Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring!: Confronting Issues of Personal Relevance

If there is anything in parenting that I am being forced to repeatedly learn it is to be flexible, and just take it one day at a time. This applies to life as well. Over the last two weeks I have tended to a house of sick people, and caught the dratted virus myself, which is oh so fun when one is pregnant as well. Additionally late last week brought news of a fellow mom of two young children in my circle of friends who passed away, and whose funeral I hope to drag my stuffy headed self to this afternoon, when my ultra supportive husband makes it home from work early to allow me to do so without my son in tow. Wrestling with a toddler and the enormity of a death that should not have happened at the same time are just more than I can handle at the moment. To sum it up, the news of the world has just not taken as much precedence in my head as the local news of my life presently, hence the stoppage.

But I am reading, and thinking and here are some things that are knocking around in my head, please feel free to add your own in the comments:
  • Excitable and irresponsible reporting. Somewhere along the way journalism has turned a decidedly bright shade of yellow (look it up in your history books, ok Google it, if you don't get this reference, because frankly you need to understand this!), and those we trust to report and investigate the news are instead consumed with capturing our eyeballs with stomach churning intent. I've been reading the news about the banking industry, and frankly, "ya'll need to calm down." A significant degree of this "crisis" is the psychological grip of fear that politicians and "journalists" are stoking to get their piece of the news cycle. When I feel more centered this is a post I have GOT to write, if only to preserve my OWN sanity.
  • The death of local news. When an institution such as the San Francisco Chronicle (ironically tied to that whole yellow journalism thing in our history) is threatening to close its doors, holey tamales people! Talk about "too big to fail," the death of local reporting is a BIG deal.
  • Getting by day to day. I've been amassing resource links for alot of "news you can use."
  • Octuplet mom (I refuse to use the nicknames on principle). Talk about self exploitation, this is all a huge train wreck of emotional instability and cultural prejudicial backlash.
  • Accountability and Accessibility. It's important to put the "P" in participative democracy, but there is alot of "O" in overwhelmed and "B" in busy, so I've been tracking articles and tools that help you Participate, while Overwhelmed and Busy.
  • Much more!
What's rattling around your brains these days?

Photo Credit wandelgraaf

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Managing Expectations: Relevant Personal Update

You may have noticed a slow down lately. The great news is that I am expecting my second child later this year, the bad news is that I'm coping with the attendant fatigue (not made easier by my active 23 month old!). Don't worry, I'm still monitoring the news, but being a little easier on my body, balancing the increased needs of my "must have input" toddler, and the paid freelance work I also do. Therefore, my goal is to post two to three times per week. Roughly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

By the way, please feel free to leave a comment about what news topics you enjoy seeing more about on the blog, which helps me focus my efforts a bit and use my time more effectively, while serving the interests of my readers better. Please do let me know. I value feedback and enjoy seeing your comments.

Also you should know that I also am on Twitter ( and I usually will post links and comment on news stories as I discover them in my daily review of the headlines, all in 140 characters or less! Please follow me and feel free to pop in with a conversation or comments there as well. If you don't Twitter, don't be intimidated, it's EASY, and I think I'll write a post about it soon now that I have the hang of things myself.

Be well, and as always, thanks for reading!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eight More Updates About The Suleman Octuplets: Relevant Controversy

Alright, the drama and follies of the octuplet mom and family is hard to look away from, and I to have been tracking the coverage for those who want to keep up to speed with the developments. Honestly I try to throw out the ridiculously salacious, and try to stick as often as I can to substantive updates, and believe me the coverage is sometimes really hard to tell! Here we go, and coincidentally there are eight updates:
  • Universally the same question seems the loudest, "how on earth would this doctor implant that many embryos?" This article sheds some good light on the fertility system and the motivations on both the physician and patient sides of the equation.
  • The only people who truly know what it is like to go through such an experience are the parents of other multiples, and they offer their perspectives on just what it takes to handle it and thrive.
  • An actress on the red carpet I think made a good observation about just why the response seems to have such a nasty edge to it, saying that in a time of economic turmoil, and especially in CA, where an economic crisis within a crisis is snowballing, people are especially irked and enraged to find out that the taxpayers have, and will likely continue to pay for this
  • A website has been set up to accept donations to the family, correction WAS as it seems to not be accessible at this point. May be it was the graphics reminiscent of your junior high notebook scribbles and art, but clearly it didn't achieve it's objective.
  • Perhaps it isn't available anymore because the PR firm that was handling her and put up the website, abruptly dropped her because of the intensely negative backlash they recieved. Another PR firm was said to have taken her on, one which has represented another set of multiples, but word is that they are refuting that report as well.
  • The negative press is said to have sent the family into hiding, although they are surfacing to shop and go to church recently.
  • While her mother was paid around $40,000 to do an interview with Radar Online according to the mother's publicist (yes they have their own publicists), her father is trying to defend her on Radar Online, especially in light of a reported action being requested by a CA psychiatrist which would result in the octuplets possibly being taken from Suleman and adopted, preferably directly from the hospital. And speaking of paying for interviews, this article has some interesting information about how media organizations pay without having to say they pay.
  • An important element in the discussion that needs to be highlighted is that wanting to have, and having a large family are not in and of themselves indicators of some sort of psychosis or selfishness. A commentary recently captured the essence that it takes much more than just liking children to successfully parent, and that there are wonderful parents and families that have large families for all the right reasons.
We'll see what else develops in the weeks to come and I will post updates.

Tracking The Stimulus Package: Relevant Economy

The legislative wrangling has produced a stimulus package unprecedented in its size and scope. What is exactly in it? Don't have time to wade through over 1,000 pages (and who does, yikes)? Check out these helpful and pretty quick links to resources that will break it down:

Pro-Publica is a non-partial journalist watch dog resource and they have put together two handy charts:
And the administration has set up a web resource that it claims will detail how the stimulus package is being administered in an effort to satisfy their transparency pledge. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love and Marriage Makes the World Go Round: Relevant Relationships

In honor of Valentine's Day, welcome to the couples edition of Relevant Mom!

Marriage had been on my mind alot lately. Probably because it is a central topic of conversation in my circle of friends, in my place of worship, and as opportunity would have it, in the news as well. How does a couple sustain a relationship over the long term, and why is it important? My pastor recently pointed out that in biblical terms, marriage is the fundamental building block of civilizations (no pressure there), and that when it erodes it has a cumulative domino effect through all aspects of civilization as well (really, no pressure). 

Marriage and children add a whole new level of complexity, but at its core is still the marriage that is the central structure and template. In order to sustain over the long term (with implications for societies as well) the contention is that it must remain central, even above the children that are born from the union. And certainly before the personal ambitions and aspirations of the individual parties.

Ah, so now we get down to it. This is most definitely easier said than done. Add to that the natural differences in the wants and needs of the two partners, and let's just say it is an act of will to keep this fundamental covenant. But when this central understanding of the place of marriage in the scheme of things is kept vital, all the relationships, familial and civic that radiate out from it, are reaffirmed and strengthened.

So when you grumble perhaps this Valentine's Day over the commercialization and schmaltziness, recognize that at its core you are supporting the relationships that literally make the world go round.

Marriage and relationship stories of interest:
Happy Valentines Day!

This beautiful photo is by nicoatridge

Monday, February 9, 2009

Volcanoes May be Hot, But They Have a Chilling Effect: Relevant Environment and Science

A few quick interesting environment and science tidbits:
Photo Credit dotnethed

A Delay, Sort-Of: Relevant CPSIA Regulation Update

An update about the Consumer Product Safety Commission's new regulations regarding children's products. The regulation implementation received a slight delay, existing products must adhere to lead guidelines, but the Commission is taking a year to review the proposed testing and certification requirements to consider and address how best to address the challenges to small and artisinal producers. While this ruling has brought some sighs of relief, it's not quite that simple. Producers are still liable at this moment for any products that are found to not meet the standards, they are just not requiring the proof yet. The regulations have got everyone scrambling, even the local libraries and the nation's children's book publishers. Many businesses are trying to understand how to operate in this shifting environment.

So the conclusion is the ruling is mixed, and hopefully there will be some substantive thought and action put into setting a protocol that achieves the good intentions, but allows for responsible entrepreneurship in the marketplace and resolves this limbo situation. 

An interesting related story I've had for awhile seems cogent here. Meet the geeks who set the nations safety standards.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Throwing Eight Babies Out with the Backlash: Relevant Controversy

Here comes the moralizing mob. Sure, there are some pretty fishy elements to the whole octuplet plus six drama currently dominating the media. I to am outraged that SOMEONE (parents, friends, doctors) didn't intervene at some point in the whole thing (and I mean back when she was intentionally adding to her family steadily, despite being a single divorced mom with reduced circumstances). Where was the whole indignant community, the family then? Actually strike that, where was the community, indignant or otherwise, period who could see a woman who so desperately wanted to construct a family, that she did so despite some cold hard facts. She's hardly the first to try it, but she definitely got more than she bargained for to be sure.

As usual, the mob is a little late, and now they want a head on the proverbial stake. Baby product companies won't touch her, as she is fast becoming a media leper. There are actual mentions of possible boycotts of companies that do. Are you kidding me? It doesn't matter how it happened at this point, except as a cautionary and instructive tale which will motivate some reform and accountability in the fertility system

What matters now are those CHILDREN. They didn't ask for this, and people on their high horse who want them to suffer for the actions of their mother are just dead wrong. I don't like it either, but she didn't get into this all by herself, and the mob needs to own up to the fact that like it or not, those children are our responsibility as well now. Justice has its place, and needs to come to bear to avoid future issues, but a bigger dose of grace and mercy are in order here I think to little ones who are powerless in this world.

Photo Credit MashGet

****UPDATE: Now Ms. Suleman is giving her side of the story, and the questions keep rolling in. There is definitely a familial element that is troubling and sad actually. Her mother granted an interview to Radar Online, and her comments about her daughter were not particularly supportive. This situation makes me profoundly concerned for the children caught up in it.

Principles Meet Un-Principled Realities: Relevant Accountability

The pundits are going crazy commenting on the rampant "tax and ethics issues," that are plaguing several high level nominees in the Obama administration. I just say it proves what an albatross the tax system has become around the necks of the American public...all the way up. Who hasn't  tried to find ways to reduce your tax burden, or looked cross eyed at the tax code as you try to figure out if you qualify for whichever deduction? Of course there are the stunning incidents of hypocrisy (Daschle anyone? Not a personal favorite political figure, so I think it's good we lose him before we get to much further). When entitlement and one's own clout go to your head, high ideals can become expendable, or you simply start to justify and qualify.

This is the tricky proposition of high ideals and politics. There is just virtually nobody that is pristine and clean. Playing at that level has inevitably involved compromises, and everyone has something lurking in their closets. The task therefore is to find those that hold the core principles, and whose record has shown that they more or less walk the walk, and if they do stray or make an unwise compromises, they are willing to say so and make it right. So far, I think this has been the operating philosophy of Obama's team.

I hope the American people don't expect perfection (it doesn't exist in any human being currently walking the planet). I think it is right that we expect accountability for one's choices, and that we have good investigations (by authorities and the press) to keep our leaders' feet to the flame.

Much has been written about how the press has fawned over Obama, and frankly I don't think that's entirely off base. But then, our notion of what constitutes journalism is shifting as well. Punditry and reporting is a far different proposition, and we have an abundance of punditry, and a decreasing amount of reporting these days. People inevitably start to forget the difference.

If you are interested in keeping track of Obama's aspirations and his execution of those ideals, check out the continuously updating report from they dubbed the "Obamameter."

Monday, February 2, 2009

The United Stress of America: Relevant Families

News of the parenting variety:

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