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Showing posts from March, 2009

Magazine Review: Brain, Child (Spring 2009)

Are you a mom whose brain cells haven’t all died? Are you tired of 7 Fun Ways to Make Your Child Gifted/a Pro Athlete/Chess Master articles? Rather looking for say 60 pages to keep your smarts? Then grab yourself a copy of Brain, Child . Brain, Child calls itself “the magazine for thinking mothers” and they ain’t kidding. The Spring 2009 issue took forever for me to read because after each article I had to put the issue down, stew in my thoughts on the subject, reflect, and repeat for a few hours to a few days. Drugs, sex, swearing and not living with your children – what say you? Oh, don’t fret, there is an article on fashion. But instead of a spread on what is hot for the pre-tween set, we get an engaging piece from Mylisa Larsen about what she learns about fashion from her four-year-old daughter. For part of this essay, I thought that perhaps I wrote it in my sleep & sent it in. Larsen & I share free-spirited girls who like to thumb their nose at fashion rules by matching

My Green Thumb Experiment - Planting

And when I say experiment, I mean it. If a green thumb is what people have when they have the abililty to grow things, I have an icky brown-yellow of a dead wilted plant. So when I received an email from Cook's Garden I hesitated. I think the idea of gardening is awesome and I think more people should do it. And more people are! But who am I to tell people what seeds to get & all that jazz? Instead I emailed back and said, "What if you sent me a pack of seeds to experiment with and I'll blog it?" And obviously they said yes. I received one packet of Burpee's Money Garden seeds. They are called the Money Garden because if you spend $10 on the packet you can grow up to $650 worth of veggies. Now I live in Chicago and am lucky to have a backyard, but I'd have to turn my entire backyard into a garden to get $650. I figure we might get $150 worth of veggies with the tiny amount of seeds we planted. We also got a packet of Kaleidoscope Carrot Mix -- mul

I'm off to WAM!

I have a few posts scheduled for my absence, but if you aren't already following me on Twitter , why aren't you? haha! Instead of my usual "I'm craving chocolate" posts, I'll be Tweeting from WAM! this weekend. I won't live tweet everything, but some good highlights. Later!

Shameless Self-Promotion

I have a new piece over at RH Reality Check on a pending bill here in Illinois: Illinois could be on the verge of passing one of the most progressive reproductive health bills, the Reproductive Health and Access Act, any state has seen in a long time. HB 2354, now being considered by the full House, must be on the verge of passage, because the anti-choice voices in the state are throwing around lie after lie in any venue that they can find themselves in. Reports that children are coming home with flyers asking their parents, including at least one Illinois State Representative, to oppose the bill, are coming in from around the state. One elected official was called out during Sunday services. There's also a Facebook group for the bill , so please join! And invite others! Madama Ambi interviewed me for her podcast show, Interview4Obama . It turned out pretty good, IMO, especially since it was our second attempt at this. The first time we tried a video podcast, but the sound was

Working as a Professional Feminist

This post is for the Fem2.0 " What is work? " blog carnival. I've never stopped to think of what work means to me. It's just one of those words that you take for granted. But as I stop to ponder my relationship with the word, it's amazing. As a Latina of Mexican heritage, work is not a four-letter word. Lazy is. Despite the stereotype of Mexicans & our siestas, we work hard. In fact I didn't know what a siesta really meant until I got to Spanish class in 7th grade. A siesta in my household meant taking five minutes for some iced tea. I haven't studied our relationship with work to know if Latin@s are taught to work hard to fight against the stereotype or we just work hard naturally. Pollo - huevo. Either way, it was drilled in me early on that we work hard for what we have. And that continues to this day. I know that I am privileged in a way that sometimes overshadows my very humble lower income background. I have a bachelors and a masters degree.

Movie Review: Sunshine Cleaning

WARNING: This is a chick flick. But the good kind! So dudes, forget what I just said. This is a movie about relationships, mostly between sisters, but also between a dad and his girls, a mom and her son and between a missing mom and the girls she left behind. It's a chick flick in the best sense of the term . It's also a movie about expectations...one we have for ourselves, ones we think others have for us and how we react to those. It's hard to review this movie without giving too much away. What I can say is that this movie made me laugh as much, if not more, than it made me cry. The film was released in NY and LA two weeks ago then in San Diego; Phoenix; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland; Denver; Minneapolis; Chicago; Detroit; Washington, D.C; Boston; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Dallas; and Houston last weekend. It opens everywhere on March 27. If you care about women-made movies (two women has leads, woman screenwriter and a woman director) then go see this movie. H

Book Review: Supergirls Speak Out by Liz Funk

Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls could be loaned out at preschool or kindergarten orientation. It should be on hand for all elementary school teachers and administrators. Reading the stories inside is one warning shot after another to parents, teachers & others in our society who keep telling our kids, girls and boys, that if you don't do well in elementary school, you can't get into the top high school and then you might as well start picking out safe schools for college. I go on a lot about being in the Chicago Public School system, but it's true. That's the name of the game. Growing up in the suburbs in a one high school district, it was more about making sure you did well in elementary so you got into at least the honors track in middle/high school. So there is a lot of pressure to get kids going on the right foot & I'm all for that - except that subtle & not-so-subtle messages we give kids about screwing up (get

And Coquí points the way (aka more on Dora)

My Dora watching started way before my daughter came along. One day I was flipping around the TV channels and stopped on a cartoon of a Latina. A Latina that looked like my sister-in-law. My husband & I quickly got her son, our nephew, hooked on Dora. Success! Thus we knew that Dora would have a place in our life. I've seen and enjoyed more Dora than an adult woman should admit to, but I have. I remember that my husband & I were fixated with where does Dora live? As Latin@s of Mexican decent, we always jump to Mexico first. But it was the episode with El Coquí that did it for me. One quick web search for the Coquí turned up Puerto Rico. This made sense with the lush jungles and forests that Dora & Boots spent 22 minutes discovering. Part of the press release on New Dora that hasn't gotten a lot of buzz is that Dora & family are moving on up to the big city! As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole

Why Mattel & Nick have it wrong

Mattel finally let us in on how the new Dora will look . I have to admit that she doesn't look as bad as I thought she would. She looks like almost any 10-year-old you would see running around this world. If this was the image for a new cartoon with a smart and adventurous Latina as the lead, I think we'd have a party to celebrate. But it's not. It's our dear beloved Dora the Explorer. Mattel & Nick are upset at us moms for attacking the tweening of Dora: "I think there was just a misconception in terms of where we were going with this," Gina Sirard, vice president of marketing at Mattel, says. "Pretty much the moms who are petitioning aging Dora up certainly don't understand. ... I think they're going to be pleasantly happy once this is available in October, and once they understand this certainly isn't what they are conjuring up." But even with a nice drawing of New Dora, I'm still not happy with this move. First, New Dora

What Should Sarah Palin Do?

Clearly Sarah Palin wants more out of her fifteen minutes of fame. Recently she even appointed a woman who use to volunteer for Planned Parenthood to the Alaska Supreme Court . Is this a sign that Palin isn't as right-wing as she showed during the campaign? If so should we take comfort in that or take that as a sign she's just another pandering politician? But news broke a few days ago that Palin's daughter, Bristol, broke up with her finance and the father of her child. Rumors have been flying, tabloids chock full of half-truths and who comes out to set the record straight? SARAHPAC. What the fuck? I echo Jill & Gloria's opinion that Bristol is a big girl, she can talk to the press herself. She was fine in her interview with Greta and I'm sure she can handle a gaggle of media hounds. All she has to do is make a short statement and then walk away. I'd love to see her come out and give the finger to the media. She's just a kid who is trying to figure

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

Considering that my post from last year got two comments from the same anti recently I think that this year I will focus on why we mark this day. Why March 10th? Dr. David Gunn [On] March 10, 1993 [was assassinated] when a lone assassin, drunk on the vitriolic rhetoric of spite-filled anti-abortion and church leaders, shot him three times in the back as he tried to enter a clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Gunn was the first, but not the last, casualty in America's undeclared civil war. President Clinton's response : I was saddened and angered by the fatal shooting in Pensacola yesterday of Dr. David Gunn. The violence against clinics must stop. As a nation committed to rule of law, we cannot allow violent vigilantes to restrict the rights of American women. No person seeking medical care and no physician providing that care should have to endure harassment, threats, or intimidation. Today we would be more correct to call Gunn's assassination as an act of terrorism. On

Book Review: Returning to My Mother's House by Gail Straub

Having lost my mother at a young age, I thought I would appreciate this book more. Perhaps I need to be older. Perhaps I knew already how much my mom had given up early in her life. Returning to My Mother's House: Taking Back the Wisdom of the Feminine by Gail Straub is not a bad book, it's just not totally for me. It could be for you thou and I do believe that. Gail has done some amazing things with her life, especially the sheer number of women she has helped take control of their lives. You can tell that from this book. You can also tell that she learned a lot from reviewing her mother's life. That's what the book is about. Gail traces her mother's path from a free-spirited artist to a suburban mom caught in the "Catching up with the Jones" race. It doesn't take place in the 1990s where many of us my age might think this race began, not even in the greedy 1980s. It happens in the picture-perfect 1950s. The book is something of a mystery as well

The Slut-ification of Dora is now complete

Over two years ago I picked up on a warning that Hoyden About Town posted about: Dora was growing up. She wasn't growing up in the Jodi Foster way. She wasn't packing her beloved BackPack for Yale, UCLA or Evergreen. She was thinning out and getting sexy . Mattel, the makers of all things Dora (except the ones at the flea market), has said : As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look. What’s more, she now has a rich online world in which girls can explore, play games, customize, and most importantly solve mysteries with Dora and her new friends. Adding to the play value, Dora’s online world is interactive with the new doll line. Mattel & Nickelodeon somehow think that if Dora grows up with the audience, that they won't lose market share to a certain doll who is celebrating her 50th birthday. What is scary about this change is the Dr. Frankenstein aspect of

Is the machine stronger than Netroots?

Yesterday's special election for Illinois' 5th Congressional district proved one thing - You better have a machine in place before even considering running for office in Chicago. The top three vote getters on the Dem side (it's a Dem district, no GOP candidate got 1,000 votes) are well established politicians who obviously have a machine behind them. Whether it is a Daley machine, a Stroger machine or whatever you want to call it, they have a solid base. Feigenholtz spent the most money, including $100,000 of her own, to come in 3rd. But what has me really thinking this morning is that Netroots darling Tom Geoghegan came in a woeful 7th with only 6% of the vote. He had some superstar endorsements, but apparently no army to get the vote out. OK, no one really got the vote out, but Quigley won with more than 20% of those voting, which is larger than most pundits thought was needed back in Decemeber. There was talk that even 10% might win this baby because of the sheer nu

Book Review: Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo

I think the glue gun is one of the best inventions EVER! So imagine the glee when I saw Crafty Chica tweet "who wants to review my book?" Oh hellz yes! Double that when I ripped open a package and held the book in my grubby wannabecrafty hands? Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo is every wannabe-crafty-glitter-loving-glue-gun-toting dream. Crafty Chica starts off my giving you a Crafty 101 lesson and even what to look for in a sewing machine. She then gives you a bunch of patterns & guides that look pretty simple, not too time consuming and many are even kid-friendly. Which is good because this chica has little time for big projects ( see my last post ) and has a chica chica who always wants to help. Get your craft on at an indie bookseller or Powells !

Book Review: Slob Proof by Debbie Wiener

I am a slob. When I was pitched Slob Proof! Real-life design Solutions by Debbie Wiener to review, I said YES! In my head lay plans to re-do the kid's closet, which is such a mess that it's pretty pathetic. A certain organizing store did send me plans, but I still need to actually go buy the materials and make it happen. I also have plans to turn my home office into more of a sitting room since most of my work happens at the kitchen table or on the couch since getting a laptop. This book didn't give me the answers I was hoping BUT it did a hell of a lot more. What Wiener does is answer a lot of the questions you think you should know already, but are afraid to ask such as: What should I look for in a couch besides the color and comfy level? I need to replace my lighting, what should I do? How do I choose paint colors? The next time I head to a DIY/decorating store or the home of cheap but cute furniture, I'm so bringing this book. Now to get moving on the kid'

Book Review: One Big Happy Family edited by Rebecca Walker

What is family? That's a question that I think about quite often. My family - father & sisters - live in another state. But when I was emailing last night about having a potluck dinner in a few weeks, I said "having dinner with family is down time!" And I mean it. More often than not, we are choosing and crafting our own families. We aren't restricting ourselves to those we share DNA with, but opening up to those we depend on daily to get thru this journey called life. The 18 stories in One Big Happy Family prove that the definition of family is fluid. Dawn Friedma n (one of my most favorite bloggers) tells the tale of the open adoption of her daughter, Madison. Honestly it's a tale I read in real time on her blog, but one that still has me going thru half a box of tissue. Dawn's hopes and fears for the adoption are so palpable. While open adoption, especially as open as Madison's is, isn't for everyone, I do think that Dawn gives some greata ad

Book Queue

This is for the curious as well as all the fabu book publicists who have sent me books this year. Review to be written: One Big Happy Family : 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love Edited by Rebecca Walker Slob Proof! Real-Life Home Decorating Solutions by Debbie Wiener Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing: Fabu-Low-Sew Projects for the Everyday Crafter by Kathy Cano-Murillo Currently reading: Returning To My Mother's House: Taking Back the Wisdom of the Feminine by Gail Straub To be read pile (in order): My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls by Liz Funk Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted by Judith Sills Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You by Sonia Pressman Fuentes As I have said before, if I have