Weekly Reads: Sensory Friendly Zoo Hours, Parenting the German Way and A Swift Moment Podcast!

Hey there Readers! It’s the feast day of St. Valentine of Rome, possibly a third-century Catholic martyr, possibly several different people who defied Roman Emperor Claudius II when the big guy banned marriages in the city of Rome because he believed that soldiers devotion to wives and families was keeping them from joining his project of marching to other places in Europe to kill people. Valentine is purported to have continued to perform marriages in secret. Ever since the high middle ages St. Valentine has been the patron saint of courtly love, which we celebrate each year on the day Claudius evidently put a stop to Valentine’s shenanigans by lopping his noggin off. How romantic…

Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota has launched a great new program for visitors with autism or other sensory needs. On  Autism Friendly Early Entry Days the Zoo will open early to allow these folks and their families to enjoy the exhibits or participate in special programs before the general public crowds the place up. Very cool. ***UPDATE*** friend of the blog Olivia James of the Autism Society of Minnesota passed us the link to their current programs and upcoming programs this summer! You should also check out Olivia and friends on the  Super Serious Social Justice Podcast!

A principal at an intermediate school in the Bronx is under investigation for… pretty much being hella fucking racist… 

“She’s racist,” said English teacher Mercedes Liriano, 45, who’s worked at the school, where 95% of students are black and Hispanic, for more than a decade. “She’s trying to stop us from teaching our students about their own culture.”

The disturbing allegations — relayed to the Daily News by eight current or former employees and five students — come amid a spate of racially tinged controversies at city schools.

Liriano said she was beginning a class Wednesday when Catania pulled her aside and told her not to give lessons about the famed Harlem Renaissance movement of literature and art in the 1920s.

The order shocked Liriano.

She teaches the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the writings of Frederick Douglass, to her sixth- and seventh-grade students as part of the officially recommended New York state curriculum standards, she noted.

But Catania made clear she had a far different view of what Liriano should be teaching her students, the incensed educator said.

“She said I’m not a social studies teacher so why am I teaching my students about black history?” Liriano said. “Her tone was very harsh, as if I committed a heinous crime.”

My Alma Mater made the news last week when students on the St. Xavier basketball team (Go Bombers) were peppered with racist and 

homophobic taunts from the fans of their arch-rivals Elder. Two of the mothers of those kids were joined by another local mom whose son was told by a teacher that they would be “lynched” if they didn’t finish their work, for an extended conversation about racism in local schools. 

I had not heard about the battle arena style game Fortnite, until I came across this meme (pictured.) Now I own it, because as Jay Hathaway points out at the Daily Dot, this was an attack on social justice warriors that completely backfired.


By the way… Sexist Jokes Make Men Think Sexist Behavior is OK, Study Says… well duh…

A Utah Mom is upset after the school tells 6th Graders that they cannot say “no” when asked to dance.  Eww…

Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children sounds like a great read. But Slate’s Rebecca Schuman finds it heartbreaking how difficult it would be to bring this style of parenting to the States. 

This is not just because Americans pride ourselves on eschewing the advice of outsiders, though that certainly doesn’t help. Our political and social institutions are so firmly entrenched that no amount of wise Germanic advice can help us. “We’ve created a culture of control,” Zaske laments. “In the name of safety and academic achievement, we have stripped kids of fundamental rights and freedoms: the freedom to move, to be alone for even a few minutes, to take risks, to play, to think for themselves.” It’s not just parents who are responsible for this, says Zaske, “it’s culture-wide,” from the “hours of homework” to the “intense” focus on competitive sports and extracurriculars; it’s also the “exaggerated media that makes it seem like a child can be abducted by a stranger at any time,” though stranger kidnappings in the United States are actually exceedingly rare. I mean, this is America, where the simple act of feeding an infant in public is enough to set off mommy warfare—allowing the entire nude body of a child in the out-of-doors is enough to warrant calling Child Protective Services or the cops.

Making new parent friends is always cool… especially when they are part of our secular/evidence-based parenting tribe. Thanks to an early morning Facebook Live with new friend Catie Mehl of Columbus Birth and Parenting and also the Mom of one of The Schmoo’s Camp Quest Ohio soulmates I discovered a brand new podcast. A. Swift Moment is the podcast of Chicago area doula and bad ass mom Ariel Swift and it’s really good! And they are looking for guests… mmm…

Todays’ Featured Image is from artist  Dan Bell, who is re-envisioning maps of our National Parks in the iconic style of JRR Tolkien.   The road goes ever on…

There are new judging rules at the 2018 Winter Olympics…

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at

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