Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First of all, a group of MTers and I plan to meet this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in San Francisco. We will meet at Pizzeria Delfina on 18th Street. Please join us! I will post a reminder as we approach the date.

I can’t believe this still happens. Target called the police on a mother for nursing her baby in the store, according to Salon.

In a 54-45 vote, the Senate rejected a provision to further restrict abortion in the healthcare bill, according to the Associated Press.

Financial guru Suze Orman recently recommended that people pay with cash for everything rather than credit cards, according to MSN Money. Also in MSN Money: There was a story on a specific phone money scam against senior citizens.  

Reality show mom Michelle Duggar was recently airlifted to a hospital in Arkansas for “gallbladder issues,” according to Entertainment Tonight. Duggar is expecting her 19th child.  

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Vaccines for AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, genital herpes and other diseases are five years away, according to the Associated Press.

I know some of you mentioned this in Gloria’s open thread this morning, but due to flooding at one of its bakeries, Kellogg’s is facing a Leggo waffle shortage that will last until the middle of 2010, according to MSN Money. The latest Washington Post e-mail newsletter reported that some people were attempting to profit from the shortage by auctioning off a box of Leggo waffles for $65. Also in MSN Money: Costco will no longer carry Coca Cola products because of a pricing dispute.

Texas is No. 2 in impoverished people with inadequate food, according to the Dallas Morning News. The state is also experiencing a backlog in the food stamps program, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

From the Washington Post: a University of Pennsylvania professor put to rest the American notion that owning a home is always better than renting.

Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, just gave birth to a baby girl, Sarah Lynne Cheney, according to Salon. This would be the second child for Cheney and her partner of more than 17 years, Heather Poe.

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Thank you to all of you who have written or called to ask about my mother-in-law in El Salvador. Hurricane Ida hit the country on Sunday and has killed 124 people, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Fortunately, my MIL is out of the country on vacation and was not affected. But I did call her office in San Salvador yesterday and a worker assured me that they are all safe. The hurricane hit a nearby town, but it was poor people living in huts and shanties who were the most impacted. My heart goes out to them. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

In healthcare news: I admit I was so happy that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a public option that I did not allow myself to get hung up over the abortion restrictions in the bill. But this disturbs me: According to a mom over at the RH Reality Check blog, the restrictions on abortion are so severe that even private health insurance companies participating in the exchange wouldn’t be allowed to cover D&Cs following miscarriages. Forcing women to carry dead fetuses/babies — that they wanted — is just cruel. I don’t know what I would have done if after carrying a dead fetus for three weeks — this happened to me before I had Ari — I was told I couldn’t have a D&C. I was distraught and I needed to move on. Okay, I am getting off my soapbox now.

That said, I will still support this bill as long as it has a strong public option. Granting everyone the right to see a doctor — without going bankrupt for it — is better than nothing.

Attention fellow Twilight fans: Author Stephenie Meyer will be on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Friday, November 13, Meyer announced on her blog. She will be on hand to discuss the new movie New Moon, which is based on the second book of her Twilight series.

This is, literally, horribly depressing: Suicide rates are up in the most economically depressed areas of the country, according to MSNBC.

Wal-Mart is shamelessly starting its “Black Friday” deals early, according to MSN Money. Um, can we celebrate Thanksgiving first?

OTOH, Mamapedia had a helpful discussion on what to tip — or what is a suitable holiday gift — to a nanny, daycare provider or babysitter.

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids has an informative article on how cleaning supplies at schools are harmful to children. Also by Katy Farber: Children are consuming unsafe levels of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), which is in canned goods and plastic plates and cups.

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?


Ground Rules for Co-Signing Student Loans

By “loans,” I also mean credit cards for college students.

As MSN Money recently pointed out, a credit card reform bill will take effect in February, which means people under the age of 21 will have a hard time getting a credit card. This means that mom and dad will have to educate their children on budgeting and finances and possibly co-sign for student loans, credit cards or debt in general.

Reform puts the ball squarely back in the parents’ court. But do you co-sign and put your own credit at risk? Or do you refuse, perhaps leaving your child at a disadvantage in the post-college world when he or she will need good credit to get an apartment or a car loan?

The answer depends both you and your child. As with so much else in parenting, what works for one family might be a disaster for another.

Here’s what both you and your teenager need to know:

Good credit is essential these days. A solid credit history and good credit scores will do more than help someone get a decent rate on a car loan or mortgage. Landlords, employers and insurance companies all use credit histories to evaluate applicants.

Mistakes will haunt you. A single skipped credit card payment can knock up to 100 points off your scores and can stay on your credit reports for seven years (although the impact of the delinquency will fade over time if you get your financial act together). The more times you’re late, the greater the accumulated damage.

Credit cards should be paid off in full. Credit cards require you to pay only a fraction of what you owe every month, but only suckers play that game. Carrying a balance means you incur unnecessary finance charges and leaves you at the mercy of credit card issuers who can change the rules with little notice.

You shouldn’t use more than a fraction of your limit. Even if you’re paying in full, you should be careful not to use much of your available credit at any point during the month, because coming anywhere close to your limit can hurt your scores. Using half or less of a credit limit is good; 30% or less is better; 10% or less is best.

Co-signing puts both parties’ credit on the line. Creditors hold both parties accountable for the debt, which means a skipped payment will trash both parties’ credit scores.

Sounds like good advice. As someone who signed up for her first credit card at 18 and then accrued way too much debt, this law makes sense to me. I know I will be talking about money and debt as much as sex and drinking when my children enter college.


Late-Night Liberty: Job Search Edition

This is kind of a bummer of a subject, but I figure most of us are not immune from current economic conditions.

The advertising market has dried up, which isn’t good for my family. But we are fortunate that we have a cushion to fall back on. Also, unlike these couples recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal, we do not have to live separately as DH and I look for work wherever it may come.

It’s sad, but true. The number of couples living apart because of work has shot up to 18 percent from 11 percent a year ago, according to WSJ.

Faced with a choice between the financial hardship of unemployment or a relocating for a job, more couples are going for a third option and choosing long-term separations. The issue is more common during this recession than in past downturns because of the prevalence of two-career couples. In 2008, 51.4% of married households had both spouses working, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Someone finding employment in another city creates a bigger challenge for families than it did a generation ago,” says Joseph Foudy, a professor of economics and management at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “You can’t assume that a spouse that follows another will find employment in this market.”

A job drove Donny Quinones and Elinor Soriano apart, just two months after their May wedding. Mr. Quinones, 33 years old, was laid off in March from a product-engineering position with a consulting firm in the greater New York area. After looking fruitlessly for months, in July he landed a three-month contract job in Frederick, Md.

Since then, he has been living in extended-stay hotels, while Ms. Soriano lives in their Edgewater, N.J., condo, near her job as a project manager with a pharmaceutical-communications firm. Mr. Quinones drives 4½ hours to Edgewater most weekends. “This is really a test of the strength of our relationship,” says Ms. Soriano, who misses having her husband around for meals and joint workouts. She celebrated her 31st birthday alone in August.

Wow, that is a strain on a marriage. Are any of you living apart from your spouses to make ends meet?

I am so ready for this recession to be over. How about you? Are any of you looking for work? How is it going? Feel free to use this thread to swap services or post your job skills!


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

The political action committee was passing around this funny clip of actor Will Ferrell and others defending private health insurance companies. Great satire.

If you are ever having one of those moments when you feel like a bad parent, just think: At least my kid is not writing a memoir about how I shot her up with cocaine. That is exactly what actress Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time, American Graffiti ) is doing with a tell-all called High on Arrival where she calls out her father — John Phillips, lead singer of the Mamas & the Papas — for shooting her up with cocaine and even sleeping with her, according to Entertainment Tonight. Ick! Ick! Ick! Oh, and she slept with Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger, who supposedly told her he was waiting for that moment since she was 10. Ew. And she tells this all to Oprah Winfrey. Will you be watching or reading this book?

I want to chime in with other readers at the MSN Money Blog that AT&T Wireless sucks. I love my iPhone for everything it can do: phone calls (barely), Internet, e-mail and texting, picture-taking, and music. But, I wish Apple had struck a deal with another carrier. I can’t get cell phone coverage in my own house — unless I stand at the edge of my back deck and the phone is angled just so. This is not a good substitute for someone who does not have a landline.  

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

In a move to compete with Starbucks, McDonald’s is giving away a hot or iced McCafé mocha every Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until August 3, according to MSN Money. No purchase is necessary to get the free coffee.

As if California’s economic crisis could not get any worse, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed “cuts-only” budget includes eliminating the poison control hotline, according to the MomsRising blog. We may become the only state in the country without such a hotline. Even more disturbing, Schwarzenegger’s proposed $90 million cut to the Healthy Families Program would mean that as many as 570,000 children could lose their health insurance, according to MomsRising.

This is depressing, too: President Barack Obama says unemployment will continue to rise for “several months,” according to the Associated Press. He said it on his way to Michigan, which has the country’s highest unemployment rate at 14.1 percent.

In celebrity gossip break: 80s icon Molly Ringwald gave birth to twins on Friday, according to People magazine. As a HUGE “So You Think You Can Dance” fan, I enjoyed the video clips in this Open Salon article. Please do check out the Argentine tango by my favorite couple Brandon and Janette!

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

MSN Money ran a list of big companies that are in danger of bankruptcy. Some of them I was not surprised like United Airlines and Blockbuster. (Seriously, does anyone go to the video store anymore?)

Others, I found eye-opening like Univision, Clear Channel Communications and Six Flags. I have been waiting for my kids to get a little older to go to Six Flags. How sad that it may not be around much longer. From the MSN article:

Six Flags (SIX, news, msgs), the owner of more than 20 U.S. theme parks, is scarier for investors than the Dare Devil Dive, a ride at the company’s Great Adventure & Wild Safari park in New Jersey. The company has a ton of debt and seemingly not enough money coming in to pay it off by the due dates.

At the end of last year, the company had about $2.1 billion in debt, according to Standard & Poor’s, which cut Six Flags’ credit rating last month. The company lost about $37.8 million in 2008 and $70.6 million in 2007, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


How are your and your spouses’ companies doing, MotherTalkers?


How To Teach Kids About Money

MSN Money had a helpful guide on how to teach children about money as appropriate to their age.

Here is how the information was broken up:

Ages 3-5
• Teach the value of coins
• Distinguish wants from needs
• Make them prioritize

Ages 6-7
• Encourage them to save
• Start allowances

Ages 8-9
• Teach them how a bank works
• Encourage longer-term saving
• Make saving a habit

Ages 10-13
• Put them in charge of their clothes
• Teach the basics of the stock market

Ages 14-15
• Encourage a part-time job
• Increase their share of costs
• Stick with cash

Age 16 through college
• Teach them to manage checking
• Tackle credit
• Set expectations for college

There was detailed information between each point.

What else would you add the list? Don’t forget to list the ages of your children!