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Parenting Resolutions Anyone?

Friday, December 31, 2004
I'm leading The Mother -- and Father -- of All Parenting Challenges over at CanadianParents.com.

The idea of the challenge is to set some parenting goals for yourself for 2005. My goals for myself are to inject more fun into my day-to-day life with my kids, to find more ways to spend one-on-one time with each of them, to find ways to encourage my kids to become more physically active (something which will likely mean becoming more physically active myself), and to do a better job of nurturing myself so that I'll have more patience and energy to put into the job of being a parent.

Feel free to join in if you'd like to be part of the challenge. The more the merrier. And, no, you don't have to be Canadian to play.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:05 PM

Unplugging and Decluttering

I took a bit of a break from blogging -- from the entire online universe, in fact. An entire week went by without me opening the lid of my laptop and, to my utter amazement, the world didn't come to a crashing halt, the e-mail police didn't arrive at my doorstep and issue me a ticket for having an in-box that was badly in arrears, no really horrible fate struck me for being offline for the longest period in at least ten years.

I think there are actually a few perks to going offline for a few days.

For one thing, I was able to fully immerse myself in the real world without feeling like I "should" be checking my e-mail, updating my blog, etc. (Of course, at this time of year, most of my business associates are out of the office, so I am unlikely to have a lot of e-mail waiting for me, so it's the perfect time to go AWOL. I don't think I could get away with playing hookey at any other time of year.)

And because I wasn't spending as much time at my keyboard, I finally found time to clean my office. (Well, partially clean my office. The filing cabinets still need to be done. Groan.) Until I dove in and started decluttering, I hadn't realized how much of my stress was being caused by the six-inch layer of stuff on most of my desk. It feels great to actually be able to be able to move things around on my desk without worrying about triggering a desktop avalanche.

And here's an added bonus: Book ideas, article ideas, and ideas for other projects have been dancing through my head while I've been cleaning my office. (And I thought it was just sugarplums that were supposed to show up at this time of year.) It feels great to be feeling creative and energized again after a pretty hellish two years.

I'm really looking forward to 2005.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:39 PM

The Season of Love

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Every day this week, I've received news via a Christmas card, a phone call, or a death notice in the paper of a friend who has lost a loved one this holiday season. It certainly serves as a reminder that we need to be grateful for each day we have with the people who matter most to us, even though they are inevitably less than perfect and we are, too. So deck the halls with your gloriously imperfect loved ones. That's what the season of love is all about.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:13 PM

Life is Good Dept.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I love it when things go better than expected. Take today, for example.
1. I took all four kids Christmas shopping and there was no major eruption of sibling warfare. Everyone got along and finished all their Christmas shopping in under two hours. (Thank you, fairy godmother.)

2. There was no lineup at Starbucks when I stopped for coffee.

3. I didn't get sucked into the Christmas road rage that was happening on the streets of Peterborough around noon hour.

4. I am not obsessing about all the things I should be obsessing about right now -- something that's quite out of character for me.

Yep. Life is good.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:25 PM

A Very Canadian Christmas Tree

Monday, December 20, 2004
The seven year old just photocopied a sheet of "Made in Canada" stickers and hung them all over the Christmas tree. He must be feeling very patriotic today.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:45 PM

Winter Wonderland Indeed

Some university students who live around the corner from us have made a frighteningly accurate six foot tall snow sculpture depicting the male anatomy. And I've heard that there are some x-rated snowmen downtown. Guess I'm going to have to choose my route carefully when I have the seven year old in the car.

P.S. Contrary to what you might think, I don't live in Sunnyvale Trailer Park.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:53 PM

Holiday Homicide

The family Christmas letter which talks about how much Julie loves her pet rats had no sooner hit the mail when one rat decided to kill the other rat. You'd think Lydia would at least have had the decency to off Judith a week or two ago. Now Julie's likely to have every relative she meets over the holidays ask her about her pet rats. Mother Nature can be cruel indeed!

| posted by Ann D @ 10:11 AM

Decking the Blogosphere

Saturday, December 18, 2004
I've added a few new links to my sidebar recently, so if you're looking for some blogs to check out (as opposed to battling the crowds on what is officially the craziest shopping day of the year), you may want to visit:

  • Katie Allison Granju: A blog which features the always passionate views of a fellow writermama who is determined to stomp out injustice at every corner. I love Katie's feisty, kick-butt, the bad-guys-aren't-going-to-win spirit.

  • Magnificent Octopus: A wonderfully authentic (yep, there's my favorite word again!) and highly addictive blog. Besides, you've gotta love someone who organizes her links according to a Dr. Suess story. I am tickled to be listed in the "Two Fish" category.

  • Sharbean: A Canadian blog about pregnancy and pop culture. Always a good read because Sharbean has a great sense of humor and is a terrific writer.

  • Wonder Mom: Wonder Mom has a lively writing voice and a great sense of humor. You never know what you're going to find when you read this blog. That's what makes it so much fun.


And as a bonus this week (hey, it's the holiday season, so you get an extra present from me), I would like to send you back to one of my existing links. There's a hilarious but totally politically incorrect thread going on over at Suburban Bliss. This thread may not be suitable for all bloggers. (Think of the warnings they show on TV after 10:00 pm. If that causes you to change channels, don't click through on this link. But if you do click through, be sure to read the comments. They're practically the best part.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:53 PM

Perfectopia?

A snippet of dialogue from earlier this morning.

Seven year old: Why are you treating me like I'm not perfect?
Me: You're not perfect. No one is perfect.
Seven year old: You think you're like perfectopia.
Me: What?

| posted by Ann D @ 11:58 AM

It's the Real Thing: Authenticity at Work

Friday, December 17, 2004
A recent article by Barbara Moses in The Wall Street Journal spoke of the discomfort that many working women feel if they end up being employed by an organization that professes to value its people but that doesn't actually walk the talk when there are dollars and cents involved. "When I was a VP of human resources, all I saw was the compromise of values to get results," said one self-described "corporate refuge" quoted in the article. "What kinds of results are you getting when abuses are overlooked, and when people are completely demoralized?" she added.

According to Moses, women want to be able to be their true selves at work -- to be authentic. They don't want to have to "fake it" in order to appear to be in synch with corporate values that they may not necessarily share.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:29 PM

We Wish You a (Sniff) Merry Christmas....

I'm just in the door from my youngest child's Christmas concert. I'm proud to say that another parent had need of my Kleenex pocket pack before I got tear-eyed myself. Usually I'm the first one in the room to start sniffling when the kids start singing Christmas carols but I was at least the second or third parent to get choked up this year. I'm getting positively stone-hearted, I tell you.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:48 PM

The GIA Wants You!: Calling All Alphagirls

Thursday, December 16, 2004
If last week's New York Times Magazine article didn't leave you convinced that your friends are pushing products on you in order to rack up points with companies like Bzz or Tremor, this 60 Minutes report will make you wonder just what the tween next door is pushing on the other girls at her slumber party. (Hint: It's not just pop and pizza.)

| posted by Ann D @ 5:43 PM

Two Quotes

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A friend gave me a copy of The Practice of Happiness by John Kehoe a few years ago. I read part of the book, but never finished it. (I don't think I was ready to read it at that point in my life.)

Today, I picked up the book and two quotations jumped out at me immediately:

"There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer."
- Zora Neale Hurston

"It is not until the later stages of our life that we look back and see that everything had a purpose and meaning."
- Joseph Campbell


I think I'm living through one of those times in my life when I'm asking a lot of questions and learning a lot of important life lessons. (Some days, I feel like I'm enrolled in the PhD programme in the School of Hard Knocks!) And I have learned to have faith that the stuff that doesn't make any sense to me right now will make sense down the road. (It's either that or allow life to drive me around the bend. And I hate that particular destination.)

| posted by Ann D @ 6:18 PM

Switching into "Queen of the Universe" Mode

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
A client just surprised me with a gift basket full of birthday goodies. (Yesterday was my birthday.)

Surprises like this make me feel like Queen of the Universe!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:59 AM

41 Things

Monday, December 13, 2004
Just got back from Sisterfest, my annual get-together with my three sisters. Usually we go to a day spa, but this year we went out for dinner at Saucy's in Streetsville. We invited my Dad to join us. (Yes, he has been granted honorary sister status in recognition of the fact that he turned 75 earlier this year.)

This year, Sisterfest roughly co-incided with my birthday, which falls today. Since I'm 41 today, I thought I'd make a list of 41 life lessons I've learned to date in honor of the occasion.

1. Life isn't fair. (I hate this one, by the way.)
2. Murphy was right.
3. Everything about business is personal.
4. Work can be fun.
5. You have to invest in your friendships if you want those friendships to thrive. Friendships can only be backburnered for so long.
6. Parenting is physically exhausting when you have little kids and emotionally exhausting when you have big kids.
7. Parenting conflicts can put a bigger strain on a relationship than any of the other relationship hot-buttons.
8. It's hard to have time and money at the same time.
9. Your path is obvious if you allow yourself to listen to your intuition.
10. The more money you paid for a small appliance, the less likely it is to work. The same thing applies to the age of the appliance in question. (Older appliances work better than newer appliances.)
11. If you are open to new opportunities, new people will enter your life and doors will start swinging open for you.
12. You have unique gifts and experiences to share with the world. Dare to be you.
13. Friday the 13th doesn't have to be unlucky. Heck, I was born on a Friday the 13th!
14. It gets easier to rock the boat as you get a little older. You no longer worry about being thrown overboard by the captain of the ship for daring to speak your mind.
15. Standing up for what you believe in isn't optional. It's a necessary, soul-preserving activity.
16. Some of the problems that seem to be insurmountable at the time are all but forgotten a few weeks, months, or years later.
17. People will surprise you -- for better and for worse.
18. Becoming a parent means signing up for the ultimate rollercoaster ride. The highs are incredible, but the lows can be devastating.
19. The creative process is unpredictable. That's what makes it so exciting and (at times) so infuriating.
20. You don't have to know someone for a long-time to know that you and that person are soulmates. Sometimes there can be an instant meeting of the minds that tells you that you and this person are going to form a deep and lasting friendship.
21. It's important to do work that matters. If you're an author who writes a book that you feel less than passionate about, you're shortchanging the universe. Not only did you give the world a less-than-inspired book: you deprived the world of the book that you should have written instead.
22. Computer programmes are becoming more sophisticated and less intuitive. What's wrong with this picture?
23. You can go on living when someone you love dies.
24. Speed can be addictive. Sometimes slow is better.
25. Sometimes you don't realize how fast you're moving or how hard you're working until you slow down or stop.
26. Parenting in real life is a lot tougher than parenting on TV.
27. You don't have to be perfect.
28. A lot of what passes for "reality" on TV is anything but real. We can all be grateful for this.
29. If life gives you lemons, it's because the universe wants you to set up a lemonade stand, write a how-to book about lemonade making, or otherwise use your newly acquired lemonade-making skills to help other people.
30. While there was only one definition of cool back in high school, there are infinite definitions of coolness by the time you reach adulthood. This is why it's a lot easier to feel good about yourself when you're an adult than when you're a teenager. There are so many more places you can fall on the coolness spectrum -- including right off the edge.
31. Sometimes it's worth taking a day off to do something fun, frivolous, and non-urgent.
32. Self-explanatory is frequently an oxymoron.
33. There are too many books published each year.
34. The pregnancy world is big on euphemisms. "You can expect to experience a slight burning sensation when your baby's head crowns." Give me a break!
35. One size doesn't always fit all (including those ridiculously small things that pass for towels in some hotels).
36. Your mileage may vary.
37. There is a Santa Claus.
38. The longevity of a TV show isn't always an indication of its quality.
39. Loyalty isn't always a two-way street.
40. Forty doesn't seem that old once you reach it.
41. It's important to make every day count. Dream big, spend your time with people you like and respect, and work on projects that you truly believe in. If you're committed to making a difference on this planet, there's no time like the present to start living out that mission.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:47 AM

Generation Blogger

Friday, December 10, 2004
Blogging is part of the daily routine of ten percent of teens, according to this newly released Ispos Reid study examining the Internet habits of Canadian teens.

That's significantly higher than the much-cited Pew Internet and American Life Project study which found that between 2 and 7% of American adults keep blogs. (I haven't been able to track down any specifically Canadian blogging stats. If anyone knows of any, please let me know.)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:46 AM

Magnificent Obsession

Thursday, December 09, 2004
I see that Magnificent Octopus shares my love of Nick Hornby books. I particularly enjoyed How to Be Good -- a book that should serve as a cautionary tale for every woman who's ever wanted to "fix" her husband.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:02 PM

Coffee-based Skincare Products: Woo Hoo!

A few weeks ago, a TV makeup artist used some sort of concealer cream on me that contained caffeine. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven because it really did give my tired-looking eyes a lift. (Or a caffeine blast. Whatever!)

Well, you can imagine my thrill when I received a press kit from LUSH in the mail that included a temple cream containing none other than good old-fashioned coffee. The product in question -- Party On Balm -- is made with coffee infusion, peppermint oil, menthol oil, rosemary oil, lime oil, and fresh lemongrass. Very cool stuff.

LUSH also sells a Hot Java Bath Bomb for folks who love their java enough to want to soak in it. (That would be me.)

| posted by Ann D @ 5:58 PM

Just Plain Unreal

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Just when you thought the reality TV show phenomenon had hit rock bottom, a show like this hits the airways. What were the producers thinking?

| posted by Ann D @ 11:54 PM

Reality Blogging: The Parenthood Channel

Monday, December 06, 2004
I thought I'd start out my week by posting a note of appreciation to all the parents who tell it like it is in their blogs -- who aren't afraid to admit that some days in the motherhood and fatherhood trenches are just plain crazymaking, and who understand that feeling less than euphoric about being sleep deprived or on perpetual anxiety overload doesn't make you a bad parent.

When we parents open up and start speaking openly to other parents about what we're going through -- either via our blogs or via some other message forum -- we make it easier for the next parent to speak the truth about what he or she is going through. We don't do ourselves or the other parents of the world when we muster up a June Cleaver or Carol Brady smile and pretend that all is perfect within the four walls of our houses. We simply make it more difficult for other parents to speak their own truths.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:40 AM

Please Send Coffee

Saturday, December 04, 2004
I've had an exceptionally busy couple of days. I did an interview with The Toronto Star on families and stress yesterday afternoon and there was a CBC TV crew here this morning to interview me for a story on motherhood that will run on CBC Sunday Morning/Evening tomorrow.

This weekend is shaping up to be insanely busy, too. I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet, so I've got to get cracking on that. At the very least, I need to make a list of all the people I'm shopping for and what I'm planning to buy them. Otherwise I'm going to forget to buy someone's gift. (I have this awful sense of impending doom on the gift-buying front.)

I've got a Christmas party to go to tonight.

The laundry is screaming for attention. (Things are desperate enough that I'm wearing a skirt and pantyhose on a Saturday!)

And I've got writing deadlines coming at me from all directions.

Someone please send coffee!

| posted by Ann D @ 2:27 AM

Proud Mama Department

Friday, December 03, 2004
My daughter Julie has written a powerful article about her eating disorder struggles. It's running in the November/December issue of New Moon. I'm very proud of her for deciding to write about her experiences in an effort to try to help other people. It takes a lot of guts to share personal information about yourself -- especially when you're still a teenager -- but I think her article will help to alert a lot of New Moon's young readers to the warning signs of eating disorders.
new moon

| posted by Ann D @ 2:34 PM

Online and Real World Parenting Courses: Upcoming Dates

I am going to be leading The Mother -- and Father! -- of All® Parenting Challenges for CanadianParents.com from January 3 to 31.

I'll also be teaching two courses through the Ella Centre for Pregnancy and Parenting in Toronto: Mom University™: Mothering in the Real World (Sat. March 5) and The Mother of All® Toddler Courses (Sat. April 30).

| posted by Ann D @ 10:44 AM