Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I noticed that our Facebook MotherTalkers group was about to be “archived,” so I upgraded to save it. Please re-sign up! Many thanks for letting me know, Lisa! :)

Also, as part of my work with Moms Clean Air Force — please sign up if you haven’t already! — I am floating this online petition to curb emissions from electrical power plants. America Electric Power (AEP) tops most air pollution categories in terms of what it spews. It is currently spending tens of millions of dollars in lobbying efforts to fight clean air standards. Please help me not let them get away with this. Thank you for your support!  

This Mamapedia Voices account by a mom rejected by her mommy playgroup almost read like satire. But what popped in my mind was this: I am so glad I am not there anymore. The baby blues, the uncertainty at a well-meaning wisher’s comments, the books, the perceived slights at my parenting…I am so glad I am not there anymore! While parenthood forever changes and the only constant is to remain flexible, I wish I knew then what I know now. There is more than one way to be a mother! What granules of wisdom have you gained from this thing called parenthood?

Also, Laurie Puhn at the Expecting Words blog raised a good question: what should you do if your spouse is not a “baby person”? I could relate as my husband and I found the baby phase quite trying.  

In health news: one in 38 South Korean children — or 2.6 percent of the child population — has an autism spectrum disorder, according to a story in MSN Health. Researchers were careful to note that the spike in cases was due to better diagnostic tools and not necessarily an increase from previous generations.

In other health news: you are more likely to stick with a consistent regiment if you work out in the morning, according to my recent edition of Women’s Running magazine. Now that I am over my cold, I am hitting the pavement again. I have my first half marathon in three weeks — yikes! Runners, how do you stay motivated?

Daily Kos’s Teacher Ken had a very nuanced response to the National Education Association’s endorsement of President Obama for re-election. Obama received the teacher’s union endorsement for the stimulus package which saved thousands, if not, tens of thousands of teaching jobs in the country.

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


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Salon had a fascinating Q&A with Tasha Blaine, who penned a book about nannies through their perspective and not that of the parents who hire them. ran tips on what workers should do if potential employers deem them “overqualified.” In related news, President Obama has promised more than 600,000 jobs this summer by spending $787 billion in stimulus package money. The Los Angeles Times has a list of the type of jobs they are.

A 16-year-old has created an exploratory campaign to run for city council in Fremont, California, in 2010, according to the Bay Area’s CBS 5.

I was alerted to this new blog published by mommy and relationship expert Laurie Puhn. The articles are interesting, including this piece on whether partners should go to every prenatal appointment.

An Ohio school teacher who was fired for preaching Christianity to the class has retaliated with a $1 million lawsuit of his own, according to the Associated Press. The teacher is alleging that he was “harassed by both administrators and co-workers on account of his religion.” Also, he is responding to allegations by the school district, that among other things, he preached his Christian beliefs to the class and used a scientific device to burn an image of a cross onto a student’s arm.

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


Monday Open Thread

Color me Pollyanna, take me to task for being naive and cherry-picking my way through the crises, but today, I see some good news that I want to share.

  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s pancreatic cancer was detected at the earliest possible stage, meaning that she could be back in court as of the 23rd of February, when the next session starts, according to information from The Supreme Court, via the LA Times

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg went home from the hospital Friday with an encouraging lab report that found no sign her cancer had spread. The 75-year-old had surgery a week ago to remove a tumor on her pancreas.

A 1-centimeter pancreatic lesion spotted by CT scan last month proved benign, according to her surgeon. “But in searching the entire pancreas, [the doctor] identified a previously undetected single, even smaller tumor, which upon examination was found malignant,” according to a statement issued by the Supreme Court.

Dr. Murray Brennan, a pancreatic specialist, removed Ginsburg’s spleen and a portion of her pancreas during surgery Feb. 5 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

“All lymph nodes proved negative for cancer, and no metastasis was found,” the courtstatement said. Her doctors described her cancer as stage 1.

Justice Ginsberg, I know I’m not the only one who will say this, but I am so grateful for your service and I wish you a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

  • Upstate NY Rep. Louise Slaughter has proposed the Prevention First Act of 2009. While the title could mean anything, what the act would do is have the Dept. of Health and Human Services provide grants for states for sex ed:

In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services may make grants to eligible States to conduct sex education programs, including programs that provide education on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Jezebel does a snarkalicious, accurate summation of most of the act here, but basically, the act calls for common-sense, age-appropriate, religion-free sex ed, then calls for the funding to make that happen (no unfunded mandates tra-la!). First of all, I’m delighted by common sense. Second of all, I’m further delighted that, should this make it out of Congress in this form (we never count our chickens before they’re hatched), it lands on the desk of President Obama. Huzzah! Rep. Slaughter, well done and you’re fighting the good fight.

  • Finally, the stimulus package. Very few people like it – either it’s too much debt, or not enough money, or not the right stimulus measures, too much/too few tax cuts, etc. But one group is pleased with it: environmentalists. According to this article in Salon:

The folks at the Natural Resources Defense Council were positively ebullient about the bill. “Congress really got it right with this economic recovery package that will deliver jobs and green infrastructure to America,” crowed Wesley Warren, director of programs for NRDC, in a statement. “We need to put America on a path to a clean-energy economy, and Congress has taken a big step forward in heeding this call.”

The stimulus package will invest $37.5 billion in energy. That includes $4.5 billion to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings; $6.3 billion for energy efficiency and conservation grants; $5 billion to weatherize old buildings, which promises to put idle construction workers back on the job; $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable-energy research; $6 billion for new loan guarantees for wind and solar, and the list goes on.

Australia passed its own stimulus bill late last week, and a significant part of the A$42bn package goes on similar “green“ measures – specifically weatherizing homes/businesses. As with the US, the stimulus package engendered much criticism in Australia, but the weatherizing component was one of the few that went through without much criticism.

So, what’s going on with you this Monday? I’m in Sydney (or, actually, I was in Sydney for my Monday) for a conference that I’m covering for a magazine. It’s one of my last big assignments pre-baby, and incidentally, marks the first time I ever spent a night away from Jessica (I flew up late Sunday night)!


Breaking News: Senate Passes $838 Billion Stimulus Package

The Senate passed an $838 billion bill to stimulate the economy, according to the Washington Post.

The Senate vote came as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner announced a vast new rescue plan for the financial sector. Stocks plunged following the unveiling of the program to use $1.5 trillion or more in public and private funds to bail out banks and financial institutions and thaw frozen credit markets. The plan would create a $500 billion fund to buy up toxic bank assets such as bad real estate loans and commit up to $1 trillion to reopen lending markets for consumer, student, small business, auto and commercial loans.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 383 points in afternoon trading. The tech-heavy Nasdaq plummeted 63 points, and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 43 points….

The package now heads to a House-Senate conference to resolve differences between the two versions. Obama, who hopes to sign the resulting bill into law before Presidents’ Day on Monday, has publicly encouraged negotiators in recent days to restore some education provisions that were stripped from the Senate version to reduce its overall cost.

Hearing about all this debt, which is about to be passed onto our children and probably their children, makes me sick to my stomach. I do hope though that Obama can help restore some of the education spending that was cut from the original bill.

According to the Post, the Senate included $110 billion more in tax cuts — because they worked so well the last eight years, right? — and fewer funds for school construction and state governments. I noticed in the story this would translate to a $1,000 tax break for the typical middle class family and only “‘a partially refundable $2,500-per-student tax credit’ to help families send their children to college.” Obama promised a $4,000 tax credit for college students who did community service. He got their votes so I hope he follows through on that promise.

What do you think of this stimulus package, MotherTalkers?