Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: In Which I May Have Made Some High-Powered Enemies

Fine, it's been more than a week. But here's a summary of a few things I've done while I wasn't here.

On Strollerderby, I have a rant-y open letter to Jenny McCarthy about Playboy, vaccines, and self-promotion. There's also a photo of her pointing to her rack. I miss the good old days when just just rambled about her son being a "crystal child" with supernatural powers.

On a lighter note, I have a really fun slideshow of some of the most awkward family vacation photos in the whole history of time.

And probably most important of all, there's a double-feature of geektastic videos: the latest Star Wars Dance-Off with the Stars, and a hilarious Lego version of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.

Over on NickMom, I have a post noting the many ways Kanye "I Only Eat Off Hermes Plates" West is exactly like a preschooler.

And in a post that went kind of viral-ish, I wrote for Redbook's Mamarama The Top Ten Reasons I Don't Care About TIME's Breastfeeding Cover.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pissed-Off Parents Take to Social Media to Fight the 'War on Public Education'

What happens when you piss off parents by effecting the wholesale slaughter of a school district's arts education program?

Used to be they'd have a bake sale. Now they take to social media.

In my district, Upper Darby School District, over 12,000 parents have come together on Facebook and have launched a massive social media campaign to take back public education after a budget was proposed that would eliminate 64 staff positions in what the school board called an "academic realignment."

What's an "academic realignment"? It's what you call it when it's illegal to furlough teachers for economic reasons in your state, but it is legal to furlough teachers for curriculum reasons. It's what you call it when you eliminate separate classes for art, music, physical education, and library from the elementary schools, and foreign language and technology from the middle schools.

Help us. Sign the petition at

Because obviously, with the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, it makes sense to cut PE. Because obviously, in a global economy, it makes sense to cut foreign language and technology. Because obviously, in a district where the median household income is $44,000, you want to take away music, art, and library, where we teach children productive ways to express themselves instead of violence.

Oh, wait. Nope, that makes no sense at all. What the hell?

There are a lot of reasons we're facing these cuts. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under Governor Tom Corbett, has slashed nearly one billion dollars in funding to public schools. Our district pays for students to attend charter schools, none of which are even in our district. The state no longer reimburses us for that.

Congress has mandated on a federal level that all children deserve a free and appropriate education, including those with special education needs. God knows my children are utilizing the hell out of that. But the federal government has cut back what it gives districts to help educate those special needs students.

We're still trying to change our school board's mind, though. In a school board meeting that lasted almost seven hours, 1,200 members of the community came out to voice their opposition. I was so immensely proud of our diverse, smart, well-spoken community. I learned a lot at that meeting. For example, I learned that while our school board cries that charter schools are bleeding us dry, two of our school board members, one of whom is our school board president, have taken campaign money from Charter School Management, Inc., the largest charter school company in the state. Gov. Corbett has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money from that company and its CEO.

Say what? Yeah. I knew the privatization of schools was rife with corruption, but seeing it trickle down to my town is heartbreaking. 

I learned that the only member of the school board to vote no on this proposal is running for State Representative this fall. (Yeah, he's the other one who took campaign money from CSMI.)

I learned that I need to go to more school board meetings.

Please help us take back public education, and put pressure on Gov. Corbett to restore funding to public schools. Please share our video, and sign and share our petition. You do not need to be a resident of our town to sign. It's free. It takes like 30 seconds.


Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mother's Day Round-Up for My Sister

This weekend is Mother's Day. For my beautiful sister, it's her first Mother's Day as a mom. She's very visibly pregnant, due in July.

She and her husband are going to be amazing parents; they're already an amazing aunt and uncle to my four kids, and their three cousins.

While my sister hasn't given birth yet, she is now "officially" a mom, because she's already experienced the very special joy that is Being Judged. This week some asshat neighbor made her cry by yelling "No Coke! No Coke! Bad for Baby!" at her, as my already-hormonal sister carried her one Diet Coke of the day to work.

Ah, the irrelevant judgment  of an irrelevant person. Welcome to motherhood! You are now one of us, my dear! Also, now you know why so many moms adore that Cee Lo Green song.

To celebrate your official induction (get it?) into motherhood, I give you these:

Words of wisdom from my pal who writes Pregnant Chicken. Her posts about artificial sweeteners, diet soda, and caffeine will re-assure you and also make you pee laughing. Of course, I realize that with a baby kicking your bladder all day, it doesn't take much. But really, anyone who writes like this:
A safe average daily intake has been set at around 20 cans of aspartame-sweetened beverage or about 100 sachets of tabletop sweetener for a 150lb (70 kg ) person and that is considered conservative. "Can I interest you in a bathtub of Fresca, Madam?"
or this:
I think every pregnant woman should be issued a large metal shovel to silence these advice people but, back to caffeine.
should be part of any pregnant mom's daily reading.

Helpful advice from Rebekah at Being Pregnant, who just wrote up 6 Ways to Make Life With a Newborn Easier. See, asshat neighbor? THIS is how you offer suggestions.

Knowledge that motherhood is not a competition and not everyone is going to judge you. Rants from Mommyland is busy packing up Mother's Day gifts for mothers in domestic violence shelters right this very minute. That's the kind of awesomeness moms create. And Lydia posted this photo of herself, which just goes to show you how fun motherhood is going to be.
Lydia's toddler put these stickers on her without Lydia really noticing.
And then she walked around town like this.
Speaking of awkward photos, we should totally start planning right now some awkward sister/cousin photos to submit to Awkward Family Photos. In the mean time, here's Happy (Awkward) Mother's Day! so we can get some ideas and start shopping for matching awkward outfits for ourselves and our kids. I'm thinking maybe something like this:

We can so rock the hats-and-gloves look.

Revenge. The only way to deal with your Judgey McJudgeypants neighbor is to just freak her the hell out at every turn. Some suggestions: you should start leaving the house with a 12-pack of Diet Coke every morning, wave to your neighbor and explain that the caffeine is really helping you wean off the meth.

Take a big swig and mention that without the Coke, the Captain Morgan really tastes like crap.

Then rub your belly and announce happily, "BABY LOVES COKE!"

Then, when the baby comes, we'll walk around with these:

"But I am breastfeeding. I pumped and this is what came out."
Also, I'm thinking that newborn-size poopy diapers, when rolled and taped, might be the exact same circumference of your neighbor's car's tailpipe.

An alternate idea is that I can fly out and kick your neighbor in the taco for making you cry. What else are big sisters for?

Laughter. Of course, you can ignore my ideas and just giggle over the Live Tweets from a Mother's Day Brunch post by Noa Gavin on NickMom. I'm still chuckling over the #Iwinatmothersday hashtag. (Oh yeah, if you want to read my stuff on NickMom, I also had Top 9 Gifts I Gave My Mom That I Would Never Want, and Top 9 Mother's Day TV Specials I'd Like to See.)

Happy Mother's Day, sis.

And happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there who read my nonsense. For one day, may your children not bicker, may no one get a stomach virus, and may someone else change all the diapers. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

APA Seeks Final Feedback From Public for DSM-5

Quick and important: The American Psychiatric Association is seeking final input on the drafted changes to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

The public can give feedback on the changes from now until June 15

The proposed changes to the autism diagnosis have been covered significantly by the media, but several other disorders will also be affected by upcoming changes to diagnostic criteria. These include major depression, anxiety, ADHD, and a bunch more that will be of interest to parents. Or at least they were way interesting to me, given the alphabet soup of diagnoses in our house.

I have the full story, including which diagnoses are being tweaked, and how to give your feedback to the APA, over on Strollerderby.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome

[Note: comments and contest are now closed. Erin (commenter #4) won the copy of Asperkids!]

Here's what I was doing while I wasn't here:

On NickMom, Nickelodeon's humor site for moms (although dads will find it funny, too):

I Wish I Could Be Like ... June Cleaver. Because June Cleaver could communicate things like “You must be out of your damn mind” with just a look, yet she never actually lost her sh*t with her kids, plus six more reasons I want to be just like her.

Mom's Guide to Saving the Planet: Lazy Is The New Green. Turning your housekeeping and parenting fails into eco-friendly wins is all a matter of perspective. Being a slacker has never been trendier!

Top 9 Ways to Get Ready for Your Kids' Sports Season. Pro tip: no such thing as too much Febreze. When I posted this one to my Facebook, someone informed me that Febreze is bad for us and full of toxic chemicals. Turns out I [heart] toxic chemicals. I mean, without Febreze and Diet Coke, I wouldn't even be able to create the illusion that I have my act together.

Overheard: My Kids' Smart-Ass Responses to Dora. I can't believe Nickelodeon lets me writes this stuff.

Also, don't forget to check our mom-funny take on the news headlines, Take 5, Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern!

On Strollerderby,'s parenting news site:

Wounded Veterans Denied Autism Treatment for Children. What. The. Hell.

Dad Forces 'Disrespectful' Teen to Wear Sign as Punishment for School Suspension. This is a really interesting story, because it looks like this is becoming something of a trend. Is public humiliation a good method of discipline? I asked parents of teenagers, educators, and a counselor to weigh in.

The Mother Pucker Project: Bloggers Create a Better Mother's Day. My ridiculous interview with Rants from Mommyland's "Lydia" (also known as writer Julie Miner) about RFML's amazing Mother's Day project. I am so proud to know the women behind this effort, which will bring love and acknowledgment to those who might not otherwise get it on Mother's Day, including moms in rural Papua New Guinea.

AGAIN?? School Workers Caught on Tape Assaulting Special Needs Student. If you're keeping track, this is the fifth story like this I've covered in six weeks. I asked why this keeps happening, and it was pointed out to me that this has always been happening; it's just that now we have the technology to catch it. And then I threw up. Something must be done about abuse and bullying of special needs students, particularly nonverbal kids who can't tell their parents what's going on. I don't know what the solution is, but I aim to find out.

Schools Selling Naming Rights? Let Me Help! A school district in Newton, Mass. is considering selling naming rights for some of its buildings. Given the sorry state of my school district, I've abandoned any concerns I have about commercializing public schools. Once you get over the horrendous tackiness of it, the possibilities seem endless!

Here on SRMM, I've been given an award! A cool one!, a website and book by author Jennifer Cook O'Toole, has made me the first national winner of the Asperkids Seal of Awesomeness. In Jennifer's words:
stark. raving. mad. mommy. is irreverant, in-your-face and "ab fab" (as we used to say back in the day). Hers is a blog about the "hilarious insanity" that is the life of all of us who love our (not always super easy to parent) Asperkids. Through her articles and wit, she empowers Asperkids and encourages the adults who by their sides.
I am totally blushing. Or maybe I'm just flushed from too much coffee. Not sure. Anyway, I am beyond honored.

Can I tell you why this means so much to me? Jennifer is not just a parent to three kids with Asperger, she's also a special needs teacher. And, most importantly, she herself has Asperger, giving her completely unique and invaluable insight. Her book, Asperkids, truly is an insider's guide to loving, teaching, and understanding children with Asperger Syndrom. See my review of Asperkids on Strollerderby for more about the book.

And you know what else? The winner of my give-away on Strollerderby of a copy of Asperkids never emailed me to claim her prize. Too bad, so sad for her, right? But good for you! So, if you've read this far and YOU want to enter to win your very own copy of Asperkids, leave a comment on this post!

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