Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

After almost two weeks in Central America and a weekend in Orange County for Erika’s baby shower, I am finally back with your weekly parenting news roundup. I hope you all had a safe and restful holiday. Happy new year!

First of all, we at MotherTalkers would like to send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti and relatives abroad searching for their loved ones. We linked to a number of organizations aiding people on the island and if you haven’t already donated, here they are again. We also discussed what an earthquake or emergency kit should include and where to hide it in your home.

In non-earthquake news: Texas is mulling changes to its social studies curriculum by either adding/taking out religious instruction or including/excluding historical figures. The Texas Freedom Network live-blogged the debate hearings.

The Washington Post ran an editorial on the new president of the American Federation of Teachers union, Randi Weingarten.

We had some belated holiday stories. For example, I wondered how to incorporate Christmas decorations — like cards and ribbons — throughout the year as Ari and I love them. Also, at what age is it appropriate to stop giving gifts to children like nieces and nephews? As families grow, it is reasonable to expect gift-giving to curve.

Our Sue in Queens wondered what to do with her grandmother’s china. On the one hand, she wants to serve food in it to honor her grandmother, on the other hand she doesn’t want it to break. What say you?

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


Bon Voyage (Again)

I’ve got nothing as I am packing my bags once again.

Ari and I will be headed to Erika’s baby shower this weekend. We are hopping on a flight to Orange County today, returning on Sunday. I will definitely post pictures from the weekend either Sunday or Monday.

Until then, have a good weekend! What are you up to?


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers! How are you this morning?

I just got back from a trip to Orange County to visit Erika and her family. What a lovely Thanksgiving. Here are some pictures from our trip to Legoland and a photo of your founding MotherTalkers.

What else have we been discussing here at MT?

We talked about the crass graduation weight requirement Lincoln University of Pennsylvania imposes on its students. Basically, only students with body mass indexes of 30 or above must complete a fitness course to graduate. There was consensus that if the university is going to require such a course, then it should be free and required of all students.

We have had a lot of holiday stories lately. Here is one on how to manage your time more efficiently. Once again, I have vowed to do holiday shopping throughout the year rather than wait until December. In another holiday story, we discussed what to tell children who do not believe in Santa Claus, especially if they are surrounded by peers who are believers.

USA Today exposed loopholes that allowed recalled beef tainted with E. coli and salmonella to make it into school lunches. In related news, Consumer Reports just released a study showing that two-thirds of store-bought chicken harbor salmonella and/or campylobacter, another bacterial cause of foodborne disease. The publication recommended cooking chicken at at least 165º F and to prevent raw chicken or its juices from touching any other food.

We doled out tips on how to fight classroom bullies, particularly girl-on-girl bullying.

My heart breaks for this mother. An Egyptian mom on her way to show off her 4-week daughter to relatives, accidentally smothered the baby on the flight when she fell asleep while breastfeeding, according to the Daily Mail of the UK.

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

I am running around like a madwoman. It is Tuesday so I am volunteering at Ari’s classroom. Then I am having lunch with a friend who grew up with me in Miami. She is in town visiting her in-laws. Then I have to toss the expired food in the fridge since we will be gone almost a week, and finish last-minute packing. We plan to head out to Orange County when we pick up Ari from school.

Oh, and did I mention it is our wedding anniversary today? That would be 9 years of marriage and never did I imagine it would be spent 6 hours with kids in a minivan. My minivan. LOL! That’s okay, it’s all good…

I will be gone until Monday. But MotherTalkers will be updated every day just not as often. I wish you all a restful and drama-free Thanksgiving. iBuen provecho!

XO, Elisa


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Sorry for the very paltry post, but today is a hectic day. I am trying to tie some loose ends before our 6-hour road trip to Orange County. DH, the kids and I will be spending Thanksgiving with Erika’s family. We can’t wait!

In the meantime, here is a news item from the Lonestar state that caught my eye. Whoever the next governor of Texas is, will inherit a public education system in shambles, according to the Associated Press. The schools are facing increased costs from booming enrollment, but public resistance to paying more taxes.

The Mamasource newsletter had a great thread on what families, who do not celebrate Christmas, can tell well-meaning strangers when they ask them what they will receive from Santa Claus.

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


Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Sorry, folks, slow parenting news day yesterday. But in case you missed it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat cancer in dogs, according to the Associated Press.

Wow, this is desperate. A woman in Lincoln, Nebraska, was arrested for placing fake ads in the newspaper she worked for to boost her salary, according to Salon Wires.

I am heading down to Orange County for two days to see Erika. She surprised me with Dirty Dancing the Musical tickets for my birthday. Yippee! What are you up to this weekend?

I will post our Saturday morning parenting diary at Daily Kos. Please do check it out and “recommend” it. Have a good weekend all!


Delighted to be here!

I would like to introduce myself.  My husband is a member of Daily Kos and after I had some negative experiences in an online forum, he suggested that I try Mother Talkers!  I like the way women are allowed to open up here, and share anything.  I am having trouble with the layout of the board, because I am used to a different format, but I will persevere.

My name is Suzi and I am a native to Southern California. I attended high school in the 80’s and was lucky to be accepted to the only college to which I applied – UC Irvine.  I left my cozy life, filled with music and performing in the high school choir, and felt instantly lost and alone at UCI.  I was emotionally unready for college.  I went through the motions and only changed my major once – from “Social Science” to a more concentrated “Psychology.” I got my BA in 1989 and went on to study for a Master’s degree.  My career goal was to become an academic counselor.  Little did I know, I would earn my degree but because of a lack of any experience whatsoever, I would never work in that field.  What did I do?  I worked as a buyer for a store specializing in Apple Macintosh computers!

My husband and I met at that computer store in 1992 and we were married in September of 1993.  We bought a 1-bedroom condominium near our workplace in 1996 as I was certain I wanted a child-free marriage. My husband secretly knew I would change my mind. By early 1997, I got a baby ache and after treatment for cervical dysplasia, we were given the green light to try to conceive.  I was pregnant by the Spring of 1997 and after a few months, we sold the condo and bought a 2-bedroom house.

Things did not go smoothly during that first pregnancy.  I started to dilate at 26 weeks and was placed on bedrest with a visiting home health nurse.  She discovered that I was having contractions during a routine visit (I was feeling nothing out of the ordinary), and I ended up in the hospital at 28 weeks. They told me my baby would be born that day!  I was pumped with drugs to stop the contractions and finally, they succeeded.  I was sent home with more monitoring devices and Terbutaline.  I made it to 36 weeks – after 10 weeks of bedrest – and my baby boy was born healthy and fine, 6 pounds, 7 ounces.  He spent 4 days in the NICU for jaundice.

I was happy to be a stay-at-home mom and I enjoyed doing everything with our son.  We only had one car, so I walked everywhere with my little guy in the stroller.  On days when I needed the car, we’d simply take DH to work and then pick him up at the end of the day.  

Like many couples, we were enjoying parenthood so much that we decided to try for a second.  My doctor had a bright idea – a cerclage would give me a normal pregnancy this second time around and I wouldn’t dilate early.  Super!  Only it didn’t work out that way.  The cerclage was placed but my cervix was so fragile, it was not an ideal installation.  I was, therefore, placed on bedrest at 14 weeks.  And yes, I had a toddler at home.  It actually worked out pretty well.

At 32 weeks, my water broke suddenly.  I went to the hospital and they told me the amniotic fluid was replenishing so if I would just hang out there for a couple of weeks, I would grow the baby bigger and I would likely go into labor naturally.  At 33 weeks, 4 days, that is what happened.  My beautiful daughter was born, weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces.  She spent 8 days in the NICU but it nearly killed her.

On the 7th day, I was visiting her for a feeding and the nurse told me to breast feed her for awhile but if she didn’t get enough, she would have to warm up a bottle of my expressed milk and I could feed her.  Great.  I popped the bottle into her mouth and twisted it around and spotted the name on the bottle – not mine!  I pulled it out of her mouth – she had not even started to suck yet – and informed the staff.  At first, I thought, eww, kinda gross.  But then they pulled me aside and talked to me about HIV and Hepatitis as potential contaminants in breast milk.   I held her as they pumped her stomach and then gavage fed her the right milk.  I have never cried so hard in my life.  I thought that this blunder had robbed her of her potential for a healthy life.  All of the moms who had milk stored in the NICU freezer had their blood tested.  Thankfully, the mom whose milk DD got was healthy. My daughter was going to be okay!

Those kids are now 10 and 7 years old. They’re extremely bright and they are one another’s closest friend. I’m still a SAHM and I am fortunate to have a tiny income working from home, doing typing for an appraiser.  It’s incredibly interesting but there is not enough work to generate real “fun” money.  We live frugally out of necessity, as my DH’s modest income won’t allow us the kind of lifestyle most people enjoy in our area.

My “extracurricular” activities include membership in three choirs and a UU church.  I am on the PTA board at my daughter’s school.  Both kids are scouts.  We have a dog (a Cardigan Welsh Corgi) and I have enjoyed training him, plus taking him for long walks which is my only exercise.  Occasionally you can find me working in our garden or prowling Craig’s List for fabulous furniture finds.  I love to bake goodies and I do some sewing for fun. I’m excited at the prospect that Obama may become our next president.

Thank you for allowing me to post this long-winded introduction and I am looking forward to getting to know all of you.


Many Obese Rural Americans Actually Hungry

I must applaud Newsweek for running this deep and insightful piece, which dispelled the myths that obese people do not go hungry and healthy food is plentiful in rural America.

According to the magazine, most “supermarkets“ in rural areas are actually convenience stores low on produce and high on junk food. Many obese Americans in these areas fear going hungry because of poverty and eat what is available to ease stress.

Like other rural areas (and some inner-city ones), Orange County (in South Carolina) is an isolated “food desert.” “You are pretty much at the mercy of what’s in your neighborhood,” says Adam Drewnowski, director of the center for obesity research at the University of Washington. Although only 28 percent of all the stores in Orangeburg County carried any of the fruits and vegetables—apples, cucumbers, oranges, tomatoes—that were part of the survey, Liese and her colleagues found plenty of healthy foods in the county’s 20 supermarkets and grocery stores. The situation in the convenience stores was decidedly grimmer. Only 4 percent of them carried high-fiber bread, and only 2 percent carried low-fat or skim milk.

Poverty poses a big barrier to good nutrition in rural areas. “Eating healthier is more expensive,” says Jodi Bates, who operates the Compassion in Action food bank in Orangeburg County, where the median household income is just $30,000 and 22 percent of the residents fall below the poverty line. Last year food stamps went to 10.3 percent of rural Americans, versus 7.3 percent of urban ones, and 31 percent of rural grade-schoolers got a free or reduced lunch, compared to 25 percent of urban grade-schoolers.

Rural Americans are at increased risk of what the government calls “low food security,” better understood as fear of going hungry. According to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 35.5 million Americans (not including the nation’s 750,000 or so homeless people) fell into this category last year. The highest food insecurity rates were in states with large rural populations: Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and South Carolina. Ironically, people with low food security are often hungry—and fat. The reason: they binge on cheap, high-calorie foods that fill them up.

As I have mentioned before, the disparity between more expensive supermarkets like Whole Foods and our local Safeway, which is heavier on the sweetened canned goods is appalling. I feel uneasy that we are at the whim of a few corporations for food. It seems to me that organic produce, for example, should be a human right and not some luxury available to a privileged few.

Something else that struck me about this article is that rural Americans are more likely than urban Americans to receive public assistance for food, yet tend to vote for Republicans who cut such services to cut taxes. I especially hope that Mississipians, Texans and South Carolinians take note.

A ray of hope: I was relieved to read this NPR story that the rural vote is no longer a dependable constituency for Republicans because of the Iraq War. The war trumps even the culture wars, which have heavily influenced rural voters over the years.


It’s Monday — UGH!

We got in late last night from our trip to Orange County, Calif.. We had a fabulous time visiting our best friends and going to Disneyland for the first time. Both kids got Mickey Mouse ears and rode rides — including Eli! We joked that her reaction to the music and bright colors around her was probably comparable to someone on an acid trip.

Unfortunately, DH and I did not get pictures. One disadvantage of traveling with two small children is that it leaves each parent with one child and no free hands for a camera. But Tia Erika took lots of pics. When she comes up for air we will steal those from her.

In the meantime, we are relieved that she, Maya and Papi Blez are safe from the fires that ripped through the OC yesterday. As an update, here is a link to the Orange Country Register, which is alleging that the fire was caused by an arsonist:

The fire exploded in size overnight, at one point flashing through three miles of brush in 30 minutes. Firefighters working through the night were able to block the flames from moving into residential areas; by this morning, they estimated that the fire was about 30 percent contained.

“It was a long, long night,“ said firefighter Mitchell Kahn, who had been on the lines for more than 12 hours straight, with only a half-hour break this morning. “It’s just all hard work, to dig out the fire and wet it down.“

The Orange County Fire Authority listed the cause of the fire as arson after firefighters found three ignition points near Santiago Canyon Road, east of Lake Irvine. No other details were immediately available; Chief Chip Prather made the announcement after he was handed a note during an early-morning news conference.

He asked that anyone with information call a tip line at 800-540-8282.

Frightening. We left town just in time. When we hit the highway, our car became enveloped by darkness and plumes of smoke. It stunk. DH and I half-joked that it was apocalypse, but thought it was a brush fire on the mountains since it was so hot this past weekend. The smoke cleared up about 20 minutes into our trip. I can’t imagine being so close to it! Let’s hope OC clears up really soon and the cops catch the responsible person…Hang in there, Erika!

What else is on your minds, MotherTalkers?