Monthly Archives: August 2009

Can you explain this to me?

Well, here we go. I’m going to, once again, slog into the confusing world of politics, education and the working poor.

Currently, with me staying at home with our kids and Anthony working full-time, we are “poor”. Poor enough to qualify for free preschool for Jonathan, who will be 4 this month. When Jonathan was enrolled at the Cal Poly Children’s Center, he teacher identified some learning delays that required some work.  Nothing serious, just some speech issues as well as fine motor skills.  So we enrolled him in a preschool enrichment program in addition to his time at Cal Poly’s preschool, and he’s been doing great.  I like his teachers and I like the speech and occupational therapists that he works with.  Since I’m not going back to Poly in the fall for my MA (newsflash: I’m having a baby in October – I’m not going to keep trying to be super-student), Jonathan and Hannah no longer get to be in the Poly program. So, I signed up for Free California State Preschool. We got the admissions packet in the mail yesterday.

The hurdle I was expecting was there: we selectively vaccinate our kids, so their shot records are “incomplete”.  I flipped through the packet to make sure the vaccine refusal form was there, and it was. Cool.  I flipped on the TV and proceeded to skim through the rest of the packet. Parent participation required – good. Don’t bring your kids in sandals – ok. Food allergy issues, schedule, goals, field trips. Great stuff. Home visit. What? Home Visit?

“The teacher will make arrangements with you for a home visit. The visit may last 30 minutes.”

Um, Big Brother, anybody?

Why is this necessary? I totally understand home visits and inspections for foster care and all that, but why would the teacher need to visit our house?

I muted the TV, started reading more carefully, and found this other little gem.  Perhaps it’s because of my conservative, sheltered, homeschooled background, but I laughed out loud (actually, I snorted) when I read the following:

“In order for our preschool programs to operate effectively, students must be on time and attend school regularly.  Unexcused absences are not funded by the state agencies whose dollars support our programs“.

Oh, I see! The emphasis isn’t put on the educational opportunities that my child might miss out on by not attending school that day (you know, sand table play day),  but the money that the school will not get if he is absent!

So now I was thinking really hard. And it struck me what a crazy bind our family is in right now.  As I mentioned, with me staying at home for now, we are living on one income, and qualify for this great State Preschool program.  However, if I was to return to work, we would go over the income limit and would have to pay for Jonathan’s preschool (only the State one is free).  But here’s the kicker: I would then have to put ALL of my children in some sort of daycare program, which would basically eat up all my earnings (unless I started making a lot more money than most jobs in Paso Robles pay), making it pointless for me to have a job, since I can take care of my own kids for free!

Why don’t I just homeschool Jonathan? That’s a really good question! I don’t feel like I have the time, energy or skill set to help him like he needs (how do you teach a kid to hold a pen? he insists on holding it weird, and the OT is the only person I’ve seen get him to hold it right… for 20 seconds). Is this just a case of me being insecure about my parenting? I would really rather read to my kids all day… since that’s what I like. But I don’t want them to have gaping holes in their education like some homeschooled kids I know, and I want them to experience the social interaction that “regular” school can offer. But this paperwork is really making me think: how much government oversight do I want on my family??


The Evolution of the Starbucks Siren ~ In Honor of World Breastfeeding Week

Breasts exposed, round belly... she's a maternal image!

Breasts exposed, round belly... she's a maternal image!

If you do a Google search on the Starbucks Siren, there are other articles that have been written about this same phenomenon… the evolution from the nordic woodcutting that was the original Starbucks logo to the current, less exposed version.  But, being as it’s me, I’ve gotta throw my hat into the ring, too, and comment on how this might have affected the unpopularity of breastfeeding.

The original logo features an earthy looking Siren, with rounded belly and breasts exposed.  Strangely, a Christian group called for a boycott of Starbucks when they returned to  this logo with the launch of their Pike’s Place Blend last year.  “The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute,” explains Mark Dice, founder of the group. “Need I say more? It’s extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves, Slutbucks.”  Really? Slutbucks? First of all, Christians need to read this awesome book that is in the Bible called “The Song of Solomon”.  Breasts are an awesome part of God’s creation!  Second of all, this is obviously a mythological creature.  Her “legs” are not spread, she’s a Siren (like a mermaid): it’s her split tail that she is holding in each hand.  This is a symbol of her personal power and strength.  Her rounded belly could be a symbol of fecundity (fertility) or just that she’s a plump woman, and not ashamed of it. Finally, if you are really that weak of a Christian that a stylized logo offends you, you might as well go live somewhere in the world where you can isolate yourself from women entirely.  I recommend Afghanistan. I hear they have nice cave houses there.

When Starbucks merged with another company that featured a green logo, they morphed the images into the following.

Boobs now hidden

Boobs now hidden

Essentially, it is the same Siren, but now her breasts are hidden by her long hair.  Now, obviously, I’m not advocating for logos to incorporate exposed breasts, but I do think this is an interesting case of modesty.  For one thing, this is a mythical creature.  It would be different if this were a real-life model with real breasts.  But it’s based on a woodcarving, and yet her breasts are somehow inappropriate for use on a logo?

The Starbucks logo that most people are familiar with today has not only hidden the Siren’s breasts, but also her round belly, and her split tail is barely recognized as it frames her image.

No boobs, no belly

No boobs, no belly

As a lactivist, I find it fascinating that, as evidenced by the Starbucks logo’s evolution, breasts have become completely taboo in our culture UNLESS there is sexual intent behind their display.  For instance, a few years ago, a popular parenting magazine featured a cover with a baby looking adoringly up at its mother.  The baby was busy eating at the time, so, naturally, part of the mother’s breast was in the photograph.

No exposed nipple!

No exposed nipple!

This one, innocent, beautiful cover caused problems in grocery stores who began to either cover the front of the magazine, or completely pull it from their shelves because shoppers were OFFENDED by the photograph.  Wow.

The amazing thing about the breast is that God designed it as a dual purpose organ. Not only does it bring pleasure, as Solomon poeticizes, but it also brings nourishment and life to babies and children!  The last few times I’ve gone into the grocery store, I get as much boob exposure to celebrities on fashion magazines and gossip rags as there was on the BabyTalk photo… but those aren’t being pulled or covered, because the breasts are being exposed in socially appropriate ways, not disgusting, baby-caring ways.

Again, I’m not advocating for the display of breasts in advertising necessarily, but I do think it is important for breasts to be shown in a natural way, not always as a sexual object.  Breasts are practical and functional IN ADDITION TO being sexual.  But if we are only ever exposed to the sexual side, no wonder breastfeeding is seen as weird by many. Breastfeeding is normal and natural. Breasts are normal and natural. I miss the old Starbucks Siren and her big belly and proud breasts.  Can I get that in a Grande?

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