Thursday Open Thread

It’s Thursday! Can you believe Thanksgiving is just one week away?

I am starting to sweat all the holiday stuff: Making gift lists, scheduling a time to take family photos for the Christmas cards, planning menus, and trying to make sure I don’t fall off the exercise wagon.

When do you start your Christmas/holiday shopping? As of now we have only purchased two gifts, but I have ideas for several others. On the day before Thanksgiving DD and I are taking our very first trip to the American Girl store! We are joining some friends for lunch there, so it will be more of a recon mission as I try to figure out which AG doll will be Maya’s first.

Did I mention my husband will turn 40 just 11 days before Christmas?? Oy. The only thing he really, really wants is a ridiculously expensive bicycle frame. Any other gift ideas to share for a milestone birthday?

In the news: political mom bloggers got a shout out in this CNN story, which featured Joanne Bamberger, who occasionally posts here as PunditMom. A snippet:

Tackling heated discussions, educating yourself about issues and getting candid about candidates can be difficult, even for the politically inclined. But political mom bloggers have taken the challenge to a new level: combining the delicate art form of being a parent with being politically active, and including their children in the entire process.

“I think it’s really important to raise children with a sense of public responsibility,” Judy said. “One of the values I want to instill in my son is this idea that as an American citizen, he’s responsible for paying attention to what the government is doing so later, when he’s old enough to vote, he’s empowered to make rational decisions.”

Looks like Arizona might just be a swing state in 2012, thanks to that turd of a law SB 1070.

The architect of 1070, state Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ), became the first-ever Arizona legislator to be recalled earlier this month, and now Campbell says there’s a moderate and Latino voter base in Arizona that’s reemerged after 1070.

The law, along with other what Campbell called “extremist” measures from the Republican-controlled state government (including Gov. Jan Brewer’s war on the state’s independent redistricting board) have left the GOP in bad shape among the electorate and Democrats looking better and better.

He pointed to record-high turnout in municipal elections like the Phoenix mayoral race which put Democrats in office across the state this month. Those results were fueled in part by huge turnout numbers from the Latino demographic, Campbell said, and in part by a more moderate base that’s had enough.

What do you think? Has the GOP overplayed its hand this time around?

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


The Kos Holiday Photos Are In…

First of all, my Thanksgiving with my brother and his girlfriend was wonderful. So wonderful that I did not check my laptop for anything. I just enjoyed their company, going site-seeing, going out to eat, and playing cards late into the night. I was left feeling like our time together was too short, and I wish that they lived closer.

The kids really miss them as both my brother and his girlfriend had boundless energy and would entertain them for hours. For the first time in a long time, DH and I would curl up on the couch to watch TV while the four of them played. “Would you like to move in with us?” I half-joked.

I was glad to see that the feeling was mutual. My brother and Jenny loved California and promised to visit us regularly. In the meantime, I plan to make a trip out to New Hampshire after the busy holiday season, probably at the end of January or beginning of February. I refuse to let so much time elapse in between visits.

And we had so much to be grateful for this year. Not only did we have each other, but Markos and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on November 24. (We have been together for 14 years, 10 of them married.) Funny story: on the 24th we were driving around San Francisco with my brother and Jenny when I got a text from my mother, “Happy Anniversary!” I read it out loud to everyone in the car. DH responded, “I was waiting for you to remember our anniversary!”

“Oh eff you,” I said, “you TOTALLY forgot our anniversary!”

“No, I remembered and it took your mom reminding you.”

Everyone was cracking up. Yup, that’s what happens when you are with someone for over a decade and have small children. LOL!

Since I got my act together early this year, yes, I will be participating in this year’s MT holiday card exchange. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite family pics from our holiday photo shoot at the Albany Bulb in the San Francisco Bay Area:

We also had a bunch of combination shots taken: Markos and Ari, Markos and Eli, me with Ari and me with Eli:

Of course, I have yet to mail out the cards, and I have barely made a dent on my shopping list. Every year, I intend to buy presents throughout the year so I am not stuck going to the malls the last three weeks of December, but I just can’t do it. It seems like the only time I go to a store is if I need something. Otherwise, I don’t go.

The good news is our Christmas tree and indoor decorations are already up, something we did as soon as my brother left. It helped us fill the void in the house.

Where are you in the hustle and bustle this holiday season?


Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Good news: the House Education and Labor committee passed a bipartisan Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill by a 32-13 vote. The bill would improve on school lunches. Jill Richardson over at La Vida Locavore is not confident it will receive all the necessary funding though.

Washington D.C. has the most educated people of any major city, according to a study covered by the Washington Post.

Back-to-school shopping is the biggest season for retailers after Christmas, and so far, things are not looking good. Sales are expected to fall short that retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and others, plan to offer specials and contests to lure parents, according to the Dallas Morning News.

From my Texas newsletter (just so you all don’t think I watch FOX News!): Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proposing denying driver’s licenses to high school dropouts, as well as a $1,500 tax break for employers who aid a worker in earning a diploma, according to Houston’s FOX affliliate. What do you all think of this proposal?

And ain’t this the truth:

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



I HATE shopping. No, scratch that. I hate shopping at a physical location. However, when it comes to sitting behind my computer screen and scrolling through internet websites offering great discounts on items I love – I’m SO there!

The majority of my shopping is done via the internet. I am a frequent visitor of online shopping websites, including,, and Once you know your size with any given designer, all you need to do is push “add to cart”. Anywhere I can avoid crowds, I will. And, it’s always SO MUCH FUN to receive packages in the mail. It feels like Christmas!

There was an interesting post in that talks about the wrongs of online shopping, which are valid. Risks include identity theft and hidden shipping costs. BUT, after making a career of online shopping, you get to distinguish who the better retail stores are. My favorite is Nordstrom. They have the most amazing online sales, sometimes discounting up to 60% from the retail cost. And, they take returns at any store, no questions asked.

What about you? Have you been bitten by the online shopping bug? What online stores do you frequent? Have you had any negative experiences with online shopping? Please share!


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos. Don’t forget to recommend us!

What’s up?

We talked about our favorite Christmas movies. Believe it or not, there was an actual story in the press about children who have had their tongues stuck on poles a la A Christmas Story.

In related holiday news, our Gloria wrote about procrastinating on Christmas shopping because she can’t afford to buy many gifts. Instead, she is making lists differentiating what she wants to buy and what she can afford to buy.

Katy Farber over at the Non-Toxic Kids blog had a comprehensive list of green gift ideas.

Our Suzanne had a fun diary on “super good music.” An iTunes certificate anyone?

Pat of butter in a sea of grits — isn’t that a great handle? — wrote about everything you know and don’t know about family leave in the United States.

There were many studies out this week. One had to do with how soy may actually help keep breast cancer from recurring. Another one reported by Reuters was how cell phones do not give you brain cancer. That was a relief, at least to me, since my cell phone is my only phone.

In case you missed it, Daily Kos’s navajo posted pictures from the SF Kossacks holiday party. There were a few MotherTalkers pictured, including myself, Amy and Shenanigans. Also, I posted the Kos family holiday photos this year.

Finally, here is an opportunity to meet Bay Area MotherTalkers. We are getting together at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco this Tuesday at 7 p.m.. Please join us!

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


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

My Facebook Circle of Moms group recently had a couple of interesting discussions. One had tips on how to lose weight if you must for health reasons. The other was on the replies to give judgmental holier-than-thou types who looked down on you for not taking your children to church.

Family members of the murder victim in the Amanda Knox case say they are “pleased” with the court’s decision to convict Knox of the crime, according to the Associated Press.

The Washington Post ran a feature story on how children born to Latino immigrants are struggling to make it to the middle class — or at least do better than their parents. Also in the Washington Post: Columnist Carolyn Hax gave some great advice to a woman who is not thrilled about a co-worker’s pregnancy.

The average U.S. household is expected to spend $390 on Christmas gifts this year — down from $418 in 2008, according to Newsweek.

Anne Fitten Glenn, aka “Edgy Mama,” wrote about how she maintains her sanity during the holidays.

A California consumer advocacy group has found that a popular holiday toy, the Zhu Zhu hamster, has high amounts of the toxic flame retardant, antimony, according to CNN.

In case you missed it, a 13-year-old boy with Asperger’s spent 11 days surviving on the New York subway system, according to the Associated Press. The boy, Francisco Hernandez Jr., said he rode the trains and used the stations’ bathrooms. He lived off of snacks and water.

Also, in case you missed it, there was a Melissa and Doug toy recall in Canada for the amount of barium in the wooden toys’ paint, according to Non-Toxic Kids.

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


Gift ideas thread

Well Halloween is over so it’s time to move on to…holiday shopping!  I LOVE the holidays but I hate last minute shopping so I’ve been spacing mine out over the entire fall.  I don’t go overboard on gifts, just one thing for each person and a few things for my son.  My husband’s family does a gift exchange and we use Elfster, which as been a wonderful tool!  We set a $50 limit on gifts and post links to our wish list items.  You might want to check it out.

I thought it might be fun to have a thread for gift ideas and gift giving conundrums, so here goes!

This year I had what I think is a good idea for my gift to my coworkers.  I am making up a basket with a ton of little things we need around the workplace that someone always generously brings in: dish soap, hand lotion, tissues with lotion, wintergreen candies, gum, and powdered coffee creamer.  I’ve been stockpiling these things with my coupons over the past few months and I can’t wait to put it all in a cute basket and add some homemade treats!  My husband works with 2 other guys at a small company so I’m planning on making them a basket too, but with more of a “man” theme.  For their basket I will include beef jerky (yuck!) and power bars plus other stuff they need in the office too like cleaning supplies and tissues.

The only people I can’t think of what to send are my two bachelor uncles who live in Florida.  They have both lived alone for so long and they don’t really need anything.  I’m trying to stay in a $25 range for each of them.  In the past I’ve sent them decorated mini Christmas trees, but that wasn’t a huge hit.  (Probably too much work to water them, LOL!)  Last year I sent homemade shortbread and chocolate chip cookies in the mail, but I don’t know how well they really traveled.  This year I’m thinking of making a homemade snack mix to send them, but I don’t have a good recipe.  Anyone have any ideas for me?  I hate to resort to a gift card.

Do you have any fabulous gift ideas this year?  Please share!  And maybe we can help each other with our gifting dilemmas, too!


Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This is very cool: President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to NBC News. He is only the third sitting U.S. president to win the award. President Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson won it in 1919.

Parents ran a comprehensive list of homemade Halloween costumes. Only a few were mentioned online, but there were many in the mag that I dug like the “crayons.” Three kids were wearing pointy party hats with matching colored outfits that simply said the word “CRAYON.” Cute.

In related news, Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids gave tips for a “green” Halloween.

Unfortunately, I already purchased my kids’ costumes even though I entertained the idea of making them. Because I am lazy, Eli will go as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz courtesy of Target. Ari will be Bumblebee of the Transformers thanks to a sale at Toys R’ Us some months ago. What will your children be for Halloween?

Speaking of shopping, I spotted this news item in Parenting magazine: “An Ohio State University study found that if you touch an item for more than a few seconds while out shopping, you get attached and are likely to buy it.” The emphasis was the magazine’s, not mine, by the way.

More babies are born in August than in any other month, according to Parents. Also in the August edition of Parents: There was an article about only children. The article included a fun sidebar on celebrities with no siblings: Alicia Keys, Lance Armstrong, Daniel Radcliffe, Shawn Johnson, Condoleeza Rice and Blake Lewis.  

Newsweek ran an interesting article on what is in shampoo. I did not know this, but 80 percent of any shampoo is water.

“Whatever” beat out “you know” and “anyway” as the most annoying word in the country, according to a story in the Associated Press.

Because Kraft Foods passed the buck to the FDA, MomsRising is requesting a meeting with the company to ask it to remove synthetic chemicals from its mac and cheese.

Oh. My. God. Levi Johnston, who at one point was supposed to be Sarah Palin’s son-in-law, will pose nude for Play Girl, according to People magazine. He is on a low carb and high protein diet and working out three hours a day at the gym. Oy vey.

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


Late-Night Liberty: Shopping Edition

The other day I was checking out a bunch of websites endorsed by Cookie magazine. Not surprisingly, they were more money than I was willing to spend. I am a Target and Old Navy girl myself.

But there was at least one I check out for movies: Rotten Tomatoes. Other websites I shop or check out reviews at: GreatSkin and Amazon.

What about you? Are there certain websites you always check out for reviews or to shop?


kids clothes online

This is just a quick diary to ask people to pool their favorite online sources for kids clothing – I thought it would be useful to many here if we collected them in one place.   My own preference is for cheap but functional clothes – I only have boys, so appearance isn’t really a major criterion – but if you have recommendations that are particularly good for dress up clothes, well made clothes, girls clothes, hard to fit sizes, easy return policy, inexpensive shipping, etc, I’m sure that many here will appreciate them.

Does anyone here have any favorites websites they’d like to share?