Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Many thanks to Stephanie Fairyington, a talented writer who pointed out these two pieces that she penned: the first one is at The Progressive, and is about how she is reluctant to marry her girlfriend of three years even though gay marriage is legal in their home state of New York. I am curious if any of you have been with long-time partners who have chosen not to tie the knot? Please do discuss!

The second story is at The Atlantic and also deals with relationships, although this one questions whether romances are really mutual. Again, a good read.

Our fearless executive director at wrote a poignant piece for the Huffington Post about the controversy around contraceptives today and the history of birth control in this country in general. Also at MomsRising: I just put together my first blog carnival — this one for Black History Month. I am so proud of the stories we are featuring — everything from the personal to the political. I’d appreciate it if you hit that “like” button on the blog carnival itself or any of the posts and shared with your loved ones. Thanks!

Affirmative action is in the news (again), this time, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case having to do with the University of Texas. Just to show you how structural racism is, I am wondering where is the outrage and Supreme Court hearing regarding legacy systems, brownie points for knowing the guy who donated to the school library and other boosts in the admissions process?

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



First off, I know I am being silly and irrational. But I can’t stop what I’m feeling, because feelings are, almost by definition, the opposite of reason. So before you respond something like, Minnmom, you really need to take a step back and realize you’re being irrational, understand that I know this. But right now I am mourning a long lost love, again, and I can’t help it.

A million years ago, when I was only 23, a veritable baby I see now, I met this guy. He was from a very far away country, a visiting grad student. He was several years older, and married, with a young son. I didn’t think about what he must have been thinking, to leave his wife and child for a year. For obvious reasons, I liked to pretend they didn’t exist. But he did tell me some things about marriage in general that I didn’t understand back then, but now I think, wow, he was soooo right. Our relationship was very brief (we met near the end of the school year) but intense. When the school year ended, he moved back to is country and I moved back to my parents’ house to work for the summer. And I was OK with that. New job, new boyfriend, life goes on, and I was just a kid.

Five years later, something reminded me of him and I missed him so badly I cried on and off for days. Mind you, I was married by this time. I never told my husband. Eventually, the feeling passed, for good I thought, until a couple days ago when out of the blue (sort of … long story) I dreamed about him and it all came back. For two days I felt like my heart was going to jump right out of me from all its twisting and turning in my chest. then I woke up this morning (after crying myself to sleep last night), put on the little gold charm that he used to wear and gave to me, and felt better. My husband knows something was wrong but there’s no way I’m telling him what. And he doesn’t always remember where the necklace came from.

I feel like I’m OK for now, but I have a feeling this is going to keep popping up in my life. There’s not more to it, just a fantastically bad case of wrong time/wrong place. Interestingly, he is from near the same place where my dad’s bio parents came from (I now know). Makes me wonder about past lives and all that :). Anyway, I wanted to get this off my chest. If you have any long lost loves stories to share, please do :)


What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

For two years in a row, I am happy to report that I fulfilled mine. Two years ago, I aimed to lose all the baby weight from Eli, and I did — 50 pounds total, although the last 20 were the hardest to lose.

Last year, I was in El Salvador wearing red underwear to usher in the new year, a ritual that is supposed to bring you more passion. Considering that Eli is now old enough to leave with friends, DH and I did get away and have more romantic sparks than in previous years. Not to mention, we happily celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

Well, all of it came at a cost. I did gain back 10 of the 20 pounds I ardently fought to lose. It doesn’t look bad and I don’t feel badly, but I am also not liking how snug my pants are. So I am cutting down — notice I am not cutting out — my lattes and other sweets just to keep my weight at bay. I would also like to run a half marathon, something I’ve had on my to-do list for a few years now.

What are your new year’s resolutions?


Late-Night Liberty: Marital Bliss Edition

We are approaching Valentine’s Day, which means the love and romance pieces are starting to hit the press. Ladies’ Home Journal had a fun piece, in which the magazine asked experts from therapists to bartenders for their secrets to “an always and forever marriage.”

Unfortunately, I could not find the article online, but here are some of my favorites, or at least ones I had never considered:

The secret of a happy marriage is to only have secrets that, when they’re revealed, will make both people smile. -Gary S. Felton, PH.D., Los Angeles clinical psychologist

Make a rule that the children are not allowed in the bedroom without being invited. My husband and I hung a sign from our doorknob that says, “Mom and dad off duty. Emergencies only! Emergency is fire, flood, a lot of blood!” It’s amazing how seldom we got a knock on the door. -Jeannine Kaiser, author of Cupid’s Playbook: How to Play the Dating Game to Win!….

Some things are better not shared. The secret to staying in love? Separate bathrooms. -Tom and Marilyn Herman of New York City, married nearly 29 years

What would you add to this list? Also, in related news, LHJ’s “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column was about a couple dealing with the husband’s Asperger’s diagnosis.


Wearing Yellow Underwear and Other New Year Rituals

Now that I am back at my computer, highlights from my trip — both good and bad — are coming to me. Like, does your family have any goofy new year or holiday traditions?

For most of the 10 days I was in Central America, my family was teasing me for an incident that took place at a public market. My mother-in-law wanted to buy, besides produce, yellow underwear because it would bring her money in the new year. Wearing red underwear would usher in a year of passion and romance, or so I was told.

I had the red underwear and planned on wearing it. When dear MIL asked me if I wanted to buy a pair of yellow panties for $1, I initially declined. “I don’t need the money, I need romance!” Really, it was a stupid thing to say in the middle of a market in a third world country. “Que dichosa!” my mother-in-law and a shopkeeper said at the same time. The lucky bitch doesn’t need money! My MIL’s boyfriend said, “Elisa, wear the yellow underwear and give me the money!”

I ended up buying the yellow underwear and wearing it on top of the red underwear for the duration of the New Year festivities. Of course, this move did not save me from family ridicule the rest of the week. “Damn Elisa, did you want to get jumped?” DH asked me. I turned it around on him and asked him if I wasn’t wrong for wanting a little more intimacy in our marriage? Our new year’s resolution was to spend more time together, whiny two-year-olds be damned.

Besides wearing two underwear, I made a wish and scarfed down 12 grapes at the strike of midnight new year’s day. This is a Spanish and Latin American tradition.

What other holiday rituals does your family share?


Late-Night Liberty: Single Parent Dating Edition

I got a chuckle from this article in CNN about children being horrified that their single parents are e-dating, although it sounds like they would be horrified at any kind of dating.

As the baby boom generation ages and once-married boomers become single again, they increasingly are turning to the Web in search of dates.

The number of users who identify themselves as 45 years or older and divorced has more than doubled in the past eight years, says Gian Gonzaga, senior researcher for the site, which has had 20 million members since it started in 2000. Registered users ages 45-64 jumped 9 percent from 2007-2008, Becky Teraoka, the site’s public relations manager said.

And given that many older boomers are parents with grown children, it’s perhaps unsurprising that conflicts occur.

“What people worry about most is the well-being of their parents. They’re concerned their parents are out of the loop of dating and going to pick someone who is going to treat them badly,” says Stacy Kaiser, a Southern California psychotherapist who works with the women on “DietTribe,” Lifetimes’ reality show about five female friends who try to lose weight and get fit. Kaiser is also a former consultant for the Jewish dating site

Kaiser says she often counsels parents and children on working through issues that arise when a parent begins dating online. One of her clients hacked into his mother’s e-mail account and, posing as her, sent rejections to potential suitors.

Another followed her mother to an outdoor Starbucks rendezvous and repeatedly drove past her mother and her date, yelling at her. The mother eventually had to shout back: “Let me live my life!”

“It’s like the children try to take on the role of the parent,” says Kaiser.

Have any of you had this experience as either dating parent or child? After reading the article, I could understand the fear that something could go wrong on these dating sites. But considering some of the kids were on eHarmony as well, I thought this had more to do with the child’s discomfort with mom dating in general. What do you think?


Housework and being “in the Mood”

I haven’t watched Desperate Housewives in several seasons, but Bree always used to crack me up with her obsession with domestic perfection. I know I’m not that bad, but I do think that my mood is uplifted and I’m far more open to romance when the house isn’t a disaster.  DH…could care less. I’m not a big fan of stereotypical “gender differences,” but this is one we definitely fall into. So, what say the rest of you MTers?


Weekend Open Thread–Love and Romance Edition

Happy weekend, everyone! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at some love-related news links…

Did you know there’s a name for the science of kissing? It’s called philematology, and there are peeps who spend their careers studying it:

A person receives information about the person he or she is smooching by locking lips, Fisher said. A kiss transmits smells, tastes, sound and tactile signals that all affect how the individuals perceive each other and, ultimately, whether they will want to kiss again.

Women tend to be attracted to male partners with a different immune system makeup from their own, Fisher said. They subconsciously detect information about a partner’s immune system through smell during kissing, she said.

Smooching is some serious stuff! I will say I still vividly remember the very first kiss I shared with DH. It reverberated throughout my body. Yowza! How important is kissing chemistry to you?

Have you heard about the transatlantic flickr love story? It seems a couple of photographers met online and proceeded to fall in love while photoshopping pictures where they appear to be together. The photos are pretty amazing, but it seems the couple has as many skeptics as they do fans:

As the nastier comments on Rosie and Aaron fan blog entries reveal, there are those jaded, cynical haters who don’t buy much of what we see online, this relationship least of all. The collision of fates that make their love story is too preposterous. The couple is too ridiculously attractive. The highly stylized photographs are far too polished and professional. On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

They are a mighty attractive couple. As someone whose eventual marriage wouldn’t have been possible without email and the Internet, I wish them all the luck in the world.

Finally, this tidbit on the world’s most married woman, 68-year-old Linda Wolfe of Indiana. The currently single Wolfe has 23 marriages under her belt and yet…she’s hoping to land just one more husband.

Since her last groom, she hasn’t dated and she doesn’t kiss. Wolfe has the record, but she would rather have something else, more common and more lasting.

“But I would get married again,” she said, “because, you know, it gets lonely.”

Here’s wishing everyone love this Valentine’s Day, and every day. What are y’all up to this weekend? Chat away!


Late-Night Liberty: Finding Romance Edition

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I leave you with the wise and hilarious words of Rand Richards Cooper, a daddy blogger over at Wondertime, who precisely echoed every parent’s experience in the bedroom once baby arrives:

I’m writing this because Valentine’s Day is coming up. For parents of toddlers, Valentine’s Day can be a trial. You’re taunted by memories of years ago, when you strategized, found the perfectly-chosen gift, made reservations for a three-hour dinner at an aspirational restaurant, and the whole thing had a plan and a slow build-up and deft unveiling and lavish, luxurious culmination, with lots of sparkling conversation along the way. Now conversation is more like, Hey, did you forget to get Larkin’s turkey dogs at the store today?

Here’s the question: How to maintain something resembling romance, when the daily grind of family life continually wears it down? There’s no time, no space. Given how disorganized our life feels, it’s stunning to realize how ruthlessly it is actually dictated by efficiency. Molly’s and my morning routine with Larkin, for instance, is about as variable as an auto assembly line, and any deviation by either of us causes a glitch (and wins a frown from the other.) Does this take a toll on spontaneity? You bet. As a famous writer wrote, Habit is the great deadener. Yet here we are. You know how when you don’t flip your mattress every few months, it develops these two little depressions, these shallow pockets, where your bodies go? It’s your little slot. That’s what our lives feel like these days….

For a grown man there are few feelings more unsatisfying than your own petulance at being outtalked by your child. But — since this is about Valentine’s Day — here is one of them. It has to do with another thing Larkin seems bent on preventing, along with parental talking. Not to be too explicit about this, but the girl seems to have special supersensitive radar set to detect any amorous parental intention anywhere in the house, anytime day or night. Thus, in the potentially romantic stillness before dawn, should I dare to try my charms on Molly, no sooner have I turned toward her in bed than we are stopped by a passion-deadening yelp from down the hall: Hey guys — come and get me! This has happened so often, we just laugh. What are we supposed to do? Hire a sitter and go to a motel?

Honestly? Yes. Unless a family member visits and takes the kids for a weekend, it just doesn’t happen for us. One time my brother-in-law visited us and offered to babysit so we could go dancing. We ended up checking into a hotel instead for a few hours. (We napped part of the time, too. :)

“How was dancing?” my BIL asked us.

“Great!” we replied.

It is so very hard with kids around. But we don’t mind as we know our lives have improved in other ways such as the endless amount of comedy in the house. We, too, laugh when Eli stands up in her crib in the wee hours of the morning and calls out, “Mami? Papi? Ah-dee?”

This Valentine’s Day we will settle for what we have done the last five years: nothing. Nothing is great. No pressure. No stress. We even go as far as to say, “Don’t get me anything because then I will have to reciprocate!” I know, romantic.

So, what will you and your partner do this Valentine’s Day? How do you carve out some romantic mommy-partner time?


Romance, scho-mance

Unlikely as it may sound, the Academy Awards ceremony got me thinking about romance this week. The best song Oscar was from the movie Once, an intensely romantic musical with intensely romantic music and an intensely romantic leading man and woman who are now a real-life couple despite a large difference in their ages (interestingly, in the movie, they don’t even kiss).

I saw this movie last summer and the music from it took me back to my days of adolescent angst when I used to spend hours gazing into the eyes of various boyfriends, crying when we fought, and just generally lounging around in my room listening to The Cure or Depeche Mode and thinking – yes you guessed it – intensely romantic thoughts. My relationships were always a mess and usually made me unhappy. Or should I say happily unhappy?

Because I’ve found myself longing a bit for some of that intensity this week.

I love my DH and after almost ten years of marriage (15 of cohabitation) truly can’t imagine being with anyone else. But sometimes with two little kids, two jobs, this, that and the other, I start to feel like we’re more Oscar and Felix than a romantic couple. Maybe it’s the time of year, but I lie there in flannel sheets and wool socks with a congested head and can’t imagine ever feeling that sense of longing, of desire, that once filled my body until I thought my headphones would come flying off when I listened to “Just Like Heaven.”

So I’ll confess it – this week I listened to that Oscar-winning song (called “Falling Slowly”) on YouTube repeatedly and tried to conjure some of it up. And you know what? It worked a little. So I rented the video, which my DH hasn’t seen yet and we’re going to have a little date night tomorrow night and watch it. Maybe drink a little wine, kick off those flannel socks. That is if my head clears and I’m off the cold medicine (or maybe I’ll just stay on it and enjoy the buzz). And I’m hoping at the end of the night, not so much for a big makeout session, but just to feel the thrill I felt at 23 when hearing his name or knowing he was coming around the corner could set my palms sweating.

I know we recently had a discussion going about how often we, er, engaged in relations with our spouses/partners. But my question for you is this: When was the last time you felt that connection that brought you together in the first place? And if it’s gone, do you mourn its loss? What has it been replaced with?

And really, I do recommend that movie and its soundtrack.