MomBlogger is Not a Dirty Word (No Matter What Some People Say)

I admit I’ve cringed when someone has introduced me at an event as a “mom-blogger.” I purposefully didn’t pick a blog name with mom in it because I was hoping it would encompass more than just my mom life.  You know, that child-centered, boring life filled with nothing but grocery shopping, meal preparation, cleaning and playground politics?  Who would want to be that?  I wanted to talk about politics, travel, culture – you know all of those things that made my life and me interesting before I had kids? Before I was a mom.  Or worse -  a mommy.  But of course that’s just stupid.  Because the one thing I realized as I’ve gotten over the insecurity of being a Stay-at-Home-Mom and embraced being a Blogger-at-Home-Mom is that being a mom colors everything I do and write, just as all of my other interests color who I am as a mom.

Over the last year the title of mom-blogger has taken on a particularly nasty and dirty connotation.  You’re a brand whore,  a swag hag.  You will write for free for anyone who asks because you’re just soooo excited that someone actually asked.  Aw shucks, you’re just happy to have the honor of hosting a giveaway and being a brand ambassador because you are gullible.  You are a little Sally Field running around declaring, “They like me they really like me!” And then someone (usually a woman who was once a “momblogger” but is now leading the charge to declare mombloggers an immoral, insipid bunch)  will pop up on twitter and declare that you dear momblogger are actually a sucker.  You are a cog in the PR machine and you don’t even know it.   You have brought shame upon womankind because you are a…MomBlogger.

This is ridiculous.  You can be whatever the hell you want to be online.  It’s also insulting to every mom who happens to be a blogger and every blogger who happens to be a mom.  I guess if you called yourself a parenting blogger that would be acceptable.  I just wrote about the power of women bloggers and the incredible experience I had at The White House Project day at BlogHer.  There is strength in numbers and the online reach of moms who blog is exponential and real.  Sarah Palin isn’t making viral videos aimed at online moms for nothing.  Deride her if you will, but it will be a scary day if she is more successful at coalescing moms’ online power before the more liberal among us do.  I don’t want to hear another blogger putting down mombloggers in the name of feminism when it’s really just good old-fashioned misogynistic self-serving BS.

So I propose taking back the name MomBlogger and wearing it with pride.  Names have a way of losing their derogatory power when they’re embraced by the very people at whom they are aimed.  This is true whether its women taking over “chick” and “babe”, Bitch Magazine or the Jewish magazine Hebe.  Turning a dirty word on its head tends to disarm the people hurling the insult in the first place.   So yeah, I’m not going to shy away the next time someone calls me a momblogger, I’m going to smile and say yes I am.  They can read my blog and see who I am and where my interests lie, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let somebody else make me feel bad about the mom part of me.

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If Women Ruled the World: BlogHer and The White House Project

I spent a good part of last week with 2400 women from all walks of life, from coupon moms to political activists.   Women bloggers descended on The Hilton in NYC for the BlogHer10 Conference. This was my first BlogHer and I didn’t know what to expect.  Would it be cliquey?  Would it be overwhelming?  Would it be inspiring?  Well, guess what?  It was all those things, and much more.

What did I learn at BlogHer ’10?

  1. Women bloggers have serious reach and influence, but they’re not using them to their fullest power.  Forget brands and coupons and all that “stuff” what women need to do is take their voices on the web and turn them into political reality.  I spent a day at The White House Project, a series of lectures and hands on learning about getting women to run for office and get where the real power lies.  I don’t know if I will ever run for office, but I walked out of there thinking I could.  And so should you.  Want to know how and why?  Check out The White House Project - it will change the way you think about politics and female politicians.  I’m still thinking about how I can implement this at a young level for my 8 year old daughters.
  2. The Food Revolution Ain’t Happening.  I’m sorry but the amount of processed food crap at BlogHer was really appalling to me.  Entire brand suites filled with chemical, corn syrup and hydrogenated oil laden products that were being packaged and pushed on moms so they can go home and serve this junk to their kids.  It was really disappointing and disheartening.  And yes, I know these companies are big sponsors of these events but shouldn’t bloggers be using their power to influence these brands instead of the other way around?
  3. There are so many funny, interesting, smart and witty women writers in the world.  The Voices of the Year celebration highlighted many of these amazing women, and you should read all of them.  But I feel like my faith is restored in the blogging world just by going to BlogHer and being exposed to so many new bloggers.
  4. My friend and fellow blogger, Amy Oztan, might be a “SelfishMom (yes that is her blog in case you don’t read her – and why aren’t you reading her?) but she is a kick-ass friend.  Amy actually wrangled me an unofficial invite to lunch at The New York Times with Lisa Belkin because I basically told her I was a crazy weird Lisa Belkin fan.  And luckily Lisa said I could come rather than seek a restraining order!  It was a BlogHer highlight hanging out with The Motherlode mistress and a few incredibly funny bloggers in the gorgeous New York Times Building.
  5. I actually like meeting new people. This is shocking to me because really I hate group things.  I would never go on a cruise or even a tour.  I detest bed and breakfasts.  I dread small talk.  But BlogHer was different.  When you’re a writer you lead a solitary work life.  When you’re a blogger you lead a solitary yet virtually connected work life.  And so to meet women in real life whose faces I usually see in a teeny tiny square on my twitter feed or read in the ether was thrilling.

So even though there were too many people I never got to meet, and not enough time to get to the panels and parties and brand meetings all happening at once, it was worth it just for the experience of being a part of something big and just in its toddler stage.   And it inspired a whole new project for me and three other fab women bloggers -FromHip2Housewife, Coast2CoastMom and SelfishMom – that will launch shortly, stay tuned…

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We The People: America Rocks! TheatreWorks USA Free Summer Children’s Theater in NYC

On Sunday I took my girls to see We the People: America Rocks! TheatreWorks USA latest free summer production for kids.  The story: The Four Founding Fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin use rock ‘n roll to explain the American Democracy and how the government works.  In the vein of Schoolhouse Rock the show is full of witty lyrical songs that are filled with really good information and actual learning.  The cast is funny and energetic and also have great voices.  In order to make the show at kid level the main character is a 14 year old girl running for Student Council President.  She’s got to learn to take that job seriously and how all citizens can make a difference and be a part of the government.

I thought We the People: America Rocks!  was well done and certainly went all out to entertain and inform the kids.  But, my eight year old daughters found it difficult to follow completely.  If you’re going to see the show, and I do recommend it, you might want to have a discussion about the branches of government, definitely go over who those founding fathers were, and also touch on The Constitution and Bill of Rights.  You don’t have to give a full civics lesson, but a little background will go a long way.  We had a lot of these talks after the show as we tried to explain the details of what they were singing about in the show.  I’m a total civics and history geek so I love having these discussions, but I think they would’ve gotten more out of the show had they understood some basic workings of our government beforehand.  It’s not a show for kids 7 and under for sure.  They just won’t get it.

Here are the Free Ticket Details:

Tickets for WE THE PEOPLE: AMERICA ROCKS! are FREE and available on a first-come, first-served basis in-person at the Lucille Lortel Theatre Box Office (121 Christopher St.) starting at 9:30 a.m. weekdays and 1 p.m. Sundays. There is a limit of four (4) tickets per adult.

WE THE PEOPLE: AMERICA ROCKS! is a 60-minute, one-act musical, recommended for children ages eight (8) and up. The performance schedule is as follows:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday – 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Thursday – 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Sunday – 2 p.m.

* DON’T WANT TO WAIT IN LINE, BUT STILL WANT TO SEE THE SHOW?
If you want great reserved seats in the orchestra then make a donation to Free Summer Theatre! All donations are 100% tax-deductible and will go directly to offset program costs.For every $50 you donate, you are entitled to one reserved VIP seat for the performance of your choice. Limit 10 tickets per donor. No exchanges or refunds.  For more information, call 212-647-1100 ext. 126 or email development@twusa.org.

The Founding Fathers Rock Out

Forget a Chicken in Every Pot – Give them the Apple Tablet!

Believe it or not there are actually two major speeches happening today – The State Of the Union and Apple’s State of the Tablet.   According to my social networking world the Apple speech is the way more exciting, anticipated and prone to wild projections and fantasies of the two.  The State of the Union is really not jazzing up the masses.  Over on Slate there is a great parody of Steve Jobs giving the State of the Union Address Apple-style.  While the article is tongue in cheek what it underscores is that everyone wants the next big thing and a year ago that was Obama (unfortunately now in Massachusetts it was Scott Brown) – but for those who were energized on the web for politics last year it is now the Apple Tablet that is giving everyone hope.

It’s pretty funny that a gadget that has yet to come out has been praised as the second coming, declared the savior of the publishing world and then pretty much declared a let down by last night – all before it has been unveiled to the public.  But, Obama should take a page from the Apple hoopla and get back to the viral marketing and grass-roots web work that made his campaign successful.  He seems to have forgotten that young people and tech centered people are who created the energy around his initial campaign and they are just as passionate and interested in the world around them, just not necessarily the stodgy old world that Washington represents and of which Obama now seems entrenched.  There is nothing cool about Washington DC (that perceived coolness lasted about 6 months)

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Why Politicians Should Watch Soap Operas

Here’s a tip for all of those politicians who think they will take their secrets with them to the grave – watch some good old fashioned daytime TV.  Why?  Because one thing you learn when you follow the love lives and travails of the fictional characters on All My Children or General Hospital is that the truth always comes out.  That’s why viewers tune in every day, to see the ramifications of what happens when the gory details are revealed and everyone is shocked – SHOCKED – to learn what they suspected all along.  Perhaps if John Edwards followed the escapades of Erica Kane or even set his DVR to Desperate Housewives once in a while he’d have realized that having an adulterous affair while running for office would not remain a secret forever.  And had he been a student of the Soaps perhaps it would’ve occurred to him that any love child conceived during this affair would also be brought to light in due time.  He’s lucky the child didn’t show up in 15 years (or 5 years in Soap time) with some kooky revenge scheme that involved hoodwinking then kidnapping his legitimate children.

Of course even if John Edwards couldn’t bring himself to watch daytime TV or trashy primetime fare he has only to look at the greatest, sleaziest dramas of our time – those of fellow politicians.  Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica.  The best soap operas of all unfold not on network television but on the political pages of national newspapers.  Factor in the National Enquirer and the Internet and one has to wonder if the John Edwards and Mark Sanfords of the world are living in some strange media free bubble where “under the radar” still exists.

Maybe its time for politicians to stop surrounding themselves with assistants and advisors who hush up and facilitate their clandestine behavior and start tuning in to Gossip Girl.  There are some valuable life lessons to learn from the generation willingly putting themselves under a self-constructed media microscope – someone is always watching and eventually the truth will set itself free.  XOXO.

This is an original beccarama.com post

Does the Health Care Debate Need a Vacation?

mouseThere has been a lot of discussion about whether or not Congress should be allowed to take an August recess when there is so much to be done on health care.  Aside from being yelled at and confronted at town halls, and maybe engaging the occasional true Q&A, it doesn’t seem that Senators and Representatives do much on their self assigned vacations.   Today however there is an article in the Science section of the New York Times that might make the case for such a break.

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The Recession’s Front Line: Our Schools

budgetcut_nyc_schoolsThe day after our SVmoms conference call with Katie Couric about Children of the Recession, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) announced system wide cuts to the New York City public schools. The official amount was 5%, but at my daughters’ school it was about 15%. This is on top of the fact that our school will be expanding from an already record setting 7 kindergartens to 9 kindergartens next year. One thing was clear from our call and from the reporting on CBS News; our schools are bearing the brunt of the recession and yet the government is not responding in kind.

Sure, we all read about the enormous stimulus package aimed at education, but it turns out that most of that money is earmarked for specific entitlements. And, lets not forget that that money has to be funneled through the local bureaucrats. In New York City we have the opposite problem from many school districts. Instead of shrinking population and merging of schools we have a surge in public school interest and enrollment that has caught the DOE by surprise despite parents warning that this was coming. New York Magazine has a feature article describing this debacle in detail. But, the bottom line is that at a time when our schools are called upon to do more than ever the powers that be are asking them to make do with much less. What does that mean?

Well, while parents are cutting back after school activities and enrichment because of finances their kids will likely lose art, music and other enrichment in their school day because of budget cuts.  The wealthier schools will be able to make this up in fundraising, but even that will be less dependable in this economy.  There are also practical concerns for schools stepping in to help a child in need emotionally.  Kids are coming to school carrying the stress of their homes, whether there’s a job loss or fear and uncertainty.  So, can a school afford to lose their psychologist or social worker at a time when kids may need that help more than ever?

One thing we’ve heard over and over again is that this crisis can be an opportunity.  I’ve always wondered what would happen if everyone had to send their child to public school.  If the uber-wealthy and just plain rich didn’t have the option of private school and instead had to pour their resources and considerable political sway into their local zoned school.  It would be interesting to see how quickly the elected officials would respond.  How fast new schools would be built and older ones upgraded.  How many concessions would be made in union negotiations and how much outcry would be heard when things are done without parental input.  This will never happen I know, and don’t get me wrong; the current school system has plenty of well-off and outspoken parents.  But, this turn of events, this surge of upper middle class parents demanding a place in their local public school could be a good thing in the long run.  It’s a shame however that it is such a disaster in the short term.

Our schools are where our children spend the bulk of their time.  The teachers and administration are seeing the impact of the recession every day – both in their school budgets and on the kids’ faces as they enter with all of the weight of their homes on their shoulders.  For those of us parents fortunate enough to have time or money to support our schools now is the time to step up and do it.  For those of us parents with a stake in the public schools (and really isn’t that all of us?), now is the time to demand better from politicians.  The recession has impacted children in so many negative ways – from healthcare to homelessness to obesity – shouldn’t we at least make sure that our schools get the resources and support they need?  They are our true front line of defense, and they deserve all the back up they can get.

this post originally appeared at nycmomsblog

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