I know, it’s ironic but still …

 

Sam and Jake Johnny jumpup

Things we learned this week:

the boys: Underdoggies in the Johnny Jump up only seem like a good idea.

me: reacting to comments on social media sites, or chain emails is, generally speaking, not in my best interest. First of all who do you know that reads something like that and thinks: you know what? I never saw it that way, thanks for the perspective. Usually these threads serve as a way to share what someone is feeling, and then turn into a chain reaction of emotional potshots usually, by the way, ending with “but we’re still friends, right?”

Well, no. Not at the moment. Freedom of speech and all that aside … My point being, let it be. If someone has something to say, let them. It’s not our job to try to change each other’s mind. In fact, to me it seems like an even better idea to try harder to understand where someone else is coming from rather than trying to correct them, or worse, condemning them for being and thinking differently.

And yes, I see the irony in this post … telling others to not try to change people while at the same time trying to convince them to go easy on the online sparring about politics, parenting … you name it.

I think we need to collectively make an effort to look for common ground before picking apart our differences.

And I’ll hop down off my soap box now.


In defense of parenting Tiger Mama style

 

battle-hymn-of-the-tiger-mother

My March Baby on Board column might read like a review of Amy Chua’s new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” but it’s truly a review of the reaction to the book rather than of the book itself.

Because I haven’t read it. Yet.

My mom and I plan to read it together this summer. That should be a hotbed of conversation topics given that our parenting styles are polar opposite, with the same drive (love) and the same goal in mind (happy, healthy, successful children).

I know, I know – here I go again with the “how about we all just get along theme.”

But, can’t we?

To read it click here. To read Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal click here. And, for her response to readers following the first article, click here.


Re-post this

If you're on Facebook very much, odds are, you have an opinion on those status updates that feel a little like the emails that say if you don't forward something to ten people in, like, ten minutes something really bad, or something really good will happen. I hate, hate, hate stuff like that.

On Facebook, there's no indication that something good or bad will happen but rather just a big ol' guilt trip like - if you don't repost this as your status, Jesus will know you're not a believer, or you are a communist, or you probably don't have any respect for firefighters or you don't really love your mother or whatever.

One of the first times I re-posted one of those sound bytes for a good cause - I got called out on it by a friend for posting just a sound byte on an issue as complicated as our current health care - by the way - what happened to that conversation?

Anyway, so even if I do believe in the cause (I'm down with Jesus, I'm not a communist, I have the utmost respect for firefighters, nurses, etc and I most certainly do love my mother) I typically don't repost. Until last night when I saw this on my friend Michelle's Facebook page:

Can you believe the news coverage being given to a spoiled 20 something
this week? Lindsey WHO?
 Here are a few 20 somethings worth knowing
about
: Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matt Weikert 29, Justus Bartett
27, Dave Santos 21, Chase Stanley 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matt King 23,
...Chris Goeke 23, & Sheldon Tate 27. These 20 somethings ...gave their lives for you this week

I left off this part: Repost if you support our military

I'm just going to assume you do support our military - regardless of your position on the current (or any) war. And you don't have to repost it, but I do ask you to stop and think about that.

I've been thinking a lot this week about media priorities - but before we jump to blame them - media feeds its masses - masses prefer to hear more about Lindsey's dumb ass than those putting theirs on the line for us.


Review: A Homemade Life

Hey there! Just checking in from Mt. Hood where it's mostly snowing, hailing and incessantly raining. There are, however, just enough sun breaks to make me feel hopeful that we'll do more than sit around the condo trying not to drive each other bonkers.

I read a book start to finish since we got up here, partly because of the aforementioned weather, partly because I'm sick and partly because I couldn't bear to put it down: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.

Reading the book made my mouth water even though all I could stomach was another Ricola and some more Sudafed; it made my heart hurt and my eyes tear more than once. It also made me smile in recognition, and at her witty turns of phrase.

I can all but guarantee you will eat this book up!

All along as I'm reading I'm thinking "I get this girl!" She is honest and raw and unflinchingly herself. Also butter doesn't make her flinch, and she’s found a way to incorporate chocolate into salads. Do you really need more of a reason to call Third Street Books (or your local indie bookstore) and get yours on the way? If you want to try out any of her recipes on me, I'd happily pull up a chair at your table.

My kitchen memoir, Not Like the Picture, is like Wizenberg's only in the sense that it chronicles the stories behind the food ... the memories ... my journey to the kitchen and the me I met in there. The key difference being you'll most certainly want to try Wizenberg's recipes. Mine are more like "what not to do" in the kitchen.

For example, the only chance I've had at bat this week in the kitchen I managed to set off the smoke alarms. This morning, though, I commandeered the kitchen to make some pesto out of stinging nettles. It'll be my little dinner surprise served over ravioli. Don't worry, I cooked the sting out of them!


With both hands

You guys know I'm a big believer in the power of words on paper.
 
My friend Karri wrote this letter to President Obama and I'm sharing it with you guys because it is a beautifully written example of honest, raw writing as well as admirable personal perspective.
 
I was especially proud of him this morning when I wrote to ask if I could share it with you guys and he said he'd already mailed it to the President. Looking forward to hearing the response, Karri.
 
This letter was written the same day Karri was laid off. It would have been easy for him to be bitter and harsh. Instead ... well, see for yourself. The last paragraph, especially, speaks for all of us.

Congratulations Mr. President,

Your victory is an historic achievement, but not untouched by adversity. Much as we give Black History the least of all months, your presidency lands in a time of global economic crisis, a crisis violence across countless borders, and closest to home, a crisis of faith in this once great nation.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for you sir, and at the same time sympathy. You carry the mantle of all our hopes of recovering from these desperate times squarely on your shoulders. Until today I looked at the unemployment issue from behind the insulated barrier of a regular paycheck. Until today, as to many Americans, the thousands being laid off from the likes of GM and Caterpillar were simply alarming figures. That all changed when the head of my small advertising company offered me a bankers' box and an apologetic handshake.

My selfish hope is that you sir, and those you drew into your cabinet, find a way to plant the seeds of renewed prosperity from the over-ripe fruit of our own negligent avarice.

I wouldn't presume to ask for a hand out, or even a hand up. Instead I offer you mine--both of them. Tell us Mr. President, how do we as Americans right the course we seem to have steered wide of? We're taking on water, and we could all use a little dry land.

Karri 

P.S. Karri, you are going to be better than okay. My mom always said you were a rock star. I'm paraphrasing, but "nice, polite young man" is a little less glamorous.


What a great little town doesn't need

If you've talked to me for more than ten minutes, you probably know where I stand on the issue of strip clubs, porn shops and the like. Imagine my surprise while reading Saturday's News-Register that a bar on my street will be adding "adult entertainment" to the menu. Awesome.

Let me paint a little picture for you. I walk around this town pushing Sam's stroller feeling safe and grateful to live here every single day. A typical day's walk usually includes a stop at the post office, the coffee stand (even if it's just to say hi), a trip through the local grocery store to recycle cans/bottles and strolling around this "great little town" (that really is the town motto).

So I have to wonder what kind of person walks around this "Great Little Town" with its safe neighborhoods, children riding BMX's and playing at the park, its outdoor pool and friendly people and says to themselves, "Man, all this little town needs now is a strip club." No one. That's who.

What I got from the city council meeting last night was that while the council can't do much to stop it from coming, the citizens can apply enough (legal) pressure to encourage the owner this isn't the place for his, uh, enterprise.

So Sam might be joining his first picket line via Baby Bjorn if this thing takes. Meanwhile, I'll be asking anyone that'll listen to write a letter in protest and for God's sake don't let me see your rig parked near his joint.

Dear Mr. I-want-to-ruin-a-great-little-town and contribute-to-the-subjugation-of-women:

Let me introduce myself - I'm the one who walked by as you sat in the doorway of your tinted-window establishment this afternoon; I was the one pushing a stroller and hissing at you.

Are you out of your damn mind? You're going to put a strip club in a shared parking lot with the local grocery store. So when I send my kid to the store on his BMX for some milk, he's going to peddle his happy little self by your joint? Because, see, before this little brain child of yours, this was exactly the kind of town where I'd feel comfortable sending my kid down the street.

What possessed you to decide "hey, what this friendly, safe, clean and mellow town needs is some pole dancers in pasties?" What made you think that was going to be okay with us, the locals? What made you think property owners here wanted to invite perverts and people who disrespect themselves and their own families from near and far to get off and get drunk and drive around our town?

So help me God there isn't a person I'm not going to talk to about this and encourage to write a letter during this comment period. And if, as I suspect it will, be passed, I will be the one picketing with my baby tucked into his Bjorn.

With disgust and dismay,

Nathalie Hardy


Banned Books Week

October seems to be a very big "awareness" month - domestic violence, breast cancer, shelter animals and banned books week, to name a few. Subjects we should be aware of 365 days a year, not just the days leading up to Halloween, but whatever.

Banned Books Week - September 29, 2007 - October 6, 2007

If you're not in the school or public library system, or talking to people who are, it is easy to forget that our first amendment rights are being challenged more often than we realize. That's the one about congress not making any laws "Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”

The trick for me, though, is to remember that it's not just like-minded people who have a right to speak freely. Even if it is Ann Coulter.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”—Noam Chomsky, speaking in a BBC television interview with John Pilger on The Late Show (1992)

When Matt was teaching high school English, I was stunned at the books parents wanted to protect their children from. I mean, God forbid they were exposed to new and different ideas. I'm proud to have a husband and friends who taught and teach these "dangerous" books. And I can't wait to share some of my favorites with Baby Chi Chi and see which ones he picks up on his own. However, if he hates reading, I will consider that an act of aggression against us. My parents, for all their strictness, never, ever censored my reading. My dad would raise his eyebrows at some of my choices and question if it was the best use of my time, but he always respected my right to read whatever interested me. And a lot of those books are on this list of most frequently challenged books of 1999-2000.


Stupid Baby Class

Must read: Nine Months in August by Adriana Bourgoin. It is awesome. As soon as I get it back from Amy I'll tell you more about why but unless you need it spelled out, check it out for yourself asap. It was so damn good I had to write the author immediately upon finishing it because she had to know how awesome it was and how much I loved the characters and the entire process of reading it. At first glance, someone could be convinced it's only relevant for pregnant people or those who have been pregnant at some point. Not so. It's relevant for any human being who's been in a maddening relationship with a parent or friend. The kind where love and history keep you dialing her number but you hang up most of the time wondering "why GOD why!? do I do this to myself?" It's about the way life gets turned upside down and ends up okay anyhow.

I want you to read it so we can talk about it! If I was a book club person this would be on the list. At the top. It's one of those books where the characters and parts of the story stay with you. For instance, with this whole stupid baby class thing tomorrow, the one thing I am looking forward to doing is taking a page out of the main character's book and taking notes on the other couples in class. An opportunity to meet strangers is always a fun thing. For me. Like jury duty. I was the only one taking notes.

Juror #1873: Are we supposed to be taking notes?

Me: Shrug.

Juror #1873: What are you writing?

Me: About you. Wink. Just Kidding. (But not really.)

Back to the stupid baby class. Did I mention by the way that it's practically a retreat? You should've seen Matt's face when I told him our options for the class.

Me: So we can take the class every Wednesday for six weeks at 6:30 p.m. or we can do a weekend long blitz and be done with it. I vote for option B for Blitz.

Matt: You mean like a retreat? With strangers.

Me: Grinning ear to ear. Yup.

Matt: Fine, whatever.

Our friends who recently "graduated" from their stupid baby class mentioned that everyone else in their class already had car seats purchased. And, get this, they were already all installed. Over. Achievers.

Another friend mentioned that it was great to have her husband at the class because he retained information she'd forgotten. I definitely see this being the case for us. Matt is a much, much better student than I am. I'll be able to tell you all about everyone's feelings and personal dramas by the end of the weekend. Matt, he'll be paying attention and remembering important things like what I'm supposed to do on D-day.


As if 6th grade wasn't hard enough

Nearly choked on my lunch to see this headline on the front page of the Oregonian:

"Divorced parents clash over 12-year-old son's circumcision." Because, you know, being in 6th grade isn't hard enough. As I was muttering about it, someone in the staff room said it was awful for the whole world to have to know about it. But really, that's just not as bad as every kid in the PE locker room of your middle school looking at ya funny. WHO are these people?! 


Dear Editor

Pw_editor_letter_1

word count: 41,149

 

For all the times people have heard me say "I am so writing a letter!" they might be surprised to hear I just wrote my first letter to an editor this summer. I've written plenty of letters, positive and negative, to the customer service departments of many companies but I've never followed through on writing and mailing a letter to a publication until this summer. In April I read an article in Poets & Writers about Janice Erlbaum and her book "Girlbomb" and called the bookstore from the coffee shop to see how soon they could get it ordered for me. I love that book. I thought about writing a letter but you know, got busy or whatever. I figured surely someone else would write in to acknowledge what a great article and book it was. So I was shocked when I picked up the May/June issue to find the letter posted here. WTF? I was so pissed I filled the letters page with handwritten notes and meant to write a letter the second I got home. And then - again - I didn't. But it nagged at me and transferred from to do list to to do list until I finally sat down and wrote it. I don't know if it'll get published or not, but I felt better having sent it off. This mentality that our good is limited and only a select few can be successful is so infuriating.

Here's my letter:

Dear Editor, I was surprised and disappointed with Mary Bem's letter "Down and Dirty Memoir" in response to Amy Rosenberg's article featuring Janice Erlbaum's memoir Girlbomb. ("First" by Amy Rosenberg, March/April 2006). I am compelled to take issue with the letter writer’s sarcastic, disparaging, dismissive tone. It seems that she made a judgment based on a pull-quote and slammed Erlbaum as a greedy memoirist with nothing but a dirty tale to spin. I admit the pull quote got my attention. I went immediately back to the bookstore where I purchased my Poets & Writers and ordered the book. It is now among my favorite books, in large part due to Erlbaum’s honesty, irreverence and her bravery in telling the truth about her experience. I also enjoyed it because she’s a talented, witty and clever writer. Though we’re all entitled to our opinion, I encourage Ms. Bem to recognize there’s room in the publishing industry for a range of experiences and styles of writing. To respond so bitterly to a fellow writer’s success is a shame. The suggestion that memoir writing is a “game of one-upmanship” is ludicrous. To imply that Erlbaum engaged in said game is offensive. Respectfully, Nathalie Hardy