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Know Your 'Enemy'

Middle Eastern teen girls team up for peace, leadership and empowerment

Local NewsFriday, July 21, 2017 by Lauren Thompson

Every summer, worlds collide in Santa Fe for a handful of teen girls living thousands of miles away from home. Nearly two dozen young women, half of them Israeli and half Palestinian, travel from across the world to come together and attend a three-week summer program in the name of peace.

The camp, established in 2003 by humanitarian Rachel Kaufman, was created in response to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Increasingly disheartened by stories of violence and loss in the Middle East, Kaufman believed that peacemaking could not be achieved through older generations of Israelis and Palestinians too entrenched in a learned hatred for each other. Instead, she believed that peace could be found within the next generation of young leaders. Thus, Creativity for Peace was born.

Over the course of the three-week program, campers learn more about each other by living and working together and by sharing their stories. As Executive Director Dottie Indyke explains, “Our organization is based on the idea that an enemy is a person whose story you haven’t heard. Once you’ve heard that person’s story, they’re not your enemy anymore. You can’t stereotype them; you understand them.”

The camp aims to change this idea of the “other” through routine and structured conversations they label as dialogue. Led by one Israeli facilitator and one Palestinian facilitator, dialogue functions as a way to share personal accounts of the girls’ experiences living in the Middle East. Former camper, now Young Leader—the title for junior counselors—Shai Keidar of Israel explains that the dialogue period is often challenging.

“My brother was a soldier in the Israeli army when I was a camper, which was very, very hard for the Palestinian campers to hear; their experience with soldiers are not good, so hearing that my brother was a soldier was confusing for them because I told them how amazing he is, and how gentle he is,” Keidar tells SFR. “I cried so much when they told stories about other soldiers, because that’s my brother, and then one of the Palestinians came up to me and gave me a warm hug—she put everything aside and was feeling what I was feeling, even though she had a lot of bad experiences with soldiers.”

Creativity for Peace also builds connections between the girls through a variety of activities in addition to sharing a living space. “Being in dialogue and hearing those stories and asking many questions is one part of the experience,” Keidar continues. “Living together, sharing everything from a bed to a shower, and keeping the house warm and clean, or going to the opera or the movies, that’s the other part that brings us together and connects us in a way that’s hard to find anywhere else.”

This week, the girls work on building connections by heading up to the Santa Fe Mountain Center with SFR in tow. With just under seven days of camp under their belts, there’s a palpable sense of budding friendship among the girls, but they still have a ways to go. While they share English as a second language—a requirement for camp—they’re still working through many cultural, linguistic, political and religious differences. It is this lack of common ground at the start of camp which make activities like a this a challenge. The campers whoop and cheer for two of their junior counselors who begin climbing upwards towards the ropes course. The triangular course, known as Team Journey, consists of two climbers walking different ropes before coming together in the center. From there, the climbers must work together to reach the third corner as a team. As everyone else watches from below, Indyke tells SFR why they chose the activity. 

“The purpose of this exercise is twofold: One of the purposes is empowerment; this is an opportunity for them to have an experience that they otherwise may not have had before of doing something scary and challenging that pushes them outside of their comfort zone,” she says. “The other purpose is to give them an opportunity to work together to work to a common goal. The experience of helping each other creates a bond that shows them what it actually feels like for someone not to be your enemy any more. They’re there to help and support you.”

Next week, the girls continue to challenge and express themselves in the form of a community event. On Thursday July 27, Creativity for Peace campers, Young Leaders and staffers plan to join together for Salaam~Shalom: A Celebration of Peace. The event, which takes its name from greetings in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively, features talks given by the program’s Young Leaders open to sharing their stories and discoveries with the community. Creativity for Peace brings the Middle East to the Farmers’ Market Pavilion with food, music and dancing from the region and community members can learn more about the young women's cultures.

As Salaam~Shalom demonstrates, Creativity for Peace’s message is even more relevant than ever—not just for these girls, but for the people of America. “We’re taking hate and suspicion and misinformation and we’re turning it into love and respect and friendship,” Youth and Volunteer Coordinator Alysha Shaw points out. “The things that we’re teaching these girls and the skills that we’re giving them are things that we desperately need in this country, but we are lacking right now.”

 
Salaam~Shalom: A Celebration of Peace
5:30 pm Thursday July 27. 
$15-$40.
Farmers Market Pavilion, 1607 Paseo de Peralta, 983-7726.

Leather Lo Mein

Harris News plans to open lady biker clothing store at former Mu Du Noodles location

Local NewsFriday, July 21, 2017 by Aaron Cantú

And here endeth the mystery.

Harris News Inc., a company that purchased the deed to the former location of Mu Du Noodles at 1494 Cerrillos Road, will transform the location into a store specializing in clothing for women, particularly leather “for women who fancy themselves as motorcycle riders.”


Company president John Coil says Cruisers Boutique will not feature private booths or adult theater screenings, nor will it sell adult DVDs. Instead, he says, the store will specialize in women’s leatherwear, shoes and lingerie, as well as party and adult novelties.


By Coil’s telling, it sounds like Cruisers will be something of a spicier, more eclectic version of the chain store Spencer's Gifts. 


Cruisers could be open within a few weeks.


“There will be very few men coming in the store as customers,” Coil tells SFR. 


Coil’s announcement on Friday ended weeks of speculation—featured in the July 19 issue of SFR—about what kind of business was moving into the former Cerrillos Road digs of Mu Du Noodles, an Asian restaurant.


Coil says Harris News employs about 350 people and operates 60 stores east of the Mississippi River in multiple states, many in small towns. Only four of them have “Sexually Oriented Business Licenses,” including Arcade News on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. However, Coil acknowledges that some of his businesses selling adult material do not have such licenses.


At publication time, a phone call to city of Santa Fe officials seeking comment had not been returned. 

The Golden Cockerel Review

Poshlost at its best

OperaFriday, July 21, 2017 by John Stege
Poshlost: a virtually untranslatable and highly uncomplimentary Russian noun signifying banality, vulgarity, triviality, stupidity and, well—you know. Like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It’s the sort of thing that Rimsky-Korsakov and his librettist, Vladimir Belsky, were sending up, only more so, in their strange and wonderful 1907 opera, The Golden Cockerel.
Part edgy fairy tale, part satiric attack on Tsar Nicholas II and his awful political misadventures, part proto-surrealist depiction of a world gone wrong, Cockerel can be by turns savage, outrageous, absurd and hilarious. Think SNL on steroids. Or stop thinking, please, and just let Rimsky’s glorious melodic score carry you away.
Which it surely does in the Santa Fe Opera’s delirious, delicious new production of Rimsky’s final opera. Oliver Prezant, pre-performance lecturer par excellence, calls much of the score “slippery,” especially where it bears upon the exotic Eastern tonalities describing the world of the Queen of Shemakha. She’s the femme fatale who seduces infantile, idiotic Dodon, Tsar of all the Russias, into sacrificing his kingdom and his life—a fatal attraction with its “bloody outcome” as described by the mysterious Astrologer in the opera’s epilogue.
Leading the SFO’s exemplary band, Emmanuel Villaume coaxes every sinuous thread from that slippery score. Rimsky wrote the book (literally) on orchestration, so you’ll hear all those caressing woodwinds, boisterous brasses and silken strings familiar from the composer’s kaleidoscopic orchestral warhorse, "Scheherazade."
As that mad, bad and dangerous-to-know Queen of Shemakha, Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva owns the second act and in this production steals the finale as well. The well-known “Hymn to the Sun,” in her creamy, impeccably phrased reading, is the stuff that dreams are made of. Another voluptuous dream—her casting aside garment after filmy garment to tease the fatuous Tsar into paroxysms of adolescent lust—makes Salome look like Mother Teresa.
As that grotesque dodo,Tsar Dodon, baritone Tim Mix struts and mugs his ignoble way across the stage in fat-suited red long-johns, proving that this Emperor indeed lacks clothes. The role really demands a blacker, weightier bass, but Mix’s agility and comic instincts carry the day. Singing Polkan, supreme general of the feckless Tsarist armies, Kevin Burdette and his magnificent mustachios sustains his SFO command of the sublimely ridiculous.
Meredith Arwady, about the darkest, deepest contralto going these days, gobbles up the succulent part of Amelfa, Dodon’s bossy housekeeper. As the Astrologer, the show’s sort-of emcee and resident brujo, Barry Banks parades his stratospheric “tenor altino,” an uncanny vocal presence that raises the neck-hairs.  
SFO’s apprentice program provides plummy character roles for Richard Smagur as dumb Prince Guidon and Jorge Espino as even dumber Prince Afron. Kasia Borowiec cock-a-doodles the off-stage Cockerel with focused finesse, and Susanne Sheston molds her singers into a convincing imitation of Russian choral style.
We all cherish Jim Henson’s invention of Big Bird. Now, out of director Paul Curran’s imagination, flaps the Biggest Bird—the Astrologer’s gift to Dodon, that eponymous cockerel that pecks the Tsar to death after Dodon has seemingly murdered its master. Curran creates a storybook kingdom of technicolor pageantry, packed with pertinent allusions galore.
His Dodon is a sharp take on Jarry’s Ubu Roi. The Queen’s va-va-voom entrance entourage, all glitter and ostrich feathers, seems straight out of Vegas. The Cockerel itself exists simply as a dynamic, brilliant projection, suggesting the insubstantiality of both Dodon’s world and the Astrologer’s gift. The savage satiric spirit of Gogol presides over all.
Scenic/costume designer Gary McCann’s gleaming skeletal set recalls the work of Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin, and those flamboyant costumes, photo representations of historic fabrics, pop the eye. Paul Hackenmueller does the lights; projection designer Driscoll Otto offers a complex palette of visuals, notably a mocking sequence of grotesque, distorted masks suggestive of James Ensor’s disturbing paintings.
Another of Curran’s bright ideas is, near the finale, to present Dodon in a bloated pin-stripe suit with red tie, accompanied by the Queen in a sleek white Milanese trouser ensemble. Not a particularly subtle allusion, perhaps, but—hey—we take our poshlost where we find it.

Raising Hell in the Halls of Power

Activist Medea Benjamin doesn’t stop working long enough to reflect much on her long career

Democracy in Crisis Friday, July 21, 2017 by Baynard Woods

Medea Benjamin, the firebrand activist and author of a dozen-odd books, looks surprisingly small in the midst of the lunchtime crowd jostling one another in the basement cafeteria of the the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Her pale face is framed by straight-cut bangs that are pretty darn close to pink in color.

I was surprised at her size because I’ve seen her twice at recent protests, and on both occasions she seemed to rise up and loom over the people around her, as if a projection of sheer will made her appear positively gargantuan.


But hunkered down at the long table, where she often sets up a makeshift office with other members of Code Pink, the radical feminist-oriented activist group, she seems almost invisible. That’s probably a good thing for someone who has made a career out of making trouble.


Across from her are an assistant and an intern working on laptops. A Code Pink sticker glowing on the back of one of their gleaming Macs reads “Make Out Not War.”


It’s hard to keep track of what they are talking about, there are so many projects and issues to deal with: a trip to Cuba, a book on Iran, mobilizing against the Senate health care bill, fighting the proposed increase in the Pentagon’s budget, and advocating for a bill that would halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.


“We were here running up and down in the halls all day yesterday and all night until the police kicked us out,” Benjamin says with a sly grin.


Benjamin, who is also the president of the Benjamin Fund, which reported a value of more than $12 million in 2013, started her career as an activist nearly 50 years ago, when she was in high school.


“My sister had a boyfriend who was sent off to Vietnam and about six months later sent her home the ear of a Viet Cong as a necklace to wear,” she says. “I was so disgusted by that, I remember throwing up and saying I’m going to become an anti-war activist.”


That was when Medea Benjamin was born. Before that, she was Susan. “I was studying Greek mythology right after I finished high school. I thought as soon as I was 18, I wanted to change my name,” she says.


At first she just liked the way the name sounded. Over the years, people who didn’t know she chose the name have always asked why someone would name their child after the queen who, in Euripides, kills her children when her husband leaves her. But Benjamin read about a different version of the myth where Medea didn’t actually kill her children—but was blamed for it because she was a powerful woman in a patriarchal society. She liked it.


She did not legally change her name, which gives an activist of her notoriety another kind of invisibility. That could come in handy for someone who estimates that she’s been locked up somewhere around 80 times.


“When I was doing work more on the economic issues, getting arrested outside a store or embarrassing a company would have almost immediate results. It was quite remarkable,” she says. “I would do a lot of work around the sweatshop issues and we would do demonstrations and get arrested outside the stores of The Gap or Nike.”


Global Exchange, which Benjamin founded with her partner, Kevin Danaher, helped organize the protests against the World Trade Organization, and she was arrested in Seattle in 1999. “We slowed down that entire global governance infrastructure,” she says.


In 2000, when she announced plans for demonstrations outside 30 different Starbucks to protest conditions in coffee fields, the company approached her before the demonstrations even happened and created a fair-trade certification program.


The government, she says, has been harder to sway. “They don’t have a brand they want to protect because there are so many interests at play.” She ran for the US Senate herself in 2000, on the Green Party ticket, but says she isn’t interested in trying that again.


In an effort to stop the Iraq War, Benjamin and other activists founded Code Pink, a radical women-led group that uses costumes, satire, and direct action to fight against militarism and defend human rights. When the group protested the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year, two members dressed as Klan members and greeted Sessions like an old friend. They were arrested, and maybe expected to be. Desiree Fairooz, a librarian who was sitting beside Benjamin in the gallery, was also arrested during the hearing—for inadvertently laughing.


Code Pink is more radical than many of the groups, such as Indivisible, that have arisen in the wake of Trump’s election. Benjamin finds hope in the new wave of activists, but she has been around long enough to be a little skeptical. “You scratch beneath the surface of some of these organizations, you’ll find the Democratic party,” she says. She doesn’t mind working with Democratic activists, but fears they will fall away when the Democrats regain control in Washington.  


Benjamin does light up a little bit when Senator Bernie Sanders walks into the cafeteria to buy lunch, but it’s more like she’s recognized a friend than spotted a star.


And then it is cheerfully back to work, going over details of a video with Code Pink intern Kristina Brunner. Brunner, who lives in the Code Pink house in DC, seems really, really excited about the work. But Benjamin, who has been fighting for so long, seems equally enthusiastic about, say, what they can do with Facebook Live.


Wondering how she maintained such passion for so long, I asked Benjamin about self care, a common topic among a younger generation of activists. Did she have any advice?


Her privilege, she says, requires her to keep working.


“Don’t stop long enough to get depressed. Don’t stop long enough to think you need self care,” she says. “I just keep going, because I learned really early on that it’s a luxury to feel like you’re so burned out you might have to stop.”


This is an installment of the syndicated column Democracy in Crisis. Woods is the editor-at-large of Baltimore City Paper, reporting from DC. Get more at @demoincrisis and @baynardwoods on Twitter; contact Baynard at baynard@democracyincrisis.com.

Weekend Picks: April (or July) Showers

Weekend PicksFriday, July 21, 2017 by SFR

Rain, glorious rain: Our gardens survive, we can wear a comfy hoodie, the populace stops turning on one another ... it's good. We are all, in fact, much calmer with the recent moisture in the air and think we deserve a treat in the form of cultural bad-assery! Behold—your weekend picks!

Angel Wynn: Adelita, Women Soldiers of the Mexican Revolution

Wynn presents a body of work honoring the legacy of the exceptional women soldiers of the Mexican Revolution who followed their husbands, brothers and fathers to war. Through Aug. 9.

More Info >>

Ashley Raines with Jake Stanton and Vanessa Aricco

Raspy Americana out of Kansas City, Kansas.

More Info >>

Platinum Music Awards: A Celebration of New Mexico Music

This awards show honors six major musicians who are rocking the local scene. See New Mexico’s musical talent perform live and stick around to celebrate the winners. Proceeds benefit the New Mexico Music Commission's Music in the Schools Program and the Solace Crisis Treatment Center.

More Info >>


Evarusnik & Woven Talon

Seating is limited for this concert brining together the eclectic five-piece orchestra Evarusnik with an opening acoustic performance by Woven Talon.

More Info >>

Cabaret

The scene is a nightclub in Berlin in late 1920’s. The Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience to the show and assures them that, whatever their troubles, they will forget them at the Cabaret.

More Info >>

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Jobs is a household name, and he changed the world. While connecting the world, he maintained walls between himself and others and arguably lost his humanity to his visionary genius. This opera, written by Mason Bates and Mark Campbell, makes its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera this season starring Sasha Cooke and Edward Parks.

More Info >>


Love Letter to Frida

Local musician and cantadora Nacha Mendez, with other local readers, presents a spoken-word and musical tribute to Frida Kahlo.

More Info >>

Entreflamenco: 2017 Summer Season

Antonio Granjero, Estefania Ramirez and Antonio Hidalgo Paz co-direct this summer series featuring Granjero and Ramirez performing original choreography.

More Info >>

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents Compagnie Hervé Koubi

Marvel at the combination of ballet with modern dance and acrobatics to the tune of Bach and Hamza El Din & the Kronos Quartet.

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

Morning Word: A Brief Reprieve

Morning WordFriday, July 21, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Health insurers slow rate hikes
Chances are, most of us didn't get a 6 percent raise last year, let alone a 20 percent one. But in the world of health insurance premiums, those seem like relatively sane rate increases. That's especially true when compared to the 85 percent premium hikes some insurers were requesting for next year. With the Republican health care plan on the ropes, insurers in the state have eased off proposed rate hikes, the state's insurance regulator says.  

Meow Wolf opens its books
As part of a federal filing connected to its recent fundraising, the Santa Fe-based arts collective told regulators that while it took in $5.5 million last year, it netted just $39,000. The startup recently raked in more than $1 million from investors in the first three days of a fundraising campaign. Meow Wolf says costs associated with building its House of Eternal Return interactive art exhibit ate up much of its revenue.

A moral choice
SFR's cover story this week features a rare interview with Curtis Boyd. The Albuquerque doctor is one of the nation's only health care providers who will do third-trimester abortions. With the Supreme Court's ideological balance teetering, Boyd, a Christian, reflects on his career in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and what's to come in a Trump administration. 

Española chief under investigation
Police Chief Matthew Vigil lives in Taos, and police there are investigating allegations of domestic violence. The Rio Grande Sun got ahold of a heavily redacted police report on the investigation into the matter that happened late last fall. It's a glimpse both into how police investigate fellow law enforcement officers, and into the legal gymnastics some departments will go through to avoid releasing public records.

State of the forest
Guess how many paid law enforcement officers will be patrolling the Santa Fe National Forest this summer? Did you guess one? The forest relies on volunteers and the public to police themselves as its budget shrinks and managers reconsider where the land can sustain recreation at its current levels.

Santa Fe pay
It's not great. Despite the city's robust living wage ordinance that sets the floor for hourly pay at more than $11, wages for professionals lag the rest of the nation. In some cases, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found, Santa Fe lags not just the nation, but the rest of the state in what it pays highly trained professionals. 

Gimme my money
Congressman Steve Pearce is suing New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver over her decision on how much federal money he can transfer to his state race for governor. Pearce has more than $1 million in his congressional campaign account, but Toulouse Oliver says he can only transfer $11,000 to his state accounts. Pearce says that flies in the face of previous campaign finance decisions, including one that let former governor Bill Richardson shift his federal campaign money into a state race.

Wet weekend
New Mexico could see significant storms over the next couple of days as a moisture-rich weather system hangs out over the state. Temperatures will cool a few degrees, but the potential for flooding jumps up with the storms.

Thanks for reading! The Word is curious about those newfangled hiking poles. Do they work?

Subscribe to the Morning Word at sfreporter.com/signup.

Mother Tongue | Other Mothers' Voices

Essays from teen moms

Mother TongueThursday, July 20, 2017 by Lauren Whitehurst

As summer heats up, I get to reread my students’ final essays in the quiet after school has ended. Revisiting each writer’s thoughts confirms for me the importance of the questions, observations and understanding of these bright, young mothers.

The writers were students in this year’s Mother Tongue English III/IV class at Capital High School. The class is the anchor program of the Mother Tongue Project, which delivers to expectant and parenting 11th- and 12th-graders high-standard, relevancy-based academic English instruction, a tailored in-class library, and mentorships with former teen parents who’ve earned college degrees.

This year, participants delved into issues of support versus shaming; toddler behavior; family nutrition; grieving and mothering; and committing to long-term goals for the sake of a child. Their perspectives are shaped by being teenagers and young parents; their insights can speak to all of us.

Our experiences of parenting and being parented seem always to be changing, staying the same, evolving; and our reflections on and conversations about these experiences deepen significantly with the addition of diverse voices. I am grateful to be able to share these young mothers’ voices beyond the bounds of the classroom.

If you feel moved to respond to these essays, please leave feedback. It is a joy to make a young writer aware of the power of her words to affect a reader.

A note of thanks: Mother Tongue Project and the posting of these essays wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Santa Fe Public Schools Office of Student Wellness, the administration of Capital High School, the Santa Fe Reporter, and the generous contributions of our supporters. Thank you!


—Lauren Whitehurst, Mother Tongue Project Founder | Director | Teacher





When Less is More: Looking Ahead + Managing Now

By Jennifer Gonzales

Photo by Anna Yarrow

Being a teen mom means I have more responsibilities and less time for my daughter. I feel her love for me, but it’s not as strong as her love for my mom, since my mom watches her more. I don’t get to enjoy much time with her or see all her milestones. Even though going to school means not spending much time with my daughter, she is the one who keeps me from giving up. Before I found out I was pregnant, I was going to drop out. Thanks to her, I stayed in school. I will graduate and go on because I can earn more money and flexibility with more education—and because I want to be my daughter’s role model.

Our time together is short right now because I’m finishing high school and work full time. I am a primary income source for my family, while my mom is the primary caretaker of my baby. Many teen moms struggle with having time for their babies, like my Mother Tongue Project Mentor, Jaime Holladay. “When my son was very little, I worked the night shift as a hostess at a restaurant and took one to two classes per semester, evening classes,” Holladay remembers. “I was able to be with him during the day; and the time I was away was primarily when he was asleep.”

I’m with my daughter for four hours on weekdays. It hurts not to see her more, but, like Holladay says, it will be okay: “Part of me felt very sad, as if I was not a good mom since I wasn’t with him all the time. However, I realized most parents have to work, and, since [my son] was cared for by my mom or sister, he was well taken care of. I knew the time we were apart early on would pay off in the future.” She saw that continuing her education could improve her children’s lives: “After I had my son, I realized even more how important it was to be college educated so that I could afford him with opportunities I didn’t have.”

Graduating from college is one of my main goals, too, so that as my daughter grows I can sit with her and help with her schoolwork. That way, she won’t have a problem graduating herself. Moms want the best for their kids, and that has to do with education. It practically builds your life because more education equals more job opportunities and more money, which lead to a better lifestyle.

According to an Associated Press article, Americans with college degrees are more likely to have jobs: “Just two-thirds of high-school-only grads ages 25-64 were employed in 2015,” compared to 84 percent of college graduates the same age. Getting a good job with a college degree can get me where I want to be—and I can do something I’m interested in and actually enjoy going to work.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, “only about 50 percent of teen mothers receive a high-school diploma by 22 years of age.” The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that fewer than 2 percent of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. These statistics bother me. I know the percentage of teen moms who don’t graduate is not because we aren’t smart or capable. You would think that, because they have children, young parents would be more motivated to graduate and go to college—but having support has a lot to do with being able to achieve these goals.

Holladay mentions other reasons why teen moms have a hard time finishing school: “For some, there has been trauma in their life, which led to poor decision-making. Also, many have conflicting demands: homework, school work, actual employment, taking care of a child, as well as pressure from family to stay home with their baby.”

While I think this is true, as Holladay also says, “It is easy to get caught up in the short-term instead of thinking about long-term goals and implications of the choices we make.” I have my mom’s support and encouragement to continue with school, but I also made a commitment to my daughter that I would keep going and not give up.

My achievements influence her future. Parents want to see their kids graduate, go to college and get degrees—but when parents don’t go through that process, there's more chance their children won’t, either. Even if many teen moms don’t graduate from high school on time, they can still get a GED and go to college. It’s important they know this and keep moving forward so they can be role models and help their kids succeed.

Part of being a mom is being a role model: Who we are is how our children will be, and parents’ actions contribute to children’s development. In “The Importance of Parents as Role Models,” Sophie Bloom writes, “By displaying moral and ethical behavior, parents […] impart values which can counter the negative influences children may receive from their peers or media.” Our kids will learn different things outside of home, and a lot won’t be what we want them to learn. But we can help guide them.

Being understanding and having calm conversations help kids know they can open up and let us help them with whatever’s going on. Bloom tells parents, “take the time to listen and share their concerns, so [children] feel both loved and respected.” Yelling and getting out of control won’t make kids see what they did wrong or learn to trust us.

Being a role model isn’t just about showing your kids who you are and want them to be, but also about telling them who you were. “Parents who admit to their mistakes, learn from them, and strive to better themselves can serve as powerful influences for children’s emotional growth,” Bloom says. I want my daughter to be a better person than I am. For that to happen, I will try so hard to be there when she needs me.

I won’t always be in school, and I cherish time I have with my daughter. Not being able to see her much has motivated me to finish school and get a degree. She has made my life better even though I struggle. Because of what I’m doing now, I will have a career I enjoy, that can support us, and that will allow me to be present for her throughout her life. I will be the role model I want for my daughter. I have learned to work for our future together. Thanks to her, I am becoming who I am.


Jennifer Gonzales graduated from Capital High School on May 25.
She plans to attend Santa Fe Community College in the fall
and become a dental hygienist.



Losing My Mom and Becoming a Mom

By Guadalupe Avalos

Photo by Anna Yarrow

I never thought about losing my mom as a teenager. Coping with the fact that she is no longer here and I will never see her again destroys me in some way every day. I especially feel her absence in my milestones. “Everybody has their own journey when dealing with grief, ’’says Xarin Escobedo, a Capital High School mental health and academic counselor. He recommends talking about grief with counselors, friends, whoever helps. When my mother died, however, I didn't open up to anyone. I couldn't speak about her because I’d burst into tears, and it was hard for me to ask for help because I felt like I needed to be independent. I was parenting a one-year-old and didn’t have time to deal with my emotions or grieve. Experiencing the loss of my mom when I was 16 and beginning my parenting life continues to affect me as a teen mother, a student and the woman I’m becoming.

I was 14 when I became pregnant. My mom supported me throughout my pregnancy and encouraged me to make my own decisions. I had complications, and my membranes ruptured at six months. I was on bed rest at the hospital in Albuquerque for a month. On October 30, 2013, my son, Javier Avalos, was born premature at 28 weeks by C-section. He was 17 cm long and 4 lbs, 1 oz. I remember being in a white room. I remember my mom holding my hand.

A couple weeks later, my mom was in critical condition when doctors detected cancer again. She’d been diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my twin and I were born, but it was treated and went into remission. The second time, just after I had Javier, it was bone cancer. I always felt it was my fault that my mom had cancer because my father told my twin and me that it was. I don't blame him because maybe he was going through a rough moment, as I did when I fell into postpartum depression. Before having my son, I felt happiness inside of me, and then I felt a deep hole. I remember visiting the hospital every day—my son in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Albuquerque and my mom in the Intensive Care Unit in Santa Fe. I couldn't stand seeing my son and my mom in such critical conditions: I was scared they wouldn't make it. My son got better, but my mom died a year and a half later.

Navigating life as a teen mom with two children and without my mother is a journey, not a quick passage, and it’s left me with an emptiness that never goes away. I’m just surviving with it. In her article “Help for Motherless Daughters,” Kathleen Doheny writes, “Losing a mother early in life can affect the woman’s own parenting.” She says some mothers become “overprotective, driven by the fear something will happen to the child or themselves.” I am afraid of not being there and missing too much time when my children are growing and needing me. I try to be healthy and spend as much time as I can with my kids because I don't want my children to go through what I am going through.

Lissa Howe, a mother of two from Colorado, was not a teen mom, but she and I both suffered the loss of our moms when our oldest children were one-and-a-half. “Losing my mom has affected my parenting quite a bit,” she says, “partly because [I miss] just not having her here. She really knew a lot about kids—she loved kids—and so I just miss having her advice and help.” This is true for me, too. My mom, a parent of nine, had so much experience with babies, and I could have learned a lot from her.

Several mothers I read about who lost their moms thought they became different than they would have been if their mothers hadn’t died early. This was true for Lissa: “In a way, I think I’ve become more of my own self as a parent because I haven't just asked her what to do. I’ve had to think about it myself a little bit more and get advice from other people, other parents, and really think about who I am and who my kids are and try to figure it out.” For me, I became more independent since my mom died. I’ve had to ask for help from other moms, and everyone has a different way of mothering.

Striving to accomplish my goals without my mom has been painful. Whenever a grieving student wants to drop out of school, counselor Escobedo says, “one of the questions I will ask is, what would the person you lost want you to do with your life?” My mom would want me to keep going. She was the only person in my family who really supported my education, even when others told me to drop out.

Not having my mom has come up in school in different ways. I remember a school open house when a teacher assigned students to bring in their parents for extra credit. I spoke with the teacher at the end of class and told him my situation, and I will never forget his response: “Well, I guess you don't get your extra credit,” he said.

I walked around the school with my huge belly and my son in my arms watching other students smiling and giggling with their parents. They all seemed like happy families. I couldn't hold it together. I burst into tears. My son wiped my tears on my face and asked with his sweet little voice, “Mommy, are you ok?” He hugged me and I cried in silence. I had to hide my emotions.

Another time, registering for senior year, I stood at the end of a huge line with my son and my very visible pregnancy. Everyone stared. I really needed my mom, and it was hard seeing the other students beside theirs. It’s going to hurt a lot not seeing my mom at my high-school graduation. She always wanted me to graduate and demonstrate that a single teen mom can be successful, that there are no impossibles, that a baby is not a huge stone in my way, and that I can prove wrong people who judge me.

Graduating is a big milestone and I’m excited for it. Also, I’ll feel different: Other parents will watch their children graduate while my children will watch their mom graduate. Because I don't have my mom by my side, I often ask myself, “What do I do to advance alongside other people and not feel very different?” Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, says, “There is one piece of you that always feels different.”

Since I was 14, I’ve felt like an adult. I often did things on my own and I kept it to myself.

Sometimes I feel more different than at other times. It’s kind of like when I feel sad. As Sandy Banks writes in a Los Angeles Times article, “The grief that accompanies early loss of a mother can ebb and flow through a daughter's life. It tends to surge at milestones: a graduation, a wedding, the birth of a child.” One of the toughest moments I experienced without my mom was having my second baby, Mia Marivy Araiza, on May 26, 2016. This significant event triggered my grief for my mother. I was 17 and I felt the absence of my mom and family very sharply. “It’s all about those times you expect your mom to be there,” says a counselor in Doheny’s “Help for Motherless Daughters” article. In the hospital, I watched the family of my newborn’s father arriving. My only family member was two-and-half-year-old Javy, and I started crying as soon as he stepped into the room.

It is hard not having my mom to guide me as I become a woman, especially because it’s hard letting people help me. But accepting help from other women can make things easier. “Finding a surrogate mother helps,” writes Doheny. “There are many women out there who will mother you if you are open.” I have found some.

Teresa Campos, the mother of a friend, was willing to mother me right after my mom died. She treated me as her own child and was there when I needed her most. She was there when I needed to cry or talk about how I felt. She was there when my twin sister and I were wandering the streets with nowhere to go: She drove 25 hours from Santa Fe to North Carolina to pick us up. I asked her why she did all this even though I’m not one of hers. “Because you guys are like my daughters and I’m not going to leave your sides,” she said. She gave me advice when my son got sick and taught me home remedies. I am so blessed to just have her in my life. She is my Ma.

At school, teacher and administrator Jaime Holladay stood up for me when I had problems. She signed the teacher’s parent list on that open-house day so I could get my extra credit. There is a big list of women I admire.

In “Help for Motherless Daughters,” psychologist Arthur Kovacs compares life to “starting out with a tiny house and adding rooms. Every life experience adds a room to the house. The death of a parent adds a big room. What’s important is to keep all doors open to all rooms. We will find ourselves visiting those rooms in our mind. Some rooms will have beautiful views and some rooms you will need to go in, sit, down, and cry occasionally. Women who have lost their mothers early may need to ‘visit’ the sad rooms more often during important life transitions.” I have visited that cold, dark room many times, especially this spring, which is the second anniversary of my mother’s death, as well my high-school graduation and Mia’s first birthday.

Lissa Howe gave me ideas for how to involve my mom in my children’s lives. “I try to do little things to remember my mom,” Howe says. She believes in passing stories on to the next generation and tells stories about her mom to her children. If I do this, too, I can introduce my children to the grandmother they will never know.

This is the first time I have really reflected on my mom's death and gotten advice about keeping her in my life. I didn't have time before because parenting and school kept me busy. “When you are a mother and trying to grieve and take care of your kids, it is hard,” Howe says. “I didn't process it very well for a while.” The experience of writing about my mom has given me opportunities to think about her and how to honor her memory—and I notice I’ve become stronger by being able to talk more openly and honestly about my mom and my grief. This will make it easier to keep her alive in my heart and for my children.

RESOURCES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED LOSS

Capital High School counselor Xarin Escobedo says there’s a lot of help here in Santa Fe. “Grief is a unique process, so I take each individual differently,” he says. “If a student is having problems functioning in school because of the loss, or not eating or sleeping, or experiencing mental health problems, I refer students to programs that help.” He names Gerard’s House, The Sky Center and Presbyterian Medical Services Teen Health Center at Capital High School and Santa Fe High School.


Guadalupe Avalos graduated from Capital High School on May 25.
She plans to attend Santa Fe Community College in the fall.



Shaming is Not the Solution

By Perla Castrejon

Selfie

My son was one month old when I returned to school last September, walked up the stairs with my lunch tray, and joined my friends in our usual spot. My five friends said “Hi,” and then turned back to each other as if I wasn't there. Their message was clear: I wasn’t included anymore. Something like this must happen to every girl becoming a mom. A lot become outcasts the moment their pregnancies show.

Teen moms are judged, shut out and told they won't make it out of high school. It is true many drop out, but I’d say it’s usually because they don’t get enough support and encouragement. I will graduate high school in May, but it has been challenging. My family, some teachers, and my few friends have proven to me that it’s possible. Support makes the difference, while belittling us does nothing to help.

Teen parents are constantly shamed. An article about “Teenage Pregnancy and Motherhood” in University of Arizona’s Crossroad Connections states, “our society, including much academic research and popular media, frames teenage pregnancy as a problem for mothers, children, and society.” Teen pregnancies are problematic: According to the Centers for Disease Control, they “bring substantial social and economic costs through immediate and long-term impacts.” Of developed countries, we have the highest teen-pregnancy rate—and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)  says children of “teenage mothers are at risk for long-term problems in many major areas in life.” How does anything get better, though, if we hold teen parents up only as bad examples and shut them out of opportunities?

Former teen mom Marylouise Kuti was so ashamed of her pregnancy that she didn't tell anyone about it until she was in labor. Later, in response to teen-parent shaming, she helped launch a national social campaign with a different message. Founded in 2013, #NoTeenShame fights stigmas that restrict young parents’ “access to quality healthcare, education, and community support” and promotes reproductive justice. “We need to make sure that teens have access to the information they need without using teen parents as examples of why teens should not get pregnant,” Kuti says. I agree. I think kids should be taught much earlier about how to take care of their bodies, for example. 

Teens can make good decisions if they have good information, and they should be educated about their reproductive systems and rights, as well as birth control options, including abstinence and protection from diseases. Teens get embarrassed about birth control, so they choose to not ask for it. It should not be something teens should be ashamed to ask for. It’s way less expensive to give a teenager condoms or long-acting birth control than it is to raise a child. 

The AACAP says, “Teenage pregnancy is usually a crisis for the pregnant girl and her family.” When I was told I was seven weeks pregnant, my first thought was abortion. I didn’t want to keep my child because I was so afraid of what people would say and how life would change. My whole world came crashing down. It was heartbreaking for my mother that I was going to be a mom at 17 because she knew there was so much I hadn’t done or experienced. But she and I also knew that it would be okay. As soon as Christopher was born, he became the love of my life. I have my boyfriend and family, but not every teen mom has the same support.

For a New York Magazine article, journalist Alex Ronan talked with young moms about the impacts of shame on their experiences. One teen, Vianna, had a difficult time bonding with her daughter because so many people had told her that having a baby would ruin her life. She felt like she was “giving birth to this person whose life is going to end mine.” Natasha, another teen mom, says, “I spent a lot of time alone with my daughter. Not having love from my family made me feel like I was a burden.”

It is devastating that teen moms feel this way because families, friends and teachers turn their backs on them. Parenting is hard, and not having love makes it even harder. This is why shaming is not okay: We need to make sure teen parents are supported and reassured so that they can bond with their babies and raise healthy kids.

Without support and reassurance, moms don't always know what to do. It is hard to raise a baby with no guidance. The AACAP states, “babies born to teenage mothers are at risk for neglect and abuse because their young mothers are uncertain about their roles.” Young moms who are given the resources and affirmation to be good parents, however, wouldn't be as uncertain—and their babies would be less at risk for neglect and abuse. 

It isn't only teenagers’ babies who are at risk. Parents of all ages experience factors related to child abuse and neglect, such as addiction, low social support, aggressive behavior, poverty and stress. Just because we’re young doesn't mean we’re terrible parents. Most teen moms I know would go to the moon and back for our children. Acceptance and guidance help us parent, but we get judgment. It’s exhausting to deal with parenting, cooking, cleaning, homework, school and work—plus disapproval.

When I came back to school as a new mom, I felt isolated and embarrassed. Old friends still don’t ask about me or want to meet my son. I felt disappointment from teachers, too. One teacher I really got along with stopped talking to me much, and it hurt to know it was because I’d become pregnant. This isn’t unusual. “My academic advisor stopped talking to me completely,” says a teen mom Ronan interviewed. Another was told, “It's unlikely you’ll even graduate, so let's focus on finishing high school first.” This makes me mad: I think it’s the biggest lie a teen mom could be told. 

Teen moms are trying, and we shouldn't be discouraged from school. Teachers shouldn’t treat teen parents as less than other students. If anything, they should help more because, in addition to high school, we’re parenting—often by ourselves. Friends with no help from family or their babies’ fathers have dropped out, and I think that being shamed is even harder when there’s no support in or out of school. On the other hand, genuine support makes a huge difference in someone’s success. I doubted myself throughout senior year, but my family and teachers kept me coming to school and looking ahead.

Being a teen mom means I’ll still be young when my son is 20. It also means things will sometimes be harder. One thing I’ve learned is that I cannot live by what others say. Some people will always judge me because I am “too young” or they don't approve, but I won’t let them tear me down. I know I will succeed: My motivation to do so is my son.

We need to encourage and guide teen moms’ successes. I’m not saying teen parents should be given prizes—just that we should be accepted and supported instead of shamed. Yes, being a teen parent changes the course of my life and my future. Either I get bitter or I get better, but it is my choice because it is my life. It’s that simple. My choices belong to me. I’m not just a statistic. I will pursue my education, graduate from college, and succeed in a career—largely because my son and I have had solid emotional and practical support.


Perla Castrejon graduated from Capital High School on May 25.
She is interested in many things—art, forensics, cooking, poetry, violin—
and isn’t yet sure what she’ll pursue next.



Eat Right, Future Bright

By Laura Dominguez

Photo by Anna Yarrow

The moment I found out I was pregnant my interest in nutrition started to grow. I used to get fast-food meals twice a day, which is not exactly healthy eating—although it is pretty normal for most people I know. According to doctors Mary Story and Juli Hermanson in their book Nutrition and the Pregnant Adolescent, “Poor dietary habits are common among US adolescent girls.” As an expecting mom who would be—and now is—responsible for my son’s development, I wasn’t just a normal adolescent anymore. Nutrition has become important to me because I want to feel healthier and I want to raise my son in a healthy way.  

While I was pregnant, I focused on eating healthy food because I knew that what I ate was critical to my baby's growth and development; and the only thing I cared about was my son’s well-being. The early childhood organization ZERO TO THREE states that “a baby's birth weight—and brain size—do depend on the quality of his or her mother's nutrition during pregnancy.” Eating healthy was the key to forming my son’s healthy little body and mind.

Better nutrition also helped me. In their focus on young moms, Story and Hermanson write, “the greater the amount of uncompleted growth at conception, the greater the energy and nutrients needs above those normally required during pregnancy.” I guess I was eating better for both of us. The sooner I changed my eating habits from junk food to fruits and vegetables, the sooner I saw a positive change in my daily life. I am trying to keep this up. Fruits and veggies give me the energy I need to get me through my day rather than making me just feel tired.

Good nutrition is important for children's growth and development physically and mentally. “Nutrition has been called the single greatest environmental influence on babies in the womb and during infancy, and it remains essential throughout the first years of life,” according to “Nutrition and Early Brain Development,” an article of the Urban Child Institute. A proper balance of nutrients in that period is critical for normal brain development. For example, “Shortages of nutrients such as iron and iodine can impair cognitive and motor development, and these effects are often irreversible.” The consequences of malnutrition should really alarm parents—even before their babies are born. Nutrients are the building blocks of all of the functions that are necessary for children to grow into healthy strong adults. Childhood sets us up for adulthood.

One of my goals for each day is to make sure my son has all the nutrients he needs to keep growing strong and healthy. Getting little ones to get used to eating good things is easier if you start early, but our bad habits tend to be the things they catch onto. Because of this, I am interested in strategies for building better eating habits for me now and for my son as he starts to eat more foods.

According to ZERO TO THREE’s “Here's to Healthy Eating: Habits to Start and Habits to Avoid,” a good habit to introduce is “providing two to three healthy snacks per day.” That way, “if children don't eat a lot at a meal, they will have a healthy option for a snack.” Since most toddlers get full right away or get distracted easily, they don't always finish a whole meal. Eating healthy snacks through the day can help them keep up their energy and get what their bodies need.

“Here's to Healthy Eating” also suggests that parents avoid “nagging or making deals with children. ‘Just two more bites, just two more bites!’ ‘If you eat your vegetables, you will get dessert.’” The article says that this approach does not end up working because it sets up a negotiation pattern that can become, well, a belly ache: “Children who learn to make deals about eating quickly learn to make deals and ask for rewards for doing other things—like cleaning up. Soon they won't do anything unless there is a reward for it!” Kids are very smart, so I want to watch out for the actions I take, as well as what I say, when I’m feeding and teaching my son. 

This is not easy. It took me a while to change some of my pre-pregnancy eating habits: I missed eating chocolates, chips, burgers, fries, you name it! I gained a lot of weight, and I did not feel good about myself. Knowing there's a tiny person looking up to me put even more weight on my shoulders—and gave me motivation. Changing my eating habits was and still is a huge challenge for me. I'm nowhere close to where I want to be, but I am not eating how I used to, either. Now, my habits are a lot healthier: I go for an apple rather than going for chips! That, for me, is a huge change. This new journey has influenced me to make smarter choices. I now get whole-wheat bread rather than white bread, a salad over cake and cookies. It's the little things that make a huge difference.


Laura Dominguez graduated from Capital High School on May 25.
She plans to attend Santa Fe Community College in the fall.



Parenting a “Difficult Child”

By Stephanie Solis

Photo by Anna Yarrow

I’m a 17-year-old mother parenting a child named Aiden. Apparently, my 15-month-old sunshine is going through a phase called being a “difficult child.” A “difficult child,” as Alicia F Lieberman defines it in The Emotional Life of the Toddler, is a child that “consistently challenges one’s patience and best intentions.” Difficult children are “often irregular in their biological functions, withdraw from new situations, have difficulty adapting to changes, and get in a bad mood easily.”

My child is extremely inflexible and struggles to reorganize his feelings. Not knowing how to organize his feelings leads him to throw tantrums, hit, push and pull hair. This is becoming a behavior issue, so I need to understand how to navigate it and support my son. As a first-time parent, I am learning how toddler behavior relates to normal development and to my own parenting decisions.

It is rare for me to hear that my child behaved well at daycare or the home of a family member watching him while I’m at school or work. Almost every day I hear, “Aiden hit him!” “Aiden pulled his hair!” “Aiden wouldn’t stop crying!” “Why is he hitting so much?” Earlier this year, his daycare provider said something that really hurt me: “Do you discipline him for his bad behavior?” “What is Aiden seeing at home?” It seemed like she was asking if we use violence. My son is not seeing anything bad at home. He’s struggling to express strong feelings and using his body to communicate.

It’s not abnormal for toddlers to deal physically with frustration about not getting what they want. As Dr. Dona Mathews writes in “Toddler Tantrums; Hitting, Kicking, Scratching, and Biting” for Psychology Today, “An aggressive young child, at least up to the age of three, is not being ‘bad’ or disobedient. […] From a child’s eye view, lashing out at someone is a reasonable reaction to the powerlessness of a toddler.” According to Brennan Agosta, a child-development lecturer quoted in the Deseret News, “Even though toddlers have the desire to get what they want, they lack strategies to deal with disappointment and frustration in the same way adults do.” Aiden’s feelings of “I want what you have” lead him to act aggressively since he can't say, “May I please borrow this?” I know it’s an issue when it negatively affects other people, and this is where I come in, showing my child better ways to deal with frustration.

Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parlakian’s ZERO TO THREE article, “Aggressive Behavior in Toddlers,” helped me identify my child as a “big reactor.” This means he has “a more difficult time managing emotions than children who are by nature more easygoing. […] Big reactors rely more heavily on using their actions to communicate their strong feelings.” When Aiden can't get what he wants and has no language for his frustration, he uses his body more than other children. “Big reactors” are more physical, but all kids have tantrums.

When toddlers “can’t express their feelings through words, they often use their bodies to express their emotions physically through hitting, kicking and screaming,” writes Megan MacNulty in “Parents, it’s okay for your toddler to have tantrums.” This title is comforting. It reassures me that my son is just going through a stage; and all this hitting, pulling hair and pushing can be part of typical development. As McNulty explains, “the transition into the toddler stage is a developmental milestone where they start expressing authoritative behavior and noncompliance.” It isn’t fun—or abnormal: “Tantrums are common as frequent falls as a baby climbs the shaky ladder toward independence,” according to the Sears family’s The Baby Book. Watching my son, I see that he’s learning how to stabilize his feelings, act nice, be independent and separate himself from me.

My family thinks I should give Aiden a small spanking when he disobeys, is aggressive to others or has a tantrum. According to psychologist Mathews, however, “aggression won't help,” and “getting angry or impatient will only make things worse.” Aiden gets scared if I stress out and do as my mother says: “Give him what he wants or give him a spankie, so he can shut up.” When it’s repeated, his fear response can lower his self-esteem as he grows and mess with his development.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (CDCF) warns parents about this: “It's important to not spank, hit, or slap a child of any age. […] Babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behavior and physical punishment. They will only feel the pain of the hit.” Understanding this made me think about strategies I can use with Aiden, like positive redirection or timeouts. According to CDCF, “Timeouts can be effective discipline for toddlers. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing food, for example, should be told why that behavior is unacceptable and taken to a designated timeout area—a kitchen chair or bottom stair—for a minute or two to calm down.” I haven’t tried this yet, but I may.

For now, I manage Aiden’s tantrums by ignoring him in the moment—so he understands he won’t get attention for negative behavior. After he’s done crying, I explain that I understand his feelings but how he’s acting is wrong—and then I give him lots of love. Showing empathy and love to my toddler is the best thing I can do. According to Lieberman, “Toddlers want independence and control over their environment—more than they may be capable of handling.” I can help Aiden learn to deal with his environment by showing him that what he's experiencing is normal, teaching him how to communicate, and reminding him that I’m here to help him.

Things I've learned about how to parent my “difficult child” are to keep cool, remember I'm the adult, give myself time, take control and, lastly, give him hugs so he knows he is loved. Abby Bordner, an early childhood educator and prenatal education and outreach coordinator for United Way of Santa Fe County, has helped me understand this process. She teaches “The Circle of Security,” a behavior loop that describes how children explore and how parents support them with positive attachment, “emotional co-regulation and learning.”

At one point on the loop is the parent, the base that supports and encourages his or her child’s exploration. When the child returns for protection, comfort and delight, the parent welcomes him and helps organize his feelings. The Circle of Security advises me to be “bigger, wiser, and kind,” to follow my child’s need when possible and to take charge when necessary. Since learning about this, I’ve tried to meet Aiden’s needs according to the part of the circle he’s in—although my favorite part is when he comes to Mama for recharge!

My 15-month-old sunshine meets descriptions of a “difficult child” and a “big reactor”—and a normal toddler. After my research, I’m not worried about Aiden. His behavior is part of his developmental process. By redirecting him when needed and consistently showing him love and empathy, I’m following the advice of early childhood researchers and doing what feels right for me. After all, he’s just a little boy trying to regulate his emotions and he needs some help. The way I parent my child is different from some parents around me, and that’s okay. As a single mom trying to do the right thing, I need people in my community to understand I am learning and creating a philosophy of parenting that works for me and my child.


Stephanie Solis Mendoza is heading into her senior year at
Capital High School and looking forward to pursuing a medical career.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Space jams and the power of love

Movie ReviewsThursday, July 20, 2017 by Alex De Vore

If there’s one thing we know Fifth Element director Luc Besson can pull off, it’s wildly fun over-the-top sci-fi, and he does not disappoint with Valerian—to a point. Whereas the world-building and CGI hits that utterly gorgeous sweet spot, Besson, who also helmed 1994 fan-fave Léon: The Professional, becomes mired in mediocre writing, a few goofy missteps and an almost-tired story about how big ol’ government entities are always stepping on the little guy.

Valerian is adapted from the French serial comic Valérian and Laureline (which debuted in 1967) wherein we follow a brash young soldier named Valerian (here played by A Cure for Wellness’ Dane DeHaan) and his underling partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne of Suicide Squad)—with whom our hero happens to have fallen in love. As the partners are swept up into the world of military buffoonery and action-packed space missions in and around the space station Alpha (a sprawling interstellar city that hosts living creatures from a thousand planets), they begin to question their superiors and step way outside protocol to right the wrongs of their people’s past. Y’know, because they’re good guys like that.

Alpha itself is gorgeous, a bizarre mix of Bladerunner and anime that almost hits video game territory in terms of scale and style, but still feels like a living, breathing metropolis. Diplomatic relations are tense, but Valerian and Laureline are, of course, not sticklers for the rules. They know right from wrong, which would grow tedious were it not for some stunning sequences that not only fall into ain’t-it-cool territory, but show off Besson’s imaginative ideas of future tech, aliens, etc. Sadly, however, the running time starts to push things, and a baffling mid-film music video featuring Rihanna (yes, that Rihanna) fails to recall the likes of that brilliant Fifth Element opera scene and instead feels like some confused film exec insisted on inserting more sex into the thing. An inter-dimensional market chase, however, is clever and original in a Futurama-like vein right down to an appearance from John Goodman’s voice.

Regardless, for those seeking a fun time at the movies, this oughta do just fine if you don’t go looking for anything deep or groundbreaking. Lasers are fired, the aliens look cool and the opening sequence to the tune of David Bowie is perfect. Perhaps Valerian doesn’t become a giant leap for mankind, but it does hit the dizzying highs of space intrigue, and that’s just how we like it.

+Beautiful, exciting
- Love, schmove

 8

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Directed by Besson
With DeHaan, Delavigne and Rihanna
Violet Crown, Regal, PG-13, 137 min.

The Fork

Try Our Recipes!

The ForkThursday, July 20, 2017 by Michael J Wilson

Have any of you tried the recipes we printed in the Reporter? We did pommes Anna and summer pudding most recently. We'd love to hear your thoughts on format and ease of the recipes, or if there's anything you'd like to see us tackle. Tag #SFRfoodies and @sfreporter on Instagram with your experiments with our recipes!

Let's FORK!


The second Farms, Films, Food: A Santa Fe Celebration event is Aug. 2 at the Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338).

Presented by CCA, the Street Food Institute, and the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute, the free event celebrates Santa Fe’s unrivaled love of great food, local agriculture and world-class cinema. There will be food samples from a cooking demonstration by local chefs or farmers, tours of Muñoz Waxman Gallery, presentations from community partners, affordable meals from the Street Food Institute and Kebab Caravan, and two free screenings designed for food lovers and families.

The featured speaker, Don Bustos, and food demo chef, Chef Michelle Chavez, will both be addressing the importance of heirloom and land race varieties as we work to maintain a vast diversity of vegetables in our gardens and on our tables.

Food trucks featured include the Street Food Institute, Kebab Caravan and Freezie Fresh. Axle Contemporary will be on hand with their latest art show. The movies for this event are My Neighbor Totoro and Food Evolution.

WHEN: 5-9 pm Wednesday Aug. 2
WHERE: Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338
COST: FREE


A light week. I just learned that Pete's Frites shut down their food truck. And with Bang Bite's conspicuous absence I'm starting to wonder if the food truck fad never really found a hold here in Santa Fe. Thoughts? Do you truck? What's your favorite?

Have a great week,
Michael


What news do you want to see in this newsletter? We want to hear from you! Let us know! Email thefork@sfreporter.com


Morning Word: Dig Deep, Taxpayers

Morning WordThursday, July 20, 2017 by Matt Grubs

Taxpayers will share Questa mine cleanup costs
It's a mine-waste cleanup job that's expected to cost $1 billion, and yesterday, a federal Court of Appeals ruled the government will have to share that cost with the mine's owner, Chevron. The feds owned part of the site of the shuttered molybdenum mine and helped finance it, too. Molybdenum is a steel-hardening agent and the government encouraged its extraction in the 1950s for military-grade steel. A lower court will decide who owes what in the coming months.

Wet noodles
There's a new business going in to the old Mu Du Noodles spot on Cerrillos Road. And it seems like it might be adult-themed. The owners, SFR found, also run several adult stores like the Big Eye in Albuquerque. They're also affiliated with Arcade News, the adult store next to Cheeks strip club. Neighbors are worried it's at the edge of a residential neighborhood and too close to two nearby schools. The city isn't sure what's going on.

Stabbing call ends with police shooting
New Mexico State Police are investigating the shooting of a stabbing suspect yesterday. Police say the Santa Fe Police Department's SWAT team responded to the Tuscany at St. Francis apartments near Zia Road and St. Francis Drive yesterday. After neighbors say they negotiated for an hour with the suspect—something police haven't confirmed—at least one officer fired at least one shot, killing the suspect. The stabbing victim was taken to the hospital, but is okay.

Grayed anatomy
New Mexico leads the nation in the percentage of doctors age 60 or over. It has for the past two years. As an updated study of the physician workforce is due this fall, SFR looked at what the medical care community has been doing to try to attract younger doctors before the older ones decide it's time to retire.

Easy ridin', hard mortgagin'
Taos County—home to rivers and mountains and great food and etched in the minds of many as the backdrop for the counter-culture movie classic Easy Rider—is one of the least affordable places to live in the US, according to a study by an internet company. The median income is less than $37,000 and the median home price is more than $240,000. Meanwhile, Los Alamos is on the other end of the spectrum, with a median income over $100,000 a year and relatively affordable places to live on that salary. 

Home of 'The Brave' ... and the chilly
Two new productions are going to be shooting in and around Santa Fe, including the independent feature film Icebox, which will be in production through August in Albuquerque and Española. The first season of an NBC drama called The Brave will start shooting this month in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and continue through the end of the year.

Accidentally Awesome
Jude Sparks was 9 years old when he tripped over something in the Las Cruces brush last November. It was a fossilized Stegomastodon that had a few years on him. Like, 1.2 million of them. Jude and his family called New Mexico State University and the rest of it makes for a pretty neat story in the New York Times

Storms again
It's going to be a hot one again, with a chance of storms to cool us off in the late afternoon (that applies to the western half of the state). That chance will kick up on the weekend as it cools down a little to boot. Do your outside stuff in the morning ... just as soon as you're done with the Word.

Thanks for reading! The Word likes your pluck.

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