Late-Night Liberty: 10 Years Ago…

Ten years is a long time in a lifetime, as evident in a recent column in Brain, Child magazine. Readers shared how their lives have changed in the last 10 years. Here is a snippet:

Ten years ago: I patiently stand in line for several hours for Peter Gabriel tickets, who I’ve always been nuts about.

Today: I patiently stand in line for several hours to enroll my child in “Nature Nuts,” a preschool summer class at the local nature center.

Vincent O’Keefe,
Avon Lake, OH

What am I doing these days that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing a decade ago? Lifting a child up to my face and taking a giant whiff of her butt to see if she pooped.

Lynne Thomas
Brookfield, WI

Where was I 10 years ago? I was a newlywed and had just started a job as a reporter at Wired News. It had been a year since I moved from Boston to San Francisco. Actually, we may have just moved to Berkeley from San Francisco, so 10 years ago was a time of great upheaval — and joy — in my life. I wouldn’t have thought there was much more to do, but I now own a home, have two children, started a school, work for non-profits, and got to see my husband launch an amazing company. Whew!

How has your life changed in the last 10 years?


Late-Night Liberty: Cougar Moms Edition

Are you a cougar?

After reading this Seventeen magazine article — in my defense, I found it on MSN! — I would say I am not. And boy, was I misusing the term. My reading Twilight and lusting after Robert Pattinson has nothing on these moms:

Bri’s mom is the perfect example of a cougar: an older woman who’s into (and almost seems to hunt down!) way younger guys. Lots of girls say their moms are on a cougar kick too: Meghan, 17, says her 46-year-old mom dated the same guy who’d dated one of her 18-year-old friends; Hunter, 18, sometimes feels as if her friends like her cougar mom more than they like her; and Jessica, 16, reports that ever since her parents got divorced last year, her mom “dresses up in short skirts and dates guys who are barely 25, then tells me everything about her sex life. It’s so awkward.” The truth is that you want to be open with your mom — but it feels unsettling if she’s that open with you.

This mom takes the cake:

Still, girls who are cool with cougar moms are the exception: The majority of girls who shared their stories with Seventeen wished their moms would change their embarrassing ways. Take Erica, 17. After her parents split up two years ago, her mom dyed her hair blonde and started wearing clothes “so tight they could be mistaken for a second skin.” But that wasn’t as traumatizing as what she says her mom started doing next: partying all night at clubs and sometimes not even coming home. After a few months, Erica says her mom even drained Erica’s college tuition money to buy herself breast implants. “One night, a friend called to tell me she saw my mom leave a club with some guy,” Erica says. “Hours after the call, my mom still wasn’t home, so I made my dad drive around town with me to look for her — I was worried she could be hurt or in an accident.” When Erica arrived at the club to look for her mom, she found her — in a car, hooking up with a guy who’d recently graduated from Erica’s high school! “I was so humiliated and angry. I shouldn’t have to be a 17-year-old babysitting a 40-year-old woman. It’s not cool at all to have a cougar mom. I feel totally robbed of being a teenager.”

Ayayay. This story reads like one of those “trend” pieces from the lifestyle section of the New York Times. But the article was sadly in a teenage girl magazine and actually offered real advice on how to deal with a cougar mom.

So now I must ask: are you a cougar mom? Was your mom a cougar? This is, yet, another open thread so feel free to discuss what you’d like!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Gift Ideas Edition

What’s up?

Mamapedia had a couple of good threads on gift ideas for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. (The link to the threads is still not available online so I will summarize.) Mother’s Day is on May 9 so let’s go there first:

The best Mother’s Day present my husband gave me was a whole day off! He surprised me with a one night stay at a hotel with a day at the spa. He scheduled it for the Saturday before Mother’s Day. So Saturday morning, he and the kids drove me to the hotel, kissed me goodbye and then picked me up on Sunday morning. So I was able to spend actual Mother’s Day with my children and my husband’s mother but the day before was all mine. I checked into my hotel, walked around the town, then went for my massage and facial, I went back to the room, called room service, then read in absolute quiet. It was wonderful! To actually have a full 24hrs by myself being pampered at a spa and then reading the rest of the evening-Wonderful!!! I would give up all birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines and Christmas gifts to have that every year.

A lot of women suggested the day off or a day at the spa. That sounds about right to me. :) Here are other suggestions:

A album! I do one each year (the first from the day our son was born to his first birthday, then first birthday up to second birthday, etc.) and they are awesome albums! You can do a small album with some of your favorite pictures. Or go all out with a big album with all of your favorite pictures. The site is very user friendly and the quality of the pictures/album is wonderful. With that, I also vote for a complete day off for you BOTH. (Maybe the day before Mother’s Day) But you still do things to spoil her. Schedule a mani/pedi for her. Spend the day together. Have a nice dinner. Good luck. I am sure that she will love anything that you do for her!

….You are great in my book just for asking and admitting you went wrong last year. Breakfast in bed, bubble bath with candles and champaign, special dinner out (or cooking a meal for your wife)…Your a good husband….

The best mothers days I’ve had where when my husband and boys took me to do something I loved, like hiking. If your wife doesn’t enjoy hiking, what is great is to make a nice picnic lunch and go to a nearby park with your family (grandparents too, if they are close by), and enjoy the day with your wife and little one. A lot of people go to restaurants but I can’t see how going to a crowded restaurant, and trying to have a meal with a one-year old, could be any fun! Go to the park, bring a nice lunch and a video camera, and let the good times roll!

All these suggestions sound good, too. I love the last one and thought maybe I will ask DH and the kids to take me to a baseball game since I haven’t been to one in a couple of years. What do you want for Mother’s Day?

Now onto suggestions for fathers. Father’s Day, by the way, is on June 20.

First, a couple of things about this thread. One was the double-standard and blatant stereotyping on behalf of some of the mothers who commented. Because the mother who wrote in was not married to the baby’s father, some of the women asked, “How about a marriage proposal?” “Commitment!” One commenter even suggested that this mom was a single “welfare mom.” Oy vey. My feeling is she did not go into the dynamics of their relationship — don’t know and don’t care — and that was not her question. She wanted to know what to get the father, who apparently is an involved father.

Anyways, here were the suggestions:

We always end the day with a trip to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone. The beginning of the say were always something different each year. I made a photo album of our Father’s Day experiences.

  1. Picnic in the park, fly kites.
  1. Hike park trails.
  1. Beach
  1. buy a motorized airplane at a hobby shop, spend day at park playing with it.
  1. Bowling

Those are some of the things we did then ice cream. Have fun!

….I don’t know about activities he would enjoy, but for my husband’s first father’s day I made him a t-shirt that had our son’s initial on the front and “#1 Dad” on the back. I thought it would end up as a joke gift, but my husband LOVES it and pulled it out to wear again on his second father’s day :-)

….Why don’t you get some pictures made of him and the baby? A special reminder of his first father’s day. Also maybe you can take the baby somewhere they can interact with each other like a playground or some fun kiddie place that has stuff for small babies. I think he would just enjoy spending the day with you both myself.

Okay, I will stop there. Am I missing something? Don’t fathers want the day off, too? Or, are we simply assuming that women do more work, therefore fathers shouldn’t get the day off? For me, DH works his ass off AND is an involved father. Typically, I give him the day off. He goes for a long bike ride, I make him breakfast, lunch and dinner while the kids give him home-made cards, and I put the kids down to bed so he could watch TV. There have been father’s days that he has opted for the baseball game or something to do with the family. But I give him the choice as it is HIS day. What do you plan to do or give to the father of your children?

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


Late-Night Liberty: What’s the Dumbest Thing You’ve Done?

I am the responsible oldest child in my family so I never did anything wrong.


I was cracking up at this column in Mamapedia, in which parents ranked the dumbest things they did as kids. Here is a sample of the naughty things they do not want their own kids to repeat:

at 16, put car on cruise control, had friend steer from passenger’s side, climbed out the window and sat on the outside of the car while driving down the freeway! still gives me nightmares to this day! the one and only massively stupid act in my teen year….

I stole my dads truck when I was 14. I couldn’t drive very well at all but I continued to pick up two friends and then I ended up wrapping the truck around a tree going 90mph. I was in a coma and on life support for three days….

At 18 my friend had a convertable. She dared me to “pee” out the window while the car was driving. So i hung my “bottom” over the ledge and basically “peed” all over her car while we were driving down the road. Sounded like a good idea then. WOW

ROFLMAO! A lot of the stupid things had to do with driving. You know what? The dumbest things I did as a teenager also had to do with a car — like speeding and a hit-and-run or two — which is probably why I don’t want my kids to drive. Ever.

What was the dumbest thing you did as a kid?


Late-Night Liberty: Sleep Edition

As I have mentioned a gazillion times here before, I have had sleep issues since my first child was born 6 years ago. The slightest change in schedule, the littlest noise, any light — and don’t get me started on that time of month — is enough to awake me in the middle of the night and leave me cranky in the morning.

It is torture. I am convinced that sleep deprivation causes or heavily exacerbates postpartum depression.

I found myself agreeing with Huffington Post founder and publisher Arianna Huffington that a major barrier to success for women is the lack of sleep. I wouldn’t dramatically call it “the next feminist issue” as Huffington did in her column, but I definitely think it stems from the disproportionate amount of domestic duties placed on women.

Stay with us here for a minute. Americans are increasingly sleep-deprived, and the sleepiest people are, you guessed it, women. Single working women and working moms with young kids are especially drowsy: They tend to clock in an hour and a half shy of the roughly 7.5-hour minimum the human body needs to function happily and healthfully. Cindi admits that between her work, her two young children and her wicked TV addiction, she averages only five and a bit; as for Arianna, she had a rude (and painful) awakening two years ago when she passed out from exhaustion, broke her cheekbone and got five stitches over her eye. Ever since then, she’s been working on bringing more balance, and more sleep, into her life  with varying degrees of success.

Women are significantly more sleep-deprived than men,” confirms Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep. “They have so many commitments, and sleep starts to get low on the totem pole. They may know that sleep should be a priority, but then, you know, they’ve just got to get that last thing done. And that’s when it starts to get bad.”

Huffington’s challenge to women was to get more zzz’s in the new year. Which reminds me, yawn, I am quite sleepy. Nighty-night!


Late-Night Liberty: Animal Books Edition

A publisher once told my husband that if he wanted an instant bestseller he should write about Abraham Lincoln — or dogs. This stuck with me as I read the “momoir,” Cowboy & Wills.

Initially, my reaction to this book mirrored that of my husband’s when he learned that authors have struck New York Times bestselling gold by writing about their dogs: Really? Why? But as I read along, I became enamored by a sweet golden retriever in Santa Monica, California, named Cowboy, and author Monica Holloway’s autistic son, Wills. (Seriously, what is cuter than a story — and photos! — of a little boy and his dog?)

Holloway, who has written for a mommy anthology titled Mommy Wars, did a good job setting up her characters that you do care what happens to them at the end. Her book is a quick, easy and satisfying read.

Coincidentally, three of the four books I read on my vacation had to do with animals. One of my book clubs selected a novel by David Wroblewski called The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This is an incredibly well-written fiction novel endorsed by the literary queen herself, Oprah Winfrey, about a family that breeds dogs at a Wisconsin kennel. Because it was written so vividly and so well, I cringed during certain parts, like, when one of Sawtelle’s dogs was injured. The description of the flesh and tendons of the dog’s paw caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. I don’t think I could ever re-read this book based on this detail alone. Nonetheless, if you love dogs or like stories that take place in the great outdoors — think Jack London’s Call of the Wild or White Fang — then this book is for you.

One last word on The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: This is the first book I read on my new kindle. It was an early Christmas gift from DH. I love it, love it, love it. And I don’t say this lightly. I was one of those reluctant book enthusiasts who refused to make the switch. I did not want to look at another computer screen.

But seriously, the e-ink on the kindle is nothing like a computer screen and is as easy on the eyes as a book. It is actually more convenient than a book since it is so thin and even has a handy dictionary. I read a paperback book after I read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and was frustrated that I couldn’t easily look up words. Also, the battery life on the device is amazing. I have gone more than a week without charging it. Okay, that’s enough on my love affair with the kindle…

The book that DID hold my attention from start to finish and I could not put down so I read it in one day was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This is a slightly older book published in 2007. But I am glad I got to it.

It is a salacious love story that takes place during the Great Depression with a circus as a backdrop. Because Gruen conducted research at the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida, the reader gets a lot of accurate historical data about the underground world of circus life and a great stampede that took place in the 1930s. The way Gruen goes back and forth between the young male protagonist in the story and his 93-year-old self in a nursing home — is brilliant. This book is a must-read.

What are some of your favorite animal-themed books? Have you read anything good lately?


Late-Night Liberty: The Double ‘Os’ Edition

What do you call the decade between 2000 and 2010? I tend to refer to it as the “double Os” but that sounds awkward even to me.

Slate ran a fascinating article on how it is being referred today and what people have historically called the decade at the turn of the century.

Less than two weeks remain in the first decade of the new millennium, and we still can’t decide what to call it. Some decade-in-review features go with “the aughts.” Others have proposed “the 2000s,” “the ’00s,” the “double zeros,” the “double ohs,” or the “noughties.” (This last one has actually caught on in Britain.) Slate’s music critic, Jody Rosen, prefers “the Beyoncés.” How has this issue been resolved in past centuries?

It hasn’t been. History books, newspapers, and works of fiction have generally avoided naming the decade that began in 1900. But the most common terms include the aughts (also spelled oughts) and the noughts—a logical extension of the fact that Americans living at the turn of the century referred to individual years as “aughts,” meaning zero, as in “nineteen aught one,” “nineteen aught two,” etc. The earliest reference to the noughts in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1904, when a theater critic wrote, “In the ‘seventies … Demon King and Fairy Queen … were familiar and popular things. But to satirise them now, in the ‘noughts … is to shoot at a target long since removed.” The first reference to the aughts in a major newspaper didn’t come until 1933, when the Chicago Tribune called the first 10 years of the century the “Naughty Aughts.” It would seem that our predecessors confronted the same dilemma we confront now: Nothing sounds quite right. They were more likely to go with “the first decade of the century” or the “turn of the century” than a pithier term.

Interesting, huh? How do you think this decade will be called? Of course this is an open thread so discuss what you’d like!


Late-Night Liberty: Tee-Vee Edition

All I gotta say is I am so glad Russell did not win Survivor last night. I know he is a “fan favorite” in some parts, but he was such a prick, especially to the women on the show.

I actually rooted for Natalie to win, even though she was accused of riding Russell’s coattails. But c’mon. If you are this little thing, there is no way you are going to overtake these big buys in physical challenges. Teaming up with a beefy and conniving guy like Russell is a good strategy. Good for her.

The Russell I was thrilled that won was Russell Ferguson in So You Think You Can Dance. He is the show’s first krumper to not only win, but even make it to the top 20. I loved watching him dance. That performance with hip hop dancer Kevin and b-boy Legacy was brilliant.

I haven’t watched non-reality shows in a while, but I am looking forward to 24 starting up again in January. On the reality show front, American Idol will start up again on January 12 sans Paula Abdul. Once again, there are rumors that this will be Simon Cowell’s last season on the show.

Finally, Survivor will be back on the air on February 11 with “heroes” versus “villains” theme. Ten fan favorites will square off against 10 of the show’s biggest villains. My guess is Russell will be brought back for that show.

What are your rants and raves about your show’s season finales? What shows are you looking forward to in the new year?


Late-Night Liberty: Christmas Countdown Edition

I made my final trip to Target today and finished my Christmas shopping. We are leaving for El Salvador on Wednesday — a week from today — so I must have everything bought, wrapped, sent and packed by then.

Here is where I am at:

Christmas cards filled out….Almost
Christmas cards sent….Almost
Gifts wrapped….Check
Gifts sent….Almost
Pack for the Trip….No.
Throw away perishable food items….No.
Stock MotherTalkers story queue….No.

I will be offline between December 23 and January 4. During that time, Erika and Gloria will make sure the site is updated every day and the spammers are kept at bay.

Where are you guys in the holiday rush? Of course this is an open thread so feel free to post what you’d like!