Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s New Look

 

Just a few years ago, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, a daughter of actors Angelina and Brad, was all the rage among gender-obsessed Hollywood watchers. Just last year she was listed among nine other children of celebrities being raised as transgender or with a non-binary gender by Insider. They wrote,

Actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s oldest biological child, named Shiloh and assigned female at birth, told the former couple that they (the child’s preferred pronoun) would rather be called John in 2014.

No Library Story Hour, But You Can Have Some Drag Queens Read to Your Kids

 

In my deep, deep, deep blue pocket of the country, Montgomery County, Maryland, we are still trapped in spring 2020 when it comes to COVID. We’re still wearing masks indoors, my kids are the only kids in their outdoor soccer league playing maskless, and many county services and events are still using COVID as the excuse to avoid resuming normal operations. Last week I had a piece in the Washington Post about it, arguing for full reopening of our county; likely a fruitless effort akin to yelling at the wind, but it was worth a college try.

One of my co-authors, Jen Reesman, has been following the issue of the libraries closely. She wrote this paragraph in our op-ed,

Do You See Your Work as Essential?

 

The last year and a half have brought a great deal of financial hardship and suffering to a great many institutions: religious, arts, theatres, etc. We’ve become members of a number of organizations and donated to many more. I have operated under the belief that I will throw $20 towards everything that brought our lives value and meaning in Before Times, in hope that they will still be around in the After Times.

In the last few months though, I’ve shifted that belief. Especially in a post-vaccine world where we’re still behaving as though it’s the spring of 2020, I’m through being nice. I’ve decided to donate and participate in institutions that view their work as essential, and as such, have tried as best they can to operate normally. Synagogues that opened their doors to my kids and shifted their programming outside, summer camps that did the same, non-profits like Mount Vernon that went to the drawing board and created and expanded their outdoor events as creatively as possible.

It’s Time For the Government to Step In

 

We thought we could trust you to make the right decision, but obviously, you care more about yourself than you do the life of another. You value your own freedom over someone else’s life, someone else’s beating heart. Have you no shame, no remorse, no sympathy for the pain you inflicted upon another? 

We’re having a few national conversations at once: On abortion and on vaccination for COVID-19. We’re hearing a lot of “my body my choice” from the national media and liberal thought-leaders, while on vaccination, Americans are increasingly being denied any semblance of bodily autonomy for the sake of the herd.

Texas Taliban and the Actual Taliban

 

Welcome back to activist Instagram. It’s been a while since I saw you last. My dear, liberal friends: I missed your memes, I missed your outrage, I missed your spunk. You thought that after you successfully took down Donald Trump using the power of your personal social media account with 125 followers, all of whom (except me, of course) vote and think exactly like you, that you could take a break. Oh, no, there is an abortion law in Texas (you don’t live in Texas, but don’t worry your little head about that detail) that needs your full attention.

I’m deadly curious, though, and I must know: Do you in fact know what the Taliban is? You keep referring to those in Texas who support the new pro-life law as the Taliban, but do you know what it is? I’ll give you a hint, they were in the news just last week. I didn’t see you post about it, but I’m sure you’ll get around to it, as the proud and brave feminists that you are.

On Masking and Child Development

 

Throughout the pandemic (and before) one of my favorite commentators on parenting has been Emily Oster, an economist with an eye on data and parenting. She uses her expertise to analyze how to best make parenting decisions, and her books on pregnancy and parenting from an evidenced-based perspective are invaluable. As too have her contributions been during the COVID-era, much to the chagrin of COVIDians.

Oster writes a newsletter on data and parenting in addition to her books and opinions pieces across the journalism world. Today’s tackled an interesting study on a drastic decline in IQ for babies born admid the pandemic, which I haven’t spoken about it because, like Oster, I was wary of the dramatic conclusions it reached.

Kids Get One Childhood and We’re Blowing It

 

Last night a friend told me that the Marine Corps band was playing the last concert of the summer outside at the National Harbor. He told me “This is my kids’ last chance to hear classical music live for the forseeable future.” And he was right, and I realized it was my kids’ last chance too. Our local Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore just emailed with the news that they would be banning kids under the age of 12 because they’re ineligble for vaccination. We used to go to the BSO a few times a year for their kids’ programming, but we haven’t been there since at least spring of 2020. I don’t know when vaccination will open up to kids under the age of 12, and at this point, I have no intention of vaccinating my kids, so there’s really no telling when they’ll go back, if ever.

When I bemoaned this situation on Twitter, I heard plenty of “It’s just a short time, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic!”

Want to Increase Vaccination Rates? Let the Virus Do Its Thing

 

Louisiana “boasts” one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and as a result, the latest Delta COVID surge is hitting the state harder than high-vaccination states. It’s quite clear from local hospital’s reporting on the surge who are seeing the brunt of the impact: the unvaccinated. According to the latest numbers released, 239 unvaccinated patients are hospitalized, compared to just 32 vaccinated.

The question for healthcare workers and policymakers is “How can we convince the reluctant to get vaccinated?” And the answer may be simply: Let the virus do its thing. Let the apprehensive see with their own eyes what happens when you choose to stay unvaccinated. Watch your neighbors spend twelve days on a ventilator (mine just did) and let word of mouth scare people out of their apprehensions and fears. According to a recent study, these are the most common reasons why Americans are staying unvaccinated:

How Do We Trust the AAP Again?

 

I have a five-week-old baby, and I must admit, they’re pretty boring. Up until this point, all they do is sleep, eat and cry. There’s very little time actually awake, although over the last few days, we’ve seen more time with his eyes open, ready to engage the world. And what do we do with him when he’s awake? We talk to him, we make faces at him with exaggerated expressions, we talk to him some more, we sing to him. This is, I think, a natural way for humans to interact with tiny babies; we want to show them our smiles to signal to them that they are safe and loved and we’re exuding happiness in their direction. This natural understanding of how babies work is what made this statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics so enraging:

The Right to Fly with Small Kids

 

Today I did one of the more painful things I have to do as an adult and I watched an airline fare mistake slip through my fingers. I subscribe to a service called Scott’s Cheap Flights (my sign-up code is here if that’s your jam) that sends emails whenever there’s a fare sale or mistake from my home airport, and maybe once or twice a year, they send an email that there’s a mistake. Today’s sale was from Baltimore to Salt Lake City for $29 round trip, and it would have been just over $200 to fly my entire giant family out there for a week of outdoorsy fun. I am almost never one to pass up a fare mistake (I’ve gone to Hawaii first-class with a four-month-old and also to Israel in my first trimester, sick as a dog), but this time I knew I had to. We have a tw0-year-old and a four-year-old, neither of whom can wear masks for more than 30 seconds or so.

This issue of masking young children has been an obsession of mine since the winter; I even recently was canceled on Twitter for daring to share a picture of my son’s mask after a day at summer camp (spoiler: It was gross and the Internet doesn’t like their mask love to be challenged by reality).

The Power of Community and Just One Person

 

Last night all of Jewish Brooklyn heard heart-stopping news: A young boy, 6-year-old Yosef Shapiro, had gone missing. Many minds immediately went to the same dark place: Another young boy, Leiby Klezky, went missing in Brooklyn a decade ago and was found brutally murdered by a member of his own community. After both Klezky and Shapiro went missing, the entire community immediately fanned out and covered the maximum ground possible to find the young boy.

The Cost of Wokeness in Schools: Real Education

 

The woeful state of American education has been a concern for some time. No matter what we do, our kids’ skills and basic grasp in math and language just keep getting worse. The statistics have always been appalling, but it’s now crossed over into actually shocking.

Won’t Someone Think of the Children? Maybe Teachers?

 

This is a popular quote from the Simpsons and I’ve started to wonder if I’ve actually turned into Helen Lovejoy. But seriously, won’t someone please think of the children?

Despite not having children in schools myself, I’ve spent the better part of the last year and a half advocating for open schools and normalcy, because this is what kids so desperately need. Now, teacher’s unions are floating the idea of the third year of closed schools, with no indication that damaging mitigation efforts like masks and mandatory quarantines will be eliminated. Even worse, they’re setting schools up for situations where closures are inevitable:

On Doctors and Following the Science

 

Earlier this week, I reached a bit of a breaking point with COVID theatre in medical settings. We brought our two-year-old daughter to a specialist appointment for a somewhat stressful (though non-invasive) test. I brought my husband Seth along because I didn’t want to be faced with the possibility of having to juggle a crying newborn while also comforting my scared toddler during the exam.

It started with the pens. The pens, oh, the pens. There is something deeply disconcerting about a medical provider that is still engaging in the theatre surrounding surface transmission in late-July of 2021. No, we don’t need separate cups of “clean” and “dirty” pens. I intentionally always take one out of the dirty cup in my own quiet little act of rebellion.

What’s More Powerful? #MeToo or Capitalism?

 

My favorite singer has had a really rough year or so. Ryan Adams is a soulful singer who honestly is a wreck in his personal life; it’s part of what makes his craft as moving as it is. Recently, he was #MeToo’d; a pretty devastating piece appeared in the New York Times about Ryans’ manipulation and cruelty towards women, including his ex-wife Mandy Moore. The Times reported,

Equal parts punk-rock folk hero and romantic troubadour, Adams, 44, has 16 albums and seven Grammy nominations to his name. He has overseen music by Willie Nelson, written a Tim McGraw hit and recorded with John Mayer.

Fence Companies Are Essential… Or Should Have Been

 

Last year, we were told what in our society counts as “essential” and what doesn’t. Home Depot, liquor stores, Costco… essential. Small businesses, restaurants, gyms… not essential. It’s a terrifying thing watching the government decide if you’re important enough to society to stay open and operational. But there’s another awful aspect of the governmental decision-making process: Sometimes they decide something isn’t essential, and we realize later on just how wrong they were. That seems to have been the situation with a family highlighted by a parenting Instagram influencer this week.

I’ve written about the woman behind “Taking Cara Babies” before; she’s a social media baby sleep expert who was semi-canceled when it was discovered that she donated to President Trump’s campaign. She refused to be canceled, and this week, she’s highlighting one of the biggest dangers to babies, toddlers, and children: drowning. On Instagram last night, she shared the story of a toddler who tragically lost his life. You can see a snippet of the story from a screenshot of her Instagram stories.

Another Truism about Women and Pregnancy

 

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is, “Never ask a woman if she’s pregnant” — but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never ask a woman at the end of her pregnancy if she’s had that baby yet”!

My due date was on Friday. Last Friday. I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday with two of my kids and I barely made it out alive. I could barely push the cart; the physical exertion of walking around the minature supermarket was exhausting. My hips, which by virtue of nature, are getting loose enough to allow a watermelon to pass through, are clicking like I’m an 80-year old in need of a hip replacement. And that watermelon is attached to my front every waking moment, weighing me down like a ton of bricks. I haven’t slept more than an hour at a stretch in weeks, if not months, thanks to a baby playing tambourine on my bladder. I sleep with multiple medications next to me: two for heartburn in hopes that I don’t wake up vomiting stomach acid, and a Tylenol for when the hip pain becomes too strong to sleep.

Our Schools Are Falling Behind, and a New Org. Blames Politicized Classrooms

 

Karol Markowicz, a friend and columnist for the New York Post, often says, “Every minute that’s spent on politics is one fewer moment spent on math and reading.” Today I spoke with another mother so concerned about this phenomenon, she started a new bipartisan organization with a million-dollar ad buy nationally and in three key local markets to make this connection between politicized classrooms and negative educational outcomes crystal clear for parents. Alleigh Marre, the President of Free to Learn told me, “We’re sinking lower and lower in worldwide rankings. We’re seeing activism instead of achievement in schools. 82% of parents we polled said they don’t want politics in the classroom; 71% want core subjects instead of ideology. And of that 71%, 66% self-identified as liberal. People want their kids prepared for the future, independent of politics.”

One of the geographic areas, New York City, was targeted because of the goings-on at private schools like the Grace Church School in Manhattan, where the scope of the problems facing students and teachers there was exposed by former New York Times op-ed editor Bari Weiss’ essential Substack newsletter. A teacher at the time, Paul Rossi laid out the shocking situation in the private school, explaining “As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.”

Your Inability to Do Rational Risk Assessment is Not My Problem

 

I’m losing patience with the irrational. This is just the latest example of dozens I could cite about dealing with those who are incapable and unwilling to let go of their COVID hysteria in a post-vaccine world. It comes from a local mommy listserv about our local library system, which, surprisingly in this deep blue county in already blue Maryland, dropped its mask requirements upon finally reopening, fifteen months after closing its doors.

My son and I were thrilled – THRILLED! – to return to the Silver Spring library this weekend for the first time since March 2020.  While 95% percent of the people in the library were wearing masks (and all of the library staff that I could see), some library patrons were not, including a family with young kids in the children’s section.  We were looking forward to spending time browsing books in-person for the first time in over a year, but even my 11 yr old felt uncomfortable in the library with unmasked adults and kids so we left.