Saturday, October 31, 2009

Confessions!! Or, my conflicted feelings about Twilight

First-- TOO LONG! It has been too long since I updated the blog. It hasn't gotten truly dusty but I will find more snark and polish the blog more often.

Ok. True confessions. So, I'm SO excited because a friend just asked me to be in her book club, and I've wanted to be part of a book club for so long, and my kids are finally at a point where I feel like I can leave for a few hours (1 and 3-- it's a miracle milestone, I tell you). And she's one of my handful of mama friends who are actually local (uh, at least within 30 miles) and about my age. And the next meeting is in January so I have plenty of time to get caught up. I hit the library so fast for the books...

The last books they'd read were the Twilight series, and they were reading Make Him Look Good for January.

I had been avoiding the Twilight juggernaut the way some people avoided the Harry Potter series-- just because it was huge, they wanted to just skip it. (sidebar: For the record, I read all the HP books, and by the last one I was a feverish fan. For my money, the writing got better and better and the story was amazing. And I loved that one of the hands-down biggest butt kicking heroes was a mom, and that many plotlines revolved around maternal relationships. /long-winded sidebar)

Ok, so I was going to skip Twilight. But picked it up for the book club. Friends, it was bad. BAD bad, not even "guilty pleasure" bad. But you know what's compelling? It's very nearly the bad, awful, swoony stuff I would have LOVED (and maybe even secretly written) myself in high school.

The writing is terrible, the characters are flat, the plot is no revelation, there's no beauty in the language. But what works is that it reminds me of the daydreams I would indulge in during high school about The Perfect Guy. Then it amplifies those daydreams by, oh, a couple hundred pages, and voila! A runaway bestseller and movie hit.

I finished Twilight, then turned to Make Him Look Good.

That one was worse. It was so bad, and there was no redemptive "well-maybe-it-works-for-a-high-school-daydream" escape clause. Nope. This was so shallow, so terrible, it's one of the few books I've ever returned without finishing. I did not care at all what happened to Milan, Geneva, or "JSan" (=Jill Sanchez, a carbon copy of JLo-- YEAH, it's THAT bad).

This author should be ashamed of this book. It never should have been published-- there's no story here and no evidence that she tried to create one. At all. The reviewers who gave semi-decent reviews to this are obviously getting paid off, in my opinion. You can judge this book by its inane, meaningless cover.

Which means that when I went to check out Eclipse (book 2 in Twilight), suddenly I was like, "Hmm, not terrible." Even though it still *is,* at least the earnestness of the author seems to come through. That counts for something, I guess. (Although I believe that this series was picked up solely because marketers needed a fantasy hook for Potter fans who were getting a little older, I think Stephanie Meyer didn't write it *just* for that purpose.)

So now I'm palate cleansing with Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. I can't fly through it-- I actually have to think. It's a bit of a labor but you know, it's also incredible literature.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just a Mom- HMN

Nancy Massoto of Holistic Moms Network just posted her introductory remarks at their conference (I think in NJ). So moving and beautiful. Except I don't think I would have "just smiled" at the man who called HMN "just a mom's group."

This is worth a read! A great reminder of how I want to approach parenting.

I'm a member of my local HMN chapter and I've really enjoyed attending the monthly meetings. Though I missed this month's, which was about vaccinations. Definitely a hot topic. I prefer evidence-based medicine myself, and I'm fairly confident in the science that supports vaccinations for most virus and bacteria based illnesses. I'm a little skeptical about the efficacy of this year's flu vaccines after learning that last year's didn't protect against the right strain of flu virus. And I'm as concerned as anyone about long-term effects of additives and preservatives in vaccines. At the same time, I'm not going to lose my children to whooping cough (and there are children in the area who have succumbed because they weren't vaccinated).

But don't get me started on pharmaceutical greed and pushing out their products that people don't need to make a profit, and the need to educate ourselves as consumers. Very difficult for a layperson to sort out the real science from the pseudoscience and the paid shills.

Anyhoo-- I'm really glad there's a group like HMN around, especially here in the suburbs where it's not so easy to find a group of like-minded parents who share their knowledge and experience on living more healthfully. Ah, suburbs and city planning, the fodder for another post!

EPIC WIN! lip balm review and other stuff I like

So I was over at TheMotherhood, participating in a chat with Dr.Greene about healthy kids and eating. We were having a great time exchanging stories about sneaking healthy foods in and I mentioned getting inspired by Deceptively Delicious, Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook.

[sidebar: this kind of thing always confounds me-- how do people not trained as chefs have the chutzpah to write cookbooks? But I guess when you've got a good idea and have some connections to push it through, you can do many things. I want the chutzpah to write a novel without having been an English major. /sidebar]

So the chat goes on, we talk about gummy vitamins, etc., and suddenly someone's like "Zephyr you won!!!" and I was like "won what?!" I didn't even know there was something to win during that chat.

Oh but there WAS. Healthy Child Healthy World donated a gift box of stuff and I had won it. And it is AMAZING!!! I got a copy of their book, Healthy Child Healthy World; Food to Live By, the Earthbound Organics lovely cookbook; and Feeding Baby Green, by Dr. Greene.

And I also got about 20 Luna bars, Clif bars, and Clif Kidz bars (which Paloma adores and which make perfect car snacks), a Klean Kanteen which I totally needed, Plum tots organic baby foods (yay for Sabrina! I tried these before giving them to her and they were actually delicious and fresh tasting, like my homemade stuff, and unlike jarred baby food), and an AWESOME kids bento by thinkbaby. Orange, stainless steel, easy on/off lids and great design. Love it. This thing is going to get a ton of use by the whole family.

The Luna lip balm is sadly not sold in stores, but it is so delicious. Chocolate Peppermint, and I'm not usually a chocolate mint evangelist. But darned if it doesn't make me want a Luna chocolate peppermint bar. I know, calories, but makes a good snack.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

climate blog action day!

I'm posting in support of Blog Action Day for the climate. I saw a great post on kids and pesticides at Climate of our Future. There was some great information there, also posted at Earthjustice and PANNA:

Farm Workers and Allies Ask Gov’t to Protect Kids From Toxic Pesticide Drift

Petition to EPA includes immediate no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, day care centers for most toxic pesticides

October 14, 2009

Lindsay, CA – Luis Medellin and his three little sisters – aged 5, 9 and 12 – live in the middle of an orange grove in this small Central Valley town. During the growing season, Luis and his sisters are awakened several times a week by the sickly smell of nighttime pesticide spraying. What follows is worse: searing headaches, nausea, vomiting.

But if a coalition of farm worker, public health, and children’s advocates are successful, Luis and his little sisters may one day be able to sleep through the night without these toxic disruptions.

The public interest law firms Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed a petition today asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set safety standards protecting children who grow up near farms from the harmful effects of pesticide ‘drift‘ – the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated fields. The groups are also asking the agency to immediately adopt no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers for the most dangerous and drift-prone pesticides.

The petition was filed on behalf of farm worker groups United Farm Workers, Oregon-based Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO as well as Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington-based Sea Mar Community Health Center, Pesticide Action Network, and the million-plus member

The Medellin family’s story is not unique. From apple orchards in Washington to potato fields in Florida, poisonous pesticide ‘clouds’ plague the people who live nearby – posing a particular risk to the young children of the nation’s farm workers, many of whom live in industry housing at the field’s edge.

“When farm workers come home after a long day in the fields and orchards, they’re faced with yet another worry – the poisons that are settling in their homes, their lawns, their children’s bodies,” said Erik Nicholson, National Vice President of United Farm Workers. “We can’t let another growing season go by. EPA needs to put an end to this today.”

In 1996, Congress required EPA to set standards by 2006 to protect children from pesticides. Three years have passed since that deadline, and EPA’s job is only partially complete. The agency has made some progress – banning the use of some pesticides in the home and on lawns. But the agency has failed to protect children from these same pesticides when they drift from treated fields into nearby yards, homes, schools, parks and daycare centers.

“In farming communities throughout the country, children have been abandoned by federal pesticide protections,” said Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer. “We’re asking EPA to finish the job it started so children who live, go to school, or play near farms and orchards are kept safe from poisonous pesticides.”

EPA has acknowledged the risk of pesticide drift, but still chose to go ahead with a double-standard: protecting urban and suburban areas, while leaving the children of farm workers and other rural kids vulnerable.

“We traditionally think of farms as healthy places,” said President Joan Blades. ”But children and families across the country are being poisoned by pesticides that travel from the fields into their houses and bedrooms, causing serious and long-lasting damage to their health. We already have standards barring the use of such pesticides for homes and lawns to protect children. But all children deserve such protection. You shouldn’t have to live in the suburbs to be safe from deadly pesticides.”

“It’s time the EPA put an end to this double-standard for farm workers. EPA’s policies must protect farm workers and their children from unnecessary poisoning,” said Farmworker Justice attorney Virginia Ruiz.

Pesticide poisoning reports and scientific studies show that pesticides are ending up in the air and in people’s bodies at unsafe levels. Among a host of examples: recent air monitoring conducted near the Southwoods Elementary School in Hastings, Florida, detected pesticides in every sample, sometimes at levels that may pose serious health risks to young children.

“Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposures both because their smaller bodies cannot break down toxins as well as adults, and because their developmental processes are prone to being derailed — even by very low-level exposure,” explains Dr. Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist for Pesticide Action Network. “The particular pesticides we’re finding in our drift catching and biomonitoring results are some of the worst: chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan…these are associated with serious short- and long-term health effects. They are also entirely unnecessary.”

One of the pesticides identified as being so dangerous that the groups have asked EPA to adopt immediate no-spray buffer zone is chlorpyrifos – initially developed as a nerve toxin by the Nazis. The short term effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos have been likened to a chemically-induced flu: chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, coughing and wheezing, weakness, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and even death.

“It’s outrageous that our own government isn’t protecting our children from being poisoned by pesticides drifting on their homes and schools,” said Julie Montgomery, Project Director and attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. “How can parents possibly protect their children from these dangers on their own?”

Additional Resources

* A fact sheet detailing the specific health risks linked to pesticide exposure:
* A background piece on the science behind pesticide drift:
* The four-page (PDF) results of Hastings, FL drift-catcher results:

Friday, October 09, 2009

where are my head of state shoes?

Ok, so I'm not a fan of the princess crap marketed to little girls. At the same time, I'm not about to deny my daughter the silly fun of glittery shoes, pink frilly skirts, etc. I'd let her -- even encourage her-- to get that stuff dirty in the sandbox if she wants to wear it.

So what's a mom to do? I decided I'm teaching Paloma to say "head of state" instead of "princess." Why? Because the marketers make it seem like princess=wear floaty dresses and do whatever you want all day. And it's totally not true! A princess has duties, yo. These days she's got to know whether to send in the troops, what the fiscal deficit is, how to greet other heads of state in seventeen languages, not to mention be familiar with other cultures, represent her culture well, be well read and scientifically literate. She might become the queen and I know you all saw "Elizabeth." Cate Blanchett wasn't sitting on her butt drinking tea all day, that's for sure.

Sure, wear the crown-- while you do your math homework. You have to be able to count if you're going to know what to do with the the Census numbers for your kingdom.

Here's an example of real women in politics, including a real princess. It's a fun celebration and all, but... you get where I'm going with this.
New York City Celebrates 400th Anniversary Of Dutch Discovery Of Manhattan
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, kick-off festivities celebrating the NY400 Week at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on September 8, 2009 in New York, New York. NY400 Week, which runs from September 8-13 marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson�s arrival on a Dutch ship to New York harbor in 1609. New York will celebrate the event with Dutch festivals, boat races, dance parties, museum exhibitions and more. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

thankful Thursday-

Well, after real estate ups and downs for the past year (yep, we've been looking a long time) and especially the past weekend, I needed a good laugh. Lo and behold, this website fell into my lap today and it's perfect for thankful Thursday. I give you:


I'm a big fan of for sure. You can find anything you need, handmade and of amazing quality-- if you look.

As Regretsy shows us that, if you look, you can also find some crazy in the craft world. Crazy clocks and watches? Check. Crazy baby stuff? Check. Crazy taxidermy (redundant)? Check check.

If you've been to etsy and appreciated the high quality work of artisans, this will only be funnier. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

goodbye balloon

photo © Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

Today was a lovely sunshiney October Saturday. We had a birthday party to attend, and then to Pixieland.

P melted down at the end due to generally wishing it were *her* birthday, which manifested in wanting S's balloon. S managed very graciously, and P wanted to say sorry after we walked about a block. :) Then she fell in love with her lavender balloon as we walked a few more blocks to the car.

And then -- it slipped away. What a real loss! She cried and cried, and sobbed, "Come back, balloon! Come back!" I cuddled her closely after that. All afternoon, she talked about ways to find it. Ladder? Parachute? Fly? Finally accepting it was gone (it really was like stages of grief). Somehow I didn't want to replace it right away. But we did have to go to Trader Joe's, so we did happen to get another balloon. She was happy with it. But I think we had a good lesson today.