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Book Review: Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

30 December 2008

Does your New Year's resolution include dancing?

Then you are in luck! The Revelette's are looking for new members:

The Revelettes, Chicago's hippest and hottest performing go-go troupe, are inviting Chicago's cheekiest chicas to don their white boots and join the go-go revolution! Auditions will be held Monday, January 26, from 7:30–9:00pm, at Joel Hall Dance Center, 1511 W. Berwyn. The Revelettes perform 1960s-inspired go-go to beats from the past four decades at such venues as darkroom, Betty's Blue Star Lounge, Empty Bottle and The Double Door.

Check out photos, video, and info at www.myspace.com/revelettes
They also performed, quite patiently, at the Bitch fundraiser I held in May. So they're kewl, ya know.

And no, I'm not going out for the troupe. First, I'm an awful dancer and second, I can barely find time to knit much less practice & perform. Revelettes come in all sizes, shapes & colors, so don't let your holiday extras keep you from trying out. Do let me know if you audition and make it. Good luck!!

29 December 2008

BOY am I tired of sexist boy stories

Why yes, I am still wrestling with my review of "The Trouble with Boys" and it doesn't help that I feel like each week there is a story that makes me hurl with its gendered way of looking at the world, its demeaning look at boys, and its patronizing stance on girls. A few days before Christmas TIME & Yahoo! gave me a real treat:

So why no modern manlings in the east wing? I have a theory, born of careful historical analysis and solipsism: It's impossible to be elected to the White House if you have young sons, because that would mean you have to campaign with them.

Campaigning and raising sons are mutually exclusive. Campaigning requires lots of travel, enormous amounts of time in the public eye and months and months of sitting down quietly listening to the same guy talking while wearing your good clothes. It's like 11 straight months of being in church when you're the preacher's kid - with long car rides in between. It's torture on adults, let alone children. But it's worse for boys. Try this experiment: next month ask your son to be on his best behavior in front of other people, from now until November 2009. See how far you get.

"Boys are generally more competitive, risk-taking and defiant, which makes them less manageable," says Meg Meeker M.D., author of Boys Should be Boys and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

Are you serious? The fact that two adorable and smart young girls are moving into the White House isn't good enough for some people? Why don't the Obamas have a son? Are boys a liability because, again, the theory is that they can't sit still.

I guess that it is lucky for George HW Bush that lil George was grown and didn't embarrass his papa at conventions with his drinking, drugging & potty mouth. And heaven forbid if the Bush Twins acted like 12-year-olds towards the press like sticking their tongue out or something childish like that.

During the past Presidential race, John Edwards campaigned with both of his young children, a son and a daughter. According to the NYTimes, both were less than happy to be listening to stump speech after stump speech. Did dear Emma Claire fall victim of her scampy brother? Or did she have her own feelings of boredom? And of course we'd never see the precious & well-behaved Obama daughters interrupt Daddy's work in public right?

Sure, I'm not an elected official and I'm not campaigning for an office, but I do appear at my fair share of public events and being the feminist mom I am, I bring my daughter to them as well. She was about 2 when I gave a speech to a group of veterans on Memorial Day. As I stood at the podium staring out at men who had gone to war to defend our country only to be ignored once they returned home, my daughter was pulling at my leg. At an end of the year dinner a few years ago, my daughter brought her camera and made sure people knew she was taking photos. She also kept saying, "Shhh...mommy's talking!" Even as I type this, she's not sitting nicely & patiently even thou a trip somewhere is her reward for letting me work.

Yes, boys have a repuation for being louder and girls have a similiar repuation for being quiet, but the reality is that both can be victims of "ants-in-the-pants-itis" when the cameras are rolling or a parent is in the spotlight. So please, can we stop this "boys can't sit still" crap? They can...I married one of 'em.

28 December 2008

GIVEAWAY:: Happy Birthday to me!!

In celebration of the end of my Jesus year and the start of my Payton year, I am giving away TWO DonorsChoose $10 Giving Cards AND $10 for BuildaBearville.com. Each card has BOTH of those great gifts.

If you need help finding a DonorsChoose project, why not this fun project?

We would like to complete a research project on African American heroes and women heroes during black history and women's history month.

In order to complete this project we will need plain white t-shirts for the children to create their hero t-shirt. Once the children have completed their research on the Internet, they will use the information to create a hero t-shirt. They will iron on a picture of their hero and a few facts about them. Then we will allow them to be creative and decorate the shirt.

To enter, just comment and leave your email addy so I can get in touch with you. You can get an additional entry if you Twitter this contest and let me know about it by commenting here with a link to your tweet.

Deadline for entering is January 2, 2009!

27 December 2008


Christmas is over and it wasn't as hectic as it could had been and that is due mostly to the sad fact that my dad, younger sister & her son didn't get into Chicago because their plane from NC was canceled twice on Tuesday. The weather sucks right now. Our daughter was heartbroken that her beloved lil cousin wasn't going to be sharing Christmas with her, but she seems to have understood.

And because of the cancellation of our family Christmas dinner, I was stuck with a 10 lb ham in my fridge. I don't eat ham - It was for my husband, sister & dad. Yeah....we cook big on holidays. So on Christmas eve I spent a few hours on the phone looking for a home for the lil piggie. The kid & I ended up taking it to the Lincoln Park Community Shelter. It was a nice lesson in giving & appreciation for what we have.

We've had snow, fog, and now it's pouring rain. Ugh.

Hopefully I can get back on the writing wagon especially since I've been slacker girl the past few days. Today was cleaning day and most of the house looks good. The living room still needs some work and our bedroom is its usual mess. I still need a new closet. I swear that will do the trick!

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas Day...whether or not you celebrated anything.

24 December 2008

The best B-movie EVER!

For your holiday viewing pleasure:

Join the B-hive!

Latina to head the US Dept of Labor!

Yes, I'm slow on this piece of news. Forgive me, I've been overwhelmed with work and over the weekend I rocked the migraine express. Congrats to Hilda Solis!

President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be labor secretary, Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis of California, is expected to advocate greater union influence in the workplace and more “green” jobs.

Solis, the 51-year-old daughter of a Mexican union shop steward and a Nicaraguan assembly line worker, is in line to be the second Hispanic nominee in Obama’s Cabinet.

23 December 2008

Don't mess with our sisters

A long running joke in my family is that my younger sister always wanted a big brother. Having a big sister wasn't good enough for her, she wanted someone to protect her, etc. Then I remind her who use to scare away the boy who always teased her from 1st-3rd grade as well as other "big brother" moments. Then again, I did play the big sister role too well most of the time.

Yet when we think of feminism and the women's movement, we think "sisterhood" in the most romantic sense. But there are times when feminism and sisterhood lock hands and amazing shit happens.

Today Rebekah Spicuglia posted a piece about her sister getting fired from a Chili's restaurant:

When my sister, Rachel Spicuglia, a five-year employee of Chili's Restaurant (owned by Brinker International), reported to her manager the escalating sexual harassment she was receiving from the cooks, which had culminated in an assault that morning in the walk-in refrigerator, the manager asked Rachel if the offending employee had gotten a "full cup" when he had grabbed her breasts. Shocked that the manager would joke in such way, Rachel protested that it wasn't funny, but he insisted that it was actually information that he needed to know.

Rachel ended up taking a leave of absence, filing EEOC Charge of Discrimination on August 12, but she continued to work with Chili's to arrange transfer to another store. The transfer was approved, but Rachel's calls to the store manager were never returned, and on December 9, Rachel received a letter from her health insurance, saying that her medical benefits were denied, due to the fact that she was terminated from her job. Two weeks before Christmas, without any warning, and still waiting for the EEOC to review her complaint. Apparently, Chili's was unable to fire Rachel during her leave of absence, but under Georgia law, unlike other states, you can suffer sexual harassment and be fired.

By the time I was on my way home tonight I got an email update -- Rachel got her job back!

*Update: Since this post was published Tuesday morning, Brinker International has contacted Rachel's lawyer, informing him that Rachel's termination was a computer error. Rachel has since been reinstated with Chili's. Check back for further updates.

This was after blogs reposted, tweets went out and emails were sent to Chili's about some of us not eating there anymore or just plain shaming. I'm happy that our collective action on behalf of our sister, Rachel, helped Chili's figure out that there was a computer error. *whew*


End of the Year Donations

I know your inbox and mailbox is flooded with end of the year asks. Why not your RSS reader? :)

Here are some places for you to send your last minute donations for 2008:
  1. The Chicago Abortion Fund
  2. Women In Media & News
  3. Women Employed
  4. National Organization for Women Foundation
  5. The Unity Challenge at the Chicago Community Trust (2 for 1 matching!)

Top 10 People I Met This Year

And when I say meet, I mean in person, flesh to flesh:

10] Dr. Susan Wicklund: Sure we didn't have coffee or anything, but meeting her at Women & Children First was certainly a game changer. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have fears of raising my daughter in such a politically charged home & society. Dr. Wicklund gives me hope that I'll do it right.

9] Melissa at Shakesville: I hadn't attended a meet-up in a long time that wasn't about a political campaign, so it was totally geeky for me to come out to meet such a famed blogger like Melissa & her gang. It was nice to hang out for a bit with fellow bloggers!

8] The women from the CAF Leadership Group: It's hard to find a braver group of women.

7] The people I work with at my day job: I won't name you all, but I've had new people enter my life this year and I am grateful.

6] My new mentors: I was extra lucky to get two new official mentors thru programs I'm involved with this year. One mentor is a woman I've known for awhile (she use to be Senor Feminista's boss' boss), but I never got the chance to get to know her. The other is the executive director of one of the most kick ass orgs. It's a priviledge to know them both and to have them if I need someone to talk to.

5] PunditMom: While we are both graduates of the Progressive Women's Voices training, I knew Joanne from our time together with the SVMoms Blog group. I've always been in awe of her style, writing, and mothering. I know she's not perfect, she's quite too honest for me to ever think that.

4] The juvenile parole officer: I attended a career day and was put in a group with this man who was a parole officer for juvenile offenders. He grew up in Humboldt Park before it was hip, his parents house still has bullets in the walls from the rougher days and his brother isn't a role model. He seemed genuine in his desire to talk to youth about living a good life and staying away from gangs. I think of him often, especially as I have two tween boys in my life who will be making decisions daily about which road they will travel.

3] brownfemipower: It's hard to believe that bfp has only been blogging for a few years because she's changed me more than I can say. She pushes my beliefs, challenges me to think new thoughts, and still loves me when I say "I can't go there." Bum rushing her at WAM! was one of the highlights of 2008.

2] Latoya Peterson: I met her at the Progressive Women's Voices training and fell in love with her energy immediately. It's also nice to have someone younger and hipper to go shopping with in NYC. She doesn't give herself enough props, so I feel it's part of my job to do it as much as I can.

1] Alida Brill: Another PWV friend. Alida waves herself off as a has-been-Second-Waver, but she has more insight than most veteran feminists I've worked with. She seems the connections between the generations, the gaps, the dovetails, all of it. Perhaps the fact that she has had to fight each day for her life (literal and metaphorically) she doesn't have too much time for bullshit.

2008 was an amazing year for meeting people off-line and so many of you touched my soul. I know missed some of you, I could have made this a top 20! I look forward to meeting new people in 2009. Not to mention nurture my new connections. It's so much easier to work with people online after I've met them. Yeah, I'm old school that way.

Special kudos go to the feministas at the Women's Media Center & Center for New Words. Do I really need to tell you how much I love yas?

22 December 2008

16 years

Sixteen years ago a friend asked my husband if we were dating. He turned to me and asked, "So are we?" I replied with a shrug, "Sure." And the rest as they say is history.

I'd never even attempt to say that it's been easy, in fact it's been really hard. Two headstrong people trying to make one life together is hard. Add in an equally (or even more so) headstrong child and our life is ripe for explosions.

If we could do it over would we have done things exactly the same? No, but we also know we wouldn't be where we are today without all the mistakes, stumbles, etc. And I think that's the hardest part of living with someone for so long, letting go of the stumbles and feeling content/comfortable/happy with where you are today. Of course it is so much easier for us because we are privileged with two amazing jobs, a healthy daughter, a family of friends and a roof over our heads.

It's kinda scary to think that next year we'll have been together for half of my life.

21 December 2008

My top 10 favorite things I've written this year

As egotistical as this sounds, it's actually a huge challenge for me:

10] My Sarah Palin posts:
9] Why is the IL Dept of Transportion using sex to sell seat belts?: Melissa at Shakesville encouraged me to write this when I sent a note to one of the listservs we're saying that someone else might want to write about it. This post still gets a lot of hits and I suspect from people wanting to look at the videos.

8] Eating out with the kid: I'm such a failure at being a hipster that I enjoy critiquing the culture.

7] The problem with the business of mommy blogging: I got some flack about this, but I'm still proud of this piece. I'm still wrestling with the idea of plugging products on this blog. I read somewhere that selling out is when you go against your beliefs. I think I'm going to use that as a guide star.

6] WAM! - The Day After After :The Bad: My first trip to WAM was, um, interesting. I needed to get all of it out and people are still visiting this blog to read about it. Despite the drama, I'm headed back to WAM

5] If you bring home the bacon, who fries it?: This is one of my more popular posts at Work it, Mom! and that's not the only reason I'm proud of it. I know not all of my posts are fab, but I took a lot of time with this one and I think the product is reflective of that time.

4] Would Hillary's Promotion to Secretary of State Be Harmful to Women?: Just hours before the rumor became truth, I took some time to consider why Senator Clinton should stay put in the Senate.

3] NYTimes finds a pretty & fun feminist!: The divide in the feminist community over Obama & Clinton came to a head with Marcia Pappas' press release. The NYTimes took that opportunity to position an older & not traditionally pretty feminist against a cute, young and hip feminist. It did nothing for the debate of the election other than paint Pappas as angry and Valenti as hip. As a feminist whose age puts me between both these camps I was totally pissed at the piece.

2] Are working moms happier than ones who stay at home? This was my first piece at Work it, Mom! and I think a nice critical look at how everyone jumps at headlines and needs to read the research before throwing stones. I like to reread it when I find myself guilty of this jump.

1] Larry Summers Is Not the Change I Was Expecting: This was linked all over the place and for a few days I felt like people were really interested in what I had to say. Yeah, that sounds all Eeyore-ish, but for a blogger who usually flies under the radar, this was quite the coming out piece.

19 December 2008

Help Advance Women's Health Research!

I honestly can't bring myself to write about the DHHS rules...Instead I will ask my Illinois readers to participate in a POSITIVE action about women's health. I know it's long, but if you live in Illinois, please take a few minutes to read about a women's health registry that needs your input (emphasis below is mine, but the words are from the project):

Let’s face it, as women we are usually the ones who make healthcare decisions for ourselves and our families. The more we know, the better choices we will make. So ask yourself….have you ever wondered why certain diseases affect men and women differently? Why some diseases and conditions are more common in women? Or why men and women may react differently to the same medications? The reasons behind the worrisome facts are even more disturbing. If we’ve got you thinking about it now—that’s just what we hoped would happen!

When it comes to health, there are many important differences between men and women; to further complicate things, race and ethnicity can add another twist. In fact, researchers are finding that certain breast cancers affect African American women more often then women of other races. The differences in men’s and women’s bodies and medical needs are numerous – women have a longer time interval between heartbeats, are more likely to suffer from depression and insomnia, are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, and experience different symptoms when suffering a heart attack. Sadly, the healthcare women are receiving today is based on research that was conducted primarily in large populations of men, even if the treatment will be offered to both male and female patients. Historically, women were not included in research trials; it was not until 1993 that a federal law was passed to ensure that women and minorities were included in all human subject research. This is probably surprising to hear. We know, and fortunately scientists and doctors are learning that what benefits men isn’t necessarily the best approach for women. The more we learn, the clearer it becomes that in order to ensure equality of care for all women, it is important that our research efforts represent the full diversity of women. Enrolling only male subjects in clinical trials has sweeping consequences for women everywhere.

The difficulty researchers sometimes have recruiting women for a study is not because of lack of interest or willingness to help. In fact it’s often due to lack of information and access. That’s why the Institute for Women’s Research at Northwestern University decided to develop the Illinois Women’s Health Registry. By enrolling in the Registry women throughout the state will be provided with information and access to research studies and clinical trials they may want to join. Equally important is that your de-identified information will also contribute to a longitudinal demographic study that will help identify community health priorities and accelerate new treatments to the public.

When Institute staff originally began thinking about better ways to include more community women in research their efforts led them to the Kentucky Women’s Health Registry. With guidance from the University of Kentucky’s Center for the Advancement of Women’s Health, it became clear that by working together we could build a significant database containing information on the status of women’s health which could become a model for all states. There is great potential in determining if the health profiles of Kentuckians are the same as for Illinois women. Comparing states could result in very valuable information. Unfortunately, women’s health status in both Kentucky and Illinois is poor based on 27 health status benchmarks developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the 2007 edition of “Making the Grade on Women’s Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card,” Illinois ranked 33 and Kentucky 46 (with “1” being the healthiest), indicating that on a national basis, our states rank unacceptably low and are not meeting the health needs of women. Specifically, one benchmark analyzed and given a failing grade is the percentage of obese women in each state, Illinois coming in at 26.3% and Kentucky 28.8%. These troubling percentages have increased since 2004, and often lead to other serious health consequences such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, one benchmark ranking satisfactory marks is the percentage of women age 40 and older that have had a mammogram within the past 2 years (76.1% in Illinois and 75.6% in Kentucky). Overall the number of women who get mammograms is increasing and this is important to help detect breast cancer in its early stages. Both states need to make a substantial commitment to reaching other national goals for the health and well-being of women.

The Registry is a 30 minute health questionnaire, available online or as a paper version, for female Illinois residents over the age of 18. It includes questions about your health, environment, health-related behaviors, symptoms, and illnesses or conditions you may have now or have had in the past. We are resolute in protecting your confidentiality and your information. If your profile matches a research study’s criteria, we will contact you and offer you the opportunity to participate. If you do not decline, you will be contacted by the researcher for further screening and other study details.

You might be asking, what’s in it for me? There are so many reasons to enroll! You will:

• improve women’s healthcare today and for future generations;
• gain access to groundbreaking research studies;
• learn more about your own health issues;
• help researchers learn more about the things that affect our health so they can better assess and tailor new treatments;
• help improve prevention and treatment of certain diseases and health conditions;
• receive important information in our newsletters.

If you haven’t already, come on, join us in making a change! Become part of the solution by committing to increase knowledge about women’s health for ourselves, our spouses, our daughters, our granddaughters and future generations. Please sign up today and help spread the word!

Check us out online at https://whr.northwestern.edu

16 December 2008

EVENT:: What Will the Future (of Reproductive Health and Rights) Look Like?

Please join Viva la Feminista in participating in RH Reality Check's live discussion on the future of reproductive rights:

On Wednesday, December 17, join reproductive health experts Marilyn Keefe of the National Partnership for Women & Families, William Smith of SIECUS, Heather Boonstra of Guttmacher Institute, Cristina Page of BirthControlWatch.org, and RH Reality Check’s own Kay Steiger for a live chat from 1 to 2 pm EST on reproductive health issues in the Obama administration.

Submit your questions beforehand to editor@rhrealitycheck.org, or submit them live during the event, and visit RHRealityCheck.org on Wednesday, December 17th at 1pm Eastern to chat live with our experts, get your questions answered and help imagine the future together!

Come back here just before the discussion begins to join in!

The C-word

frye left this question on my post about "The B word"

Could you elaborate on your argument regarding the reclaiming of the word bitch? I'm curious as to why you draw the line at c*nt.


wow...This one is a hard one.

I think that I draw the line at c*nt because it represents nothing but anger and hate to me. Yes, bitch is said in anger, but I feel like it is a response to a woman being strong. And no I don't feel like it is the same way that the C-word is used. When I've been called that word or heard someone called it, there is so much more anger behind it than with bitch. And that's what I'm reacting to. Is Eve Ensler correct in wanting us to reclaim that word too? I think she is. I just can't walk that path yet.

15 December 2008

EVENT:: Roe vs. The Real World

Join the Our Voices, Our Choices reproductive justice coalition and Chicago Foundation for Women

for a special event marking the

36th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade decision.

Roe vs. The Real World: An evening of spoken word and conversation about

women’s unequal access to reproductive health care services

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Center on Halsted

Hoover-Leppen Theater

3656 N. Halsted St.

Chicago, IL 60613

6:30 – 8:30 pm

Suggested donation of $5 at the door

Monday morning wake up

Ah, yes, another Monday off from Work it, Mom! Hopefully this vacation from weekly writing will help restore my political mom writing. I was burnt at the end of the election! Hell, I was burnt way before that.

So this past week at AWEARNESS, I wrote:
TODAY is the last day to apply for the first class of Progressive Women's Voices! Good luck to everyone applying.

14 December 2008

The Day After - A Feminist Town Forum

It's been over a month since the feminist town forum, but you can relive it with the video! Grab a cuppa something and curl up in a Snuggie.

12 December 2008

Book Review: Katie Brown

One day I was flipping thru the channels on TV and I fell in love with a woman named Katie. She had some crazy ideas like using moss for a table runner and slices of log for a charger plate. And I LOVED IT! So of course when I was asked if I wanted to review her new party book, Katie Brown Celebrates, I almost jumped thru Twitter.

Again, I'm not one to spend hours making tiny do-dads for a dinner or party. But I am one who likes funky things for my home. Katie Brown Celebrates gives you an entire year of ideas for party decorations and food. When I first got the book I opened a random page and let out a "I have to make this!" Gorgonzola Stuffed Potatoes.

Yes, many if not most (I didn't bother to do the counting) of the recipes appear to be on her website, but having them all in one place is beautiful. Most of the recipes that made me say "Oh!" were fairly simple and not too many ingredients. Which is good for me because I get confused in the kitchen pretty easy. I've called Rachel a few times during a recipe. There is a honey mint mango salad recipe that isn't on her website, from what I can tell. Yes, I'm also that basic in my cooking that I need a recipe for honey mint mango salad.

Of course the problem is actually getting myself organized enough to say, tomorrow we're having this and that for dinner AND buy enough product. My neighbors know that I'm that neighbor who is always borrowing a cup of sugar or a stick of butter. I swear I run out of basics faster than I think!

This is a perfect book to give that someone special in your life who isn't a Martha, but does like to entertain. Maybe that's you!

11 December 2008

Would living next to the POTUS make you feel safer?

Apparently the real estate market near the Obamas Chicago home is heating up:

The first house to sell in “Obama-Wood” since the presidential election was a 12-room, three-story Georgian that closed on December 3rd with a sale price of $1.25 million. (That was also the asking price—and the house sold in under a week.) Built in 1924 and owned for the past three decades by a University of Chicago professor and his lawyer wife, the house sits just 50 feet outside the barricades that have gone up around the Obamas’ block.

It's not just the idea of living in the same 'hood as the POTUS that may be driving this baby. It might also be the idea of living in the safest place in Chicago.

They didn’t come to Kenwood because of Obama—Coe grew up in Hyde Park and has several family members still living nearby—but they already appreciate the presence of the president-elect’s family. “There’s so much security in the neighborhood, I feel like our three-year-old could go out and dance in the middle of the street,” says Coe. “Security issues have always been a problem in Hyde Park and Kenwood. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that for a while now.”

I was chatting with someone who has been living near the Obamas for quite some time a few weeks ago. I joked that she lives in the safest place and she gave me the look - You have no idea. She went on to spew a series of complaints about living in the 'safest place' in Chicago.

She has seen young men being harassed not to mention the very idea of so many police & security forces is unnerving for many young people, especially young people of color. I immediately realized the error I had made. I assumed that all people feel safe near police.

While I grew up in a working poor suburb with plenty of other Latin@s around me, but I never felt scared of the police. I was raised to obey. I dunno if it was a girl thing, a Latino thing or even an assimilation thing.I remember once uttering the "P" word in front of my late mom and woo boy did she lay into me. It reminded me of how as a grown Latina raising a Latina in Chicago, that I see the police is a different way. This is of course after moving to Chicago from the suburbs and seeing how some police have treated POC in my presence. I don't want to go into details, but I've seen things that I thought was only for movies to a naive suburban chick. I think of a post la Mala wrote earlier this year about teaching her own daughter about the police & the subway.

I am conflicted about the police. But I know it would be too much of a pain in the ass to live near the Obamas. I hate giving my ID when I attend meetings downtown much less having to give my ID to go home.

Dear Santa

Photo by viva la feminista

Tuesday I set out on what should had been a boring task...Mailing a package at the post office. Considering that I work close to the main post office and it has free parking, that's where I headed on my lunch break. As I walked into the building and played with the automatic package machine for a few minutes I glanced over at what I thought was a job fair. Hmmm...Then I saw them. Piles of paper and people digging thru them. "Shit."

The entire time a worker was helping me get the correct postage (did you know you can buy exactly how much postage you need from the automatic machine? woo!) I kept thinking, "Don't look over there. Just walk past."

I kept thinking that because I knew what was over there.

Dear Santa letters.

Of course I went over there and stayed strong while I looked at what seemed like a never ending row of letters, sorted in piles like "One child-Boy, 3 children, 6+ children, Family, Spanish." I'm not a dummy, I know there is need. I hear the call for coats, canned goods, etc. But there's a barrier to that. Rather I found myself reading thru the pile of "One child-girl" letters. Letters written by moms, grandmas and child care providers asking for simple things for young girls. Letters written by tweens and teenagers hoping for Apple Bottom jeans, piano, or sneakers. I then dug thru the boy pile and found a "I live with my grandma" letter. That one will be shown to a certain nephew who is going thru some pre-teen angst.

If we back up for a second, this was Tuesday....just hours after Illinois had its world shaken to the core by our Governor being arrested. While I never thought GRod was a saint and knew that day was coming, it almost destroyed my faith in government and electoral politics. Thus walking into this situation where I was faced with not just real problems, but problems that could possibly be solved if we had honest people in government who weren't there to make a buck but serve the citizens of our great state was a good thing.

So I took two letters, one girl and one boy, and hope that it serves many purposes:
  1. That my family will be able to make two families happier this holiday season;
  2. That I will have this chance to instill a giving tradition around this season to the kid;
  3. That I will regain my sense of faith in my ability to help make this world a better place, one coloring book at a time;
  4. That by putting this positive energy into the world, it will return thrice-fold to everyone I know.

10 December 2008

Site Review - Celebrations.com

I am not a housekeeper. I'm not a decorator. My house doesn't have a theme or is all color coordinated. Heck, my home is barely clean enough for the babysitter to come over at a moment's notice. So when I was asked to review Celebrations.com I was skeptical. Oh, another site that's going to make me feel like a failure because I'm not Martha Stewart.


I really like the site. And this project is a prime example of why I like it. It's so simple AND pretty. Seriously the project in the photo is just rock salt and some twigs from outside. Um, I can do that. Next step...the kids birthday party section & the gender test!

OK, there are princess themed parties, but honestly, it's a must for any party site. But what I like is that the rest are not boys, but for any kid. The Mad Hatter party theme is awesome because it allows for the girly girl tea party but with boys involved.

My house still will be messy, but at least when it's time to host a party I know at least one site to check out that won't make me feel like I have to take the weekend off to decorate.

My latest AWEARNESS posts

While I will still recap my weekly AWEARNESS posts each Monday, I created a widget for the sidebar that will automatically list my latest posts. That way if you're curious when you get here and there's no new content, just look over to your right! nifty eh? And obviously since I can widget just my entries, you can also add my RSS feed to your reader too.

09 December 2008

Toy Review: Poingo

What's a Poingo? Well it's a story reading wand. Sound familiar?

Instead of doing a Poingo vs. Other wand, I'll tell you about the Poingo.

The Poingo is a reading wand that is quite light and it comes pre-loaded with stories. No downloading necessary out of the box. This could come in quite handy when your budding bookworm wants to play with it NOW and not later after Mama pulls out her laptop.

When your child points to the word box, the Poingo reads to them. The entire story box. The neat thing is that a few words in each box are highlighted and if you point directly on those words, you get read a definition. Nifty! Especially nice for those of us with kids who ask, "What does that mean?" It doesn't read word to word thou, so that's a flaw - That's a minus point on the "interactive" scale. But it does have two volume settings! The wand also had a headphone jack.

Poingo does have Disney stories...plus for some, minus for other people.

Overall, it was good. My daughter really enjoyed the quizzes that are included more than the reading. I think she's peaking on this "a toy is reading to me" wave, which is kinda sad because I swear I was still using my Mickey Mouse 45's until at least 2nd grade because I loved hearing Tinker Bell's wand.

The Poingo should be only $35 and that's with two books, so if you want a more economical gift for your lil one, this might be it. But I would definately look thru the book selection before purchasing.

The hard part might be if you get a Poingo and your kid's friend has the other wand. They don't interact. Kinda like XBox & wii. But maybe it'll be a good chance to learn to share and not try to figure out which one is better than the other.

08 December 2008

Monday morning wake up

I share my thoughts on gift giving & just saying no over at Work it, Mom! The site has a new design and we are celebrating with a generous giveaway for our members. Just share some good news and enter to win one of two great prizes:
  • $200 gift certificate from SpaFinder.com, which you can use at more than 4,500 spas all across the US
  • $100 Visa gift card and a $50 RiteAid gift card
The giveaway ends at 5pm on Tuesday, December 9th.

click here to enter!

Please show some comment love to my latest AWEARNESS posts:

Don't forget that the deadline for Progressive Women's Voices is coming up!

07 December 2008

Toy Review: Leapfrog Didj

Thanks to the generosity of LeapFrog, the kid has been test driving a Didj for the past few months. Longtime readers may recall that I don't buy into edu-tainment toys. Baby Einstein is one of the greatest scams of recent memory. It feeds that myth that reading to your pregnany belly will make your child smarter.

I also don't like to review products like this until I think the kid has had enough time to play with it and I can really see what she feels about it. Kids like anything shiny, so I feel time-testing is essential.

All that to say that after all this time, the kid really does like the Didj and I recommend it.

What do I like about it? The kid has played Star Wars & Nancy Drew the most.
  • Both games include the learning as a part of the gaming. Want to get Anakin to the next level? Solve this math problem. Want to help Nancy solve a mystery? Spell a word.
  • The Didj has a feel of a portable video game console so I think most kids will like them.
  • It really is customizable, especially Nancy. You can put in a spelling word list before your child plays it. Use it to test them or focus on words they already know, but need more drilling on.
  • It can be recharged and doesn't have to rely on batteries. We still need to get the AC adaptor, but it's out there in the universe.
What didn't I like about the Didj?
  • Ironically the games & the skills match up to specific genders. Most companies (ahem pottery barn kids!) think that only boys like Star Wars and Leapfrog has it as a math game. Very stereotypical boy. Nancy Drew, a girl hero who will most likely attract girl players, has the girls focus on reading & spelling. There is a lot of reading in Nancy! Again, very stereotypically girl. If Leapfrog wants to be innovative, have Nancy do geometry and Anakin spend some time in the Jedi Library.
  • Nancy Drew moves sooooo slow. No action at all. It keeps the kid from really playing for a long time.

But the positive points do win out. I really thought that I'd want to keep the kid from getting into video games longer than now, but I'm pretty comfortable with the Didj. She plays with it, but it's too obsessive about it. She's still 5 and gets distracted by other shiny things like a new book, notebook or stickers.

If you're not ready for your child to have any video games, I won't push you. But if s/he keeps bugging you for one and you feel like you might relent, try the Didj. Yeah, it's like getting healthy cereal instead of sugary stuff, but maybe your child won't notice too soon.

06 December 2008

Deadline for Progressive Women's Voices approaching!

And if you need more incentive to apply, read a fabu interview over at Feministing of the two women in charge, Carol & Glennda. But don't let that smile fool ya, Glennda has an inner right-wing radio host in her.

Deadline to apply for the first class is December 15th.

Lilith Fair - Dream Team

My iPod is almost like a mini-Lilith Fair in that it's chock full of Sarah, Indigo Girls, Ani, Dixie Chicks, Catie Curtis and so forth. As I was driving home from work today, I was listening to Sarah McLachlan and her voice so fit the scene of a snowy Chicago. Oh, how I miss Sarah! And no, a greatest hits album isn't enough for me. (BTW - I have no idea how I thought I could get my hair to look like hers in this pic, but I tried!) But it got me thinking...if Sarah or someone else were to resurrect Lilith Fair, who would I want to be included?

So my dear readers, let's take a moment out of the hustle & bustle of the holidays and the insanity of politics. Who would you want to see in Lilith Fair - The Revenge? Did you ever scan the list of the kick ass women who did play Lilith Fair? Damn...edited to add: My choices include all the kick ass women from the actual tour.

My choices include:
  • Taylor Swift - Yeah, she's bubble gum country, but I think she could kick it
  • P!nk
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • I know I'm missing a ton, but I'm super tired right now.
Would being on the feminista tour help Brit Brit?

I love that the Lilith Tour website hasn't changed since 1999 and there's still a link to chickmail.com. A moment of silence for chickmail y'all. I sooo miss that account.

05 December 2008

Eating out with the kid

I saw a link to this awesome idea - pay $30 for a deck of $10 coupons to 52 restaurants. Not just any restaurants, but chef-driven and locally owned. OK, yeah, I had to Goodsearch "chef-driven" cause I'm that lame...That's why I'm a lame hipster. So instead of a $10 card for a chain restaurant, it's for that place you never heard of (again, lame hipster) or have and kept thinking, "Why haven't we gone there yet?"

Add to that the idea that if you buy a deck now there is a $5 donation to a charity. I'm sold.

But then I start to scroll thru the list of places in the deck and start wondering...How am I going to get to any of these? Some had names and menus and practically scream "don't even THINK about bringing your brat in here!" Yes, I'm totally profiling based on cuisine. I get a feel from the website as well who their target audience is too.

Outside of hot dogs and pizza (even hot dogs made of non-traditional meats) there doesn't seem to be many places where I can take the kid. And honestly if we can't take her, chances are we won't be going.

I don't have a problem with the deck...I think it's great and if you are in Chicago you should get one. What I have a problem with is that it seems that a lot of the kewl, hip places to eat are no kids allowed. I'd like to take the kid places where hot dogs, even ones made by chic goose torture, aren't on the menu. She likes veggies, loves salads, and sometimes will be adventurous with her eating. And it's not like I'm*that adventurous with my eating. I'm not looking for a place where the food is prettier than it is hearty. I'm just looking for a place like this cute lil French place I ate in NYC. Chicken. Potatoes. Salad. Gravy....yes, I ate gravy there because well, it just looked that good. But it wasn't made in that "family restaurant/buffet" way. And oh, it was sooooo good.

Then again, maybe I've had too many bad experiences in too many kid-free places to even try to venture outside of chain restaurants (no one looks at you unless the kid is screaming) and the same 3 local eateries. Maybe these hip places need to institute family hours where kids are encouraged to attend...Think like the cigarette companies. Once a kid gets hooked, they ask for it over and over.

04 December 2008

Congrats to Minxy Mimi!

You won a copy of The American Journey of Barack Obama!! I'll be in touch on how to get you your book.

Meet the Press...with another white dude

Word is out that NBC is ready to sign David Gregory for Meet the Press. *sigh*

OK, so I pretty much knew that NBC wasn't going to take my suggestion of Carol Marin seriously. But I was hoping that a person of color or a woman (of color) would the pick. Margot Friedman says it eloquently:

As the Women’s Media Center documented in "Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying It," NBC/MSNBC was one of the networks that allowed sexist language and behavior during the 2008 campaign. Picking a qualified woman and/or person of color to host "Meet the Press" would have helped repair some of the damage to the network's brand. There was no shortage of talented individuals who could have done the job, including PBS’ Gwen Ifill, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and CBS’ Katie Couric—to mention only those looked at for the post, according to reports.

And it is not just about making amends, but rather broadening who the news & news makers look like. As POTUSe Obama goes about bringing a rainbow of people into his Cabinet and administration, TV media is trying to keep things as bland as ever.

My main reason for wanting Carol Marin is to see someone who is bit more removed. She works in Chicago so we know she's not lunching with the DC elite...well now that most of them are here in Chicago, she might be. But let's not forget how the Sunday morning shows were a driving force for the Iraq War.

The media has a responsibility to ask questions of our leaders. In a way, they are our protectors. What did they do during the drumbeat of war? They amplified it and kept women away from the microphone. Laura Flanders on the Sundays one year after the war began:

Call me crazy, but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority. The Sunday TV talk shows are wall-to-wall male. Tim Russert seems his most relaxed, when–as again on March 18–he’s surrounded by white men. Russert’s not the only one, on the day before the anniversary of the invasion, three out of five Sunday TV news shows featured no women at all. The sole female on ABC was Senator Dianne Feinstein. Fox News Sunday included one woman on their panel of five, and she was representing Barack Obama.

I don't know Marin personally, we've met once at a fund raiser, but I've read and watched her enough that I do have faith that she would be one of the few journalists who would ask the tough questions. She takes her job pretty seriously here in Chicago questioning our ruling families and what is left of The Machine. That's why I started the Facebook group to draft her for the job. Because she does her job. Unfortunately NBC doesn't think that women can do the job.

Flanders reminds us that the format for the Sundays, specifically Meet the Press came from a woman:

I was thinking about that this weekend as I watched NBC celebrate Meet the Press. MTP is the longest, continuously-running program on US television. At the end of this Sunday’s show, a list of past hosts sped by. The first was Martha Rountree, the show’s first host, and needless to say, last female anchor.

Curious, I dug around a little. Rountree, it turns out, not only anchored the first broadcasts (starting in 1947) but came up with the format in the very early days of TV. The format — a panel of people asking questions of a guest — was her idea.

If we were good enough to start this ball of public debate rolling, why aren't we good enough to lead it?

Join the B-Hive

All the kewl kids (and me) are doing it!

we're asking you to support our work by joining the B-Hive, our sustaining membership program. By contributing a gift of $5 or more monthly - not even the cost of a movie ticket - you will help shape our future by allowing us to budget and plan more efficiently. It's easy to sign up - simply visit our secure online giving site. To show our appreciation, we'll send you a free subscription (or renew your existing one). We'll also recognize your contribution on our website (and if all goes as planned, send you a special downloadable picture of your "adopted bee"--stay tuned).
Read more about the B-hive at Bitch.

02 December 2008

DC Abortion Fund Needs Your Help! TIME SENSITIVE!

From my inbox:

Emergency Case - DC Abortion Fund
December 2, 2008

DCAF Needs Your Help!

I am writing to you today because a DCAF case manager has been working with a young woman who desperately needs your help. Nickie* is 17 years old and attends a special needs charter school because of severe behavioral and emotional instability. Nickie was referred to DCAF by a counselor because of concerns that she may harm herself trying to self-abort. Several adults in Nickie's life, including her principal and doctor, believe it is in Nickie's best interest that her family not discover her pregnancy due to domestic violence in her household. They also firmly believe that her abortion is a medical necessity due to the emotional and behavioral challenges Nickie faces every day. Her mother has also threatened to kick Nickie out if she were to become pregnant.
She will be 25 weeks pregnant on Thursday, the absolute gestational limit, and her surgery costs $3,600. Nickie has raised $250 from friends and a part-time job but is looking to DCAF and her community for support. Because Nickie cannot ask her family for financial help, it has been extremely difficult for her to fundraise for her procedure.

Please help 17 year-old Nickie today with as generous a contribution as you can make! Thursday is her last chance to have an abortion, so please make a contribution immediately!

We need to raise $3,350 by this Thursday, December 4, 8:00 AM. Please consider making as generous a donation as you can.

Thank you!!!
Tiff sig
Tiffany Reed
DC Abortion Fund
* Name changed for privacy

01 December 2008

Remembering Dewey

It's been 12 hours since I read the news, I never met Dewey in person, but my heart breaks each time I stop to remember that I lost a bloggy friend, as I like to call y'all, last week. Her husband posted to her blog this morning:

My wife was unwell and in a lot of pain; I don’t believe she ever discussed that side of her life here, and I’ve no desire to go against her boundaries, just know she was in a lot of pain. I am sad that my wife is no longer here, but she’s not in pain any more.

To say Dewey was prolific in her book reviews is an understatement. She had mad organization skills and a fab template for her book reviews that I was always tempted to steal. I was, still am, jealous of what appeared to be endless energy to read, blog, mother and be a wife. We don't have any insight on what took her from this world, but perhaps some of that reading & blogging happened when she didn't have energy or power to do much else.

She was caring and loved to spread the wealth. The last time I emailed with her she had poked me about reviewing a site that she was offered. She emailed the PR people to say she had others in mind.

Her death has reverberated around the book blogosphere and for all the reasons I state and much more.

My heart breaks not just for me, but for our community of book blogging/hording/loving nerds. I ache for the son and husband she leaves in this world. My heart breaks for Gwen, recalling her moving post about losing her mom 16 years ago.

A lot of people still don't get this blogging thing, but it is all about connecting to new people. Connecting in ways that weren't possible a generation ago. The loss of Dewey is a consequence of that connection. I'll never get to share a laugh with her in person, I'll never get to do that with most of you. But know that each of you who I read, comment & link to means a lot to me. I say that not to be over the top, but to be honest when I can. This isn't the first time that I've lost an online friend but it's been a long time since I've cried this hard over a loss like this.

Thanks Dewey. Thanks for being such an awesome leader in this crazy blog-eat-blog world and doing it with such grace. I'll miss you dearly.

Monday morning wake up

I received word over the weekend that I'll be presenting at WAM! 2009! I'm super excited about this panel. Not sure when the official program comes out, but let me tease you with one question I will be posting on the panel: Why do so-so bloggers become superstars and great bloggers go unnoticed? This isn't just a question I ask about myself, I seriously don't think I am a great blogger, good yes, but not superstar material. But I still find myself reading the "hot" bloggers and think, "Chica, So-and-So wrote that later, but a million times better."

And because I do have a lot of travel planned for 2009, I'm seriously thinking of putting a tip jar on this site. I don't want to take ads, but will consider sponsorships from quality companies. Consider...not a done deal yet. That or someone can give me a big ass book advance. Chances are neither will happen. Tip jar it is!

I'm taking a week off of Work it, Mom! so you'll have to enjoy reading my latest AWEARNESS posts. Comments are very much appreciated!

And of course, catch up on what I wrote over the holiday weekend! *burp*


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