Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's fun to speak up!

I just called my Congressional representative, Jerry McNerney, to tell him how disappointed I am in his vote for the resolution condemning's ad about Gen.Petraeus. I called his Pleasanton and DC offices.

I left a message in Pleasanton. The DC staffer said Congressman McNerney supports the First Amendment (hooray!) but that he found the ad "in poor taste." Um, excuse me? The Congress of the United States of America has time to condemn ads they find "in poor taste"? That is totally unacceptable. There's a war in Iraq, thousands of children without health care in the US (President Bush is planning to veto children's health insurance, by the way), and a million other ACTUAL PROBLEMS to deal with. HELLO?! God. What did we elect these people for? Not this.

If you think this is a waste of time and YOUR taxpayer money, tell your Congressperson so. Here's the info from

They didn't condemn Vice President Cheney when he falsely connected Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.1

They didn't condemn Colin Powell when he lied about WMD to the United Nations.2

They didn't condemn President Bush when he started eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant.3

They didn't condemn President Bush and the Republicans when they attacked Sen. John Kerry's war record.4

They didn't condemn Sen. Saxby Chambliss when he ran ads comparing triple-amputee and war hero Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden.5

They still haven't done enough to slow this dreadful war or protect our troops.6

But a few hours ago, your representative voted in the House to join the Senate in condemning a newspaper ad.7

Enough. Can you call Congressman Jerry McNerney—tell him to stop voting on useless resolutions and force an end to the war?

Congressman Jerry McNerney
Phone: 202-225-1947
District Offices:
Pleasanton: 925-737-0727
Stockton: 209-476-8552

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

Republicans are hoping to use this to destroy us. Some Democrats are so afraid of being attacked that they're joining in a right-wing smear campaign.

Well, they need to know that we're not going to quiet down.

When you call, tell them that we're going to keep giving voice to the majority of Americans who want the war to end. We're going to keep the pressure on every scared Democrat and every pro-war Republican. We're going to demand they stand up—and turn them out of office if they don't. And we will never stand down until we have a majority of Congress with the guts to stand up for what's right.

If it's late where you are and the D.C. office is closed, make sure to call tomorrow.

Thanks for all you do.

–Eli, Ilyse, Daniel, Justin and the Political Action Team
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007


1. "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed," The Washington Post, June 16, 2004

2. "Powell calls pre-Iraq speech a 'blot' on his record," USA Today, September 9, 2005

3. "Judge rebukes wiretap program," MSNBC, August 18, 2006

4. "Lawyer Quits Bush-Cheney Organization," Washington Post, August 26, 2004

5. "Political Veteran," Washington Post, July 3, 2003

6. "Democrats Fall Short in Effort to Shift Course of Iraq War," The New York Times, September 19, 2007

7. "House Condemns's Petraeus Ad," Associated Press, September 26, 2007

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Monday, September 24, 2007

book review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Let me start by saying I'm a foodie. I live in the Bay Area, and cherishing food is part of the culture here. It's not just what's on your plate-- it's everything, including who grew it, who transported it and how, who sells it and why.

There are people out there who will roll their eyes at the notion of a home-cooked meal made with homegrown (or at least, locally grown) food. Not me-- I love, even luxuriate in, that kind of thing. If you do, too, you'll be right at home in the pages of Barbara Kingsolver's ode to the foodie, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

Much like The Omnivore's Dilemma, AVM reveals the sordid underbelly of the American food machine. It's pretty ugly-- or perhaps the better word is tasteless. Agribusiness is first and foremost, business, and as such it's not going to protect the very things consumers value-- taste, quality, healthfulness (that is, the lack of killing substances like pesticides). Sure, these businesses will argue that what consumers really want is consistency (all the apples should look alike- it doesn't matter how mealy they are) and convenience (the tomatoes should last a couple weeks-- it doesn't matter how tasteless they are). They can make these products cheaply and make them cheap for the consumer.

But cheap food doesn't nourish. Or maybe I should say, cheaply made food doesn't nourish. Lots of farmer's market food, homegrown food, and local food is inexpensive, and it tastes like a million bucks. Or better.

Kingsolver writes about the many ways food affects us (everything from our stress levels to our family time to ... well, you name it, food probably affects it). And her family gets into the act-- her daughter Camille includes lovely recipes, and her husband Steve pens wry sidebars detailing in 500 words or less the food politics that shape what we eat.

It's a really worthwhile read. (And let me tell you, I was looking for something worthwhile. I'm still suffering post- Harry Potter depression!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

weekly menu

This week I felt inspired to go a little above and beyond. With my mom there to help me watch Minkie, I was able to be a little more creative with dinner.

That said, these dishes are all incredibly easy! Even if I didn't have help with the baby, they wouldn't have been too hard. And the taste return on the time investment is *unbelievably* rewarding.

M: mixed baby greens salad, whole wheat ravioli (fresh pasta from a package)

T: roasted halibut with braised artichokes and potatoes (one dish wonder- so flavorful! San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market cookbook)

W: curried chicken, sweet potato, coconut soup (incredibly delicious and the chicken is perfectly tender. Pressure Perfect cookbook)

Th: herb roasted cornish game hens with a leek and mushroom wine sauce (deglazing the pan with wine made The Most Delicious scent ever. San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market cookbook)

F: leftovers; homemade chocolate chip cookies

Thursday, September 20, 2007

more fun than C-SPAN!

I actually like C-SPAN. You get the news from DC straight from the source, without the often-useless, analysis-free, opinionated drivel heaped in from cable and network news. It's fun to see our Senators and Representatives in action (when they're actually in session). Since I have a background in environmental health, seeing how the Hill handles (or fails to handle) the toxic toys scandal has been of great interest-- especially since my former colleagues at Center for Environmental Health have been featured, like, everywhere.

But I understand, different strokes for different folks, and some people just don't think C-SPAN is all that and a bag of chips.

For those people, I give you News From the Swamp: Liveblogging the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, covering the House hearings on the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the toxic toys debacle. This blogger has a great sense of humor and you get a very good sense of how things work on the Hill. While you're there, you may want to check out the front page at The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back. If you're a consumer, you'll appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MomsRising and Rosie the Riveter

(New Minkie photos in the post below this one!)

We've heard a lot at MomsRising about having Rosie the Riveter as a logo. Most of the comments have been from women of color who feel that Rosie doesn't represent them. One of the most eloquent comments on this has been from Jennifer James, who wrote a well-researched entry on the Black Breastfeeding blog on why she couldn't support MomsRising while Rosie was our logo.

Here's my response. Addressing these things honestly and forthrightly and lovingly can be scary, but sometimes we have to do the scary thing.

"Hi Jennifer! I'm a woman of color on the MomsRising executive team, and I'm so glad you brought this up on your blog. Most of us on the team know that Rosie means different things to different people. You eloquently showed the truth of that in your original blog post.

I'm proud to be part of this team because we're really responsive to member input. We've been hearing about the need to demonstrate more diversity in our materials, and I couldn't agree more. Instead of using an image that means different things to different people, we want to show that we've got a single message-- to build a truly family-friendly America. Not just for some people, but for every single person who considers themselves a caregiver. A diverse group indeed!

One of the deepest experiences we've had regarding race had to do with the petition on Imus we wrote when his comments came out. There was a lot of thoughtful discussion on the team about whether this was within our M-O-T-H-E-R-S platform. I urged MomsRising to take this on because I felt that as a mother, I had to speak out against this - what kind of media do I want my daughter consuming? What messages do I want her hearing, believing? Definitely not the tripe coming from Imus and his ilk. I felt this fit squarely in our T platform (Television We Choose and Other After School Programs).

There was disagreement and respectful (and passionate) discussion. Though there were plenty of people (frankly, probably white) who told us they didn't see why MomsRising was addressing this, I remain grateful that there were and are plenty who see exactly why it's so important for MomsRising to stand up against bigoted comments and stand up not only with people of color, but as people of color.

Diversity is not a peripheral goal- it's integral to the growth and integrity of our organization. I hope that one day very soon, the membership of MomsRising will reflect the vast diversity of mothers/caregivers in the US. How powerful we'll be when we all stand together! Thanks again, Jennifer."

Happy ending-- after Jennifer heard straight from the top (our ED, Kristin, wrote to her and invited her to blog at the MomsRising website), and heard that we're not using Rosie as a logo anymore (after hearing a ton of comments about it), she saw that MomsRising includes her, too. Peace!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Minkie goes beachy!

We just returned from a quick trip to northern Florida (that is to say, southern Alabama) to visit my sister in law, bro in law and their 20 month old. Adventures in traveling, indeed!

Our flight on American Airlines was scheduled for 11 am, September 10. Of course, it was canceled due to weather in Dallas, and we were sent home to wait for our rescheduled flight on that most auspicious of flying days, Sept. 11.

Happily, that turned out to be our only snafu. Other than being sad that we lost a day of vacay, we enjoyed drama-free travel and a relaxing trip. One highlight was when BIL's granddad took us out to dinner at a restaurant called Gators, built on the swampy edge of a river where you could watch-- you guessed it-- alligators. You couldn't tell from the menu, but everything was fried. Everything. The menu might read "flounder," but that meant fried flounder. I had hush puppies for the first time. I also had a Dairy Queen frozen dessert (is it ice cream, truly? Ponder that...) and saw bats at night. It was a true cultural experience.

Here are some photos from the trip. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

my secret power

There are a few moments in elementary school that really stand out in my memory. One bright and shining moment is when my sixth grade teacher called me "goddamned cavalier."

You have to hear this in your head said in a New York accent by a lady in her sixties with hair just like Janet in Three's Company.

What had I done to attract such wrath? Well, to this day I'm still not sure. I know it had something to do with the fact that a measuring tape was missing and that I was searching for it, but perhaps not in quite the frantic manner she thought the missing measuring tape deserved.

I was leaving the classroom to search another room, and as I leaned on the heavy door, she said, "How can you be so goddamned cavalier?"

And feeling completely sanguine, I thought , "What does 'cavalier' mean?" Thus confirming my cavalier-ness (cavalierity?).

True, getting sworn at by an elementary school teacher is quite memorable. But rather than remember this moment with shame or regret, I've decided that this moment revealed that being cavalier is my secret power. I like to think of it as my fabulously low blood pressure, or even better-- as my cool-as-a-cucumber, double-oh-seven, wits-about-me nature in crisis situations. It's been handy to have a personality trait that keeps me from losing my head. True, it also slows the evolutionarily helpful fight or flight response. But hey, I figure in the 21st century when I'm not hunting or being hunted (I think), the low blood pressure might actually be more likely to keep me alive.

Secret powers... good stuff. I'm going to have to keep a list of these for reference so I can refer to them as needed. Especially as Minkie gets older! I can see the cavalierosity coming in handy as the teenage years approach... (ok, about twelve years from now, but it's never too early to be prepared!).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Apple-Gram a Day!

Dear California MomsRising Member,

Apple-Grams!? This year approximately 763,000 CA children are starting school without health care coverage, and the legislature has one week to take action for kids before session ends. Let's send the legislature 763,000 apples with your one-line messages supporting health care for all children stuck right on the apple. Well, maybe not 763,000 apples! That would fill the building, but let's at least send hundreds of Apple-Grams their way and make a bold statement reminding them that the "apples of our eyes" need our help.

SEND YOUR APPLE-GRAM NOW: Imagine baskets full of apples, with each apple bearing a MomsRising member's message supporting health care for all kids. Click below to quickly write your free, one-line message to CA legislators supporting healthcare for all children. MomsRising will then print these messages on stickers and put them on apples to be delivered in baskets as Apple-Grams to legislative leaders next Monday, September 10th.

To send your free Apple-Gram now, just go HERE!

Help children while keeping up our MomsRising tradition of bringing attention to important issues with our inventive approaches!

THE LOWDOWN: The massive gap in our health care system puts these children at risk and significantly limits their potential to learn and grow. Plus, it's just plain wrong. There are several pending health care bills before the legislature that could cover all kids- but, so far, nothing is happening! Citizens need to send a strong message to all legislators that kids matter, and any health care reform should include coverage for all children. Legislators have just one week left in this legislative session to work on health care reform. Join us in urging our leaders not to forget California's kids!

Parents in California are working hard to protect our children's health, and by banding together to send a strong message of support for children's health care we can make a big impact. Next Monday (September 10th) we'll be delivering the Apple-Grams in beautiful baskets to leaders with your messages supporting health care for all children. We'll also be delivering your signatures on our petition to support health care for all children at the same time. Let's remind our leaders that we're doing our part to keep our kids healthy?now it's time for them to do theirs.

YOU CAN HELP - YES YOU! You can be part of creating this powerful visual statement by sending an Apple-Gram now! It's FREE! Personalizing our message will make it even more effective-- so send in YOUR message or dedication and we'll stick your message on an apple.

Your message can be whatever you want: Your hope (Let's cover all kids in 2007!); a dedication to a specific child (Luke, age 9, deserves to grow up healthy); or a word of encouragement (We can do it California!)

*Click HERE to send your free Apple-Gram now!

The Apple-Grams, along with the thousands of petition signatures you've sent in, will remind our legislators that real moms, kids, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents support health care coverage for all kids. Contributing to these Apple-Gram baskets is a powerful way to help all children in California to get health care coverage, without having to take time off work, get a sitter, or drive to your state capital. Plus, creating something unique and eye-catching is often an extremely effective way to catch the attention of the press, and a key part of forming public opinion and understanding.

JOIN US! -- We need volunteers to assist with delivering the apples baskets and petition signatures to our state leaders on Monday, September 10th at 11am at the State Capitol. We'll be visiting the several legislative offices together as a MomsRising delegation - it will be fun! If you want to sign up to join us, click HERE!

Once you sign up, we'll give you all of the information you need to meet up with us on Monday!

Best -- Ashley, Donna & the MomsRising Team

P.S. DON'T FORGET TO SIGN THE PETITION - If you haven't done so already, please sign our petition calling on our leaders to provide health care coverage for all children. The more messages and petition signatures, the better! Click here to add your name to the petition.

P.P.S. WANT TO HELP DELIVER THE APPLE-GRAMS? - If you would like to help us by making a donation to help us buy the apples, baskets and other equipment needed for this event (every dollar counts!), please click here.

Your donations make the work of MomsRising possible. To donate today on our new, secure website click here.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back to The Moan

Well, we've done it. We moved into my parents' place. ('which shall surely give you plenty of blogger fodder' say my imaginary readers. 'Bwah-hah-hah' say my imaginary foes.) They live in a city whose last syllable is "mon," pronounced "moan," hence the high school nickname The Moan.

It's not the Most Fabulous Thing I've ever done in my life (there are a few top contenders for that title, among them scaling Hospital Hill in Mutare, Zimbabwe to watch the spectacular sunset over Mozambique; celebrating my 21st birthday with 300 international students in Strasbourg, France; attending a gala at the Kennedy Center with great human rights defenders and some movie stars).

In fact, it feels a little shabby. But I also feel a little bit of the California pioneer spirit-- "We do what we must do," she says with her proud chin held high. (You can drag a romantic spirit in the mud, but dammit, you can't kill it. I have read too much Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

I mean, how else is anyone going to become a homeowner in the Bay Area but By Any Means Necessary? Desperate times, desperate measures. Though we're watching the housing market like a pair of half-starved hawks-- the way it lumbers along, we figure there'll be a decent chance for us to buy in the next two years, even in the uber-expensive Bay Area market.

Sigh. I'm having a soup party at the end of the month and am going to invite old friends as well as a few neighbors. Sadly, one neighbor has an atrocious Hummer with a custom paint job of maple leaves meant to look like camo and a license plate that reads: "HUMER[heart]ER." Another neighbor has one giant American flag, three giant SUVs, and a bumper sticker that reads "Bush Cheney 2004," which is totally unforgivable. (Bush 2000 voters might be forgiven for being churlish and naive if they have since seen the light, but 2004? Um, yikes.)

I figure there must be some fun, sane, smart people living here or Jerry McNerney wouldn't have been elected. Right? Right? I'm going to find them. Off to check craigslist groups! Wish us luck!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

because Mamas need a laugh too

Total silliness. Enjoy!