Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

31 October 2008

Happy Samhain!

It's the new year for us tree-hugging goddess worshipers! So I wish you all a happy Samhain and a wicked Halloween.

But it also means that it is the end of the month and the last day for the DonorsChoose Bloggers Challenge.

While this blog did raise $165 (I'll donate over the weekend to bring us to a round $200...more if the hubby gets that job he interviewed for!) it was from two donors who are BFFs of mine. Thus this was a big FAIL. But don't think that this will be the last time I fundraise here readers! Oh, no...I already have one brewing for December. :D But if you want to leave me a small Samhain gift in the form of $5 for DonorsChoose, I still have thank you gifts available!

I'm attending the Chicago Foundation for Women's luncheon today, so hopefully I'll have some good stories to tell. I'm wishing you lots of your favorite candy today!

30 October 2008

EVENT:: The Day After - A Feminist Town Forum

Wednesday, November 5 @ 7:00PM EST

PARTICIPATE IN PERSON: CHANGE OF VENUE

LESLEY UNIVERSITY AMPITHEATER, 1815 Mass. Ave in Cambridge

PARTICIPATE ONLINE IN REAL TIME: Participate by logging on 11/5 at 7PM EST to any of our participating blogs, including Feministe, Feministing, Girl with Pen, Viva La Feminista, WIMN's Voices, No Cookies for Me, Writes Like She Talks, Heartfeldt Politics, TakePart, or at our mogulus channel.

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OK, so you'll have voted, hopefully you'll have celebrated, and perhaps even be a bit hung over in a week. But I am inviting you to come back here to join a national feminist town forum.

The Center for New Words has been holding forums for the past month or so asking feminists "What do women want?" thru the This Is What Women Want election project and well, women have been speaking up. What better way to close this project than to gather together the night after the election (hopefully with a resolution!) to talk about what we want from our new President AND plan what is next. No matter what happens next week, we will still need to gather and plan how to overturn Hyde, return education to a worthy activity for those on welfare to participate in, to fight for equal pay, and hold the new President accountable to the majority of this country.

This is a first of its kind event convening feminists from around the country live via the blogosphere! Watch live, converse with other audience members around the country.

While you will be able to submit questions on Wednesday night, I am asking you to please, please submit topics here that you want to see covered. What issue, topic, or question do you have that you want the panel to address? Have an idea or strategy? Submit it in the comments of this post! If you can't make it, submit an idea.

Panelists will include:

BYLLYE AVERY
Founder of the National Black Women's Health Project and MacArthur Genius Award Recipient

MICHELLE GOLDBERG
Journalist and author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

ANNE ELIZABETH MOORE
Critic, activist, artist, journalist and author

PAULA RAYMAN
Founding Director of the Radcliffe Public Policy Center

LORETTA ROSS
National Coordinator, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective

ANDREA BATISTA SCHLESINGER
Executive Director, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

Come optimistic, disgruntled, angry, or just exhausted. Come in person or online. But come. We need to hear every voice and idea!

(Facebook users: Click here to RSVP and invite your friends!)

Thanks and see you all here on Wednesday!

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TWO MORE DAYS FOR the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. Let's get that second classroom project funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

29 October 2008

A Write to Marry Day Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had big dreams. She was going to be an archeologist, a teacher, and maybe one day the President of the United States. She knew she wanted to get out of her small suburban town and see the world. When other girls were playing wedding, she joined in, but deep inside didn't think that she would ever find a boy who would marry her. She did dream about having children one day. A husband was always optional. Fast forward to early adulthood and the little girl did find a boy who said he would marry her and tolerate, some days love, her crazy feminista ways. They married in a tiny chapel in Las Vegas. And they left the hotel-casino to live their Happily Ever After.
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When I hear people talk about defending the institution of marriage, I wonder if my marriage would really qualify. Yes, as a woman I married a man, but we were not married in a house of worship, even thou the justice of the peace did throw in a lot of "God this and God that." I tried to change up the ceremony so that my dad was not asked "Who gives this woman away" because well, at 18 I left on my own accord, but the JoP still said it. I also thought about having both my parents walk me down the aisle, but was talked out of it. We were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. MYLAST name after we were married, which was a fun surprise for many reasons.

On Tuesday, one of the biggest election days for my generation, Californians will have even more responsibility than usual. The California State Supreme Court has already stated that equal marriage rights are the law of that state. Proposition 8 wants to repeal that and return California to discriminating against same-sex couples.

Why? To protect my marriage? To protect the marriages of Hollywood stars who marry for a few years, get bored, and shack up with their next co-star? As BAC asks, "Hey Newt...Which marriage are you protecting?" This is not about saving us from a crazy judicial system. The same people who want to save us, love that the judicial system gave GWB the election in 2000, and want the judicial system to throw out Roe.

There are times in this country when the judicial system has failed us (Dred Scott) and times when it has pushed us into a new era (Brown v. Board of Education).

Like it or not, this country needed to get its collective butt kicked into this new era of equality and love. Because that's what it is - Equality for all those things us hetero-married folks take for granted and love between two people. How can anyone vote against love? Seriously.

California VOTE NO on PROP 8!!

Photo from Ellen & Portia's Wedding Day album

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

28 October 2008

Repost:: And what are you for Halloween? A 10-year-old hooker!

I've had a lot of hits of people finding this blog because of this post, so I thought I'd repost it for all my new readers since last Halloween!

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Is that what we really want our daughters to be this Halloween?

I have to admit that Halloween is my favorite holiday. What I don't like is that it too has been pornified in recent years and the pornification keeps trickling down to younger and younger kids.

Take this costume for example #1: Major Flirt. You daughter can be sassy, cute, and of course, sexy all at the same time! And please, don't try to tell me that this is the same as a cheerleader costume. The label is FLIRT! Flirts have sexual power. But look through the costume aisle at your local store and you'll see that the costumes are sexed up even for girls. AND also notice the gender line that is clearly drawn. I was in Target last week browsing with my daughter and noticed it oh so well. In the boys aisle you can be a doctor, police officer, and of course your general super heroes and monsters. Girls? Super heroes, check. Monsters, check. Princesses, check. Racist stereotypes*, check. Doctor? Police officer? Construction worker? Not in the house.

And if a pornified Halloween isn't enough for your girl, don't forget to make sure she is silky smooth! Remember Nair ladies? Well they're after our daughters now with a new campaign targeted at 10-15 year olds. Maybe I'm old fashioned and no, it's not just my feminist mama in me, but I didn't get to touch a razor until I was about 12-13. Sure around 10 you start thinking about it, but then every other 10 year old had peach fuzz on our legs. Well, us Latinas had a bit more, but that's another post. There is a whole life of shaving, waxing, and plucking. Why can't we just let our daughters enjoy their few years of not worrying about stubble?

When I rant on about things like this, I also ask you to keep them in context with everything else going on. We have thongs targeted to pre-teens. Thongs were designed for strippers! To get around no nudity laws. We have 8-year-olds hospitalized for eating disorders. All this in a world where rape survivors are still blamed for dressing like sluts. Even 10-year-olds are asking for it.

Yes, dear readers, I'm pissed. Mad as hell and no, I'm not going to take it anymore.

X-posted this at Chicago Moms Blog and Chicago Parent.

* Those are your geisha girl and Indian princess costumes.

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Technorati tags: Halloween, costumes, girls, Nair, feminism, pornification

27 October 2008

Work it, Mom! Monday

This week I muse about Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree, but it's not what you might think!

It's down to the last week for the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Last week's AWEARNESS posts included:
And thank you to everyone who has been commenting in person or via email that their Ms. magazine has shown up in their mailbox. Yes, I know I'm far behind in my self-promotion emails!

26 October 2008

The benefits of the business of mommy blogging

Obviously the benefits are the swag...I'm not the most popular mommy blogger for swag. I don't get gift baskets delivered to my home without request, but I do have friends who are connected. So thanks to Kim, I was able to attend a LeapFrog party last weekend.

The kid already had a Tag system and in September we received the Leapster 2 and Didj systems. As the direction following gal I am, I programed both new systems with the kid's info and correct status as a kindergartener. Alas, the Diji system and the game that accompanied it are strict on the grade level, thus it wouldn't do much for a kindergartener when the game is for 2nd graders and up.

The Leapster 2 has a nice feature where kids can doodle and color without the killing of trees...seriously, the kid is responsible for at least a few trees at this point. But the Didj had me stumped.

Luckily at the party we were able to receive the Star Wars game and the helpful hint to just up the kid's grade (which I did to second grade). My newphew also helped the kid figure out the lil Mario Bros-like game that comes with the Didj the week before. So far so good...The kid plays her Didj and every now & then, the Didj asks math questions that are pretty much at her level. She is pretty much doing 1st grade math right now.

I'm not ready to fully endorse the products as I want to see how the kid does for a bit longer.

The party last week was really nice. We got to meet a few of the education specialists who help Leapfrog figure out how to mix gaming with learning or was it learning with gaming? Either way, what impressed me was their statements that they want active learning. No sitting in front of the TV and hoping something sinks in. I'm hopeful. There I am with my green scarf on making a point - I always get photographed with that face! ha!

It was also very nice to see many of the Chicago mommy bloggers who I read or follow on Twitter. And it's always nice to hang with Kim, even if she was working.

Edited to add: I finally found the photos from the event. I didn't take any, but Kim was a clicking! Not only was there swag galore, but there was face painting, caricatures, and snacks. Here's the kid with her beautiful flower face. She was a bit tired at first since she came straight from soccer, but had a great time!

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Thoughts on feminist motherhood & politics

Sorry for being kinda AWOL around here lately. I've really been busy writing for AWEARNESS this week and will be for the foreseeable future. First, I've been asked to contribute more and since it's a pro-blogger gig and well, two weeks ago my husband quit his job. I can't give the details, but despite the loss of his salary, it was a good thing. I'm very proud of him. He hasn't been slacking at home either, but having many networking lunches almost every day. He even has interviews on Monday and Thursday. We're also waiting to hear back from a few other prospects. I think we're going to be just fine.

Last night I took the kid with me to the NW Suburban NOW benefit. It was a small crowd, but it was great time. The president of the chapter has a daughter who is a few months older than the kid. We're gotten them together before, but last night they really hit it off. Maybe being trapped in a bakery with adults does that to 5yos. The kid was back in her Leia from Hoth costume complete with a blaster gun. Prez daughter was Batgirl. It was really cute watching them run around together.

I got a chance to catch up with Christine Cegelis who ran for Congress twice. During her second run, I took the kid out with me to canvass for Christine. She's a solid femininst and some think that her amazing run against Henry Hyde helped push him into retirement. So the kid was only about 3 when we spent an afternoon canvassing. Then the next winter we were out canvassing for an aldermanic candidate in our neighborhood.

Our weekends have been jam packed with other things and we haven't gotten out to canvass this year and I feel bad about it. BUT next Sunday opened up and I'm hoping that we can get out and canvass for either Obama in Indiana or someone else in the burbs.

But I was telling Christine how the kid has been following the Presidential election and was heartbroken when Hillary lost. She was pretty impressed that the kid was so engaged. "Maybe one day she'll enter politics too!" remarked Christine. "Maybe" was my response.

Will she enter politics one day? I'm pretty sure of it. Not sure if she'll be candidate, but I think that the hubby & I are doing the best we can to instill in her that paying attention to politics is part of being a citizen.

The other day she was getting ready to leave for school when I remarked that she looked like she was ready to go canvass for Obama. She had her coat on with her messenger bag slung on while holding a clipboard and pen. She smiled. We had a quick chat about voting and she asked me why she can't vote. Uh-oh...Well, most people don't think that kids know enough to vote. "I know a lot! I know enough to vote!" Well, we could write a letter to someone, maybe Senator Obama about allowing kids to vote. She smiled as if I had solved the entire problem.

We haven't written that letter and I think that's the problem with children's suffrage, they get distracted with other shiny things. But she was seriously pissed off that as a minor she couldn't vote. And she's a right...I think she has a better understanding of some of the issues some adults.

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

24 October 2008

EVENT:: Jana Mackey's 1100 Torches Natioanl Campaign Benefit

From my Facebook inbox:

JANA MACKEY’S 1100 TORCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN BENEFIT

Thursday, November 13, 2008
7:30pm - midnight
Granada Theater
1020 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas

This event will include a silent auction, live music and dancing to ignite the Eleven Hundred Torches National Campaign. The Michael Hamm jazz quartet will kick off the evening during the silent auction, and Yuca Roots will play a set later in the evening. The parents of Jana Mackey will speak about the campaign’s mission and goals of inspiring people to serve others. To facilitate these goals, several advocacy organizations will be available during the evening to assist attendees in finding their own cause.

The mission of the Eleven Hundred Torches campaign is to encourage 1100 people to serve others. Inspired by the life of advocate and activist Jana Mackey, and motivated into action by her death, Eleven Hundred Torches was created to inspire others to make a difference in the world. Ultimately, the campaign’s purpose is to document 1100 people and their stories of community service and advocacy.

Eleven Hundred Torches aims to promote advocacy, while fostering volunteerism and civic servitude. The campaign will link advocates to causes and promote a robust network for inspiration, support and strength in numbers. It will also offer opportunities to share updates, seek volunteers, and forge a strong civic network. By mobilizing hundreds of citizens, Eleven Hundred Torches’ goal is to ever so slightly, “change the course of history” and produce a world that is more giving, more caring and more just. Above all else, Jana fought for equality for all. Let this fallen torch ignite the world for social change.

Please visit www.1100torches.org for more information about Jana, people inspired by her, and this benefit event and campaign.

Other VLF posts on Jana:
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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

23 October 2008

Feminists for Obama

In case you missed it, Sarah Palin was out and about calling herself a feminist. John McCain blasted left-wing feminists and called Sarah a real feminist. In response, Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority is hitting back hard:

This week you have lashed out against the "Feminist Left." I understand your frustration. You see that women are not flocking to the McCain/Palin ticket and you don't understand why. Allow me to illuminate you.

The truth is, Senator McCain, your candidacy is the worst for women in recent history. You thought that women would vote for you once you put a woman on your ticket. But women aren't fooled by this tactic. Women, Senator McCain, vote on issues important to us, not on whether or not the candidate wears a skirt.

The problem, Senator McCain, is your voting record, platform, and policies. You have consistently voted wrong on issues that directly impact American women's bank accounts, personal liberties and health.

OUCH!

The best part of this is that I've been in many meetings with Ellie and heard her deliver passionate pleas so I love that I can hear her voice when I read this smack down to McCain.

The Feminist Majority also launched a site called Feminists for Obama where there are some great videos addresses some of the issues that they believe are central to voting for Obama and against McCain. There's even a blog!




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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

22 October 2008

Where My Girls At?

Alrighty Feminista readers, there are less than 10 days left in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge!

Thanks to the Working Mom Gourmet for the first and ONLY donation!

So, peeps, it's up to the rest of ya. I know that time is tough on all of us, but seriously, I'm asking for you to donate $5. One-two cuppa coffees this week, depending on how you like your java.

First the classroom:
Mr. B wants this funding ($356 or 71 donors at $5 each) because:
My students need to see 27 examples of women writers who are creating fiction that is captivating and relevant to their lives. I encourage the young women in my class to be leaders, and I am confident that they can help me make reading cool.
These books will be used in future classes, so your $5 will live on for years to come.

Next the thank you gifts:
I have been able to get a few fellow feministas to donate some items as swag for people who donate. If you donate at least $5, your name will go into a drawing for the following items:
  • A copy of Ellen Bravo's Taking on the Big Boys
    Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business, and the Nation
  • A copy of Leslie Bennett's The Feminine Mistake
  • A copy of Gloria Feldt's War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back
  • A University of South Carolina t-shirt from Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors
If you donate and then blog or twitter this you'll get one additional chance at the prizes per blog or twitter up to two. If you twitter and I'm not following you, @veronicaeye to let me know.

BUT...for the donor who gives the most will be your very own Poise Dots Meets Stripes tote. Cinnamon's bags are all hand-made and all materials used to make this bag are guaranteed to be sweatshop free and except for the snaps are made in the United States.

So what are you waiting for? Donate now!

Explaining my freelance work to the kid

My daughter is still in the phase of her life where I'm actually pretty cool (well, except when she's at school), so I try to share as much about myself with her as I can. So when my copy of Ms. came in the mail yesterday I showed her that mommy was in the magazine. *dumb, dumb dumb*

"Mommy, read me what you wrote!" She asked with a huge smile.

"Umm...sometimes mommy writes things that are for grown-ups."

"Well just read me a part of it."

*Mommy scans her book review for one sentence without rape or sexuality.*

"Umm...You know how mommy always tells you that your body is yours. That no one has permission to touch you? (She nods) Well two women asked other people to write stories about how we can keep others from touching their bodies."

"So, what do they do?" She asks with concern.

"Well, a lot of things, sometimes it is saying "NO!" and sometimes they hit them."

"Oh, well, you should always say, "NO!" but you shouldn't hit them."

"Yes, yes..." I respond. Just getting to this point was tough for me, tougher than I thought, so I let that go. One day soon I'll revisit the issue - probably after she has her "Bad touch, good touch" presentation at school and talk to her about justified hitting, especially if some jerk is trying to touch her and won't respond to her NO.

Me thinks I need to start working on my children's book idea so I can just let her read what mommy writes without too much of a lecture.
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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

21 October 2008

Feeling sick kid? Suck it up

My daughter got some sort of cold the 3rd or 4th week of school. It was something that I thought wasn't bad enough that she needed to stay home, some Tylenol and she seemed much better. We had been thru bouts like this when she was in her pre-school/day care just a few months ago. Well, for two days she was totally wiped out by lunch time. Her fever would spike back up by dismissal around 3 pm and when I would pick her up, she was in very sad shape.

What as the difference?

NO SCHOOL NURSE.

OK, the school does have one, but like many schools in Illinois and around the country, there isn't a full-time nurse anymore.

The Illinois Administrative Code mandates that nurses working at schools must be registered professionals.

The code requires school boards develop and keep a job description of a school nurse's duties.

The code also talks about preventing communicable diseases, maintaining health records, conducting vision and hearing screenings, and acting as a liaison between homes, schools and communities.

It says nothing, however, about requiring a nurse to be a part of a school's staff.

WTF? I still remember dragging my sick butt down the hall to the nurse's room and taking a nap on her padded cot. I remember doing that in freakin' high school! I had heard murmurs of this phenomena for the past few years, but alas, I let myself ignore it until my daughter was hurt by this policy. And all she had was a cold for a few days.

But that's not 100% true.

During her first week she fell when I picked her up, right in front of two teachers and I asked for the nurse. They pointed me to the gym to see if a teacher was in with a first aid kit...Yet there wasn't anyone I could find. I grabbed a wet paper towel with the knowledge that I had a bandage in the car. A few weeks ago she fell again but this time was a gash...to her forehead. Our babysitter picked her up and all the kid had was a wet paper towel. *sigh*

I know it's not the teacher's control and I don't blame them. I blame the system and us for allowing this problem to get this bad. Again, she had a cold and two fairly minor falls. Her head gash healed pretty well. I canNOT imagine what parents do if their child has to take medication on a schedule (I couldn't bring in Tylenol for her to take at lunch, I drove to school to do it). I figure that if my daughter ever breaks her leg, they'll call 911. Alas, I haven't actually asked that question...My bad, I know.

But this isn't about my daughter in the end. It's about all the kids, especially the ones who need more help than a bandage or baby aspirin.

The National Association of School Nurses provides guidelines that one nurse should be provided for every 750 healthy students, one nurse per every 125 students with complex health care needs.

Yet, more than half of public schools across the country do not have a school nurse, according to the association.

In Illinois, a 2008 study by the association found that the nurse-to-student ratio is 1: 2,030.

"We have a lot of people practicing nursing at schools that are not nurses," National-Louis' Gibbons said. "Medication errors in this country are at an all-time high. Research tells us that when non-nurses and aides (are dispensing medication) the rate of error is much higher."

Recent legislation, introduced in June by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, would provide grants to states through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to improve the nurse-to-student ratio.


Taking this issue even further, it's an aspect of homeland security...If bird flu breaks out, it might be the school nurse who figures it out first. Also with what seems to be a rise in people opting out of vaccinations, measles breakouts could be identified earlier.

But coming back to my daughter, it does make me nervous to know that it could be a matter of luck that a nurse is on duty if something bad were to happen to her. And considering that she runs, climbs, and wrestles without much thought, the chances that something will happen is greater than normal.
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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

20 October 2008

PUMA kittens?

The Scholastic Presidential Election results are in and Obama is the winner! The kids have only been wrong twice in history...and no, it wasn't the last two elections. Odd, eh? Out of 250,000 votes, 4% of the kids wrote in people including *drumroll* Hillary Clinton (11% of the write in vote). 1,100 students out there voiced their allegiance to Senator Clinton.

While the focus of the results will be on Obama's winning, does the fact that 1,100 students still voted for Clinton (most likely the most serious write-in candidate given) mean that there's a small group of future voters who are just plain unsatisfied with Obama and McCain? Perhaps.

Could this signal that 1,100 students around the country are still loyal to Clinton and what her vision of America? Perhaps.

We may never know why they voted the way they did, but I love that Scholastic reports the write-ins. Here in Illinois, we can't draft a candidate from the people. They have to accept that draft for our write-in votes to count. We learned this when the voters of Cook County had to decide between Heir-to-the-Presidency candidate Todd Stroger versus Republican Tony Peraica. My friends & I wanted to write in Forrest Claypool, who lost to Todd's Papa in the primary.

I also know that there is talk from Hillary supporters to write her in, but really it's a waste in that they aren't counted, so she wouldn't be told and you cause the election judges to spend time on it. And we know they need to focus on counting those ballots carefully.

But I'd rather like to imagine, postulate, that there are 1,100 budding feminists of all ages who just can't let go of the idea of a woman President; who want it so badly that they wrote in Hillary Clinton. Are they stubborn? Yes. Are they angry? I'm sure. I hope that their anger is funneled into positive outlets. Some pundits have decided that Hillary's failure will mean less women running for office in the future. My hope is that Hillary's success will mean more women running for office...and hopefully those 1,100 future voters will keep that anger to fuel their successes.

MORE FROM THE ELECTION RESULTS:

So why is a kid poll important? And does it mean anything come November 4? Kid Reporter Lya Ferreyra knows.

"Not only does [voting in the] poll give kids the experience they will need to vote in the future, but it allows them to have input on who should be the next President of the United States," she said. "It gives kids a voice, which is important, but we won't know the actual outcome until November 4. No one can predict that."

Ferreyra and this reporter both appeared on numerous news programs this week to announce the poll results.

Results from key swing states are as follows:
Colorado:McCain 61%Obama 36%Other 3%
Florida:McCain 41%Obama 55%Other 4%
Indiana:McCain 51%Obama 47%Other 2%
Iowa:McCain 48%Obama 49%Other 3%
Michigan:McCain 40%Obama 57%Other 3%
Missouri:
McCain 49%
Obama 47%Other 4%
Ohio:
McCain 47%
Obama 51%Other 2%
Pennsylvania:
McCain 46%
Obama 50%
Other 4%

h/t Claire Mysko

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Work it, Mom! Monday

This week's post asks you to weigh in on whether or not it is appropriate for motherhood to be the center of one's politics.

It's not if you can't be a mom and be political, but if you center your political activity around being a mom aka Cindy Sheehan. Or even if you center your politics around just being an advocate for your kids aka the uber-PTA mom.

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

18 October 2008

Vote

Early voting has started in Illinois and many other states around the country. To help you out with your decisions, organizations have put out their endorsements and recommendations.

There are plenty of voter guides out there to help you especially with your local races in case you haven't been paying as much attention. I know it's hard, I often fall flat on those races especially since here in Illinois we have to vote for judges. But don't use the "I don't know who to vote for!" line as an excuse. We all have less than 3 weeks, so do your research now.

And if you need to know why you should go out and vote, watch this:



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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Saturday Blog Soup

As you all know, I'm a busy chica and I pile up a lot of things that I want to share with you. In lieu of a series of blog posts, here are the highlights:

  • EVENT:: The 3rd annual Grrrlz Rock! Concert Series. The largest event of its kind that we know of, nearly 50 female-led bands, speakers, dancers, filmmakers and comedians dominate the stage and inspire audiences through the month of November. Grrrlz Rock! is a movement of collaboration and connection. Acts get a chance to play for new audiences and female musicians get a chance to meet each other and learn from each other's experiences. This is in Eugene, Oregon.
  • EVENT:: Feminist Ecology: Women and the Earth

    Exhibition Opening ~ Tuesday, October 28, 5 - 8 p.m.
    Exhibition ongoing through November 7

    Koehnline Museum of Art, Oakton Community College, Des Plaines campus

    Sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Oakton, this juried exhibition features art by women artists from across the Midwest. Meet and talk with the artists about their work at the Opening Reception.

    Free admission - For more information call 847-635-2633.

    Art by Gabriella Boros, titled Destiny/Desire 2.
  • SURVEY:: Last December I blogged about how the NYTimes ran a brave account by Kelly Valen about being raped and the backlash she received from her "friends." Kelly emailed me a few days ago asking for our help on her new book. She would like your feedback on your experience and feelings about your relationships with women. It could take you 5 minutes or an hour because she leaves plenty of space for you to tell your stories. I'd say it took me 20 minutes, but I didn't give as many details I as could have due to it being midnight when I started the survey.
  • My posts at AWEARNESS included:
    Is the Air in Your Home Fresh or Toxic?

    Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty
    Who Should Be at the Debates?
    What Power Should a Sheriff Have in Terms of Evictions?

    Anything You Can Do, She Can Do Better
  • My first post at Girl w/Pen came out this week!
Whew! I hope you found something in here that you enjoyed.


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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

17 October 2008

Don't miss the fall issue of Ms. Magazine!

And it is not just because Suze Orman is on the cover with that rock star smile of hers. Why should you pick it up? BECAUSE I AM IN IT!

My review of Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti is in there! OK, sorry I keep screaming, but I can't believe that in the last six months my writing (and not a letter to the editor) has been in both Bitch and Ms.

You have to pick up the issue or wait for it to find your doorstep to read the full review, but I want to give some mega kudos to the four of the many authors who bowled me over. Lisa Jervis, Latoya Peterson, Cristina Meztli Tzintzun, and fellow Bronco Kate Harding. Don't take the fact that I know three of these fab writers as bias. First I'd never kiss Lisa's ass, she could see right thru it. While Kate & I did go to high school together we didn't hang in the same circles. As for Latoya, well, she'd kick my ass if I lied about her writing. Now to meet Cristina...

The book did have a few pieces that honestly read like really long blog posts, but I pride myself on my honesty and I wouldn't try to sell you, especially when I'm getting nada of the royalties, a book that sucked. There are pieces in this collection that are must reads pieces and pieces that should be included in many syllabuses for years to come. I never got through Backlash but I know a few women who have said that the book was their click moment. I think this will do the same thing for many people. OK, enough about the book. You gotta read the official review in Ms.

As for the rest of the magazine, here is what is in store for you:

The new issue of Ms. contains a number of other noteworthy pieces. The cover story, “Suze Orman’s Bottom Line,” offers timely advice from the financial guru on how women can empower themselves during the current money crisis. Accompanying that piece is “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” by economist and Bennett College president Julianne Malveaux, in which she spells out what the federal government must do to jump-start the floundering U.S. economy.

Other hard-hitting features in the issue reveal “The Scandal of Military Rape,” about the failures of the Department of Defense to stem sexual assault in the armed services, and the “Dangerous Masquerade,” about how so-called crisis pregnancy centers—which often receive government funding—promise counseling and health services to college women but conceal their real purpose: to preach often-inaccurate anti-abortion and abstinence messages.

Furthermore, the issue includes a rueful look at how the 40-year-old anti-birth control dictum of the Catholic Church, “Humanae Vitae,” has both lowered the church’s credibility in the U.S. and caused incalculable harm to women in development countries. Keeping to the birth-control topic, one of the columns in this issue, “Like a Natural Woman,” asks “What’s the real story behind period-suppressing contraceptives?” Finally, fiction lovers can delight in the short story “Hair,” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, the Nigerian immigrant to the U.S. who recently won a MacArthur “genius” award.

Keep an eye on your neighborhood magazine rack...and while you're waiting, why not subscribe to Ms? Hey, the holidays are coming up, so give, give, give!

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! The teacher is requesting funding to buy books by women authors. Also don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

16 October 2008

Gifted students and challenge: A parent talk with Jerry Schecter, PhD

This is a cross-post from Hormone-colored Days:

I'm blogging a gathering at Kim's place with Jerry Schecter, Ph.D. Despite what Kim says, this is a party...A party of parents, mostly moms & one lone dad, coming together to learn more about how to "best" raise our children who have academic gifts.

Dr. S's background includes being a school psychologist in CPS and was at the ground floor for the CPS gifted program. He helped work with underachieving gifted students - those who can do the work, but weren't.

Dr. S's definition of a gifted kid is someone with an IQ in the upper 5-10% of the population. That's one way, but more typically we are talking about upper 2% - 130 and above. Upper 5% - 125, you are bright, quick and still relate well. When you get to 140 - you are a little bit more different - harder to fit in, see the world differently, get labeled as ADD 'cause their minds are racing. You should ask the school if your child is "getting it" before accepting the ADD label. They might gifted!

They are also dramatic - feel things deeply, worry about justice, etc. Nervous habits. Imaginational. Great fantasy life. Hyper-sensitive to sound, touch, noise. Intellectual - Deep curiosity. Emotional - going from one extreme to the next.

Asynchronistic development: Unevenness in development. Could be 6 one minute, 8 the other, back to 6. If you ask a gifted child to tell you 3 wishes, they will usually list one thing that is altruistic.

High degree of perfectionism - They also need to be in control. If there is something out of control in their life, they know that their academics are something that they can control. Perfectionism takes a lot of different turns - intolerant of others making mistakes, it's an all or nothing thing (get an A or not try at all), always need to be right, or the workaholic.

Kids who have it too easy in the early grades and then get to junior or senior high and they fall into the imposter syndrome, don't know how to study, and think they aren't really that smart. (That was me!!)

As parents we need to remember that just because they are bright, they are not always bright in everything. When our kids are challenged, they are not as challenged as other kids because so many things come easy. Thus our kids have a hard time learning grit and academic frustration.

Linda Silverman wrote a piece about being a 6yo girl, but reading at a 3rd-4th grade level. "A child would have to learn how to explain things to her peers, learn to wait patiently while others catch up or something challenging, how to delay gratification by not answering all the questions the teacher asks." When you are that different in an environment where others aren't as bright, it is lonely.

Thus, there are a lot of reasons why we need to be our child's advocate. Getting all A's and getting by is not good. We need to help them learn that falling on their face isn't the end of the world.

It is not always better in the more affluent school districts - They can be less willing to work with parents for gifted students. You should get your child evaluated & then work with the teachers and administrators to get your child what they need. YOU have to push the school.

When your child does "fail" you have to help them learn how to deal with frustration, learn from their mistakes and more on. Don't focus that they know the material - lazy mistakes are learning moments. (My HS freshman algebra teacher would never accept my quizzes or tests before I checked it at least 2 times.)

Some insensitivity that parents get is that by the 3rd grade they will all be the same, we don't have gifted children here, don't push your child, teacher has child help other children when they are done early, there is no need for grouping, gifted children are role models and need to be spread out between classes.

A lot of gifted kids are better at adapting to skipping grades and being in with older peers than staying in their original grade and not fitting in. Will they ever fit in? It depends. If you can't be in a school with supplemental programs, seek out other programs like at Northwestern & National Louis so that they can be with students who are like them.

What can we do as parents?

When they are frustrated, you can't rescue them. You really not want to take ownership of the problem. Validate their feelings and listen to their words not just their actions. A parent is adding in: If your child has meltdowns, talk to them later when they are calm, and help them learn self-soothing. This was taught to me by a very wise person. How do you praise them without over praising? Praise the work not the final product. Acknowledge your own mistakes and role model for them.

A parent suggests a book called "Mistakes that Worked." It really shows kids that mistakes are ok and sometimes actually are better than the original destination.

What do you do with a child who seems ok, but there are signs that they really aren't ok in school? They are happy staying under the radar...You need to ask the school to step up and provide the challenge. It's harder when you do it, than if the school does it.

What is our goal? Is it achievement? Are they happy kids? A parent responds with I want my child to be happy/independent/at peace with themselves, if they happen to get good grades, that's great, but that's not my goal. We need to listen to our children. That's the best form of communication. It is also a sign of respect and when you give them respect, they will give it to you.

Dr. S. leads parent support programs in the mornings. No evening sessions. A lot is based on the book "???? ." Also does evaluations for children who are underachieving and will write a report for the schools. Also suggests "Teaching Gifted Children in Regular Classroom." There is no easy answer, each school district is different.

What about homeschooling? It all depends on where your child is when they are ready to enter school. A lot of parents of gifted students do homeschool, but it may not be the best option. You need to be in a group that is supportive.

Is there a good time to start the process? Skipping kindergarten? Skipping later grades? Some have been encouraged to skip kindergarten, but some parents didn't want to do it based on socialization issues. Skipping all depends on the school. You should have them tested when you are ready to make a decision about schooling. One principal told a set of parents that she could enrich him, but could not give him a group of peers. Another told a set that you need to remember that your child is gifted all the time.

Parent: There is no such thing as a perfect school. There will always be something that you are homeschooling. This country doesn't support arts.

And that was the gist of our discussion.

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! And don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

15 October 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Dinner

wow...16 weeks of me giving y'all suggestions on things to buy mamas and babies? I can't believe I came up with all those suggestions. For reals.

Alas, this is my last regular suggestion for what to buy. If you've been reading regularly I've gotten pretty busy with other blogging & writing gigs, that something had to give. I hope that I've given you enough guidance that you can walk into the baby aisle and think, "What would V think? Is this really necessary?" Don't fret, if I get hit by inspiration, I'll post another suggestion.

So my last suggestion for something that a mom and her baby will NEED is a gift certificate for dinner. And yes, it really should be for some place that delivers.

This gift idea came from a couple who did this for us. After our daughter was born, they called us up and asked us what night we wanted dinner delivered and from where. Perhaps you know that your BFF loves Thai from that place down the street or you know she misses deep-dish pizza from Chicago now that she lives in Seattle. But at the very beginning dinner often gets lost in the shuffle. So pick up that phone or send an email and tell her, "Where do you want dinner from Thursday night?" Don't take no for an answer, if you can...

And honestly, ask her if she wants some company. Many people are scared to invite themselves over. If you're that good of a friend, she'll enjoy the company and if she's not in the mood, she'll be honest with ya.

Good luck out there, I know it's a jungle! If you ever have a question, just drop me a line.

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

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! And don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

Happy Love Your Body Day!


To celebrate I will attempt 24 hours of not hating on my own body:
  • I will enjoy the moment when the kid wraps her arms around my belly and says, "I love you mommy because you are squishy!"
  • I will have a good hair day, no matter what.
  • I will enjoy using my body to garden (project at work!).
  • I will sit up straight.
  • I will smile because I'm happy not because someone tells me to.
  • I will eat without guilt, even if I watch my portions.
What will you do for yourself today?

13 October 2008

Work it, Mom and DonorsChoose GIVEAWAYS!

Today at Work it, Mom! I'm complaining about Columbus Day.

Also, if you haven't noticed, but I joined the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. Thanks to the generosity of one reader & a good friend, one class is fully funded. BUT we still have $356 to go to fully fund Mr. B's classroom and their goal of buying books by women authors:

My students need to see 27 examples of women writers who are creating fiction that is captivating and relevant to their lives. I encourage the young women in my class to be leaders, and I am confident that they can help me make reading cool.

I'm not sure that by getting the girls to love reading that the boys will follow, but I do agree that the young women in his class need women authors to discover.

I have the following giveaways for anyone who donates at least $5 thru my donors page by the end of the month:
  • A copy of Ellen Bravo's Taking on the Big Boys
    Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business, and the Nation
  • A copy of Leslie Bennett's The Feminine Mistake
  • A copy of Gloria Feldt's War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back
  • A University of South Carolina t-shirt from Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors
  • And at least one more goodie to come!
Winners will be chosen using random.org and notified as soon I can after Halloween. Check back to this post to see if any new goodies come in from my networks that can be offered.