Best Parents Caucus Ever!

What is the pay disparity between a single mother and a man? What percentage of fathers are primary caregivers? Think you know the answers to these questions and more, then come to this year’s Netroots Nation Parents Caucus in Las Vegas!

Unlike previous years, Sarah Granger from MOMocrats and I will be co-hosting the caucus onsite at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, July 23, at 10:30 a.m.. Room number to be announced.

Plus, we will be giving away prizes to the winners of our parenting trivia challenge. Think gift cards and other goodies. Worth playing for? Please do come!

As in previous years, children, spouses and non-parents are welcome to join us.


Thursday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I have the date of the Netroots Nation Parents Caucus, which will be co-hosted by moi. It is on Friday, July 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. I will be co-hosting with Momocrats’s Sarah Granger and we will be cooking up ideas in the next week to make it the biggest and baddest caucus ever. Please mark your calendars if you will be in Las Vegas that day. It will be at the Rio.

Mamapedia ran a thoughtful and funny column on the home study, which understandably makes many adoptive parents nervous. (You must subscribe to read the story.)

Hybrid Mom magazine covered the pitfalls of working from home. I found myself nodding in agreement. I, too, rely on the virtual babysitter (TV) and “multi-tasking madness.”

I love our president. The Obama Administration has filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-Latino anti-illegal immigrant law on the grounds that, “The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.”

This story gave me the willies. To achieve the wide-eyed anime look in a Lady Gaga video, young people are purchasing these contacts imported from Asia. These contact lenses have not been approved by the FDA.

Young women are addicted to Facebook as evident by the fact that as many as one-third of ladies between the ages of 18 and 34 check for updates before they use the bathroom in the morning, according to a study covered by Mashable. For the record, this 33-year-old doesn’t check Facebook until later in the day. And I only have two accounts. What about you? Are you addicted to Facebook?

In other health news reported by Parents magazine: A glass or two of red wine a day increases lubrication and makes women more interested in sex, according to a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. But more than one glass a day can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

A new study in the Journal of Food Science says dark leafy greens like spinach and kale can help reduce discomfort caused by the glare of a computer monitor. Good to know!

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


Late-Night Liberty: Leftover NetRoots Nation Tidbits

At Netroots Nation, I watched the most compelling documentary on the economic effect an anti-immigrant crusade had on a county in Virginia. We saw only a 45 minute version of the movie and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was angry, moved, inspired. Here is a clip of the documentary, which was called 9500 Liberty.

I attended two panel discussions, one by MOMocrats on how to get more parents involved politically. (Hint: Give us some childcare!) The other was on how online grassroots activism can work hand-in-hand with the think tanks. The questions — especially to the think tanks on the panel — were hard-hitting and interesting. The first five questioners were given beers to boot! (Isn’t that a good idea?)

On Saturday night — the last night of NN — I went out with the MOMocrats to a fabulous Cuban tapas restaurant called Seviche, which leads me to an important point I must make: Pittsburgh is a beautiful and culturally vibrant city. If there is one ongoing line of commentary I heard at the convention was that the city shattered our expectations. Personally, since my father, brother and grandfather all worked in mills, I thought it would look like the industrial Lawrence, Massachusetts. Instead, I got my fill of Cuban sandwiches at Seviche and at this other Caribbean joint, Kaya. There were Greek, Italian, Thai and a lot of fusion restaurants as well. The Andy Warhol Museum is there as well as a healthy arts scene. There is even a Mister Rogers Children’s Museum, which I plan to take the kids to one of these years.

The Netroots Nation party, which was SO much fun, was held at the Altar Night Club in Pittsburgh. The club literally looks like a church. We enjoyed a live band, DJ and stand-up comedy. One of the comedians from Laughing Liberally, Katie Halper, joked (paraphrased), “Jesus died for your sins. So there are no consequences for tonight.” There was a lot of whooping, hollering and drunken cheers.

Here is a photo of (from left to right) Katie, me and April Pederson, co-founder and executive director of the technology platform Democracy in Action.

Here is another one of DH and I:

Finally, I must show you a photo of the fabulous gold stilettos I wrote about yesterday:

Now you can see why I stubbornly wear them with everything from jeans to fancy dresses.

Next year NN will be held at Las Vegas. You can pre-register at a discount rate. I am thinking we have to plan ahead of time — including provide childcare — to plan the best parents caucus ever. It would be awesome to see as many of you in Vegas as possible. What do you think? Any suggestions to improve on the parents caucus?


Netroots Nation Tidbits

The Netroots Nation Convention is over and I am headed to New Hampshire. I am so eager to see my babies!

While I had a fabulous time, it was different in that I did not have the kids and did not attend as many panel discussions since I have already been to the conference four times. I do, though, still get a thrill to listen to the keynote addresses and meet politicians like New Hampshire’s Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. (See photo above.) She participated in an on-stage discussion with Florida Rep. Alan Grayson and Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy. They discussed the legislative process, a few key issues like earmarks and the bank bailout, and how to “make change happen.” I especially liked this quote by Shea-Porter: “Democracy is not a spectator sport. Every single one of us has to be a part of it.”

Afterwards I phone-banked very briefly for healthcare reform. I encouraged people in Pittsburgh to attend a townhall meeting on Saturday and to call their member of Congress. By the way, if you want to get involved somehow whether it is phonebanking or attending a meeting, sign up at the Organizing for America website.

I hit the party scene on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday night, I attended this outdoor block party with live band and DJ. I caught up with MomsRising’s Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and eventually Joanne Bamberger aka PunditMom:

Funny story: I was wearing these cute gold stilettos and literally was standing up in them for hours. Halfway through the night, Kristin took one for the team and swapped shoes with me. I wore her comfy — although still cute — black low-heeled shoes. She walked around with my gold stilettos for at least an hour. While my husband pokes fun at me about the “crazy shoes,” I like to point out that Kristin received many compliments for them. Hey, no pain, no gain. :)

On Saturday morning, I got up for Valerie Jarrett’s Q&A with moderator Baratunde Thurston. Jarrett is Obama’s advisor and as Thurston joked the “mayor-in-chief of Chicago.” She has I don’t know how many job titles and sits or used to sit on a zillion boards in Chicago.

She was warm and personable and did not back down even from questions by hecklers. But she did stay on message and did not say anything at odds with the president, or at least anything that could be construed as “controversial.” She conveyed the president’s support for a public option in the healthcare reform plan and said he, too, shared our frustration and urgency at the way the public debate was going. She enlisted the help of everyone in the room to help convey the president’s plan to the public. Overall, she received a lot of enthusiastic applause.

Personally, I felt assured that the president I voted for stands for the issues he compaigned on. He just needs more than 6 months to tackle them all.

Did any of you catch the Valerie Jarrett keynote? What did you think? What was your favorite part of NN this year?


Saturday Morning Parenting Diary

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Hello fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

I am back with your weekly parenting news update. Here are some topics we recently discussed here at MotherTalkers:

Little Tykes Co. just issued a recall of about 1.6 million toy workshops and trucks after an 11-month-old boy got a plastic nail lodged into his throat, according to the Associated Press. The boy thankfully has recovered.

Gloria, the queen at finding weird stories, posted one about a breastfeeding doll. Would you buy your daughter this toy?

With just as much work but less childcare in the summer, I admitted to allowing my children to watch a lot more TV than I’d like. I was wondering how — especially those of you who work from home — limit screen time in the summer?

Healthcare reform has been on our minds lately. We have been discussing them in the open threads as well as here, here and here.

It has been great seeing some of you at the Netroots Nation Convention in Pittsburgh. Here is an update and photos from the parents caucus I held at the Hard Rock Cafe as well as President Bill Clinton’s opening keynote address. What have been some convention highlights for you?

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


Friday Morning Open Thread: I Saw Bill Clinton!

What’s up?

Last night President Bill Clinton tore it up with a smart, funny and witty speech about everything from healthcare reform to even responding to a heckler about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He received enthusiastic applause throughout the speech and a standing ovation at the end. Here is the video posted on Daily Kos. Here is a quick glimpse of the crowd at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh:

Here were some of my favorite funny quotes by him:

He said the good thing about being out of office is you can say whatever you want. But then no one cares to listen.

“President Nixon was a communist compared to what came afterwards…He believed in affirmative action, arithmetic and went to China.”

On Democratic gains in Congress in the 2006 election: “I told Hillary as long as we don’t nominate a convicted felon, we will win in 2009.”

One man in the audience heckled Clinton over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy towards gay service members. He was cool and collected under pressure. He told the man, “You gave me no support in the Congress.” He received avid applause. He then went on to discuss “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — which he disagrees with — and the Defense of Marriage Act, which got him a couple boos but he said was necessary at the time to thwart a constitutional ban on gay marriage. As for being heckled, he said he welcomed the question. “I like this,” he said in his typical folksy style.

He spoke at length about energy independence and healthcare reform. He said the three biggest challenges to reforming our healthcare system is the complexity of the issue and putting a cost to the bill as some provisions like moving to electronic records will save the taxpayer money but it isn’t clear when and how much. Also, there is this unspoken fear that people who have healthcare coverage feel certain of what they will lose and those who don’t have health insurance are uncertain of what they will gain.

He said President Barack Obama did well at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire and that he should continue to do two things: Reiterate that the worst thing we can do is nothing at all and focus on the 3 or 4 things in the bill that everyone can get behind.

“If you can do that, you can win millions and millions of people,” he said.

He inspired grassroots activists in the audience to keep writing and to keep fighting for healthcare reform. “We have to preserve this progressive majority,” he said.

Did any of you catch the speech? What did you think?


Late-Night Liberty: Parents Caucus Edition

As you can see we had a decent mix of people show up to the parents caucus at the Hard Rock Cafe. Thank you to those of you who made the trek!

From left to right starting in the front row, they were “bakerbaker” and her adorable son Matthew, Elisa, Daily Kos’s “sober mom,” Daily Kos’s “Blue Jersey Mom,” Kossack Bill, MOMocrats’s Stephanie, Pennsylvania State Rep. Mark Cohen — yes, we even had a state rep there! — “Stephanie’s husband” Trey and the rest of the ladies were from MOMocrats as well. They were (from left to right) Cynthia, Julie and Glennia. If you have not checked out MOMocrats, please do. They do good work over there.

I made sure to get another photo of fellow MTer Kat — aka “bakerbaker” — as she helped select the venue for the event and even drove me to and from my hotel. Many thanks, chica!

So what did we talk about? Health insurance reform, of course. After introductions, I opened up the discussion with how frustrated and helpless I feel watching and reading coverage of those town hall meetings, in which legislators are being shouted down by protesters for discussing the topic.

We covered a lot of ground, but agreed that it was not worth responding to every critic of healthcare reform on the comments section of blogs. Actually, we thought the way the president and Democrats were playing defense on this issue was bad. We need to get on the offense with five talking points., by the way, is doing a good job circulating a list of 5 talking points, which can easily be put on your twitter or Facebook page at the click of a mouse.

Nonetheless, we parsed through some of the details of the plan like the advantages people with health insurance coverage would receive. For example, I like the fact the health insurance companies would not be allowed to discriminate people with pre-existing conditions and there would actually be a cap on costs. Since private health insurance companies have a monopoly on healthy, able-bodied people, it would be nice knowing they cannot continue to charge whatever they want for basic services and then drop us when we get sick.

As for provisions that would expand on publicly-funded care for the uninsured, Julie Pippert of MOMocrats offered a lot of wonderful information about the Massachusetts’s healthcare system. (Julie lives in Massachusetts, by the way.) There was a lot I did not know about it, like it includes dental care. Personally, that is more than I have had on private health insurance. Right now I pay cash for cleanings for me and my kids. Who knew?

We ended our wonderful lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe on the note that we not only need an offensive grassroots effort to push for healthcare reform, but also more coordination from the top — the White House. If you are interested in direct action on this front, both online and offline, please do consider subscribing to The organization, which was co-founded by’s founder Joan Blades, is set up just like MoveOn in that they do all the technical work and all you have to do is click to sign a petition or forward the message to your friends. You can also post at MOMocrats as Julie is part of a group that advises the White House on such issues.

At the lunch, I collected people’s e-mail addresses to see if we can continue this dialogue and even share with each other healthcare story ideas. MOMocrats, by the way, is already running regular stories on people’s personal health insurance nightmares. A lot of us had those at this lunch.

Overall, it was a positive and, I hope, helpful discussion in this ongoing and explosive debate. Hopefully, there will be some positive developments when we meet again at Netroots Nation ’10.


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Today is the first day of the Netroots Nation Convention. I am hosting the parents caucus at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh today at 1:30 p.m. I will post pictures later today!

Also, I will be hearing Bill Clinton speak tonight as he is giving the opening keynote. I will definitely fill you in — and take pics!

In celebrity gossip: Kate Gosselin went on the Live With Regis and Kelly Show and told host Regis Philbin that her marriage is definitely over, according to Salon Wires.

What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I just wanted to post another reminder that a group of us are meeting at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:30 p.m.. We are meeting for the Netroots Nation Parents Caucus. Children are welcome!

Here are some directions via the “T” public transit: Exit the convention center and walk up 10th Street away from the river. Walk 3 blocks and take a right on Liberty Avenue. Walk 2 long blocks up Liberty — the cross-streets will be 9th and 8th streets — and on your left will be the Wood Street Galleries at the intersection of Wood Street and Liberty Avenue. The T station is down the escalator.

You will take the “outbound” train. The train numbers are 42S or 47L, but the sign should say “to Square Station” or “to South Hills.” It is easy in that the T has only one line in town. The train comes every 8 minutes and it is a 5-minute trip to Station Square. Expect to travel like 3 stops. Once you get to the Station Square stop, cross the street (Carson Street) and head towards the river where you will see the Hard Rock Cafe. You will walk about a block to get there.

The first 20 people to arrive will receive swag bags. Now onto other noteworthy news:

Despite its reputation as an expensive grocer, Whole Foods is doing alright in this economy, according to the Washington Post. Where do you do your food shopping, MotherTalkers?

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids is one brave woman. She just gave 10 vials of blood and a hair and urine sample for a Vermont study on chemical body burden. Just think, Katie: You are taking one for the team!

I hate to scare you about the estrogenic toxin bisphenol A (BPA), but Lynn Harris over at Babble had a very compelling — and frightening — article on it.

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


Bon Voyage!

I am flying to New Hampshire today to leave the kids with abuelo and abuela so Markos and I can go to Netroots Nation on our own.

I will then spend the two weeks after that — DH about 10 days — in New Hampshire with my parents. MotherTalkers will be updated every day just not as often. DO look out for pictures from the parents caucus at Netroots Nation!

I will send out reminders for two east-coast events, in which we could all get together. One is the Netroots Nation parents caucus at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh. Check out yesterday’s weekly roundup for directions. The other is Markos’s book signing at Katie’s bookstore. Again, the weekly roundup has all the pertinent details.

I hope to see you at one or both events!