Friday, October 4, 2013

A Mother's Open Letter to the United States Congress

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 113th Congress:

I am writing to you as a stay-at-home parent, loved and loving wife, and proud daughter of this great nation.

I am writing to you carrying all my hopes, all my best intentions cupped in the palms of my careful hands, offering them to you, here.

I am writing to you, hoping that you will please be the leaders and human souls that you were elected to be. Please, be the intelligent, discerning, skillful representatives of the people—a sacred task—that you absolutely must be.  You all fought tooth and nail to do this job. So please, I beg of you, do it.

We are starting to actively sink. I have to assume that Congress is so busy—as you should be—that you’ve managed to overlook what’s actually happening before your very eyes. You have now veered way, way off course. We have placed our ultimate trust in you, and you’re taking us off the edge of a cliff. Though the shutdown is certainly the most obvious reason for this letter, it is only the most recent display in a long string of increasingly irresponsible choices on the part of Congress.

Your current approach isn’t working. It’s time for a course correction.

You have to learn to compromise. Truly compromise. It’s not a dirty word (I’m looking at you, far-Right and far-Left). Your ideals may be important, but your tactics are terrible and shockingly inefficient. Why do you think you’re all so frustrated? Compromise takes strength, dignity, humility, and intelligence. When you refuse to really collaborate and compromise, you look like you have none of these characteristics.

My generation’s future was mortgaged a long time ago, and we are now working that debt off for our parents, for you. Fine. That happens sometimes.

Many are still trying to stick fingers in their ears and hum a happy tune about the true severity of our environmental situation. Fine. The ball is rolling now, so I suppose there’s no crying over spilt milk.

Decades of education decisions driven by people who don’t fully understand education, or the realities of our dynamic world, have effectively dumbed down a chunk of the population to the point that they’re now unable to tell if something is good for them or not. Fine. Good thing I’m a teacher.

As far as the iceberg of how you have and are failing the American people, this is just the tip. But now, you are in an epic game of Chicken? How lovely for you, but while you’re spouting platitudes, complaining about the media, and puffing up your chests like cocks about to peck at each other, people are going hungry and actually dying as a result of your ineptitude, your self-sustaining culture of dysfunction. As the only people who can really prevent this suffering from happening, choosing to do otherwise is immoral, if not treasonous.

As a body, you are becoming increasingly irrelevant in many minds. You are becoming the self-serving obstacle that must be overcome, instead of the agent of the people that our children should be able to look up to. This is true for conservatives and liberals alike, so stop pointing fingers.

It isn’t one person or entity. It’s something so small and yet so powerful. Choices.

The problem is the accumulation of your individual choices. Most of you have made playing the game to win your main objective. You hardly bother with well-considered rhetoric anymore. As a mother, I would be humiliated if my children behaved the way the United States Congress does--on a daily basis--on the national stage no less!

You say and do things you don’t really mean, you prioritize re-election and furthering your party’s agenda over doing your job, and you practically call yourselves noble while doing it.

You’re all so hungry and desperate to survive and climb the ladder, that you have become nearly ineffectual—both sides. You are actually shutting down the government machine simply because feelings are hurt, cliques are frustrated, and you don’t like the way the pieces have fallen on the board recently.  Pull it together, people.

And all of this is so easy to fix. MAKE BETTER CHOICES. That’s it; simple as that. Make one character-driven choice today. Think before you speak and choose to do differently than you normally do. Don’t stretch the truth to get what you want, maybe say no to a deal that screws your constituents a little in the short-term for some imagined good in the long-term.  

At any moment you’re thinking of using an “us versus them” mentality, just stop. That is the sign you’re doing it wrong. Take 30 seconds to pause and really consider with whom you’re aligning yourself and why. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY stop thinking of yourself as a member of your party or ideological community, and start thinking of yourself as a multifaceted human being.  

You are all there to collaborate on solutions to the problems—big and small—of nearly 317 million people. Stop wasting energy fighting each other; learn to be reasonable people.

None of you run the risk of going hungry, ever, in your daily lives. Everyday your decisions can strip food from people’s tables or even strip them of their lives. But you are always exempt from that. You should be thankful, not cocky and borderline heartless about this fact. You should feel how good it is to not waste hours of your day working for basic physical survival, and you should want to share that with more people now. You have that power.

You have the power to expect more from your colleagues. You have the power to vote differently than you’re being told. You have the power to organize and stand up as a group to say No, we will not bicker any longer. We will sit down, take our wins and losses with grace, and do good work. If you stop trying simply to survive, the rest of us can too.

I think then you may start truly focusing on the big problems—hunger, terrible education inequality, violence, real public safety. Right now, you are bickering to a halt over the wrong things.

 Though there are outspoken exceptions among you who are fighting the good fight, by the nature of how things are, you all live and die with the group. Either change that, or change the group. 
Regain your good sense, start making new allies, and do good work together. Go out there and be a person, be a friend, be a real role model on how to work together. Don’t let utter absurdity completely take over.

Please, do differently starting now. Compromise, learn when to move on, and start trying to really walk in the shoes of those you’re suppose to be working for. If you genuinely do these things, I’m certain you’ll figure it out from there.

Sending my greatest hopes for you all,

Kristin Cerda
Berkeley, California

Monday, June 24, 2013

How do we do piggies? NerdMom style.

This little piggy read Kristeva. 
This little piggy read Cixous. 
This little piggy read Derrida. 
This little piggy read Foucault. 
And, this little piggy cried Nietzsche, Nietzsche, Nietzsche all the way home. 

....a Berkeley update will have to wait until we've officially gotten an apt!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Andean Wunderkind -- Quinoa

Emerson's first grain was quinoa. 

this nutritionally dense super grain is high in protein, easy to find organic (here in Austin), and fun in texture. 

I prepared according to the package's instructions, and served it straight, then pressed into the sides of avocado chunks. Despite some teething fussiness, I think he is pro. 

all that remains to introduce of major food groups is meat. I'm putting it off a little bc of ethical uneasiness, but I will offer him some salmon soon, nonetheless. *sigh* I would love for him to choose healthy vegetarianism when he's old enough to choose, but for now, his making that choice independently means he needs to know what it's like to eat meat...I'm craving a rare steak now...*facepalm*

With leftover quinoa, I made myself a tasty dish with the following:

dried tart cherries (cranberries work too)
sea salt (Murray River)
tricolor fresh-ground pepper
unfiltered EVOO
poppy seeds
great warm or straight out of fridge. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Introducing Spices and Herbs

So, plain purée gets old after a while, I think. In an effort to expand Emerson's palate, I'm adding little flavor surprises into his usual fruits and veggies (and egg yolks and yogurt). 

Using the frozen organic baby foods I make, I threw all this into a one-egg pan and voila! 

Up In Them Roots:
1oz. golden beets
1oz. Carrot
1oz. summer squash
1oz. sweet potato 
Saigon cinnamon to taste. 

I think I'm making this for Thanksgiving this year. 

Another successful attempt:
1oz. carrot
1oz. summer squash
dash of dried dill 

The dill brings out the natural sweetness of these two awesome veggies. 

also a tasty dinner option:
2oz. spinach
1 crumbled yolk from a hard boiled egg
dried basil

I added too much basil, and E wasn't super into it. But, We'll try again. 

I think adding a little cream, salt, and pepper to these can make some awesome adult soups, too. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Salad Dressing Magic: Briannas Ginger Mandarin

my new food obsession is Briannas Home Style Ginger Mandarin Dressing. My lovely friend Rachel introduced me to it recently...I love it on everything. It makes me crave salad. So far, I find it most delicious on chunks of avocado. And, it has a special "Award Winning Taste" sticker; I really don't know what else one would need to be sold on this delicious sauce.

                                    half-eaten lunch:

Though, just because it goes on salad doesn't mean it's a diet food or anything. It has 14g of fat per serving. And then you want to eat it on everything. Luckily, I don't really care that it's like delicious ginger fat juice.

If I'm going to spend hours a week with them...

I just got off of a phone call with a woman from Gymboree. Emerson and I tried a sample class a few weeks ago at their Shoal Creek location, and she was following up for feedback, etc.

I felt a little bad saying it, but I told her that, though we liked the program, we'd be trying another location "to see if the group of parents is different there."  It was the most diplomatic way I could find to say, "to avoid the bizarro Stepford, ex-sorority^, monochromatically beige (and caucasian), elective c-section parents."   That's way harsh Tai, I know. Harsh and très judgy, but it is the truth i perceived.

The day we went, there were 2 families of color--out of like 12--and nobody seemed to interact with them. (They also turned out to be the most interesting people I met there, so your loss, seeming lamers!)

I mean, we'll go to open gym or something at Shoal Creek soon--the staff was nice, and one musn't be too hasty with final judgments--but, I've certainly put them on notice.

^ though, let me clarify here, that not all sororities (or sorority girls) are equal. but, exceptions aside, there is a certain group of types and cultural norms that tend to gravitate towards greekdom. no?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Secret Holder

i love secrets. it's a lifelong thing.  and so sometimes, i like to hide things--mostly trivial things--so there is a secret to hold....but, then i forget about it and can't find the thing when i need it, or it randomly shows up at a terrible moment, like a tiny/choking hazard trinket tucked inside the lining of a bag suddenly in Emerson's hand bc he found it with his baby spider-sense.

so, i am now actively hunting my own forgotten secrets to purge all the little baby boobytraps from the house.

kristin vs. kristin...let the battle begin!

In the process of becoming a different being...

Since becoming a mom, my iPhone/iPad usage has skyrocketed; and, I now regularly try to tap links with my finger....on the laptop screen. I then feel annoyed, impatient, and a little embarrassed.  But, not so much so that I don't curse Apple aloud for not being on top of the touchscreen laptop market by now.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The World Needs Thinkers--My Highly Sensitive Child

People often comment on Emerson's reserved and contemplative nature; he's highly sensitive like both his  mom and dad :).

This means he likes to assess things before jumping in, and he processes information more deeply than the average person (they say 15-20% of any animal population has the temperament trait of high sensitivity)^. Comments range from, "He's so aware," to, "Wow, he's so serious,", "I feel like he's judging me." (we get this last one more than you'd think...and, he probably is.) I think part of what people are noticing is that he looks at things very intensely, and for surprisingly long spans of time. He is really trying to see things to understand them.

One of my very first memories in the moments after he was born was how, once his face was in close proximity of mine, he held his gaze on me for what seemed like forever, and his little eyes followed a methodical path around my face, examining and cataloguing. He wasn't crying or freaking out, he was just quietly considering what was before him.

^ this stat is from Elaine N. Aron's The Highly Sensitive Child.

6.5 months....10 minutes into his first swing. He was pleased, but not particularly impressed.

From the surveillance camera: chillin' and slowly considering the stuffed animals in his crib.

Taken by Shanna Weisfeld

5.5 months old...he had been sitting for about 15 minutes listening to the dishwasher and just scanning the room.

Taken by Shanna Weisfeld

3.5 months...In the thought-stimulating waters of a hot bath.

6 weeks. Taken by Brian A. Cerda

6 weeks.

3 weeks.
1 day.


We fell off the new solid foods train for a while (and the solids everyday train...), but we're back! Sunday afternoon we started mashed organic blueberries.

The options at HEB were from Florida and Chile. Florida may not be local, or even the same time zone, but it won by being on the same continent. I like to think about these kinds of things when making choices, especially choices for others. I really believe that the karmic meanings of the choices I make for Emerson matter. That doesn't mean I don't cut corners or make selfish and lazy choices, but y'know, I'm at least making those kinds of choices consciously.

's all fun and games until someone gets berried.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On the Job of Raising a Feminist Son


In trying to figure out this identity as a full-time mom, partner, and homemaker, I've found it difficult to fully embrace it as the incredibly difficult, exhausting, mentally challenging "real" job that it is. 

I still sometimes find myself working too hard to prove to others that I am not some uninteresting, barely educated, oppressed woman. I focus on the fact that I'm now more productive as a poet and editor than I've ever been before, or that I'm working on prepping to go into a PhD program once Emerson goes to school. Sometimes it is the actual assumptions of others I'm working against, but often it's just my own internalized crap.

What's so hard to get across is that I'm not just doing the normal day-to-day of cooking meals, cleaning messes and wiping a tiny ass--it often feels like that's all I do. But, in all reality, my very awesome, very eccentric, very expensive education is being put to excellent use EVERY.SINGLE.DAY--from linguistic theory, to botany, to yogic philosophy...all the way to Oulipian procedures. And, obviously 15 years of critical theory has done something to my parenting, for better or for worse...

Part of what I keep coming to in parsing out what it is I really do^ is that I am at the beginning of a multi-year project in raising a feminist son who is also comfortable in his own power as a (I assume) masculine being. Everything that I do, every rule/habit/tradition my partner and I negotiate into our family, every aspect of how our home runs impacts Emerson's experience of work, worth, gender, and consumerism. 

I have the opportunity to help raise not only a feminist man of strong character, but a feminist man who is also well-educated, white, and of a privileged economic class. This is no light responsibility.  

In a world where our young men--one could easily argue--are a bit in crisis, where there is a fresh round of culture war on women being waged by those who run our government, and where patriarchal systems are evolving into trixier new incarnations....Yes, I think it is safe to say that raising a child in a conscious, compassionate, deliberate, feminist manner is a lot of work, regardless of their sex. 

So....I'm working on not just knowing that being a homemaker and mom is a real job and a potential site   for world-changing work, but also feeling that this is all true. Really grokking it.

^ The murkiness, the shiftiness of this term in our culture is so obnoxious. For years now, when meeting new people, I've opted to asked the question, "What do you do with your time?" 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Unexpected Awesome Mommy Friend Moment

A kid during music class was playing a shaker that was made from a plastic orange, and my newest friend--who is super awesome--leans over and says, "Look, he's playing the orange; how very John Cage!"

Looove it!

And then I started thinking about sitting Emerson in front of toys and determining which toy when by using the I Ching.

Or, placing him in font of a piano with no sound, to be watched while pounding the keys with nothing coming out.

Or, pose a sleeping Emerson at a piano, to rest there, silently for 4 minutes, 33 seconds, his breath and the room the only sonic offerings.

So far, I've hung out with 3 mommies with whom I'd really want to be friends even if we didn't have kids...and a few others who definitely warrant further investigation.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

For Babies and Kitties: Improvised Ribbon Dancer

As a child of the 80s, I think of them as Ribbon Dancers, but it's a simple device regardless of what you call it. A wand or handle of some sort, plus ribbon(s). Babies and kitties alike squeal with glee at these things.

I am always one Hanukah away from being a full-on ribbon hoarder, and as a result, my husband is made a little anxious by the presence of ribbon (I exaggerate, of course....a bit). In hopes of justifying the ribbons I kept from 2 dozen Tiff's Treats (don't ask why we needed 2 dozen cookies between the two of us), I made a ribbon dancer out of an extra kitchen utensil, a clear elastic hair tie, and 3 thin ribbons.

Adding a contrast color and staggering the ribbon lengths, I think, make it a more interesting toy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Food #3: Steamed Carrot

Emerson's first carrot involved about an hr of prep before getting to the eating part. I've learned an important lesson; crank food mills are the way to go. I McGyvered a system to strain out most of the carrots fibrous texture. Had I left them to steam a little longer, this would have been less of an issue, but i left them a little al dente in hopes of maximizing nutrients, color, and bright flavor. This system though involved lots of tools and about 5 steps.

The Eating:
He was pro from the beginning, but not as dramatically as with avocado and banana. He now has the habit of guiding the spoon into his mouth with each bite--wanting to take over fully, but yielding to my holding it in the end. He is still remaining rather clean through the process, not letting valuable morsels escape his mouth too much.

The kid loves food. He will fit in well with Team Excellence.

Monday, March 18, 2013

...answer is:

1,867 emails remaining at the end of that nap. but the fallen were the easiest to seek and destroy. it only gets more time consuming from here.

on a teething note:
Motrin is so much better than Tylenol. so glad he's old enough for ibuprofen now.

the race: email clutter

Today's question:

is it possible to be a mom of a teething, non-sleeping infant, and get down to inbox: zero.....when starting from inbox: 3,296?

He's asleep now.  How far can I get before he awakens...

Emerson's treacherous crib.

Sometimes I look into Emerson's crib and think to myself, "This thing is a deathtrap."

it is an elaborate system of improvised bolsters and soft things--to facilitate side-sleeping, to support his sitting and playing with the wall toys, to serve as a home for the 11 small stuffed animals. He has solid head and upper-body control, and he's (sadly) a light, I don't think he's going to smother himself. But, this reasoning doesn't keep me from waking up several times in the middle of the night and checking in on him via the Dropcam.

Still, his menagerie seems slightly more useful than dangerous at this point.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Aaaaand we're back!

Soooo much to catch up on.  I have a backlog of posts that need a touch of work (for coherence) before posting....little-by-little that'll happen, but I'm going to stop using that backlog as an excuse to put off my return to this blog!

Salient points:

  • Emerson Elijah Weisfeld was born on September 12, 2012, at 2:24am. So, yes, he'll be 6 months old tomorrow!
  • He is the perfect match for our little family--quiet, observant, happy, sensitive, gentle, funny, not very outgoing but very friendly once settled in...loves avocado!
  • As of today he: is sitting unassisted for stretches of time; has had one meal of solids (yesterday), he has been holding his own bottle for almost a month; he copies the sounds of a few phrases "I love you", "Good", "Hi", and "Yeah".
  • He consistently responds to "Gentle"....he will stop whatever rough thing he is doing as soon as you ask!
  • He LOVES music class at Heartsong Music on Anderson Lane....great with rhythms. More on that soon.

so much more to come...