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Door Report, Halloween Frontlines

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I'm doing door duty with the trick-or-treaters. I've been doing some book research while I hand out the treats, so I have my laptop on my lap. I hope I don't get mixed up and give it away as a treat.

Two Spanish senoritas just dropped by the door. They brought a guitar-playing dad along to serenade them. I thought that was the sweetest thing ever. (Yes, I gave them an extra treat for their dad.)

| posted by Ann D @ 6:57 PM

The Blogging Panel

The Blogging Panel
Originally uploaded by fishbowl_fish.

When I look at this photo in Fishbowl Andrea's collection of photos from ARM, this one really stood out for me. It captured the feeling of accomplishment that came from having worked really hard on something that really mattered -- and having had the privilege of doing so with a group of truly inspiring women. I'm still a little speechless from Andrea's presentation. Wow.

The other photos are also terrific -- especially the one with Kate looking like a happy and excited little kid. (Crabby? Ha.)

| posted by Ann D @ 3:59 PM

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Monday, October 30, 2006
At Motherlode this weekend, Andi Buchanan was almost deliriously happy about the fact that she was able to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep provided by "fall back" for the first time ever as a mom. I'm sure many of the other conference attendees felt the same way. After all, that's one of the things that people don't tell you ahead of time when you're thinking about having kids: when the clocks shift on that first Sunday morning, your kids don't make the shift, so you miss out on the chance to sleep in.

While we're talking sleep, I thought I should wrap up some loose ends on the Sleep Solutions Book Blog tour. (I had limited access to the Internet last week, what with the Motherlode Conference and all.) So here's what was going on while I was AWOL:

  • Kyra of This Mom was talking about how refreshing it is to read a book that didn't offer pat solutions or lay on the guilt -- and she pronounced the book "fantastically helpful." She also said some absolutely lovely things about me, so I'm going to be bookmarking this post for those Very Bad Days/Weeks/Months as an Author. (What am I saying? I'm going to wallpaper my office with it. We'll call this new print Kyra.)

  • Tertia of So Close took some time out from her own book tour to talk about what she liked about Sleep Solutions. She likes the book's warm and welcoming tone ("There is no guilt: no judgment, no moral high ground, just an acknowledgment that different solutions work for different sleep problems in individual children.") She highly recommends the book for moms-to-be.

  • Meanwhile, Tracey of Picture This has been busy ooh-ing and aah-ing over the entries in the "Sleeping Like a Baby" photo contest, trying to pick the winners. (I don't envy her that task.) Stay tuned for more about that.

Thanks to everyone who made this blog tour so much successful and so much fun -- the bloggers, the blog commenters, and Andi and Miriam of MotherTalk.

Bedtime Reading
Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

| posted by Ann D @ 11:36 AM

Motherlode Conference: Mothering in the Age of the Blog

Saturday, October 28, 2006
Today's theme was about mothers taking action. I am totally inspired. I'll be blogging a lot more about some of the people I met today and the ideas that are now dancing around in my head, but I've got to start winding down so that I can get to sleep at some point tonight, so, for now, I'm simply going to post the handout for my portion of the presentation on mothers and blogging, as I had promised workshop attendees I'd do.

Mothering in the Age of the Blog (.pdf)

Note: My co-panelist Andrea of The Whole Mom will be compiling all five of our presentations (i.e. Danigirl's, mine, Marla's, MUBAR's, and her own) and publishing them together -- the way they were meant to be heard or read. (I was the second of five speakers on this topic and we made an effort to dovetail our presentations so that they would work as one integrated package.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:33 AM

Motherlode Conference: Doing it By the Book -- A History of the Modern Pregnancy Book

Thursday, October 26, 2006
I am having the most amazing time at the Association for Research in Mothering's Motherlode Conference. I feel totally inspired by the amazing women I am meeting at every turn. I'll be standing there looking at a pile of postcards or brochures or bookmarks (all for things I want to know about) and, kaboom, an Andrea Gordon or Amy Tiemann, the fabulously inspiring Cooper & Emily, uberbuddy Jen, and Andrea OReilly and Renee Knapp (the powerhouses behind ARM) will appear out of nowhere. I feel like I'm having one of those dreams where you're nobnobbing with all the celebrities, but, in this case, these are all people I wanted to meet.

I'm too tired to write about all the inspiring people I met today (I will be blogging for the rest of the year about the unique and creative work mothers are doing, thanks to ARM!) so I'm going to post the handouts from my presentation from this afternoon, as I promised to do for my workshop attendees. So here you go:

Doing it By The Book: The History of the Modern Pregnancy Book (1900 to 2006): My speaking notes. For the hardcore history-of-pregnancy addicts.
History of the Modern Pregnancy Book -- Table: Describes some fun and lively examples of pregnancy books across the decades, including some deliciously awful pregnancy advice. Fun for most readers.
Overheads (visual shots of pregnancy books past; a collage of images, etc.) Unique!

canadianmotherandchild.jpg achildisborn.jpg

| posted by Ann D @ 7:16 PM

The Weird Mother Manifesto

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Somehow I got lucky and Karrie sauntered on to my blog. That was back in her Welborn days -- around the time she was drafting The Weird Mother Manifesto. Well, now she's got a brand new blog under a brand new name -- One Weird Mother, naturally, and she's created a space where it's not just okay to be weird; it's expected. I fit in perfectly. Maybe you will, too. This way to weird.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:12 AM

Take Time to Celebrate Take Back Your Time Day

Happy Take Back Your Time Day. This is one day you have to take time to celebrate in some small way, no matter how insanely busy your life is. In fact, the busier you are, the more you need to mark this day. (.pdf)

Here are some stories, stats, and ideas to get you thinking about

1. how you use your time and
2. what you want out of life -- for yourself and your kids.

Time Links

| posted by Ann D @ 9:20 AM

Name That Book

Monday, October 23, 2006
Where the heck was MUBAR when the title was being debated for Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler?

| posted by Ann D @ 4:25 PM

Association for Research in Mothering Motherlode Conference

The ever-alert Andrea of Beanie Baby spotted this nice bit of coverage for this week's Association for Research in Mothering Motherlode Conference in Toronto. Nice to see the conference getting this kind of press even before the mamas have even started arriving in town.

Check out the cool poster for the conference, by the way.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:05 PM

Parenting Solved (the blog)

From Marla, who found it via Moreena: Parenting Solved -- a smart and savvy roundup of parenting ideas and information.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:39 AM

The Kinder, Gentler T.O. Mama

Now 11% less ironic.


| posted by Ann D @ 10:33 AM

Swapthing, I think I love you

Saturday, October 21, 2006
Here's a cool new thing from the thingmeister himself, Tim Spalding of LibraryThing.com. If you like the idea of encouraging people to swap goods rather than acquiring more and more stuff (while simultaneously stacking their unused stuff in basements, garages, and storage units), then -- like me -- you'll think Swapthing.com is an idea whose time has come. Here's how it works.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:46 PM

UNICEF Halloween Programs in the U.S. and Canada

Friday, October 20, 2006
I had an email from Maria Bailey of Blue Suit Mom, asking me to help spread the word about the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF (a program of the United States Fund for UNICEF) that she is helping to promote this year.

I told her that I wanted to research this issue a bit before I blogged because I had noticed that the number of kids carrying UNICEF coin boxes in Canada in recent years had really dropped off (something that had really been bothering me), and I wanted to find out what was up with that. So here's the scoop on coin boxes in Canada.

First of all: it wasn't my imagination. The coin box program had dwindled in popularity, so UNICEF Canada has rethought its Halloween fundraising initiatives for kids. As a result, this year children in Canada are participating in a month-long fundraising initiative through their schools. You can find out more about how the coin boxes have given way to other fundraising ideas at the UNICEF Canada website.

Whether you've got kids carrying a coin box in the U.S. or raising funds through their schools in Canada, UNICEF is a great cause. Thanks for this timely reminder, Maria, and for encouraging me to find out more about the coin box program in Canada.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:06 AM

Sleep Book Blog Tour: Not Ready for Bed Yet

us parenting book
Book Blog Tour - Day 5
A couple of the bloggers who were scheduled to blog this week have had to ask for extra time, either because they're feeling just plain miserable (poor Kyra) or because it took their copy of Sleep Solutions forever to find its way to their side of the Planet and they needed a bit of extra time to read the book and think about what they wanted to say. So we won't be putting this sleep book blog tour to bed until sometime next week. (Exact timing TBA. Parenting book tours, like parenting itself, should be flexible and open-ended, don't you think?)
But I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual. We've still got to talk about today -- and, as you can see -- we've got plenty of sleep book blogging action going on. Here's whose been saying what and where.

  • Boston Mommy Meredith O'Brien -- a parent who has done some heavy-duty time in the sleep-deprivation trenches, by the sounds of it (she tells us that her youngest didn't sleep through the night or in his own bed until he was three) -- had the same reaction to Sleep Solutions as many exhausted parents might when confronted with yet another new sleep book: "I eyed it with a great deal of suspicion and skepticism." But in the end, the book proved itself: "As I perused the pages, noting its gentle approach -- no "if-your-kid-ain't-sleepin'-you-suck" messages coated with a clinical or authoritative veneer -- I found myself wishing I had this book when I was scraping by on precious little sleep as the mother of a baby and twin toddlers."

  • SheKnows Pregnancy & Baby is featuring a roundup of my articles
    about babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and sleep.

  • If you swing over to Dot-Moms, you'll see that Anjali and I found plenty to talk about once we started talking sleep. And this is the edited-down version of the interview. It could have been so much longer. What can I say? Anjali asked me some really thoughtful and inspiring questions.*

  • For more about babies and sleep and books and blogging and other good things, stay tuned to this blog and MotherTalk.

* Just as an aside: I really appreciate the fact that Anjali took the time to read my book and to blog about it right now, because is going through a really tough time right now. (In her other blog Life in the Hundred Acre Wood, Anjali has some very insightful things to say about the pressure that moms get to move on after a miscarriage. I know a lot of readers of this blog have experienced that "statute of limitations" surrounding grief, so if you have any resources to share with her or you just want to offer her some support, maybe you could drop by and leave her a note. She's hurting and feeling alone. "The number of people I can cry to is slowly evaporating," she writes. "The socially accepted time frame for me to mourn has ended. Knowing this is as hurtful and isolating as the miscarriage itself.")

Bedtime Reading
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

| posted by Ann D @ 9:13 AM

Infertility Resources

Thursday, October 19, 2006
I had a lovely note from Mel of Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters, who writes: "I'm a huge fan of Ann's books and was on the blog tonight. I don't know if my blog would be helpful to her readers, but we've been compiling an up-to-date blogroll of all the infertility bloggers broken down into categories. I go through and check the blogs weekly to make sure people are in the right category and still updating their blog (there are some newly-pregnant bloggers still in their old categories that need to be moved). We also have a peer infertility counselor list for people who have a quick question for someone who has been through infertility (or pregnancy loss, third party reproduction, treatments, adoption, etc)."

You'll find Mel's blog added to the infertility resources in the sidebar of my blog along with a terrific blog that focuses on secondary infertility.

P.S. Mel: I tried to email you privately, but your emails are bouncing. Just FYI.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:50 PM

The Sleep Book Blog Tour Marches On....

us parenting book
Book Blog Tour - Day 4
As you can see from the dates of two of these posts, two of these bloggers were busy blogging away yesterday afternoon. I was worried that their posts might be missed if I spliced their posts into yesterday morning's post after the fact (I know that these book bloggers put a lot of work into their book reviews and I'd feel terrible if their hard work was overlooked) so I decided to link them in this morning.

  • First stop -- Mandajuice: Poor Manda clearly didn't know that she was about to be zapped by the Ann Douglas Friday the 13th curse when she agreed to be part of this book blog tour. Her daughter, who had been sleeping well until she became part of the book blog team, suddenly developed sleep problems: "I think the moment I pressed send on that e-mail was the moment Genoa decided to stop sleeping through the night. When the book arrived two weeks later, I had spent the past ten nights wondering if I would ever sleep again."

  • Next stop -- The Life and Times of This New Mommy: K., who is pregnant with baby number two, has test-driven the book in her own home on her very own toddler and has found that the book has something to offer (very) tired parents. Even tired pregnant parents. She also likes the book's non-judgemental approach to sleep options: "Douglas does not chastise you for choosing to co-sleep, but instead offers suggestions on how to do it safely," she notes.

  • Third stop -- ParentHacks: Asha, whose highly popular and much-loved parenting site is firmly grounded in the parents-know-best philosophy. In her review, Asha concludes (correctly) that I wouldn't mind being called "the Anti-Expert" by ParentHacks. I think that's about the highest praise a parenting author could hope for from Asha & Company. And Asha totally gets what this book is about -- and what I'm trying to do through my writing in general. Mind if I shout this for a moment? It feels so great to be understood! She writes: "My favorite thing about this book...is the recognition that one size does not fit all. Ann makes very clear throughout the book that pressure and guilt have no part in the sleep debate. That's my kind of expert."

  • For more about babies and sleep and books and blogging and other good things, stay tuned to this blog and MotherTalk.

  • You might also want to make a sidetrip back to one of our earlier book-blogging stops Picture This for some terrific tips on photographing sleeping babies and to learn how to get started with something called Tabblo that Tracey demonstrates in her blog. Tracey inspired me to create this (see miniature version at the bottom of this post), in fact. (I'm pretty new to the world of digital photography and brand new to the world of scrapbooking, so be kind!) And remember that you've only got until October 27th to enter the "Sleeping Like a Baby" photo contest.

Bedtime Reading
Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

Something Old by Ann Douglas
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:50 AM

Dog-Gone Cute Halloween Contest

I grew up in a family that was wild about Boston Terriers, so this Boston Terrier Halloween Costume Showcase contest caught my attention immediately.

If you want to "ooh" and "ahh" and laugh harder than you have in a very long time, be sure to check out some of the carefully costumed contestants whose owners entered them in the contest in previous years.

If you think this is all very crass and unbecoming to the Boston -- inarguably a very classy breed of dog -- you may want to check out this celebration of The Boston Terrier in Art History instead.

Other site highlights? Don't miss The Links and the Puppy Cam ("Live Nude Puppies!").

And be sure to set aside way more time than any sane person would ever spend at a puppy website. Don't say you weren't warned.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:46 AM

Reclaim Dinnertime and Take Back Your Time

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Reclaim Dinnertime was launched today in anticipation of Take Back Your Time Day on October 24th.

The site features some practical suggestions from University of Minnesota Family Social Science Professor Bill Doherty, PhD, on how to make family dinnertime a time to reconnect as a family.

Personally, I think this one is the most important:

"Turn off all cell phones, televisions, MP3 players, computers and PDAs during dinner to avoid interruptions."

How important is family mealtime at your place? Do you have any additional tips to add to Professor Doherty's list?

More Food for Thought
Take Back Your Time Posters: You'll also find tips and ideas for taking control of your time. Very inspiring.
Mealtime Solutions: Your Toughest Mealtime Problems, Solved: A lens I created at Squidoo that provides links to numerous family nutrition resources.
Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler by Ann Douglas: Offers strategies for simplifying mealtime preparation and putting the family and community aspects back in family mealtimes.
Pause: Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Life by Katherine Gibson: The title says it all: slow down and enjoy all aspects of life more, including mealtimes.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:58 PM

From Soapboxes to Sleep Books

us parenting book
Book Blog Tour - Day 3
One of the bloggers was up in the wee hours of the morning working on her post, so we're going to start with her. I happen to know that this is her usual modus operandi because when she and I were working closely together on the sleep book, we'd often flip emails back and forth at some insane time of the night/morning -- a time of night/morning when most other people (other than parents with young children, shift workers, and people on the other side of the world) were tucked snuggly in their beds, fast asleep.

  • And as you'll discover when you read Marla (Hello Josephine)'s post, she provided more than just technical reviewing services for me. She provided author therapy, too (and, trust me, that was a tough part of the gig). She provides a revealing look at herself, me, bookmaking, and sleep in this wonderful post. The photoessay at the bottom is totally Marla-esque and Josie-esque, which, of course, means magnificent.

  • Next stop, the playground -- Miriam Peskowitz's Playground Revolution, to be specific. In a post called "The Antidote to American Parenting Competition," Miriam (author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars) talks about what Sleep Solutions has to offer parents who are tired of all the competition in parenting, particularly around issues like sleep: "The book is filled with stories and advice from mothers, too, so it feels like going to the playground and getting mom wisdom just when you need it, as well as the friendship of other mothers. When so many parents feel judged as good or bad depending on whether their children sleep well, Ann Douglas offers an entirely different sensibility, totally outside the screed of American parenting competition." Miriam also blogs over at Everyday Mom.

  • Jenny at Three Kid Circus is clearly a reader after my own heart -- someone who loves the stuff at the back of books, organizational charts, indexes -- the "guts" that make a book work. I think she was impressed. "Brilliant" sounds pretty positive. :-) She adds: "Sleep Solutions is a quick, entertaining read, full of real-life questions and answers from Ann's extensive research and interviews. I was tickled to read quotes from blogging mothers. Most of all, I appreciated the even-handed, unbiaised approach, presented in a way that even the most sleep-deprived of parents could easily find ideas and form a plan of action. Even as an eight year veteran of the Sleep Wars, there was new, reassuring information in here for me. I particularly enjoyed the relaxation techniques for preschoolers. We've already put the "sound of silence" into action, and it is working like a charm!"

  • For more about babies and sleep and books and blogging and other good things, stay tuned to this blog and MotherTalk.

Bedtime Reading
Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

| posted by Ann D @ 10:32 AM

An Ad Message That Really Stinks

I'm surprised there hasn't been more of an outcry about P&G's newest TV ad for Tide Laundry Detergent with Febreze -- the ad that targets moms with young babies.

I caught the ad twice last night -- during This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It bothered me enough that I dashed across the room to grab a pen and pad of paper so I could jot down some notes about the ad. I knew right away I wanted to blog about it. Having it air a second time was a bonus. I was able to jot down some additional notes. (I like to be thorough.)

Just in case you haven't seen the ad, here's a quick summary:

The ad starts out with the camera focusing on a young baby who is leaning over his or her mother's left shoulder. The music playing is "Be My Baby." Then the ad script begins. "It's the difference between smelling like a mom and smelling like a woman....After all, every mom is a woman, too."

The ad has clearly been running for a while -- according to Advertising Age and Business Week, the new campaign was launched in the spring), but it's either the first time I caught this ad or the first time I really paid attention.

The ad disturbs me for a couple of reasons:

  • It implies that new mothers have an odor problem -- a nasty, nasty message to be giving moms at a time when many women struggle with post-baby body image issues as it is. So not only do new moms have to worry about the difference between their pre-pregnancy shape and their postpartum shape: now new moms have to worry about post-baby body odor (P.B.B.O.), possibly caused by milk leakage, baby poop, or some other scent deemed undesirable by a Fortune 500 corporation. Apparently, new moms aren't supposed to carry this scent with them when they have that romantic interlude in between feedings. I can't decide whether this is a nasty attempt to play on the vulnerabilities of new moms or a flashback to those Aviance perfume ads of the 1970s. Maybe it's a bit of both.

  • The ad ignores the important research about scent and the important role in plays in maternal-infant bonding. Babies are comforted by their mothers' scent and wearing strong scents -- like detergent that has been infused with strong perfumes -- masks that scent (unless, of course, your natural odor resembles Febreze).

  • It overlooks the fact that some babies are sensitive to scents. (I'm not talking about skin sensitivities/allergies here. I'm talking about just being driven crazy by powerful odors, like some babies and young children are noise-sensitive.) I don't like overpowering odors -- like industrial-strength carpet cleaners. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if you were a baby who didn't like powerful scents and your mom felt compelled to wear ultra-scented clothing because the marketers were telling her how stinky she was -- because she smelled like breastmilk or spitups? You'd be pretty mad -- maybe mad enough to scream in protest, if you were that baby. It's worth thinking about.

Advertising Age: Five Years in the Making, Tide Gets a New Ad Campaign
BusinessWeek.com: Detergent Can Be So Much More
Berkeley Parents Network: Laundering Baby Clothes
Baby Center: When Can I Start Washing My Baby's Clothes in Regular Detergent?
DrGreene.com: Pine-fresh-Scent: Depressing?

The Fine Print:
I used to do some spokesperson work for Sunlight in Canada(Sunlight laundry detergent is a competing brand in Canada), but I am not currently under contract to Sunlight, nor have I been for a couple of years.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:15 AM

What She Said

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Kudos to the following bloggers for speaking up on issues related to moms, marketing, and the online world of moms.

  • The Dot Moms, for making a point of noting when a reviewer has received a free book or product sample. This goes above and beyond what many mainstream media outlets do (when was the last time you read a newspaper book review that concluded with the line "a free copy of this book was sent to the reviewer in question"?), but it's certainly a breath of fresh air in an era of non-stop pitchmanship. Yeah, DotMoms!

  • Mimi Smartypants, for speaking out against "blog shilling" in her uniquely smartypants way (thanks to Marla for the lead on this one)

  • Marianne Richmond of BlogHer's Mommy & Family | Technology & Web, for letting the marketers behind P&G's VocalPoint network of "influential moms" know that she has been less-than-impressed by the condescending tone the company has chosen to use in its communications and that she doesn't think the company has offered moms appropriate compensation for the time they spend on VocalPoint activities. (Richmond notes that "in the dark ages before online social networks" companies used to pay consumers actual money to participate in focus groups.)

| posted by Ann D @ 2:58 PM

Moms Are Hot. No, Really.

The online world can't get enough of us. I was over at ParentHacks a moment ago and noted that Mothers Click has launched. The site has had a fair bit of pre-launch buzz and it's been in beta-test format since the spring, but it's great to finally be able to take a peek inside!

I note that MothersClick has an ask-other-moms question and answer feature like ClubMoms' newly-launched MomAnswers feature* and Yahoo's highly popular Yahoo! Answers program.**

Marianne Richmond of BlogHer has done a fabulous job of researching all the parent spaces (think MySpace for moms or moms/dads) that have popped up recently. You'll definitely want to check out her article if you're interested in parenting trends, the mom market, or other related issues. You'll also want to read the Cool Mom Picks review of MothersClick.

The Fine Print
* I am a Mom Expert at ClubMom and was hired to do some writing for the MomAnswers program.
** I was invited to participate in the launch of Yahoo! Answers in Canada this past summer by contributing a question of my own.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:38 PM

Good Morning (I Think)

us parenting book
Book Blog Tour - Day 2
Good morning. Or at least I hope it's a "good morning" at your place. I know that can depend a lot on how the night went -- or how early your morning started. And if you're a night owl who has been parachuted into a house of early risers, you may sometimes worry that you're not providing your baby with a lot of early-morning brain stimulation -- unless conversation like "Mmmm" counts. (I think it does. Babies need to learn consonants, too, you know. Whole words are highly over-rated.)

Anyway, we're back into the sleep trenches for Book Blog Day Two. (If you can say that without tripping on your words, you may not be quite as sleep deprived as you feel. Poor yourself another cup of coffee to celebrate. Yeah, you!)

Today, we're swinging by the blogs of

  • Sarah of Citizen Beta, another one of the moms from my sleep book panel, who introduces us to her daughter "sleepy vampire" and talks about what she's learned -- and is learning -- about sleep. ("'Sleeping through the night' is often an impossible ideal and we should take comfort in smaller victories," she notes. Sarah has so many other great insights to share about sleep, and she's not afraid to be honest about how tough it can be to reach sleep nirvana as a parent. This post is definitely worth checking out.)

  • Danigirl of Postcards from the Mothership -- a mom who also offers a fabulously informative, soul-wrenching and funny behind-the-scenes reinactment of her own times in the sleep-deprivation trenches. (One thing puzzles me, however. Danigirl seems to become more articulate when she's sleep deprived, unlike the rest of us, who can barely piece together a coherent sentence, let alone all these amazing blog posts documenting the effects of cry-it-out and sleep deprivation on the mom psyche. Someone needs to get a research grant to study Danigirl. She's clearly got a back-up brain or something. Very impressive.)

  • Jenn of Jenn's Journal at ClubMom -- who sounds like one mega-tired and mega-discouraged mom (poor Jenn) -- does a great job of explaining what my book has to offer. I love the fact that she tells you that my book hasn't solved all her problems yet. (She only got the book a week ago, and if my book had delivered that kind of quick fix, I think it would have been more a case of good timing than anything else. I don't believe in quick-fix solutions and I don't promise them in my book.)

  • Andi of Mothershock and I talk about sleep guilt, good babies (yuck), good mothers (double yuck), and how I ended up being four months overdue with this book. (I tend to go overdue with my pregnancies, but really.)

  • For more about babies and sleep and books and blogging and other good things, stay tuned to this blog and MotherTalk.

Bedtime Reading
Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

| posted by Ann D @ 9:57 AM

Still Born

Monday, October 16, 2006
Some lovely posts in response to my recent thread about stillbirth made me think that maybe I should repost the link to a post I wrote two years ago about life after stillbirth ("No Longer Living in October's Shadow"). After all, yesterday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (for my American friends at least; in some parts of Canada, it's celebrated on September 6th) and last Monday was the ten year anniversary of my daughter Laura's stillbirth -- a day I chose to mark quietly with my husband and my kids.

Here's what I know after ten years and one week of walking this path. There is life after stillbirth, even though your heart and mind and every fibre of your body swear otherwise when you're still reeling from the immediacy of your loss.

Continue drawing breathe in a world without your baby?


Trust in a future that has been mapped out to include mom+baby (an equation that will forever be left unsolved)?


And yet you go on.

The fallout is unpredictable -- unexpected costs, unanticipated gifts -- and you emerge a mother transformed by the experience of having conceived, carried, and cherished; birthed and buried a baby who was Still Born.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:56 PM

Sleep Time or Me Time? The Mother of All Dilemmas

us parenting book
Book Blog Tour Day 1

This quote from Cathleen, mother of 8-month-old Miyoko, one of the moms I interviewed for Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler has always stuck with me:

I know there's logic behind the advice to "sleep when your baby sleeps. It makes a lot of sense! But that doesn't leave time for R&R activities; whatever they might be for each person. Reading a novel, taking a bubble bath, painting your toenails -- these are luxuries for moms! I gladly forfeit sleep to grab some me-time. It saves my sanity in a way that sleep cannot. Tomorrow I'll just cross my fingers and hope that Miyoko decides that she wants a long nap, and I'll lie down and catch a snooze with her then.

You see, there's no right or wrong solution when it comes to sleep. There's just the solution that's right for ourselves and our families today. The more we get caught up in black and white thinking about sleep (or anything mothering related, for that matter), the more guilt there is. And that just makes mothering harder.

As you already know, the Sleep Solutions Book Blog Tour officially kicks off today. I'm going to start you off by sending you to the blogs of three moms who served on the book panel for this book:
  • Tracey (Mother May I), talks about the difference between "the idea of having a baby" and the reality of settling into your "new mother skin"; describes Sleep Solutions as empowering, honest, open and kind (hey, sounds like Tracey herself!), and then invites you to participate in the "Sleeping Like a Baby" photo contest at her ClubMom photo blog Picture This

  • Chris (The Smartmouth Mombie) talks about her own experiences in the sleep guilt trenches (I tell you: sleep guilt is practically pandemic)

  • Beachmama (Life is Good at the Beach) talks about how her sister -- a new mom -- finally learned the truth about babies and sleep.

For more about babies and sleep and books and blogging and other good things, stay tuned to this blog and MotherTalk.

Bedtime Reading
Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage
Blog Book Tour: Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

| posted by Ann D @ 9:23 AM

Sleepless in Authorland

I'm setting a very bad example in the sleep department -- and on Sleep Book Blog Tour Eve, no less. I mean it's 1:20 am! I should be sleeping (or listening to white noise in an effort to lull myself off to Dreamland).

But wait! I'm all about taking the guilt out of the sleep debate.

I guess I can cut myself some slack.

If you're up late with a sleepless baby, momsomnia (motherhood-induced insomnia), or you're just checking your blog en route to the bathroom, here's the first blog book tour post. It's from Chris (a.k.a. Mombie) -- one of the moms who served on the book panel for my book. Over to you, Chris.

I'll be linking in more blogs in the morning when tour official kicks off.

Sweet dreams.

More Sleep Reading:
Sleep Help for Tired Parents

| posted by Ann D @ 1:22 AM

Dinosaurs vs. Mothers

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Here's another one of those "I can't go to bed before I post this link" links. This one is about dinosaur-like employment policies that discriminate against mothers. I found it via MUBAR.

When it's not really late and the pregnancy book revisions aren't going swimmingly (I know better than to stop and blog when I'm on a writing roll), I'll write something semi-intelligent about some of the stupid things going on up here in Canada that should have anyone who cares about things like women's issues or the ability of "the little guy" to launch court challenges to uphold rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I'm talking about things like funding cuts to women's groups -- including the most high-profile women's group in this country and funding cuts to the Court Challenges Program of Canada. (More on the program.)

Sometimes I can't believe what I hear on the news these days. Next thing you know, we'll all be dressing like 1950s housewives, complete with these vintage aprons and carrying retro handbags.....

Nah. As fun as it might be to play dress up, it will be even more fun to beat the dinosaurs at their own game.

We've got the advantage after all.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 PM

Simple Things You Can Do...

I've posted a lot today, but I don't think I could call it a night without posting this link (.pdf), knowing that it contains information that could, quite literally, save the life or sanity of a woman in the deepest pit of depression.

The online brochure is targeted at women who are struggling with perinatal mood disorders -- prenatal depression or postpartum depression, which affect over 400,000 US women each year -- but the excellent advice it contains could be useful to any mother (or any woman) struggling with depression at any time. I've had an on-again, off-again relationship with depression myself. I really wish I could break up with depression for good.

The strategies outlined in this brochure can make a huge difference in how quickly that tell-tale wave of depression takes hold of you, how deeply you get dragged under, and how long it takes to find your way back to the surface again. I know because many of these strategies are on my own personal 20-ingredient recipe for feeling better. I'll share that recipe with you guys one of these days.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:15 PM

A Pregnant Woman's Wish List

This (.pdf) is one of the most creative, amazing, and inspiring pieces of pregnancy art I've seen in a long time. I love the fact that it was the brainchild of a group of pregnant women in Western Wisconsin, who set out to come up with a list of ways friends, family and community members can make pregnant women's lives less stressful. The poster was developed by the Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care (Western Region) and Western Region Healthy Babies Action Team in response to Dr. Michael Lu's research which suggests stress has a direct negative impact on birth outcomes.
Source: Perinatalweb.org

| posted by Ann D @ 8:03 PM

The Birth of Another Baby Website: BabyCenter.ca

Congratulations to online editor Kathy English on the birth of her latest online "baby" BabyCenter.ca. Kathy made her mark on the Canadian web scene in the early days of the web, helping to create Canada's first online women's portal -- Lifewise.ca and then Transcontinental's umbrella site for all its women's magazines and related brands -- Mochasofa.ca.

I've had the pleasure of working with Kathy over the years and I know she'll have some great things in store for Canadian parents over at BabyCenter.ca.

It's great to see you back online, Kathy! Congratulations once again.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:35 PM

Sleep Help for Tired Parents!

Listeners to The Parent Coach with Connie Sinclair, here are some links that may be helpful to you in coping with your baby, toddler, and preschoolers' sleep problems:

| posted by Ann D @ 10:37 AM

How to Enter "Tentative" Appointments in an Electronic Calendar

Saturday, October 14, 2006
A cool hack from the hackmeister himself, Merlin Mann of 43folders.com: This one involves putting putting an upside-down question mark (you know, one of those Spanish characters you can find if you explore your various character sets) in front of any appointments that are still tentative. (Read the details.)

While his hack applies specifically to the iCal for Mac (which I use and love), you could apply the principle underlying this hack to any electronic calendar organizer tool (computer-based or hand-held). Enter a special character to let you know that the "date" with the neighbors from you-know-where till hasn't been confirmed (and will only be confirmed if you are caught off guard and can't come up with a suitable excuse for cancelling. Don't you hate when that happens?) That way, the "pseudo" appointments will stand out from the "real" appointments on your calendar.

Also not to be missed from Merlin Mann are his first two productivity talks with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done (a.k.a. GTD). You can view the podcasts over at ODEO:

Productivity Talk 1: Procrastination
Productivity Talk 2: Patching Leaks

For a quick overview of the basic principles of GTD, check out the very useful GTD flowchart in the totally brilliant, volunteer-designed D*I*Y Planner.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:51 AM

The Toronto Star's Article About the "Pinkwashing" of the Breast Cancer Movement

Friday, October 13, 2006
Last week, The Toronto Star published a gutsy article by Samantha King, an associate professor of physical and health education and women's studies at Queen's University in Kingston and the author of Pink Ribbons, Inc. a book that challenges what she calls "the commercialization of the breast cancer movement."

"Businesses looking to sell more products to female consumers have been quick to latch onto changing attitudes towards breast cancer, and the pink ribbon industry that has emerged as a result is deeply dependent upon a positive image of the disease," says King. "The effect of breast cancer marketing campaigns is to erase from public consciousness the fact that incidence rates remain stubbornly high and newly diagnosed women face essentially the same options -- surgery, radiation, chemotherapy -- that they did 40 years ago."

According to King, breast cancer marketing programs often raise relatively small amounts of money for breast cancer research. King describes a yogurt manufacturer's fundraising campaign in the article. What sounds like a fabulous opportunity for consumers to help raise money for a great cause (10 cents from each container will be donated to a particular breast cancer charity) doesn't sound like such a great deal with you start reading all the fine print. The yogurt manufacturer caps its donation at $80,000, no matter now many containers of yogurt are sold -- even if some of the containers that exceed the pre-determined donation cutoff mark are purchased by well-meaning consumers who believe that they are doing their bit to fight breast cancer.

That's why King is encouraging consumers to donate their dollars directly to the breast cancer research organizations whose work they support rather than filtering those dollars through companies involved in breast cancer marketing. That way, people who want to support breast cancer research can be sure that -- dollar for dollar -- their donations are being used for research purposes.

A number of readers have written in to air their opinions on the piece, as you might expect. The comments have been overwhelmingly supportive. As one breast cancer survivor put it, "Finally, someone has written an article that we who are breast cancer survivors can agree with. We are worn out by all the pink rip-offs trying to 'help' us when all they [the marketers] are doing is filling their coffers."

| posted by Ann D @ 11:16 PM

Sarah Harmer is Coming to Peterborough

Thursday, October 12, 2006
...and I have tickets to see her again. (Long-term readers of this blog may recall that I am a huge fan of Sarah Harmer and that I was totally blown away by her performance at Showplace in Peterborough, Ontario, in November 2004).

I don't know if Showplace has any tickets left (I bought mine online on the weekend), but it's worth trying to get tickets if you think you can get to Showplace on November 1st. Sarah Harmer is an incredible performer.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:01 PM

Another Savvy Move for Savvy Mom

Congratulations to Savvy Mom on the launch of their brand new Ottawa edition.

Ottawa is a great city for families, as Dani, Andrea and other Ottawa-area bloggers can attest.

There's The Byward Market -- a shopping and dining mecca. Those fabulous museums. Winterlude. And so much more great stuff to do with kids or with your mom friends.

Ottawa is also home to some fascinating moms (in addition to the aforementioned Dani and Andrea). My friend Anita created this highly popular website for Canadian parents of multiples and she hails from the Ottawa area. Catherine Marion -- one of the hosts of The Mom Show -- is an Ottawa-area mother. And, of course, one of the most famous moms in Canada these days is Catherine Clark (daughter of former Prime Minister Joe Clark and Maureen McTeer), who recently gave birth to her first child. I'm telling you, Ottawa is Mama Central. How savvy of Savvy Mom to recognize that fact.

Added 10/13:
By the way, Dani has created this great Squidoo Guide to Fun for Families in Ottawa. I meant to include this when I created this post yesterday, but I was hit with a temporary case of momnesia mid-post.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:08 PM

For the Sister Who Has Everything (Including You as a Sibling)

Today is my sister Janet's birthday. She is the kind of person who is hard to shop for because she never wants stuff except for books. And, even on that front, she's tough to shop for because she's always read any book you might think of buying for her. She's a very avid reader. If I bought her anything book-ish, it would have to be a gift certificate that she could cash in for something that was being published this week and that she hadn't already read.

Even more than books, however, my sister really loves it when people make charitable donations in her name, so you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that you can now purchase gift certificates for Canada Helps -- Canada's one-stop destination for charitable giving. Here's how it works:

1. Visit Canada Helps.
2. Select the gift card option from the home page and choose a donation amount.
3. Personalize the online gift card.
4. The gift card can be sent to the recipient by email or you can print it out and send it to the recipient yourself.
5. Pay for your gift card, and you will receive a tax receipt for your donation.
6. The recipient then visits the website, searches for their charity of choice and redeems the card.
7. CanadaHelps then sends the donation to the selected charity.

To learn more about CanadaHelps charity gift cards, visit: Canada Helps' Gift Card page.

I like the fact that I can still get my sister's gift to her on her actual birthday (today) even though I'm -- ahem -- a little late in starting my shopping. And it's a feel-good gift all around. I just completed my transaction, so, with any luck, she should be receiving her gift right about now and one or more Canadian charities should be feeling some birthday love sometime soon.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:32 AM

Sleep Solutions Blog Book Tour -- Next Week!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
us parenting bookcdn parenting book
It takes a while for comments to start pouring in for new books, but I'm finally starting to get some feedback on Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage and its "sibling" Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage. Here's what certain bloggers have been saying about the books and what a few of the early reviews of the books have had to say:

Babylune on Sleep Solutions
Tales from the Blogmother on Sleep Solutions
T.O. Mama (MUBAR) on Sleep Solutions and The Mother of All Baby Books
Danigirl (Postcards from the Mothership) on Sleep Solutions
Nashville Parent on Sleep Solutions and Mealtime Solutions
The Calgary Herald on Mealtime Solutions

There will be more of these comments to come next week when the Mother Talk Blog Book Tour for Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler kicks off next week. Stay tuned for the lowdown on who will be blogging where.

NOTE -- YOU CAN BE PART OF THE BLOGGING BOOK TOUR FUN: If you were one of the parents who was involved with the book panel for Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and you'd like to blog about the book (or your involvement with the book panel: maybe you'd like to share some of your favourite responses that didn't find their way into the book, due to space constraints?) next week or you've read the book and you'd like to blog about it (a number of you have expressed interest in doing so), interview me, or do something else in conjunction with the blog tour (use your imagination!), let me know and I'll loop you into the tour via my blog.

NOTICE: The management of this blog apologizes for the truly atrocious sentence structure in the preceding paragraph. The offender will be deprived of caffeine for the remainder of the afternoon.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:48 AM

Stillbirth Message Board @ ParentsConnect

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect community features a message board devoted to stillbirth.

It's great that they've decided to devote a message board to this issue, which affects a great number of parents. Unfortunately, the site has incorrectly defined stillbirth as "when tragedy occurs at term."

I've written this letter to ParentsConnect:

Your stillbirth message board provides an incorrect definition of stillbirth ("tragedy at term.") A stillbirth can occur much earlier than that -- as early as 20 weeks.

Implying that stillbirth only occurs at term could be hurtful to parents who have experienced losses earlier in their pregnancies. Even though it is not your intention to do so, they might feel that you are dismissing their losses in some way.

I hope this comment is helpful.

Ann Douglas,
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:33 PM

Did you just feel like looking your best today?

Don't be surprised if friends and coworkers scrutinize you a little extra closely today if you put some extra effort into making yourself look especially good. This study hit the wires today.

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| posted by Ann D @ 8:24 AM

Shopping: Dollars and Sense

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
According to this Stanford University study, men and just as likely as women to get hit with the urge to splurge.

Of course, retailers don't make it easy to keep the reins on those spending habits. There's both art and science involved in encouraging you to part with your money -- and fast.

Shopping is fun and treating yourself to stuff you like is enjoyable. But shopping for the sake of shopping is kind of empty -- the cash-register equivalent of fast food or quickie sex. So maybe we'll see a "slow shopping" movement catch on -- just like slow food and slow sex.

From The Center for a New American Dream: The Best Things in Life Aren't Things


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| posted by Ann D @ 3:55 PM


Monday, October 02, 2006
These kids want to be writers when they grow up. They all explained their reasons for choosing this particular career path to the folks behind the kids' website Kidlink.org.

I particularly enjoyed Rachel's pragmatic approach to career planning: "I want to become an actress or work in the music business as an artist or producer but that will never happen, not likely. So my second chose would be a murder-investigator but that means taking the long and hard way to success i guess so I'm gonna stick with what I can do best and that will lead me to journalism or authorship."

Don't you wish you still had that youthful exuberance and confidence?


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| posted by Ann D @ 8:39 PM

The Internet and Writers

This powerful essay by UK journalist Andrew Brown makes the case that the Internet has not been the great gift to this generation of writers, as many claim it has been. Brown argues that the Internet interferes with the thought processes that lead to good thinking and good writing: "I am coming to suspect that the internet will be to my generation of journalists, and to any younger ones, what alcohol was to our predecessors': a destroyer first of thought and then of productivity, destructive both of the capacity to reflect, and to react, blurring everything into a haze of talk and endlessly repeated variations on the same experience." (Found via Mind Hacks: Why Email is Addictive (and What to Do About it)).

More on Writing
Be a Happy and Successful Author

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| posted by Ann D @ 8:08 PM

Gyno No-No

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Karrie has a license plate post on her blog that may lead to a mass cancellation of gyno appointments in Massachussetts.


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| posted by Ann D @ 3:58 PM

Birthday Parties

Andrea Gordon's birthday party article tackles the ebb and flow of birthday party excess. (Thankfully, the tide is a bit lower than it was a few years back, judging by what I've seen lately, which is what I told Andrea when she interviewed me for this story a week or two ago.)

We got away with taking six kids bowling for a ninth birthday bash last week, and none of the kids/parents involved seemed to be traumatized or scandalized. If I'd had my way, we'd have stayed home and had a collage birthday party or a book swap birthday party -- but those two ideas didn't score big points with my son. Guess I'll have to throw myself my own birthday party this year so I can use up what I thought were really fun birthday party ideas. (Ahem.) Andrea has a spillover discussion on the art of the birthday party over at her blog, if you want to check it out.


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| posted by Ann D @ 2:49 PM