Reunited: A Father’s Love, A Daughter’s Choice

Verna, me and Ben in the early 1980s.

You may have found my essay with the same title in Saturday’s and Sunday’s editions of the Dallas Morning News in the Arts and Life Section. This story is about my now five year relationship with my birth father after his 25 year absence from life. You see, I thought he was dead. But shortly before my wedding in 2008, I found out that he was alive and that my birth mother was dying. When they say that truth is stranger than fiction, this is what they are talking about. Reuniting with anyone after such a long time, but especially with a parent, is dangerous and difficult and so often disappointing. It is not the stuff of fairy tales or made for TV moments. It is messy and hard and hopeful. This is a shortened version of the essay I wrote for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. I hope you will take the time to read and appreciate the struggle for identity all children face, especially those in foster care. More importantly, if you are considering reaching out to someone or have shared a similar experience, feel free to email me at editor@chicktalkdallas.com or leave a comment.

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Ways to help West, Texas

Instagram Pic: _tumblrrquotess_

Instagram Pic: _tumblrrquotess_

Hey all, I have created a Storify article with a comprehensive list of links and resources for those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and beyond looking for ways to help. There may already be resources or drop off sites in your area so please check out the story for links. This is a fluid situation and I am retweeting as I hear news @ChickTalkDallas.

Continue reading

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Day care in Dallas: Tips for Parents

day careThis month’s New Republic story ”The Hell of American Day Care” is a eye opening article every parent should read. The magazine piece highlights clear issues in Texas and the appalling lack of oversight at home child care centers and even licensed facilities where child care workers need only a high school diploma or GED and where many make $20,000 a year, that’s less than a janitor or groundskeeper. “In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian,” writes author Jonathan Cohn. During his discussion with Terry Gross this week, host of NPR’s Fresh Air , Cohn highlighted some of the major problems. “One of the tragedies of the situation,” Cohn told Gross, “is that parents need these day cares to work, to make a living. You’re talking about single parents a lot of the time. You’re talking about families that aren’t making a lot of money. They desperately need someone to watch the kids or they’re not going to be able to make it, and there are just not a lot of options out there.” Especially for parents who do not work a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. schedule and those who can’t make it to the day care center by close. And parents at the lower end of the spectrum simply can’t pay outrageous tuition and can’t afford the after hours care centers. “”We’re not thinking about, ‘Wow, we have this need out there. We need trained professionals to help fill it,’ “Cohn said. “We’re thinking, ‘Oh yeah, someone’s got to watch the kids. Let’s pay ‘em like baby sitters.” And what results all too often is tragedy.  Continue reading

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Dallas Flea this weekend

fleaThis weekend is the The Dallas Flea Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Southside on Lamar, 1409 Lamar St. Admission is $5. Parking is free. Make sure to check out the goods and message me if you know of other fun flea markerts in the DFW area. And make sure you are following Chick Talk Dallas on Facebook and Twitter. That’s where I post quick info.

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Dallas Food Swappers

salsaLast week I joined the Taste the Honey Food Swappers in Dallas at their monthly food swap. And I scored some sweet and savory treats including the serrano salsa pictured to the left, some rhubarb jam, a yummy brioche and chocolate. If you have never been to a food swap before, I encourage you to visit this one in Dallas–they meet monthly and post their meeting locations on Facebook–or host your own.

berriesThe concept is very simple: bring food to swap with someone. Taste the Honey Food Swappers encourage participants to bring homegrown or homemade food. So if you have an extra bundle of tomatoes in your garden this summer, bring ‘em. Or if you have serrano peppers or ingredients for a simple cookie mix or extra somethings in your pantry, make something to share. And make it portable and something that may last a day or two. Don’t jar an already cooked casserole. I made these easy cracker cookies pictured to the left. I had peanut butter crackers, chocolate chips and almond bark in my pantry. Make sure to bring enough items to swap (four in this case) and make your selections presentable and tempting.

rhurarbI chose to wrap cookies in parchment paper rather than dropping them in quick zip lock bags. I also placed them on a serving tray. You don’t have to be a crafty Christy or go out and buy mason jars, but do know that this is an opportunity to creatively present your food and your recipe. And remember to keep the same cleanliness standards in your preparation as you would expect someone else to keep. I provided samples for people to taste–this is a must–and we each took turns sampling everyone’s offerings, then we signed up for what we wanted and later we swapped. Not everyone who signs up for an item gets the item they want so make sure during the appointed swap time (which lasts about 30 seconds) you connect with the people who you really want to swap with. And I really wanted the salsa! It is soo good and I am still eating it. I signed up for multiple items (more than the four I brought to swap) and got what I wanted and all of my cookies were taken . This Dallas event is hosted monthly at different locations and includes wine! This group asks for a $1 donation. And the location we were at this month, the Wine Therapist, offered swappers a discount on wine by the glass. Anyone can do this. A group of friends, a church group, strangers. If you want more information about food swapping, check out foodswapnetwork.com. And if your are swapping in Fort Worth, let me know! I am looking to visit a group in Tarrant County.

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Raising Respectful Boys in a Rape Culture

teen2A recent comment on my recent Dallas Morning News article “How to Raise Respectful Boys” made me wonder, again, about the mixed messages our boys are receiving. Writes Tom, “I just don’t think you can say that a man should “never, ever hit a woman.” What about a male police officer arresting a large female on crystal meth? He may not have time to grab his taser and may need to defend himself.” Continue reading

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Why don’t (more) feminists support women’s college basketball?

Jeff Tuttle/Associated Press

Jeff Tuttle/Associated Press

I have tickets to the Big 12 Women’s Tournament in Dallas this weekend.  I’m taking my nephew with me, a 17-year-old boy. I’m not taking any girlfriends. It bothers me that even among my liberated sportsy girlfriends, the cheering is saved for men’s sports. They like football. They like baseball. They like soccer. And among the non-sportsy-burn-your-bra crowd, sports aren’t as important in the feminist frontlines as say more women-centric challenges such as equal pay or reproductive rights. I get that. Rock on Planned Parenthood. But as one of the few fans who does watch and support women’s college basketball, I am always frustrated at the lack of attention the sport gets even with players as phenomenal as Brittney Griner, an All American and current national champion. (Full disclosure: I am a Baylor alum.) She’s dunking for goodness sake and I can’t get a local bartender to turn on a girl’s game!

I previously wrote about my frustration with the lack of attention–and the lesbian bashing– the girls’ teams get. Newsflash, not all female athletes behave the way we think girls should. It is so sexist to expect a female basketball player to have moves on the court and then emerge from the locker room in full makeup, heels and pearls gushing about being a girlie girl. That’s what ESPN likes. That is not who Brittney Griner (and other athletes) have to be. As David Leonard wrote in his piece “The Misgenerding or Brittney Griner” for Slamonline.com, Griner’s greatness is forgotten by her lack of girliness. “Unable to transform the narrative, in spite of her amazing (revolutionizing) play, Brittney Griner remains an afterthought within the basketball world. Unable to embody the traditional feminine aesthetic and beauty, yet fulfilling the stereotypes usually afforded to Black male ballers, there is little use for Griner within the national imagination. Her greatness is relatively invisible (outside of hardcore sports fans) because she simultaneously fits and repels our expectations for female athletes,” wrote Leonard.

I want feminists out there reading this post to know something. Supporting women is as important as battling men. Instead of preaching about equality to my nephew, I am going to show him what it looks like in an arena, with a box of popcorn and a soda as we cheer on women athletes together. Because a male who supports women’s college basketball is the best kind of feminist!

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No french fries for my kid

Toddler eating a large plate of French friesMaybe I being a radical parent but I’ve decided not to feed my son french fries for now. Not chicken nuggets. Not fish sticks. Not beef patties. Or any other frozen, deep fried crud that I have had to spend the better part of my adulthood training myself not to eat. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Continue reading

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Dallas Woman Blogs From Rome

elizabethCheck out former Dallasite Elizabeth Knight’s blog Romeifyouwanto.com where she blogs about life in Rome.  An Italian major at SMU, she later earned a law degree but decided to give up her Preston Hollow home, her laundry room and air conditioning for a room with a view of the Vatican. Nice. She is also going to appear on an upcoming episode of House Hunters International. Makes me miss Juarez, Mexico. Best international experience. Washed my clothes in a bucket and hanged them outside in the chicken yard to dry. They’d get crusty and kind of itched. Slept on a mattress on the floor. No TV. No couch. Had to ride city buses and only understood half of any conversations. Ate the best Mexican food at a neighbor’s pop up kitchen down the street. Snacked on bean burritos from a pushcart. Drank mezcal from a Tupperware dish. Got horribly sick over and over again. It was truly awful and wonderful at the same time. Minus the violence, I’d go back in a second. I, too, have a case of the Dallas blahs. I mean, really, Starbucks everyday, paved roads, walking trails and landscaping and everything so easy is just no fun. Here’s an excerpt from her piece in the Dallas Morning News.

 ”I graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2001 and majored in Italian. I went to Rome for what I thought would be a one-year adventure and ended up staying for four. It was the best time of my life. I was broke, I shared a bedroom with another girl, I huddled against the radiator, and I loved every minute of it.

I could never find a decent job, though, that didn’t involve teaching English or answering phones, so I went back to the States and enrolled in law school at Emory University in Atlanta. I graduated in 2008, and moved back to Dallas to begin my law practice. I enjoyed it and being in Dallas again, but after four years I was feeling a bit like I was caught in a hamster wheel.

I started thinking about Rome again, even though it had been seven years since I left. I tried to ignore these feelings, but after months of agonizing, a former SMU professor said, “The only cure for this Italy thing is to just go there.””

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Garland teen, 15, helps deliver baby brother at home

Dameyon Howard, Credit: WFAA.

Dameyon Howard, Credit: WFAA.

Moms everywhere should hope for a son like Dameyon Howard, the 15-year-old Garland teen who helped his mother deliver his baby brother at home. Dameyon attends the How to be a Man program at his school and was certainly one February 2 when his mom went into labor at home. He told WFAA, “She was like all out of breath saying, ‘Call 911!,’” recalled 15-year-old Dameyon, Angela’s oldest son. “I go to this program at my school… it’s like ‘How to be a Man.’ I remember one program segment that said when you call 911, you’ve got to be calm. They said, ‘Do you see the umbilical cord?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ They said ‘Tie it with a string,’” Dameyon remembered. “I was running down the hall and couldn’t find any string… and then I saw my brother’s shoe.” Later, after little brother Jassiah was born, healthy and two weeks early weighing eight pounds, two ounces, Dameyon was in a bit of a daze, “You know, I had to get my breath. It was just like mind-blowing!” he told WFAA. Great job, Dameyon!

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