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Postcards from Holland

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
marla's dougie poster

Trisha of The Least of My Worries dropped me a line to tell me about a fabulous blog called Postcards from Hollard. The blog -- which is inspired by Emily Perl Kingsley's Welcome to Holland -- is a blog for "families of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, or any physical or mental disability, or those that have lost children." The blog was conceived as "a creative and therapeutic outlet for parents to express their thoughts on living a family life different than the one we all envisioned."

Having taken the rather bumpy road to parenthood (via Infertility Lane, Miscarriage Road, and Stillbirth Valley) and having found myself hitting some giant potholes while crossing some rather challenging parenting terrain over the years, I'm always eager to spread the word about parenting resources like this one. I know from first-hand experience that sometimes the only thing that keeps you sane when you're going through a really tough time is swapping experiences with another parent who truly understands where you're coming from and where you've been.


Trisha dropped by again and told me about another one of her favorite blogs -- a blog maintained by a mom of two whose oldest child, Anni, has had two liver transplants: Falling Down is Also a Gift. The blog's header reads:

One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:26 PM

Looking for Canadian Moms to Interview for a Parenting Article

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I am looking for Canadian moms to interview for an article I am writing on setting goals for yourself as a parent. I'm looking for moms with preschoolers, school-aged kids, and preteens/teens.

If you think you might be interested in being interviewed, e-mail me and I'll tell you more.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:15 PM

Mother Love, Father Love

marla's dougie poster

Marla of Hello Josephine has written a wonderful piece about the difference between mother love and father love. Don't even think of surfing on without reading this wonderful story about Dougie the missing stuffed puppy, his safe return home, and what Marla learned about her husband's love for their daughter Josephine while Dougie was missing in action on Dundas Street, one of the busiest streets in Toronto.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:43 AM

Mom University: Ericka Lutz, Fiction and Non-Fiction Writer

Monday, March 28, 2005
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Ericka Lutz via an online writers' group started by Katie Allison Granju a few years ago. I've been impressed by the variety of genres Ericka works in, her willingness to constantly challenge herself as a writer, and her personal warmth and generous spirit.

As with all previous Mom University interviews (see Mom University archive in sidebar), I asked Ericka to pick something that she had written so that we could use that article as the basis of our interview. She picked Why My Garden? Here's our interview.
Ann: When -- and why -- did you write this piece?

Ericka: Three years ago, I wrote "Why My Garden" about my Spring 2000 journey to Auschwitz.

My excuse for writing it? I was asked to submit to a friend's anthology about women's spirituality.

My real REASON for writing it? From the moment I planned the trip to Auschwitz, I intended to write about it. From the time I returned, the piece festered in me. It often takes me a while to process important experiences enough to write about them. This time it took a couple of years.

So in January, 2002, I went on a four day writer's retreat in mid-winter (Northern California) and looked at the gray trees and listened to the rain and wrote the first draft of the piece from notes and books and memories. My writing partner had suggested the structure -- a journey. And the process of writing it was almost as much of a journey as the actual physical trip.

Part way through writing the piece, I realized it had grown past the guidelines for my friend's anthology. It was too long, it was too wide reaching. By then, it had such personal importance to me that I had to write it for myself, even if nobody would ever read it. I came home from my retreat completely wasted -- cold sores on my lip, dark circles under my eyes. I had really faced down demons. But I had the first of eight drafts.

I never submitted it for my friend's anthology. I did send it a number of other places, and it kept being "a finalist" but I think people are reluctant to "go to
Auschwitz," even through somebody else's reflection of it. It's painful to tear off that scab we all share.

Only recently, on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, has it found an audience, first on my website, and then on Literary Mama.

Ann: Right from when I first approached you about doing a Mom University interview, you knew this would be "the piece." Why is this piece some important to you, both personally and professionally?

Ericka: I'm very proud of this piece, though it is very strange, even for a writer who shares her emotions and experiences, to have something this personal widely available. But I've had such extraordinary responses, and so many of them, from readers who have been moved first to tears and then to share with me their own feelings, experiences, fears, questions.

This story of my trip to Auschwitz is about my struggle with my cultural and spiritual identity. And in it, I try to answer the age old question: how can we live and thrive, when such evil exists, when it takes humans so long to evolve? This question is all the more pertinent for me because I am a mother. How do we teach our children to live in this world? How do we find -- and manifest -- hope while living on a dying planet? Through writing this piece, through pondering the big questions the journey to Auschwitz raised in me, I have found some resolution and peace.

You can find out more about Ericka by visiting ErickaLutz.com. This quote from Ericka's website tells you a lot about Ericka's approach to her writing:

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for
the opinion of others, for those voices.
Do the hardest thing on earth for you.
Act for yourself. Face the truth.
-- Katherine Mansfield

| posted by Ann D @ 9:52 PM

It's My Blog and I'll Be Self-Absorbed If I Want To...

What's wrong with a mom being self-absorbed in her own blog? asks writer Meagan Francis in this recent column on moms and blogging. She argues that raising kids is an almost all-consuming task. Haven't moms earned the right to be self-absorbed in what little spare time they have?

| posted by Ann D @ 8:14 PM

Time Warp Advice

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Trying to get psyched for a multigenerational family get-together -- and all the unsolicited childrearing advice that may go along with a day spent with your nearest and supposedly dearest?

Innoculate yourself with Time Warp Advice courtesy of Miss Abigail. Consider these marching orders drawn from one of Miss Abigail's 1880 childrearing manuals:
[Raising children] is not a service of bondage, but a reign of love.

So don't be griping if the kids fight the whole way in the car.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:38 PM

Parenting Book Trends

Saturday, March 26, 2005
first for women

There's a fascinating article about trends in books about mothering -- and, specifically, the future of the so-called momoir -- over at Brain, Child -- one of the most influential magazines about mothering. Thanks to Baldo for the link.

As you would imagine, I hear a lot about parenting book publishing trends -- what's hot, what's not; what's in, what's out -- and I have a few opinions on this subject that I'd like to share:
(1) There will always be a market for authentic, first-person accounts of motherhood. The genres, forms, and styles may shift -- and the labels applied to those writings may change -- but mothers will always hunger for the chance to read about other mothers' experiences of mothering. (Previous generations of moms enjoyed Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages, and Erma Bombeck's If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?. Clearly, humor was the genre du jour for this generation of moms.) And, in our Mom University interview earlier this week, Jen of MUBAR (Mothered Up Beyond All Recognition stresssed how much books by writers like Anne Lamott, Andrea Buchanan, and Faulkner Fox have meant to her.

(2) There will always be a market for "how to" parenting guides, but parents no longer want super-bossy parenting books that serve up overly simplistic and unhelpful solutions. They want real-world advice that applies to their lives and that recognizes that there's no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to every parent and every kid.

(3) Parents want to be recognized as the true experts when it comes to their own kids. A "doctor knows best" approach simply doesn't fly with this generation of parents -- well, at least not the parents I know. Parents value the input of doctors and other health professionals on a range of parenting issues, but they see these professionals as resource people rather than the all-knowing experts on anything and everything parenting-related. (How could they possibly know your child better than you do when they only see your child during so many 15 minute visits per year?)

Anyway, I think that mothering books and parenting guides are definitely evolving for the better, and I for one am loving the increasing diversity in this category.

I also love the fact that it's no longer a crime to inject humor into pregnancy and parenting books. (For a while there, it seemed like it was a crime punishable by death and/or the eighth deadly sin.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:32 PM

Magazine Mania -- The Sequel

Friday, March 25, 2005

I am also quoted in Kyissa Jemine's "Good to Grow" column in this month's Essence. Kyissa interviewed me about the art and science involved in soothing a crying baby. She quotes me as follows:

At first you'll probably guess ten different things before you get it right, but the amount of crying tends to decrease over time as you learn how to respond to your baby's needs. The more you respond, the more secure your baby will feel and the less she'll cry.

Kyissa mentions my book The Mother of All Baby Books.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:22 PM

Bunny Run

first for women

If you happen to hit the grocery story in a panic tomorrow, realizing that you forgot to purchase certain items that should be delivered by a certain white fluffy animal on Sunday morning, pick up a copy of the April 11 issue of First while you're standing in the checkout and flip to page 98. You'll find some advice from me on rewarding good behavior. The material is adapted from my book The Mother of All Parenting Books .

| posted by Ann D @ 2:30 PM

WHO's Great Expectations


I read about the World Health Organization's Great Expectations project in today's Toronto Star. It ties in with World Health Day on April 7th. The focus of this year's World Health Day is maternal and child health.

The Great Expectations project is spotlighting the pregnancy, childbirth, and early mothering experiences of six women in countries around the world. The project home page explains:

These are six unique stories, but they reflect a common theme – the central importance of maternal and child health to our families, communities and societies.
In a world where more than half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year and where four million newborns each year do not survive beyond one month, these documentaries aim to raise awareness of the challenges we face as a global community in improving maternal and newborn health. They also draw attention to the pressing need to meet the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal deaths by three quarters, and reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015.

All six mothers gave their consent for these photographs to be taken and published by WHO.

While you're at the World Health Organization (WHO) website, you may want to explore some of the other reproductive health resources that have been developed by the WHO, including the highly comprehensive guide to Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth for doctors and midwives and the maternal and newborn health page, which spells out best practices in prenatal, postnatal and infant health care.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:00 PM

Mom University: Jen Lawrence (a.k.a. T.O. Mama) of MUBAR

Thursday, March 24, 2005
to mama

If you're surfing the mamasphere, you're likely only six links away from MUBAR (Mothered Up Beyond All Recognition) at any given time. The blog is the brainchild of Toronto writer and mother Jen Lawrence, who is also the creator of T.O. Mama.

In my Mom University interview with Jen, she and I talked about her piece Getting in Touch with your Inner Martyr.

Ann: When did you write this piece?

Jen: I wrote this in September 2004, when my daughter was 10 months old.

Ann: What's the story behind the piece?

Jen: I have always toyed with the idea of writing and have even written the first few chapters of several very bad novels. But this was one of the first pieces of personal writing.

The back story is that I had just been accosted in Loblaws by a woman who accused me of "endangering" my daughter's life because I had given her a plastic bag of croissants to hold to try to stop her from crying. Now I was getting used to being accosted by perfect strangers advising me that my daughter was too hot/too cold/should be allowed to fuss/should not be allowed to fuss. But what really surprised me was that the woman who accosted me in the supermarket had two small children with her -- she too was a mother. And I was so upset that, when I got home, I needed to exorcize my anger and thought, "Hey, I'll write it all down." That led to an exploration of why we feel judged, why we judge, why there is no safe position for moms to take beyond that of martyr.

Ann: Why did you choose this particular piece of writing when I invited you to choose something you had written?

Jen: This piece sums up a lot of the frustrations I felt as a new mother. The lack of confidence, the feeling of being judged, the feeling that I could not do ANYTHING right.

I chose to highlight this piece because I feel that being open about the dark side of mothering is important to other women. When I was grappling with terrible anxiety and guilt right after the birth of my daughter, books by Anne Lamott, Andi Buchanan, Ariel Gore, Faulkner Fox threw me such a lifeline. For the first time, I felt that I was not some sort of abnormal monster for feeling less than joyful some of the time. And that (and the good people at Pfizer) helped me through my post-partum depression. And although I do not put myself in the same category as these other writers, other women struggling with maternal guilt wrote me to say they found this essay to be helpful.

Ann: What do people need to know about MUBAR?

Jen: I describe MUBAR as my "ramblings about motherhood, Feminism, Baby Girl, fertility, post-partum depression, celebrity gossip and shopping." I write about whatever has been running through my mind that day. Sometimes I write about fertility treatments or post-partum depression because I tried to read everything I could when I was going through those experiences and I hope that others in the same boat might find my story helpful. Sometimes I write about the national daycare policy or tax laws because something is bothering me. Sometime I write about how "mothered up" I feel when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think "God, that poor woman needs a makeover." Sometimes I just feel like writing about Jessica Simpson or P. Diddy or where to find a great lip gloss. I can be remarkably shallow!

Ann: How has creating MUBAR changed your life?

Jen: I have met so many wonderful people through MUBAR. I have had a chance to meet (or virtually meet) authors whose books line my shelves -- like you and Andi Buchanan and Faulkner Fox. I have had a chance to connect with a number of other wonderful mom bloggers/kindred spirits from the comfort of my own home. I find that the mom blogging/writing community is an amazingly supportive one. It has all been such a positive experience.

Blogging has also given me an identity outside of being Baby Girl's mother. In her book The Mother Trip, Ariel Gore wrote a fabulous piece called "Children Need Interesting Mothers."

Ann: I just found this article online in which Ariel talks more about being a break the mold mom.

Jen: The blog inspires me to read/see/experience interesting things outside the domestic sphere. Seeing the world through blogger eyes also allows me to see the humour in things. When I was mauled by stabby the venepuncturist at the fertility clinic, instead of getting sad or angry, I thought "Hey this would make a great blog entry!" It also gives me a bit of an external identity should I wish to return to the workforce at some point. Although I wish that employers looked at the mothering skill-set a little more seriously, I was a headhunter for a while and do not kid myself that most employers do not get excited about seeing SAHM on a resume.

And most importantly, I am much less crazy around the postman now that he is not my only source of external communication. No more hiding behind the door and then springing out to see if he brought me the latest issue of Chatelaine.

Ann: Is there anything else I didn't ask you that you'd like to say about blogs, blogging, or your life as a mom? Or anthing else for that matter?

Jen: Blogs have given so many people who might not otherwise have access to the media a chance to have a voice. I really hope that in spite of the occasional judgmental piece in the media (what did The New York Times call mom blogs -- "an online shrine to parental self-absorption") or the occasional jerky commenter, that women continue to share the truths about mothering -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

Ann: Thanks very much for taking time away from mothering, writing, and, of course, shopping, to do this interview, Jen. It's been a lot of fun.

If you want to read some of the earlier Mom University interviews, check out the Mom University links section in the sidebar.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:21 PM

Overstressed Parents, Overstressed Kids

stress clock

I'm going to be speaking on one of my favorite topics -- stressed out parents and kids -- when I speak in Richmond Hill on Saturday, April 16.

You can download a flyer about the event right here (.doc -- 818 K).

| posted by Ann D @ 1:06 PM

Now I know why Bridget Jones was Always Going on About Mini-Breaks

I'm just back from a three-day mini-vacation with kid number four. He had a two-week long March Break at his school: his siblings only had a one-week long March Break at their schools. So the two of us decided to hit the road and go visit friends and relatives for a couple of days. We had a great time, but as anyone who has ever let a seven-year-old have input into an itinerary knows, the pace can be pretty relentless. We averaged three visits/activites per day.

We also spent two hours in the Loomis Art Store in Mississauga, which my seven-year-old deemed to be "the coolest store ever." I had to agree. I managed to find a zipable totebag featuring a Monet painting, and it only cost $19.95. Bargain city!

| posted by Ann D @ 8:50 AM

The Mother of All Confused Authors

Monday, March 21, 2005
It's a very strange thing to see someone else's byline under your book. It happened to me this evening. I clicked through on a link to "pregnancy books" at Abebooks.com and -- voila! -- I found a page promoting the most popular pregnancy books at the site. I was pleased to see that they had included my book The Mother of All Pregnancy Books until I noticed that the author of the book had become one Margaret Starbird. Margaret Starbird? Hmmm.....

| posted by Ann D @ 2:46 AM

Think Your March Break Was Tough?

Sunday, March 20, 2005
Just be grateful you're not this guy.

According to an item in today's Toronto Star, last Wednesday, a suspect allegedly tried to rob a Toronto branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia. He handed the teller a note, but the teller couldn't read his handwriting. At that point, the would-be bank robber decided to rethink his career choice, took back his note, and exited stage left.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:50 PM

Mom University: Katie Allison Granju, Attachment Parenting

Friday, March 18, 2005
market yourself smarter logo

For the third Mom University interview, I'm pleased to welcome Katie Allison Granju, author of Attachment Parenting and an investigative journalist who specializes in family and parenting issues.

I asked Katie to pick one of her favorite piece of writing so that we could talk about it and she referred me to Getting Wise to Babywise.

Here's what Katie and I talked about during our interview:
Ann: Salon first published your article back in 1998. At that time, it created a firestorm of e-mails from people who both supported and slammed what you had to say.

Katie: I can't believe it's been [that long] since this was published. I still get lots and lots of e-mail about it. [The article] is still pretty accurate because the BabyWise folks haven't changed much of what they are doing.

Ann: Why is this article so meaningful for you as a writer and a mother?

Katie: This was the biggest investigative reporting piece I had ever written up to this point, and I realized in the middle of it that this was something I truly loved to do -- digging up dirt on stuff related to family life. It felt really good to combine my passions for writing, reporting and mothering to turn out something that I really thought could make an important difference in the lives of mothers and children. My youngest son, Elliot, was an infant when I was writing this, so he nursed in my lap most of the time I was on the phone or computer working on the story.

Katie has written a number of other noteworthy -- and much talked about -- articles about parenting. She links to many of them from her blog. Here, for example, is a thought-provoking article Katie wrote about the defining characteristics of Gen-X Parents that's definitely worth a read. Katie also does a great job of capturing the slice-of-life moments that are so much a part of being a mother. Check out her essay Closet Diva at PhillyMama.com.

If you enjoyed this "Mom University" interview, you may also want to check out my Mom University interviews with Andi Buchanan of LiteraryMama.com and Kim Lane of AustinMama.com. Stay tuned for more interviews during the weeks ahead.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:10 PM

Doing the MOMbo...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
market yourself smarter logo

I'm featured in the pregnancy CD in MOMbo Radio's forthcoming radio/CD series, "Now You MOMbo!" It will be available to radio stations and for private purchase, starting in April. I can't wait to order my copy because this was one of my favorite radio interviews ever. Nanci Olesen is such a great interviewer. We talked about the rollercoaster ride of pregnancy -- stuff I write about in my pregnancy books.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:57 AM

Have Remastered Alphabet

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I recently discovered that a lot of my blog links had fallen into total disarray because -- gulp! -- I had forgotten how the alphabet works. (Yes, this could spell disaster for a writer.)

I have cleaned up the blog links and I now only have one set of "M"s, etc.

You should have a much easier time locating your favourite links.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:01 PM

Entrepreneurship -- The Inside Scoop

market yourself smarter logo

I'm going to be one of the panelists at the May 4th entrepreneurship workshop for women being offered in Toronto by Market Yourself Smarter. I'll be talking about the joys and challenges of the rollercoaster ride that is the entrepreneurial life and how it has meshed (and not meshed) with my life as a mom.

The series is the brainchild of Toronto entrepreneur and mom Catherine Fennell, who is passionate about "advocating for women who strive to achieve a successful and fulfilling career while also being a successful and 'fully present' parent."

| posted by Ann D @ 6:16 PM

Coffee People....

Monday, March 14, 2005
Have you seen any of these people at your local coffee drinking establishment? Or, to get more to the point, are you any of these people?

Let's get the word on the street from Philip, Jenn, and some other cafe and/or caffeine worshipping bloggers.

What sayeth the rest of you?

| posted by Ann D @ 7:57 PM

Mom University: Andrea Buchanan of Mother Shock and Literary Mama

mother shock

This is the second in my series of "Mom University" interviews with writers who write about motherhood. (The first interview -- which ran on Friday -- was with Kim Lane of AustinMama.com.)

Today, I'm speaking with Andrea ("Andi") Buchanan, author of Mother Shock.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Andi over the past few years. We both belong to the same writers' list and I had the chance to meet Andi for coffee when she passed through Toronto last fall. I have really enjoyed getting to know Andi because of her incredible generosity of spirit and her willingness to help her fellow writers, her passion for writing and motherhood, and because she is so down-to-earth and real. If Andi lived in my neighborhood, we'd never get any work done because I'd be asking her out for coffee all the time. Can you tell I'm a bit of an Andi Buchanan groupie?

Prior to doing this interview, I asked Andi to choose a piece of her writing that she is particularly proud of, and to tell me a bit about that piece of writing. She chose her essay The Piano Tuner. Here's what she had to say.

Ann: When did you write The Piano Tuner?

Andi: I wrote this in July of 2000, when [my daughter] Emi was 13 months old.

Ann: What led you to write this piece?

Andi: This was one of the first pieces I wrote about motherhood and identity, and it was my first piece to be published in a real live book (Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers). It was also the first time I really confronted on paper the ending of my former vocation as a classical pianist and the embracing of my then still quite new vocation as a mother. I still remember reading the piece aloud at a bookstore reading in NYC with other Breeder contributors and realizing as my voice shook that I had never spoken any of that stuff out loud -- I had never actually talked out loud to anyone about my complicated feelings over not being a musician anymore, about being between identities. Writing the piece was healing: I found a voice, a tone, for what I hadn't been able to articulate before, and I felt I was finding myself as a writer even as I was putting to rest my conflicted feelings about myself as a pianist and a mother.

Ann: Why did you pick this particular piece when I asked you to choose a piece of writing that was particularly important to you?

Andi: It's a piece that means a lot to me -- simultaneously a bittersweet goodbye to my old life and the entry to my new one.

You can find out more about Andi and the new life she embraced as a writer and a mother by checking out her Mother Shock Blog and by reading more of her writing in the literary journal about motherhood that she co-edits: Literary Mama.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:55 AM

Art and Parades

Sunday, March 13, 2005
If you're in an arty mood, you may want to explore some of the new art links I've added to my "Artists Whose Work I Adore" category. (Yes, I'm in a link-adding mood this weekend. I'll blog about the new links when I have a bit more time.)

I'm just in the door from the St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Peterborough. My seven-year-old pointed out that he'd never been to a parade -- he'd only watched parades on TV (major mommy guilt attack!) -- and he really wanted to go to this one, so I bundled us both up and we headed downtown. It was really cold. About 10 minutes into the parade, he asked why they had to have St. Patrick's Day in wintertime. (Good question!) Still, we both managed to have a really good time. The parade was pretty hilarious in the way that only small-town parades can be. A really bitter guy standing near me offered hilarious commentaries on all the politicians as they waved at the crowd from their floats. And the parade ended with an elderly priest dressed entirely in green running along the parade path, waving at the crowd in Santa Claus-type fashion, wishing everyone a very happy St. Patrick's Day.

The moment we stepped in the car, my very wise son said, "Now you have something else to write about."

He knows me well.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:26 PM

More Links

Saturday, March 12, 2005
I've just added a bunch of new links to the "More Addictive Than Coffee" and "Motherhood Essentials" categories of my sidebar. I don't have time to blog about them today, but I will as soon as I get a few spare moments. In the meantime, dive in. You'll find some really creative, inspiring, and thought-provoking writing about parenthood.

Of course, you'll also want to explore the old links, if you haven't already. None of them have a "best before" date.

And if that doesn't provide you with enough reading material for a Saturday afternoon, you might want to check out the Parenting News page of my Parentinglibrary.com website. I've pulled together links to some of the most credible online sources of parenting news so that you can quickly click through and find out what's been happening in the world of parenting. (Note: If you think I've missed any important sources of parenting news, please let me know. You guys know everything when it comes to the online parenting universe.)


| posted by Ann D @ 1:57 PM

Mom University: Kim Lane of AustinMama.com

Friday, March 11, 2005
austin mama

As regular readers of this blog know, I teach both online and off-line courses under my "Mom University" brand.

I decided I'd bring Mom University over to my blog by featuring some mini-interviews with women who write about motherhood.

The first writer is Kim Lane, editor of AustinMama.com. Anyone who has ever read AustinMama.com knows that it's one of the best publications for mothers, and that you don't have to be from Texas to love it. I know Kim has at least one huge fan amongst the readers of this blog because a few days ago Shelagh wrote to me to suggest that I add AustinMama.com to my links -- something I should have done months ago.

Anyway, I asked Kim to pick out a piece of her work that is available online and to do a quick-and-dirty Q & A with me for "the blog." She picked out Foreskin and Several Years from Now.

Here's our Q & A:

Ann: Tell me when you wrote this piece.

Kim: In 1999.

Ann: What's the story behind the story?

Kim: I was either going to write it or divorce my husband. And once I told the story to my writers' group and saw their horrified reactions, I knew I had to write it.

Ann: Why did you choose this particular piece of your work?

Kim: Oh... you'll just have to read it.

Ann: Anything else that you want to say?

Kim: Thanks for the opportunity!

You can find out more about Kim by checking out Who's Your Mama? over at AustinMama.com.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:47 PM

Thanks, Kat!

It was very nice of Kat of PregnancyWeekly.com to include me in her round-up of must-read pregnancy books. Thanks, Kat!

| posted by Ann D @ 7:42 PM

My Most Excellent Toronto Adventure

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I have been trying to blog about my Excellent Adventures in Toronto for ten million days. (Well, at least since Saturday.) But everytime I go to blog about them, the universe conspires against me and

  • I can't get Blogger to open in the amount of time I have to blog

  • I have to make a meal for someone other than myself (I would gladly starve myself in the name of blogging, but I draw the line at starving my own children in order to pursue my blogging addiction)

  • I have to do real work, like writing copy for the Gigglefactory website that will debut this fall, writing articles for Homebasics, etc.

  • I have to attend to emergency housework, like cleaning my office floor so that no one gets killed walking through the office clutter.

Anyway, I had the most fabulous trip to Toronto last week -- a totally, totally energizing, fun and exciting trip.

It started out with a meeting with some fabulous folks at a mysterious company that I can't name. Let's call them Company X. Well, I had an instant love affair with the people at Company X. They were all really nice, down-to-earth human beings, even though they are all wildly successful and had every right to be total snobosauruses. Anyway, these people want to work with me on a big project which is right up my alley, so I'm very excited. They also had great coffee in their board room and healthy treats baked by a leading Canadian cuisine queen. These people at Company X sure know how to make a gal feel special.

parents at work

Then, after that, I dashed off to a meeting with the gang from Parents at Work. I've been invited on board as one of their experts and will be offering workplace-based parenting courses to employees whose employers sign up with Parents at Work. I'm already lined up to do my first session in mid-May with a leading consumer goods company. Can't wait! Anyway, the Parents at Work gang is very enthusiastic about spreading the word about my books and the other things I do, so I think this partnership is going to be both really fun and beneficial.

After that, I drove across the city and arrived at my Dad's house. I was supposed to have dinner with a friend, but she was too tired to head out on the town, so I ended up picking up a sub and some wine (not the healthiest dinner, I know!) and waiting for my Dad to come home from his dinner out in Guelph. I still find it a bit lonely being the only one in my Dad's house. (My Mom died in January 2003.) At least now I can be there by myself without being overwhelmingly sad. I decided to do the sensible thing and took a nap. Then I got up and did some writing. Then, when my Dad got home, I had some wine and hung out with him. (He's an abstainer so I had to leave the rest of the wine for my sisters to finish up the next time they're at the house. We sisters do take good care of one another.)

ella centre

On Saturday morning, I headed over to the Ella Centre, where I was greeted by some of the most enthusiastic parenting course participants ever. We had a fun and lively session, and I was totally thrilled to have two course participants who admitted that they "stalk" me online. (Hi stalkers!) :-) There were also a lot of Dads in this course, which was great. We had a lot of fun talking about co-parenting and I think we spent way too much time exploring that timeless question, "Can you have a sex life after you have kids?" Funny how that always seems to happen! I have another course at the Ella Centre on April 30th. That one's all about toddlers, so it should be a little less racy. Or so one would think.... The Ella Centre is pretty unique (at least in Canada): a place for moms to nurture themselves mind, body, and soul. I'd be interested to find out if there's anything like the Ella Centre in other parts of the world. Maybe some of you blogging mamas from the US, the UK, and elsewhere could let me know.

Anyway, enough blogging. I'm off to find my desk so that I can get some invoicing done and some bills paid. (Money in, money out -- you know how it works.) Then it's back to my writing to do list. I've had a whole bunch of very fun assignments come my way lately. Must be good writing Karma in the air.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:03 PM

A Peek into One Woman's World

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
In honor of International Women's Day, I present you with this link to a speech given by British journalist Christiane Amanpour, upon receiving the Radio-Television News Directors' Association 2000 Murrow Award. She talks, in part, about how her life as a war correspondent changed after she had her son:

Before my son was born I used to joke about looking for bullet-proof Snugglies and Kevlar diapers. I was planning, I told everybody, to take him on the road with me. At the very least I fully expected to keep up my hectic pace, and my passion as a war correspondent. But now, like every working mother, when I think of my son, and having to leave him, and I imagine him fixing those large innocent eyes on me and asking me, "Mummy, why are you going to those terrible places? What if they kill you?" I wince.

I know that I want to say, that it's because I have to, because it matters, because Mummy's going to tell the world about the bad guys and perhaps do a little good.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:37 PM

Ottawa Citizen Mention of My Blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005
Danigirl e-mailed me yesterday to say our blogs -- along with Jen's and those of a whole bunch of other blogging mamas were featured in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen. You can check out the article by clicking through to Jen's blog. It was pretty cool to be including with a lot of blogging movers and shakers like the Dooce. My family and friends will be impressed. :-)

Speaking of Ottawa connections to my blog, one of the women who found out about my workshop at the Ella Centre yesterday found out about it via Jen's blog -- proof that the blogging world brings moms together in a unique and powerful way.

More about the workshop and other stuff later. Got to finish an article while making dinner. That could result in a slightly fried laptop -- literally.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:55 PM

Just Back From Toronto

Saturday, March 05, 2005
I have had a fabulous couple of days in Toronto, which I will elaborate about in tomorrow's blog entry. I just got home and have to finish an article, catch up on laundry, hang out with the kids, spend time with Neil, etc.

Thanks for all the comments that showed up while I was away. I will catch up on my blog comment mail, too.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:13 PM

Comment Amnesty

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
I was distressed to see that one of my favorite bloggers -- Jen of MUBAR -- has been hit with a bad case of comment guilt.

She's riding the guilt train because she's receiving more comment love than she can give these days because she's got a toddler at home, she's pregnant with number two, and she's been battling morning sickness -- a very specific strain of morning sickness that can only be cured with Hershey's S'Mores Bars.

This made me think that there should be situations in which comment amnesty is a given -- like in situations like Jen's when you're subletting your uterus to a growing baby who is hooked on chocolate bars.

Here are some other times when I think your fellow bloggers should be willing to cut you some comment slack:

  • You just lost your job and you need to be writing e-mails to would-be employers, not love notes to your fellow bloggers.

  • Your marriage is on the rocks, largely due to your blogging habit. (Hint: If you just shouted, "But I would spend more time with you, honey, if you'd just get your own blog!" you may very well be heading for Splitsville.)

  • Your computer is in the shop and every time you ask when you're likely to get it back, the technician bursts into evil techno-laughter. Consequently, you're having to walk 10 miles in the pouring rain to the nearest library to update your blog each day. (For dramatic purposes, we're assuming you live in a rainforest.)

So what do you think? Do you think there are times when some comment amnesty is in order?

| posted by Ann D @ 8:30 PM

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

If you have ever suffered from blogging paralysis brought on by a severe fear that someone in your life (a.k.a. mom, dad, your boss, or your gynecologist) is going to read your blog, you have got to read the wonderful disclaimer that Harmony of Fonticulus created for her nearest and dearest, plus all other visitors to her site.

P.S. Dad: Click here instead.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:44 PM

Slush Therapy

There was something about the look in the other mom's eyes that made me stop in my tracks in the middle of a pile of slush for an impromptu chat this morning. She looked the way I've felt on many, many occasions -- like I needed someone to talk to in the worst possible way. And, of course, the streets can be tauntingly lonely on those kinds of days.

So we did just that, in the middle of a pile of slush that slowly started to melt as we talked on and on and on about motherhood, work, and all the other things that two moms can find to talk about when they're standing in the street in front of their kids' school. My feet were freezing (I had forgotten to wear boots) and my teeth started to chatter, but I felt this warm surge of connection with this other mom. I can't wait to take her up on that slice of apple pie and the accompanying conversation. (I assume there will be coffee, too.) We moms need to take more time just to talk.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:39 PM

Literary Mama Buried Treasure

I just came across this brave and honest essay by Meagan Francis over at Literary Mama. Wow.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:12 AM

Loot Envy

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Jen is on to something big. Get ready to feel bitter.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:12 PM

Snow Day?

I thought for sure today was going to be a snow day. We have more snow today than we've had on all the days that were declared snow days this year.

This made me realize that I don't understand snow days.

Is there some scientific criteria used to declare a certain day a snow day, or do The Powers That Be in a certain geographic region simply say roll the dice and shout, "Snow day!"

What do you think?

I already know what Danigirl thinks of all the snow!

| posted by Ann D @ 12:31 PM


I feel sorry for the family members of writers. They have to put up with more than most people realize. Sometimes writers are sitting right beside you, but their brains are busy typing away. This can make them very annoying to live with, especially if they suddenly space out right in the middle of a conversation.

My kids have grown up knowing that they actually have two mommies: their reasonably functional everyday mom and a strange creature called Writermom who looks like me, but who forgets to listen when important information is being passed along (like when a trip form has to be completed and returned, or where someone is going to be after school) and who does really spaced out things at times (like starting a pot of coffee without remembering that you need a coffee pot to catch the coffee, or forgetting to go places unless she sets the timer on the stove to remind herself that she has to stop writing and leave the house).

Sometimes the kids wish Writermom would go and live somewhere else.

They wish that she was a little better at remembering things, and that they didn't have to repeat the same thing three times in an increasingly louder voice whenever she is in front of her computer.

But most of the time they accept the fact that Writermom is simply the part of their mom that churns out books, magazine articles, and other things word-related. And they think that's kind of cool.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:10 AM

Mom University -- Spaces Now Available!

The unexpected early arrival of a baby has freed up a couple of spaces in this weekend's Mom University: Parenting in the Real World workshop at the Ella Centre in Toronto. The workshop was previously sold out. If you know someone who might be interested in one of these spaces, they can call the Ella Centre to reserve a spot.

Here's the course description:

This workshop encourages new and expectant parents to start thinking about the type of parent they want to become. Topics discussed include parent-child communication, avoiding parent-child power struggles, disciplining with love and respect, managing problem behaviours, co-parenting strategies, and finding the support they will need to be confident and effective parents.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:44 AM