Tuesday Open Thread

It’s Tuesday!

And you won’t believe the doozy of a story that caught my eye.

In Chicago, two grown-ass children had the audacity to sue their own mother for… being a “bad mother.” And guess who their attorney was?

Their own father!

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for “bad mothering” damages allegedly caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like.

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

A judge just dismissed the case, but mom still had to foot her legal bills and spend years defending herself against this insane lawsuit. And you wouldn’t believe some of the details:

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

“Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you … different from all the rest!” the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote, “Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.”

Oh wow. Words… I have none.

Except these: WTF??? Can you imagine being sued for not putting money in a birthday card, or choosing the wrong card? Or for asking your daughter to adhere to a midnight curfew. My mother never sent me care packages in college. I was not aware this was worthy of a lawsuit!

And to think of all the grounds my kids have to sue me. I make them buckle their seat belts! Go to bed at a decent hour! Sometimes I raise my voice. I don’t bake their birthday cakes. My daughter has been BEGGING me to buy her Barbie Video Girl, and I have steadfastly refused, insisting she must wait until Christmas or her birthday for such a big-ticket item. BAD MOM!

So tell me, what grounds do YOUR kids have for a “bad mother” lawsuit? What fate would you like to see befall these ungrateful brats who sued their own mother?

What else is on your mind? Chat away!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Seriously, people…

In somewhat related news, a friend helped me track down this brilliant AFSCME rebuttal to the scapegoating of public sector employees.

My heart and prayers go to Elizabeth Edwards and her family. Have any of you met her or seen her speak? Please use this space or the post below to share your memories. Personally, I found the essays at Momocrats touching and cathartic.

The New York Times ran an article on how daunting it is for parents to deal with cyberbullying. Schools usually don’t get involved with off-campus activities, yet police don’t think it is a big enough crime to investigate. Therefore, the kids are left to their own devices.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not to allow a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart to proceed, according to the Washington Post.

My supervisor and colleague at MomsRising penned a column in support of the DREAM Act. One of our moms here at MotherTalkers, Margaret, was even quoted in the article.

In bizarre health news: babies born in the wintertime are more prone to neurological problems like seasonal affective disorder, bipolar depression and schizophrenia, according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Bravo to Laurie Puhn at the Expecting Words blog for eschewing “parenting styles” or doctors or society — who is it anyway? — that insist there is only one way to care for an infant. It is hard, and parents should do what works for them.

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m., LiturgyGeek and I will be meeting for breakfast at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe on Hollis Street in Emeryville. All are welcome!

I was a mess after reading our Papi Blez’s beautiful eulogy to his nephew Ben.

I hope our Desmoinesdem and other Iowa moms and families are safe after this 4th of July stampede reported in the New York Times. A 60-year-old woman was killed and 23 others injured — many children — after a spooked horse charged into a crowd during an historic parade.

Ayayay. I thought this was the stuff of urban myths. A Brooklyn mom is suing Starbucks after the cup of scalding tea she dropped on her 5-month-old son burned him, according to the New York Post.

I snorted after reading a Facebook Circle of Moms thread, in which a mom wondered if she was getting “lazy” with household chores now that she had children. I actually think I’ve been better about keeping on top of these tasks since children, but let me tell you, I have gotten very lazy this summer. I’ve cracked the whip on DH to get him to help me with cooking and childcare, and am starting to let laundry and dishes pile up on my end. What have I done with my time instead? Go to barbecues and sleep in. I have gained five pounds in one month. Ugh! That said, I am trying not to fret about it, knowing that the kids will eventually go back to school and I will get back to my stringent routine of early morning workouts and dish-washing sessions, packing lunches, and yes, folding laundry at 9 o’clock at night. What about you? Are you lazier about the house since kids? Or, are you lazier at certain times of year than others?

Another mom at Circle of Moms wondered what a good age is to let children feed themselves. I have the same question. With Ari, I put a tarp under his high chair, and let him go at it from a very young age. (Maybe 10 months or so?) He was very good at manipulating a fork and spoon at two and three-years-old, to the point that many onlookers at restaurants complimented us on what a neat eater he was. Unfortunately, I slacked off with Eli. The nanny tends to spoon-feed her, and I let her go at it, and just clean her gigantic messes afterwards. I am getting tired of it, actually, that I have asked the nanny not to spoon-feed her anymore. I am afraid that once she starts preschool, her teachers will not have time to constantly clean up afterwards. What say you? Are there any tricks to teaching young children how to eat?

In entertainment news: Lady Gaga has set a Facebook world record with more than 10 million fans, according to BBC News. My three-year-old Eli, by the way, loves Lady Gaga. Whenever we are in the car, she says, “Más Lady Gaga, por favor.” Unfortunately, my kids do not understand that we can’t will the radio to play whatever we want when we want it. Just like we can’t pause every program on any television. This was a source of contention at abuelo and abuela’s house in New Hampshire last summer.

Kids and technology these days, eh? What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday!

This week has been an odd one for me, as I am working earlier hours than usual. We are gearing up for the 25th annual AIDS Walk New York, and I will be heading to the east coast on Monday, and staying until the event, which is on Sunday, May 16th. If you’re in the area, head on over to Central Park! I promise that it will be an impressive turnout.

Now, onto some interesting stories that caught my eye…

I have read MANY articles about Rielle Hunter’s sit down interview with Oprah, to “set the record straight.” And, I must say that even though I have that episode sitting in my DVR, I can’t bring myself to watch it. I just think this poor woman is stupid, Stupid, STUPID. I think the Salon post stated it best:

In fact, while it’s possible that before Hunter started speaking on her own behalf, I might have entertained the notion that she was a slightly dopey lady who fell hard for a bad man who was running for president and got caught in a very unfortunate saga, I now feel quite confident that in fact she is a borderline simpleton, fame-seeking narcissist whose self-interested grab for attention is likely doing further permanent damage to the Edwards family, including her daughter and her siblings. If her appearance on the Oprah show seemed like an unjust setup, then Hunter proved that, every once in a while, someone so amply meets all expectations for awfulness that it’s impossible to muster anything other than loathing for them.

What bothers me is this. I seem to remember Barbara Walters mentioning that she received a call from a crying Rielle Hunter after her infamous I-think-it-will-be-a-good-idea-to-take-my-pants-off-and-pose-with-my-daughters-stuffed-animals photo in GQ Magazine, and stated that she was upset over the “suggestive nature of some of the photos” accompanying the profile. She went on to say that she “screamed for two hours” upon seeing the photos. Yeah.

Yet, when Oprah asked her about the very same photo that she was “so upset” over and even cried and screamed for “two hours”, she said that she had just wanted what any shunned Hester Prynne might want: “one sexy shot where the world can see me as a beautiful woman.” No mention of screaming or crying, Rielle? The best part though? When Oprah asked, “what is the status of your relationship now?” Her answer: “That’s private.” Um…ok.

I can’t bring myself to watch. I’m afraid I’ll throw my shoe at my television! What about you? Have you watched? What do you think is wrong with her?

Moving on…

The AP reports that Miami Heat basketball player, Dwayne Wade’s estranged wife has filed a lawsuit against his current girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union. She claims that this new relationship has caused emotional distress to their two sons, ages 8 and 2.

She alleges that the couple “engaged in sexual foreplay” in front of Wade’s sons and that “severely inflicted the Plaintiffs emotionally and mentally.” She also mentioned that the boys received “medium size gifts” from their father for Christmas last year, and Union got “the biggest gift of all.” Wow. I wonder what she means by “the biggest gift of all”??

What do you think? Is all fair in love and war…and divorce? Is it ever okay to involve the children in such a public and potentially embarrassing way? What would you do?

Of course, this is an open thread and you are free to discuss whatever you wish. What else is going on?


The Latest Sex Abuse Scandal: Boy Scouts of America

This seemed too important to just throw into an open thread so here it goes. Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America has an extensive archive of documents chronicling the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years, according to the Associated Press.

Here is the scoop:

The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.

The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.

On Friday, testimony from a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responsible for a Scout troop of church members suggested the Scouts never provided training about spotting abuse or preventing it.

The trial is significant because the files could offer a rare window into how the Boy Scouts have responded to sex abuse by Scout leaders. The only other time the documents are believed to have been presented at a trial was in the 1980s in Virginia.

The details of the case are obviously tawdry. I feel for the young man who was victimized. I can’t help but think this kind of thing is prevalent in a situation where young people are entrusted to adults in a patriarchal institution whether it be the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts or the Mormons (who were also involved in this case). I know at my church we have responded to this type of abuse by making sure that no child is left alone with clergy, adults must leave their doors open at all times and all our classes are co-ed, including female teachers. It is different from when I went to Catholic school — and with good reason.

What have your churches, schools or outside groups done to prevent sexual abuse? What do you think these older institutions can do to reform themselves so that their children do not become sexual abuse victims?

In somewhat related news, the debate on Catholic priest celibacy and women deacons was re-opened last week as an Austrian cardinal questioned both tenets of the church, according to the Times Online of the UK. The discussion in the comments thread was interesting, too.


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. He was shot before giving the Eucharist at a mass by right-wing death squads because he often railed against poverty and oppression of the poor during his homilies. He is a revered figure in Latin America, and someone my husband names as a personal role model on his website. I was sad to learn on a Daily Show news clip that certain members of the Texas State Board of Education had him stricken from the social studies curriculum. Here is the news clip on it and a wonderful homage to Archbishop Romero on Jim Wallis’s God’s Politics blog.

In somewhat related news, the Texas State Board of Education also gave preliminary approval last week to replacing the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise” in school textbooks, according to the Austin American Statesman.

I have to say, I am loving the Democratic Party lately. In addition to the passage of healthcare reform, the Congressional Democrats have introduced a bill to give needy students Pell grants as opposed to private loans, according to the New York Times.  

The Washington Post ran a sad “trend” story about separated couples who must live together because they cannot afford to divorce.

Twelve states plan to sue over the recent healthcare reform bill President Obama signed into law yesterday, according to Business Week. The states’ attorneys claim the law will place additional burdens on their already tight budgets. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Call your governor’s offices, ladies!

Octomom Nadya Suleman is back in the news again. This time, she has fallen behind $450,000 on the mortgage and may lose the house, according to TMZ.

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 MomsRising.org, 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?


RIP Bratz Dolls: 2001-2008

Looks like Barbie has bitch-slapped the Bratz dolls into oblivion: a federal judge banned toymaker MGA from making any more of the pouty-lipped, provocatively dressed dolls:

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson rocked the toy industry with his order that MGA must immediately stop manufacturing Bratz. He allowed MGA to wait until the holiday season ends to remove the toys from store shelves.

The ruling, issued in federal court in Riverside, followed a jury’s finding that Bratz designer Carter Bryant developed the concept for the dolls while working for Mattel.

Mattel had it in for the Bratz, and for good reason:

El Segundo-based Mattel has seen sales of Barbie — once a rite of passage for American girls — slide since the doe-eyed Bratz dolls first came on the scene. Domestic sales of Barbie were down 15 percent in 2007.

I’m not a big fan of Barbies– dolls never did strike my fancy, and I firmly believe the wasp-waisted blonde icon is partially responsible for our society’s twisted view of what an “ideal” woman’s body should look like.

People often joked that Barbie’s measurements were not humanly possible. But in fact it was determined that if the 11 1/2-inch doll were 5-foot-6, her measurements would be 39-21-33. One academic expert calculated that a woman’s chances of having Barbie’s figure were less than 1 in 100,000.

So yeah, not crazy about the Barbies. But I much prefer them to the hypersexualized Bratz, which basically created a template for Paris Hilton and the Pussycat Dolls. So I won’t be sorry to see them go.

But if you happen to have any Bratz dolls hanging around, a commenter at WalletPop makes a great point:

All that judge did is make a collectors market heaven. Just watch how much those stupid things sell for on ebay now and in the future.


Mother Presses Charges Against 12-Year-Old Son

Via ParentDish: A Longmont, Colorado mom is pressing charges against her 12-year-old son for taking the family van out for a spin and crashing it against someone’s detached garage, according to the Longmont Times-Call.

No one was killed nor injured in the accident. But folks in the Times-Call comments thread as well as ParentDish readers are praising the mom for her “tough love.”

“He said he just wanted to prove he could drive a car,“ Sgt. James Sawinska said.

According to police, the boy had been spending the night at the home of a 14-year-old friend. Sawinska said the 12-year-old had wanted to go cruising and that his friend drove him back home so he could get the van….

The boy was arrested a little after 2 p.m. He was checked out briefly at Longmont United Hospital before being taken to the Boulder County Juvenile Detention Center.

Possible charges include aggravated motor vehicle theft, driving without a valid license, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to notify police, and reckless driving.

According to police, the front end of the van was heavily damaged. The van’s windshield was smashed and still had fence pieces in it, and both passenger-side tires were flat. Police did not know the extent of the damage to the garage.


It’s stories like these that freak me out about impending teenhood. What do you think? Would you ever press charges against your 12-year-old? Under what circumstances?


Catching A Predator

Have you seen MSNBC’s To Catch A Predator? In case you haven’t, here is a synopsis of the show:

The premise of “To Catch a Predator“ is that someone poses as an underage girl/or boy in an Internet chat room and then lures men who want to meet them to a house. Instead of finding the girl/boy, they are confronted by the TV show’s host and a camera crew.

I’ve watched a few episodes with my kids, and was pretty disgusted as fathers, teachers, judges, attorney’s, and “men of God”, would get busted over and over again.

One such man that was greeted by the show’s host, instead of a minor was Louis W. Conradt, Jr., an assistant district attorney in Rockwall County, Texas. The local police decided to arrest him at his home after he failed to show up at the prearranged house…and it was all going to be filmed for an upcoming episode. Conradt took his own life as the police and camera crews entered his house.

Conradt’s sister sued NBC Universal, alleging it is responsible for her brother’s death and the harm to his reputation and name, according to court papers. NBC SETTLED!!

This just seems like a classic “killing the messenger”. If anyone was responsible for harming this man’s reputation and name, it was the man Louis W. Conradt, Jr., who not only sustained a suggestive “chat” with a minor, but pre-arranged to meet for a tryst…with a child.

What do you think? Should NBC Universal have settled the lawsuit? Or was this man the only one responsible for the harming of his reputation? Do you think television shows like “To Catch a Predator” are performing a needed service, or is it just entrapment?