Friday, June 29, 2007

Things I find ironic about military shopping abroad

From my friend Libby @ Diary of an Air-Force Wife - Keep up the good work overseas and give that beautiful family hugs from the pirate twins and me.

As a stay at home mommy and wife shopping for the house and the family is a big part of my job. Here are some things I found to be a little giggle inducing along the way.

Germany statistically rains 85% of the year, yet the BX does not carry rain jackets, rain boots or warm weather clothing. However, they do have a very wide variety of swimsuits, sandals and essential summer pool equipment. For that ever so average enlisted member sitting in the rain relaxing at their personal pool.

Second, in a career field where being on time is considered late and be early is considered being on time an alarm clocks is the number one item needed in making this possible it puts a smile on face that the BX does not sell ANY type of alarm clock; they do however sell six different types of 62" screen TV's.

On a base where following the US laws of car seats for children under age and weight is mandatory it is strange to see that the BX does not sell car seats. They do however sell many (MANY!) designer diaper bags.

In a job where you are required to iron your uniform daily it is funny that they do not sell ironing boards here, but they do sell many different types of irons. Though you can only by milk by the half gallon you can by many types of whisky by the gallon. Even though all the floors in base housing are hardwood the BX does not sell furniture leg protectors. They do sell a very nice selection of lawn mowers (more then a quarter of base housing is apartment living).

When shopping for shampoo you can find mostly what you need at the commissary but for all your conditioning needs you must shop at the BX on the other side of the base. You can find all your cookie sheet needs at the BX, but it doesn't do you any could because none of it will fit inside the oven.

You can also find a very large variety of drop in toilet bowl cleaners; although german toilets do not have visible, accessible toilet tanks. German toilets are designed to only provide water when flushed (meaning there is no standing water at any time) Though you will never find a toilet bowl brush in the BX.

If you are someone who like to use those throw away toilet brushes you will find many different types of refills, but you will not find any type of handle to hold those refills. For your mopping needs the commissary provides many types of floor soap, none of which can be used on porous floor tile, or hardwood; all base housing is hardwood, with all kitchen and bathroom floors being unsealed porous floor tile.

German voltage is 240 and all light bulbs need to be that voltage, the BX however sell a very large selection of 110 voltage lights.

Well as you can see there are a few things that make shopping here on Base a little surprising at times; maybe they do it to keep us on our toes.
love always

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stretch Marks for Dads: What fatherhood does to the body and the brain

Last weekend, Tufts University hosted a scientific conference on the "parental brain." Or at least the maternal brain, which was the subject of eight symposia, while fathers and their brains were the focus of just one. Once, this imbalance would have seemed inevitable, since there didn't seem to be much to say about how becoming a father affects men physically. But now, evidence is accumulating that pregnancy and parenthood leave their marks on men's bodies. Women are not the only ones who are built for parenting, and recognizing that is good for fathers and the rest of us, too.

Historically, when men did more than donate sperm to a pregnancy—by suffering physical ailments along with their wives—they got called crazy. The condition labeled "sympathetic pregnancy," or couvade syndrome (from the French word couver, or "to incubate"), describes expectant fathers who are stricken with some combination of weight gain, nausea, food cravings, backaches, insomnia, and other delights familiar to pregnant women everywhere. Until recently, couvade was relegated to the overwrought TV medical drama as a "psychosomatic" curiosity, with a list of potential causes that would please any Freudian (identification with the fetus, pregnancy envy, pseudo-sibling rivalry).

But in the last handful of years, scientists have shown that normal, healthy, non-pregnancy-envying men often undergo real bodily changes when they're expecting children. READ MORE...

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Anarchist Parenting Hero

Sorry China, my review is still pending. But I frickin' love the book! So here, I'm reposting this other review just for you. Come visit us again sometime. We're still here while you're shooting to stardom. You deserve it.

The Future Generation
China Martens Created Her New Book the Way She Raised Her Daughter--One Day at a Time

If you went to a punk show in Baltimore in the early '90s, you remember Clover Martens. She was the only toddler in attendance, a wispy-haired imp in Goodwill sundresses darting in and out of the crowd of slam dancers and malcontents. Her supermodel-tall mom, China, was always with her, available for a quick snuggle or suckle but otherwise letting her daughter zip around at her own whim.

There was sometimes talk that China Martens didn't have a steady partner to help raise her daughter, that her anarchist principles meant she wasn't going to enroll Clover in school or immunize her. One of two things (or sometimes both) crossed the minds of the callow suburban punks who'd never seen this model of parenting before: That kid is going to have an amazing life, or Is she going to turn out all right?

She turned out great. Seated next to her mom at the dining room table at a reporter's house, the now 19-year-old Nadja (nee Clover) Martens is much curvier and darker-haired than her toddler self would have indicated, but you can tell it's her in the almond-y slant of her eyes and the unselfconscious way she owns the space she occupies, in marked contrast to the cringing unease affected by some teenage girls. She says "please" and "thank you" and asks to interrupt when she's got a good idea. If she's any measure of the validity of an anti-authoritarian rearing, there ought to be Emma Goldman memorial day care centers nationwide.

"This is my new realization of my parent stage right now--of how incredibly great it is," China Martens beams. Her voice is gentle and tentative--it sucks any intimidation out of her prodigious height and enviable slimness. "Like, when you have a baby they think you're the best, and they always want to be near you," she continues. "And then preadolescent--I can't speak for everybody, but I think it's pretty common you start to not like your parents and everything your parents like is not cool. And so when they become a young adult, for the first time in your life you experience [your child] kind of balanced. They don't love you too much, they don't hate you too much, you can have conversations, you have history and in-jokes. Nobody ever told me how great it would be to have a young adult for a child."

That realization is the culmination not only of China's experience as a parent, but as creator of the zine The Future Generation, one of the first publications dedicated to alternative child-rearing. This week, Atomic Book Co. (co-owned by erstwhile City Paper contributor Benn Ray) releases a paperback collection/retrospective of China's magnum opus, a two-decade endeavor that addresses the question "What is an anarchist parent?"

"That's a hard question," China acknowledges, addressing the common conundrum of defining a political movement that resists all dogma and decree. "When you are a parent, by nature you have some control and power over this person who's smaller than you. So [anarchist parenting is] such an oxymoron in some ways. But I think that's what's so interesting about it, because that's a very practical subject." In other words, there's no room for ivory-tower hypothesizing when kids in your care have immediate needs. China agrees: "Parenting is in-your-face, daily experience."

China, who herself grew up in a "very maternal, loving family" with her peripatetically employed government-worker dad and housewife mom, addressed that immediacy in The Future Generation's very first photocopied issue in April 1990, from how the struggle to snap one last button on a fussy infant's clothes can be a microcosm of military force vs. diplomacy, to a love poem to her infant daughter: "can't say it here/ but we are revolutionaries." It's heady with the unfettered spirit of China's first years as a young mom.

"I had this very romantic, different reasoning," she recalls. "I will have the perfect witch baby, she doesn't really belong to anybody, we don't belong to anybody and we're free."

The experiment showed fruit early. Clover grew into a gentle child who was better behaved than any other kid during story time at the library. But as the years went on, China, who dropped out of high school (a decision she still stands behind: "It was the first and best radical thing I ever did."), found it increasingly difficult to provide for her daughter. After staying on welfare for eight years until the Clinton-era reforms kicked her off (just as she had just gone back to college to earn a nursing degree) she worked a variety of low-prestige jobs that could never provide enough cash. By the zine's ninth issue, she documented a humiliating venture to the welfare offices, and the pang she felt at the now preteen Clover's ubiquitous question, "When we have money, can we (fill in the blank)?"

"This is intensely embarrassing," Nadja admits with a sheepish grin. "Because when your mom is this anarchist cool writer mom, then you become, `Oh, let's go to the mall, and get a crush on all those'--I don't know any of the cutesy guys names anymore, but you know, those heartthrobs. You want to be a cheerleader and date the captain of the football team." China says she knew her daughter had undergone a sea change when Nadja declared she would never shop at thrift stores anymore because "the clothes smell."

"I went through that phase and it was intensely embarrassing," Nadja blushes. "I was just outrageously bad."

"By 16, you were great," China assures her, with a mom's forgiveness.

After positive experiences in free alternative schools, Nadja experienced tremendous culture shock when China finally did enroll her in public school in the second grade. "I couldn't take those people bossing me around," Nadja recalls. "I went through a phase where I was totally the outlaw child." And she hit a rocky patch in adolescence experimenting with the same identity crises and chemical opportunities common to many teenagers. But due to the self-discipline instilled by her anti-authoritarian rearing, she curtailed her destructive activities when their benefits became dubious.

"You think about [drugs and alcohol], What has it really brought me? A whole bunch of bad memories? And then you just stop," Nadja says. "I think for my friends who live in a house where [the parents] don't want you to do that, you do it anyway. But you do it in a more irresponsible way, a more chaos-type way, whereas I did that and I learned. I didn't go to any other crazy drug, I didn't get pregnant, because basically, you just learn."

"I also think an anarchist parent offers more to their child of being alive and doing cool stuff," adds China, who let Nadja make her own decisions on nearly every front. "Every year it's like, `Do you want to go to school or do you not [want to] go to school?' So I feel like in [an anarchist] family you have more of a model of freedom of different opportunities you can do."

Like her mother, Nadja also dropped out of high school when its limitations became too frustrating. "For years [my mom's] telling me, `High school destroys you, why would you want to go to high school?' And [then] she was like, `Do you really want to drop out of high school?'" Nadja gently jibes.

"Because I had gotten used to her conservative self," China counters. "She was always talking about, `I'm going to go to college.' So I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some kind of problem. She seemed so different, so I was concerned." Sure enough, after a stint in an alternative high school, Nadja opted instead for a GED and enrolled at Baltimore City Community College, from where she's hoping to transfer to a film studies program at UMBC. She's also started her own zine, Dildo, subtitled "Masturbation for your brain," a serendipitous continuation of "the family business" that tickles her mom.

"It's been a long trip, this parenting thing," China reflects. "And I think that's why the book's going to be really exciting because it goes through all these different eras."

"I feel kind of like a movie star, because you can really see me growing up," Nadja concurs.

Compiling The Future Generation into a book was not China's idea. "I'm a very shy person." she says. "I feel like I'm a very--it's not the right word, but like an unofficial person. Not a person who's in the media. I like the informalness of zines. So I don't think I would have ever approached anybody on my own."

After China was invited to read with Ariel Gore (founder of Hip Mama, the most prominent alternative parenting publication) on a book tour, The Future Generation started attracting more attention from places like WYPR's The Signal and from Rachel Whang, co-owner of Atomic Books and the Atomic Book Co. "When I came back from the book tour, Rachel was like, `We want to put out your first book,'" China says.

With the help of Gore, activist/friend Vicky Law, and suggestions from Nadja, China sifted through 18 years of typewritten journal entries, original cartoons, birthing photos from compatriots, and culture-jammed ads for baby wares to form the book's text. "[The zine] just wasn't really meant to be a book," she says of the herculean effort. "It was before the internet, so I would reprint essays. I was researching things in the library and reprinting things from books. I was trying to foster a network, and communication, and stuff for us to share, and it's all Xeroxed and cut-and-paste goodness." The finished book preserves some of the DIY feel of the original but has a much snappier layout that impresses China to no end. "It looks so good," she gushes.

Nadja is grown and China says she's not as much of an "active parent." ("When you're the mother of a teenager, you're wiped out. It does a number to you.") So China is refocusing her efforts on building that kind of all-ages community spirit in the counterculture.

"We [alternative parents] can't do this on our own," she says. "We fall through the holes and we wind up struggling in more mainstream things. So that's been really important to me, to build community, to not focus on nuclear families per se." After all, she has no regrets about the unconventional path she's taken raising her daughter. "Being a single mom, I got to explore and grow on my own," China says.

"Well," Nadja says as a vulnerable smile creeps across her face and everyone in the room knows what she's about to say, "You were growing with me."


I'm on a quest to dig up anything relating to parenting and children that Emma Goldman and other anarchists may have postulated or (better yet) practiced. so send anything pertinent my way!

By Emma Goldman, from Anarchism and Other Essays. Second Revised Edition. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911. pp. 233-245

THE popular notion about marriage and love is that they are synonymous, that they spring from the same motives, and cover the same human needs. Like most popular notions this also rests not on actual facts, but on superstition.

Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other. No doubt some marriages have been the result of love. Not, however, because love could assert itself only in marriage; much rather is it because few people can completely outgrow a convention. There are to-day large numbers of men and women to whom marriage is naught but a farce, but who submit to it for the sake of public opinion. At any rate, while it is true that some marriages are based on love, and while it is equally true that in some cases love continues in married life, I maintain that it does so regardless of marriage, and not because of it.

On the other hand, it is utterly false that love results from marriage. On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple falling in love after marriage, but on close examination it will be found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable. Certainly the growing-used to each other is far away from the spontaneity, the intensity, and beauty of love, without which the intimacy of marriage must prove degrading to both the woman and the man.

Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, how ever, woman's premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, "until death doth part." Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider, marriage does not limit him as much as woman. He feels his chains more in an economic sense.

Thus Dante's motto over Inferno applies with equal force to marriage: "Ye who enter here leave all hope behind."

That marriage is a failure none but the very stupid will deny. One has but to glance over the statistics of divorce to realize how bitter a failure marriage really is. Nor will the stereotyped Philistine argument that the laxity of divorce laws and the growing looseness of woman account for the fact that: first, every twelfth marriage ends in divorce; second, that since 1870 divorces have increased from 28 to 73 for every hundred thousand population; third, that adultery, since 1867, as ground for divorce, has increased 270.8 per cent.; fourth, that desertion increased 369.8 per cent.

Added to these startling figures is a vast amount of material, dramatic and literary, further elucidating this subject. Robert Herrick, in Together; Pinero, in Mid-Channel; Eugene Walter, in Paid in Full, and scores of other writers are discussing the barrenness, the monotony, the sordidness, the inadequacy of marriage as a factor for harmony and understanding.

The thoughtful social student will not content himself with the popular superficial excuse for this phenomenon. He will have to dig down deeper into the very life of the sexes to know why marriage proves so disastrous.

Edward Carpenter says that behind every marriage stands the life-long environment of the two sexes; an environment so different from each other that man and woman must remain strangers. Separated by an insurmountable wall of superstition, custom, and habit, marriage has not the potentiality of developing knowledge of, and respect for, each other, without which every union is doomed to failure.

Henrik Ibsen, the hater of all social shams, was probably the first to realize this great truth. Nora leaves her husband, not---as the stupid critic would have it---because she is tired of her responsibilities or feels the need of woman's rights, but because she has come to know that for eight years she had lived with a stranger and borne him children. Can there be any thing more humiliating, more degrading than a life long proximity between two strangers? No need for the woman to know anything of the man, save his income. As to the knowledge of the woman---what is there to know except that she has a pleasing appearance? We have not yet outgrown the theologic myth that woman has no soul, that she is a mere appendix to man, made out of his rib just for the convenience of the gentleman who was so strong that he was afraid of his own shadow.

Perchance the poor quality of the material whence woman comes is responsible for her inferiority. At any rate, woman has no soul---what is there to know about her? Besides, the less soul a woman has the greater her asset as a wife, the more readily will she absorb herself in her husband. It is this slavish acquiescence to man's superiority that has kept the marriage institution seemingly intact for so long a period. Now that woman is coming into her own, now that she is actually growing aware of herself as a being outside of the master's grace, the sacred institution of marriage is gradually being undermined, and no amount of sentimental lamentation can stay it.

From infancy, almost, the average girl is told that marriage is her ultimate goal; therefore her training and education must be directed towards that end. Like the mute beast fattened for slaughter, she is prepared for that. Yet, strange to say, she is allowed to know much less about her function as wife and mother than the ordinary artisan of his trade. It is indecent and filthy for a respectable girl to know anything of the marital relation. Oh, for the inconsistency of respectability, that needs the marriage vow to turn something which is filthy into the purest and most sacred arrangement that none dare question or criticize. Yet that is exactly the attitude of the average upholder of marriage. The prospective wife and mother is kept in complete ignorance of her only asset in the competitive field---sex. Thus she enters into life-long relations with a man only to find herself shocked, repelled, outraged beyond measure by the most natural and healthy instinct, sex. It is safe to say that a large percentage of the unhappiness, misery, distress, and physical suffering of matrimony is due to the criminal ignorance in sex matters that is being extolled as a great virtue. Nor is it at all an exaggeration when I say that more than one home has been broken up because of this deplorable fact.

If, however, woman is free and big enough to learn the mystery of sex without the sanction of State or Church, she will stand condemned as utterly unfit to become the wife of a "good" man, his goodness consisting of an empty head and plenty of money. Can there be anything more outrageous than the idea that a healthy, grown woman, full of life and passion, must deny nature's demand, must subdue her most intense craving, undermine her health and break her spirit, must stunt her vision, abstain from the depth and glory of sex experience until a "good" man comes along to take her unto himself as a wife? That is precisely what marriage means. How can such an arrangement end except in failure? This is one, though not the least important, factor of marriage, which differentiates it from love.

Ours is a practical age. The time when Romeo and Juliet risked the wrath of their fathers for love when Gretchen exposed herself to the gossip of her neighbors for love, is no more. If, on rare occasions young people allow themselves the luxury of romance they are taken in care by the elders, drilled and pounded until they become "sensible."

The moral lesson instilled in the girl is not whether the man has aroused her love, but rather is it, "How much?" The important and only God of practical American life: Can the man make a living? Can he support a wife? That is the only thing that justifies marriage. Gradually this saturates every thought of the girl; her dreams are not of moonlight and kisses, of laughter and tears; she dreams of shopping tours and bargain counters. This soul-poverty and sordidness are the elements inherent in the marriage institution. The State and the Church approve of no other ideal, simply because it is the one that necessitates the State and Church control of men and women.

Doubtless there are people who continue to consider love above dollars and cents. Particularly is this true of that class whom economic necessity has forced to become self-supporting. The tremendous change in woman's position, wrought by that mighty factor, is indeed phenomenal when we reflect that it is but a short time since she has entered the industrial arena. Six million women wage-earners; six million women, who have the equal right with men to be exploited, to be robbed, to go on strike; aye, to starve even. Anything more, my lord? Yes, six million age-workers in every walk of life, from the highest brain work to the most difficult menial labor in the mines and on the railroad tracks; yes, even detectives and policemen. Surely the emancipation is complete.

Yet with all that, but a very small number of the vast army of women wage-workers look upon work as a permanent issue, in the same light as does man. No matter how decrepit the latter, he has been taught to be independent, self-supporting. Oh, I know that no one is really independent in our economic tread mill; still, the poorest specimen of a man hates to be a parasite; to be known as such, at any rate.

The woman considers her position as worker transitory, to be thrown aside for the first bidder. That is why it is infinitely harder to organize women than men. "Why should I join a union? I am going to get married, to have a home." Has she not been taught from infancy to look upon that as her ultimate calling? She learns soon enough that the home, though not so large a prison as the factory, has more solid doors and bars. It has a keeper so faithful that naught can escape him. The most tragic part, however, is that the home no longer frees her from wage slavery; it only increases her task.

According to the latest statistics submitted before a Committee "on labor and wages, and congestion of Population," ten per cent. of the wage workers in New York City alone are married, yet they must continue to work at the most poorly paid labor in the world. Add to this horrible aspect the drudgery of house work, and what remains of the protection and glory of the home? As a matter of fact, even the middle class girl in marriage can not speak of her home, since it is the man who creates her sphere. It is not important whether the husband is a brute or a darling. What I wish to prove is that marriage guarantees woman a home only by the grace of her husband. There she moves about in his home, year after year until her aspect of life and human affairs becomes as flat, narrow, and drab as her surroundings. Small wonder if she becomes a nag, petty, quarrelsome, gossipy, unbearable, thus driving the man from the house. She could not go, if she wanted to; there is no place to go. Besides, a short period of married life, of complete surrender of all faculties, absolutely incapacitates the average woman for the outside world. She becomes reckless in appearance, clumsy in her movements, dependent in her decisions, cowardly in her judgment, a weight and a bore, which most men grow to hate and despise. Wonderfully inspiring atmosphere for the bearing of life, is it not?

But the child, how is it to be protected, if not for marriage? After all, is not that the most important consideration? The sham, the hypocrisy of it! Marriage protecting the child, yet thousands of children destitute and homeless. Marriage protecting the child, yet orphan asylums and reformatories over crowded, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children keeping busy in rescuing the little victims from "loving" parents, to place them under more loving care, the Gerry Society. Oh, the mockery of it!

Marriage may have the power to "bring the horse to water," but has it ever made him drink? The law will place the father under arrest, and put him in convict's clothes; but has that ever stilled the hunger of the child? If the parent has no work, or if he hides his identity, what does marriage do then? It invokes the law to bring the man to "justice," to put him safely behind closed doors; his labor, however, goes not to the child, but to the State. The child receives but a blighted memory of its father's stripes.

As to the protection of the woman,---therein lies the curse of marriage. Not that it really protects her, but the very idea is so revolting, such an outrage and insult on life, so degrading to human dignity, as to forever condemn this parasitic institution.

It is like that other paternal arrangement ---capitalism. It robs man of his birthright, stunts his growth, poisons his body, keeps him in ignorance, in poverty and dependence, and then institutes charities that thrive on the last vestige of man's self-respect.

The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute dependent. It incapacitates her for life's struggle, annihilates her social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its gracious protection, which is in reality a snare, a travesty on human character.

If motherhood is the highest fulfillment of woman's nature, what other protection does it need save love and freedom? Marriage but defiles, outrages, and corrupts her fulfillment. Does it not say to woman, Only when you follow me shall you bring forth life? Does it not condemn her to the block, does it not degrade and shame her if she refuses to buy her right to motherhood by selling herself? Does not marriage only sanction motherhood, even though conceived in hatred, in compulsion? Yet, if motherhood be of free choice, of love, of ecstasy, of defiant passion, does it not place a crown of thorns upon an innocent head and carve in letters of blood the hideous epithet, Bastard? Were marriage to contain all the virtues claimed for it, its crimes against motherhood would exclude it forever from the realm of love.

Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?

Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root. If, however, the soil is sterile, how can marriage make it bear fruit? It is like the last desperate struggle of fleeting life against death.

Love needs no protection; it is its own protection. So long as love begets life no child is deserted, or hungry, or famished for the want of affection. I know this to be true. I know women who became mothers in freedom by the men they loved. Few children in wedlock enjoy the care, the protection, the devotion free motherhood is capable of bestowing.

The defenders of authority dread the advent of a free motherhood, lest it will rob them of their prey. Who would fight wars? Who would create wealth? Who would make the policeman, the jailer, if woman were to refuse the indiscriminate breeding of children? The race, the race! shouts the king, the president, the capitalist, the priest. The race must be preserved, though woman be degraded to a mere machine, --- and the marriage institution is our only safety valve against the pernicious sex-awakening of woman. But in vain these frantic efforts to maintain a state of bondage. In vain, too, the edicts of the Church, the mad attacks of rulers, in vain even the arm of the law. Woman no longer wants to be a party to the production of a race of sickly, feeble, decrepit, wretched human beings, who have neither the strength nor moral courage to throw off the yoke of poverty and slavery. Instead she desires fewer and better children, begotten and reared in love and through free choice; not by compulsion, as marriage imposes. Our pseudo-moralists have yet to learn the deep sense of responsibility toward the child, that love in freedom has awakened in the breast of woman. Rather would she forego forever the glory of motherhood than bring forth life in an atmosphere that breathes only destruction and death. And if she does become a mother, it is to give to the child the deepest and best her being can yield. To grow with the child is her motto; she knows that in that manner alone call she help build true manhood and womanhood.

Ibsen must have had a vision of a free mother, when, with a master stroke, he portrayed Mrs. Alving. She was the ideal mother because she had outgrown marriage and all its horrors, because she had broken her chains, and set her spirit free to soar until it returned a personality, regenerated and strong. Alas, it was too late to rescue her life's joy, her Oswald; but not too late to realize that love in freedom is the only condition of a beautiful life. Those who, like Mrs. Alving, have paid with blood and tears for their spiritual awakening, repudiate marriage as an imposition, a shallow, empty mockery. They know, whether love last but one brief span of time or for eternity, it is the only creative, inspiring, elevating basis for a new race, a new world.

In our present pygmy state love is indeed a stranger to most people. Misunderstood and shunned, it rarely takes root; or if it does, it soon withers and dies. Its delicate fiber can not endure the stress and strain of the daily grind. Its soul is too complex to adjust itself to the slimy woof of our social fabric. It weeps and moans and suffers with those who have need of it, yet lack the capacity to rise to love's summit.

Some day, some day men and women will rise, they will reach the mountain peak, they will meet big and strong and free, ready to receive, to partake, and to bask in the golden rays of love. What fancy, what imagination, what poetic genius can foresee even approximately the potentialities of such a force in the life of men and women. If the world is ever to give birth to true companionship and oneness, not marriage, but love will be the parent.

Green Baby Blog

I applied for a job but no luck so far... looks like she's got the site up and running though. Welcome to the club. I must have been a little too radical for her. Or maybe my kind of green is a touch damper than hers. Ahhh, the 'Clean Green' parents, how I love to sit back and chuckle as they scramble over eco-friendly household cleaning products while I grab a big jug of vinegar and get the hell out of Fred Meyer, conveniently 'forgetting' it under my orange shopping cart/toddler car.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Books for Multiples!

A perfect children's book for triplets
One of the most popular children's stories on the market is Guess How Much I Love You written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram. The pair teamed up again in an equally enjoyable book called You're All My Favorites which is a perfect story for triplets. The story focuses on a family with a mother bear, a father bear and three baby bears. Each night, the parents tuck their three babies into bed and tell them they are all the most wonderful baby bears in the world. The baby bears wonder how their parents know they are the most wonderful bears in the world. Each baby bear questions how he or she could be as wonderful as his or her siblings when they are all quite different. The first worries that he does not have patches on his fur like his brother and sister. The second is concerned because she is the only girl bear, and the third bear is confused because he is the smallest of the three. The mother and father bear explain that the baby bears are all perfect exactly the way they are, and the differences between them don't matter at all. They're all still their mother and father's favorites.

Top 9 Books for Parents of Twins/Multiples
During pregnancy, I read every available baby book. When we found out that we were expecting not one -- but TWO -- babies, my husband's first reaction was, "I guess we need to get more books!" Among the numerous books about twins and multiples, many are extremely helpful; some are merely interesting, and others, well... who has time to read them all? Here's a list of some of the best.

Twins Magazine
- What a bunch of crap. I can't believe we commodify every last niche and cranny. I'm so glad I live in the woods

Friday, June 15, 2007

City of Olympia to charge parents for after-school programs???!!!

I lifted this in its entirety from Olyblog.

Thanks Emmett, this is pretty ridiculous. If they tried that shit out in Shelton (where we live), no one would show up to S.O.C.K. (Save Our County's Kids) and they wouldn't make any money off it. Sounds like a good way to propagate unnecessary domestic violence, additional youth crime and a hell of a lot more bad mojo. After-school programs need to be free to the families and kids who need to use them. We, as a community, are responsible for figuring out ways to support and improve these selfless and direly-needed organizations however possible without incurring fees on their patrons, who doubtless are fairly hard-up.

My BIG QUESTION however is this: What happens to the poor kids? The ones who get edged out of this brilliant new picture for a closer-to-self-sustaining after-school program?

Trouble is, these programs can't be self-sustaining. (Unless we install rooftop gardens, gather together some hotshot fundraisers and canvassers, employ slave labor from the kids, or get them really, really interested in making and/or selling something or themselves... which is a whole slew of cans of worms to figure out.)


Almost every week this is the "What's on the city council's plate this week" review. I don't cover everything, so if you want the full rundown, read the packet and agenda yourself.

It looks like the city council is going to start charging kids (or rather their families) $100 to attend after school programs that the city runs in several Olympia School District buildings. Which is too freaking bad, I know some parents are probably using these programs as baby sitters, but that is honestly where the need is coming from. A lot of families have two bread winners, and middle school aged (and younger) kids don't have options for supervised play outside of these programs.

Here is the meat of the city's decision making process for this Tuesday. A bit of the background (OPARD is Olympia Parks and Recreation):

During 2007 operating budget deliberations last fall, Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation (OPARD) staff was directed to prepare some options for a fee-based middle school after school program. These options would be an alternative to cutting one of the four after school sites as originally proposed by our department in the 2005 constrained prioritization process. Council agreed to continue full funding for the entire after school program through the 2006-2007 school-year to give staff time to come back with some options for a fee-based program. Council directed staff that when looking at cost recovery for the after school program to consider an amount that will make the program sustainable into the future and that will have a sliding fee provision for those students that qualify for free or reduced meals at school.
This past winter and spring, staff has met with Olympia School District (OSD) administration on a regular basis to discuss options or a fee-based program, including how much to charge and how to administer the fee collection.

During their research, it became clear to staff that a significant number of students would not be able to afford the full fee. The middle school principals estimate 30-50% of the students that attend the after school programs also qualify for the free and reduced meal program. While OPARD has a scholarship program in place for families that can’t afford to pay, we do not have enough annual donations or staff capacity to fundraise for that account to meet the likely demand that we will see on the fund.

Here is the option that city staff is recommending to the city council:

Implement a fee of $100 for 25 visits which is projected to be 25% cost recovery.

1. This fee level is reasonable compared to what many families pay for childcare or for other youth after school programs or day care.

2. This is a good starting point for the fee, both for the families of current participants to get used to the fee, and as a way for our staff to get comfortable collecting fees and gauging year to year how much revenue will be collected.

1. Implementation of any fee may reduce participation in those families that may not be able to afford the program but might not take advantage of fee waivers. OSD staff have concurred that there will be a likely drop off in participation due to stigma issues. While OSD gets high levels of participation in financial assistance programs such as free and reduced meals in elementary schools, those numbers drop off in the middle schools.

2. Current operating rules prohibit OPARD from waiving fees for some participants while charging for the same services for a different group of participants. The City’s scholarship fund does not have the resources to meet the very likely increased demand for scholarships. For this reason, staff requests a change in policy to allow us to waive fees for those children that qualify for free and reduced meals at school.

3. There will be an unavoidable shift in some site staff time spent administering the fee program, leaving less time to give participants their complete attention.

The staff ruled out my idea of trying to bring the Boys and Girls club (here and here ) in the fray:

Option 4. – Contract the program out to another agency

1. Could potentially save more than the original proposed budget cut of one site.

1. Large reduction in staff hours would impact other programs areas in which the after school staff also work. This would inhibit OPARD’s ability to sustain the large spectrum of very successful programs it runs for our public.
2. OPARD could not guarantee the quality of the program run by another agency.
3. An outside agency would still likely have to charge participants to keep the program sustained, as is the model for other current youth after school programming in the community.
4. Would have impacts to the OSD/OPARD 5-year joint use agreement. If the program was no longer an OPARD program, it would shift the balance of what we provide OSD vs. what we get in return.

Just some quick thoughts on their con points:

2. If an outside group (like the B&G club) were to come in and replace the city, would it be the city's responsibility to guarantee quality, or would it be the school district's, since it would be in a school building? It isn't like the Boys and Girls Club is a fly by night operation, they have a track record.

3. The Tumwater B&G Club charges $25 a year.

1&4. Sounds like "it would change the status quo." Duh, that isn't a good reason not to do it.

If the Boys and Girls were to come in, I'm not saying it would be cheaper on us, either through the city or the school district. It is perfectly feasible that Tumwater and Lacey both provide funds to B&G Club for their services, I really don't know.

Wow, that sucks.

On top of rising gas prices, $100 for 25 visits... that's a lot! What if you've got three kids? That's going to be very hard for some families.