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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I haven't abandoned the blog. I'm just doing the final sprint on the sleep book. I'll be back soon!

| posted by Ann D @ 9:20 PM

Pregnancy Limbo

Saturday, November 19, 2005
To pee or not to pee? That is the question.

If only home pregnancy tests were re-useable -- or a little less expensive. We antsy mamas could test away to our hearts' contents without worrying about committing a $15 faux pas each time. Testing would be part of the daily post-ovulation regime -- a way to while away the days until a test result could officially be declared. Finish reading November's Momology column at Weewelcome.ca.

More reading:
From the archive: Anxiety Avenue
From the archive: Motherhood U

| posted by Ann D @ 2:07 PM

Extra! Extra!

Friday, November 18, 2005
The New Newpaper Boy is really getting under Kid Number Three's skin. (Kid Number Three recently gave up that very same paper route, so he's not exactly an objective bystander where this particular newspaper route -- or newspaper boy -- is concerned.)

For one thing, the kid's mother is basically doing the route for him. (Kid Number Three considers this "cheating" and I'm not about to try to try to make any kind of argument in favour of mothers doing paper routes in case this gets used against me at some future date.)

And then there's the fact that The New Newspaper Boy handed out a note which sounds like it was written by Eddie Haskell: "I have been doing this for two weeks [metatext: don't mix me up with the bad paperboy who just gave up the route] and just wanted to make sure you are happy with my service."

The clincher for Kid Number Three was when The New Paperboy rang the doorbell and asked if we were happy with where he was putting the newspaper on the porch. (His mother suggested that he should do that.) "We're very happy, thanks," I said.

And we are. The service has improved tremendously since The New Paperboy came on board. That's why Kid Number Three is so bitter.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:39 AM

Something That Made Me Feel Warmer Than Two Cups of Coffee

Thursday, November 17, 2005
I had the nicest thing happen to me this morning at Starbucks.

I just had to tell someone, so, what the heck, I'll tell my favourite blogistas. (That's you guys.)

First of all, the nasty part.

I went into Starbucks and this woman was being unbelievably RUDE to some of my favourite Starbucks baristas. She cut into line and then started harassing the manager about when they were going to get more of her favourite blend of bold coffee. (Bold indeed, lady.) Anyway, the manager was her usual pleasant and classy self. I, meanwhile, was giving the witch in question the evil eye. When the woman left, I told the Starbucks manager I was this close to having to take the woman down on her behalf. That made her laugh.

Anyway, they had run out of Venti cups (I know!) so they gave me two tall cups instead. Just as I was about to leave the store, I spotted this gorgeous, dark green mug that was begging to find a home amidst my office clutter. So I picked it up and took it over to the cash register and handed the manager some cash.

She wrapped up the mug, popped it a bag, and handed it to me.

Then she gave me my money back and said, "Merry Christmas."

| posted by Ann D @ 10:34 AM

Freeing Your Inner Clutter Monster

Are you being stalked by clutter? Does it seem to follow you everywhere? If so, you and I are leading parallel lives. To learn the secrets of living better with less clutter, I caught up with uncluttering guru Katherine Gibson, author of Unclutter Your Life, who had these answers to offer to my most deep-rooted questions about clutter.

Ann: Why do some of us lead more cluttered lives than others?

Katherine: The most prevalent reasons are procrastination, leaving projects or tasks unfinished, impulse shopping and not setting aside a will be more creative, productive and less stressed.

Ann: What is the secret to freeing your inner clutter monster?
book cover
Katherine: Recognize that stuff is just stuff. Everything in our environment should have a purpose, or inspire us, or in our mind be beautiful. Visualize how your ideal environment would make you feel and then set about creating that environment. Our physical spaces significantly influence our emotional and mental states.

Ann: Do you have to go "cold turkey" when it comes to decluttering (e.g., getting rid of all kinds of stuff in a room all at once) or can you do it in stages?

Katherine: When we first get started, try to devote an entire day to uncluttering. Working with a "clutter buddy" or a professional organizer makes it fun and productive. After the "big purge" set aside a specific time each day to unclutter. I suggest the last 15 minutes of each workday to unclutter your workplace. And, the same for your home. This adds up to a more than an hour each week and several hours over the month.

Ann: How do you keep the clutter from coming back -- the dreaded clutter boomerang effect?

Katherine: Before we bring anything into our home or workplace ask if it really has a purpose in our life, do we already have one like it, and could we live without it.

Ann: If you got stuck in an elevator with a totally stressed out working mom and the two of you had nothing to do but to clean out her very messy briefcase and purse, how would you get started and what lessons would you try to teach her about clutter?

Katherine: When uncluttering any space, be it a briefcase or an entire room, take everything out and then make each item pass the "Do I Really Need This" test before replacing it. Put the keepers in a logical place. This process eliminates things that don't belong, aren't used, are duplicated, broken, and unnecessary.

Ann: Well, Katherine, I think I'm a hard-core clutter case, but you've given me a lot to think about -- particularly the bits about not bringing things into my house into the first place. Hmm.... No more trips to Winners for me!

| posted by Ann D @ 9:02 AM

Coffee During Pregnancy -- New Study

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Women who drink large amounts of coffee during pregnancy face an elevated risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, according to a study just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:13 PM

Writers! This is Your Break....

Break time for my fellow writers.

Tell me which one you like the best. Then I'll chime in with my favorite.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:18 PM

Death and Taxes

Here's a rather sobering question from Angela Hoy, given that you can't take them with you: when authors die, what happens to their books?

And since we're speaking about inevitable fates, I'll pass along this story: a local man suffered a fatal heart attack after delivering an impassioned address at Peterborough City Council the other night. He was speaking against the market value assessment taxation system in Ontario. There's a lovely death notice in today's Peterborough Examiner which notes that the gentleman in question had died "following a brilliant presentation to Peterborough city council and in company with a large delegation, defending the basic rights of all people." The obituary continues: "Gordon shared a common name but he was not a common man and exhibited incredible wit and unremitting compassion for others....In respecting Gordon's wishes, cremation will take place and a personal service within the hearts of all those who knew him will serve as a remembrance to his life on earth." We should all live so well and be deserving of such an obituary when we pass on.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:58 PM

Quick and Random Thoughts

1. I am really impressed by what this blogger has started up. Cool idea!

2. Don't take this blogger anywhere near a store window containing desserts. She pasted her entire body to one on Bloor Street when I was with her on Saturday. (We "did lunch" after my toddler group at The Ella Centre).

3. I have been playing with the new tagging function over at Amazon.com. Highly addictive, but nowhere near as cool as Librarything.com.

4. Speaking of LibraryThing.com, I think I will email Tim to suggest that he sell LibraryThing.com lifetime membership gift certificates as Christmas presents. They would make the ideal Christmas gift for some people I know and they sure would be easy to wrap.

5. So all the sleep book gurus are changing teams. Interesting. I find it quite amusing that the folks at the two extreme ends of the sleep debate have reached the exact same conclusion at almost the exact same time: no one sleep solution works for all babies. Mothers have known that all along.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:22 AM

Writing, Music, Coffee -- All the Good Stuff!

Friday, November 11, 2005
I have lots to blog about, but most of it will have to wait because I'm conserving as many words as possible for the sleep book.

I will, however, tell you that I have emailed this supremely talented woman to say that Peterborough really needs her to pass through town again. And I've sent Neil out to pick up her new CD, which came out this week.

Now back to coffee and writing. Feel free to leave encouraging messages below. Hold all hate mail until next week.

Now I'm off to make another pot of coffee. (Only my second pot of the day. No worries.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:54 PM

Truth in Parenting Writing

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
This thread kind of picks up where I left last night before I went to bed. I've been thinking all night about Jennifer Margulis' powerful essay in Andi Buchanan's new collection Andi Buchanan's It's a Boy.

I was thinking about why I love the way Jennifer writes. It's because her writing is raw and honest, and because she dares to take chances with her work. She puts herself out there, both personally and emotionally. Sometimes she generates some controversy as she did when her own children's school banned sales of her book Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent Tiny People We Love at a school fundraiser. (Ouch!) But that just means she's hitting a bit of a nerve with people -- saying things that make them a little uncomfortable at times. In other words, being honest. That's why she's such a terrific writer, in my opinion.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:49 AM

It's a Book Tour Stop -- For Andi....

Monday, November 07, 2005
book cover
I'm one of today's official book tour stops on Andi Buchanan's It's a Boy virtual book tour. It's getting late, I've had a long and stressful day, and I was up until 4:30 am last night writing, but there aren't very many things I wouldn't do for the truly wonderful Andi Buchanan, so I promised myself I'd get something up in the blog before I called it a night.

It's a Boy is a collection of inspired and thought-provoking essays about motherhood, from the perspective of women who are raising boys. Having been raised in an all-girl family during my growing up years, I'm still trying to make sense of the world of boys (especially why body humor seems to be universally funny to the male species, regardless of their age).

What I love about this collection of essays is that it sidesteps the schmaltzy and it surprises the reader with the unexpected, like Jennifer Margulis' incredibly honest account of how she was able to heal from her abortion after the birth of her son.

Some of my other favorite mother-writers have contributed other essays to this collection.

The companion book to this collection -- It's a Girl contains something I wrote. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with Andi on that essay, so I just want to wish her all the success in the world with both her "Boy" and her "Girl." She so deserves it.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:03 PM

The Skinny on the Pregnancy-Obesity Link

There's some fascinating new research which indicates that a mother's eating habits during pregnancy, her pre-pregnancy weight, and whether or not she smokes during pregnancy can all be key factors in determining whether the baby she is carrying ultimately becomes overweight later in life.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:33 AM

Stupid Chic

Sunday, November 06, 2005
And while we're on the topic of shopping, my writer-buddy Lynn has unearthed a thread on another blog about a line of t-shirts you won't be buying for your teenage daughter anytime soon. (I'm going to send the link to my teenage daughter. I should hear a rant of outrage in, oh, about 45 seconds.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:57 PM

How the Wealthy Women of Toronto Define "Disgusting"

According to a story in today's Toronto Star, hell is having discount fashion retailer Winners open up in the so-called "mink mile" on Bloor Street between Yonge Street and Avenue Road. "Disgusting," said one particularly put-out member of Toronto's shopping and spending elite.

Of course, the women of Toronto that you'd actually want to spend time with have been shopping at Winners for a very long time (and loving it). (What's not to love about a store that devotes a couple of aisles to fun and funky purses in every color imaginable?) And these very same women reserve their disgust for things that are actually worth getting disgusted about.

And, I can't imagine that Marla has been losing sleep about the opening of the downtown Winners store, unless it's because she's eager to go there. (Marla has found some very cool outfits during the time I've been reading her blog.)

The attitude of the rich and disgusted woman makes me want to take my entire family shopping at the downtown Winners during the busy Christmas season. That way, we can take up valuable sidewalk space outside Holt Renfrew and other pricey boutiques. Heck, I might even send the kids in to see if the store staff will let them use the washroom....

| posted by Ann D @ 11:11 AM

Do You Really Need That Starbucks Receipt?

I had my first business meeting of the day while I was still in bed. The eight-year-old dropped by to brief me on his new records retention system. He was cleaning out the bottom drawer in his dresser -- where he keeps all his receipts, apparently -- and has decided that he's only keeping receipts for products he still owns. If he's lost it, broken it, or eaten it, he figures he no longer needs the receipt. (Makes sense to me to me.) All the other receipts will be hitting the paper shredder this afternoon.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:59 AM

A Baby and a Life

Friday, November 04, 2005
Have you seen the newly relaunched WeeWelcome.ca? They're doing fabulous things for Canadian moms. I am proud to announce that they have decided to carry my new Momology column. You'll also find all kinds of other goodies on the site, so do swing by when you have a moment to get the lowdown on what the site is all about.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:11 PM

Newton's Third Law -- for Writers

Newton's Third Law also applies to writers: For every amazing writer's high, there inevitably will be a corresponding writer's low -- a moment when you come down with such a bang that you want to hit Monster.com to search for alternative careers. I'm on the downswing of the writer's pendulum right now and it's the pits -- the result of too much stress and too little sleep. (And the downside of writing a sleep book is that you become acutely aware of why you're feeling so rotten as a result of losing all that sleep. Argh.) Anyway, I'm sure I'll be out of my funk shortly. Just typing this is making me feel better.

But I really think writers' guides should do a better job of telling writers about the rollercoaster ride of the writing life. It's one of the things they tend to skim over -- just like the 1980s baby books used to sidestep the truth about postpartum. The bad days as a writer can be pretty bad, but you're not supposed to talk about them. You're just supposed to be happy to have the opportunity to write (which, of course, we writers are most of the time). That's why we're writers, after all. But being given the message that you're not supposed to talk about the bad days can leave you feeling pretty isolated, just like the moms of the 1960s and 1970s felt, when they were pressured to "just enjoy that new baby" and to stop focusing on any negative feelings they might be experiencing if they were hit with the postpartum blues or anything darker.

In many ways, writers need to experience the collective empowerment that has given mothers the courage to speak up about the darker side of motherhood. They also need to realize that, like mothers, they are creators and nurturers (in their case, they give birth to ideas and nurture those ideas along). This makes them essential to the publishing process and, as such, they deserve to be treated with respect. But far too many writers lack that respect and sell themselves short, not valuing the work they do -- work that can't be replicated in exactly the same way by any machine or even any other human being.

Anyway, this "quick little post" has turned into a bit of a writers' manifesto! It didn't start out that way at all. I guess I had more to say than I thought I did when I sat down at my keyboard this morning. It's funny how that happens sometimes. You let your creative spirit loose and it takes you on a surprising journey.

And you know what? I'm feeling a whole lot better. Thanks for listening.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:52 AM

Leaning Tower of Toilet Paper

Thursday, November 03, 2005
At the back of the toilet in the downstairs bathroom you will find a somewhat precariously balanced tower made up of 22 rolls of toilet paper. (Clearly, the eight year old is anticipating a lot of traffic at this particular location.)

As always, his artistic side shines through: at the top of the toilet paper tower you will find an eye-catching purple globe (a lavender bathroom air freshener).

| posted by Ann D @ 10:22 AM

LibraryThing, Corner Gas

Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I love LibraryThing. I mean, I really, really love LibraryThing. And I just keep coming up with new and cool ways of doing things with it. (I guess you could say I've got a thing for LibraryThing.)

Last night, I created a LibraryThing list that instantly displays a list of the books in my library that I have written. There are even little comments about some of the books. I'll be adding more of that stuff as time permits, along with some of my foreign editions. (I'm hoping Tim, the guru behind LibraryThing, will eventually allow users to upload cover images themselves when cover images are not available from other sources, because then I could scan in my foreign cover images myself. I'd love to be able to show you guys how the Chinese and Korean editions of some of my books look. They are very cool.)

I've also embedded some content-specific LibraryThing lists in my sidebar that showcase some of the books in my library that relate to a particular topic (e.g., my collection of "momoirs," some of my favorite books about the writing life, some books about Canadian women, etc.)

And while you're exploring the sidebar, you may want to check out the random list of great things about being Canadian that I put together. I was inspired by Dani's recent post about Corner Gas. Naturally, it made the list. I even included snow. I'm not sure why.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:57 AM

She's been part of the blog family forever

Now she's in the links. I'm just embarrassed in took me forever to add her. Must do more housekeeping around here when I get some time.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:14 AM

Worth Asking

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Is there a limit to what you would pay for a 20 minute nap?

Could an alarm clock that gets away on you be the answer to your morning wakeup woes?

Why wasn't this trend all the rage when I was pregnant with my youngest?

Is it Sudoku fever rather than bird flu that is destined to become the next pandemic?

What is it about the flashing cursor that makes some people want to confess their darkest sins?

How well would your kids do at this school?

What trends are you noticing these days?

| posted by Ann D @ 3:36 PM

Dress Code: On

Sometimes when I have five spare seconds (or I convince myself that I have five spare seconds), I check out the blog traffic log to see who has been dropping by for a visit. I'll click back through on a link from an interesting-sounding blog and -- my! -- I've had a few surprises lately. I'm not going to list any names because I don't want Google to start drawing connections between some of the clothing-challenged bloggers who've swung by for a visit lately. (Clearly some of those folks were looking for the Ann Douglas who writes erotica, not me.)

| posted by Ann D @ 3:14 PM

The Stuff of Which Childhood Memories Aren't Made

Sheila (a Saskatoon mother of five-year-old triplets) dropped me an email to let me know about a really thought-provoking post on childhood memories over at Raising Weg -- specifically about when our childhood memories start (I think my first childhood memories start around age four, when my younger sister was born), and what it means to us as mothers if our children don't remember much of the first few years of their lives. She also talks about how your memories of your childhood can be different from your parents' recollection of those very same events, particularly if you had a difficult childhood. She writes:
"Becoming a mother has awakened long-dormant memories, sense-impressions even, of my earliest years. They're mostly not happy memories. When they are happy, they mimic children's books: parents are not integral to the plot.

Do my stories diverge so wildly from my mother's because mine was an unhappy childhood? By what process did the rages come to outweigh the afternoons spent baking Christmas cookies or mornings in the car on our way to church?

I don't believe there's an algorhythm for this. We can't tally up our successes and failures at the end of the day, or the week, or the year, and know how our children wil see us and see themselves -- not just next year, or in their adulthood, but as they lie awake waiting to enter dreamland in the next room. We're operating in the dark, without a guidebook. No one really knows what makes a happy childhood."

I wanted to respond to this part of the post:
"If you're prepared to accept, as I am, that memory plays a role in shaping our selves, that childhood is valuable not just for the subconcious effects it has on our inborn temperments but also for its storehouse of tales re-told in adulthood, what difference does it make that we forget most of our childhoods?"

1. It's an awesome responsibility to be the repository of someone's early childhood memories. Now that my mom is gone, I realize that a lot of my early childhood is lost, and virtually all of the memories of her pregnancy are lost. (I recently asked my beloved but rather forgetful Dad if he could remember if I was technically premature or full-term but early. He couldn't remember when I was due. All he can remember is being very happy that I arrived in December -- as opposed to in January, when I was due -- because he got a year's worth of tax deductions, even though he only had 18 days' worth of expenses for caring for me.)

2. When you're working hard in the early years of mothering, you may feel like it's a "waste" that your child won't "remember" the times when you were up in the night, all night, caring for him when he had an ear infection; or nursing every hour on the hour when she was going through a major growth spurt. But those feelings of being loved and cared for form the foundation of your relationship and your child's feelings of self-esteem and trust in the world. So while your child can't say, "My mom always made me laugh when she changed my diapers," he'll always have this sense that you mothered him with joy and love.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:42 AM