Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Gung Hay Fat Choy! It is indeed the Lunar New Year and it is the year of the dragon, the mightiest sign in the Chinese zodiac. MomsRising is celebrating with a blog carnival by Asian-American writers about what the holiday means to them and what it means to be a “dragon mom” in the year of the dragon. One of the writers is Alex Tse, the Hollywood screenwriter behind the Watch Men and soon-to-be released remake of The Crow.

Please do check out the stories and hit the Facebook “Like” button. Many thanks, all!

Also, I had fun looking at this Washington Post slideshow presentation of historical figures and celebrities who were born in the year of the dragon.

Here is an interesting take in Slate on Newt Gingrich cheating on his second wife with his third wife and why some conservative Christians have turned a blind eye to it.

In celebrity gossip break: I did the shameless this week. I bought People magazine just to read the Johnny Depp cover. It appears that his 13-year relationship with love Vanessa Paradis is on the rocks. Word is he’s been appearing solo — even for red carpet premieres. This is more shocking to me than Heidi Klum and Seal’s split. Whoa!

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

Good morning, MTs. How are you all doing?

Two stories that caught my eye – I’ll start with the depressing and finish with the sublime, mmmkay?

Firstly, a study conducted by a sociology professor at the University of Queensland has found that Australians have become more conservative about gender roles in the family over the past 20 years, according to this story in The Age.

The study, by Janeen Baxter, professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and colleagues, shows the trend towards more liberal views on work and family has stalled and in some cases reversed. ”These developments may not be sufficient to warrant the term ‘backlash’ but they indicate some rethinking of the goals of the feminist movement for equal opportunity,” Professor Baxter said.

The study tracked responses to five almost identical questions on gender equality from different groups over five periods between 1986 and 2005.

It revealed men and women became increasingly egalitarian in their views until the mid ’90s.

Since then support has stalled for the proposition that ”ideally there should be as many women as men in important positions in government and business”; as has support for the proposition that ”there should be satisfactory childcare facilities so that women can take jobs outside the home.”

Increasing numbers have taken the conservative position on whether a working mother can be as good as an at-home mother, and on the superiority of the male breadwinner model. For example, 41 per cent of men endorsed the male breadwinner model in 2005 compared with 29.6 per cent in 2001. And 74 per cent of women in 2005 thought at-home mothers were better for children compared with 57 per cent in 2001.

Sigh. The study pointed out that social and economic policies may have shaped this role and that the arrival of a paid parental leave scheme may alter this gestalt in coming years. But ugh. I’ve said it before about this country and I’ll say it again: before living in Australia, I thought Germaine Greer was okay, but, you know, strident. After nearly five years here, I think she’s just about right.

In sublime news, Johnny Depp. He’s in England filming the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and shooting on location at a local school. One of the students, nine-year-old Beatrice Delap,  wrote to “Jack Sparrow” asking him to visit her class to help engineer a “mutiny.” Did Johnny do it? Yes. He. Did!!

In an interview on London Tonight after the visit, Beatrice revealed what she had written in the letter to the star – or rather his salty seadog alter ego.

She said: ‘Captain Jack Sparrow, At Meridian Primary School, we are a bunch of budding young pirates and we were having a bit of trouble mutiny-ing against the teachers, and we’d love if you could come and help.

‘Beatrice Delap, aged nine, a budding pirate.’

She said that she was then asked by the star to make herself known from the assembled pupils once he arrived, and gave her a cuddle.

Beatrice marvelled: ‘He gave me a hug and he said, “Maybe we shouldn’t mutiny today ‘cos there are police outside monitoring me.”‘

How much do I love Johnny for that? I love a star that knows how much his character means to his fans.

So how are you today? All good here – I survived another half marathon on Sunday. Forgive me all my FB friends for the brag, but I finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes – well off my planned 2h08m, but I was sick as a dog for most of September and didn’t train nearly as hard as I wanted to.


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

In the aftermath of the passing of an historic healthcare reform bill on Sunday, I am relieved that those legislators who passed the bill are holding their own — and are safe. Seriously, it is scary out there. I read a lot of hateful, racist rhetoric in the comments section of the blogs. A message board at the sweet land of MomsRising had message after message ranting against coverage for “illegals.” Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas was called a “wetback” and told to “go back to Mexico” for his support of healthcare reform, according to the Plum Line blog. I can’t help but think this is the Vietnam War of our time, that we have to brace ourselves until the nasty storm passes. Gah!

In the meantime, Kaiser Health News had a helpful question and answer page on what the new health care reform bill means for the uninsured, the insured and everyone in between. Yes, the facts — what a concept!

In other news: the U.S. Supreme Court refused to listen to a case, in which a student was prohibited from playing an instrumental version of “Ave Maria” at her high school graduation, according to the Associated Press. The lower courts said it violated the separation of church and state, while conservative Supreme Court Judge Samuel Alito viewed it as censorship.  

First Lady Michelle Obama wrote a column for Newsweek about the causes of childhood obesity and what parents can do about it.

In celebrity gossip: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and four of their children were recently spotted having a playdate with Johnny Depp, his partner Vanessa Paradis and their two children at Depp’s home in Venice, Italy, according to MSN Wonderwall.

Guess what? Ari is riding a two-wheeler now! I have to take some pictures. While he was learning with Papi on Sunday, lazy Mami was napping. :)

How old were your kids when they learned to ride a two-wheeler? What’s up with you? What else is in the news?


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


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

What’s up all?

My family is in the thick of the holiday season, which means back-to-back birthday parties for kids with November and December birthdays plus holiday parties. I am already burned out and we are not even in Thanksgiving! Ayayay!

Anyways, some girlfriends and I are treating ourselves to the 10 a.m. showing of A New Moon today. I know, it is utterly shameless that moms in their 30s are cramming in a theater with teenagers — if they are up that early — to see this movie. LOL! Oh, by the way, there was also a lot on the news front this week, too.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, a co-founder at, wrote an essay on the real reasons women are not happy — as gleefully reported by media outlets.

In case you aren’t bidding for Leggo waffles online, Kellogg’s has reported that there is a Leggo waffle shortage in the country that will last until the middle of 2010, according to MSN Money. One of its bakeries was flooded.

A Canadian couple won a legal battle to exclude their three children from completing homework assignments, according to the Guardian in the UK. The couple, Sherri and Tom Milley of Calgary, Alberta, filed their lawsuit after years of struggling to make their children complete homework assignments, especially since there is no evidence it actually improves school performance. Do you agree or disagree with the Milleys’s actions?

We had a helpful thread on the best parenting advice we have received. What would you add to the list?

The Washington Post had a fascinating feature on how Arizona is the “wild west” of charter schools. Stanford researchers have found that while some charter schools are fantastic, others woefully lag behind traditional public schools.

Probably nothing garnered more discussion this week than our suggestions for People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Johnny Depp won the honor, but this Twilight fan was disappointed it wasn’t Robert Pattinson. (Hey, he is 23. That is still legal!) We also had a popular thread on our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Thank you, “Thank God for Air America,” for putting that up!

If your child received a scholarship to attend a state school and was also accepted to an Ivy League school, which one would you choose? In light of escalating costs at all schools, we had a long discussion on this. Was your college worth the costs?

In case you missed it, our Erika is having a BOY and not the girl an earlier ultrasound showed. Felicades mujer!

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Sorry for the paltry post, but I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning and am volunteering in Ari’s English class this morning instead.

But I did notice that Johnny Depp was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. While I love Johnny, after reviewing the very sexy photos of Edward Cullen impersonator Robert Pattinson in this month’s Vanity Fair, I have to say I am surprised. What do you think? Who do you think should have been Sexiest Man Alive?

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

Morning, MTs. How was your weekend?

I know I’m not the only one here who has a tremendous admiration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I enjoyed reading this interview in the New York Times Sunday magazine section. Obviously, a significant portion of the interview was devoted to the upcoming Sotomayor confirmation hearings, but Justice Bader Ginsberg had some interesting comments on how she and Sandra Day O’Connor may have influenced their colleagues in a few cases:

Q: What about the case this term involving the strip search, in school, of 13-year-old Savana Redding? Justice Souter’s majority opinion, finding that the strip search was unconstitutional, is very different from what I expected after oral argument, when some of the men on the court didn’t seem to see the seriousness here. Is that an example of a case when having a woman as part of the conversation was important?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I think it makes people stop and think, Maybe a 13-year-old girl is different from a 13-year-old boy in terms of how humiliating it is to be seen undressed. I think many of [the male justices] first thought of their own reaction. It came out in various questions. You change your clothes in the gym, what’s the big deal?

Q: Seeing that Souter wrote the opinion in Savana Redding’s case reminded me of Justice Rehnquist writing the majority opinion in Nevada v. Hibbs, the 2003 case in which the court ruled 6-3 that the Family Medical Leave Act applies to state employers, for both female and male workers. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote in his opinion about an idea you have been talking about for a long time, about stereotypes. He discussed how when women are stereotyped as responsible for the domestic sphere, and men are not, that makes women seem less valuable as employees. I wonder if one of the measures of your success on the court is that a male justice would write an opinion like this?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: That opinion was such a delightful surprise. When my husband read it, he asked, did I write that opinion? I was very fond of my old chief. I have a sense that it was in part his life experience. When his daughter Janet was divorced, I think the chief felt some kind of responsibility to be kind of a father figure to those girls. So he became more sensitive to things that he might not have noticed.

Justice Ginsburg tackled some of the issues likely to face the court in forthcoming sessions. I love that she doesn’t pull her punches and she’s unapologetic in wading into issues of economic justice and personal liberty:

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

Q: When you say that reproductive rights need to be straightened out, what do you mean?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: The basic thing is that the government has no business making that choice for a woman.

I am grateful beyond words that she’s on the court.

In less august news, this article in The Washington Post points out a trend in teenagers hiring image consultants. I view this article with due scepticism of being a journamalism practitioner – three anecdotal stories equal not a national trend, except within a thousand-word feature – but it’s a topic that I had to think twice about. OTOH, I winced ever so slightly at this:

Even if the economy were booming, the idea of a teenager using an image consultant is perplexing, to say the least. But the trend has been taking hold among young girls who have been raised on a steady diet of pop culture, from “The Hills” to “Hannah Montana,” girls who are being shaped by an industry that trades in reinvention. In this week’s episode of Bravo’s reality drama “NYC Prep,” one teen client actually rebelled against her hectoring stylist, who declared items in the girl’s closet so “last season.”

I mean, yeah, reinvention is part and parcel of teenage years, but teenagers are supposed to be full of the time and self-absorption (I mean this in the nicest possible way) to reinvent themselves. I mean, I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent poring over the various offerings in the L’Oreal hair color line searching for the perfect hair color for the New Me. Why should I have handed this over to a paid professional a la Rachel Zoe?

OTOH, I have the accumulated evidence of years of school photos to show that some of my fashion decisions were … to say the least … sub-optimal. Case in point, my 6th grade school photos. I couldn’t understand why the clothes that I bought never yielded the desired end – instant coolness. Perhaps a few sessions with an image consultant would’ve helped me make some kinder choices. What say you?

And finally, ending on the frothiest note possible, Johnny Depp. I have cherished him since 21 Jump Street. Buthis hotness factor exceeds all measurable  bounds when he does things for The Kids. Earlier in July, he revisited Great Ormond Street Hospital  (a children’s hospital) in London and entertained sick kids  again in full Jack Sparrow costume:

Johnny was so friendly with all the children on the ward and they absolutely loved his pirate outfit,“ a source told Wenn. “He spoke to lots of the youngsters and staff — and made their day by posing for pictures with them all.“

This was not the 46-year-old’s first encounter with the London-based children’s hospital. In 2007, daughter Lily-Rose was treated there for reported kidney failure, and in addition to donating his time, Johnny has given more than $1.5 million to the facility.



Monday Open Thread

Mondays are usually a drag, so I will open with these funny (Republican) presidential spouse tidbits in Mother Jones:

Mr. T Goes Soft Judith Giuliani gushed, “Rudy’s a very, very romantic guy; we love watching Sleepless in Seattle. Can you imagine my big-testosterone-factor husband doing that?”

Last Man Standing Janet Huckabee said of husband Mike, “He is a machine, and I mean that in a good way. No one can outlast, outwork, or be more determined and focused than Mike Huckabee…”

Chasing His Tail Fred Thompson boasted about his years of bachelorhood, “Yep, I chased a lot of women. And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me.”

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon Speaking of his wife Ann, whom he met when he was 18, Mitt Romney told 60 Minutes, “She’s a babe. I saw that when she was 15.”

BTW, the State of the Union Address is tonight.

Ted Kennedy to Endorse Obama: In case you missed it, Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late president, wrote a compelling endorsement for Sen. Barack Obama in the New York Times. It looks like her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, will follow suit, according to the Boston Globe.

ATTN: Johnny Depp Fans: He is on the cover of Esquire Magazine. Also, he donated $2 million to a hospital in London for saving his daughter’s life, according to the Daily Mail. Sexy.

What else is in the news?