The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Brad Effect

OK, so the Bradley Effect failed to materialize in the presidential election.

Voters didn’t tell pollsters they favored the black guy while secretly pulling the lever for the white guy. But could a similar factor have affected the outcome of Proposition 8 in California? How else to explain the decisive victory by opponents of same-sex marriage in defiance of the polls?

Let’s call it the Brad Effect.

I first became aware of this insidious phenomenon on a post-election, post-mortem walk with my friend, Bobbie. We were both disappointed that Prop. 8 won, but felt more inclined to hope than riot. After all, opposition to same-sex marriage was considerably less than the last time voters weighed in on the fate of the formalwear industry.

“Besides,” Bobbie added. “All of my gay friends are saying, ‘What’s the big deal about marriage?’ They feel pressured to get married as a political act.”

Aha! The Catholic and Mormon churches have a secret ally.

Imagine Brad and Jeff prior to the recent election. They’ve been together practically forever, since before Crate and Barrel had an online wedding registry.

As they prepare dinner, they discuss a suitable present for their friends, Amy and Susan, who are getting married next weekend. Brad laments that they no longer have any time to themselves. Ever since the California Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, their weekends have been taken up by non-stop weddings.

“Yeah,” Jeff laughs as he rinses the arugula. “Wouldn’t it be great to just lounge around all day in our sweats again instead of having to dress up?”

Then, he casually says to Brad, “So . . .  now that we can . . .  you want to tie the knot?”

Brad, who is taking the salmon off the grill, accidentally sears his fingers.

“Ouch!” he yelps, playing for time as he runs cool water over his burned flesh.

Brad recovers quickly. “But we’ve always vowed that we don’t need a piece of paper to affirm our love!”

“Of course you’re right,” Jeff agrees. “But you know, my grandmother isn’t going to last forever. Can’t we do it for her?”

Brad stammers, “I dunno. . . I. . . I  . . . just don’t feel . . .  ready.”

“Don’t you love me anymore?” quavers Jeff.

“Oh, sweetheart, of course I do!”

Brad campaigns tirelessly for the rights of gays and lesbians to say, “I do.” So tirelessly, in fact, that he and Jeff somehow never make it down to City Hall to fill out the forms and stand before a beaming clerk who pronounces them spouses for life. There will be time for that once the scourge of inequality is defeated by fair-minded Californians come Election Day.

Meanwhile, Brad is increasingly irked by how Jeff squeezes the toothpaste tube. He wonders if he really has found the love of his life. Worse, Brad’s mother keeps asking when she should make her reservations, and what Jeff’s mother will be wearing.

What has he gotten himself into?

But, of course, Brad can’t say a word.

The only thing saving him from eternal wedded bliss is the secret ballot.

After the election, Brad and Jeff join the crestfallen and angry throngs protesting outside City Hall.

“Don’t worry, our time is coming,” Brad whispers to Jeff as he raises his fist and hoists his placard. “People just aren’t ready yet.”

It may take awhile to stamp out homophobia.

But the fear of commitment?

Everybody—man, woman, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, atheist, and born-again—can at last agree on something: the Brad Effect will be even harder to overcome.

By Lorrie Goldin

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Saturday, November 29, 2008


One Twin Gets Mommy All to Herself!!!

My girls were born at 8:01 and 8:02 a.m. on a nippy February day, screaming in their full pink-faced, harmonious glory. They’ve shared a birthday, a hairbrush, a room, and a mommy for every single moment of their twenty-three plus months.

Today we split them in half. Madeleine was shuttled off with Daddy down to grandma’s house. And I had Charlotte and all of her delicious one-ness to myself.


A twin on her own is like the clichéd kiddo in a candy store. A happy, fulfilled, joyous little creature who has Mommy all to herself.

No sharing. No turns. No wait-just-a-minutes.

No being bonked on the head by the OTHER two-year old who can’t control her urges. No need to screech EVEN LOUDER than that bothersome sibling to get my attention.

Just Mommy and Me.


And what a day we had! Hand-in-hand we waddled on two-year old legs through our neighborhood greeting kitties and mailmen, savoring every single precious focused moment of mutual worship.

“What a delightful creature,” I thought to myself. “Just where the heck did she come from???”

And where the heck did that Creature from the Deepest Lagoon of Whining and Discontent go???

Who would have thought that something as simple as splitting up my Charlotte from her Madeleine for a whole day would be such an important moment for the two of us? A pivotal moment in our mutual admiration – hopefully leading the way down a path of mutual respect and mother-daughter FUNCTION instead of mutual, typical dysfunction.

Who knows? But for the moment, we found each other – a mommy and her daughter.
A day on our own.

By Annie Yearout

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Friday, November 28, 2008


What's Become of the Boys We Used To Kiss?

Buddy Benton kissed my cheek at my locker in ninth grade.

He’d been wanting to carry my books, hold my hand, or get a kiss from me since I’d met him the year before when I transferred junior highs. He was a little bit goofy and kind of a loud mouth, but we were both soccer players, singers, and honor students, and it was easy to be around him.

I always rolled my eyes at Buddy’s advances and lectured him many times that we were just friends -- especially because he was a Mormon and I was a Baptist. I’d been indoctrinated enough to know there was no chance, no sense in starting anything since our religions were incompatible.

But Buddy stole a kiss on my cheek and something in my heart shifted. With that fast swoop to my face, where I could feel his hot breath on my skin, I felt something I hadn’t known before. Perhaps I felt what it was to be desired; perhaps I felt what it was to desire someone else: to let all the little details I’d ever noticed about him -- his lanky gait, the muscles in his calves, the milky quality of his tenor voice -- awaken something beautiful, fluttery, and tender in me.

To my surprise, after that, Buddy stopped asking for kisses and stopped trying to hold my hand. Maybe he’d gotten what he wanted and was done; maybe he was ready to move on to someone else.

But I don’t really think so.

Instead, maybe he saw the pathetic doe eyes I’d make at him when I thought he wasn’t looking. Maybe he knew my heart had switched over but that I’d never say so -- throughout all of high school -- because we were being raised with different versions of God, different versions of the Afterlife.

In the years following Buddy’s kiss we remained pals -- even excruciatingly so at times, with that familiarity that breeds meanness in hormonal teenagers -- and, eventually, I had other boyfriends and other kisses that went even further, ran just as deep.

But sometimes now, when I look at my children, just ten years shy of the age I was when Buddy kissed me, sometimes I can’t help but wonder about the choices they’ll make in the years to come.

What opportunities will they take or deny, based on the values I instill in them? What will they write about when they’re thirty-six years old, sitting in bed on a Sunday morning with delicate light filtering through the blinds, as they raise a hand to let it rest ever-so-lightly against their cheek?

By Anjie Reynolds

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Mama's Sick Day -- Yeah, Right!

Last night, my throat hurt enough that I called in sick for work.

My alarm went off as usual at six a.m., but I immediately turned it off, went to the bathroom, took two more Advil, and drifted back to sleep.  Around seven a.m., I continued to lie in bed reading while my husband and kids went through their frantic morning rituals. 

Walker could not find his current event report.  Reese chastised Elena for opening a new box of cereal while there were still three open boxes.  Reese came in and asked if I wanted to eat breakfast, which was really code word for getting up and helping him.  I declined, saying I wanted to rest.

After an hour, everybody left.  I had the house to myself!!! 

I recalled the joy of staying home sick when I was a kid.  My mother would be extra attentive, and sometimes give me Pepsi, especially if I had been throwing up.  Mom let me watch as much television as I wanted, and I didn’t have to fight my siblings for the remote.

I made myself some Krusteaz French Toast and coffee, and sat in front of the television.  The living room looked odd.  I rarely was around when it was bathed in mid-morning light.

On Channel Two was “Maury Povitch.”  He looked a lot older than the last time I saw him.  He interviewed an overweight teen mom who admitted that her boyfriend might not be the father of her son.  The boyfriend seemed angrier about their personal business being revealed on national television than his lost paternity. I agreed with him. 

I found a game show, “Trivial Pursuit.”  Half the contestants were TV judges.  The host complimented one female judge for a recent Emmy, in the new TV judge category.  Who knew there were so many of them?

After fifteen minutes of viewing, I realized I was not sick or young enough to watch mid- day television.  I decided I might as well check my work e-mail.

After I responded to five e-mails, I decided that I might as well update my homework Web page.  Then I wrote a unit test and couple of worksheets.  As I was working, I noticed that my son’s turtle’s tank had an ominous smell, palpable even through my stuffy nose.  I siphoned out all the water from the ten-gallon tank, and refilled it with de-chlorinated water.

I looked at the clock. Only two more hours until I had to pick up the kids.  I should be taking a nap, I thought.  Instead, I remembered that my daughter’s brownie troupe was visiting an old people’s home tomorrow and that we had signed up to bring a dozen homemade cookies.

I made the cookies and cleaned the rabbit hutch. I went to pick up Walker and Elena from school.  Since I felt a little out of it driving, I drove straight home.  The kids started on their homework.  As usual, Elena needed lots of help with her math.  While I was assisting her, Walker tried to make a crossword puzzle with his spelling words.  He became frustrated and tore it up.  I helped him do it again.

By the time my kids finished their homework, it was time to start dinner.  My sick day ended up being more of an at-home workday, but at least I wasn’t up until midnight making cookies. 

By Beth Touchette-Laughlin 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Don't be Debbie Downer

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately.  Suddenly the states of our schools, health care and the world’s economy have got me singing the blues.   

It started when we were rear-ended by an uninsured driver on the way to the kids’ school in September.  Thankfully, we are all OK and the car is fine.

After crying from the shock of getting hit with the kids in the car, I sat with the guy on the curb and had a good old-fashioned "talk" with him about personal responsibility. He was probably ten years my senior.  People that passed us on the road later told me they thought it was a married couple having a disagreement.  

Once I was done delivering my "mom" lecture, though, it was clear he had little money, and a small mark on my bumper seemed trivial in the larger picture.  

But it freaked me out that bad things can happen. 

I believe that there is a higher truth (I avoid using the word reason here) to life’s events, but find it annoying how the lessons are not apparent when they are happening. 

If I were the Divine Organizer, I would have little asterisks next to life's unpleasant events that you could click on, similar to the Amazon Kindle's dictionary function.  It would contain a brief synopsis about how, in the long run, this would serve you on the path to becoming a better (or at least a wiser) person.

In the first few days after the accident, I tortured myself with “it could have been worse” scenarios.  Tip: Don't do this.  You just end up feeling badly for others in those situations. 

I also found myself unable to blog.  I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer. 

So, I figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  I watched a Debbie Downer episode that made me laugh until, well, I didn’t feel so down. 

I hope you are feeling happier today, but in case you are not, I recommend checking out this episode when Debbie meets Disney (and Lohan) and the SNL actors can’t keep a straight face:

Happy viewing!

By Kristy Lund

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A Song Sung Sweetly to a Beautiful Child

I am writing this blog inspired by a blog I read last week.

A mother was recalling reading a bedtime story to her son.  She then remembered singing a lullaby to him.  She started singing, remembering all the words though evidently several years had passed since she had sung it to him. 

He did not find the words familiar.

We all have memories for different things, one child remembers the music, another the words, one the setting or circumstances, the people assembled, etc. 

My story is about my fourth daughter who remembered. 

I think some felt that Ann should have been a boy, but I always knew she was the perfect fourth child. Coming from an all-girl family, I thought having all girls was normal.  I always sang my children to sleep after reading a bedtime story, as they were so non-critical to the pitch and talent of my singing.

I often made up the words and rambled on until they slept peacefully.  I remember reading somewhere that lullabies often reflected the mother’s feelings or situation. A poor mother might be singing her woes such as in the song, “Poor little lamb what will I do wee you.” Or the rich mother’s chanting, “All the pretty little horses.”

My song for Ann was that of a mother who had three older children and knew that no matter how hard you tried, you could not guarantee your child a lifetime of happiness. Each child must strive to fulfill his or her own needs.

And so I wrote and sang: 

Oh Ann, these arms that hold you tight.

       Protect you but for infants night.

                                                And from these arms soon you must go.

                                                Into the world, where I don’t know.

And I will try to cast a spell.

To keep you safe and warm and well.

But I have no magic on which

time will not tell.


For Ann, these arms that hold you tight.

Cannot stop time in its flight.

And from these arms soon you will fly.

Into the worlds arms opened wide.

And since I cannot cast a spell.

I will try to teach you well.

To stand alone and find a home,

in which your heart can peacefully dwell.

Ann asked for this song over the years and soon remembered the words better than I. Then came the day of her informal outdoor wedding and she had found the home where her heart would peacefully dwell. 

At the reception there was an open mike where friends and relatives were invited to speak, congratulate the happy couple or relate how they happened to have met Ann and Paul. Then Ann invited me to sing her song with her.  She had the words in case I’d forgotten, but together we remembered. 

Today she is an OBGYN in Portland and has three children of her own.  I must remember to ask her if she sings our song to them.

By Ruth Scott

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Monday, November 24, 2008


Remembering Russell

My writing FINALLY seems back on track, even if my words are sometimes stuck behind the locked door of the train’s caboose.

It was nice to see the members of The Writing Mamas Salon and hear a great speaker.

The hour and a half went by quickly.

A few members told me about a retreat they had taken. Another said she would be unable to attend our final meeting next month because she would be in Argentina.

Another country!


That’s just where I needed to go.

And I know which one – Iceland!

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been obsessed with visiting Iceland. A friend suggested I visit her in Seattle instead and then we can head to Vancouver. 

She’s probably right. So why the need to retreat?

After nearly a week of the kids being home sick, living with cancer for more than two years, no real vacations (family get-togethers are lovely, but they really do NOT count), and having foot surgery that I thought would heal in a month but recently learned will be closer to a year – somehow it all seems too much.

Any one of these things could make me feel down, but combined, well, where’s the nearest overstuffed couch?  

Then I realize that none of them are the reason for feeling the way I do.

Monday is.

November 24th would have been my brother’s birthday -- that is if he were still around. He’s been dead for nearly 25 years.

Russell has now been gone longer than he was here.

As I write, I look at a small hammer he made with precise care in a metals class in junior high. He carved his initials, R.F., into its head. The tool has an almost modern design to it. Russell was an artist. Maybe one too sensitive for this world. Somebody who tried to ignore his demons but in the end they proved overwhelming. He died by his own hand. His creation sits on my desk. It is a reminder of him. Something he made. The touch of Russell’s hands still upon it.

When the anniversary of his death, or his birthday comes around each year, the enormity of his loss is present.

Perhaps the gift is in the remembrance.

There is a cemetery that I visit when I miss my deceased family members. I drive to the very top of its hill. There sits the Jewish area. I’m not sure why, but I seem drawn to it. I look at the headstones. I say silent prayers for each person, none of whom I know. I find comfort.

I will go there tomorrow. I will think of Russell.  I will lay down three stones. I will miss you.

By Dawn Yun

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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Rack Attack: Let Me Just Get Something Off My Chest

It's funny how the relationship between my tits and me has changed.  

Back when I was a single, ninety-eight pound wisp of a thing, I'd think, "Gee, they're not huge, but the dudes seem to dig 'em OK."
This perception didn't really change when I got married.  However, during my first pregnancy, after the Boobie Fairy had paid her requisite visit, my husband, Kirk, suddenly became obsessed with my breasts.  

And why shouldn't he?  

After all, these were life-giving nutrition-delivery systems for my unborn fetus.  Frankly, I loved the attention they got from Kirk.
When my eight-pound Ethan was born, the relationship with these powerful organs changed again.  

My thirty-four B’s quickly transformed to thirty-eight D's and they got way too much attention, both from Kirk and from Ethan.  

After a while, I wished that they -- Kirk, Ethan, and my tits  -- would just fuck off and give me some peace.  After six months of tender, cracked nipples, two rounds of mastitis, and antibiotics, I was over it – or rather, them!  

I needed to get something off my chest.
I'd given of myself long enough.  I had a gorgeous baby in the one-hundredth percentile of length and weight, and I wanted my body back.  It took three months of running with the stroller, pumping iron, and countless reps of abdominal exercises, but I did reclaim myself.  Even if my self was ten pounds heftier.
Two years later, the pattern started all over again, when I became pregnant with Alex.  But this time, after all the fanfare about the Titty Fairy had worn off, it wasn't so easy to get my shape back.  

As anyone who has had more than one child knows, it's much harder to get back to your fighting weight the second time around.  

Your whole body changes.  

The bags under your eyes are darker.  Your ass stays wide longer.  Your tummy, formerly firm(-ish), now looks like elephant skin.  You sag in places you never thought you could.
Breasts are no exception.  

While I've returned to the appropriate size, I have lost some respect for my life-giving appendages.  Sometimes I'll put on a great bra, hoping for some help.  I look in the mirror and think, "The life's been sucked out of these things."
The little apples I used to sport now look like half-filled water balloons.  These sagging little organs used to inspire men and children alike?  Knowing that I'm not having any more kids doesn't help.  Now they're not milk-delivery devices or inspiring, erotic bits of woman-flesh: they're just extra stuff that happen to be on my chest.  

I don't need them anymore.  
"What's the point?" I think, as I throw a once-great bra into a drawer.  
The other night, as I read a bedtime story to Alex, he gazed at me and copped a feel.  "Mommy, I love your boobies,” he said. “I love this one, and I love this one!"
They may not be huge anymore, but , hey -- the dudes still dig 'em!

By Mindy Uhrlaub 

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Saturday, November 22, 2008


My Roaming Troubadour's Free Spirit Lifestyle Makes Me Feel Sort ofCool

When I first met Jeff, he was a young teenager and I was in my mid-thirties.  He was a sweet, introverted, Keanu Reeves look-alike.   

I’d not seen him for fifteen years when he e-mailed me last summer. 

Now he was a thirty-year-old struggling singer-songwriter, touring the country.  He might be in the Bay Area later in the year.  I told him we’d love to see him and he was welcome to stay with us.  I was both surprised to hear from him, and to find he’s one of those people I feel connected to no matter how much time has passed.

Halloween.  Twelve-thirty a.m.  The phone woke me from a deep slumber. 

“Hey, Marianne, that offer still open?  Played a house party in Oakland and I think the party’s going all night.”

I gave directions and told him the front door was unlocked.  He should head down the stairs to the futon in our family room.  I crawled back into bed, warmed myself against my husband, and whispered to him that Jeff was coming.

“That’s crazy,” my husband said.

My eleven-year-old son, Nick, was taken aback the next morning when he learned his mother had let a near stranger walk into our unlocked house at one a.m.

“Who is it again?”  he asked.  “Uncle Peter’s ex-wife’s son?”  He threw his hands up.  “Is he even a cousin to me?”

The cupboard was bare.  Nick and I dashed to Safeway for cereal and milk and to the French bakery for morning buns and cinnamon bread.  I’d been running on empty for a month.   No cooking.

Jeff is in my kitchen, sitting on a stool at the counter.  I’m pouring him strong coffee as he brings my husband and me up to date on his last fifteen years.  He’s a gorgeous man.  What used to come across as introverted now comes across as cool and smooth.  Long and lean, a beautiful mix of French, German and Native American.  He’s played small venues since June, mostly sleeping in his car.  His life is tough but he seems unencumbered, free.

Jeff fascinates me.  I never ever followed my passions like he is doing.  I feel like such a suburban matron at times but here I have this roaming troubadour in my kitchen.  I’m excited.  Maybe I’m not so dull after all.

He headed down to Santa Monica a few hours later.  He hugged us, thanked us, and hugged us again.  Then gave us four copies of his CD.

I miss him already.  

I don’t exactly know why. 

His visit brought me inward.  I’m not clear if I want to mother him or make love to him. 

That combination reaction is unsettling. 

I’m lost in myself this week.  It feels a little scary and a little good.

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Friday, November 21, 2008


We Are ALL One

While driving carpool to school I catch the tail end of an anecdote my daughter’s friend is cheerfully relating to her “… and then the paint splashed on my face and my cousin said now I’d have to be his slave because my skin was all dark!”

My own brown-skinned seven-year-old giggled hesitantly along, clearly confused about why this statement made her uncomfortable.

By the time I exhaled (did she really say what I think she said?) they had moved on to other subjects. I knew it was an innocent remark, but it continued to bother me.

Maybe I was being too sensitive.

When my daughter was born in Ohio, we chose to make her a U.S citizen rather than take on our nationality. We chose this for all the reasons any immigrant chooses America. It’s a country of unparalleled rights, opportunities and comfort, unlike any other place in the world.

Her friend’s guileless remarks made me realize that we have also invariably committed her to a nation where she would spend a lifetime walking a “should I be offended?” line.

Where she would always have to process what she hears and choose whether to take offence or not.

She will have to decide when to “lighten up” and when to speak up.

It is here in the U.S. more than any other country I have lived in, and understandably so given its history, that racial complexity is constantly discussed and deconstructed in such depth and dimension. And this in turn has made me more aware of racial nuances in ways I never thought of before.

And, though there are times I agree that there is too much emphasis on being politically correct, there is also a flip side where this melting pot of races and cultures can burn someone in the most unintended ways.

By the time she grows up glass ceilings may have been shattered, diverse presidential elections may be the norm and this all may have dissipated to be replaced by other pertinent issues.

Our own lives are testament to how we cannot predict what the future holds.

So I hope and believe that this nation we have put our faith in for its many admirable qualities, will validate on all counts that we have made the right choice.

by Tania Malik

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


Making the Grade

I am a the-glass-is-half-empty type of person. Intellectually, I understand that this is a distortion of thought, and a holdover from my childhood that no longer serves me.

But, it is deeply engrained.

It has become a matter of discipline to acknowledge good things when they happen, and my own good qualities, as well. When I focus even momentarily on a positive statement or even a neutral one, it derails the catastrophic thinking I usually engage in.

That’s why when my daughter brought home her first report card from a new school, with mostly A’s and some B’s, I stopped and savored the moment. She said that she was proud of her four A’s, and of her B in Religion. We are not religious, so she is challenged by her daily lessons in Catholicism.

I faxed her report card to my parents who are helping with the tuition. Each of them e-mailed her a congratulatory note. We read them together. Then we spontaneously hugged each other.

Spontaneous acts of affection were not permitted in my childhood. They were a source of embarrassment to my parents. And pride was discouraged. Anger mostly ended in a spanking. Sadness led to “if you want something to cry about, I will give you something to cry about.”

I have worked hard to let myself feel affection, pride, as well as any other emotion that might come up. 

I have tried to teach my kids to do the same. 

It seems that my daughter has also mastered that lesson!

By Vicki Inglis

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


MAJOR Election Withdrawal

“Only one hundred and sixty two daily tracking polls to go!” my friend exclaimed a couple of weeks before the election. He sounded wistful.

I am not among the many Americans who are glad it’s over. For one thing, the long slog was itself the proving ground of experience, judgment, and leadership that allowed a skeptical electorate to become more comfortable with the man who is now our President-Elect.

For another thing: Now what?

My inbox is barren. No more daily missives from Michelle, Joe, Barack, David Plouffe, and the congressional contenders who are excessively grateful for the measly ten dollars donated through ActBlue.  Only Al Franken still calls.

Now I’m blue, feeling friendless.

Even the traffic from my real friends has slowed down. Before, I’d spend hours clicking on the links sent by a dozen different people about White Privilege or caged votes or Sarah Palin. Then I’d read the key stories on “Google News,” move on to “The New York Times,” binge on “Huffington Post’s” gossip, slideshows, and latest “SNL” clips.

Next, I’d drop in on “” and “realclearpolitics,” where I would stare zombie-like at the polls and the electoral maps. My poor, resigned husband would weakly call “Goodnight” from down the hall. He knew I preferred to spend the night with Jon Stewart. Finally, like a dog circling and circling before settling down, I’d take one last obsessive peek at e-mail, the electoral map, and Google News to make sure no October Surprises had exploded in the middle of the night.

Now the only items in my inbox are discount coupons from Amazon and Borders.

Recently the “Elections” section disappeared from Google News.  My forlorn fingers are itching to click. There are only so many times I can look at “The Onion” story, “Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are” (<>)

Now what?

I may have to work. I may have to go to bed with my husband. If things become desperate enough, I may even have to clean my house. After a season of neglect, it’s a big mess.

With President-Elect Obama working hard to clean up the mess from the last eight years of avoidance, I suppose it’s the least I can do.

By Lorrie Goldin

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Forgotten Lullaby

Tonight, I put my eight- year son, Walker, to bed. Each night, I read him a chapter of Lemony Snicket's The Grim Grotto. . .

In this evening's reading, the three main characters became trapped by poisonous mushrooms in an undersea cave. Walker could easily read the book himself, but he knows how much I like the series, and saved this one (number eleven) for us to read together.

Walker laid his blond head on my lap, something he hasn't done in a long time. I stroked his curls as I read.

When I finished the chapter, I decided to sing him the lullaby I sang to him from age two to about the time he started kindergarten.

"When we go to bed, we always have to say. . ." I stopped, expected him to fill in the rest.

"I don't know this song," he said.

"Today's now yesterday," I sang.

"When we wake up, we always have to say," I paused, he shrugged his shoulders, and I sang, "Tomorrow's now today."

"Round and round go the days and nights. Up and down go the sun, moon and starlight."

"You don’t' remember that song?" I said.


Walker had filled in the words for years, and sometimes sang the whole lullaby to me.

My memories of those nights together were so vivid, and those bedtimes didn't seem that long ago.

"I gave you so much love when you were little," I started to say, "and you don't remember," but I stopped myself, and said, "I took care of you like a little seed, and now you are turning out so nice."

How much could Walker recall of those long toddler years? I thought about all the sticky play dough, playgrounds, potty training, alphabet songs, and patience. Was it all lost?
Before I sang the song again, I said. "Try to learn this."

Walker nodded yes very solemnly.

When I sang the two last lines, I realized that I needed to take heed of the lullaby’s message, too.

"Round and round go the days and nights. Up and down go the sun, moon, and starlight."

By Beth Touchette-Laughlin

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Monday, November 17, 2008


Libraries are a Disneyland for Moms

I smile to myself as I recall my latest trip to the library. I did not have to physically remove either child. There were no outbursts. I leave with four dinosaur books, two magic school bus videos, two "People" magazines, and four novels.


I realize I am optimistic checking out four books for myself. And four non-fictions at that. I usually have one novel, one parenting book, one book of non-fiction, and several magazines within reach at all times. What I read depends upon where I am at the time and how much time I think I have.

My husband thinks that all I do is read. How I wish that were true! The truth is he usually catches me in the midst of a ten to fifteen minute break between my endless treadmill of chores.

There are very few things that I can do for less than fifteen minutes that result in satisfaction. A twenty-minute nap or a snack of chocolate comes close, but reading is a sure thing. I can accomplish so much within such a short time frame. I can visit with old friends, meet new ones, learn something new, or revisit a favorite topic.

I can read anywhere. I can sit on my porch, in bed or on a nearby couch while my kids look at their own books.

I can escape without really being gone.

I am glad my kids share my love of reading. Even at twlo, my son Paul would memorize his board books and appear to be reading them by himself. Now he can read on his own. When we go to the library he heads straight for his favorite section and chooses his own books. Then he follows me upstairs where I can get something for myself. Later we can curl up together and read our books.

I love the library!

By Cathy Burke

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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Flying with Children is the Opposite of Silence

Taking young children on an airplane compares to somewhere between having your fingernails ripped out one by one and having them ripped out all at once.

You should probably get exponential bonus miles for flying anywhere in the two rows surrounding young children. Or, at least free drinks. It is only just.

Before I had kids, I will refer to this henceforth as the “Age of Innocence,” I would scowl at the surrounding kids, harrumph at the parents and sometimes, like in the case of the seat-kicking kid all the way to Washington D.C., suggest that the parent do something.

I thought that they could.

Now, after two lovely strong-willed, very “active” young boys, I realize the parents can’t do a damn thing. Most parents are trying for the life of them to figure out what to do amidst a brow of sweat and the mutterings of prayer.

Like myself; sticking suckers in their mouth, packing, snacks, milk, juice, toys, books, singing, and praying that my personal DVD player batteries somehow last six hours. My carry-on is breaking my back and my singing voice is more torture than the kicking kid. Trust me.

Yet, I must try.

There is no place that I feel more of a failure as a parent than thirty-thousand feet above sea level. I cannot make them quiet. They scream because their ears pop. They scream because we have strapped them to a seat and told them they cannot move. Imagine doing that at home --“Hey kids, today we are playing airplane. I will bring in your car seat, strap you to the couch and you can sit there for six hours.”

See the absurdity of it all?

And yet, those with no mercy, like me in the Age of Innocence, think that the parent has no control of the child. They should be focusing on the fact that at least the captain has control of the plane while this wild thing is strapped into the chair behind them.

I hope that the frustrated travelers realize that their discomfort allows many grandparents moments of happiness. And besides, with all of the wars, depression and struggles of their generation -- and ours -- they have put in their due.

Now that the Age of Innocence is gone, when a baby screams near me on a plane, I offer one of the many tricks in my really heavy carry-on.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy

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Saturday, November 15, 2008


Why I Don't Clean

There is something I do not understand, but have long admired – neatness.

When I go to someone’s home and nothing is out of place, I become a bit uneasy. It’s admirable and efficient.

Still, I don’t get it.

I simply can’t understand when a friend tells me she has spent three hours cleaning her house. I go there and it is spotless. There is no exaggeration. She really did clean for that length of time.

Then the kids come home, play and within minutes – there’s a mess that will take hours to clean.

Which she does again and again and again.

I just can’t imagine putting the time in to do that because it’s just not that important to me, though I understand its importance to her.

I consider myself fortunate because we do have someone who comes twice a month to clean. And it’s a good thing. While I’m big on dusting the kitchen and bathrooms, and always make the kids’ and my beds daily -- that’s about the extent of cleaning and keeping my home neat.

Good friends know me and don’t judge my lack of talent in these areas. But you just don’t know how others think so I usually shove things in bags before my daughter, Mimi, has a play date. Especially when I know the child’s parent will be picking her up.

I love it when a new mother says, “Your house is just immaculate.”

“Oh, no,” I’ll protest with a wave of my hand and a look of feigned embarrassment on my face (feigned because I know that I am such a liar).

I don’t care about my son’s friends. For them, untidiness rules. He’s a teenager and his friends usually run to the corner and yell out, “Guitar! Cool!” Then they walk over to the refrigerator. Things generally become quite messy from there.

Less you think I am totally talentless in the cleaning department I want to share that I do sweep the upstairs floors because there is something meditative about it. But I ONLY do this when my husband is around so he can see how hard I am working. I sometimes even dramatically wipe my brow, stop and sigh.

Shameless, I know.

Pointless, too, since I don’t think he even notices. What I observe is that he’s usually laser focused on finding food so he can have something to eat while he watches sports downstairs.

My guess is that my cleaning aversion is due to how I was raised. My home was immaculate. My mother spent hours cleaning. Baseboards were of utmost importance to her.

“Dust!” she would yell and quickly wipe it away with a disinfected cloth, as if she were saving us from spore-laden disease.

Every Saturday she would make her four children wake up early and stand in line as she handed out cleaning sprays, vacuums, cloths, and brooms.

Saturdays were meant for sleeping in, we would protest. No, my mother would insist. Saturday mornings were made for cleaning.

My daughter believes Saturday mornings, say six-thirty to seven, are when you are supposed to get Mommy up.

Better to awaken to love than to Lysol.

By Dawn Yun

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Friday, November 14, 2008


The Way It Began

It all started with a photo of a cute Chinese baby, about eight-months old, in a too-large blue silk robe. She was the just-adopted daughter of my husband’s friend, Nancy.

“Would you like to do that?” my then-boyfriend asked? “Yes, yes, I would!” I instantly replied.

You see, I had wanted a baby for a long time. Ever since the end of my first marriage I had pursued that dream, and it had taken me down some strange and crooked pathways.

Then I met Mick. We dated, and lived together for several years. But we lacked the motivation to become husband and wife. That is until the fated photo arrived. Within weeks we were planning our wedding and soon tied the knot.

Within six months we found an adoption agency and completed the application process. I was almost fifty years old by then. It took another six months to complete our “dossier,” involving thirteen forms that each had to be locally “notarized,” “certified” in Sacramento and “authenticated” by the Chinese Embassy. Then fourteen months of waiting for a referral from the Chinese government. Finally, the Fed Ex envelope arrived with our prospective baby’s photos and information.

Next came the visit to the doctor to review our baby’s scant medical history. We entered in a rush of excitement. This was soon doused by the doctor’s concern about our daughter’s small head size. She wanted more information. Could we get it?

Happily, the adoption agency came up with updated photos and data. I found a helpful doctor in the Midwest, who wasn’t worried about the baby’s head size. It turns out that our social worker was right: “Adopting a child is a leap of faith,” she said. We decided to leap.

That March, as we prepared to board a plane to China, my husband was paged. Our adoption agency was on the phone.

“Don’t get on the plane,” the rep said. “The U.S. government has changed the rules. You need to get new fingerprints. If you go to China without updating them, you could be stuck there and not be able to bring home your daughter.”

What could we do? We left the airport and headed straight for the INS office in San Francisco. What a nightmare – no one knew about this change in rules. After a day of waiting, my tears got a positive response. We could get fingerprinted the following day.

Two days later we boarded the airplane. We were finally on our way to Beijing and our new daughter!

By Nina Katz

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


In Sickness & In Health

Your husband is sick.


You look at him, surrounded by piles of Kleenex, as he tells you he doesn’t feel good.  All you can think is, “Whatever.” 

You’re searching for a nurturing bone in your body but apparently those bones have gone elsewhere. You think some of them are down the hall, in the bedroom with the blue and red dinosaur blanket and the multiple Lego configurations scattered across the floor.  When the curly-haired inhabitant of that room gets the sniffles, you bring washcloths to cool his skin, lay next to him to bring solace, hum old lullabies from his “baby days.” 

Your Nurturing Self also makes a great showing at work where you find it easy to soothe anxiety, listen to problems, and brainstorm solutions.  There, you have all kinds of concern; you’re a font of generosity, you have a wealth of patience to dispense. 

Not so with Spouse. In your defense, {OR But} he’s always got something. Asthma and allergies.  Every respiratory infection in the universe seeks him out like bees to burgers.  Which reminds you of his bee allergy, making it tricky to eat outside in the summer.  You and your son will be happily plowing through your plates as your sullen husband swats away the insects swarming around his head.  Muttering under his breath, something about the location of his Epi-pen. 

Did you mention his accident-proneness? 

A family bike-ride will soon see him teetering over and crashing.  Leaving you to carry on with your son while Spouse limps home alone.  On a kayaking day, that’s him, tipped over in the water, splashing and floundering.  Before he huddles on-shore, under a blanket with the chills.

It doesn’t matter that you’ve invited other families over to BBQ, or that your son is looking forward to the Science Museum day that he was promised.  Nor does it count that there’s the humdrum of homework and making lunches, the diorama that needs to be made, the Plaster of Paris recipe that needs to be un-crumpled from the bottom of the backpack. 

Daddy is down for the count.  

So guess who’s It?  That would be you.

To be sure, you’re grateful.  You’re blessed with the sturdiest of genes, which you accompany with affirmations about your vibrant health.  You tell yourself you can’t claim moral superiority for good health; it’s the luck of the draw.  Be careful of the karma; you never know what tomorrow will bring.  But the smaller, meaner part of you thinks, NOT fair.  Maybe you’d like to have some down time and emerge hours later to find the house straightened, dinner prepared, your kid busy drawing a ‘Get Well’ card. 

“Where’s Daddy, Mama?” your son asks for the millionth time.

“Oh he’s resting sweetie, he’s trying to feel better,” you shoot for casual and easy-going, you really do.  Where is Daddy? You wonder, grinding your teeth.  Daddy is MIA.

That’s not really true; Daddy is home.  It’s just that he’s lying cozily in bed under a mountain of blankets, filling the air with stale smells, snoring at the top of his plugged nose capacity.  You should stroke his forehead; ask if he needs aspirin or a cup of tea.  Better yet, you should tiptoe around the room to protect his sleep, maybe write a little care note for him to see when he awakens. 

Honey, hope you feel better soon.  

When what you really want to do is clomp around the room wearing your loudest shoes.  Throw the windows open and yell, “Up and at ‘em.  Rise and shine!”  But that wouldn’t be right. 

In sickness and in health.  Hmmm. 

Suddenly a new possibility dawns on you and just thinking about it has you feeling better already.  It goes like this: you gather up your son and his card-drawing materials, don pajamas and fuzzy socks, your favorite novel and what the heck, tea and crackers.  Ritz, Spouse’s favorite.  Then you pile into bed, all three of you, chewing L-O-U-D-L-Y on the crackers, sprinkling the crumbs liberally around the sheets.  Spreading out, making yourselves comfy, pushing your husband ever so slightly near to, but not over the edge. 


By Mary Beth Marra

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A Mother's Instincts Prove Correct About A Cyber Maniac

At the salon where I've been having my hair cut and colored every two months for the past six years, the conversation among the women styling and being styled often turns to our children. As layers were being snipped into my newly highlighted hair recently, I asked my stylist, Sheri, how her daughter was enjoying her first year at UC Davis.

Sheri's sigh indicated things might not be going as well as they usually did for this gem of a girl who had graduated with honors from an all-girl Catholic high school a few months earlier.

Sheri explained that she had noticed on her phone bill a huge increase in the number of text messages her daughter was sending and receiving since going away to college, many of them sent in the middle of the night. When Sheri asked her about it, her daughter explained she had "met" a boy on the Internet and the two were enjoying a friendship via e-mail and text messages.

Sheri asked if she was able to do her schoolwork while up all night "chatting" and her daughter begged for her trust. Sheri did have faith in her daughter. She had earned it by being an honest girl and a conscientious student.

But something didn't seem right about the amount of time her daughter was spending on a boy she had never met. So Sheri asked more about him, and her daughter told her not to worry because a friend had promised that he was a good guy.

When the next phone bill confirmed the "relationship" was not only continuing, but intensifying, and her daughter's grades had begun to fall, Sheri confronted her again. If the boy's intentions were good there'd be nothing to fear if Sheri investigated a little. Sheri's daughter reluctantly agreed if only to show her mother that she was wrong.

But Sheri was right.

She learned the photograph the boy had sent of himself belonged to a star athlete at Penn State whose image was all over the Web and whose real name was not the one given to her daughter.

When Sheri called the numbers from which the boy had sent the text messages she reached a phone belonging to a girl who had renewed a friendship with her daughter through her My Space page – the same girl who had vouched for the boy.

Through Sheri's investigation her daughter learned that it was the girl who was on the other end of the messages, taunting her into believing she was involved in a real affair, a relationship that had become the focus of all her energies and emotions.

The girl, who was still in high school, had created this elaborate hoax to humiliate Sheri's daughter, though they never found out why. What Sheri did learn was that the girl had done this to six others, going so far as to arrange a date with one girl who flew across the country only to be "stood up" by the boy at an airport very far from her home.

Sheri's daughter was hurt and embarrassed, her mother explained with a sad sigh. But she had learned a lot about the dangers of the Internet and she was grateful the ruse had come to an end.

"What she's grateful for," I told Sheri, as other clients in the salon listened and nodded, "is that you are her mother and you trusted your instincts."

By Laura-Lynne Powell 

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Monday, November 10, 2008


Mom Tries to Retreat

I spent the first day of my writer's residency settling into Jacqueline Mitchard's home on Cape Cod.  It was a beautiful fall day and I could see the leaves beginning to turn shades of red and orange from my bedroom window overlooking the garden. 

I had ten days to write without distractions or responsibilities.  My two adult daughters, ages twenty-three and twenty-four, were taking care of the house and cats.  I no longer had to worry about underage drinking brawls if I was away from home.  It seemed about as good as it gets.

For the first twenty-four hours everything I did was a "pinch me" moment: from writing at my desk in my cozy bedroom to walking down the streets of Brewster with my housemate, Sarah, an eighty-year old retired journalist from Wisconsin.  This was her first experience, also with time alone to write. Before becoming a grandmother, she had been a working single mom like myself.

The second day I was there I got a call from my daughter, Annie,

"Mom, there's a problem with the sewer line."

I'm stunned. For a moment I don't even know what to say. Finally, I manage to ask, "What do you mean?"

"Mom!  I can't deal with this now."

I can't either, I think.

"I'm taking the GRE exam tomorrow…"  She continues talking so fast I can't understand her. I feel myself returning to mom mode.

"Annie, slow down a minute.  Now tell me what happened, s-l-o-w-l-y."

"Our neighbor called to say that our sewer line is leaking into their yard and they've called a plumber."

"OK, can you get the name of their plumber?  Then call our handyman."

"Wait, our neighbor's calling on the other line."  Annie clicks out and I'm left trying to console myself that I can't do anything about this from three thousand miles away.

Five minutes later Annie calls back.  "I'm taking the day off work and re-scheduling my exam.  I'll deal with this."  Click. She hangs up again before I can say anything.

I'm standing in the kitchen with Sarah. It's 10 a.m. EST.  It's 7 a.m. back home in California.  I'm not going to write today with visions of my house flooding.

"Sarah, want to go visit that town, Chatham?"

"Sure." As a journalist I figure she knows how to adapt to life's emergencies. Sarah and I spent the afternoon strolling through the town’s quaint streets while I took calls on my cell with my daughter's latest update.  By 6 p.m. EST, Sarah and I were sitting in a bar sipping wine when I got the final verdict on the sewer.

"Mom, the sewer line connecting our house to the street is broken and needs to be replaced.  I negotiated a pretty good price with one of the plumbers."

"How'd you know to negotiate with them?  I wouldn't have thought to do that."

"Well, I figured since each plumber was giving me a different estimate, I could negotiate." 

For the first time that day I could breathe more easily. I was reminded that Annie was perfectly capable of handling a crisis, especially one like this; as a scientist she could actually understand the sewer problems and as a world traveler she knew how to negotiate for services.

I guess I had to leave home to see home more clearly. 

My daughter had grown up, almost.

While she managed the sewer problem, I still had to pay for it.

Sarah and I drove back to our home in Brewster. Tomorrow I'll write.

By Marilee Stark

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Force Field of Protection and Good Will for All

“It looks like a shark cage,” my friend remarked at our election-night party. She referred to the bulletproof Plexiglas booth shielding the podium as Barack Obama took the stage in Chicago’s Grant Park Tuesday night after winning the presidency in a landslide.

“I hope he stays in it for the next four years,” said another friend.

If only the outpouring of elation and goodwill from all over the world could be sufficient protection. How can anyone not wish this man well for the magnitude of both his accomplishment and the burdens he must now shoulder?  

Yet within twenty-four hours, headlines of acclaim gave way to the usual fare of skepticism and jostling for power. Gun sales skyrocketed while the Dow-Jones plummeted. An item on AlterNet revealed the sharp rise in death threats against Obama as Sarah Palin’s rhetoric on the campaign trail became more and more inflammatory.

The sharks and the nuts circle.

I am not a religious person, but I pray nightly for president-elect Obama’s safety. Be well, our strong yet fragile president, so you can help us heal.

I want to believe that the step this country has taken by electing Barack Obama means we are overcoming our hateful and violent history.  I wish we did not need Plexiglas.

But I am glad it is there to protect him — and us.

By Lorrie Goldin

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Sunday, November 09, 2008


What Your Pubic Hair Says About You

Nothing says political extremism more than a full muff.  

Ladies supporting the au natural look were high school mathletes or members of the Jesus Crew.  Now that they are all grown up they are waving placards at each other about abortion on the steps of Capitol Hill. 

The ladies to the left don’t trim because it smacks of misogyny and are worried that hair care products contribute to global warming and our dependence on fossil fuel.  The radical right only has sex 2.2 times after marriage and they expect their husbands to close their eyes, so what’s the point? 

At first blush they seem polar opposites, but if they would just pull down their Hanes Her Way briefs instead of arguing over whose uterus is closer to God they might realize they have more in common than they think.

The international standards for pubic hair, as laid out by the Rio accord of 2004, define the thigh trim as “clearing enough hair to prevent any creep from under a pair of Calvin Klein bikini briefs.”  This is the little black dress of pubic hair and the favorite style of ex-preps everywhere. 

Ladies who sport the thigh trim are prone to lapsing when they need an excuse not to wear a bathing suit at a pool party (note: only bitches throw pool parties, see Mohawk, below).  It is much easier to show up in a pair of madras plaid shorts and a crisp polo and blame your lack of swimming attire on thigh creep than accept the truth that no strategically placed spandex panel or ruffle can make your ass acceptable for public viewing.

The origins of the mullet (business on top and party down below) can be traced to the 1980s and the girls of the Alabama high-school rodeo association and their quest to decrease saddle sweat.   Since then its popularity has exploded, exhibiting unforeseen cross over potential and is now the favorite coiffure of ex-cheerleaders everywhere.  At first blush that inverted triangle of pubic hair demurely suggests, “But sir, I’m a lady.” However, on closer inspection, the mullet girl is rarin’ to go!  Now a days the mullet shows you are a multi-tasker, a good hostess and are just trying to make it easier for him to do the right thing.

The Mohawk, also known as the Racing Stripe, sported by women everywhere with smoking hot bodies not afraid to show what God (or a scalpel) gave them.  In high school these girls sat on the front steps and smoked.  The Mohawk exudes the mantra: it’s all about me baby, and has one purpose: to showcase that body in a bathing suit cut to kingdom come.  The sultry stripe of hair down the middle screams, “You should be so lucky to pick one of my pubic hairs out of your teeth,” and keeps your man (or woman) right where they belong, squarely on their knees.  Nothing says I’m in charge quite like The Mohawk.

Women who go for the completely undressed look claim that removing all of their pubic hair makes them feel fresh as a daisy, but secretly they think it makes them naughty.  These are the girls who desperately wanted to sit on the front steps and smoke, and now that their braces are off and Proactive is available with three easy payments of $29.95, they finally have their chance.  

Going buck-naked is the tobacco of the 21st Century.  Sure, Hollywood makes it look cool now, but in another fifty years we will all appreciate the health consequences and accept the reality that the absence of pubic hair is not an evolutionary advantage but makes a woman’s genitalia look like a hairless cat.

By Jennifer Gunter

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Saturday, November 08, 2008


Politically Correct Children's Foods

My older son, Paul, is obscenely tall for his age. At seven, he is almost up to my shoulder and I can attest to the fact that it is not the result of healthy eating. He wasn’t always this way. At two-years old he ate peas by the fistful. When we went out I valiantly packed my rice cakes (assuring him they were ”cookies” and quite a treat). I offered rolled up slices of non-fat turkey and cheese cut into shapes with mini cookie cutters. All was well until he got introduced to chocolate at a birthday party around the time he was three.

It was then that he turned to the dark side. Of chocolate. As a chocoholic myself, I was not unhappy about sharing my passion for the sweet. Together we baked cookies and I found it to be a helpful currency during potty training. And, of course, all of this coincided with the birth of his younger brother, Eric.

I wasn’t mashing baby food this time. I discovered Z bars and stopped making my own trail mix. But now, at seven, my son is out of control. Of course I have nobody to blame but myself. The other day he informed me that he could live on chocolate. Unfortunately, that is not exactly practical. Damn society and its health standards!

I try to refrain. I resolve to give him a balanced diet and I make sure to offer a great assortment of healthy food. We sit down to a home cooked meal as a family every night but every meal is a series of negotiations. It seems that every week another popular menu choice falls out of favor. “I don’t like steak anymore.”

Back when he was an only child I had time (and energy) to monitor every bite. But life is busier now and I don’t even have the desire to place as much importance on diet. I can only hope that this is a phase and that eventually he will eat more than the very greenest tips of a broccoli stalk.

Various studies show that bright colorful food is the healthiest. As long as that includes Pepperidge Farm Rainbow Goldfish -- I’m OK.

By Cathy Burke

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Friday, November 07, 2008


An Abundance of Gratitude

I lived in Antigua, Guatemala, for six months while we were adopting our daughter, Olivia, who was born there, and sometimes in the late afternoon she and I would sit on our living room sofa and watch the Teletubbies.

The show was perfect for us because although it was taped in English and dubbed in Spanish, it’s also largely non-verbal, making it one of the few things we could actually understand together.

There’s a section in the show where the tummy of one of the Teletubbies -- I forget which one -- turns into a kind of rectangular TV set, and leads the viewer into a scene far away.

One afternoon the distant action took place in a schoolroom in England, where cheerful children were sitting at small tables doing arts-and-crafts projects with the most abundant assortment of supplies one could ever hope to imagine: scissors, construction paper, buttons, glue, and glitter.

And what I remember most is how much glitter was left to fall to the floor, handfuls of it, small mountains almost, until the floor itself disappeared, and was turned into sparkles.

I’m as materialistic as the next person, and like to be surrounded with my stuff. But ever since living in Guatemala, where fifty percent of the population lives in poverty, and school supplies -- and school itself -- are a luxury and not a right, I can’t throw away so much as a sheet of paper without wondering whether I can re-use it in some way, or whether I really need to use it at all.

Someone in Antigua told me how she donated school supplies to a school in a village north of town. Each child received a Ziploc bag with two pencils, an eraser, a box of eight crayons and two pages torn from a coloring book: one to color in school and one to take home.

When she described how overjoyed the children were to receive her modest gift, I almost cried.

I had seen enough of Guatemala to know the care the children would take with the two pages from the coloring book. They would be sure not to wrinkle the pages, and do everything possible to keep the edges flat.

By Jessica O’Dwyer

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Thursday, November 06, 2008


What We Remember and What We Forget and Forget and Forget. . . .

My memory is lost. Between Mom Brain and menopause, I lose chunks of memory for minutes or hours.

I’ve gotten used to it.

I don’t get flustered if I can’t remember my next-door neighbor’s name – I know that her name will return to my memory at a later date.

My son does not like my memory lapses. I rushed to BART from work one afternoon, did a short leap from the platform to the train, and then remembered I’d forgotten my purse at the office. I hopped out as the train doors were closing. Hustled back to the office, took a later train and called my husband to tell him to pick up Nick.

I told my silly story about the forgotten purse while we ate dinner. I was laughing and I looked across the table to my son.

Nick was crying.

“It’s not funny, Mommy,” he says. He was pissed. “You need to stop forgetting everything.”

I realized that to Nick I appear out of control. The Mommy he depends on to keep his world spinning, to keep order for him, could not even remember her purse.

Ah, I thought.

This is the start of him finding out I’m not omnipotent. Not perfect. And also the start of me realizing that maybe he doesn’t need to know everything about me. Maybe I just give too much information sometimes.

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Yes We Can




By Dawn Yun

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Don't Forget the Most Important Thing on Your To-Do List

Make lunches, mop quickly, drop the kids off at school, go to work, volunteer for something/anything at their school, go shopping, try to sneak in a workout and, oh, yeah -- remember your children's future.

Please vote.

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, November 03, 2008


Bush Bashing Time!

In just a couple of days it will come down to this -- a new president.

One never wants to be overly optimistic: but then one has no desire to continue what has been.

It’s hard to believe that very soon what so many of us have long wanted will come true -- George Bush (remember him?) will be gone.

Replaced with someone who actually is bright, articulate, amiable, caring, and – this is really important – not arrogant.

So much of the troubles the country now finds itself in can be traced to W. and his evil henchman Dick (could he have a more apt name?) Cheney.

Two incompetents driven to increase the wealth of their cronies at the expense of their country.

W. is a therapist’s dream. Does this man have Daddy problems or what? I feel sorry for his brother, Jeb, who was supposed to be the real politician of the family. No, Georgie wanted to be president and damn if the man didn’t make it happen. Of course, this meant that his brother had to do some ballot stuffing and chad hanging and vote stealing.

Hell – that’s politics!

It will be hard to forget watching the returns that night as W. and his father observed the results, too. Florida had already been called for Gore. W. was adamant that the broadcasters were wrong. He refused to accept their announcements. Sr. politely stuck up for his son by saying journalists had been wrong before.

There was a cockiness in W.’s tone, a sureness to his defiance, as if he knew something that the rest of us did not.

It wasn’t just that he was acting like the spoiled brat he had always been. No, he was waiting for a different result that he knew would soon come.

It was odd, but no surprise then when journalists later said that there had been a mistake. Florida had been called too soon. Slouched deeply into his overstuffed chair, W. pounded its arm. “I told ya! I told ya!” he said.

Really, there was nothing to tell. Not anything he could truly share. He knew “the secret.” It had all been carefully planned long ago.

Voting confusion would mask ballot dishonesty.

This was politics. Win at any cost. It doesn’t matter how you get there. What counts is that you arrive.

What a poor lesson for our children. Sort of one that matched the bad student that W. had always been.

That same C student  -- my guess is his grades were really mostly Fs and Ds, but he is a Bush, so he was allowed to pass his classes -- will appear in history books that our children will one day read.

W. will go down as one of America’s, if not the world’s, most inept presidents.

In just a few days, if everything aligns just right, tomes about the past will tell a very different story about the person who replaced him.

Barack Obama.

What a wonderful lesson for our children that will be.

By Dawn Yun

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