fo’, redux

Phil tagged me over the weekend. I did this meme a few months ago, but he's tweaked it since then, so I'm doing it again.

Four places I want to take my kids on vacation:
1. Paris

2. Provence

3. Rome

4. New Orleans

Four movies I could watch over and over with my kids:

1. Shrek

2. The Nutcracker

3. Freaky Friday (or as the Bee calls it, "the Best movie ever!"

4. Monsters, Inc.

Four TV shows I love to watch with my kids:

1. Spongebob Squarepants

2. Pee Wee's Playhouse

3. Angelina Ballerina

4. Dora the Explorer

Four restaurants I like to go to with my kids:

1. Friendly's

2. Hmm, the other three are all local places that will give me away. Suffice it to say: local 50's place

3. Local Italian restaurant

4. Local Mexican restaurant

Four things I want my kids to be good at:

1. Reading

2. Fighting injustice

3. Making art

4. Getting along with a wide variety of people

Four websites I visit daily:

1. Gmail

2. Badgerbag

3. Technorati

4. Bored Housewives Network

Four people I'll tag with this:

I'm not gonna tag anyone with this, since I tagged people last time. Drop me a line if you decide to do it, though.

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May 30, 2006. memes. 7 comments.

The Bee is a better woman than I am

Recently, I was wringing my hands about the fact that the Bee seems to have adopted my early method of no-hold-barred, go-for-the-jugular fighting. 

This morning, she and the Potato were having one of their squabbles in the other room, while I was eating breakfast. The Potato said, "I hate you!" to her (unfortunately, in his current state of language development, that actually sounds cute coming out of his mouth–more like "I hat oo!").

And you know what she did?

She said, "that's okay, I love you anyway."

I got all teary, and I went in and told her how proud I was of her for saying that. There just might be hope for us both. 

May 28, 2006. growing up. 17 comments.

job update

So I ended up not getting the job that I blogged about a few weeks ago. I think it's probably for the best, though, because when they got in touch to tell me that they were hiring someone else, I was hardly even disappointed. I can't remember ever feeling that way about losing out on a job before. Usually, even if I didn't really want the job, I'd be disappointed that they didn't want me. This means one of two things: either it wasn't the right fit, or I'm just not that interested in changing jobs right now. I guess the truth is somewhere in between.

Several months ago, I had started having some conversations with my boss about my work situation, and how it wasn't really right for me, and as a result of those conversations, I've just gotten a much better (for me) assignment. I won't have to be on the road as much, and I get to work in an office again, at least a few days a week. And remember how I was complaining about not going to enough meetings? I don't think that's going to be a problem any more.

So all in all, it's worked out for the best.

Here's wishing all my U.S. readers a happy Memorial Day weekend–hope the weather is beautiful where you are.

May 25, 2006. random other things. 11 comments.

tickled pink

Since landisdad started his new job, he's been working every Sunday. We alternate sleeping in on the weekend, and generally I get up with the kids on Saturdays, and sleep in on Sundays, at least until he has to go to work (and by sleep in, I mean until 8. Don't get your hopes up, parents of toddlers, the Bee still gets up 7, and the Potato's still in rising with the roosters mode). Most weeks, one or both of the kids will climb into bed with me when I'm lying there reading, and ask to be read a story.

Yesterday, however, the Bee climbed in bed and asked to read ME a story. I said yes, of course, and she hopped off to get her latest Junie B. Jones acquisition. She read me four chapters, and then I told her it was time for me to get up and take a shower before her dad left, and as I walked out, she kept reading to the Potato.

For those of you reading this who are not familiar with Junie B., she's not one been of my favorite kids' book characters. They're books that are written for an early reader, so the chapters are extremely short, the sentences are kind of choppy, and while Junie B. herself is a fairly well-drawn picture of a five-and six-year-old girl, I live with one of those, and don't feel any particular compulsion to read about one. If you had asked me last week, I would've said, give me Ramona the Brave any day.

But no more. From now on, I'm all Junie, all the time. Because that's what my girl wants to read to me, and I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am.

May 22, 2006. books for kids, growing up. 19 comments.

We’re all in this bed together

About once a month, I travel for my job. Most of the time, I stay in places that're one or two steps above a Motel 6, but about two or three times a year, I'm lucky enough to get put up in a really nice hotel. You know, the kind of place where you can't find the hair dryer right away. Or it takes you a while to figure out how to turn the shower on. The kind of place with a flat screen tv and free wireless internet access, and lavender spray for the pillows.

I had such an opportunity last week, and it reminded me of something I've been meaning to blog about, a campaign that the hotel workers' union is running called Hotel Workers Rising. You may have seen something about their campaign kickoff, a tour that featured Danny Glover and John Edwards.

One of the best things about those luxury rooms, of course are the beds. Beds with five and six pillows, with 300-thread-count sheets, with heavy duvets. The union's campaign is focusing on those beds, because while the beds (and the rooms) have become more and more luxurious, the housekeeping staff hasn't had an easy time of it. The housekeepers who have to make these beds still have the same number of rooms to clean, but the work of cleaning them has gotten much more complicated. The bedding is much heavier, and the mattresses are hard to lift. Housekeepers suffer a higher than average rate of work-related-injury, because they're trying to do more work in the same amount of time.

The hotel workers' union, UNITE HERE!, isn't trying to get rid of the beds, but they are trying to make the jobs better for the housekeepers. That involves not only increasing the wages, but also making sure that they are able to work safely. They want ergonomic training, and a reduction of the quota of rooms, so that the housekeepers aren't rushing to get their jobs done, resulting in more injuries. The industry is experiencing record profits, they've bounced back after the losses of 9/11, but the staffing levels in the hotels haven't come back.

This is a women's issue, it's a mom's issue. We all know what it's like to have too much to clean, to be constantly rushing to get everything done. Every mother (and I assume every father) who reads this blog, whether she's a working mom or a SAHM, understands that struggle.  Check out the website. Sign up for their email list. And most of all, when you're planning your summer vacation in the U.S. or Canada, don't stay at a hotel on their boycott list (or as they put it on their site, "Sleep with the Right People").

May 20, 2006. politically motivated. 9 comments.

how to be the change you want to see in the world

One of the things I find most frustrating about parenting is the lack of immediate results. By the time it becomes apparent whether or not landisdad and I have been good parents, it'll be too late to do anything about it. As regular readers know, I don't have the world's best relationship with my own parents, and there are moments in my life as a mom where I feel headed for a repeat performance, especially with the Bee.

I remember, growing up, there was a moment that I was fighting with my mom when I was about 13 where she said to me, "you fight just like your father!" What she meant by that was that I was relentless in a fight–I would say or do the most hurtful thing I could think of, to win an argument. And she was right–I would go straight for the jugular every time.

For many years, I thought of this as a strength. I thought that if I could hurt someone else more than they could hurt me, it meant that I was stronger than they were. I'm afraid that I've passed that method of fighting on to my daughter, just as I've come to realize how ridiculously awful a person that made me (and yes, the sharp poking in my eye? I'm aware that's the razor-like barb of irony).

There are near-daily temper tantrums. There is screaming. There are repeated threats to cause bodily harm. There is slamming and hitting and breaking and almost total disrespect for the idea that other people have feelings. So far, no cursing, but hey, there are still the pre-teen years. And who knows? Maybe this is normal. Maybe the Bee has the same number and ferocity of arguments with her parents as any about-to-be-seven-year-old girl. She's the only one I've ever parented, so I have a pretty narrow frame of reference.

As I lay in bed last night, pondering where I went wrong helping the Bee to develop a healthy way to fight, I was thinking about my own failure to develop a conflict strategy that's different from my dad's. I'm the adult in this relationship, and I have to be the one who figures it out. I can't let the current situation continue, because it will surely end as my relationship with my dad has done–not speaking, not visiting, not communicating in any way. The last time I saw my dad, I was pregnant with the Potato, but we didn't know the gender of the baby. To this day, he doesn't know if I had a boy or a girl. It's one of those things that could make you crazy if you thought about it too much, so I don't.

There was a period, after the Bee was born, when my dad and I tried to have a normal relationship, but our history and my stepmother got in the way. I don't know if I'll ever talk to him again–nor do I particularly want to do so. I can't figure out a way to deal with the Bee that involves me and my dad putting aside our (at this point mutual) animosity, because that is just not gonna happen.

It's hard to parent yourself as an adult, but I feel like that's what I'm going to have to do. I have to teach myself how to be different, so I can teach her how to be different. But how am I going to know if it worked?

May 17, 2006. thoughtful parenting. 22 comments.

“M” is for the Many hours she worked…

8 hours.jpg*

Just over 120 years ago, on May 1, 1886, workers in Chicago and other cities across the U.S. struck for the eight-hour day. Until that point, workers were commonly forced to work 10 or more hours in a day, without additional compensation. They had been organizing for nearly 20 years to build a movement to take back their own lives. Their slogan was "eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what you will." Their strike was met with violence, but it paid off–states started passing legislation limiting the workday, and in 1940 (I know, can you believe it took 74 years?), the US Congress finally passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set one workday standard for the entire country.

In the 1960s and '70s, women in the U.S. agitated for equal access to jobs and for equal pay. They demanded access to quality childcare programs and after-school care, so that they could be reliable workers. And while the struggle for pay equity continues, we've mostly won the access-to-jobs fight at this point–woe be to any employer who puts a 'girls need not apply' ad in the classifieds these days.

But where did it get us? And by us, I mean all of us, not just women, not just shift workers, not just working parents. Those things were good things to win, and they made our lives better–I don't know anyone who's interested in going back to the working conditions that existed in 1886. But they didn't go far enough.

The fight for the eight-hour day was predicated on the idea that a man should be able to feed his family on what he earned in eight hours in a day. It wasn't just that he should only have to work eight hours–it was that he should have a family-sustaining wage at his eight-hour job. The fight for equal access for women was fought not just to give highly educated women access to jobs at law firms that wouldn't hire them before–it was a fight to give women entry into jobs as welders, and race car drivers, and I don't know, hod carriers.

I don't think our forefathers and foremothers could've predicted where we've ended up as a result of their efforts. Now, instead of one job providing a family-sustaining wage, we've got two parents working just to get by. Now, instead of the eight-hour day, we're creeping back to the ten-hour day with no additional pay. We're juggling our kids, our jobs, our homes. It's not about keeping up with the Jones' anymore, it's about keeping ahead of the bill collector.

There are those who would say it's the workers who got greedy, that the dysfunction of our society is just about people wanting too much, wanting two cars, and a tv in every room, and expensive consumer electronics. I disagree. I think we didn't demand enough, didn't fight for the logical conclusion of the eight-hour day and equal access to jobs.

I think it's time for the four-hour day.

If we believed, as we did, that one man, working eight hours in a day, should be able to sustain his family, then it's time for the four-hour day. If we believed, as we did, that women should be able to have equal access to jobs, and to have equal pay for their work in those jobs, then it's time to demand the four-hour day. We've more than doubled our workforce by adding women to the mix–why haven't we seen a halving in the need for our labor?

Try to imagine what your life would be like right now, if feminists and the labor movement had joined this fight, together, thirty years ago. Imagine that you could spend time volunteering in your kids' school, or shopping to cook healthy meals, or hanging out and reading to your baby. Imagine if you weren't pressed for time every moment of your day, so that by the time Friday night rolls around, you collapse in a heap, too tired to do anything but watch Law & Order reruns.

As we approach this Mother's Day weekend, why not do something good for all the mothers in your life, and the fathers too. Call your Congressperson and Senator. Tell them it's time for the four-hour day. We might not win it for ourselves, but if we don't start now, we won't even win it for our grandchildren.

*To order this poster, go here. For more info on the economics behind the four-hour day, go here.

May 12, 2006. politically motivated. 19 comments.

tagged for three

Leggy tagged me a few days ago…

20 years ago I . . .

1. was about to graduate from high school.

2. thought I would never have kids

3. got talked into going to the prom by my best-friend with a guy I broke up with about 2 minutes after graduation.

10 years ago I . . .

1. was running field on a school bond election campaign in Milpitas, CA

2. lived in a dome-shaped apartment building in Oakland

3. with landisdad

5 years ago I . . .

1. had just started trying to have kid #2

2. had never been to the emergency room with my daughter

3. had just changed jobs, to a place I thought I'd work for the next ten years (oops!)

3 years ago I . . .

1. was pregnant with the Potato

2. and running a major project for my job

3. and fighting with lawyers a lot about strategy for that project

1 year ago I . . .

1. had started this blog!

2. was approaching the end of kindergarten (for the Bee) with great relief

3. was worrying that my daughter had diabetes.

So far this year I . . .

1. have traveled for my job four times

2. have been interviewed on the radio twice

3. (we) took our kids to the anti-war march in NYC

Yesterday I . . .

1. allowed the Bee to go on an after-school playdate, without realizing that the other mother was the kind of person who gives kids ice cream for a snack at 5:30

2. sent my mom a Mother's Day gift

3. washed all of the Potato's laundry, so that he could repeat this performance at daycare today.

Today I . . .

1. bought cat litter (TMI? thought so)

2. tickled the Potato mercilessly (I can't resist the toddler giggle!)

3. helped the Bee work on a project involving a dinosaur that I've never heard of before (it's a two-way teaching street, here in landisville)

Tomorrow I will . . .

1. drive a ridiculous distance to go to a work-related event

2. not be home in time for dinner

3. or bed

In the next year I will . . .

1. finally be diaper-free (at least until landisdad or I are ready for Depends)

2. take our kids out of the country on vacation for the first time

3. probably alienate a bunch of travelers, while accomplishing #2

In the next minute I will tag . . .

1. Croutonboy
2. Jackie
3. Doth

May 10, 2006. memes. 7 comments.

another great moment in parenting

I thought about password-protecting this post, but I decided against it. You might all need to chip in for therapy for my son, though.

Today, the Potato wore underpants to daycare, a first for my boy. For those of you who are not yet at the potty-training moment (or who are too far past it to care), this, my friends, is a big deal. He also brought with him a bag containing 4 more pairs of underpants and pants, for the inevitable accidents. And yes, he came home wearing outfit #5, without socks on, because his neglectful mommy forgot that sometimes, pee gets on feet. Also, a totally different shirt. I'm not really sure how that happened, I guess it's a guy thing.

Still, I'm tremendously excited, because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel that makes the whole upstairs of my house smell awful. I realize that it may take another year until we're diaper-free forever, but we're getting there.

When the Bee was potty training, she contracted shigellosis. Not only did this charming bacteria cause us to keep her out of daycare for three weeks (and oh, thanks Department of Health for posting that notice on the door–I knew just how Typhoid Mary must have felt), it caused her to, how shall I say this, regress. I'm hopeful that the Potato stays away from the bad hot dogs. 

May 9, 2006. growing up. 13 comments.

where the grrrls are

First off, just let me say thanks for all the great book recommendations. I've filled up both my powells.com and my bookins.com wishlists, plus ordered a few things I just couldn't wait for. And let me tell you, I wasn't really looking for a strategy to get folks to de-lurk, but it sure worked–I can't remember the last post I wrote that got 20 comments in 2 days.

I also finished Never Let Me Go this morning.

Loved. It.

I wanted to return the favor, and when I got home Friday night, I found the perfect thing to recommend. My beloved Bitch magazine is turning 10 this year, and to commemorate themselves, the editors are publishing an anthology this summer. I have read every issue of this magazine since the first one–I think I found it at Cody's Books, on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. In fact, I once even got a snippy email from the publisher, Lisa Jervis, when I complained that I fell off their subscription list after moving to the East Coast, which I now wish I had saved–I was probably one of like 50 subscribers at the time, or else why else would the publisher have been emailing me?

For those of you who don't get enough snarky, feminist commentary on pop culture on the internet, this is your magazine. Bitch was the first thing I read that made me realize I wasn't the only woman over 19 watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The magazine that introduced me to Television Without Pity, and Sarah Jones, and LunaPads. Sure, it's not always SFW (or for leaving on the coffee table at home, now that I have kids), with its sex toy ads on the back cover. But it is always smart, and often hilariously funny. 

It's the one magazine we get (and we get a LOT of magazines) that I will read cover-to-cover, the day it arrives, and then spend the next three months moping around wishing I hadn't read it so fast. The one magazine to which I have ever written a letter to the editor. The one magazine that I lend to friends, to turn them into Bitch-junkies too. I'm definitely buying this anthology, and you should too. 

May 7, 2006. books for grown-ups. 6 comments.

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