Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

This video of First Lady Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell leading a “focus group” of kids on healthy eating made me smile. Enjoy!

And it’s my 37th birthday! Last night I went out to dinner with my closest Bay Area friends. I feasted on fish tacos and chili-peppered margaritas. It doesn’t get better than that…

The only thing that was missing was a movie. Harold Ramis, the director of one of my all-time favorite movies, Groundhog Day, died yesterday at the age of 69. Even though I’ve watched the film an embarrassing number of times, I still laugh until my stomach hurts when Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors is accosted by Ned Ryerson. Bing!

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


Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday!

On my mind today: obesity and weight. It seems like everywhere I look, I read another ridiculous story on these topics.

Exhibit A: Did you hear about the Harvard School of Public Health researchers who are floating the idea of involving state protective services where very obese children are involved, and in some cases recommending foster care?

I think Arthur Caplan, director of UPenn’s Center for Bioethics, hits the nail on the head in this commentary:

The risk of death from obesity is real, but it is way down the road for kids. There is no proven cure for obesity. The ability to treat a child with diet or a lifestyle change who does not want to be “treated” by strangers is a long shot at best. The number of kids involved — an estimated 2 million children with body-mass index above the 99th percentile — would quickly swamp already overwhelmed social service departments. And, no matter what you do with overweight children, sooner or later they are going back home where their often overweight parents will still be.

What’s your take?

Exhibit B: A study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that school districts notifying parents that their children are overweight had no impact on the problem.

In the last decade, almost all public schools in California collected information about height and weight on kids in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades, but only some opted to send the results to parents. This gave Dr. Kristine A. Madsen of the University of California, San Francisco, a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of that notification.

She found that children whose parents were told they were overweight were no more likely to have lost weight years later than children whose parents were not notified.

So the researcher suggests that instead of shaming children and their parents by sending “Your kid’s too fat” letters, school officials should focus on interventions that have the most impact, such as making school lunches healthier and increasing physical activity. How novel!

Exhibit C: Michelle Obama did something wrong again! What, you ask? She ate a burger, fries, and chocolate shake! Causing multiple news outlets to calculate the calories and wonder if she was being a hypocrite because of her focus on preventing childhood obesity! And we all know that if you advocate healthy living, you can never, ever eat anything tasty or fattening ever. Right?

All I know is that I run 15-20 miles per week just so that I can eat a meal like this on occasion. And enjoy every last bite. Knowing that Michelle likes to indulge in just the same way only makes her more awesome in my eyes.

And this comment over on Gawker made me LOL:

Where was all the outrage when Laura Bush was championing literacy while being married to a fucking moron? That, ladies and gentlemen was real hypocrisy.

And a final anecdote: I mentioned before how my 6-year-old daughter asked why my butt was “smushy.” I was mortified, but played it off by saying that we are all different and what’s important is that we’re as healthy as possible. But I will admit that “smushy” has been stuck in my brain ever since. I get a glimpse in the mirror and think “BLECH.”

So a couple of days ago Maya asks me (again), “Why is your booty smushy, Mami? I wish my booty was smushy just like yours.” Pouty face and all.

I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. She said “smushy” the first time and in my head, that had to be bad. But she was just describing what she saw, with no negative connotation, and it turns out she still wants to be just like Mami. Smushy butt and all.

I quickly said, “Maya, your booty is perfect just the way it is!”

“What do you mean, Mami? Don’t you like your booty?” Sigh. Here is where I lied a little, because I’m not at peace with my caboose. But I thought it more important to try and impart a healthy lesson.

“Of course I like my booty. But I like yours too. We all have different bodies. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all looked exactly the same? Your body is perfect just the way it is. And so is mine.”

So it was clumsy and ham-handed, but I meant well. I am wondering if I said the right things, or if I need to revisit the topic. She seemed to accept it, so I am thinking I will leave it alone unless she brings it up again.

But I will say it is helping me to not be so hard on myself. I know my daughter’s adulation won’t last forever, but for now, stopping to see myself through her eyes is a gift.

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


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?

The Circle of Moms forum on Facebook recently doled out advice on what to tell your young children if they have different fathers.

With a possible NBC exit looming, Conan O’Brien has experienced a 50 percent increase in his ratings, according to the Associated Press.

Happy belated birthday to First Lady Michelle Obama. She turned 46 on Sunday and celebrated in Chicago with her husband, mother and closest friends, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There is an election tonight in Massachusetts to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat. I will put up an open thread for it.

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Kate Harding over at Salon Broadsheet had an interesting take on the show Britain’s Missing Top Model. It is a reality show, in which disabled women are vying to become the country’s top model. Unfortunately, the online clips did not work for me. So not having seen the show, I like the idea of the modeling industry including many different types of bodies. If it ever comes to the United States, I will definitely watch.

A California man, who is a gay marriage advocate, is collecting signatures and raising money to put a ban on divorce in next election’s ballot, according to the Associated Press. Not surprisingly, the group that put Proposition 8, or the gay marriage ban on the ballot, is not backing him in this initiative because it “isn’t practical.” Whatever.

The White House released details of this year’s Christmas decorations, which were chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama, according to Salon Wires.

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Are any of you voting in today’s elections? Can you give us an update from the ground?

Once again, Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids and Mighty Nest reminded us of how much sleep our children need. A new study published in Pediatrics ties sleep deprivation in children with symptoms of ADHD.

I love this: Michelle Obama just launched a mentoring program for girls, according to the Washington Post. The local girls will be mentored by powerful women like senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes, (Michelle) Obama’s chief of staff Susan Sher and social secretary Desiree Rogers. A similar program for young men will launch in the West Wing.

Remember the case of Madeleine McCann? She was the three-year-old girl who disappeared from a Portuguese beach resort two years ago. Police just released photos of what she may look like today, according to the AFP news service.

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

What I suspected: When stocks are up, this usually does not bode well for workers, according to MSN Money. Many of these companies report higher earnings by laying off workers.

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon wrote the second installment of his series on homeschooling.

Fellow MTer “ginabad” wrote a story for her blog Mom-Blog, wondering if it was okay to let the school photograph special needs children.

First Lady Michelle Obama is slated to appear on the Jay Leno Show this Friday, according to Salon Wires. Will you be watching?

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

This story brought tears to my eyes: A man and woman who have been together half their lives finally wed — at their 7-year-old son’s funeral, according to CNN. Also in CNN: There was a welcome story about an attitude shift in the Latino community on gay and lesbian rights.

I spotted a lot of healthcare stories, which is not surprising considering President Barack Obama is giving a speech tonight at 8 p.m. ET. I thought this Women eNews story was interesting. It is on how female-owned small businesses have a different attitude towards healthcare reform than the institutionalized lobbying group the National Federation of Independent Business. Basically, female business owners want a public option to lower healthcare costs while the National Federation of Independent Business wants small businesses to band together and buy group private insurance.

First Lady Michelle Obama and her longtime personal trainer, Cornell McClellan, gave an exclusive interview to Women’s Health on what exercises she does to achieve her amazing physique.

America’s Next Top Model is on tonight — I can’t wait! This time the show’s contestants are women 5’7 and under. Also, host Tyra Banks is expected to appear without a wig or a weave, according to the Associated Press. I will watch after the president’s speech tonight, of course!

In other celebrity gossip: Just when you didn’t think the Jon and Kate fiasco could get any more icky, Jon Gosselin is back in the press, this time slamming ex-wife Kate for stealing his wedding ring and beating him down in their marriage, according to AP.

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


Interesting view into Michelle Obama

I’ve been in awe of our First Lady for quite some time now.  I find her to be quite incredible and inspiring.  I thought this article about Michelle Obama was quite interesting:…

I thought the whole thing was worth a read, but here are a couple sections that stood out to me.

Apparently Michelle Obama wants to be more active in her role as First Lady:

In the past couple of weeks, Obama has been more vocal about the specifics of the president’s health plan, and she will play a substantive role in promoting it. She will soon announce the creation of an advisory board to help military families. And she will be the face of the administration’s United We Serve, a summer-long national service program, which she launched on Monday.

I think she can really make a great contribution in these areas and am especially excited to hear that she’s going to be more active in promoting the health care reform.

Honestly I’m a bit jealous of her ability to do so many incredible things while still clearly prioritizing her family:

After the move to Washington, Obama sat down with her staff and two calendars: one from the office, one from Sidwell Friends, her daughters’ new school. No events would be scheduled that presented a potential conflict with the girls.

And she’s been able to schedule herself to officially work 2.5 days a week and she’s taking August off.

I also thought it was interesting how important it’s been for her to create a network of many strong women who support her efforts.

At work, Obama runs her office like a business in which she is chief executive. She doesn’t want to micromanage, she has made clear; she wants to delegate. Up and down the hall are professional women with whom she has a longtime connection and whom she trusts to execute her vision.

And I loved reading about her outreach activities.  How incredible would it be to get to visit with her as a high school student?  Or get to intern at the White House under her programs?

Obama has either visited or invited to the White House students from 30 Washington schools, and she was instrumental in developing the first White House summer internship program specifically for D.C. high school students. She brought high school girls to the White House to rub elbows with such female icons as singer Alicia Keys and astronaut Mae Jemison. Some of the girls were so nervous, they were sobbing before they went inside. “Michelle hugged each and every girl before they left,” Jarrett said. “We talked about that night a lot, and she was really quite struck by her ability to really leave a lasting, positive impression as a role model.”

I’ve continually been more and more impressed with our First Lady.  President Obama is a luck guy to have her!  I’m excited to see what she brings in the next (hopefully) 8 years as it seems like already she’s making quite an impact.

I also thought that this article brought up themes that have been on MT lately – importance of a support network and role models, work/family balance, availability of different opportunities, etc.  I look to Michelle Obama as a role model – and it’s nice to see that she is working through this transition to First Lady and figuring out how to make it what she wants.  


President Obama on Life in the White House

Newsweek’s Jon Meacham recently interviewed President Barack Obama.

While much of the discussion centered on foreign policy, here is what Obama had to say about raising daughters in the White House:

Were you surprised at how quickly your family became part of the cultural iconography?
You know, the nice thing is that, partly because of temperament, partly because of Michelle’s unbelievable parenting skills, I’ve just got some happy, normal kids. And all that stuff that’s going on around them, they just kind of miss. We have not seen any effects, any fishbowl effects, yet on them. Now, I worry about them when they’re teenagers where, you know, you’re already embarrassed about your parents and even more embarrassed on TV all the time. And dating I think will be an issue because I have men with guns surrounding them at all times [laughter], which I’m perfectly happy with, but they may feel differently about it.

you consult any former presidents or celebrities about the fishbowl effect in raising the girls?
Well, you know, the truth of the matter is that the campaign was the equivalent of me being the frog in the saucepan of water and the temperature slowly being turned up. By the time the inauguration had taken place, we had pretty much gotten accustomed to it….

And as you divide up your time, when do you steal the time to do that (to read)?
I’m a night owl. My usual day [is]: I work out in the morning; I get to the office around 9, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; work till about 6:30 p.m.; have dinner with the family, hang out with the kids and put them to bed about 8:30 p.m. And then I’ll probably read briefing papers or do paperwork or write stuff until about 11:30 p.m., and then I usually have about a half hour to read before I go to bed … about midnight, 12:30 a.m.—sometimes a little later.