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What Does This Say About Us Bloggers?

Monday, September 27, 2004
Here's some bad news if you spend way too much time blogging. Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and Staffordshire University have discovered that people (well, undergrads specifically) who keep diaries on a regular basis are more likely to suffer from physical complaints than those who don't keep diaries at all.

According to an article in The New Scientist, those undergrads who poured out their hearts and souls in a diary on a regular basis were more likely to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and social awkwardness.

Now I admit that there have been times I've developed a headache because of blogging (mainly because of reading too many other people's blogs); as well as a bit of insomnia (generally for the same reason); but I can't recall suffering from any blogging-related digestive problems (unless, of course, you count the number of cups of coffee that I have consumed while blogging). And as for social awkwardness -- well, I would argue that bloggers are among the least socially awkward people I know. (Well, at least the bloggers I hang out with.) What do the rest of you think? Do bloggers have pathological relationships with their blogs or do we use our blogs as launching pads for conversations with people we might not otherwise have the privilege to meet?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:47 AM

Pregnant and Working

Friday, September 24, 2004
"We've come a long way, baby -- at least when it comes to being pregnant on the job. Gone are the days when you were expected to hand in your notice at work the moment it became obvious that you were 'in the family way.'"

You can read the rest of this article (which I wrote for the autumn 2004 issue of Today's Parent Pregnancy and Birth -- over at Todaysparent.com.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:17 PM

Vancouver Postcard II

Sunday, September 19, 2004
Baby Fair was fantastic! The show was buzzing with activity and tons of parents turned out for my two seminars. I got to meet a lot of very excited parents- and grandparents-to-be, to answer all kinds of interesting questions, and to sign a bunch of my books. The show organizers were incredibly pleasant and professional. In fact, I have been so pampered, I'm going to experience major culture shock when I have to step back into the motherhood trenches at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning! (What do you mean I have to make my own coffee?) :-)

After the show, I had the thrill of having dinner with Vancouver maternity and baby photographer Kim Mallory. She brought along her portfolio. I was incredibly impressed by her ability to capture the magic of pregnancy on film: the excitement in an expectant couples' eyes (she does a lot of pregnant couple shots), the look of both joy and exhaustion in late pregnancy, the beauty in a pregnant woman's curves, etc. We both got a bit teary eyed when we were talking about pregnancy -- and, no, it wasn't the wine (although we did each have a glass of very nice BC Chardonnay in honour of the occasion). I love talking with other people who are totally passionate about pregnancy and birth, so having dinner with Kim was an absolute treat.

Now I'm busy trying to stuff everything into my suitcase and I'm starting to panic that my suitcase is going to weigh more than 70 lbs. I'm thinking of jamming some books into my backpack and my purse, in an effort to "spread the load" and stay on good terms with the airline. (At least I'm flying WestJet, the friendly airline. They don't get quite as spun out if you happen to commit a luggage faux pas as that other airline which shall remain nameless.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:49 PM

Blogging Mama Mania!

Saturday, September 18, 2004
I just read a really interesting entry over at Mother Shock. In this post, Andi Buchanan shares the highlights of a speech she just gave about motherhood. What I like about Andi is that she's not afraid to speak the truth about mothering. I would really like to give Andi and other writers like her (and I include myself in this club) little pins that say "I tell the truth about motherhood". Then other moms would know that it's okay to come up to us and say that they feel like running away from home or listing certain family members for sale on eBay -- or whatever. Being able to voice that frustration is so important. Feeling like you have to keep a June Cleaver upper lip is enough to send you completely around the bend.

Andi and I are among the mamas who helped to birth a brand new blog this past week, by the way: Mamasink.com. It features the work of a lot of writers who write about mothering. Pour yourself your favorite beverage and check it out when you have time. (Actually, don't wait that long. Mothers never have time.) Our blog is still in its infancy so there aren't a lot of posts yet, but what's there is quite unlike anything else you'll find on the net -- not surprising given that we count amongst our members writers like Ayun Halliday, Katie Allison Granju, Dawn Friedman, Amanda Eyre Ward, Gayle Brandweis, Ericka Lutz, etc. etc. etc. (Shrinking violets we are not!)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:29 PM

Postcard from Vancouver

I am having a fabulous time in Vancouver -- working hard, but enjoying myself tremendously.

I sat next to a really nice fellow on the plane ride out -- a father of four from New Brunswick who was accompanying his wife and four kids (a couple in their teens and a few in their 20s) plus one future son-in-law out to a family wedding in BC. His kids were all adorable and adoring, so it's clear he and his wife have done a fabulous job raising their kids. I personally think his twisted sense of humor was one of the keys to his parenting success. (Anyone who has read my books know that I consider a sense of humor to be a prerequisite for survival and/or success in the parenting trenches.)

After I collected my luggage, I checked into my hotel in Vancouver -- the truly to-die-for Opus Hotel and then headed off to have coffee with Karen Nordahl, author of Fit to Deliver. Needless to say, Karen and I had plenty to talk about: pregnancy, publishing, coffee, insane schedules, striving for balance, etc. etc. (I'm not going to tell you about the etc. etc. Some things are off the record!)

Friday was a whirlwind day of media for me. Kim Plumley of Publicity Mavens (someone who has become a friend to me as a publicist to me during the many, many years we have worked together), picked me up at 6:30 am and whisked me off to CITY TV's Breakfast Television, where I did an early morning spot with Kim's adorable 4 1/2 month old daughter Ella Rose.

Then we were off to Studio 4 to do an interview with Fanny Kiefer, one of the most interesting interviewers in Canada. (You never know what Fanny is going to ask you, and that's what makes it so much fun!)

After that, I did a quick phone interview with Sterling Faux of CKNW. He has a great sense of humour. We chatted about pregnancy, babies, and how your life changes forever when that tiny 8 lb. bundle arrives on the scene.

Then Kim and I headed off to a really cool coffee shop -- Bean Around the World at Lonsdale Quay -- to meet up with Vancouver Sun journalist Dorianne Sager, who is known for telling the truth about motherhood in her highly popular parenting column "Baby Talk." Her son Zach joined us for coffee (he actually played with a coffee cup instead) and we had a great time talking about the highs and lows of motherhood, and why it can be tougher than a lot of people are willing to admit.

We had a bit of spare time in our schedule, so Kim took me to my favourite Vancouver clothes shop, Fashion Addition (a store for voluptuous, full-figured gals). I bought the most amazing llme green jacket, a striped green shirt, and a black skirt. You'll get to see it if you come out to Baby Fair to hear me speak today. (Forget the outfit I packed and brought from Peterborough. Once I saw this outfit, I knew it was the one!) :-)

We wrapped up the media circuit with a one-hour live phone-in at CKNW on the Jennifer Mather Show. Again, we talked pregnancy, babies, and toddlers and then I got to meet Jennifer's adorable baby daughter, Marin. What a great way to end the day!

Well, actually the day wasn't over quite yet. We headed back to Kim's place for a delicious dinner that had been loving prepared by her husband extraordinaire, George. Not only is George great in the kitchen and a fabulous Dad to their two kids, Ella (4 1/2 months) and (3 years): George is a talented web designer and audio whiz. He gave me copies of two of his audio CDs, including a Halloween sounds CD (Sounds Like Halloween Night) that is very cool. It contains super-spooky tracks that teens will love and less spooky tracks that are great for younger kids. My kids are going to be very happy that I visited George.

Today is going to be another busy day. I'm heading off to the Global TV studios for a morning interview and then I'll be speaking at Baby Fair this afternoon.

By the way, if you note the time of this post, you will see that I am still on Ontario time. I woke up at 4:30 am Vancouver time and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided that I might as well get up and start my day. Good morning, Vancouver!

| posted by Ann D @ 8:15 AM

Vancouver, Here I Come!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
I'm off to Vancouver this weekend to speak at Baby Fair. I'm really excited about my trip, not just because I love speaking to groups of parents and parents-to-be and hanging out on the floor of baby shows (where else do you get to rub bellies with thousands of pregnant women at the same time?!!!), but also because a huge proportion of my favourite people on the planet happen to live in the Vancouver area. Yippee!!!

If you happen to live in the Vancouver area, I hope you'll come out to the show to introduce yourself and pick up the "New Parent Resource Guide" and "Mother of All Baby Seminars tip sheet" that I'll be handing out at the show. (The folks at the airport are going to seriously wonder why my luggage is so heavy. They're going to think I am one serious shopaholic. I'm bringing 500 copies of each tip sheet with me. I think the tip sheets weigh more than any of my kids weighed at birth -- and some of them tipped the scales at nearly 10 lbs.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:56 PM

New Listmania List at Amazon.com

Friday, September 10, 2004
I've just created a new Listmania list at Amazon.com -- a list of my eight favorite child discipline books. I was inspired to create the list because so much of my reader mail and so many of the questions that come up during my parenting workshops concern discipline struggles. And, of course, being a mom myself, discipline is something that I grapple with on a day-to-day basis with my own four kids. Some days I feel like I am making tremendous headway on the discipline front. And then there are other days when I feel like Alexander in Judith Viorst's children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and I think I should just move to Australia!

Anyway, if you want to check out my listmania list, you can find it right here.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:20 PM

How Tired Were YOUR Kids This Morning?

The Friday morning of the first week of school has to be one of the toughest days of the year for kids -- at least when it comes to getting out of bed. One of my teens was so tired that she slept through her alarm clock -- an alarm clock with a buzzer that's so loud that it can be heard two floors away! By next week, everyone's biological clock will be well on its way to being reset from "summer time" to "school time," but the readjusting can be really hard on kids (and parents, too!)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:12 PM

The Success Treadmill

Thursday, September 09, 2004
The further along I get in my career, the more convinced I become that the true measure of success is having more freedom: the freedom to devote your writing time to projects you are passionate about, to choose who you work with, to take your career in exciting new directions, and to enjoy more time off with family and friends.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of writers end up stumbling on the success treadmill -- a contraption that's every bit as punishing as the Stairmaster at my gym! (And, trust me, I'm not exactly on speaking terms with the Stairmaster.) The problem is that it's easy to get so preoccupied with shooting for the next career milestone that you forget to savor what you've achieved to date -- something that leaves you feeling chronically dissatisfied rather than satisfied. Instead of feeling good about the fact that you've just cracked a new magazine market, published your first book, landed a multi-book deal, or had a book land on a bestseller list, you're constantly setting new -- and higher -- targets for yourself. While there's nothing wrong with aiming high, if you're constantly raising the bar impossibly high for yourself, you risk burning yourself out. After all, no one can maintain that kind of punishing pace forever.

True confession time: I've learned through the School of Hard Knocks that I'm a far happier and more productive writer if I take weekends off to recharge my batteries and if I schedule some serious vacations a couple of times each year. (A couple of years ago, a "vacation" involved lugging a laptop along on holidays. Now I cut the electronic umbilical cord for up to a week at a time, e-mail and all. Do I miss out on the odd media interview or magazine assignment because I dare to unplug my modem every now and again -- something that's pretty much become the eighth deadly sin these days? Yes, but I think it's worth it in the long-run because I come back to my desk refreshed and rejuvenated. Or at least that's what I tell my publishers!) :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 3:14 PM

Nice Girls Finish First

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
I am on a post-"Sounds Like Canada" high. Shelagh Rogers was even more wonderful than I had always imagined she would be. Before we went on air, she thanked me for including her in my book Canuck Chicks and Maple Leaf Mamas: Women of the Great White North -- a book I wrote a couple of years ago. How classy is that? It's no wonder Shelagh has had a stellar career in radio: she's truly a class act. My faith in the universe is restored: nice girls really do finish first.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:44 PM

Sounds Like Canada

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
I'm going to be a guest on CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada tomorrow morning. Shelagh Rogers will be interviewing me. I am a huge fan of Shelagh's, so this is a major thrill indeed....

| posted by Ann D @ 6:30 PM

September or June?

Thursday, September 02, 2004
It's always seemed to me that September and June are the toughest months for parents. September is back-to-school month, so there are a million things to do in order to get your kids ready to go back to school and at least as many registration nights to attend. And in June, there are a million events to mark the end of the school year. So my question to you is this: Which month is tougher on parents -- September or June?

| posted by Ann D @ 12:57 AM