain good luck work here.

The old adages goes that blondes have more fun, but according to this article, a study shows that blondes also earn more and marry richer husbands than women of other hair colors:

BLONDE-haired women may be traditionally labeled as fun-loving and less intelligent but a new study reveals they earn seven percent more on average than women with other hair colors.

They also marry wealthier men, who earn six percent more than the husbands of other women, the University of Queensland study revealed.

The study, which surveyed 13,000 women, found that the difference in pay remained the same even when factors such as height and education were removed.

Uh-huh. Oh, wait, I’ve seen this movie – Marilyn Monroe, How to Marry a Millionaire, right? Now, I’m sort of a blonde, but I’ve been getting darker as I get older – so does that mean that both DH and I are going to get poorer??? Does that also mean I can claim highlights as a business expense – you know – wealth management fees?

And finally, Victoria Posh Spice Beckham is apparently getting clucky again and to help improve her chances of conceiving baby number four, she’s eating carbs:

Victoria Beckham is on a waistline-expanding diet in a bid to get pregnant.

The former Spice Girl – who already has three sons, Brooklyn, 11, Romeo, seven, and five-year-old Cruz, with her soccer superstar husband David – wants to add a daughter to her family and has taken up a new eating plan loaded with carbohydrates to achieve her dream.

The 35-year-old star – who is known to predominantly eat fresh fruit and vegetables and steamed fish to maintain her slender figure – has been munching on pasta dishes, brown bread, rice and meals which include potatoes.

A source told The Sun newspaper: “It’s no secret Victoria and David want a little girl. She’s been told by docs her diet, though healthy, would not give her the best chance of conceiving, particularly in her 30s.

Without wanting to mock the very real condition of amenorrhea, Posh, darls, I’ll go on a sympathy diet with you – bagels, pasta and french fries all around.

So what’s going on with you today? As always, this is an open thread, so sound off!


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The recession is having an impact even on Wal-Mart. According to MSN Money, foot traffic at U.S. stores fell slightly as customers grappled with unemployment and less money to make purchases.

Attention Bay Area moms: a Chilean friend of mine — our Poppygirl’s husband — just created a website to help Chileans in the aftermath of the earthquake. It is a place for people in the Bay Area to host events to help the people of Chile.  

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog doled out tips on how to save money on maternity clothes. Where did you buy or acquire your maternity wardrobe?

US News & World Report ran a profile of a mother and sociologist who doled out these two tips to increase parents’ happiness: eat dinner together as a family and change your morning routine to avoid conflict.

As our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids pointed out, the Senate and House will be holding hearings to possibly reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. The law has not been updated since 1976.

In case you missed it, D.C. now allows same-sex marriage, according to CNN.

In disappointing news: the Catholic Archdiocese in Denver just barred the child of lesbian parents from attending a Catholic school, according to Pam’s House Blend blog. I was heartened to read of the many Catholic protesters on the ground in Denver and Boulder condemning this decision, which was clearly motivated by prejudice. After all, the church is not expelling the students whose parents have fornicated, been divorced, practiced birth control, committed adultery — all which go against church teachings, too. I pray the progressive Catholics on the ground keep the heat on Father Bill and the archdiocese.

In somewhat related news: the moms over at Mamapedia recently doled out tips on how to get your 6-year-old to sit still in church, or at least “enrich” the experience for her. Of course, many of the moms said there is no way to get a 6-year-old to sit through a sermon. What do you think?

Also, did any of you catch movie critic Roger Ebert on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week? My husband and I were in awe at how technology has evolved to help him sound like himself. Ebert had his thyroid, salivary glands and jaw removed due to cancer four years ago. He hasn’t been able to speak without the aid of a computer. A company in Scotland developed a program that helps him speak — and sound — like his old self. Amazing.

Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, earned a $116.3 million in its opening weekend — a record for a movie in 3-D, according to the Associated Press. Will you watch it?

Hybrid Mom magazine had a video trailer of the upcoming movie Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, that made me smile.  

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


Saturday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First of all, thank you for your birthday wishes here and on Facebook. Unfortunately, I had a cold on my 33rd birthday, but it was heart-warming to receive so many messages, phone calls, flowers and outpouring of love. My day started in the morning when Markos took Eli to her dance class. My friend and nanny Llulle showed up with a flan chocolate cake, a couple of cards and jewelry. I was so touched and am so grateful to have her as a friend. Then the texts and phone calls started pouring in from family and childhood friends. I checked out Facebook and I had messages from all over the U.S., El Salvador, Greece, Honduras and Argentina. It was raining hard yesterday, and DH sweetly picked me up a chimichanga at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Berkeley. When Ari got in from school at 3 p.m. our time, we skyped with my parents, my grandmother and great aunt out east. They all sang happy birthday to me as we cut into Llulle’s delicious flan. That evening, our friend and Daily Kos editor SusanG came over to watch the kids while Markos and I met some friends at a Caribbean restaurant in Oakland. Cold or no cold, I feasted on Cuban steak, black beans, rice and fried plantains. It was the perfect ending to the perfect birthday. Thank you all. Los quiero mucho.

In other news: this is devastating. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked central Chile this morning, collapsing buildings and killing at least 78 people, according to the Associated Press. It was so massive that a tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii, Australia and South America. I know we have MTers in Chile and Australia and I pray that you are safe. Please check in if you can.  

our Desmoinesdem over at the Bleeding Heartland blog wrote on how Iowa Republicans voted against a bill that would have made workplaces family-friendlier, including giving breastfeeding mothers space to express milk. One of the Republicans, Sen. Nancy Boettger, who said she breast fed all four of her children, called the provision an unfair mandate on Iowa businesses. So much for family values!

In other we-hate-women news: both the Utah House and Senate passed a bill that would criminalize pregnant women for illegally obtaining an abortion, or get this, having a miscarriage. The bill would penalize women who miscarried due to “reckless” behavior. As the RH Reality Check blog pointed out, that would include women who may have had a drink and then miscarried — even if they would have kept any children from those pregnancies.

Nearly 20 percent of U.S. workers are underemployed, or working less hours than they need to pay their bills, according to a Gallup poll covered by Reuters.

The Los Angeles Times book prize finalists have been named, and once again, I was reminded of how little I have read this year. The only book I have even heard of — and read — was Dave Cullen’s Columbine. (Good one!)

I got sucked into the comments of yet another drama unfolding at Mamapedia. A single father with joint custody of his 18-month-old son wondered if there was a way he could see his son for 24 hours without the mother coming over to nurse the toddler. The comments varied from “Breast is best — don’t interrupt their nursing relationship!” to “Your ex-wife is using nursing as a way to manipulate you.” Definitely check it out.

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


Weekend Open Thread

What’s up?

Since our baker baker is in on the secret, I will go ahead and remind you all that we are collecting funds for a communal MotherTalkers baby gift. MTer Rachel is collecting money via paypal at mtrachel at gmail dot com. To snail-mail money or a check, e-mail Sara at capasb at gmail dot com. The deadline is Sunday (tomorrow). You women rawk. Thank you!!

This is sickening. Haiti’s death toll following the earthquake is at 230,000, according to the BBC. I tried so hard to just donate and stay away from the coverage, but my jaw still dropped upon reading the headline. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti.

In other effed up news: An Iraq War vet waterboarded his 4-year-old daughter because she refused to recite the alphabet, according to CBS News.

In case you missed it, our fierce first lady Michelle Obama unveiled her initiative to combat childhood obesity, according to the Washington Post. Also in the Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is urging the Senate to overhaul student lending practices. So far, the Democrats in the House have passed a bill cutting out the middlemen — like Sallie Mae — and letting the government lend money to students directly. The move would not only save taxpayers money, but also lower interest rates for students needing money for college.

There has been a lot of news on the autism front. As our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids pointed out, the controversial study linking autism with the MMR vaccine has been pulled. Also, at least this Washington Post columnist cast uncertainty over celebrity claims that their children’s autism was cured by diet alone.

On the diet front, have you noticed the explosion of gluten-free products and friends who can’t eat this protein? Can you tell I live in Berkeley? I have tasted gluten-free pasta before, and I am sorry, just. can’t. do. it. I love food too much to restrict myself this way. But I am glad to read it is not all in my head that it is becoming a common allergen and new products are lining up store shelves. Check out this article in the Daily Spark about it.

My friend Peggy wrote an article for the Berkeley Examiner about an issue dear to my heart: the achievement gap. Despite the number of African-American and Latino students educated in Berkeley’s public elementary schools, only 12 percent of African Americans and 6 percent of Latinos take AP courses at Berkeley High School. The grand majority of AP students are white kids, many educated in private schools.

The west topped a list of the “drunkest U.S. cities,” while east coasters were the least likely to indulge, according to USA Today. Fresno, California, was the drunkest city while Boston was the most sober.

Mamapedia ran an essay on being a stage mom. Have you gone on auditions with your children?

Finally, in case you missed it, Costa Rica elected its first woman president, according to CNN. Go them.

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a good Disney rant. Out of nostalgia, my husband recently ordered the kids a few Disney movies from the 1990s: A Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. I did not know this, but Disney releases its classics every so often to maintain their value, so the movies can be hard to find. We ordered the movies from different vendors online, and so far, have only received A Little Mermaid.

Anyways, after all these years, my husband and I — and now the kids! — love A Little Mermaid. We watched it at least two times this weekend and sang along. Then DH and I got into a discussion on what the hell happened to Disney. They used to make such great movies and if it weren’t for Pixar their animated films would suck. Then the credits of A Little Mermaid started rolling and I realized I did not recognize a single name from the credits. Back then, they had no big-name celebrities doing the acting — just really kick-ass singers, and of course, catchy tunes. This is just an observation…What do you all think?

In case you missed it, Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha died yesterday after complications from gall bladder surgery, according to the Associated Press. He was 77.

Newsweek ran a good story on how young people are most likely than any other group to be uninsured and most likely to support healthcare reform. If the Dems don’t deliver on their campaign promise to insure them, they may not show up to the polls in November. Also from Newsweek: Anna Quindlen — I love her! — wrote some great food for thought in an article about protesting teabaggers and President Barack Obama. I especially appreciated her succinctness in describing the contradictory nature of the American electorate:

Over and over again some Americans say they want lower taxes and smaller government. Yet somehow, in a recurrent bit of magical thinking, they also expect those things that taxes are used to pay for and that government delivers. The result is contradictory: vote down the school-board budget, then complain that Johnny can’t read.

Another political buzzword, “productivity,” has come to stand for the proposition that you can always do more with less. There’s little evidence that that’s accurate. And it’s hard to believe that even the most zealous tea-party types would shrug philosophically if a bunch of kids died of E. coli because we hadn’t hired enough food inspectors. The old dictum stands: you get what you pay for.

MSN Careers doled out advice on what not to include in a resume.

Here is more on the children who were temporarily in the care of Baptist missionaries now in detention, according to the Associated Press.

Retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, who was responsible for the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, has changed his position, according to the Washington Post. He said that attitudes towards gays and lesbians have changed so they should be allowed to serve openly.

Here is a disturbing story out of India. India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and about 40 percent are adolescents, according to CNN. The culprit? Academic pressure.

Damn, these are some good genes. Juana Rodriguez, of Havana, Cuba, turned 125 years old today, according to the Agence France-Presse. (The article is in Spanish.) She has six grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Can you imagine??

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


Wednesday Open Thread

What’s up?

Scientists from the Green Science Policy Institute — one of MomsRising’s policy partners — plan to study foam samples from baby products to determine their levels of toxic flame retardants. I sent in a piece of my Leachco snoogle body pillow and a sliver of Eli’s carseat for analysis. Stay tuned for the results!

If you are interested in learning the toxicity levels of your own baby products, drop an e-mail to info at greensciencepolicy dot org. Directions on how and where to send the samples will follow. Thanks!

In related news, a University of California-Berkeley study just linked flame retardants in the blood with a woman’s ability to become pregnant, according to USA Today.

A group of Baptists were arrested in Haiti for attempting to take 33 undocumented children out of the country, according to the Associated Press. The group said they were attempting to save orphans, while Haitian officials said some of the children have living parents. This story has sparked fierce debate on international adoption among various aid organizations. Here is the AP story on it.

In case you missed it, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means we can expect another six weeks of winter, according to Ugh.  

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


Tuesday Open Thread

What’s up?

In celebration of Black History Month this month, check out this CNN story about a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter 50 years ago. It still amazes me that this country had segregation only 50 years ago.

If you can stomach it, here is a depressing Newsweek story on children as indentured servants in Haiti.

Here is a game-changer in favor of abstinence-only education: At least one study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania has found that a third of 6th and 7th graders did delay having sex after taking an abstinence-only course compared to students in other sex education classes, according to the Washington Post. Officials for the Obama Administration, who have called for a scientific approach to sex education, have said abstinence-only courses like the one in this particular study could qualify for federal funds.

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog cast a spotlight on a parenting philosophy of treating children like “little people” as opposed to babies and toddlers. In this case, a father let his almost 3-year-old daughter run around a high-end bar because she needed to figure things out on her own. Puhn viewed it as a lack of parenting while the father thought otherwise. What say you?

Starting in April of next year, fathers in Britain will be able to take 6 months — three months paid — of paternity leave, according to the Telegraph of the UK.

The taxpayers of Oregon just passed tax hikes on wealthy individuals and corporations to avoid a budget crisis in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Here is an interesting article in Education World on how recess before lunch actually helps children eat more, behave better and gives teachers more instruction time. Who knew?

I, too, missed the Grammys Sunday night so here is a recap thanks to CNN.

Apparently American Idol will go on without Simon Cowell next year. Among floating names to replace him is former head of Sony Music Entertainment, Tommy Mottola, according to CNN.

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


Tuesday Open Thread

What’s up?

Paul Farmer wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald on what needs to be done, as Bill Clinton said, to “build back better” Haiti. Once again, Farmer reiterated the need for money and not in-kind help like food and clothes. Personally, I was overwhelmed by how much work lays ahead for workers like Farmer and the Haitian people. Also, I would have added one more point to his article: The need to build schools and educate people.

My dad, who has lived in Haiti for work, recently made a good point. What he saw in the late ’80s was many charities give to the people, but not necessarily empower them to take control of their own lives. In other words, it is not enough to give fish. You need to teach people how to fish.  

In related news from MSN: In light of the horrific images coming out of Haiti, a doctor doled out advice on how to speak to children about the news.

Also, Bono’s ONE organization is circulating a petition for the United States to pardon Haiti’s debt.

The Associated Press ran a fascinating article on Mariela Castro, Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter who is a sexologist and gay rights activist on the island. Sex change operations are already covered by the country’s national health insurance program and she is pushing for civil unions and full equality of gay people on the island.  

MomsRising’s Mary Olivella wrote a poignant column on how BPA in breastmilk may be the “mercury-fish catch 22” of our generation.

In entertainment news: American Idol contestant Michael Lynche was cut and replaced after his father revealed to his local newspaper that he made the top 24, according to People magazine. Idol contestants are under a strict confidentiality agreement to not reveal the results of Hollywood week.

Figure Skater Nancy Kerrigan’s brother, Mark, has been charged with his father’s death, according to AP. Daniel Kerrigan, 70, fell after an alleged altercation with his son who was living with him at the time.

And ooh, this sounds like something I would read. Kitty Kelley, biographer of the rich and famous, is about to release an unauthorized biography on Oprah Winfrey, according to CNN. The book is slated for an April 13 release.

As if this story couldn’t get any worse, Bristol Palin is suing ex-beau Levi Johnston for child support, according to TMZ.

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


Weekend Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all! What’s up in the news?

Thanks to MT Lisa in Austin for first alerting me of the Red Cross’ text message fund raising campaign for earthquake relief in Haiti.

According to the Red Cross’ Twitter feed, the campaign had raised $10 million, $10 at a time, by Friday afternoon. I sent a text and will also be donating to Partners in Health.

George Clooney will be hosting a telethon next Friday that will run commercial-free on every major network; proceeds will be split evenly between Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Yele Haiti Foundation.

If you scroll down and read the comments attached to the telethon article, you will see a stunning display of cynicism and downright cruelty. I can’t wrap my brain around people proclaiming that there are people here in the U.S. that need help more than Haitian earthquake victims… and that celebrities have no business urging the public to donate. Must be Rush Limbaugh fans or something… ick.

Jezebel had a lively discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate to bring babies to bars. Yes, babies in bars. That possibility would never even cross my mind… does that make me uptight, or just sane?

Lastly, it looks like Conan will walk away from the Tonight Show fiasco with a cool $30 million. I still don’t get why NBC keeps bending over backward for Jay Leno, of all people… quite possibly the unfunniest “comedian” I have ever been subjected to, year after year. NBC was my favorite network once upon a time… now I only tune in for 30 Rock, and the occasional Law & Order: SVU (even though that show jumped the shark in recent seasons).

What’s everyone up to this weekend? We’ll be celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday… by taking a tour of the hospital where I will give birth. Yes, they only offer tours on the 3rd Sunday of every month! Just our luck. But it should make for a memorable anniversary…

Chat away!