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29 August 2008

Book Review: Mama PhD

I live in this weird place. I consider myself an academic, it's in my title at work, yet I don't hold a PhD. I am seriously considering returning to my master's program to "finish" up with a PhD. Yet, I am fairly certain that I don't want to be a faculty member and churn out papers and books. And obviously if I did return to grad school I would be doing it as a mom instead of just being pregnant as I was my final semester. WOW! That thought just gave me the willies.

Add to those facts is that my day job is to essentially convince women students to sign up for an academic life. The #1 question in my 15 years of being in academia, including my 4 as an undergrad, is "When do we have babies?" *sigh* Mama PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life, does not have one answer to that question. It has many answers.

The foreword by Miriam Peskowitz says it best:
The essays in this book extend that realization (that the work and family problem is bigger than any one of us, more than any one woman or man can solve) , documenting what happens when smart women consider motherhood in the context of institutions that have barely gotten used to the presence of women, let alone mothers who might prefer ordinary human lives where they are home for dinner, and have some time with the kids before they go to sleep. (pages xiii-xiv)

The work-life balance isn't easy anywhere, but when you think about colleges & universities it makes sense that they would be the best place for work-life balance. Technically professors only need to be on campus to teach, office hours, and committee work. If you're a lab scientist, add lab time in. But unlike corporate America, there isn't a goal to get out 1,000 widgets an hour. No, the goal is to forward your area of expertise (cure cancer, theorize on Jane Eyre, design bridges) and to teach students in the hopes that they will one day work beside you. Universities and colleges that also train early childhood teachers are perfect for having infant and child care. Don't most of those students have to spend time in a child care setting for their degree? But no. It's not that simple. And I think that the illogic that women run into is what is the most frustrating.

The best example of that illogic is in Jessica Smart Gullion's essay, "Scholar, Negated." In it she recounts how when she was a graduate student her spring teaching assignment was taken from her because she was pregnant and due in the middle of the semester. She worked at 1] a women's college and 2] in a sociology department chock full of feminst theorists. Her department head had done "pioneering work with women employed in inhumane working conditions in the maquiladoras along the Texas-Mexico border."

That said, most of the essays are hopeful. Mama PhDs who thought that the flexible schedule of an academic would make motherhood easier than for someone with a 9-5 job but soon realized that the pressure to write a book and change diapers was far different. Mama PhDs who worried endlessly that the time they spent away from their children and the travel required made them bad mamas only to have their children tell them otherwise.

Mama PhD is heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. It shows how far we have to go as a society to truly value families and the contributions of working moms. I think this book could be replicated for almost any industry as well as with subfields of academia.

This is book review is a part of the MotherTalk book blog tour.

You can get your own copy of Mama PhD thru an independent book store, Powell's or Amazon. Either way, grab a copy, especially if you are a Mama PhD struggling with your own guilt.

27 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Books

I know I said I would be positive in this series, so I am going to say that I am POSITIVE that buying your youngling edu-tainment toys will not guarantee them a ticket to Harvard. Instead I urge you to focus on buying your future student books. Plain old books. Buy them a few of your favorites and some new ones for that bookcase you are setting up in the nursery. Start reading now and never stop reading to your kids.

Parenting has a wonderful article on giftedness (h/t Kim) that not just says that gifted kids are rare, but that we can't make them with drills, toys, and extra work:

"Gifted" has become one of the most tossed-about words in the parenting lexicon. Unfortunately -- sorry, but let's get this out of the way right up front -- it's also one of the most misused. The vast majority of children are not gifted. Only 2 to 5 percent of kids fit the bill, by various estimates. Of those, only one in 100 is considered highly gifted. Prodigies (those wunderkinds who read at 2 and go to college at 10) are rarer still -- like one to two in a million. And despite the boom in infant-stimulation techniques, educational DVDs, learning toys, and enrichment classes, those numbers haven't been increasing. You can't build giftedness; it's mostly built in.

My daughter starts kindergarten next week and yes, she's in a gifted program. But we didn't drill her, send her to classes, or pile her with edu-tainment toys. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, honestly I'm deathly afraid that my trust in expert advice is actually wrong and all the kids in her class will come reading Shakepeare due to all the things we didn't do. I know they won't be, but that's what the edu-tainment & Co's are working off of...fear.

Instead, I ask you to have faith in your kid and yourself as parents. I know, many of us don't have our parents close by or if we do, they might not understand this new world we are raising our kids in. We all want more for our kids, but sometimes less is more.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

Hillary will always be my home girl

I don't shy away from the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton & I have our differences. I'd be a fool to suggest otherwise. Yet there is something more than just our hometown that binds me to her. I can't put a label on it, but it's there and for me to ignore it would be dumb.

As I watched Hillary last night give the speech of her lifetime, I was star struck. Here we were, the world watching this woman who has fought her whole lifetime to be the President of the United States. We were also watching a woman who did spend the last 35 years working on behalf of women and children here in this country and abroad. Yes, she made concessions that I don't agree with. But she was out there. Not on the streets as some of us are more comfortable, but in the board rooms, in the halls of Congress, and in the White House.

I find myself in conversations with other women who fawn over the fact that I am so "active" and outspoken. They belittle themselves by saying that they are "just" this or that. "But you, you're out there!" I am where I can be. I am where I can squeeze myself into, where I can stick my foot in the door, and where I am welcomed. I'm not wearing 2 inch heels walking up and down the marble floors of the US Congress trying desperately to find one more co-sponsor for a ground-breaking and much required bill. I am not the President of a college who can demand that his administration find a way to make it easier for his workers and students who juggle child care to feel more at ease. I am not the woman who answers her phone at 3 am to meet a young woman who was just raped in the county ER to hold her hand. I am "just" doing what I can.

The media and pundits want to put the weight of this election on Hillary's shoulders. If Obama loses, it will be her fault. It'll be because she couldn't reign in the PUMAS or sway the Latina vote. It'll be because she said things in the primary that now make McCain look good. She can't control Bill & their cronies.

Yet, last night I heard a speech that was unequivocal. "No Way, No How, No McCain." "Did you vote for me, or that woman with cancer?" No, she didn't fall over herself to fawn over Obama, but she made it crystal clear that our country cannot stand another 4 years of Republican rule. She has worked too hard in the last 35 years, as we all have, to see women's rights slide any further. Yes, she might have gotten a raw deal in the primary and made many of her own errors, but when it comes to voting on November 4th, she wants us to fall in line.

If anyone who voted for her, gave her money, or knocked on a door for her can't do the same for Obama this fall, then good riddance. If anyone wants to dare call themselves a feminist and cast a ballot for a man who voted against the Violence Against Women Act and not vote for the man who helped write the damn thing, then turn in your card. I've never asked for someone's feminist card, I've even ranted before about others who questioned others feminist credentials, but I agree with Hillary:

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world . . . to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

As a student of history, especially women's history I know how fragile our advancements that many of us, young and old, take for granted really are. I know some of the die-hard Clintonistas and have received their emails full of rage and anger. I can see some of them staying home, but I think even as Election Day wears on they will end up going to the poll and voting for Obama.

The media can do all they want to make Hillary out as the bad guy, calculating, and strategic and honestly the last two are why I supported her in the first place. I want a President who is calculating and strategic and anyone who thinks Obama isn't that is kidding themselves.


26 August 2008

Happy Women's Equality Day!


I just finished live-blogging HRC's speech over at PunditMom's Blogher blog. I am spent!

88 years ago today women finally won the right to vote. Oddly and logically it was sold to the country as a motherly duty. That because we raise tomorrow's workers and voters, we should also have the right to vote. 88 years ago it was thought that women would follow their husband's lead in the voting booth. Oh, how wrong they ended up being!

Most of the married women I know are far more liberal than their spouses and of course, once you're in the voting booth, all bets are off. I also recently met a die-hard progressive feminist who is married to a REPUBLICAN! Dear goodness!! But I still love and admire said woman. ;-)

I get asked every now and then THE question, "If women are the majority in this country, why don't we have more women elected officials?" I don't have an easy answer for that one. But I'm sure it has to do with more women having less time to actually vote on election day. That's why I'm happy to see expansion of absentee and early voting around the country. Of course, I still think that that Election Day should be a federal holiday or at least the first half or last half of the day.

Added to that is the messy balancing act that women do every day. Mother, wife, woman...It's hard.

Speaking of which...time for bed. Night all.

25 August 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday

Today I mark the start of the Democratic National Convention at Work it, Mom! Come on by and let me know if you still have any lingering questions about the candidates.

I also remind us all that tomorrow marks 88 years since women won the right to vote. That's Alice Paul to our left!

And lastly I list a few blogs where you can keep up with how fellow feministas are taking in the convention.

So head on over!

24 August 2008

This week in Feminista...

Monday will be my weekly column at Work it, Mom!

Wednesday will be another edition of my popular series, "What to Buy Wednesday," where I talk honestly with pregnant women & new moms (not to mention their friends & loved ones) about what moms really need to buy. No pushing the Baby Einstein here, mamas! Real, simple, and honest.

Tuesday & Thursday there should be radio silence as I have four huge deadlines this week. Two essays and two book reviews. Thankfully the book reviews are almost done, but I need to hunker down this week to finish them up. One is slated for publication and that means CHA-CHING! Any posting those days will most likely be pointing you to other blogs.

Plus Thursday is not only kindergarten orientation, but also our pre-school end of the year party.

Friday should be a down & out tear fest as the daughter leaves pre-school/day care for the "last time" as we head into the Labor Day weekend and then to kindergarten. I put that in quotes as we do have a feeling we might have to beg for a day or two when neither the hubby nor I can take the day off on her many teacher institute days.

Have a great week all!!

PS: I hope to post about the second weekend of Progressive Women's Voices next weekend. Lots to still process, but lots to tell.

What do women want?

Tell everyone yourself! This is great new project from the feministas who bring you WAM! Check out this new site.

This Is What Women Want

Kelly Bundy’s boobs

When news broke a few weeks ago of Christina Applegate's diagnosis of breast cancer it took my breath away. I grew up sneaking glimpses of "Married with Children." Oddly, my parents had no trouble with me watching daytime soaps and "Dallas" but "Married with Children" was forbidden. Anywho, Applegate is just a few years older than me and while I never identified with her character, it was a learning experience watching her go from awkward sex-pot to down-right funny lead in "Samantha Who?" So when I read that she had breast cancer, it blew me out of the water. It wasn't that I didn't know that breast cancer can happen to women at any age, but that is was her.

Last week I read the headline that she was now proudly cancer-free, I smiled…then almost broke into tears when I read the rest of the story. As a young woman with breast cancer in her family (her mom battled when Applegate was a teen), tested positive for the breast cancer gene, AND just had breast cancer, she opted for a double mastectomy. Now don't get me wrong, I do not blame her for her choice. I most likely would make the same choice. She commented about it with her usual irreverence, "I'll have the best boobs in the retirement home." It was another reminder that for the epitome of women's diseases the best choice for prevention and treatment is the amputation of two body parts.

Is this really the best our amazing medical community do for breast cancer? To have women, some healthy, some recovering, remove a body part?

Do we really under value women's breasts so much that the answer is to lob them off as if we are Amazons preparing for battle? Is the benefit from breastfeeding so peripheral that we would urge young women in child-bearing years to prevent breast cancer with mastectomies?

It is a sad statement of how medical science views the human body. Actually it doesn't view it at all. It only sees cancer, cancer cells and how to combat those and not how to cure and heal the entire human body. If they really saw us as human beings, perhaps cancer treatment wouldn't be so invasive, harmful, and draining of our energy & spirit. Perhaps we would be focusing more on preventative measures that didn't require women (do men prevent penile cancer by amputation?) to remove a part of their bodies. Perhaps we would have a way to kill those damn cancer cells without almost killing the human being as well.

I'm sure that Applegate will certainly have the perkiest boobs in the retirement home because she will live a long and hilarious life. I wish her well and every other woman dealing with this bitch of a disease. I also wish us all a more humane response to breast cancer.

22 August 2008

Book Review: Eco-Friendly Families & Author Conversation

It's back-to-school time and I personally believe this is the real new year. This is the time for resolutions - yes, I'm that much of an academic nrrd. My life revolves around academic years. So what better resolution than to be more green?

Eco-Friendly Families, a new book by Helen Coronato, gives you the outline for your whole family to lead a more green life. Now let me tell you, we are not the picture of a green family. Forgive me Goddess, for we have sinned! We live in Chicago which has a horrible recycling program and we're too lazy to haul our recyclables to a community center. We have a 5yo girl who could draw and write 24/7 if we let her, so we go thru more than our fair share of paper. I also indulge in frozen dinners for lunch at work.
Did I feel overwhelmed by this book? Yes. Did Coronato address that? YES! Basically she reminds you to go slow. Pick things that you can do or can get your family to do.

My favorite part of the book is near the beginning in chapter 3. She gives us month to month goals and only 4 of them called "The Eco-Friendly Four." The first tip for August is this:
Once school starts, so do computer projects. this year, put a dual-can practice into place wherever you have a printer. Mark one can "garbage" and one can "paper only." If your waste baskets don't have lids, reuse a piece of cardboard from an old box and attach a homemade lid that has to be lifted. this way, no one is absentmindedly dropping paper into the garbage can or vice versa. Before computer paper ever his the recycling container, make sure you have used both sides. Set up a paper tray for collecting sheets that can be used again. When it's time to purchase a new ream, look for recycled paper products.

The book has a lot of achievable goals. Don't work the book front to back as if you have to do this before that. Jump to areas you think you can really accomplish. For us it might be about cleaning solutions and paper use. We do have a new paper collection box just a few blocks from us. I also want to start remembering to bringing old shopping bags to the mall. I keep most of the bags I get from Ann Taylor Loft...they are great reusable bags. My problem is remembering to reuse them at their store!


I was able to talk with author, Helen Coronato, over the phone this week about her book for a few minutes.

Why did you write this book? I wrote the book that I was looking for and I couldn't find. I am a mom with two young children (ages 3 and 1). I wanted a book that was user friendly, optimistic, and hands-on. I wrote it to be an activity book for the entire family NOT as something that would be one more thing for mom to do. I didn't grow up with being green in mind. I had to change some old habits and I wanted to raise my kids knowing how to be green, so that it was second nature for them. Hopefully if we do that with our kids, they will take being green to the next level.

How do we go from feeling hopeless about the situation to hopeful without being overwhelmed by all that we need to do? In chapter three I break it down with a year-round calendar. Each month I give you four ideas - If you do just one new idea a month, you'll be doing a lot for the environment and our world. There's a lot to do, but most of us need to start with small steps. Little ideas do make a difference. And be realistic. You aren't going to go 100% green overnight. I wrote the book and my family doesn't do everything in it! I don't expect others to do it all. We also have to stop comparing ourselves to others...We have to be as green as we can be.

What was the hardest habit for your family to get into? The easiest? There are two things that are a struggle for us. The first is my husband has a hard time recycling paper. I have to police the paper use in our house. The second is that I am overly optimistic about how much healthy cooking I will do each week. I over buy produce. Thankfully my husband is great at making veggie soup on Sundays and using up the produce. The boys get into it and it's a fun thing for them to do together. My husband & I help each other with our challenges.

The easiest? Bringing our bags to the store. We put our oldest son in charge of the bags. We also store them in the car in front of his car seat, so each time we stop somewhere he asks us, "Mommy, do we need a bag?" When we walk from the car to the store, he holds one handle, I hold the other and so we know when we forget the bags. Do you bring bags to all stores or just the grocery store? Oh, everywhere!

Thanks Helen! Thank you, Veronica.

Purchase this book at an indie bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon!

Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the review copy of the book. 

21 August 2008

Play ball, Dottie!

A sure fire way to make me cry is to have me watch "A League of Their Own." That scene at the end where the women are in the Hall of Fame and then they start singing? OMG...instant water works!

It's been over 60 years since the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League closed shop, but the memories live on, especially due to the movie. Earlier this month we lost another veteran of the league, Dottie Collins.

Pitching for six seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, created in 1943 to provide home front entertainment while many major leaguers were off to war, Collins dazzled opposing batters.

She pitched underhand, sidearm and overhand; she threw curveballs, fastballs and changeups; and in the summer of 1948, she pitched until she was four months pregnant. She won more than 20 games in each of her first four seasons. She threw 17 shutouts and had a league-leading 293 strikeouts in 1945 for the Fort Wayne Daisies, when the women’s game resembled fast-pitch softball.

Did you read that? She pitched until she was FOUR MONTHS PREGNANT! Considering some of the beer bellies on some pitchers (ahem, Babe) I'm not that shocked. But still, woo-grrl! Dottie was the reason why most of us, including myself, even know about the league. She organized the association which lead to the display at the HoF and then the movie.

Thank you Dottie. Thanks for playing, for showing the world that us grrls have game (any coincidence that the daughter generation of AAGPBL won Title IX?), and for helping to preserve your history.

And if there's some sugar mama reading this, I would LOVE to attend this year's reunion...a cruise to the Bahamas! Can you imagine a cruise with all these "lil old ladies" who back in the day dove, slid, and ran in skirts, yet didn't allow them to impede their play? Hell ya, I want first on the shuffleboard.

20 August 2008

1100 Torches...Carry on her torch

The 1100 Torches Campaign is a non-profit organization aimed to promote advocacy, while fostering volunteerism and civic servitude. It is our mission to link advocates to causes, providing a robust network for inspiration, support and strength in numbers. In addition, we offer opportunities to share updates, seek volunteers and forge a strong social civic network.

Yes, another blog post on Jana Mackey, the young feminist activist we lost over this summer. Check them out.

The Last Unicorn

Just because I was in the mood. Enjoy!

What to Buy Wednesday – Baby clothes

Well d'uh....of course you buy baby clothes!

What I want to stress is to focus buying baby clothes that aren't size 0-3 months. And even skimp on the 3-6 months ones too. Why? Because people like to buy itty bitty tiny baby clothes, socks, and shoes. People also love to gift you baby blankets, so don't go over board like we did.

It's also hard to believe when you're pregnant, but those first few months go by so fast and they grow so fast, well, before you know it, they are in the next size. Of course it's a rare bird (hint, hint friends & family of pregnant woman!) who buys an outfit for the lil one that is larger than six months.

So...if your budget is tight, focus on the larger sized items. Heck, you can always run out and grab a new pack of onesies.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

19 August 2008

She's only FIVE!

The problem with having a five-year-old smart, sassy, and sharp daughter is that we often forget that she's FIVE! We often expect her to act her intellect not her age...Get what I mean? If a girl who can instantaneously figure out that her dad's sarcasm is about Hannah Montana and not that she has enough t-shirts, as I tried to explain, er lie about, then why can't she sit nicely thru dinner?

Well because she's five.

My husband started a new job at the beginning of the month. She has not been happy. I know it's all around our new schedule. On Mondays we have to get up 30 minutes earlier, but I reward her with a trip to Starbucks where we get to share a muffin after we drop off her daddy at his 8 am meeting. He also has to work until at least 5:30 every day and that means we pick her up with just enough time to get home to let the dog out before an accident happens. This also means that no more stopping to have dinner on the way home. This is not a good thing.

Essentially we're having adjustment issues with the new schedule. And of course daddies aren't immune to guilt either. Daddy guilt might be harder than mommy guilt because well, daddies aren't supposed to have guilt. I tried to explain how important Daddy's job is to her and she wasnt' buying it. All she cared about was that he has to work late some days (I think a total of 2 nights he's come home on the el instead of carpool with us) and she is pissed. I gently reminded her that mommy does the same thing. I have my meetings after work and I go on trips. "Mommy has another trip this week."

Cue the water works.

Yup, she bawled and pleaded for me to not go on another trip. "I only have 3 more trips, sweetie, then I'm done for awhile." "No, mommy! I need you here with me. I want you....."

Cue heart break.

I worry that this transition isn't going well and that we're on the verge of kindergarten. Hopefully she focuses on the fact that kindergarten is for HER and that she embraces it. Playing off 5yo selfishness does work for good some days. ;-)

This morning she was fine. Who knows what tonight will bring...maybe with some Olympics & cuddling she'll feel better.

18 August 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday - Dads & Single Moms

Today at Work it, Mom! I say a heartfelt thank you to Joe Kelly and the team at Dads & Daughters for all the awesome work they did the past decade. I'm so sad that they had to close shop. The Chicago Foundation reminds us that only about 3% of philanthropic money goes towards women and girls-centered programming. Thus the closing of Dads & Daughters shouldn't be a surprise, but it still hurts.

On the flip side...kinda...I got a call from the Tyra Banks show. They are looking for single moms who have babies or infants to appear on the show. You also need to be in a difficult situation, having a very tough time at life. If you fit that description and want to learn more email Sonia at sonia.juarez@tyratv.com. And let me know if you're going to be on! Yes, my readers are FIERCE! hehe....

17 August 2008

3 Rs gave me an award!

....over 2 weeks ago!

But it doesn't diminish how great it felt to receive my first award for this blog. Thanks so much! Here's what Florinda said in her nomination:

Veronica brings her perspective as feminist, wife, mom, and Latina (in no particular order) to her blogging about issues of importance to women, and also works in book reviews and the occasional baseball-related post (go Cubbies!) every now and then.

And here are the rules for receiving the award:
  1. Put the logo on your blog (it's in this post, and has been added to the sidebar).
  2. Add a link to the person who awarded you (it's in this post - see above).
  3. Nominate at least seven other blogs (see below).
  4. Add links to those blogs on your blog (done in the nominations).
  5. Leave a message for your nominee on his or her blog
And the seven are....
  1. La Chola for always being a source of inspiration when it comes to blogging, being Latina, and being a kick ass mama.
  2. i am a butterfly for being brutally honest about life. When I need a no-bullshit moment, I go read her.
  3. baggage and bug for being one of the strongest women I know on-line or off. Being a Cubs fan does that to ya.
  4. Anti-Racist Parent for being a safe place for us to discuss race issues and parenthood.
  5. Womenstake for always getting the research out there for the rest of us to use.
  6. Bitch Blogs for always pushing my feminism to the next level.
  7. Ack!! I can't pick a 7th blog...too many! And if I even try to do more than 7, I'll be here all night. So I'll sleep on the 7th and notify the rest tomorrow.
    RedSoxBatGirl for starting to blog more often.

BTW - I quadruple checked to see if I had already blogged this, but it looks like I hadn't. I kept having this feeling of deja vu while writing. Maybe I dreamed it...Or maybe I didn't. Let me know.

16 August 2008

30 seconds

My 30 second spot is now up on the Progressive Women's Voices site. I'm not going to embed it because I think it would drive me crazy to see that video for a few more days.

In order to get this video I took a zillion takes, made a lot of fumbles, and was extremely nervous, which I think is evident on the video. After I saw the video, I was disappointed. I was hoping that somewhere in the 15 minutes I was taped I had done 30 seconds of good stuff without the office needing to splice the video. But seriously I was that nervous.

Why was I nervous? It was a combination of a camera being in the room and knowing that countless people would or could see this video. But honestly it's the thought of being wrong.

I've seen it a lot of more these days...people putting out their opinion and then saying, "But I'm not speaking for all [insert group here]." Well, honestly you are. And getting to that place was hard for me. For many years I was speaking, representing women/Latinas/feminists and I knew it. It wasn't easy and I would qualify my points. But in the end, we are all representatives of who we are. It's not fair, but it is what it is. If I'm on CNN talking about women in science and the need for on-site child care, I'm representing myself and the women I'm speaking for. And that's why I'm nervous. What if I say a statistic that is not just kinda wrong, but flat-out-totally wrong? I'm slowly embracing the idea of girlifying math & science, but what if I turn off that girl who does want to build jet fighters? How do I talk to all girls?

Simply, I can't.

Maybe I could craft my message to talk about building jet fighters or water irrigation sytems. Maybe that's pitting the two things against each other.

Last night I directed my husband to the site so he can see the video. Amazingly I thought I SOUNDED fine. The fact that I couldn't see the video, couldn't see where they edited it...I was pretty darn ok with what was being played. I was able to focus on one thing - my words. When I'm watching myself, I worry about my words, how I'm sitting, how big my eyes get when I'm excited, where are my hands, does my jewelry look ok, and even if the background was good.

Maybe I need to trick myself into believing that when I'm taping such things that I'm sitting in the Heartland Cafe talking with Michael while people around me are enjoying their coffee and whole grain pancakes. I dunno if that would work if I ever make it on to a TV show where the host is accusing me of things rather than engaging in a conversation the way Michael does. Hopefully one day I'll find out.

15 August 2008

Those security codes you have to enter

I hate them, don't you? So annoying...yet so needed. Well on the way home yesterday I heard a piece on NPR about how those security images are now, on some sites, now merged with a project to digitize old books.

"Approximately 200 million of these are typed every day by people around the world. Each time you type one of these, essentially you waste about 10 seconds of your time," he says. "If you multiply that by 200 million, you get that humanity as a whole is wasting around 500,000 hours every day, typing these annoying squiggly characters."

But with reCAPTCHA, von Ahn has come up with an idea for harnessing all that human brain power.

He knew that lots of libraries have huge efforts under way to digitize their collections. These projects first scan books or newspapers by basically taking a picture of each page. Then a computer takes the image of each word and converts it into text, using optical character-recognition software.

But computers often come across printed words they just can't recognize. "Especially for older documents, things that were written before 1900, where the ink has faded and the pages have yellowed out, the computer makes a lot of mistakes," says von Ahn.

A human being has to look at those words and decipher them. It occurred to von Ahn that he could link this kind of activity to security devices used on the Internet. Instead of asking people to prove they're human by copying random sequences of distorted letters and numbers, he could ask them to decipher mystery words from scanned books and newspapers.

How awesome is that!? There is no end to my astonishment of science.Now I don't hate them all, just the ones that really are wasting time.

14 August 2008

Site visit to New Moms

Back in March I wrote about a Chicago organization called New Moms who had a fire that destroyed their shelter. I got an email, blogged it, and Cinnamon posted it to Gapers Block. Somehow they identified me as someone they needed to get to know better, so I went out today for a site visit. Talk about power of the blog.

This organization is awesome.

First, they work with homeless teenage moms. It's hard to find a group that is more invisible in society. How invisible? According to the City of Chicago, they reported zero percent homeless youth last year. Well, New Moms has room for about 50 homeless youth who are mothers and up to two of their children. I'm gonna trust New Moms on this one. Illinois as a state has only about 110 beds for teen moms...doing the quick math, New Moms has half of those beds. They turn away 400-500 moms each year.

They don't just shelter these young moms for up to two years, they also have education programming to help them earn their GEDs, get into vocational training, and the cream of the crop get paid internships.

I peeked into one of the education sessions today and the women were all 20 or under, some with two kids. All have career aspirations such as nursing and catering. I also got to peek in on the daycare that the organization has for when the moms are in their classes. I saw the cutest 4-week old girl...she looked just like my daughter when she was little! She even had all that hair. OMG, I think that was when I fell in love with this group.

I found everyone in the organization to be very welcoming. No one even flinched when I talked about how I found out about them. Since Firebelly had awarded the Chicago Abortion Fund with a grant, I was on their mailing list and they sent out an email about the fire. I talked with one staffer and she agreed that many of the women CAF works with are just like the women they work with...they just made a different decision on their pregnancy. But both sets of women need assistance in some way. I also got the distinct feeling that some of the women who end up at New Moms are women who ended up at crisis pregnancy centers, were promised help when the baby comes, and gets nothing more than a box of diapers and a bag of baby clothes.

Have I tugged your heart strings enough? Well if you're in Chicago, you can attend their 25th anniversary dinner on September 12th. I'll be coming home from St. Louis that day. If you can't make it, click the invite there's a donation link too.

Technorati tags: New Moms, teenage moms, homeless

13 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Our Bodies Ourselves *GIVEAWAY*

When I was pregnant I got two books, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and The Hipmama Survival Guide. While I hated WTE, I loved Hipmama, but was still unfulfilled. Both are such extremes and apparently I am dead in the center, ok left of center, but still.

Now Our Bodies Ourselves Pregnancy and Birth is more my pace.

I'll admit that I did not read each word in this book, but I feel that I did my due diligence. What OBOS's pregnancy book is is a book that combines the best of hipmama granola with honest medical advise. Yes, OBOS spends a lot of time talking about midwives and what an optimal birth would look like, but I never got the feeling that it was guilting me into having the "perfect" birth.

The tone is set at the very beginning on page 9:

When used appropriately, maternity care inerventions such as artifical inductions or labor, episiotomies, epidurals, and cesarean sections can improve health outcomes and even save lives. Yet far too often, these interventions are used routinely on healthy women who are at low risk for medical complications, despite clear scientific evidence that they are unnecessary, ineffective, and/or can cause harm."

Yes, it sounds contradictory and confusing - it is. Being pregnant & giving birth have so many 'what ifs' that is really is confusing and sometimes goes against all that you or your hippie midwife would normally do.

On pages 196-197, there is a brilliant chart on how far you want to go with medication during labor.
What this means: I want no medication, even for a cesarean delivery. (An impossible extreme.)
Your partner, doula, nurse, or caregiver can help you by: Helping you gain a realistic understanding of risks and benefits of pain medications.

Even at -7 "I have a very strong desire for a natural birth, for personal gratification along with the benefits to my baby and my labor. I will be disappointed if I use medication." they suggest you plan for using medication. As someone who fell into -7, I never really planned on using medication. I left that decision up to my husband in the delivery room really. Perhaps if we had discussed it more, I wouldn't still be beating myself up over having meds.

My favorite part of the book also on page 9. It is a short list of questions to guide you in making informed choices. This chart is reminding you that this pregnancy is happening not to you, but that you are pregnant, you are in charge, you have agency, so act like it. Looking back on a pretty darn good pregnancy experience despite gestational diabetes, if my midwife had told me to eat seaweed each day, I would have. When you're pregnant that guilt of being pregnant consumes you and you rarely question your medical team's directives.

The book is in nice sections that allow you to read some, skip others, and save sections for later. The most touching section is on loss of a pregnancy or child as well as the section on prenatal testing and making a decision to continue or terminate the pregnancy.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get pregnant or newly pregnant. While it does have an excellent section on breast feeding, I'd suggest La Leche's book instead of OBOS if all you want is breastfeeding in. Perhaps La Leche's book will be for next week...

I received this book from Our Bodies Ourselves themselves! Considering that I don't plan on getting preggers anytime soon (knock on wood everyone!) I am offering my copy up. Please note that while this copy is signed by the fabulous Judy Norsigian, it is signed to me.

So if you don't mind that your copy is signed "To Veronica"
Thanks to OBOS for offering a clean copy of OBOS Pregnancy and Birth. AND the winner will get to have it signed and personalized. So please leave a comment with your email and either your best advise for pregnant moms or your own question about pregnancy or motherhood. Hey, maybe you know another Veronica who just happens to be pregnant!

Deadline for entry is Tuesday, August 19, 2008.

You can purchase a copy at your local indie bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon. Please note...the Powell's and Amazon links benefit OBOS.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift, Our Bodies Ourselves, pregnancy, book, book review, giveaway

12 August 2008

A Pagan Perspective on Abortion

abortionclinicdays posted a repost on pagans and abortion. As many of you know I claim tree-hugging goddess worshiper as my 'religion' but that basically means I'm a pagan. When I read this post, almost every word resonated with me, so I do as ACD did and repost. Thanks to Anne at Blog o' Gnosis for writing this:

What with the persistent attacks on women’s right to abortion and birth control in this country, I feel I must start clarifying my own position in the (falsely dichotomized) pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. I am both pro-life and pro-choice. I do believe life begins at conception, AND I do not believe it is a sin or a death to end that life before the fetus is born.

Because nobody is ever listened to these days without having to stand on their credentials, here are mine: 3 live births, 2 abortions, 1 miscarriage. 2 children adopted as teenagers. 4 children successfully raised to adulthood, one still an adolescent. Have attended births, deaths, fertility rituals, infertility rituals. Have friends who were adopted out as infants, friends who gave up infants, friends who adopted children. Have taught the kids of abusive and/or addicted mothers. Have counseled addicts and women who are unable to support themselves to have abortions.

Ursula LeGuin has a wonderful article (”The Princess”, an address to NARAL in 1982 collected in Dancing at the Edge of the World) where she writes, in response to the ridiculous claims of the Christian Right that every pregnancy must continue to birth, that as a young woman she got pregnant accidentally. Because she was in no position to raise a child, because she chose abortion and finished her schooling, she then went on to create a stable relationship and have three very wanted children. But if she’d had to raise that one, none of the other would have happened. So with the abortion, it is still a net gain of 2 babies. Following the Right’s crude mathematical logic, this should be cause to celebrate, right?

I don’t have the patience to write so craftily in response to this right-wing assault as she has. I am plain furious that our government keeps narrowing the birth control and abortion options for women both in this country and abroad. I hate that they think this is good for social ills of any kind. And I am furious that reasonable-minded people are letting this happen. I don’t like the fact that the Left keeps letting itself get out-flanked on the issue, and I don’t like that by saying I’m pro-choice I’m not supposed to admit that life begins at conception. As a Pagan, there is no contradiction here. Our religion teaches us to hold both death and life simultaneously.

I have trained for many years to sense energy, to feel what is going on both inside my body and in the spiritual realms around me. Each time I have gotten pregnant, it took very little time for me to make contact with the spirit of my unborn child. For me, that connection was so instantaneous, so deep and intimate, that the thought of bearing a child and then giving it up once it was born was not an option for me. That would have been far more devastating than having an abortion.

Each time I had an abortion, it was because I knew I did not have the time and energy to raise that child to my own childraising standards. That is a knowledge borne out of the experience of many, many hard years of mothering. I was completely clear that aborting the pregnancy was the best thing to do. Where I part company with the pro-lifers is here: it is not murder to abort a fetus. The child at that point is a spirit, not a body. It resides only occasionally in its little, developing fetus body. Mostly, it hovers in and around the mother, feeling what we feel, remembering where it’s been before, riding the changes in its consciousness and ours in a completely non-judgmental way.

When it is time to abort the fetus, I have felt the spirit around me strongly. I have said good-bye in a tender, loving, deeply grieving way. The fetus is expelled, and the spirit just drifts away. It does not die, it is not harmed. I know this to be true. It goes back to the spirit world to wait for its next opportunity to come through, hopefully richer for the experience of our having been so close for a short time. That is what happens, yet even with this outlook abortion is deeply traumatic for women, something to be avoided if at all possible. It is not an easy process, even when we want it.

In a term pregnancy, usually the child’s spirit fully enters its body at birth. So from a spiritual perspective I can see why pro-choice folks rally round the credo that life begins at birth. But for me, acknowledging that life is there at conception allows me to take the pro-choice argument a step further: it is a woman’s birthright, this ability to judge which spirits pass through our wombs into life, and which pass through into death. That is part of the deal, part of the package of being born a woman.

We have that power, and we need to claim it, learn how to use it wisely, and guard it ferociously. We need to teach our daughters about their birthright, and be comfortable ourselves talking to them about birth control and our own deepest experiences with our fertility. If we give up the right to choose when we want to have children, either by apathy or by struggle, we will be giving up power over our own bodies AND an important part of our spiritual power. Women are the gates, and the gatekeepers, between the born and the unborn. We hold life in one hand and death in another, and that is how we are meant to be. This cannot be neatly parsed into the ridiculous boxing match of pro-life vs. pro-choice. Abortion should be legal, and extremely rare. We achieve this through realistic sex education (I’m not talking about abstinence-only here) and by providing free or low-cost birth control and abortion services to all women of childbearing age. End of story. Now, just how do we go about making this the law of the land?

Technorati tags: abortion, goddess, feminism, pagan

11 August 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday

This week I muse about life as an Olympian in training. Or rather why I don't want to be the mom of one anyway.

And lastly, an important message from Barack Obama.

10 August 2008

Latina web series

I really should be writing up my Work it, Mom! column for tomorrow, but I'm all out of ideas. Shit. Instead I'm reading thru my Bloglines...looking for ideas people!...and Latina Lista pointed me to a new web-based series, this time starring a Latina.

I just finished watching it and LOVED it!

You can catch Ylse (as in illegal & sexy) on her website, iTunes, or YouTube. Latina Lista describes the show:

A not so politically correct comedy about a young woman's climb up the journalistic ladder and the colorful characters that make up her life. Ylse struggles with her professional life, while navigating the unique circumstances of those living a dual existence; being an American woman of Mexican descent working in the male dominated entertainment news industry. This is no easy ride as Ylse has her own notions as to how things should get done.

The best moment was when Ylse is staring at a photo on the back of her pendant...it's Oprah! Now go and watch!

09 August 2008

Toy Review: Leapfrog TAG - revisited

No more than 2 weeks after I posted my semi-warm review of Leapfrog's TAG system that my daughter took to it. *shrug* I thought I had given her enough time to play with it and either like it or not. Guess that's what happens when you're five.

I still don't believe she's using it in the ideal way. She's letting the pen read to her, but since she really only has one book, she's hearing the same thing over and over. As we all know, repetition leads to learning, so let's cross our cyber-fingers. She still loves the games and the hidden sounds.

I am also keeping my eye out for those National Geographic cards. She's getting a set once I spot them!

Technorati tags: Leapfrog TAG, toy review


I utilized this new Google thing where I bought the domain, vivalafeminista.com, and then Blogger directs this blog to the domain. No hosting fees! Rockin'!!

So everyone reading this can get to the blog thru both vivalafeminista.blogspot.com or vivalafeminista.com, but it will bump you right to the domain site. With this, I can also add some additional pages to make this more like a site rather than just a blog, which is super awesome. Be on the look out for additional stuff here.

The downside? I had to reclaim my blog over at Technorati which means I have freaking start over with my rating. *sigh* I was up to 87 on the blogspot addy. Why they don't let you change your blog addy, I'll never understand. But hopefully this won't be a huge punishment when marketers, especially a few book blog tour peeps, look at my rating and freak out that a single digit rating blog wants in on their goodies. *shrug*

Thankfully Feedburner takes care of the RSS feed. woot!

08 August 2008

Feminist Motherhood Week

In lieu of giving you new stuff to read, I'm still wiped from the last book review, I will point you over to the Feminist Underground where Habladora asked for readers to send in pieces on feminist motherhood. No, despite that topic being my current hot topic, I didn't get my butt in gear quick enough.

So get! Get over there! Start out with a discussion on health insurance.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday. I won't tell ya how old he is, but I can say he's not 60 yet. Yup, I have a young dad. While we don't always see eye to eye, he has been obviously pivotal in shaping who I am today. In many ways, if he hadn't stuck around to be my dad, I'd be a totally different person. He's the one who instilled my love of sports which was my gateway drug to feminism. "What do you mean I can't play ball? I throw better than you!"

We don't really know how to talk to each other, my mom was our interpreter, we do know we love each other and we know how to talk Cubs. GO CUBS!

07 August 2008

More on the business of mommy blogging

This time Kim weighs in.

Today I got my first unsolicited material in the mail. What else? A book! But I wasn't pitched it, I just got it. I might review it, but I'm sure I'll end up giving it away. It's mostly a photography book and well, that's not my area.

But Kim! Oh, my, Kim gets peanuts delivered to her door! So she's not a pure, anti-ad mommy blogger. She just wants to get paid for it. And she's damn right.

She also got me into an event next week with a big company. Thanks Kim!

So the big question is if say, um, Target came to me and asked me to help launch their blog and I got paid say $50 a post, but I didn't have to mention Target, just blog about mommy things. Products are good too, but don't have to do it. Just help start a community. Would that make you love me less? Would you think I had more integrity if I did all that and didn't get paid?

And of course, if Target is considering this, my contact link is on the sidebar. I can see you from my front yard! *batting eyes*

Book Review: This Common Secret

My fingers didn't know what to do. They sat on my keyboard unsure of what words to type out as my mind was paralyzed by the harrowing picture that Dr. Susan Wicklund paints in This Common Secret. After decades of following the reproductive rights movement and being an activist for the past decade, I thought I had an idea of what was going on. I thought that I *knew* things. I knew nothing. Dr. Wicklund and by proxy every abortion provider in this country are heroes. That's not hyperbole either. Them and their loved ones go through a gauntlet that most of us could not survive.

Dr. Wicklund tells her tale starting just before she decided to go to college AFTER being a young mom and eventually heading off to medical school. After becoming a doctor she weaves in stories of the women and girls she met in the clinics she worked in. These are heart-wrenching stories of despair, rape, incest, and eventually hope. I first learned of this book through the Fall 2007 issue of Ms. Magazine. They printed the first chapter of This Common Secret, which I've read many times, yet rereading it a few days ago still made me have to put the book down and weep. If you plan to read this book and you should, grab a box of tissues, you will need them...a lot.

Dr. Wicklund's courage is not isolated in her performing abortions. She tells a tale where she discovered during medical school that med students were learning pelvic anatomy and the attending physician "told us that the best way...was to do an exam on a relaxed pelvis and that a woman under general anesthesia was ideal." Dr. Wicklund quickly realized that women coming in for gallbladder surgery and other non-ob/gyn related surgeries were being used without their consent to teach pelvic anatomy. That ended when she spoke up and threatened to go to the press.

She doesn't pull punches in her descriptions of abortion procedures. Dr. Wicklund calmly and simply explains the most common surgical procedure which has the largest mythology. At one point, she even takes a protester for a cup of coffee to explain it to him. He never again showed up outside her clinic.

Yet, it is her retelling the anti's protesting not just outside her clinic, but barricading her and her family in their home that shattered me. I've heard of anti's showing up outside people's homes, but never in such details. Never had I heard such unlawful acts described where law officials simply refused to do anything about. Yes, Dr. Wicklund practiced in rural areas, but still I need to believe in the rule of law, even when my brain tells me that law is nothing when those charged to uphold it don't believe in it.

The tale I focused on was of Dr. Wicklund and her daughter, Sonja. For years they were separated as Dr. Wicklund traveled from clinic to clinic on an almost daily basis. A few days here, a few days there, Sundays at home. One might want to blame Dr. Wicklund for sacrificing her daughter for the cause. Rather I blame us for not providing enough clinics and providers. Can you imagine a world where plastic surgeons had to travel and work 100 hours a week to reach areas without a provider? Sonja writes the epilogue, for which I will forever be grateful. She gives the memoir the closure it needs. She also gives us activist mamas hope that despite our nights spent gathering petitions and days lobbying our elected officials that our kids will grow up fine and still love us. Heck, they might love us more because of what we do.

The best part was reading how Dr. Wicklund was able to provide abortions the way she wanted to provide them. A terribly not-so-kept secret in the pro-choice community is that some providers suck. They treat their patients in a cold manner. In the office and out the door. Who can blame them? Most abortion clinics are booked solid each day. Well, Dr. Wicklund does and she set up her clinic to the model of ethics, morals, and sensitivity each of us want when we've visiting our doctor whether it is about our annual exam or for an abortion. It was her sensitivity and personal need to talk to each patient thoroughly that helped identify a father raping his daughter, another father realizing the folly of his ways & finally breaking down to comfort his raped daughter, and countless women who really didn't want to have an abortion who only came to realize their faux-decision after Dr. Wicklund would refuse to perform the procedure.

It's also this attitude that allowed Dr. Wicklund to call the anti's on their hypocrisy. In one chapter she recalls figuring out that a young woman did not want an abortion, but because Dr. Wicklund would provide it for low- or no-cost, she "chose" it. Dr. Wicklund picked up the phone and called the "crisis pregnancy center" and told them that either they get their doctor to provide pre-natal care and delivery the baby for free or she'd do as the young woman asked. The woman had the baby.

In the end this book is about one thing - choice and how many women aren't accessing the full range of choices. It is about why women do chose abortions, "Women have abortions because they want to be good mothers."

And one gawd damn awesome mother provided them.


This is part 4 in an unplanned series on Dr. Susan Wicklund and her memoir This Common Secret. Here are parts one, two, and three.

You can purchase This Common Secret at Powell's, an indy bookseller, or Amazon. The paperback edition is scheduled for a December 29, 2008 publication date.

Technorati tags: Susan Wicklund, abortion, activism, feminism

06 August 2008

Kiss My Math

Danica McKellar, aka Winnie Cooper, has a new book out. In reality it is the sequel to her first book, "Math Doesn't Suck" where she aims to teach you some pre-algebra topics (pdf):

By the time you finish reading them, however, you’ll be a whiz at tons of pre-algebra topics, including integers, negative numbers, absolute value, inequalities, the distributive property, working with variables, word problems, exponents, functions, graphing, and tons of ways to solve for x.

OK, if that scared the bejezus outta you, stop now. While I didn't quite like the concept of teaching "girl" math, there is a real need to make science, math & engineering more girl-friendly. Even I, the math nerd I am, zoned out each time we had to do a problem about shooting two bullets or when two rockets would meet. I'd rather spend time trying to figure out how long it would take a fish to outswim a predator.

McKellar is sticking to her girly examples and well, I have to admit, I bet it works. Here she is on GMA talking about the examples she gives in the book including how to figure out the average number of times your boyfriend texted you during the week.

I wonder if in either book she talks about the math behind purse making, knitting or MPGs on your tricked out scooter? Hmmm. I'm serious people! Now to go find a copy I can flip thru. Althou, I'd really love a review copy, Winnie!

Technorati tags: Danica McKellar, math, book, girls

What to Buy Wednesday – Reusable Water Bottle

So you're pregnant. Aren't you seriously thirsty now?

Since I'm not a medical professional all I can offer is my personal experience. But I have never been more thirsty than when I was pregnant. It's one of the Goddess' evil tricks she plays on us. The more pregnant we get, the thirstier we are, and the smaller our bladder gets. Oh, and then she throws in fluid retention...which is ironically helped by MORE WATER.

I'm going to ask you to be green and NOT buy water bottles. Get a reusable one! Of course with the uncertainty about PBA plastic bottles, it may be hard to find one that you feel safe with. I want to error on the side of safety...That said, I'm still toting around my cancer bottle. I might error, but I'm a lazy person sometimes. But back to YOU!

The Center for the New American Dream has a great marketplace where you can investigate which PBA-free bottle is for you. Disclaimer: The executive director for CNAD is also a Progressive Women's Voice...that's how I know about this resource. But no, she has no idea I'm totally pointing you to her org's website. Also, I know that the price for these bottles is about $15. That seems a lot for a water bottle, especially for lower income women. But a friend put it this way, if you went 2 weeks buying a bottle a day that would be at least $15. So get one and then you're done!

Of course, when you're out and don't have your bottle or can't find a fountain to refill at, go ahead and grab that disposable water bottle! Just don't reuse it, k? And seriously, I've never had a restaurant or coffee shop turn down my polite request to fill up my water bottle...especially after I plop down $4 for a chai.

I'll return to this green theme later, but believe me, once you start reading about how well you have to take care of your body, you're gonna read the label for everything you bring into your home. Just breathe. You can't make your condo a toxin-free zone. All you can do is minimize what you have control over. There a zillion other things you have to worry about, focus...You still need to pick a name for the lil sprout.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

05 August 2008

Help Build a Children's Book Collection !

I got this in my email a few months ago. Yeah, I'm a slacker. Shari is looking for book recommendations, donations, and people to help out.

Book by Book: Social Justice Children’s Library will provide a centralized location for the youth of Berkeley and Oakland to congregate and access resources for social justice and environmental activism, education, and exploration. The primary goal and function of Book by Book is to provide access to books whose content reflects the diversity of the student population, and which expands children’s knowledge of a global community. Books on ethnicity, immigrant lives, diaspora, and assimilation, as well as environmentalism, activism, and community engagement will all be core to the Library. Themes of multiculturalism, feminism, empowerment, diverse families, bilingualism, animal rights, and anything else relevant to the mission of social justice, will be highlighted in the collection. Book by Book is currently seeking book recommendations and donations (books appropriate for preschool through middle school), but we’d especially love partnerships, networking, and collaboration with like-minded individuals and nonprofit organizations working for social justice for the children of the Bay Area.

Please contact Shari if you’d like to help! Contact: Shari Leskowitz,
Don't forget to check out their spiffy new website too!

04 August 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday

This week I spew about the kid's pending entrance to the world of kindergarten and "official" school. It's kinda funny that I'm taking this transition hard. I didn't cry when I dropped her off for daycare after my maternity leave. She does drop off perfectly.

One thing that I didn't mention in my post is that for kindergarten we literally drop them off. No more walking her to class and leaving with a hug. That's gotta happen in the car. I also won't be picking her up. We have a babysitter to do that most days.

T-minus one month. I seriously need to stock up on tissues!

03 August 2008

Six Random Things

THE RULES: Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website. Let your tagger know when your blog entry is up.

Six random things:
1. I use to know all my friends' birthdays by heart. Some I still remember.
2. I'm starting to like sushi.
3. I crave grilled cheese a lot.
4. I started tutoring in 4th grade
5. I've never donated to a presidential campaign.
6. I hate that I'm such a pack rat, but can't break that habit.

Tagged: I'll go easy on ya...If you do it, let me know!

Congress hearing on rape in the military

Hat tips to Feministing and RH Reality Check.

I won't even try to write something here, just ask you to watch the video and then read the other blogs. Ingrid Torres is bravest woman I've seen in a long time.

02 August 2008

Book Review: What Kindergarten Teachers Know

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author, who is a friend of a friend. She originally got in touch with me to ask my opinion on the book's website and blog. Reviewing the book is just something I want to do because it rawks.

Lisa Holewa walked into the classroom of Joan Rice and saw Joan do things she could never do at home to get children to behave. This lead to a revelation that many of parents come to, I think, that teachers have some secrets and we need to shake it out of them! Instead, Lisa & Joan wrote a book revealing those secrets.

This very easy-to-read book not only reveals secrets, facts really (kids at this age can really only handle 2-3 step directions, maybe you can work them up to 5), but also reminds us of some very simple ideas (take care of yourself!).

They walk us through three guiding principles which are essentially:
  1. Kids need to know what is coming next. They just do. This is hard for me to accept because my lil one is always asking questions. I'm sure they all do because well, they need to know what's going to happen next.
  2. They need clear directions. Again, another hard one for me to remember because my daughter is so damn smart, that it actually frustrates me that she can out logic me one day, but fail to follow my directions the next. What I'm doing is most likely taking over her and many other things that the authors point out.
  3. There can never be too much fun! There's a reason people become early childhood teachers and it has to be the fun. Sure, teaching is a wonderful thing, but seriously, there's a lot of fun to be had in the classroom. Bring the fun back to your dysfunctional family! ha!
Holewa and Rice also have some amazingly straightforward and elegant ideas about teaching our kids problem solving. From reminding us that if we do everything for them, they won't learn to helping us teach our kids to ask for help. Yeah, it's hard to juggle for us, imagine for them!

Bottomline, Holewa and Rice give us a book that will help us in crafting considerate children. Not to mention perhaps save our sanity at the same time.

You can purchase this book through an independent bookseller, Powell's or Amazon.

Technorati tags: Lisa Holewa, Joan Rice, kindergarten, book review

01 August 2008

Happy Birthday Kid!

Today my beautiful baby girl turns FIVE!

In honor of her day, I present my five favorite things about Elizabeth:
  1. She cares about others.
  2. She loves to teach others.
  3. She loves to climb trees.
  4. She loves to read and be read to.
  5. She loves the Cubs.
Honestly I couldn't begin to list all the things that I love about my girl. She's helped me become a better person, push me to points I didn't think I could go, and taught me to love myself.

Before she came along, I did a lot of "what about the children?" talking in regards to taking care of the Earth, our civil liberties, etc. Now...it really is all about her. I want to talk her ear off when she asks me in 10 years, "What did you do, Mom?"

Mija, this is what I did.


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

Veronica's favorite books »
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