Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I am almost done sending all my Christmas cards — 100 total — but just need a few more addresses. Even though my kids are off from school right now, I managed to wrap all their Christmas gifts, write them letters from Santa in fancy gold pen, and hide the packages. I just need to stuff their stockings, which I will do, if and when, they go to bed on Christmas Eve. :)

Where are you in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Our “capasb,” by the way, has a diary and excellent on-going series called “Getting it DONE.” (Warning: cute kid drawing in the most recent edition!)

The Texas NAACP and Texas League of United Latin American Citizens have called on the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the Lone Star’s newly approved curriculum under the premise that it was “made with the intention to discriminate” and would have a “stigmatizing impact” on African-American and Latino students. From the Huffington Post:

“The State of Texas is failing to provide many of its minority students with equal educational opportunities,” documents sent to the federal department said.

The request, signed by Gary Bledsoe, president of the state NAACP, and Joey D. Cardenas Jr., state director of Texas LULAC, asked that implementation of the curriculum changes and new standardized tests be stopped for being racially or ethnically offensive or historically inaccurate.

Besides the curriculum complaint, they accused the state, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Board of Education of “miseducation” of minority students, disparate discipline for minority students, using accountability standards to impose sanctions on schools with high numbers of minority students and rules leading to underrepresentation of minorities in gifted and talented school programs.

That’s one case I will be following.

In celebrity gossip break: want a preview of American Idol new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez? Check out this OMG! article. Will you be watching this season?

Have a wonderful holiday all! What are you up to today?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I just got back from a weekend trip to Orange County to see BFF Erika and her gorgeous family. As you can see, my honorary nephew Alex is adorable AND an A’s fan to boot.

I also had some one-on-one time with Maya. We watched Sponge Bob The Movie. One of my all-time favorite phrases, courtesy of Ms. Maya: “A’s rule, Angels drool!” You go, girl!

Erika, who looks amazingly put together in spite of some chaotic months, and our good college friend, Courtney, went to the mall and the spa — two of my favorite pastimes (along with the A’s). We got to go to the movies and see an excellent film, which I highly recommend: The Kids Are All Right. It is about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore) and their two teenaged children (Mia Waskowska, Josh Hutcherson) who then meet their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). The writing and acting are superb in that all these characters are authentic and deep. I was engaged the whole way through and even managed to stay awake in the theater until midnight. (That tells you something!)

In other MT news: Let’s wish our Lisa in Austin a very happy birthday. I hope the hubby and kids treat you like queen for a day!

The Dallas Morning News ran a thoughtful editorial on a Texas Board of Education decision to help fund facilities for charter schools. The editorial board did so with the caveats that poorly performing charters be shut down, and the education board look into other ways for charters to gain facilities such as sharing space with traditional public schools.

Here is a fascinating article in Wired about how we are typically attracted to people who look like ourselves or our parents. There was an actual study, in which people picked out photographs that had their own faces morphed into the image.

MomsRising posted a blog carnival advocating for paid sick days.

The Washington Post ran an article about breastfeeding mix-ups.

In celebrity gossip break: Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres “resigned” as judges on American Idol and will be replaced by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, according to that bastion of journalistic integrity TMZ.

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


Weekend Open Thread

As it turns out, the onus to produce a healthy baby does not lie solely on the mother. According to a UC-Berkeley study cited by Parents magazine, men who take in a lot of folate via vitamins and leafy greens are less likely to produce sperm with chromosomal defects.

For maximum benefit, the study recommended that guys take between 700 mcg and 1,000 mcg of folate a day, according to Parents.

Sex Better On Vacation: As if we didn’t already know, Sharon Begley of Newsweek covered the science of why sex is better on vacation. Duh!

Celebrity Gossip Break: Jennifer Lopez performed at the graduation of an elementary school for autistic children after learning the kids and teachers there really liked one of her songs. Sweet.

In other celeb news, Britney’s 17-year-old sister Jamie Lynn had a baby girl yesterday morning, according to People magazine.

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

I am off to Denver for a baby shower this weekend. It will be my first time in that city and I am actually hosting the shower for a dear childhood friend who, after a couple tough years, is expecting a baby girl. I actually will see three girlfriends I grew up with — two from Miami and one from New Hampshire. Can’t wait!

Have a good weekend all!


It’s Monday — UGH!

I have officially hit a wall. Literally. I am so sleep deprived the other day I back-ended someone in the post office parking lot — while the driver was in the car! She yelped as I hit her bumper.

“What’s the matter with you?“ the woman barked.

I mumbled some nonsense. But I saw the car. I was looking right at it as I was backing up and it did not dawn on me to hit the brake. Fortunately, I did not have the kids in the car.  

Sleep deprivation is not only torture on the body, it is dangerous. I remember feeling exactly this way when Ari was Eli’s age — six months old. I was a zombie. I would absentmindedly walk out of the grocery store without paying or leave my ATM card in the machine without exiting the transaction. Just this past weekend I lost my parking ticket at the mall and had to pay a lost ticket fee ($12). Later on, I found the ticket in my shopping bag, which would have cost me $1 if I had produced it at the booth. Ugh.

The good news is the woman I back-ended dropped all charges. She told me that she could easily spray-paint the scratches and would not charge me or my insurance anything. I must have used some stored good karma, which is quickly running out unless I get some sleep!

Guilt at the Grocery Store?: I heard about this on the radio. Supermarkets in London will unveil “smart carts“ or shopping carts that will give you detailed information about the products you are buying like whether they are sugary and high in fat, according to The Vancouver Sun.

Whatever you call it, this intelligent grocery cart will contain an interactive screen which will be able to tell shoppers just about anything they want to know about the food they’re purchasing.

This means that it could alert diabetics or those with peanut allergies that a product might harm their health, and could also tell the weight conscious, by flashing a red warning, that they’re about to buy something that’s high in fat or sugar.

Market research has suggested that many people prefer this since they find the current labels on foods difficult to read or understand. And by replacing those labels, companies can avoid much of the packaging, thereby helping the environment.

I have a sweet tooth. So my cart would go crazy.

No Toxic Baby Toys in CA: Hopefully, this will carry repercussions for the rest of the country. Breaking from his own party, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar signed legislation that bans a toxic chemical, phthatlate, from plastic baby toys. The Governator broke with industry groups over this bill as well as two ammunition ones vehemently opposed by the NRA. Sweet.

Much Needed Celebrity Gossip Break:  All the trashy mags are abuzz with rumors about Jennifer Lopez’s supposed pregnancy. I’ll believe it when I see a birth announcement. But that did not stop me from ogling her midriff in the photos published by US Weekly. Also in the magazine: sources close to Marc Anthony’s exes say Lopez is a good stepmother.

Wicked stepmother? Hardly. “I have bonus children,“ Lopez once said about Anthony’s daughter, Arianna (from a relationship with former NYC police officer Debbie Rosado), and sons Cristian, 6, and Ryan, 4 (Mom is Anthony’s ex-wife, actress Dayanara Torres). “I love being a stepmom,“ Lopez has said. And Anthony’s exes agree. “Dayanara says she is wonderful with the kids,“ says a source close to Torres. “Jennifer tucks them in at night. She’s very sweet with them.“

Speaking of Lopez, actress Rosie Perez recently talked smack to

Rosie says it was she, not Keenan Ivory Wayans, who hired Lopez as a dancer on the hit ’90s comedy show “In Living Color.” “He didn’t want her because she was overweight and didn’t dance well, but I said, ‘she has star quality.'”

What a cut-throat world Hollywood is.

Onto that other high-profiled momma, Britney Spears: She has monitored visits with her children who are in full-time custody with daddy K-Fed. But long-time estranged mom, Lynne, and sister Jamie made it to her Beverly Hills home to offer emotional support, according to People magazine.

I am intrigued by stage moms like Lynne. I am sure she like all of us doesn’t want her children to struggle. But what happens when these good intentions go terribly awry? What a nightmare for her as a mother. I know everytime I see older clips of a scantily-clad Britney I think, “Where is her mother in all of this?“ Yikes!

Finally, American Idol was fined $5,000 for violating U.S. child labor laws since singers Jordin Sparks and Sanjaya Malakar were only 17 at the time of their tour, according to

The Labor Department also says that 19 Touring lacked a certificate of eligibility to employ singers under the age of 18. Who says Sanjaya’s a singer?

Oh smack!

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


Weekend Open Thread

A friend who is a public school teacher in Chicago started this hilarious blog on his everyday travails. Here is a glimpse of his first day of school:

“Hey, here’s a homework assignment for tonight. Go home and ask your parents if they make $100,000 a year. Ask them, and then tell them that you can make that much this year and next. Heck, I don’t make that much money.” I pause, then appear to think things over. “In fact, if your Mom makes that much money, and if she’s single, why don’t you tell her about your cool English teacher? Then maybe I can marry her and quit this job.”

I let that sink in. Then go for the kill: “Can you imagine calling me Dad?”

If there’s one thing that is guaranteed to gross out a room full of tough, inner-city kids, it’s the thought of their Mom marrying their Teacher Man. But they don’t know how to react. After all, it’s the first day of class, and I’m not smiling.

Good stuff.

Speaking of stuff, I love Christmas. But even a big kid like me scowled at this recent item on the radio: Costco busted out its Christmas wares Labor Day weekend. Ugh.

Leave it to the Japanese to develop technology to decipher our emotions: Omron Corp., a Japanese company, developed software that can detect smiles, according to Reuters.

It can spot a smile in less than one tenth of a second.

It then rates that smile on a scale of zero to 100 percent.

The company envisions the software can be used in digital cameras so a photo can be snapped when everyone is grinning, to help robots figure out if humans are happy, and give “smile ratings” to people working in the service industry.

Unless we pay our service industry workers living wages, I doubt this technology will work.

MomsRising is onto the next frontier of mommy activism: breastfeeding in the workplace. The Boston Globe ran a compelling story about a Harvard graduate who needs to take a day-long test to start her medical residency. But the testing board won’t let the woman, who is a nursing mom, pump milk.

As the article pointed out, the medical establishment encourages new moms to nurse, yet it won’t accommodate mothers in its own profession.

Staying true to themselves, MomRising is passing around a petition in support of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act.

A Celebrity Gossip Break: Jennifer Lopez just won a $545,000 arbitration award against her first husband, model Ojani Noa, for attempting to publish a “tell-all“ book about their marriage, according to the Associated Press. The judge ordered Noa to turn in all materials related to the book to Lopez or her attorney.

Noa’s unpublished book alleges that Lopez had many affairs, including one with her current and third husband Marc Anthony.

Sure Lopez is millions richer than Noa. But it must suck to constantly have to watch your back like that.

BTW, Halle Berry is having a baby, according to People magazine.

Well, Ari is relieved his first week of school has come to an end. Unfortunately, his school, which is a start-up, is still in the process of hiring a head teacher in his class. His teacher from last year subbed only for this week, which was good because he got to say good-bye to her. But most of his classmates and the teacher’s aides are new.

He is also in school until 3, which would not be so bad if he would nap. The first day of class, his teacher had to separate him from another kid because they were goofing off during naptime. He will lie on his mat, but not sleep. I know he is tired so I hope he gives in soon.

How was your children’s first week of school? What else is in the news? Have a good weekend all!