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The Nurturing Project

Thursday, July 29, 2004
After the birth of my first child, I joined an amazing group for new moms. The focus of the group was on nurturing yourself so that you could take better care of your baby.

I was thinking today that I could really use a group like that at this point in my life, so I'd like to challenge the blogging mothers of the universe to join my virtual nurturing group and commit to doing one really nice nurturing thing for themselves during the next week. It might be

- having a really decadent bubblebath -- alone or with someone you love (your choice!)
- treating yourself to a book that you've been wanting for a long time
- putting on some music you love but that you often get too busy to listen to
- calling a girlfriend and having a soul-nurturing chat
- setting a date to go for coffee or out to a movie with that very same girlfriend
- making yourself the most amazing, healthy gourmet meal imaginable because you are a goddess and you deserve it, and enjoying it with a glass of sparkling water, a cup of herbal tea, or a glass of wine (again, your choice)
- asking someone you love to do something nice for you (e.g., give you a foot massage, a back rub, a manicure/pedicure, to go for a walk with you, etc., basically whatever will make you feel most nurtured)
- writing yourself a love letter (hey, why not!)
- inviting some of your friends over for a dinner party or booking a hotel room so that you and your girlfriends can have a sleepover sans kids.

The sky's the limit. I'd love to hear what other ideas the rest of you can come up with, so please feel free to add to my list by posting in the comments section below.

And while you're thinking nurturing, take two minutes to do something nice for another mom who may not have the time or energy to nurture herself right now. Send her an e-mail or pop a greeting card in the mail to say you care. Or call her to let her know you'll be dropping off something yummy you baked just for her or a CD she just has to listen to. My girlfriends have saved my soul on more occasions than I can count. I'm sure yours have done likewise. Don't we owe it to them to return the favor?

Once you've nurtured yourself or a girlfriend, come on back and report on the results. Perhaps you'll inspire other moms to take good care of themselves and their girlfriends, too. Perhaps we can set off a tidal wave of nurturing that will carry us into fall and beyond!

| posted by Ann D @ 1:50 PM

Everything Happens in Threes

Further to yesterday's post on the joys and perils of being an imperfect parent, I just stumbled across the most magnificent essay over at Literary Mama. It's all about the challenges of having a larger-than-average family which -- these days -- means having more than your allotted 1.4 kids. In On Having Three Kids, Jennifer Eyre White writes about what it's like to be nursing one kid and breaking up a fight between two others. White does an amazing job of describing the general mood of grouchiness that seems to have invaded her family since she gave birth to baby number three six weeks ago -- something that gave me flashbacks to my own postpartum days.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:02 PM

The Joy of Imperfection

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
I came across this fabulous quote tonight -- so fabulous that I had to immediately rush to my blog to share it with you. :-)

Here it is:

"The most important thing she'd learned over the years
was that there was no way to be a perfect mother
and a million ways to be a good one."
- Jill Churchill, Grime and Punishment

I was thinking along these lines when I wrote the introduction to The Mother of All Parenting Books last year. I always hate it when parents think that they have to be perfect or when parenting experts pretend that they have all the answers, so I launched into this little rant on the subject right in the introduction of my book. Here's what I had to say: "What parents today are looking for is nitty-gritty, from-the-trenches advice from other parents -- the only people on the planet who really and truly understand what it's like to be a gloriously imperfect parent raising gloriously imperfect children. There's a growing backlash against advice givers who have lost touch with the needs of real families: so-called parenting experts who offer highly simplistic, formulaic solutions that don't take into account the countless messy variables that are the very essence of family life and who refuse to accept the fact that one-size-fits-all parenting solutoins fit most kids about as well as one-size-fits-all jeans. That is the kind of book I've attempted to write here: a book that believes that pooled knowledge and shared experience beat formulaic solutions hands down every time."

Okay, I tend to get a little passionate about this subject....

So what's your take on this whole "perfect parenting" thing? Are we finally breaking free of the June and Ward Cleaver standards of perfect parenting? Or are we just pretending that it's okay to be a less-than-perfect parent? Thoughts?

| posted by Ann D @ 10:27 PM

The Mother of All Obsessions

Laid Off Dad tipped me off to the fact that Julie over at A Little Pregnant has compiled a really comprehensive list of blogs pertaining to infertility, adoption, pregnancy after infertility or loss, and being a parent. Having experienced infertility early on in my reproductive life and having been through pregnancy after both miscarriage and stillbirth, these subjects are very near and dear to my heart. And, of course, like many of us parent/bloggers, I could spend countless hours exploring all the parenting blogs that Julie has spotlighted. (I already spend way too much time reading parenting blogs as it is. Know what? Blogging could easily end up becoming The Mother of All Obsessions for me.)

| posted by Ann D @ 9:13 PM

Pregnancy Stress

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
An article in Monday's Los Angeles Times reported on two recent studies involving the effects of maternal stress on the developing baby.

One study followed 53 women who were pregnant during the 1998 ice storm in Quebec. The researchers found a link between the women's self-reported stress levels and the performance of the children that they subsequently gave birth to on language and intelligence tests at age two.

The second study followed a group of 71 Belgian women throughout their pregnancies and found a link between high stress levels between the 12th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy and childhood behaviour problems at age 8. What the researchers weren't able to determine was whether the types of women who tend to be highly anxious during pregnancy also tend to carry the genes for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That'll have to wait for another study.

The takeaway message from these two studies is this: anything you can to minimize stress during pregnancy is good for both you and your baby, so don't be afraid to treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, trashy novel, or whatever it takes to pamper thyself. And whatever you do, don't get stressed about getting stressed. That's counterproductive, after all.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:52 PM

Only the Best for Baby

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
According to a recent article in American Demographics ("The Baby Business," October 2003), sales of luxury baby care products are expected to experience steady growth during the years ahead. While mass market brands of baby lotions and other toiletries for babies are expected to experience an average of 1.8% in annual growth through 2006, luxury brands can expect to see their sales grow by an average of 21.3% per year.

The success of online baby retailer Poshtots.com certainly supports this trend. This merchandiser to the superstars has made a name for itself by selling everything from $25,000 vintage race car beds to $87,510 playhouses.

And I used to think I was overdoing it everytime I bought my kids a pair of Oshkosh overalls....

| posted by Ann D @ 11:16 AM

No Locusts Yet, But....

Monday, July 19, 2004
The van has a flat tire.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:49 PM

I'm on Insect Watch

Last night the barbecue packed it in, too.

If I see the locusts coming down my street, this will all make sense.

My computer is back in the shop for yet another day of repair fun -- the seventh since late May. Hope that works out because I don't know how many more days I can tread water without my computer. It's hard to be productive when everything you need to do your job is across town. It's frustrating because the computer is less than a year old and I bought the top of the line model -- an Apple Powerbook G4 17" -- because I wanted the ultimate in reliability. I've had really good luck with Apple computers up until now -- I wrote 14 books on my previous Apple -- but I'm starting to wonder if this one is a Lemon rather than an Apple. I've been reading some scary posts from other Apple owners whose computers have overheated (the keys on one guys' computer actually melted!) and I'm kind of freaking out.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:27 PM

It Never Rains But It Pours....

Saturday, July 17, 2004
My computer still isn't fixed. In fact, the number of things wrong with it is multiplying. The sound card and the wireless Internet are both dead at this point. My old Smith Corona electric typewriter is looking more appealing by the moment.

But I've had to put my computer angst on hold momentarily, due to all the problems here in Peterborough. As anyone who's been tuned into the news knows, Peterborough experienced massive flooding on Thursday morning. In fact, our mayor had to declare a state of emergency. Here at the Douglas household, we've been pretty lucky. We had some water pour through our family room ceiling and damage the ceiling and the floor, and the bottom of Neil's car was damaged when he drove through some deep water on his way to work on Thursday morning, but, other than that, we haven't had any major property damage to contend with.

It just feels like we're experiencing a bit of a run of bad luck, what with the broken computer, the broken dishwasher, the flooding here in Peterborough, etc. I'm just hoping that the heavy rains didn't wash out the roads to the cottage. Stay tuned for more about that....

| posted by Ann D @ 2:26 PM

My Computer Woes Are Ongoing

Monday, July 12, 2004
I'm still using my old computer while I wait for the local Apple repair depot to get the logic board required to fix my regular computer. (Apparently, my computer needed something more heavy-duty than a modem -- frustrating since I had to wait over a month for the blasted modem to arrive!) This entire saga has been dragging on since mid-May, when I first discovered that the dial-up modem in my computer didn't work. I'm hoping that this will be the week that the problem gets solved once and for all. I'm pretty much at my wits' end at this point. I don't think computer manufacturers understand how disruptive it is when their products don't work. My entire life has been thrown for a loop by this. I mean, I rely on this machine to make my living. It's the equivalent of a race car driver being stuck without wheels or a chef having his or her oven on the blink. I'm going to see if my AppleCare warranty covers therapy and/or spa treatments. :-)

The only good thing I can say about this whole experience is that the fellow who has been working on my computer has been amazingly kind and understanding. He "gets" the fact that I can't allow my computer to languish in the shop for weeks at a time. He's been great about allowing me to pick it up every time he's finished with a particular stage of the diagnosisis/repair process. If it weren't for this fellow, I would have lost my mind weeks ago.... (No snide comments from friends and family members, thank you very much.)

| posted by Ann D @ 8:48 PM

Waiting for the Laptop Surgeon to Call

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
My laptop is having surgery today -- a modemectomy, to be specific. (It needs a new dial-up modem so that I can pick up my mail when I'm away from home as opposed to having to rely on my old laptop -- the one that isn't too keen about typing the letter "a.")

If they had a waiting area at the computer repair shop, I would have camped out there for the day, eagerly waiting for updates on the "patient's" status. I don't like the idea of my laptop being out of my hands, let alone all the way across town. I keep thinking of all the horrible things that could happen to it while it is in the shop:

  • someone could steal it

  • someone in the repair shop might drop it (yes, I know they are highly trained Apple-certified professionals, but accidents happen)

  • someone could spill coffee on it (see above)

  • the building could burn down, taking my laptop with it in the flames

  • they could switch my laptop with someone else's -- someone who is just about to hop on a plane to Siberia.

There are just so many horrible, horrible possibilities. And, of course, it doesn't help that I recently watched Duplex -- a movie that features one of the most gruesome laptop deaths ever captured on film.

I sure hope they manage to fix my laptop today. I don't think I can stand another day of this torture. Am I the only one who is this neurotic when it comes to her computer? Or are there others like me?

| posted by Ann D @ 10:10 AM

The Great Escape

Monday, July 05, 2004
It's been uncharacteristically quiet here at The Mother of All Blogs because your resident blogger is officially on vacation. (It was a scramble to actually get my dreaded GST return finished on time so that I could make the Great Escape northward, but somehow I managed to pull it off.)

I'm really enjoying the change of pace and almost complete absence of a "to do" list. (To do list for tonight: watch The Great Outdoors with the kids, read frivolous novel, drink wine.)

I went 72 hours without checking my e-mail, after we first arrived. What finally sent me to the computer to log on was a fear of having my e-mail account implode from all the SPAM. When I logged in this morning, I had to delete 600 pieces of SPAM before I could get to my real mail -- a process made tortuous by the fact that (a) I'm accessing my e-mail via a clunky webmail interface and (b) I'm using an old laptop that only types the letter "a" when it feels like it. Susanna Moodie and her buddies would admire my pioneering spirit, don't you think?

Today, the weather was exceptionally crummy, so the kids and I partook in that great Canadian cottaging tradition -- venturing off to a Canadian Tire store to kill a little time. While I was there, I couldn't help but notice the gigantic signs promoting Canadian Tire's new "Celebration Station" bridal registry. What's next? A "Change Station" baby registry?

| posted by Ann D @ 3:59 PM