Monday, December 21, 2009

ChicagoNow, tear down this wall! (ad)

Another blogger posted a picture of a billboard advertising ChicagoNow publications that says:
"Breastfeeding in public is tacky! Seriously, how hard is it to find a bathroom, mommies?"

Here's my e-mail to the ChicagoNow staff. I hope it and other letters get some quick action.

Dear ChicagoNow staff,

I understand that you purchased outdoor advertising promoting your blogs. One of the comments posted at the Armitage stop on the El reads, “Breastfeeding in public is tacky! Seriously, how hard is it to find bathroom, mommies?” This comment is discriminatory and should be removed immediately.

I get the idea behind the ad campaign. It’s clever, really. You’re posting reader comments and intend for them to incite discussion and interest people in your publications. It’s a good idea. However, the breastfeeding comment goes way too far. I know that you posted a counterpoint board later that says, “Breastfeeding in public is no big deal. Anyone who thinks otherwise should grow up.” While I appreciate the gesture, it’s not nearly enough. The original comment must be removed.

I’d like you to please think about the inflammatory breastfeeding comment in another way. What if a user posted a similarly written comment that discriminated against people other than nursing mothers and babies? Would you use it as an ad? Instead of breastfeeding women, let’s say one of these boards had a similarly worded discriminatory comment about another group of people.

Imagine this:
“Black people are so tacky! Seriously, how hard is it to find a seat at the back of the bus, people?”

Or this:
“It’s weird to see lesbians walking around in public together. Seriously, how hard is it to just stay home where I don’t have to look at you?”

Even if a user submitted these comments (and I truly hope they wouldn’t!), would ChicagoNow choose to use them as ads? I sure don’t think so!

You should also know that breastfeeding in public is a right that is protected by law in the state of Illinois. So by posting an ad that could have passersby thinking, “Yeah, I think breastfeeding in public is tacky so maybe I should suggest a bathroom next time I see a woman nursing,” you are encouraging people to violate the law. As you can read in the Right to Breastfeed Act, it’s illegal for a woman not to be allowed to breastfeed in public

Would you post an ad that encouraged people to think about violating another law via a similar comment? “Driving the speed limit is a drag! Seriously, why not just go 95 mph on the Kennedy?” or “Paying taxes bugs me! Seriously, how hard is it to hide that extra income?”

I don’t think I need to bore you with studies about the importance of breastfeeding, that a hungry baby has a biological imperative to nurse, or that we see far more breast tissue on a summer day on Navy Pier than we ever do when women are breastfeeding. I realize this comment isn’t necessarily your belief, only that of a single commenter on the site. But ChicgaoNow, you are the gatekeeper, and you have chosen to allow an inflammatory comment to be posted for all to see.

Please, remove the discriminatory anti-breastfeeding billboard now. I look forward to your response.

(formerly of Hoffman Estates)

I received this positive response. Thanks!

Hi Sue,

We appreciate your detailed letter in response to the ChicagoNow ad. The campaign has expired and has been taken down. You are correct that the goal of the campaign was to incite discussion and get Chicagoans talking, and we understand how the approach might be viewed negatively. We will keep your comments in mind when we approach our next advertising campaign.

Thanks again,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My simple mother's daybook

Outside my window ... the apple tree has lots of fruit, but after years without maintenance has grown scraggly. I hope we can produce edible apples next year.

I am thinking ... about how tired I am.

I am thankful for ... my husband, who just pushed the girls on the swing and took them for a walk to the end of the woods so I could get a break.

From the learning rooms ... I'm making plans for next year. I reviewed our Noeo Chemistry I curriculum and am ordering the last pieces we need for Sonlight Core 2.

From the kitchen ... When I'm done online, I'm going to make some chocolate chip cookies. Because I want them.

I am wearing ... my favorite shirt from Target. (Not my favorite shirt in the world, but the best from there.)

I am creating ... a new home for our family as we settle in and continue to get the boxes unpacked.

I am going ... to take the girls to the farm tomorrow for some swimming and maybe fishing.

I am reading ... "7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences" by Thomas Anderson. I am linguistic smart and spatial (visual) smart.

I am hoping ... that the "good" showing our real estate agent reported to us yesterday turns into an offer.

I am hearing ... Weird alien noises. Bob and the girls are watching a Star Wars DVD.

Around the house ... the kitchen and bathrooms are pretty well organized. The rest is ... not.

One of my favorite things ... is eating fresh food. Bob dropped off vegetable bulletins at several Amish farms today and one gave him an orange seedless watermelon that we had with our dinner. It was tasty.

A few plans for the rest of the week are ... fixing the picnic table, bolting the barn door track back up, and maybe working on the chicken coop.

Here is picture thought I am sharing ... Addy told me she was bored, so I pulled out one of my Mom's tricks. If we ever dared to say we were bored when we were kids she'd always say, "Well there are always calf pens to be cleaned out!" The difference is, I always found something else to do and promptly to avoid pitching manure. I told Addy that if she was bored the chicken coop could be pitched out, so she did! She helped Bob get the old (well-composted) manure for our garden. We're doing lasanga gardening to get this patch ready for next year.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Homeschooling books are like shoes

I'm hoping to win a $50 gift certificate to my favorite homeschool supply company with this tip I submitted for their anniversary contest. For the record, I'm in love with Rainbow Resource Center. They carry just about everything (the catalog is like 3 inches thick), and I've stopped comparing prices because theirs are always the lowest.

It took a few years of homeschooling before I learned curricula are like shoes. When shopping, there’s more than one right choice that can fit your child and do the job.

I used to worry at the end of each school year about what curricula we’d use next. We would be happy with our math program, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some other “perfect” program out there. I would spend hours on homeschooling forums, reading reviews, and of course reading every single word of the Rainbow Resource catalog (seriously!). Now I know our math program works for us, and I’ve stopped fretting. I simply order the next level.

Like there are many choices of tennis shoes that would fit my active daughter well and look nice while protecting her feet, there is probably more than one great curriculum fit for each child. And the end of this year I decided that our grammar curriculum was good for my daughter and promised not to even read about other materials. Then a friend told me about a different grammar book, and I wavered. I finally resolved that either would be enjoyable and help my daughter learn about language. I stuck with the one I knew.

On the other hand (or foot, to stick with my shoe analogy), I’ve learned to let go of things that don’t work for our family just because everyone else says they’re wonderful. For two years we used a highly rated phonics program that my daughter found torturous. I dropped it.

I still love poring over my Rainbow Resource catalog, mind you! But I’m much more relaxed knowing that the many curriculum choices are there to serve me rather than to rule over me. If the shoe fits …

Friday, June 26, 2009

Packing lists for the girls

When we're travelling somewhere, I have plenty to do to get ready. The kids always want to help, but it's hard to give them a task that doesn't have me tripping over them, or them packing 17 random toys in the suitcase.

Enter the child-friendly packing list.

I got the idea from an article in Cookie magazine, and adapted it myself. It's simply a table in Microsoft Word filled with clip art.
I circle what they should pack. I write in how many in the little bubble. They check off each item as they gather it. For car trips, we usually pack into a laundry basket or two instead of a suitcase, so that makes things easier.
I should probably distinguish between short- and long-sleeved shirts because the girls often grab the wrong shirt for the weather. I also haven't figured out how to get across the idea that they should pack outfits that match. Maybe I should draw a line between tops and bottoms. Or just get over it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My simple mother's daybook

I'm borrowing this idea from the Simple Woman's Daybook that I saw on another mom's blog.

Outside my window ... the kittens are probably waking up and nursing from their mama kitty on the front porch.

I am thinking ... about all I want to accomplish today.

I am thankful for ... sleeping children.

From the learning rooms ... we have started learning about Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail in preparation for our September trip to Portland.
From the kitchen ... Addy and I made peanut butter cookies for Aunt Brenda's birthday last night.

I am wearing ... my pajamas. (It's 7 a.m.!) I'll probably still be wearing them at 10 a.m.

I am creating ... a vintage look for our the new kitchen at the farmhouse. Yesterday I decided on a backsplash.

I am going ... to take the girls to their swimming lessons later this morning.

I am reading ... "My Life on the Farm" by a man who grew up in this area. Also an issue of Redbook and the Rainbow Resource homeschool catalog.

I am hoping ... that our house on the other side of the state will sell so we are not broke.

I am hearing ... Bob getting out of the shower and getting ready for work.

Around the house ... are craft boxes from the girls making Brenda's birthday present, too much clutter, and some cardboard boxes to pack for our move.

One of my favorite things ... is getting to talk to Bob before he leaves for work. Usually I'm sleeping.

A few plans for the rest of the week are ... deciding whether we'll work at the farmhouse this weekend or go to the farm to work on our doors there.

Here is picture thought I am sharing ... I'm glad that Dori is growing up and able to participate in big kid activities along with her sister. This was at a homeschool nature discovery program at a state park last month. This was really the first time Dori was big enough to participate along with the other children. I also love that Dori and Addy are experiencing life together, as sisters.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When Johnny brings a knife to my house

OK, so since my niece is so desperate for me to blog about the trivia of my life, here's what's on my mind.

Little Johnny who goes to day care in our neighborhood (you know, the one who calls me Cinnamon, mixing me up with the cat) showed me the treasure in his pocket yesterday.

"Look what my Dad gave me!" It was a little pocket Leatherman, complete with pliers, mini flashlight, and blades.

Johnny is 4. About as high as my thigh.

Me: "Does that thing have a knife on it?!?"

Johnny: "Yep!" (Obviously very proud.)

I find myself using a lot of statements with this kid that begin with, "At our house, we ... ." This time it was, "At our house, kids don't play with knives. Here, I'll hold it until it's time for you to go."

So am I overreacting? Or is it absolutely nuts for a 4-year-old to have his own pocket knife? I can totally understand how some other parent (not me) might want to allow their child this tool. Under supervision. But never to run off with it to day care, and from there to wander over to the neighbor's. Am I way off base on this?

This is the same child who taught my kids to play shooting games. I know I'm a pretend-play pacifist, and that some perfectly normal children play pretend gun games. But it's too much for me. I don't even allow squirt guns in our house. "Johnny, at our house we don't play shooting games," I tell him as he points a stick toward my head.

"It's not a gun. It's a stick!"

Me: "I know. We still don't do it."

Johnny: "Aww, I won't shoot people then. C'mon, let's go shoot some deer!"

Me: "Johnny, we don't play any shooting games at our house."

Johnny: "What if we're huntin' for turkey?"

Later I'll regale you with stories of how when the kids play "jail," Johnny knows waaayyy too much of the terminology. Words like "release" and "bail" and "bond."

That's why they play at my house. I give out homemade popsicles to make sure.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The bead-up-the-nose incident

A month later, I'm able to reflect on the night Dori stuck a bead up her nose and finally laugh about it. We spent part of the day making bead necklaces, and for some reason Dori thought this shiny red Lifesaver-looking bead would be just perfect up her right nostril. Of course I wasn't in the room and learned about it when Addy came running and yelling.
I couldn't get it out on my first attempt. Having no idea how large the bead was, I was worried it was smaller and would be snuffed up into her sinuses. I was finally able to push it down from the outside and extract it. Ugh.

Second child syndrome

Poor Dori. It's true that the first child gets all the attention and the second child gets the leftovers. Just because Addy never had the knack for puzzles, it never occured to me to pull them out for Dori until recently. Turns out Dori loves puzzles and is very good at them!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My response to the New Yorker breastfeeding/pumping article

You may have seen Jill Lepore's article in the New Yorker, "Baby Food: If breast is best, why are women bottling their milk?" Then you may have read Kate Harding's critique on, "Throwing the baby out with the breast pump."

I posted this letter at Salon under the critique:

Pumping isn't the only option

It's a pretty comprehensive piece. What's missing: That pumped milk is a better choice than none, but a poorer choice than actual breastfeeding for reasons beyond emotional (physiological and medical). That an option somewhere between lactation rooms and lengthier maternity leave is on-site or nearby day care so the baby can breastfeed (the real thing, with actual human contact) a few times a day, taking no more time than pumping. And even better, employers realizing that babies in the workplace (gasp!) and mothers working from home are not revolutionary, but something that has worked well for many since the beginning of human existence. (I personally know it works for farm women, for example, but maybe not for on-duty skyscraper window-washers).

It's true that pumps may actually have a negative effect on breastfeeding in some, but certainly not all, cases. They're not nearly as efficient as the baby, so seeing a measly few teaspoons in the bottom of a bag can be disheartening. I've had a number of women who were WIC clients call and ask me how they can get an inexpensive pump, believing one was necessary for breastfeeding even if no mother-baby separation was in the cards.

The author was just plain wrong here: "Pumps put milk into bottles, even though many of breast-feeding's benefits to the baby, and all of its social and emotional benefits, come not from the liquid itself but from the smiling and cuddling (stuff that people who aren't breast-feeding can give babies, too)." Other caregivers can smile at and cuddle the baby, but it's not the same as Mom. The Salon piece seems to recognize this.

Regarding the Salon review, I don't see the ulterior motive she thinks the New Yorker author was trying to say. The New Yorker author is a writer; I'm pretty sure she could have found the words to state her point if it was anything other that what she did write. Those who are reading something into this that isn't there might be feeling some pangs of guilt themselves.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dori is starting to recognize letters

Yesterday Dori spent a long time at the easel, drawing circles. Then she started calling them Os. She made mommy Os, daddy Os, baby Os.

Last night she sat on my lap as I read the paper. The “Blondie” comic title caught her attention. Right away she pointed to the O in Blondie and said, “O spells me!” as she pointed to herself.

Then she became concerned. “O spells, Dori,” she insisted, “it doesn’t spell them!” and she pointed to the characters.