Stuff to Try, Stuff to Buy

Stuff to Try, Stuff to Buy

On nights when I'm so wiped that I don't even feel like making dinner (my husband will laugh at the word "even"; let's just say those nights are pretty frequent), I'll still make the salad at least. And exhausted or not, I can usually muster a tasty salad dressing, even if it's just a simple one of lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Now and then I'll make a more involved vinaigrette, but rarely will I go for a creamy dressing. Still, ranch dressing haunts my dreams. I could drink it right out of the bottle, although I swear I never have. I've also never tried to make ranch at home, and we don't even keep it around since we virtually never buy premade dressing. But the occasional times when I spy it on a table, I'm helpless to resist. Ranch is so effing good. So I'm thrilled to have discovered a fiercely delicious and surprisingly healthy version of ranch

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When Celebs Have Babies After 40, How Much Dirt Do They Owe Their Fans?

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The answer is none. That's my opinion anyway, and it remains that way after more than a week of running this question through my mind over and over again. Lots of celebrities lately are having kids well over 35, into their mid-to-late 40s and even beyond. And that raises the question: How are they all doing it? Are they conceiving naturally, and if so, how are this many of them beating the odds? Are they using reproductive technologies? If celebs can have kids later in life, does this mean everyone can? Inquiring minds want to know, and these questions are all valid—especially as women wrestle with the question of when to have kids ourselves, and how long we can afford to wait.

It would be ideal if celebs revealed everything about their journeys and struggles, but they have every right to keep that information private. After I posted a reaction here to a recent NYU study I read that faults celebs and magazines for not revealing more about stars' fertility and pregnancy struggles—a study I found to be misguided in its conclusions—I couldn't get the issue out of my head. Since celebrities' decisions about childbirth and everything else tend to have disproportionate influence, don't those stars owe us explanations about what they're up to? Especially if that info could keep many of us from trying to follow in their footsteps, with often devastating results?

It would be terrific if more celebs felt comfortable opening up about their childbirth stories, and if they could help bust the stigmas surrounding fertility and childbirth problems. But I still think the responsibility to inform and educate lies elsewhere, far from the pages of Cosmo and People. So I wrote another piece about this for Medium. I'm not sure if anyone agrees with me, and I may be a masochist for not letting it go. But I do believe the issue deserves a wider debate, in any case. 

The Medium article is here. Please click the hand-clap icon at the bottom if you like or agree with it, or if you at least think the issue is worth a wider conversation. Thanks for reading!  

Gwen Stefani photo by Jelizen via Wikimedia Commons.

Weekly Word Meds

Weekly Word Meds

"I must force my loose mind into its overalls and get going." —Flannery O'Connor, writing in her journal on February 2, 1944. In a previous journal entry, she'd written: “I must do do do and yet there is the brick wall that I must kick over stone by stone. It is I who have built the wall and I who must tear it down.” 

Seems appropriate for a November Monday, a rainy one here in New York City. The day is already slipping by, it's hard to get a kick-start, and much remains to be done before the kids get home from school. 

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Stuff to Try, Stuff to Buy: Sweet and Spicy Ginger Tea

Stuff to Try, Stuff to Buy: Sweet and Spicy Ginger Tea

Starting this week, watch this space for regular tips on stuff worth trying or buying. Today's installment on ginger tea is more in the "try" category: Sure, you can buy ginger tea, but you can also brew an incredibly delicious version at home in minutes. It's pretty much the easiest thing you'll ever make. Here goes:

Brooklyn's Clinton Hill neighborhood once had a cafe called Pillow. True to its name, it was full of pillows—small purple ones strewn on every banquette to cushion the hard texture of the seat, or a tough morning of deadlines or winter blues. I spent more hours than I can count there, mostly working on editorial projects but occasionally reading a novel, staring into space, and trying to flag down someone to take my order. Usually, that was yet another cup of Pillow's addictive homemade ginger tea. Here's how to make it.

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If You're Appy and You Know It

If You're Appy and You Know It

The New York Times can never resist a snappy word to define what an entire generation or subculture is all about. You might remember the Metrosexual era, when the NYT's Style section tried to wrap its head around the seemingly new breed of men of every sexual orientation who like to use moisturizer and buy expensive clothes. The paper of record's attempt to grapple with Metrosexual culture (even if it didn't invent the word) was only slightly less amusing than that time in the '90s when the Times tried to describe the way Gen Xers in Seattle's grunge scene like to talk; the Times got pranked by a SubPop Records staffer who made up slang terms like "swinging' on the flippety flop" (i.e. "hanging out") and fooled the NYT into printing them in a Lexicon of Grunge. This brings us to the latest entry from the Times: Parennials. What's a Parennial? A Millennial Parent, get it?

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Weekly Word Meds

Today, after trying to absorb the tragedy that happened in Sutherland Springs, Texas—and all the unfathomable tragedies we've been facing at a seemingly accelerated pace lately—I was reminded of a certain holiday card I keep stashed in a drawer. It's a little early in the season for holiday cards (and it's been eons since our family has gotten our act together to send out any), but this card is worth a revisit. I got it in the mail a few years ago from the Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York, and it's survived round after round of apartment-decluttering, and various partially-but-only-partially successful attempts to throw out old notes, greetings and miscellaneous bits of paper. It always seems to get rescued in mid-air on the way to the recycling bin. In case it resonates with you (especially these days?), here's your electronic version, so you don't have to make room for it in a storage box or on a shelf, or anywhere at all.

“Dear Friend: As we witness and engage the many challenges and expressions of anguish in our world, may we also see the joy and inexpressible beauty in all life. May we strengthen our commitment to this world, and allow our lives to be of benefit to all we encounter, providing examples of selfless compassion and wisdom. In deep respect, Shugen Sensei, Ryushin Sensei, Zen Mountain Monastery, Mount Tremper, NY.”

 

This Report on How the Media Covers 35-and-Older Celebrity Pregnancies Strikes the Wrong Tone

This Report on How the Media Covers 35-and-Older Celebrity Pregnancies Strikes the Wrong Tone

Another week, another attack on women's reproductive choices. The latest one comes, oddly enough, as a result of a New York University study about how popular magazines talk about celebrities of advanced maternal age and their kids. The report is getting picked up by the international media, from the BBC to The Times.

Titled "Age Is Just a Number:’ How Celebrity-Driven Magazines Misrepresent Fertility at Advanced Maternal Ages," the NYU report argues that magazines are misleading women into believing they, too, can get pregnant after 35 without any trouble and without having to use any fertility treatments—since their favorite celebrities are easily having kids well into their 40s. The report focuses on how three magazines—Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, and People—cover older celebrities' pregnancies and births, and faults those magazines for not mentioning whether those stars struggled to conceive or received any interventions.

The results of the media study are worth looking at, and it's always crucial to analyze the ways in which issues that impact women, celebrity or otherwise, are covered in the press. But the tone of this report is somewhat condescending, and oddly punitive-sounding for an academic study.

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Gifted & Talented Programs Are Ripe for a Rethink: Let's Start with the Name

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This is one of my more humiliating middle-school memories: I’m wearing a vintage Victorian
dress with a tight neckline that’s nearly choking me to death. My sweaty fingers are clutching a
piece of fudge, smearing chocolate all over the white lace. It’s sixth grade and I’m eleven years
old, doing my best to survive...

What does this have to do with G&T programs? To read the rest of this article, please check it out on .A Child Grows in Brooklyn. The article just went live and I've already been hearing from parents on various sides of this controversial issue. I'd love to keep the conversation going.

Photo by Michael Anderson via Wikimedia Commons.

Weekly Word Meds

A few words to meditate on this week, just in you case you ever feel like a bad friend while trying to juggle family, work, and daily/hourly chaos—and in case you worry that your crazy-busy friends have suddenly abandoned you (and you're convinced it's your fault):

“All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. “—David Whyte, poet and author of Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. 

Why Is the Maternal Death Rate Soaring in the U.S., and Falling in the Rest of the Developed World?

Why Is the Maternal Death Rate Soaring in the U.S., and Falling in the Rest of the Developed World?

If you haven't heard about Lauren Bloomstein by now, here's her story—a story that should, and hopefully will, change everything about childbirth in America. Lauren was a healthy 33-year-old nurse in the neo-natal intensive care unit at a New Jersey hospital who died shortly after giving birth to a baby girl in 2011. Soon after baby Hailey was born, Lauren's blood pressure skyrocketed, an obvious symptom of the treatable but potentially fatal-if-overlooked condition called preeclampsia. The hospital staff ignored every attempt by Lauren and her husband Larry (an orthopedic surgeon at the same hospital where Lauren worked as a neo-natal nurse) to get the treatment that would've saved her life. At one point Lauren cuddled baby Hailey; those 35 seconds are captured in this heartbreaking video. Then she died, just 20 hours later. Her death wasn't only tragic. It's infuriating, because Lauren's death was preventable, and so are 60 percent of the 700-800 maternal deaths (and 65,000 near-deaths) that happen annually in the U.S. What can we do to prevent those preventable deaths?

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The Two-Hour Workday

The Two-Hour Workday

A former boss once regaled me with horror stories about the time she tried to go freelance, before she became editor-in-chief of a major national magazine. I never got anything done, she said. I’d wake up, read the news, go out and buy a chicken to cook for dinner, and suddenly it’d be 6pm.

She meant this as a cautionary note when I resigned from the magazine to go freelance. Though ultimately supportive of my decision, she knew all too well about the pitfalls. How is this relevant to a parenting blog, let alone to those of us who are at an age when we know ourselves reasonably well, most of the time anyway, and can enumerate a bunch of career and/or life accomplishments we're proud of (like having a kid, for one)? I think it’s relevant because at this point in our lives, that self-knowledge and career track recordnot to mention, for many of us, the work-versus-childcare-cost factormakes it seem plausible to quit the day-job for now. For those of us who do decide to continue working but as freelancers, becoming our own boss might turn out to be the best idea we’ve ever had. Eventually...

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