Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What I read in May

I read some wonderful books in May! I finished five four-star books (I rarely give five stars) and only one dud:

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese (4 out of 5 stars)

It always amazes me when someone whose primary profession is not writing manages to write a highly ambitious, sweeping saga of a novel like Cutting for Stone.

Cutting for Stone is about twin boys, Marion and Shiva, who are born to an Indian nun and a British surgeon. After their mother dies and their father runs off in grief, they are raised by two other doctors (Ghosh and Hema) at "Missing Hospital" in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. Extremely different from one another but bound together from birth through blood and an invisible line between their heads, the brothers experience loss, betrayal, and distance. Read my full review.

Words in the Dust, by Trent Reedy (4 out of 5 stars)

I was born with a cleft lip and palate, but I've never read a book about a person affected in the same way, so of course I knew I must read Words in the Dust. It's a middle grade novel, so written in a much simpler fashion than Cutting for Stone.

Zulaikah is a young Afghani girl who is taunted mercilessly by the neighborhood bullies because of her split lip and crooked teeth. (I, too, had horribly crooked teeth.) Her mother died during a Taliban raid, and her stepmother seems to dislike her. Her only consolation in life is her beloved sister, Zeynab. As frequent blog readers will know, I have a soft spot for books with positive sister relationships because of my own close relationship with my sister. When Zulaikah's sister is married off to a much-older man, her world seems to lose its meaning. But then the American military arranges for her cleft lip to be repaired, and the world seems brighter...but not for long. It's Afghanistan, and life is full of tragedies. Read my full review.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, by Wendy McClure (4 out of 5 stars)

You know how I am drawn to books with one-year experiments. I'm not sure if this book fits into this category, because it's unclear how long Wendy McClure immersed herself in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Like McClure, I loved the Little House on the Prairie series as a young girl, so as soon as I got wind of this book I knew I had to read it. When I was 16 on a cross-country trip with my family, I remember my thrill when we stopped in at one of the Little House locations (I can't remember which one now).

Over the months, McClure rereads all of the books, in addition to anything else she could get her hands on related to the Ingalls/Wilder family; watches the TV series (which she hadn't watched as a child) and Disney's 2005 version; visits as many Laura World landmarks as she possibly can (and there are quite a few); learns how to churn butter, make a haystick, and tackle a number of other homesteading tasks; cooks recipes from the Little House cookbook; attends two Little House on the Prairie pageants; sleeps in a covered wagon; buys multiple bonnets; and sees Melissa Gilbert appear as Ma in "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical." Her loyal, good-natured boyfriend, Chris, jumps into the adventure with her. Read my full review (which includes lots of photos of the Ingalls and Wilder families!)
Pomegranate Soup, by Marsha Mehran (4 out of 5 stars)
Although Pomegranate Soup reminds readers of Like Water for Chocolate or Chocolat, no chocolate delicacies are mentioned within its pages. Instead, the spicy and savory aromas, flavors, and spirit of Persian cuisine fill the streets of a little Irish village, hypnotizing its residents and changing their lives forever.

Marjam, Bahar, and Layla have escaped from Iran with their lives, and after a stint living in London, they moved north to Ireland. It is the 1980s, and the village residents have rarely seen anyone who is not European. They open the "Babylon Cafe," and before long, the villagers become to appreciate the wonders of Persian cooking. It made me want to eat Persian food!! Read my full review.

The Rehearsal, by Eleanor Catton (1 out of 5 stars)

The one dud of the month. Although this book received some rave reviews on amazon and Goodreads, it was far too postmodern and strange for me. I didn't get past page 30. Gave up. Read more here.

Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson (4 out of 5 stars)
Rose Mae Lolly, born in the depths of Alabama, was raised by her abusive alcoholic dad after her mom ran off when she was 8. She experiences men's love through emotional manipulation and shocking physical abuse. After she escapes her hometown, she migrates west and meets another abusive man to marry (Thom Grandee).

Settled in Amarillo, Texas, she's trapped by her husband's domineering family and her helplessness, in addition to the only kind of love she's ever known. All that changes when she meets a fortune teller in the airport. According to her tarot cards, either Thom Grandee has to die, or she will.

So begins her journey--shall she kill her husband before he kills her? She ends up on the run, trying to make a new life for herself and following the clues her mother has left for her and listening to her backseat saints. She spends a lot of time thinking about her high school romance, and in her rose-colored memory, he was the only man who's ever treated her well. Read my full review.

I also posted about Liebrary, a board game for readers and book lovers (which I have yet to play!); shared a link to a Trent Reedy (author of Words in the Dust) appearance on the Today Show; and highlighted a few of the New York Times' top book choices for summer reading.
Now I'm immersed in Jodi Picoult's House Rules (June's book club choice) and enjoying it immensely! Stay tuned for my review in a few days.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Religion and sex quiz: how do you score?

Nicholas Kristof recently featured a quiz about the bible and sex in his column--it was based on a book called Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, by Jennifer Wright Knust.

How much do you know about what the bible said about sex...and what it DIDN'T say? Take the test and find out.

Did you know that finger length can affect your health?

Women whose pointer fingers are shorter than their ring fingers have a higher risk of osteoarthritis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. However, they also have a lower risk for heart disease, possibly because of a higher dose of testosterone in utero. Who'da thought?

My pointer fingers are shorter than my ring fingers. I think my mom's might be too, and she has arthritis.
Read about this and other hand signals of health.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Girls do NOT rule the world...

The world needs more artist-activists like the young feminist who calls herself Nineteen Percent. Check out her pithy critique of Beyonce's song, "Girls Run the World." This woman rocks the house.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dogs do not belong at cemeteries (especially off leash)

Rant of the day:

A woman in Vancouver, Washington, recently lost her baby and was mourning him at his gravesite. An unleashed dog ran through the cemetery and over her child's grave, knocking over the vase of flowers she'd left there. The dog owner seemed unconcerned.

Errant dog owners are like errant parents--they let their dogs (children) get away with all sorts of things without keeping them in check.

My heart goes out to this woman who was grieving for her baby and had to suffer an out-of-control dog in the cemetery. Disrespectful doesn't even begin to describe this dog's owner.

Performance week: band/choir concert and dancing

Chris had his final band and choir concert of his middle school career this week. I especially enjoyed this concert, as the small orchestra played "Telemann Sinfonia," which was my favorite piece to play on the violin when I was younger.

He performed in three of the groups--concert band, concert choir, and stage band. I enjoyed the stage band bit the most--jazz band music is more entertaining than usual band music; however, the concert band did an impressive, ambitious piece of music from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. Chris got a short drum solo in one of the stage band songs. Stage band closed the show with "Louie, Louie," which is quite popular in Portland.
Cracking up at something
Stage band performance
Chris left on Friday for a band/choir trip to British Columbia, Canada, and he'll come back late Tuesday evening. It feels very quiet around the house with him gone! (No drumming!)

On Saturday Kieran had his final Broadway Dance class through the Oregon Children's Theater, and the kids did a brief performance. We were instructed (by him) to bring flowers. The kid dearly loves the spotlight.

Q&A--answering a question enthusiastically with a show of hands

Posing for photos
Kieran had asked his beloved teacher, Mrs. Schaeffer, to come to see him in the show...which she did! I told her that this was above and beyond her job description. She's very special to our whole family (since she taught Chris, too).
With his flowers, 2nd grade teacher, and Grandma
With more of his fans--our family, Grandpa, and my cousin Tim, his wife, and surrogate daughter

Family photo

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What's for dinner: gluten-free pesto pizza with coleslaw

This is the best gourmet pizza I've ever made--I ate two slices, which is a lot for me!

1/2 with bacon, 1/2 veggie
Marie's gluten-free pesto pizza

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, 16-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)1 package Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza dough mix

Costco pesto
 1/2 jar of Costco pesto (or homemade pesto, ideally)
Mozarella cheese (quantity as desired)
Artichoke hearts, chopped (")
Kalamata olives, chopped (")
Sun-dried tomatoes (")
Fresh basil, chopped

Prepare pizza crust as directed. If you do use Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust, make sure to bake it first as directed, before putting the toppings on. I used a pizza stone and Nick-the-fussy-eaterd his own little pizza.

When it has prebaked, spread the pesto on top of the crust. Adorn with cheese, artichoke hears, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil. (I also put slices of uncured turkey bacon [like Canadian bacon] on one half of the pizza.) Put it back in the oven for 15 minutes more. Voila! Your pizza is ready.

Dig in!

This is Nick's personal pizza--with tomato sauce, cheese, and bacon
(we ended up taking off the bacon, and I don't think
he liked it very much judging by the fact that he had only 3/4 of a slice)
When I noticed that we are temporarily lacking any lettuce in the house, I decided to use the half of a cabbage we had instead. Coleslaw always makes me think of my dad, who loves it!

Saturday Night Out-of-Lettuce Coleslaw

1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
Small bunch of green onions, sliced
1 yellow pepper
Handful of slivered almonds, toasted

Mix ingredients with Trader Joe's light champagne vinaigrette (use as much as you need to moisten the cabbage).

It turned out very well, and it accompanied the pizza perfectly. Bon appetit!

What I bought at the resale shop today: who's ready to play?

I've actually been trying to SHED some of our board games (mostly the ones for kids), but I could not resist this one...especially at resale prices.

It's like Balderdash, but instead the players try to make up the first line of a book. Here's how Liebrary works:
In Liebrary, one player reads the title, author, and synopsis of a real-life book (e.g., Julius Caesar, Jurassic Park, or Mr. Brown Can Moo). The other players must each write and submit their best attempt at a first line for the book. The first player reads all the submissions, including the real first line of the book, and then the other players each try to pick out the real one. Players get points for choosing the real first line, getting other players to select their submission, and possibly knowing the real first line before it is revealed. The reader gets points only if no players correctly guess the real first line, but the reader position rotates.
LiebraryI am hoping to finagle my clever brother-in-law into playing...he always came up with the funniest definitions when we used to play Balderdash BC (before children). He put the two writers in the family to shame! So maybe I don't want to play this game with him. :) No, it's worth it to hear his good definitions. This just proves that you don't have to be an English major to be wicked at writing definitions. (In fact, it probably helps if you were NOT an English major.)

Anyone up for a game? I can't wait to play!

What's the most critical coupling compatibility factor?

I've always been interested in the dynamics of what helps a couple stay together. (Mike and I have been married for almost 21 years now, and both of us come from parents with intact marriages, a fairly rare record in this day and age.) Research such as that done by John Gottman in his marriage lab at the University of Washington (and his book, The Seven Principles that Make Marriage Work) fascinates me. What makes couples stay together through the difficult (and mundane) parts of their marriage?

My parents on their wedding day, almost 50 years ago
According to a new study by Rice University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, shared political views might be the best indicator of a successful relationship. After the researchers studied the physical, personality, and behavioral traits of more than 5,000 married couples, they scored various qualities (body shape, weight, religion, ideology).

The study found that people prefer to be with partners who share their social and political views, and in fact, similar political opinions took precedence over personality or looks. Only one thing scored higher than political views: the frequency of church attendance.

This does not surprise me at all. I've always found it difficult to imagine being with someone whose political, spiritual, and moral views veered dramatically from my own. So much of who we are is made visible in how we see and relate to the world and each other (made manifest in those political, spiritual, and moral views).

"...people place more emphasis on finding a mate who is a kindred spirit with regard to politics, religion ,and social activity than they do on finding someone of like physique or personality," John Alford, associate professor and the study's lead author. "It suggests that, perhaps, if you're looking for a long-term romantic relationship, skip 'What's your sign?' and go straight to 'Obama or Palin?' And if you get the wrong answer, just walk away," added Alford.

Maybe this explains the breakup between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. But last I checked, Mary Matalin and James Carville are still together.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Raunchy climate change video

Tired of hearing all these climate change deniers? I was following behind a car the other day that had bumper stickers for Huckabee, Oregon's last Republican gubernatorial candidate, and "ClimateGate," a site that calls global warming the world's biggest scam. It even claims that the "global warming fraud" is creating the global food crisis!

Well, those people who really know the truth (actual SCIENTISTS!) are tired of it too. And now they're having their say (there is also a clean version, which is at the link I just posted):

New spokesperson for Newt Gingrich: John Lithgow

I adore John Lithgow. We avidly watched "Third Rock from the Sun," and Mike and I got to see him perform in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" on Broadway, and I'll never forget it. He has a new job now: he's speaking on behalf of Newt Gingrich (via Stephen Colbert). Surely, this is sure to raise the buffoon's approval ratings!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Love for all

In a similar vein as that great Believe Out Loud video, a few years ago Bjorn Borg (yes, that Bjorn Borg!) produced a video as part of his "Love for All" dating Web site. (Borg is now a designer of high-end, luxury underwear.)

This is what Democratic Underground had to say about the video and Bjorn Borg:

"After his retirement, Bjorn Borg, the Swedish tennis legend, founded a clothing company which has become one of Europe's most popular underwear and loungewear brands. The Bjorn Borg brand owes its success to its exciting and original designs and to its edgy, irreverent advertising.

Don’t miss their newest video ad, "Love for All" with a VERY special surprise ending. It's especially relevent as the controversy over the passage of Proposition 8 in California and the gay community's response gains momentum.

Bjorn Borg has just launched their brand in North America and with ads like this, I think they deserve our support. Happily, if you're so inclined, you can pick up some Bjorn Borg underwear and support two socially conscious, gay friendly companies: Bjorn Borg and International Jock Men's Underwear

Plus, you might want to have some fun and email the video to any homophobes you know. It might be fun to watch their heads explode!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy birthday, Tina Fey

Tina Fey turned 41 today. Check out 10 of her funniest moments. This one's my favorite, "The Brownie Husband."

And some favorite lines from a few of the other videos:
"If you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the internet." (Golden Globes speech)

"Bitches get stuff done! Bitch is the new black!" SNL, Weekend Update

Thanks for keeping us laughing and being smart and funny, Tina.

Baroness Schrader speaks, at last!

Did you know that Baroness Schrader, whose engagement to Captain Von Trapp was broken by the homewrecker nun, Maria, wrote a letter to the people who were invited to their wedding? Here it is.

I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled.

This wonderful missive, which includes this tidbit:
I must confess to being rather blindsided by the end of our relationship. It seems Captain Von Trapp and I misunderstood each other. I assumed he was looking for a wife of taste and sophistication, who was a dead ringer for Tippi Hedren; instead he wanted to marry a curtain-wearing religious fanatic who shouts every word she says.

...was brought to us by McSweeney's, the American publishing house started by the writer Dave Eggers. And it was brought to me by my friend Catherine, who is ever so much more hip and trendy than I am. She and her lovely husband Brad always know the coolest things around. Thanks, Catherine!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I ask you...why can't certain men keep their things in their pants?!?!?!

Once again, another famous couple broken up by the man's infidelity.

What is it that leads these highly successful men who are in the public eye to think they can get away with cheating on their spouses? (Well, I guess in Arnold's case he did get away with it...for 10 years.)

Clearly, they don't care what their wives think of them, but what about their children?

Ah well...I never did understand what Maria Shriver saw in the Arnold anyway...she's better off without him...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ninety percent of climate denying scientists in bed with big oil

Truly, this is not terribly surprising.

Many of us have heard the arguments...environmentalists are sounding a false alarm about global warning. There's nothing to be concerned about...it's just the cyclical nature of the earth, etc. Silly greenies, making a huge fuss over nothing.

Carbonbrief.org has analyzed the authors of many of these supposedly scientific papers posted to "900 peer-reviewed papers supporting man-made global warming alarm." They found that nine out of the ten authors who have written many of the "peer-reviewed" papers have links to organizations funded by Exxon Mobil, and the tenth author has coauthored papers with Exxon-linked contributors. These 10 authors have written 186 of the papers on the site.

It's easy to find data that will support just about any crackpot notion. Especially if you're paid generously.

Trump's out of the running: good news or bad news?

The best news is that we won't have to put up with his obnoxious egotistical ranting in the public eye for the next 18 months. (I'm sure he'll still find ways to attract publicity, but he will not get as much air time if he sticks to "The Celebrity Apprentice.") The bad news is that he would have been a fantastic polarizing figure for the Republican party...which would have ultimately been good for the Democrats.

Here are my theories for why he changed his mind about running:
  • His ego could not handle the very real possibility that he would lose. Trump does not like to lose. Can you imagine him making a concession speech? The man has not one iota of humility or self-awareness in his overcombed body.
  • He didn't want to release his tax returns--otherwise we would all find out that he is a horrible money manager. Trump has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy THREE times and has had two casinos go bankrupt. 
  • Can you imagine Trump in a candidate debate? There is no way he'd be able to hold his own, even against the likes of Mitt Romney or other likely candidates, much less versus the extremely intelligent, articulate Barack Obama. A debate would make it crystal clear that Trump has no clue what he's talking about, especially hinting that Obama was not bright enough to get into an ivy league school.
  • He'd have to take a pay cut.
  • He couldn't stand the idea of flying around in Air Force One instead of his Trump-branded helicopter.
  • He doesn't work with a partner. (He'd be the first president to forgo a VP.)
  • Diplomacy? He doesn't know the meaning of the word.
  • Presidents have to talk to poor people! (SHUDDER!) He probably saw the flood devastation in the south on the news and it gave him the heebie jeebies.
  • Can you imagine Trump doing this?
    Or this?
    But honestly, I think the first bullet is why he's stepped down. The man is still in a fantasy world. Until the end, he insists that the country wants him to run.
“This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election."
What poll is he referring to? The polls I've seen have Trump with an 8 to 14 percent support rating. And that's only because he's the best-known candidate. The recent dive in his ratings has him running scared.

Trump, you're FIRED!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

High School Musical--the last play of middle school...

Chris with his skating buddies
...That is, until Kieran reaches middle school! Chris had a great time with this show, being Ripper (a skateboarder who secretly wants to play the cello).

Even though "High School Musical" can be a bit saccharine, I have to admit that the music is catchy and the songs have been running through my head for weeks.

High school drama is vastly more competitive, so who knows how often Chris will be on the stage from now on. He's already talking about coming back to middle school (after school next year) to play percussion or work on crew.

Here are some videos of Chris' last middle school moment in the sun:

And because the little brothers always get into the act, here they are singing Chris' part to "Stick to the Status Quo":

Drama has been a great experience for him in middle school. Thanks to all the adults who have made these opportunities possible for him: Jules, Dover, Denise, Andrea, Andrew, Christy, and all the parent volunteers. He's loved every minute!

Wait! No men?

Remember when Hillary Clinton and one other woman were photoshopped out of that photo in the situation room (for an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic newspaper)?

Free Williamsburg has fixed that.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The latest rage at our house: Little Shop of Horrors

Seymour with Audrey II
Kieran's doing a dance to a "Little Shop of Horrors" song at his Saturday afternoon dance class with the Oregon Children's Theatre, so I got the bright idea of getting the DVD out from the library. Kieran was delighted when it arrived, and before I knew it, Kieran and Nicholas had watched it and were going around singing songs from the movie.

I hadn't intended for Nick to watch it, because it is quite scary (unless you know it's satire)...but it's one of those "Mike-let-3-year-old-Kieran-watch-the-Wizard-of-Oz-when-he-was-3" types of things. He claims that it's not scary, but it does have "shit," "goddamn," and "tough titties" in it, not to mention the word "sadist" and "I'm just a mean green mother from outer space." Lovely.
Seymour and Audrey
If you get past all that (yes, we are horrible parents--the shame!), it's a wonderful, campy, musical satire. I recalled that my college friend Kristin made me a cassette tape of the soundtrack and sent it to me while I was in Japan (thanks, Kristin!), so I remembered ALL the songs! The film came out in 1986.

One could conclude that the film has racist undertones (see commentary arguing against that) and you can certainly see major sexist undertones (Audrey is beaten up by her first boyfriend and miraculously saved by Seymour)...if it weren't a satire. Bottom line...it's got extremely catchy music, and great cameos by Steve Martin (sadist dentist), Bill Murray (masochist patient), and Jim Belushi. I would love to have this lovely trio of singers following me around serenading my every moment, wouldn't you?

Nicholas has been wearing his (fake) leather jacket around, claiming to be a dentist. I think he could have found a better role model, don't you?

Can you be a feminist and an attachment parent?

I believe so, but Erica Jong makes the excellent point that attachment parenting unrealistically ties women down (and is a practice of white privilege, actually). It's hard to be an attachment parent if you are a single parent. Or if you have to work most of the hours of the day to put food on the table for your family. Or if your baby doesn't like to be cuddled and worn (those types of babies do exist--I've known a few).

In our case, we didn't necessarily set out to be "attachment parents." The NICU was responsible. It started out with the fact that we did not get to hold Chris until he was 6 weeks old. Until then, this was the extent of our ability to touch him or hold him:
Chris in the NICU
We became converts to kangaroo care, which involves holding the diaper-clad baby "skin to skin" on the parent's chest. Both Mike and I did kangaroo care, and those times were some of the most meaningful, poignant moments of our NICU stay. We were able to hold Chris for only 1 hour a day, and at first we had to take turns (one person a day).

By the time we brought him home 117 days into his NICU stay, we did not want to put him down. I would often snuggle with him on the couch until he fell asleep. He slept in our room in a bassinet, and he was hooked up to an apnea monitor, a laptop computer (the hospital was researching the effect of oxygen on the development of retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease), and supplemental oxygen. With all that paraphernalia, he was not in our bed. Eventually we moved him into his own room, and I will never forget that transition. He screamed for hours, and got so upset about being on his own that he would throw up. (He had gastroesophageal reflux, so that contributed.)

Because of the way Christopher's birth went, when we had our younger children we rarely put them down. They slept in our bed and I nursed them on demand through the night. Attachment parenting at its best! I know that many people do not approve of bedsharing, cuddling as much as possible, and nursing past babyhood...but I do not have any regrets. They are only babies once, and all three of them have close, loving relationships with us. One of my very favorite memories of babyhood was sleeping and cuddling. Part of me misses that stage. (Although I was also very ready for them to leave our bed when it was time!)

It's so easy for people to pass judgment on parents. Everyone thinks they know the right way to raise children. (I remember a friend lecturing my sister about how she believes that children deserve to have one parent at home, preferably the mom. This was as my sister was preparing to go back to work part time after giving birth to her son. Not exactly what she needed to hear. And this woman would describe herself as a feminist!) Some people find it easier than others to disregard the criticism and do what they know is right. Fortunately, most of the people I know (with a few exceptions) kept their opinions to themselves.

However, I do think that attachment parenting is easier when you have a partner (isn't everything easier, in fact)? I have always worked full-time outside of the home, and I faithfully breast pumped until my kids were over a year old. It wasn't convenient or easy, but I felt it was important.


Sleeping with Kieran

Cuddling with babies

Newborn in papoose
Back to Jong's article. She says,
"In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the 'noble savage' view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules."
I agree that women remain the gender most responsible for children. More dads are staying at home like Mike to be the primary caregiver, but in most cases it's still the mom who puts her career on hold. Even if the mom is working full- or part-time, she tends to do the majority of the childrearing and domestic chores on top of her outside job (this is often the case even if the dad is very engaged). It's only when dads put their careers on hold as well and begin staying home more to care for the kids...or take on the equal share of domestic and child care if both partners are working full-time...that parenting responsibilities will become more equal. The times they are certainly changing, but slowly. And as Jong reminds us, we need to be released from guilt.

Attachment parenting (lack of, or what others perceive as inadequate) can carry a great amount of guilt. Are you nursing exclusively (ban that formula!)? (The woman who gave my sister shit about going back to work also never gave her baby a bottle--ever--she nursed completely, exclusively--and didn't even pump.) Do you use a stroller? Or heaven forbid, a Baby Bjorn (the "proper" baby wearing is a sling or wrap)? Some people claim that Baby Bjorns do not qualify as "baby wearing." Did you drink alcohol while you were nursing? (I did.) How about send you child to day care? Bad mommy.

This is what we do to each other...and that's not what feminism is about, making other women feel guilty about their choices.

Jong's daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, writes about her mother's mothering in this linked essay. Even though Erica Jong was obsessed with her career and certainly was not an attachment parent, Jong-Fast turned out just fine.

Bottom line is...love your kids and show them that both women and men can be loving, equally engaged caregivers. You don't have to attachment parent for them to turn out fine. The reality is that growing up secure contributes more to your child's success than whether you babywear, breastfeed, or practice the family bed. And women, let's stop berating each other for our parenting choices and instead focus on getting men to carry an equal load!

Daddy bonding