Always Winter and Rarely Christmas

 I have a petition. Since the date of observed Christmas is arbitrary and almost certainly not the season of the actual nativity, why not change the date of Christmas to, say, Feb 1st? We could have a full two months of Christmas season without worrying about "bumping up" against Thanksgiving. And lest you worry that January holidays would get the short shrift, remember that New Years is already in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas and it does alright for itself. We could have lights up a little longer in these long, dark nights, and more time to have parties with family and friends. You'd have plenty of time for Christmas shopping and Christmas cards. And when Christmas is over, you can get out the Valentine's decorations.  While I'm waiting for YouGov to take off on this idea, I've been reading and thinking a lot about what to do with the almost three months of winter after Christmas is over. I wouldn't say I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder,

Moms and Vets: a little rant about people who complain about Mothers Day

Another year and yet again more op-eds published with the somehow still surprising revelation that not everyone is/has/wants to be a picture perfect mother. I don't understand why this is still news--why is it important to say again and again how no one is/has/wants to be June Cleaver? Feels like "asked and answered." But consider another minor holiday dedicated to a group of people who sometimes endure harrowing experiences: Veterans Day. Imagine these op-ed perspectives talking about how Veterans Day is so painful because: I wanted to be a veteran, but couldn't due to health reasons. I thought I wanted to be a veteran, but it wasn't what I expected and now I regret it. I don't want to be a veteran. Some veterans do terrible things.  Some veterans are lazy. There aren't any veterans in my family. There are veterans in my family, and some of them are not very good people.  I know some veterans who makes a really big deal out of Veterans Day, but it's e

Allow-parenting /or/ How I Learned to Let Go and Let Grandma

 In the focus group on academic motherhood, the moderator asked us, "Tell me about the support network you have--who else besides you helps parent your children?" Everyone mentioned partners and a few mentioned parents, and while they were talking, I was counting on my fingers. "There are 16 people," I said, "I would be comfortable leaving my daughter with for a weekend."  Sixteen people is a lot of people, although top of that list are Lucia's grandparents, Grandma and Abuela top, bolded, and underlined. It's not just about the weekend, though. For more than a year, I've been living with my in-laws and "commuting" to my retired parents' house for work hours, largely because of the support that Grandma and Abuela are able to provide. This may be an aberration for Mary's life, but having grandmothers around are part of our evolutionary heritage : families have long depended on the support grandmas and others give, especially fo

Dandelion baby: My Mother's Day Reflection

I was standing in a long, long line at the airport, on the way to a girls' trip to Prague, when my former roommate Gretchen noticed a family of dandelion-haired little girls a few serpentines ahead of us. "That's what your kids will look like," she said. That's certainly how I looked as a kid--white-blonde hair in all directions--but that's not how my kids would look. I was dating my future fiance, my future husband, my future baby-daddy at the time, and Krystian is Puerto Rican, with thick, black wavy hair. "Is it racist," I asked Gretchen as the line dragged on, "that I'm a little sad that my kids won't look just like me?" Five years later, and I have a non-theoretical daughter, who doesn't look just like me (and, for that matter, doesn't look exactly like Krystian, either) and I'm extremely grateful for it. There's nothing wrong with little blondies, but let me explain why having a daughter who doesn't loo

Unsolicited Advice: Suddenly Online Teaching?

Fig 1: Empty Tables, Empty Chairs Welp, here you are. You’ve been asked to teach online for the first time. (Probably because of coronoavirus scares.) In a perfect world, you’d have lots of time to conceptualize your class in a whole new way to accommodate the strengths of the online format, providing a powerful educational experience. This is not a perfect world, though (e.g. coronavirus scares), so here’s some quick-and-dirty tips to convert your classroom experience online. Setting Up I: Technology As soon as they hint your class might go online, start exploring your online options. Most universities have a learning management system like Canvas or Blackboard, and maybe you’ve already used it for your face-to-face classes, but explore what bells and whistles you might have missed. You might set up a phone call or consultation with a specialist at your school or just someone you know who has successfully taught online before. Setting Up II: Adjusting Instruction Once you ha

5% Better: A Painless Approach to the Better Planet

This post actually began when I started listening to podcasts about exercising while exercising (Try it--it's remarkably motivating and self-congratulatory) and I came across this one from NPR's LifeKit series. It made me think: we tend to think in such extremes, especially in terms of activities that reflect an identity. Either you are a health nut or a coach potato. An obsessive workaholic or a work-to-live slacker. A rabidly alarmist environmentalist or a climate-change denying eco-villain. But what if I approached my environmental habits the same way I did exercise and eating healthy--not an all-or-nothing proposition, but a series of habits that get me incrementally closer to a better life? Much like living a healthier lifestyle, being incrementally more environmentally friendly starts with recognizing your current strengths and weaknesses and building on that. My household is not the worst. Since living in Austin four years ago, I've become extremely co

Unsolicited advice: My 10 must-dos during the 1st six weeks with baby

There are dozens of books, magazines and blogs giving baby advice, so here's mine, based on almost six weeks with one baby. So, you know, there's that. Dance, baby, dance But I've been feeling nostalgic already, so let me relate what I learned in this first six weeks. Here are 10 things to do in the first weeks after baby comes. 1. Heal. This is #1 and above #2 for a reason. Whether you had a c-section like me or had a vaginal birth, your body has some physical healing to do. Add to that what one friend called a hormonal hangover and a lot of powerful emotions and you've got a lot of working on yourself to do. And while someone else can lend a helping hand with baby, no one can take a nap for you, hydrate for you, take medications for you, or shower for you. This goes for mental health, too--take the Edinburgh post-partum depression test , which was given to me at every doctor's appointment, mine or baby's, and before I left the hospital, and seek heali