Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Oh my gawd, people, I am back to the homework wars. Last night, DH and I checked Ari’s homework and it was only halfway done. If we hadn’t reminded him, none of it would have been done for this morning. This was after he had been grounded for not turning in homework, after insane lecturing on our part and tears on his end, and after he had an entire week off school. Ugh!!! This homework thing is going to be the bane of our existence.

Once again, we took away the iPad and video games for a week and playdates on school nights. Every day after school this week, I will be closely monitoring to make sure that he completes it. Ay.

A group of moms in Montserrat, Spain, have gone topless for a racy calendar to raise money for their school buses, according to the TODAY Show moms blog. In case you are wondering, they have raised the money needed to keep bus service for 600 elementary school kids, which begs the question, how far would you go to fundraise for your kids’ school?

In other news: a Caucasian mom at BlogHer with an African American daughter wrote about the nuances of travel in this country — finding “friendly” places where non-white people can stay. I understand where she is coming from. I can think of two places, in which I felt uncomfortable being the only brown person that day. One of those places was in the deep south where people around me waved confederate flags and dropped the “n” word quite casually. I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut — and never returned. It’s sad that in this day and age we still have that in this country. I applaud this mother for recognizing it and protecting her daughter.

In people who are completely off the mark: Keli Goff at the Huffington Post wrote a piece about “why bad parents oppose kid-free flights.” I liked this comment by a self-described 52-year-old gay man with no children:

Here’s the million dollar answer. People of all ages travel by plane for medical reasons. Banning children from flights could be challenged on the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act if a child with cancer needs to fly to a cancer center for chemotherapy.

Yes, this. I would add that children are still people and it is a slippery slope to start deeming who is “too annoying” to fly. There are plenty of adults who arguably belong in this category, too. Unlike a private beach or club, air is public. Flying is just one of those things we all suck up because we have to — a funeral, an illness, visiting family, going on vacation, etc..

And that’s all I got. What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Tuesday Open Thread

It’s Tuesday! And today, we are flying to Ixtapa, Mexico for our first official vacation as a family of four. This is also my first time flying with squirmy Alex without my boobs as a comfort mechanism. We’re armed with a brand new iPad and his favorite snacks. All I want is not to end up in the news as one of those families that was escorted off a plane because of an uncooperative toddler. 😉 Wish me luck!

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

DH and I are in Laguna Beach for the weekend sans the kiddos, in celebration of his 40th birthday! We plan to shop, eat, sleep, drink and snuggle. Planning child care for two nights away was a bit of a challenge this time around (must be the busy holiday season) but thank Zeus for family and good friends. We’re going to enjoy the heck out of this time together!! We’re so lucky (and grateful).

What are you up to this fine weekend? Chat away!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

A mother’s love is fierce: Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which according to the Miami Herald, “would pave the way to make gay marriage legal within all 50 states by acknowledging that government should not define a couple by their sexual orientation.” The news story, which is worth a read, states that Ros-Lehtinen’s pro-gay marriage stance has stemmed from her parenting and accepting her transgender child. Good for her.

Follow the money: We really need to get the money out of politics. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and twenty of her fellow senators just introduced a bill that would prevent regulation of airborne toxins. As Think Progress pointed out, all of them have received campaign contributions from polluters. Blech.

My guess is that all that money spent on fighting health insurance reform was passed onto customers. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that annual premiums for family coverage jumped 9 percent this year compared to 2010 when they were raised by “only” 3 percent, according to the Associated Press. I once sparred with someone who I suspect worked for the health insurance industry who told me that the hundreds of millions of dollars in action taken against President Obama’s healthcare reform bill only came to $1 a customer. Yeah right.

Girl Power? Okay, I am just going to come out and say it. Thank God I am not a woman in Saudi Arabia. The king there just gave women the right to vote — in 2015 — and the driving ban is still in place. Here is a Washington Post article on it.

Trend Watch: Also in the Washington Post: Pet euthanasia at home is becoming a trend. Basically, the vet goes to the house as opposed to having human companions bring pets to the vet.

From BlogHer: “Another Jennifer” doled out tips on how to travel without children. Almost all the parenting articles have “don’ts” and “to-dos” for parents traveling with kids so I thought this was interesting.

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I am back from Netroots Nation and catching up at home. The conference was great, by the way. It was the largest with 2,400 people in attendance. It was the most diverse, and there were so many engaged young people that it made me optimistic about our country’s future. Next year’s NN will be in Providence, Rhode Island. I look forward to going and bringing my kids and family in New Hampshire with me.

In other news: I was excited to read in the San Jose Mercury News that non-stop direct charter flights to Cuba are coming to Oakland as early as December. I haven’t been to Cuba since 2002 so I take this as a hint that I MUST go. :)

The Thoughts of a Mommy blog ran tips on how to keep children safe around water this summer.

The Washington Post had a detailed list of all the union-busting activities Michelle Rhee is participating in. This, by the way, comes after a report showing that there was widespread cheating on standardized tests under her watch as DC Chancellor of Schools. “Students first,” eh?

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


Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday!

What would make traveling with small children easier for parents?

When we lived in Sacramento and frequently drove to Los Angeles with a little toddler in the back seat, DH and I used to fantasize about opening a spacious, kid-friendly restaurant/indoor playground smack in the middle of that lonely 400-mile expanse on Interstate 5. A place to stop, stretch, eat, allow our little girl to run and jump and crawl, and generally recharge for the next 3 hours in the car.

That idea also holds true for airports. When we flew back east last December, Alex was almost 11 months old. He squirmed in our laps all the way to Chicago and then we couldn’t put him down to crawl  during our layover because of the crowds and because, yuck, it is a grimy airport floor.

I remember seeing a sign that said one terminal had a kids’ play area, but it was nowhere near our gate. So we were out of luck.

This survey found that most parents arein agreement that airports could do more to accommodate families.

According to the survey, almost 60 percent of participants would like to see soft play areas at airports, while more than half want areas where kid-oriented TV shows or films could be offered.

“It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that top ‘wants’ by families are entertainment-related,“ said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, editor-in-chief of the family travel site “Airport time is waiting time, and keeping small children busy and content for long intervals is not easy.“

Also on the wish list were special play areas restricted to the under-five crowd, video game zones, storytelling services, stroller rentals and a kids’ café and bar with complimentary refreshments.

Um, yeah. TV and movie areas? Not so much. A laptop, iPad, or an old-school portable DVD player could easily serve that purpose. Storytelling services? Just read your kid a book. And complimentary refreshments for kids? Buy them a drink yourselves, goofy entitled parents!

But soft play areas and special play zones restricted to those age 5 and under? Genius.

And here are a few airports that seem to get the idea:

Orlando International Airport has a Build-A-Bear store and a 3,000-gallon aquarium filled with colorful fish. Zurich Airport has staffed playrooms filled with toys, dolls, books, computer games, painting supplies and building sets. And Singapore’s Changi International Airport has a four-story indoor slide.

Like Zurich didn’t sound awesome enough already. I want to go to there.
What do you think? How do you make traveling with kids tolerable? Any tips?

What else is on your mind today? Chat away!


Tuesday Open Thread

Happy Tuesday!

An update on  my Saturday post: we had a lovely weekend away. We loved Ojai, which had an awesome artsy-agricultural-crunchy-small town vibe. We were underwhelmed by the pricey resort we stayed at, but enjoyed every minute of each other’s company. We ate amazing meals and took leisurely bike rides. We shopped, and we lounged by the pool. In short, it was heaven.

And we were more than happy to come home to our very tired kids (grandparents don’t enforce bedtimes, it seems… and of course, they had a blast). It turns out my milk did not dry up, and I was able to nurse Alex to sleep that night. Which is nice, because now I will wean him gradually. Nursing once a day, then every other day, and so on. I am just glad it doesn’t feel sudden or forced. But I can’t deny that he’s a big boy who has little patience for nursing nowadays; he just has so many other things to do! :-) And thank you all for your words of support and encouragement. Just having several of you tell me that I would be able to nurse him when I came home gave me a sense of relief and let me enjoy the weekend.

The weird thing is that while driving home on Sunday, DH and I were talking about how the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 is coming up this year. No idea why it came up or why we started talking about it. We also talked about how 9/11 was the beginning of a terrible habit for me: falling asleep with the TV on. In the days after the attacks, I was petrified to miss any news and was glued to CNN. Fast forward to Sunday night, and we heard the news that Bin Laden was dead. But this time the TV was on in the background and we were glued to facebook and Twitter, updating each other as we gleaned new tidbits of information. Less than a decade later, and the way we interact and disseminate information couldn’t be more different. It is fascinating to witness.

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


Tuesday Open Thread- Kid Travel Edition

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Let’s talk travel– kids and travel, that is.

Budget Travel came up with a list of 15 places kids should see by the time they’re 15 years old. The list, which features places like the Grand Canyon, Ellis Island and Redwood National Park, is cool because it includes specific kid-friendly activities at each site.

Maya has visited 3 of the sites so far, and while she hasn’t visited Walt Disney World, she has grown up at Disneyland so I say that counts as #4 :-) Of course, this list assumes that a family can afford to travel all over the country by the time the kids turn 15, but I digress…

I look forward to taking my kids to Ellis Island and Independence Hall some day, but I think waiting until they are teens is the way to go.

What about you? Have your kids visited any of these places, and which ones would you like to see with them some day?

What else is on your mind today? Chat away!


Flying away with me…

I know I don’t post here often, but I lurk and read pretty much daily…

I have a 5-day conference in Orlando in a few weeks, and I’m taking DH and my 10-month-old with me.  The last time I flew with a baby was in 1994 (with my now 18-year-old), so I’m looking for some advice on how to manage it in the post-9/11 world. Do I bring the stroller and gate check it?  The Bob or the umbrella?  Or skip that and do the backpack or Beco because it’s easier to hike through the airport that way?

I know all about nursing on the way up and down to relieve ear pressure, packing the baby’s stuff in my carry-on in case the luggage gets lost, etc., it’s the baby hardware I’m wondering about.  Plus, I need to bring my laptop bag on with me…and how will I keep my crawly-squirmy boy entertained for 2.5 hours?

Any hard-won advice on how to make the trip go smoothly would be most appreciated!


Disneyland suggestions?

I’m thinking of taking my boys to Disneyland this month – we have a lot of time off school, and I think they’re at the ideal age.  But I really know nothing about it, since the appeal of all things Disney has always eluded me.  I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disneyworld myself, nor has my husband, and my boys are not very familiar with many of the Disney movies or characters.  They know they’d love to go to Disneyland, but they’re not quite sure why.

So I need help in making this a good trip.  Any tips, tricks, and suggestions would be appreciated; what to do, what to see, hotels, transportation, special packages, budget tips, etc?  Where do I begin?