A brown belt for Big Guy – not that it’s important
Mon, 12/03/12 – 12:49 | Comments Off

It was testing week in karate and, as usual, Big Guy was under the gun. Not as much as he used to be, when he didn’t have a clue and had to frantically cram, but …

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Picky eaters and allergy-safe cooking — the two aren’t necessarily unrelated.

Girl Gone Wonk

From policy to politics, this rant’s for you.


The day’s events in a family way — unless something else amuses me.

School days

From preschool to kindergarten — so far

Simple Gifts

Inexpensive homemade gifts, creative parties and low-cost projects, for Christmas and beyond. Many are easy enough for children to help.

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Articles in Girl Gone Wonk

Big Guy, The Bomber and The Cain
Wednesday, 8 Oct, 2008 – 11:14 | Comments Off
Big Guy, The Bomber and The Cain

I almost sent the guys to my room last night when the presidential debate came on.
Its 6 p.m. start here on the West Coast meant I’d have to disrupt their nightly Noggin fest by watching …

9to5to9: Election Issues: It’s the economy again, stupid
Wednesday, 8 Oct, 2008 – 1:06 | 2 Comments
9to5to9: Election Issues: It’s the economy again, stupid

Another day, another freefall on Wall Street after Fed Chairman Fred Bernanke dared to speak a version of the truth when he said the “outlook for economic growth has worsened..
I can say free-fall, can’t I? …

Election issues: Enough about me. What do you think?
Friday, 3 Oct, 2008 – 21:32 | Comments Off
Election issues: Enough about me. What do you think?

I’ve looked at what John McCain and Barack Obama think about schools and health care. I know what other issues are on my mind headed into the final month of the campaign, but I’d like to know what you’re thinking about, too.

That’s why the election is the kick-off question on the first 9to5to9 poll. You can participate voting below.

Evaluate teachers more on caterpillars, less on tests
Friday, 3 Oct, 2008 – 10:35 | Comments Off
Evaluate teachers more on caterpillars, less on tests

I suspect “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” isn’t included on the New York City Department of Education’s standardized tests.

In which case I’m very glad Big Guy’s kindergarten teacher doesn’t live in New York, which decided this week to make students’ standardized test scores a factor in “measuring teacher performance.”

Too bad for the Big Apple. The road to educational hell is paved with bubble tests, and this is another giant leap down the wrong path.

And too bad for kids like Big Guy, whose earliest exposure to education is built too much around memorization in preparation for the bubble tests they’ll learn to obsess about by the time they’re in second grade.

Election issues: At least McCain and Obama have plans on health care
Wednesday, 1 Oct, 2008 – 0:33 | Comments Off
Election issues: At least McCain and Obama have plans on health care

I just joined the ranks of the uninsured, so health care has been on my mind a lot lately.
I didn’t mean to become a statistic. I’d planned to enroll in continuing coverage known as COBRA. …

Election issues: Where McCain, Obama stand on preschool
Monday, 29 Sep, 2008 – 1:04 | Comments Off
Election issues: Where McCain, Obama stand on preschool

Barack Obama
We should be past arguing whether quality preschool is a legitimate policy concern for presidential candidates. I know we’re not, though, in part because the subject gets caught up in the shrill, yet nonsensical …

Election issues: Yes, charter schools work, but largely because of parents
Monday, 29 Sep, 2008 – 1:03 | Comments Off

It’s begging for bucks week at Big Guy’s school, where two straight days have featured canary-yellow fliers in his backpack touting the latest fund drive or need. Except when everything comes home in can’t-miss canary, …

Manchurian candidate for president? Wait til you get a load of Big Guy
Friday, 26 Sep, 2008 – 19:35 | Comments Off
Manchurian candidate for president? Wait til you get a load of Big Guy

All this talk from the “it must be true because someone forwarded me an email” set about Barack Obama’s Manchurian candidacy has left me with renewed respect for radical Muslims.
Think about it: Decades ago — …

Election issues: Obama won’t leave behind No Child Left Behind, but at least he’ll fix it
Friday, 26 Sep, 2008 – 19:13 | Comments Off
Election issues: Obama won’t leave behind No Child Left Behind, but at least he’ll fix it

A look at where the presidential candidates stand on K-12 education.

I don’t care if Bristol Palin’s pregnant — let’s look at the resume
Thursday, 4 Sep, 2008 – 3:01 | Comments Off

Hurry, hurry, step right up to the greatest political sideshow on Earth: The American electoral system.

If you enjoyed previous exhibitions featuring a bunny-bashing president and his drunk brother, you’re going to love what’s in store this year.

See folks agog that 17-year-old Bristol Palin is with child out of wedlock. And that the father is a hockey-playing Alaska redneck who doesn’t want kids, according to news reports based on a MySpace profile that’s since been made private.

Watch women, normally liberally, assail Sarah Palin for choosing to campaign for vice president with a 4-month-old Down syndrome baby “who needs her.” Is that the sound of left knuckles dragging the ground?

Hear Rudy Giuliani blast those who ask whether Sarah Palin can be a mother and vice president. “When do they ever ask a man that question? When?” he tells the Republican National Convention. Right message, more than a few hypocrites in the cheering throng.

So Palin’s a mom and a former beauty queen. So what
Saturday, 30 Aug, 2008 – 3:43 | Comments Off

Of all the things said today about Sarah Palin, what amused me most was the surprise, not that a mother is running for vice president, but that a woman with a 4-month-old is on the Republican ticket.

“”What kind of mother is she?”"

Well, one who’s roaring back after giving birth, in sharp contrast to every woman who’s returned to the office to see herself marginalized after maternity leave.

Then came critics honing in on her appearance and her long-ago status as runner-up in the Miss Alaska Pageant. “”John McCain knows how important it is to have a trophy wife Veep on his arm,”" an America OnLine blogger wrote. “”Pinup girl for the right wing,”" snorted another blogger.Did anyone call Dan Quayle a trophy 20 years ago?

McCain came

The green in grocery bag ban would go to the grocers
Wednesday, 27 Aug, 2008 – 6:34 | Comments Off

I’m as green as the next over-stressed, under-loved working mom, which means I do it when it’s convenient.

I use paper ware only at birthday parties and plastic utensils only in the guys’ lunch. And those are left over from past parties, when I would inevitably panic and buy more forks and spoons, only to find a gross or two stashed in the garage much later.

I’ve recycled since back when it meant toting newspapers back to the office, which was capitalism at its finest for my employer. I paid to subscribe to the product I helped edit, then gave it back so the company could make money. What a sweet scheme.

The guys already know how to recycle, and Big Guy, being a bit on the anal side, is quite the little drill

A year later, there’s hope we’ll finally get the lead out of toys
Friday, 15 Aug, 2008 – 3:47 | Comments Off

I suppose 14 months isn’t an excessive gestation period for a law, especially when you consider that except for bills that bail out big businesses, it can take dog years for Congress to act.

Still, it seems like centuries ago that parents were aghast and children were distraught as the Grinch Who Stole Summer snatched 45 million toys off shelves due to lead contamination.

Everything from backpacks to trains to Little People were recalled, leaving folks befuddled that this was happening in the 21st Century. I thought experts had established long ago that lead exposure is bad for children.

A few far right wing nuts, though, saw conspiracy:

“”Are you falling for this BS about children’s toys and the dangers of?”" the lunatic fringe asked at a site where I used to blog. “”This is nothing but an all out attempt by the unions

When balloons are outlawed …
Thursday, 24 Jul, 2008 – 5:24 | Comments Off

The guys aren’t much into political news yet, but a recent item would have led to much rejoicing had they seen it: The California Senate has abandoned its effort to ban mylar balloons.

As far as I’m concerned, the ban should have been implemented in June, before I bought Little Guy a musical Thomas balloon for his birthday. Sure, it looked cute in the store, but try listening to a train whistle “”Happy Birthday”" a few million times. No, I wasn’t the one who popped it, but I won’t pretend to mourn the loss.

I’m sure now that the weighty matter balloon is solved, legislators can move on to trivial things. Such as a budget that’s more than a month overdue and has led Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to threaten slash state workers’ pay to the

For families, lack of paid sick leave nothing to sneeze at
Saturday, 7 Jun, 2008 – 2:12 | Comments Off

Courtesy of momsrising. org comes this addictive little ditty called the “Don’t Get Sick Game.”

The object — aim tissues at the sneezing nose floating about your office and hope to block the wafting germs and avoid taking ill. If you make it until noon without calling it a day, you win!

I’m hoping they come up with another version: Keep the guys from getting sick so I can go to work. Little Guy nailed me yesterday for another sick day.

For many working parents, this is no game. I’m lucky enough to have 10 paid sick days a year plus vacation time I can use when those are exhausted. And I have run out of sick days every year since Big Guy was born, not because I misused them, but because little kids get sick. A lot. During his first two years alone, Big Guy earned lifelong membership in the Ear Infection of the Month Club.

Other parents aren’t as lucky as I. They have to take time off without pay, go to work sick or find somewhere to stash their kids when they can’t sneak them past the guards at day care or school.

Professor Tree v Florida’s Pre K
Sunday, 1 Jun, 2008 – 19:56 | Comments Off

Welcome to Professor Tree’s Lemonade 101.

In April, Professor Tree was loaded with fragrant blooms. At least, most of him was. The top was a threadbare, the victim of the winter’s frost.

Big Guy and Little Guy, of course, wanted to rip off the blossoms. And since the tree desperately needs pruned – it’s a metaphor for my life – many blooms were within easy reach.

“Let’s not do that, guys. We need to leave the flowers, so they’ll grow into lemons,” I said.

Big Guy looked at me as if I’d sprouted another head. “No way,” he said. Tonight everything clicked.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy ! I see the little lemons! I see the little lemons! Can we make lemonade?”

I explained the rest of the process: they’d have to water Professor Tree so the little green lemons would get big and yellow, and then we could make lemonade.

Welcome to the state of Florida’s pre-k program, where 5-year-olds are given one-minute drills in an effort to gauge the program’s success.