What scares me about the Better Homes and Gardens commandment debacle

Late last week Better Homes and Gardens blogger Heather W. posted The 10 commandments of dining with little kids. If you clicked that link, you will have noticed that the headline now reads 9 commandments.

They changed it. Quietly. Over the weekend when online activity is generally decreased.

Is it just me, or doesn’t it bug anyone else that this magazine didn’t acknowledge that the content was changed until the original version was being smeared all over the internet?

The editor’s note that is now in place on the post was placed on top of the post on Monday, May 24. The article was posted on Wednesday, May 19.

I don’t know when they changed the post, but I read it around 9 a.m. Monday morning after seeing in on Twitter, and that editor’s note wasn’t there. It was just the post, with the changed headline and the missing commandment.

A brief synopsis of what happened.

Some blogger who apparently doesn’t like hanging out in restaurants where children are shrieking, throwing food on the floor, and running rampant wrote some dumb list for parents giving them the commandments for how to behave in restaurants.

What BHG took out was this commandment:

Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)”

Unfortunately for BHG, enough people had already noticed the offensive proposition and copied it and pasted it all over a bunch of other sites, a Facebook page calling for a boycott was set up. BHG’s very own FB page was littered with angry comments.

The magazine even posted a heartfelt apology.

So, on to what bugs me the most about this.

I don’t give a shit that they have ignorant, uneducated and inconsiderate bloggers working for them. I don’t even mind that they scapegoated her out, saying that nobody else had read the post before it went on the website. I don’t believe that. I worked for a small community newspaper and my university newspaper and nothing got posted in print or online without at least one other person looking at it.

The magazine says that the post was “not vetted by our editors.” What a load of horseshit.

But what really bugs me the most is that they did not post ANYTHING remotely close to an apology or a retraction. They simply removed the offensive part of the article and went about their business as if it never happened.

Until they got called out by thousands of pissed off moms.

A lot of people are saying that BHG has acted honorably and ethically by apologizing and removing the offending content.

That is SO WRONG.

It is highly highly unethical for a media outlet to ignore a mistake, and change content without reflecting that somewhere in the piece.

One example of an ethical media outlet, is the New York Times. Whenever they change something, typically a factual error, it is always noted.

In this time period, when online information is transmitted so quickly and easily, it is important to support media outlets that are honorable, ethical and honest. They must own up to mistakes. They must respect the sanctity of the transmission of information.

I know that some editorialized blog post on kids in restaurants is not exactly Watergate. But if the line gets blurred, there, where does it end?

So, what color am I? Scroll to the end to find out

The other day Toyin asked Annika what color her hair was, she responded, (to my surprise) “Brown!”

To me, her hair looks black. To Toyin, it looks brown.

Her hair, just like her identity, will look to each side of the cultural equation, more like the other one.

I realized recently that I have already made a mistake about the race discussion.

I have been waiting for Annika to get older, or to see if she brings it up, instead of doing what I knew subconsciously what I should have done. I should have already started talking to her about it.

It’s not so bad. I mean, her language skills are still developing. As with many topics that are hard to discuss, I kept thinking I’d wait for her to notice that her skin color is different from mine. I mean, she’s only 2. It seems to be so obvious to other people, I guess I didn’t think she’d take long to notice.

But to her, we are normal. To other people, we are not, at least, not most people. Even our friends, who like us and don’t care that we are a blend of colors, it is still a noticeable difference.

I have been asked plenty of times now if Annika is adopted. Some people with less couth just say things like, “Is that your daughter?”

Then the other day a little girl asked me flat out, “Why is your skin different colors?” as she watched me nursing Annika. Wow. I was totally unprepared for such a guileless question.

It was the most refreshing exchange I’ve had with another person on the topic since Annika was born. I mean, this kid did not assume anything. She had no judgments. Her only agenda was to get her question answered. It was so simple. So wonderful.

I told her that it was because Annika’s daddy has darker skin than mine and so she was a mixture of our skin colors. Even after I said that, I fumbled more, trying to come up with something a little more…. profound, maybe? I don’t know what I was searching for.

Her mom jumped in and explained, saying something like, “You know how my hair and your dad’s hair are different colors and yours a mixture of ours? It’s the same thing.”

The little girl seemed satisfied with that.

I was grateful for the additional explanation. But even more grateful for the question.

It made me realize that even with all my reading and thinking on the subject I still don’t know exactly what I’ll say when Annika starts asking questions. It made me realize that maybe I’m not quite as comfortable with the topic as I thought I was.

So, I decided to test the waters.

Yesterday as I sat with Annika on the couch, I held our arms together. I pointed at her arm.

“What color is your arm Annika?” I asked her.

“Brown!” She said with a proud grin.

I pointed at my arm.

“What color is Mommy’s arm?”

She looked confused and then looked up at my face for guidance.

I could understand her confusion. I mean, really, what color is my skin?

In all reality, it is just a much lighter shade of brown. But I was pointing out to her that our skin color was different. She understood that much.

I said, “They’re not the same color are they?” I said.

She nodded, no.

“So what color is Mommy’s arm?” I asked again, curious what she would say.


Heh, heh. Well, I guess that’s close enough.

Happy BirthMothersDay

True to form, I am late in posting this, by one day (or two depending on how you see it).

I realized around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night that I didn’t mention Mother’s Day on my blog. Where I mostly write about being a mom and most of my readers are moms.

Yeah. I figured that the wooden tits should say it all.

But in case it wasn’t enough:

Happy belated Mother’s Day to you all!

Really though, when you read this, you’ll understand why I sort of forgot it was Mother’s Day.

A. I’ve never been good at remembering holidays. Growing up, we knew it must be some sort of holiday if there was one of those gross lard-based grocery store cakes sitting on the dining room table.

My family goes through the motions when it comes to holidays, but that’s about it.

Birthdays were about the same. Because of the mostly bad or non-existent birthday memories, I’m determined to make sure Annika always has a good birthday celebration.

And B. Yesterday was her actual birthday, but Toyin and I took her to Port Aransas for the weekend to play in the sand and splash in the salt water.

We had a blast.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Annika’s birthday will always take precedence over Mother’s Day.

And that is just fine with me.

The Dolly Parton Tree

On our way to Port Aransas this weekend we stopped in the tiny town of McCoy, Texas. We stopped so I could use the facilities at a little barbecue joint where a guy was settin’ outside actually cooking the meat on a grill. The owner of the place was super friendly and made sure to tell us all about the tree to the side of the restaurant.

“That’s a Dolly Parton tree you know,” she said to us, pointing to the magnificent 200-year-old tree on the side of the restaurant. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the place, but if you get off at the exit for McCoy and head east you’ll come up on it after about two miles. You can’t miss it. It’s the first sign of civilization. It’s sexy, huh?

The hum of the road brings out the philosopher in me

Last night as we drove south on Highway 37 toward Port Aransas, we passed by what Toyin and I guessed was an oil refinery. It stretched for several miles and was lit up like a small city. The individual lights burned brightly like Christmas lights on a tree, glowing with serenity. The steam pumped out across the sky forming a soft burnt cloud-like smog across the city. It was — dare I say it and offend my environmental sense — quite beautiful.

It was like a small city within itself. It hummed with a sense of a tiny, organized ecosystem within a ragingly disorganized and painfully expansive system.

Ever since the oil spill along the coast, I only saw the negative impact of the oil pumping along the coast. Because of the oil spill, ocean life has been damaged, food sources have been lost, livelihoods are threatened, entertainment and vacation spots will be ruined. There is much to be lost because of this oil spill. It is sad. It is painful for our world. I get that.

But as we drove in the darkness while Annika slept, the sight of the oil refinery struck me with wonder and knowledge. It is its own tiny point of light and a movement of evolution in itself. Oil provides a way of life. It is a natural resource that we use to power things that are necessary for daily life in this century. I don’t know about you, but I like lights and motor vehicles.

Maybe it was the darkness and the hum of the road that lends itself to seeing beauty in the openness of the unknown ahead of us. Maybe it was the silence of the sleeping child that one learns to enjoy to its fullest because you never know how long it will last. Maybe it was the beauty of the lights against the velvety sky. Maybe it was the smell of the ocean or the anticipation of vacation.

I’m not a religious woman, but I did grow up “in” the Church of Christ, as we put it. Three times a week for 18 years of my life I worshiped the Lord. I am very familiar with the teaching of Christ.

When we drove past that oil refinery all of these thoughts roiled through my head and I murmured, “One things dies so another may live.” It was all very metaphoric.

Today we spent the morning at the beach and once again I was struck by another ecosystem inside a larger one. The smaller ecosystem inside water that pools in between the beach and the edge of the rolling tide. It is a miniature system that is formed of the same things that forms the ocean, but it is more closely connected, more intense. It is the dregs of the ocean that are moving closer together to make their own tiny society of kelp, seaweed, gravel, shells, tiny fish and salt water.

Watching these newer, smaller ecosystems at work, the way they take what is there and mold something new that resembles its maker is like watching a child grow and become.

Become what? Just become. Become who they will be. Become the essence of you, your genetics, your childhood environment, your talents and your failings. For better or worse, they are our oil spills and our miniature oceanic ecosystems, taking what the world gives them and reworking it.

I wish I had some pictures for you but alas, I did not take pictures of either one. And, I forgot my cable for the camera. But hang tight because I’m going to try to find one tonight and instead of oil refineries and tiny pools of fish I have some pictures of a tree with tits! God I love Texas.

Mother’s Day remembrances and a review

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and thinking about it, I am reminded of a wonderful little bundle of joy I was given last year. No, not Annika. That was two years ago. Yep, she was born the day before Mother’s Day. It was definitely the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever gotten and every year she will continue to be the best Mother’s Day gift.

I have already sworn that I will never one of those moms that hints around for gifts and instead I will use Mother’s Day to remind myself that the best gift my child can give me is her presence (pun intended).

However, I am lucky in that, Toyin, even though he certainly doesn’t have to, still buys me presents occasionally.

Last year, on my second official Mother’s Day, Toyin gave me an iPod Touch for Mother’s Day and it was hands down the best gift he has ever given me, other than Annika. And he, unlike previous men in my life, gives really good gifts.

The year before, a couple of months after Annika was born, he split the cost of a new laptop for me. The first year we dated, he took me to a bed and breakfast for my birthday and bought me a digital recorder, which would come in handy for my job as a newspaper reporter. He’s bought me clothes, fancy dinners, and gadgets in the six years we’ve known each other. But even so, the iPod was the best thing he could have ever bought me and I’ll tell you why. Even though it wasn’t the most expensive gift he ever bought me, unlike those other gifts, this one saved my sanity.

At the time, Annika was working on about the fifth month of what looked like a never-ending life being attached to my breast for sleeping. And 1-year-olds sleep a lot! We’re talking, like 14 hours a day I was strapped down next to her while she slept.

In the first months she did this too, but I could pop her on my breast on my Boppy nursing pillow and once she fell asleep, I’d turn on a TV show or read the news on my laptop.

But as she got bigger and more aware of the world around her, the noises from the laptop irritated her. At night, for a while, I could leave the light on and I’d read books. During naps, I did the same, but a person can only read so much, plus it’s exhausting on the fingers and arms trying to hold a book up with one arm for an hour or two while flipping pages with the same hand because your infant is sleeping on top of the other arm.

So for several months, off and on I’d lie there, bored, staring at the ceiling, thinking about e-mails I wanted to respond to, news I wanted to read, things I’d like to write about, videos I could be watching, funny Facebook statuses came and went through my head that never got posted.

Twitter remained elusive. I’d hear about news events and be surprised, even though they had been all over every major news station in the world. Even though a lot of those moments were good extra time for sleeping and lots of good bonding with Annika also happened during that time, it was tiring and lonely, lying there while my child slept next to me with my breast in her mouth and all I could do was lie there, unfulfilled, bored and not tired.

So when Toyin bought me the iPod Touch, it changed my life.

I still use it even though it has gotten way easier to sneak out of bed after she falls asleep. Naps are still hard to sneak away, so I use it during those. But the iPod has actually made it easier for me to stay in bed longer with Annika at night and has given us even more cuddle time. Surprisingly, this little gadget has made it so that I am not longing to get up and often, after Annika falls asleep, I will get on my iPod for about an hour and then I turn it off and roll over for more snuggles as I drift into la-la land.

This little gadget isn’t perfect by any means. Even though I’ve had it for less than a year, many of the apps I want need the upgraded version, so they don’t work. And for some reason YouTube videos stop playing after we’ve watched them several times. Occasionally, the wireless gets hung up and I have to reset my modem.

Another problem that I didn’t originally foresee is that now Annika fights me for the use of it. On the one hand, it’s a nice toy for her because I have some cool toddler apps that she really likes. She has learned her shapes using the iPod and her eye hand coordination is remarkable for a less-than-2-year-old, in my opinion.

But she has gotten to the stage where she will demand the use of it. “Have it!” She tells me when I am using it to check my e-mail, or, she will demand to watch a “boo do” (video).

But all in all, the iPod Touch has been a lifesaver for me. I have often thought that it’s something no attached mama should be without.

So if your husband or significant other has asked you what you want for Mother’s Day, tell him or her that you want an iPod Touch, or hell, make it an iPad. It might come in handy during the heavy flow days. (Pun intended.)