This Week in Misogyny Wants Some Potato Skins

It’s been another banner week for misogyny news. Several studies were published that will likely depress you, and the weekly roundup of terrible people will probably piss you off. There’s some fun stuff at the end, though! (As usual, trigger warnings for pretty much everything apply.) Read More This Week in Misogyny Wants Some Potato Skins

Positivity Challenge Week 7: Staying Positive at Your Non-Ideal Job

Think big. Don’t settle. Find your passion. Get your dream job. Follow your bliss.

For many of us, those messages are thrown at us from a young age. We’re made to believe that we can do great things and that we shouldn’t settle for anything less. And then we’re saddled with tens of thousands in student loan debt and a worldwide economic crisis and dismal job prospects and expected to be grateful if we can even find a job.

Kind of mixed messages, hmm? Read More Positivity Challenge Week 7: Staying Positive at Your Non-Ideal Job

Ladybleeding on the Job

When it comes to being a woman in the workplace, there’s no shortage of challenges and uphill battles to fight. In my office, which is small and run by a stereotype-governed executive director who thinks that all women always carry nail files, these battles are fought up a steeper hill than other places I’ve worked. Until recently, I’ve not given much thought to how difficult it is for some women to carry on doing their job when they’re on their period. Normally, mine are fairly light and only last for about three days. In a strange turn of events, I’ve been bleeding off and on, sometimes gushing, for roughly six weeks. It’s been fucking distracting. Read More Ladybleeding on the Job

Dreaming of Summertime

Here in the Midwest, many parents scrambled to make arrangements for yet another snow day this past Friday. It’s the 6:45am announcements of “School’s Closed”that makes me ever-so-grateful for my flexible work situation. While at home Friday, friends were chatting on Twitter about summer camps. Is it crazy to plan for summer camp in February? I assure you, it absolutely is not.

At first, when you’re a working mom, you’re concerned about time off after the baby comes home. Then you’re faced with the astronomical cost of infant care. Then you assess if your arrangements for infant care will work for your now mobile and verbal toddler. Then you have to decide what kind of preschool program your child will attend, and if it will be just for the school day or if you need a program with before and after school care. Then you double check to make sure the preschool option is also available for the summer months. Then you make a plan for kindergarten.

Then your child graduates from kindergarten.

And needs something to do in the summer while you are working.

To be honest, this is the first summer since 2007 I’ve worked. As a teacher, I savored the weeks at home with my kids while the weather was nice. That summer of 2007 I worked part-time, and my daughter simply attended her normal daycare center (she was two at the time).  This summer, I’ll be working part-time, and while my son is able to still attend his daycare (where 50% of the staff has been retained since my daughter was there in 2006 ,which is amazing, and why we love it there so much), my daughter will need somewhere to go.

As I mapped out our options, I thought some of our readers might like a little tutorial on this very subject. It’s not something I experienced as a kid – my mom always worked nights and weekends until I was old enough to babysit my brothers. I digress.

In my opinion, my daughter is still a “little kid.” She’ll be six by summer’s end, but she still needs to be supervised by grown-ups when I am absent for long periods of time (teens being a fine option for occasional babysitting). I want real adults interacting with her and exposing her to interesting and fun things in a safe environment.

Here are the choices my husband and I have looked at, and at the end, you’ll see our ultimate decision.

Hire a Sitter: Since I just stated that I’d like a grown up to care for my kiddos, this would work out to cost about the same as finding another arrangement. Pros: No transportation on my part, the kids get to stay put, and don’t have to get along with others all day long. Cons: If something comes up for the sitter, there is not back up. If there is no sitter,  I don’t go to work.

Send Her to My Son’s Daycare: As much as I just raved about the daycare a few paragraphs ago, I’m not a huge fan of their school-aged program. Most private daycares will run a “summer camp” program to attract school-aged enrollment during the summer months. In my opinion, it all depends on the number of children in the program and what the collective age span is. I know that at this daycare, there are never a huge number of school-aged kids. Most of them are siblings to the younger children. If she were to attend, she’d likely be hanging with a group of five to six 5th grade boys. Not the most ideal situation for any of those involved.

Send Her to a More Traditional Daycamp: The YMCA, local parks departments, and other youth organizations have all gotten into the business of providing thorough summer childcare for elementary-aged children. Some of the even work on a sliding scale based on income, which is a godsend to some families. Not all of them offer part-time/partial week options, which is something we are looking for this summer. Not all of them accept children who are not yet six. If I had to guess, most children who need full-time summer daycare attend programs like these.

Send Her to a Specialty Camp: If we were millionaires (or heck, thousand-aires) I could probably design a summer full of specialty camps. Most specialty camps, held at prestigious venues (like museums and zoos) hold incredibly enriching programs, staff by highly qualified adults. As a result, the prices are often double or triple the price of a neighborhood day camp. How cool would it be, though, to swim with dolphins or get to clean the resident T-Rex?

In the end, we’ve decided on sending her to our local healthclub’s summer program. We can sign up for individual days, field trips are involved, and swimming is offered daily. It’s reasonably priced, close to home, and a place with which she is familiar. Phew. Ok, this one’s covered. What’s next? Oh yeah, before and after school care once she starts first grade!

What have you done with your kids while you’ve worked over school breaks? What did your parents do with you?



Three Months of Excelle: Women Be Crazy

So, I spent most of last summer and fall being unemployed, a time that I back upon without much fondness. During those desperate months, I threw pretty much everything against the wall to see what would stick. I networked, I cold-called, I internet searched, I signed up with temp agencies, I met a career counselor”¦everything.  That included enrolling in several of’s special-interest e-newsletters. Among the many I selected was Excelle, the newsletter for working women! Excelle. Can’t you just see the shoulder-padded blazers now? Read More Three Months of Excelle: Women Be Crazy

How Fair Trade Can Change the World

The term “Fair Trade” has been bandied around for several years, and when consumers see a “Fair Trade” label, they may think of two things. They may think, “Oh good, this coffee wasn’t picked by child labor” or they may think,” Seriously? It’s $4 more than the leading brand? $4 dollars?!?”

While there is no standard definition for fair trade, it basically implies that the company selling the fair trade product follows a set of ethical practices. This practices include the exclusion of child labor, paying workers a decent wage and being kind to the environment.Typically these goods are produced in poor Third World nations and exported to the industrialized West.

This feature on Pure & Co. on AOL news is a great example of what a fair trade company can accomplish, and how it really can change the world, one sweater at a time. In summary, the article states that the 4500 workers in Thailand are paid a fair wage, can earn vacation time, and enjoy health and education benefits. This things are not commonplace in rural Thailand. What I found most interesting though, was that instead of having one centralized factory, Pure & Co. allows to women to work from home or close to home. From reading the article, it seems that a truck delivers yarn on Monday to various villages, and then picks up the finished pieces on Friday. The women are free to work when they are able, making childcare arrangements that work for them, allowing greater flexibility and I suspect worker satisfaction. How brilliant is that?

Granted, some production lines can’t function on that model — but I bet more could than you might think. Any sort of hand sewing could be sent out to where workers are, along with painting home wares, embellishing items, making jewelry, making baskets or any of the other crafts that used to made at home before mass-production became all the rage. Imagine what could happen in villages across the world if industries came to them, instead of the other way around.

The biggest obstacle I have personally in purchasing Fair Trade products is the price. I am cheap, I’ll be the first to admit it. Why spend $20 on a napkin holder if I can get one at a big box store for $5? Well, reading what happens when a $20 napkin holder is purchased — that a woman can buy food for her family for a week, or it funds her child’s education or enables her to buy more materials to expand her business….well that hits home more so than knowing the big box store got 50%, the suppler got 25%, the freight guy got 20% and the worker in the factory got 5% of the purchase price, you know?

What are you favorite fair trade products? I’ve had Just Love Coffee, and I loved getting containers for my classroom from Global Gifts, which stocks items from around the world.

Going Dutch: How I Found My Place in the Workforce

Yesterday, during TMI Tuesday hour, I was asked if I had an opinion about this article on Dutch women and workforce disparities. The article in question highlights the fact that few Dutch women work full time and even fewer seek a career in the traditional sense. Read More Going Dutch: How I Found My Place in the Workforce