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The Wish List

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
If people in your life keep asking you for your wish list and you can't think of a single thing you honestly need, you might do what I did tonight -- put together a page like this over at CanadaHelps.org.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:04 PM

What the Postman Brought

When (not if) I remember to bring my camera tomorrow, I am going to take a picture of the beautiful piece of artwork that Wiley Canada sent me. It was a very unexpected but also very lovely surprise.

Imagine the covers of the Canadian editions of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, The Mother of All Toddler Books, and The Mother of All Parenting Books, all beautifully framed in a gigantic black frame.

At the bottom, there is a tiny gold plaque that reads

The Mother of All Series
Presented to Ann Douglas
Celebrating 225,000 Books in Print in Canada
October 2006

There is also an accompanying letter of citation that's definitely frameworthy -- the kind of thing that is meant to lift you up when you're having The Mother of All Bad Days.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:37 PM

The Lit Chicks Make Their Bookstore Debut

Monday, November 27, 2006
This is for those of you who live in the GTA: I'll be at the Chapters store in Ajax this Thursday night, signing books and hanging out with my fellow Lit Chicks Kathy, Helaine, Josey, and Tammy. (Leslie can't make it out this time around.) If any of you live in the area or have family/friends in the area who might like to come out to this event, we'd love to meet you. We're promising to dish the dirt n everything from kids to work to sex to dining out. (And, no, I'm not offering advice on all those subjects, Dad -- but you'll have to come out to the event to find out what I'm talking about and what I'm not.)

| posted by Ann D @ 3:17 PM

Busy Moving to the New Office

I've been busy moving stuff to the new office and meeting writing deadlines -- hence the uncharacteristic silence here at The Mother of All Blogs. Otherwise, all is well. I'm feeling reasonably good these days, despite the fact that I picked up a killer head cold last week. (It came on right after I had my flu shot. I re-read the list of side effects that you can get from a flu shot, and this doesn't seem to be one of them, so I'm assuming it's simply an unlucky coincidence.) Besides, a head cold beats feeling depressed hands down, so I'm feeling grateful for the head cold.

The office is coming together nicely. The Internet is now working (yeah!) and I hope to have the phone line working soon. Not having a phone line has its advantages, of course, but you can't play writer-hermit forever. At least I don't think you can. Hmmm.....

| posted by Ann D @ 3:04 PM

Telecommuting Myths and Realities

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
This article certainly challenges the idea that telecommuting contributes to greater work-life balance. The researchers found that, in the majority of cases, it is employers, not employees, who are the driving force behind telecommuting.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:40 PM


If you're currently working at the job from you-know-where -- or you're simply disturbed by what passes for workplace culture these days when it comes to equality, respect, and workers' rights -- you may want to check out the news feed and the quotes page from Workplacefairness.org.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:08 PM

Emotional Beancounting

This blog is keeping tabs of the emotions of the blogosphere (or at least the portion of the blogosphere that is prone to sharing feelings via their blogs).

| posted by Ann D @ 12:50 AM

The Breast Report

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Some days it's hard to stay abreast of all the breaking news on the breast front.

I learned about Marie Claire publishing a fake photo of ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas breastfeeding her baby boy at her anchor desk via MotherPie. Not surprisingly, Vargas is less-than-pleased with the spread. Read more about the controversy, plus more Marie Claire breast buzz..

I've been following what Mojo Mom Amy Tiemann has so fittingly dubbed the Breasts on a Plane" incident, in which Freedom Airlines (!) asked breastfeeding mother Emily Gillette of New Mexico to leave one of its planes last month after she refused to cover up while breastfeeding. The company apologized to Gillette but Gillette has questioned many of the statements made in that apology. It's pretty unbelievable that a mother's right to breastfeed her baby in public is still open for debate. What will it take to finally lay that debate to rest -- moms sporting fruit-style stickers on their breasts to remind the people who just don't get it that breasts can equal food for babies?

| posted by Ann D @ 7:53 PM

CAPPA Canada Conference: Fresh Thinking on Babies and Sleep

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to speak to the members of the Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association in Toronto this morning. What a group! I think they must make you pass the "friendly" test before they accept you for membership into CAPPA Canada. I've spoken at this conference on three different occasions over the past few years and everyone is always so warm and welcoming.

I promised to make the Powerpoint presentation from the Conference available for download. Here it is. Enjoy!

I wasn't able to sell books at the conference this year because they're all packed right now ( I'm moving to my new office), but I promised to make autographed books available to CAPPA Canada members nonetheless. Here is the form you'll need if you're interested in ordering books.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:49 PM

Kids and Play

Here are two links that tie into the theme of kids and play, then and now:

An article about a London Science Museum exhibit on the science behind some much-loved children's toys and
Badguypatrol.ca -- a website created by Microsoft and Alberta Children's Services to teach kids age 5 to 10 about online safety. (This page explains the rationale for the site.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:55 PM

Sleep Links

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
To the lively and enthusiastic group of sleep-deprived parents who came out to tonight's sleep chat at Pregnancy.org, here are the sleep links I promised to post after the chat:

Baby Sleep Questions: A quick quide to seven common baby sleep questions.

Sleep Links: The Best Sleep Websites: Some of the sleep research sources I found particularly valuable while I was researching my book Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.

Baby Sleep Solutions: Links to some other baby sleep articles and guides, sleep links, and other useful sleep resources.

Links to excerpts from my sleep book at CanadianLiving.com: See "The Secrets of Sleep-Savvy Moms: How to Make Sleep Deprivation Less Crazy Making" for tips on how to maximize your opportunities for sleep -- even before baby starts sleeping through the night.

Sleep Solutions Book Blog Tour: Lots of posts about what gets tired parents through the night....plus some photos of some almost impossibly cute sleeping babies. Day Six | Day Five | Day Four | Day Three | Day Two | Day One | Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest Winners

Ann Douglas: Books: An overview page providing links to my websites, my blogs, my tipsheets, my books, etc.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:16 PM

Pregnancy.org Sleep Chat and Blogging Panel Discussion

I'm going to be the guest at a live chat focusing on babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and sleep over at Pregnancy.org tonight. The chat starts at 9:00 pm ET. I have had the privilege of knowing Mollee O. and Jules and many other Pregnancy.org people since practically the beginning of the online parenting world. They are a warm and supportive bunch.

The Whole Mom has just published the entire proceeds of ARM blogging panel discussion:

Dani's submission entitled "Welcome to My Sandbox",
my submission entitled "Mothering in the Age of the Blog",
Marla's submission entitled "A Blog of One's Own,
Jen's submission entitled "Tool of Revolution or Online Shrine to Parental Self-Absorption, and
Andrea's submission entitled "On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog: Blogging About Mothering a Child with Physical Differences".

The Whole Mom is hosting a discussion forum related to the panel proceedings.

Thank you, Kim and Andrea for putting together the entire package of presentations -- and making them look so gorgeous -- and for agreeing to host the discussion. We all so appreciate you.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:47 PM

Bookmark Bonanza: Links to Live By

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I was looking for something in my huge -- and growing -- collection of bookmarks today and I realized I've got some really nifty links stashed away in my bookmark collection that I should be sharing with my fellow bloggers -- a mix of practical, creative, odd, and inspirational. Let's start with the practical.

MAKE YOUR OWN IKEA-STYLE RULERS AT HOME. Don't you hate it when the kids walk away with your ruler and you need to measure the length of something in order to finish whatever it is you're working on? I'm sure that's what led the webmaster behind this site to invent these printable paper rulers -- having kids who walked away with his/her rulers one too many times.

EMERGENCY CRAFT SUPPLIES. Someone posted the link to these vintage wallpapers to a list I subscribe to. You may want to bookmark this one for a day when you're looking for art inspiration for yourself or your kids. Print out some swatches on your colour printer and you've got the modern-day equivalent of those wallpaper sample books we used to cut up when we were kids.

KID FRIENDSHIPS EXPLAINED. I have a habit of bookmarking quirky things. A lot of quirky things. I guess I should classify this one as quirky and depressing. Apparently, kids like to make friends with other kids they perceive as being lucky. Suddenly my entire childhood makes sense. (I was born on a Friday the 13th.) I found this one via the frighteningly addictive Mindhacks.com.

YOUR WORLD -- ON SALE THIS WEEK AT WALMART! I've been really enjoying the quotes over at the always brilliant Frugal for Life. In this batch this quote really stood out: "Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." (Anna Lappe) It's a thought worth pondering during the season of overconsumption.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:36 PM


Monday, November 13, 2006
I've been reading a lot of hype about Like.com, the new visual search tool, so I thought I'd put the tool to the test.

I searched for "book" and the top three hits were a paintbook with an image of a typewriter, an Archie comic charm bracelet charm, and a DVD case.

A search for "pregnancy" got me three Sainte Anne prayer medallions.

A search for "toaster" got me two boots and a silver charm.

A search for "coffee" got me three brown shoes.

I get the fact that the search tool looks for creative ways to apply the search term (e.g., "coffee" brown shoes), but this tool seems more odd than useful. I just don't get it.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:39 PM

The AAP Says Kids Need Old-Fashioned Play, Not New-Fangled Marketing Spin

It's great to see the American Academy of Pediatrics taking a swipe at marketers just as the barrage of holiday toy ads is really starting to ramp up. In a clinical report entitled The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds the AAP stresses that kids need more time for play -- and by that they mean low-tech, low-stress play, not some of the ridiculous "educational" toys and appealingly packaged activities that are pitched to parents as Junior's ticket to the genius stream or the executive suite.

The AAP writes:

Parents are receiving carefully marketed messages that good parents expose their children to every opportunity to excel, buy a plethora of enrichment tools, and ensure their children participate in a wide variety of activities. Children are exposed to enrichment videos and computer programs from early infancy as well as specialized books and toys designed to ensure that they are well-rounded and adequately stimulated for excelled development. Specialized gyms and enrichment programs designed for children exist in many communities and there is an abundance of after-school enrichment activities. These tools and programs are heavily marketed, and many parents have grown to believe they are a requirement of good parenting and a necessity for appropriate development. As a result, much of parent-child time is spent arranging special activities or transporting children between those activities. In addition to time, considerable family financial resources are being invested to ensure the children have what are marketed as the "very best" opportunities.

Related links:
The Journal News: "Lapware" Introduces Babies to Computers

| posted by Ann D @ 1:08 PM

Remembrance Day Wreath

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day Wreath
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

This is the wreath that is hanging in the hall at my youngest child's school. During the Remembrance Day service, each student walked up and add a poppy to the wreath.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:17 PM

Pregnant Pause Blog @ WebMD

Friday, November 10, 2006
Guess what? I'm the newest "expert blogger" at WebMD. (I know. I make the switch from goddess to anti-expert to expert from one day to the next around here. Who knows what I'll be tomorrow?)

I'll be blogging about pregnancy issues from a mom's perspective. As I explained in my brand new blog Pregnant Pause:

I'll bring you a motley mix of noteworthy pregnancy news -- as seen through the eyes of a mother who also happens to be a pregnancy author. I'll share some of my favorite web resources. I'll pass along tips and pregnancy wisdom that I think might be useful to you during the exciting months ahead.

Mostly, I plan to have a really good time blogging about all things pregnancy. I mean, if I'm not allowed to have any more babies (something my husband has pointed out to me quite emphatically a number of times this week, for some strange reason), I might as well enjoy the next best thing -- a virtual pregnancy. And the best thing about a virtual pregnancy (other than the fact that you don't experience morning sickness or backpain or other troublesome pregnancy symptoms): if you want to take time off from being pregnant, you simply walk away from the computer. There's no such thing as a pregnancy timeout in real life.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:40 PM

Cheap and Cheerful

Cheap and Cheerful
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

The theme of the decor in my office-to-be is cheap and cheerful. Witness the price tag on the aluminum cup -- $2.95 Canadian. The greeting card (which features artwork of a purple purse) cost about $5.95 and is going to hang from a clothesline on my office wall. I had a lot of fun finding these odd bits and pieces during my summer bargain shopping sprees at antique stores and second-hand stores. The office move should be happening soon. Hurray!

| posted by Ann D @ 9:06 AM

Office Flower

Office Flower
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

I picked up this artificial flower at IKEA a long time ago -- before the office move had to be put on hold when we ran into an unexpected insurance snafu which thankfully has since been resolved. For weeks and weeks, this little flower has been standing there like a symbol of hope in an otherwise empty office. I thought I'd take a picture of it before we carry on with the rest of the office move.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:05 AM

Speaking of Stress -- or Rather Holiday Stress Relief

Thursday, November 09, 2006
Check out the suggestions for holiday stress relief from parenting goddess Ann Douglas, says Gregory Keer in the November issue of The Family Man Online email newsletter. It's not every day an Anti-Expert's Expert gets called "a parenting goddess." Pretty cool!

| posted by Ann D @ 1:56 PM

Workin' It: My 16 Step Plan for Trying to Beat the Blues

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A while back, I promised to post my plan for feeling better (not necessarily good or great, but better), so here it is. This is the 16-step plan I start to "work" when I start to feel the first tell-tale signs that I'm starting to become depressed. Do I work this plan perfectly? Um, no. Do I start feeling better instantly the second I start working my plan? In my dreams. Does it help? Generally, if I persevere and don't deviate from too many of the steps at once. (3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, and 15 are killers for me.)

1. Cut back on caffeine.
2. Reduce/eliminate alcohol from diet.
3. Stop treating sleep like a luxury item.
4. Let go of stress more effectively and minimize the sources of stress so there's less stress to deal with in the first place.
5. Have more fun with people in the real world, especially family and friends.
6. Spend less time online. A virtual life is no substitute for a real life.
7. Use organizational tools to manage the distraction/disorganization that is a byproduct of depression.
8. Create a working environment that supports me in my writing rather than distracting me in my thinking.
9. Tell people how I'm really doing. Not only does it feel better to be honest about these things (especially when you're a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person): it also gives people a chance to rally around when you're feeling extra blechy.
10. Up the creativity quotient in my life. The more creative I am, the better I feel.
11. Set a favor quotient. I can't possibly do every favor for everyone who asks, particularly when I'm feeling down. I have to pick and choose -- and not feel guilty about picking and choosing.
12. Make contributions to the planet in ways that are uniquely meaningful to me. This boosts rather than drains my energy.
13. Let other people give to me when they offer to do so. Martyrdom is so last millenium.
14. Set aside quiet time -- time for reflection, thinking, and planning.
15. Take care of the whole me. I feel best when my body, mind and spirit are nurtured, vital, strong.
16. Check in with my doctor when I'm feeling out of whack.* It's good to have someone else monitoring my health, too.

* I take my medications day in and day out, regardless of how I'm feeling. Why play biochemical roulette just for the heck of it? But medication alone isn't enough to beat a mood disorder. You've got to have a plan. That's why I decided to share mine - in the hope that doing so will get other women who struggle with mood disorders thinking about having a self-care plan at the ready. Because when you're depressed, you may not even recognize the signs that you're depressed or know what to do to start feeling better again.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:45 AM


Sunday, November 05, 2006
I thought it was bad enough when Sheila Kitzinger's term "babymoon" (basically meaning "time alone as a new family after the birth of a baby") was co-opted by the travel industry and turned into something that could be sold to parents: a pre- or post-baby luxury vacation.

But the idea of talking up conceptionmoons (a vacation you take in the hope of conceiving a baby) is really disturbing.

Not only does it play into that "just relax and you'll get pregnant" myth -- a myth that is both insulting and painful to couples who are having difficulty conceiving -- it also implies that heading off on a conceptionmoon will help you to hit the reproductive jackpot (something that leaves prospective parents vulnerable to pitches from any travel company that should decide to capitalize on this "trend").

And given that it takes couples who are actively trying to get pregnant six months on average to conceive, it's a pretty misleading pitch to begin with. Are you going to take six conceptionmoons (at an average of $1700 USD per trip) or are you going to hope that you'll be lucky enough to conceive on your conceptionmoon? (While 40 percent of BabyCenter members who took conceptionmoons reported that they had conceived while on vacation, more typical odds of conceiving in any given cycle are 1 in 4 or 25%.)

Also worth nothing: the BabyCenter conceptionmoons article does not point out the ClearBlueEasy sponsorship connection in the same way that the BabyCenter conceptionmoons press release does (although you might guess that there's some sort of link, given that there are three ads for the ClearBlueEasy Fertility Monitor on the page). The net result? The reader is left wondering who is cozying up to whom on the conceptionmoon.

Related links:
Vacations for getting pregnant -- what a concept
A pregnant pause: getting away to start a family

| posted by Ann D @ 2:45 PM

Kudos to Kiddley -- and Welcome Kiddley Links

Kiddley -- the beautifully illustrated and brilliantly written kids' projects blog created by Claire Robertson (a.k.a. Loobylu.com) and Phil McCluskey -- has launched a spinoff shopping blog-- Kiddley Links: Great Stuff for Kids -- rather than allowing Kidley to lose its original focus, which was to encourage parents to take "a little time out every day to remember how exciting childhood (and parenthood) can be with just a tiny bit of imagination."

"Increasingly we are finding that posting product information here on Kiddley just didn't fit with our aims for the site. But instead of ignoring all the wonderful things we stumble across available for kids online, we have started a new shopping blog so we can share them with you," Claire wrote when she announced the birth of Kiddley Links this week.

Congratulations, Claire, on the birth of Kiddley Links and for finding a solution to the products-in-blogs issue that works for you.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:33 AM

Laundry-Folding Cult Seeking Recruits!

The woman in this video appears to have joined some sort of laundry-folding cult. Be on the lookout in case they are recruiting other members.

Does anyone actually take the time to fold their sheets this carefully? I believe in the quick-fold method myself -- nest the corners and fold/bunch.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:57 AM

Naming Multicultural Babies

Saturday, November 04, 2006
ChouDoufu has created this really useful guide to Naming Multicultural Babies.

I wanted to flag the guide for you because this isn't an issue that gets discussed much in the mainstream media, although I'm sure that publications like Nicole James' excellent Black Woman and Child have tackled this topic many times over. (Nicole has been publishing the print version of her magazine for a year now and I was lucky enough to be on a panel with her at the Association for Research in Mothering's Motherlode Conference in Toronto in October.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:01 PM

What Will The Neighbours Say?

Friday, November 03, 2006

What Will The Neighbours Say?
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas

I seem to become more political with each passing election -- sometimes with each passing day. You can blame The Current for that.

With the municipal elections here in Ontario just around the corner, I decided to make a political statement in my own front yard by backing a local candidate for city council in a rather powerful way. I hope my nine purple-and-white lawn signs will get the neighbours talking about what my candidate of choice has to offer.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:36 PM

An Anything-But-Weird Apology

Karrie of One Weird Mother has issued an apology to the working mothers of the world -- those she feels has judged harshly in the past. She also strongly recommends that mothers steer clear of "the mommy wars" trap by reading Miriam Peskowitz's book The Truth About the Mommy Wars (interview with The Mothers Movement Online).

| posted by Ann D @ 12:58 PM

Inspiration: It's Where You Find It and What You Make It

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Change can be inspiring.

So can fighting to keep things the same.

The Thing You Can't Do
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:13 PM

Distracted Moms: Tune in, Turn on, Zone out, Create?

Babylune makes a great point about the mischief kids can get into when mom is distracted -- perhaps because mom is outlining an article, plotting a novel, creating art, or drafting a business plan in her head. I'm really fascinated by the "mother juggle" that moms do when they're physically with their kids but mentally somewhere else, as often happens when you're a highly creative or entrepreneurial person and ideas are constantly dancing around in your head. Sometimes we feel guilty because that unwritten Encyclopedia of Perfect Motherhood declares that when you're with your kids, they're supposed to have 110% of your focus and attention. But that's not always possible for highly creative moms. Babylune's post made me realize how guilty I used to feel about this when my kids were younger -- and how I still feel badly when I "zone out" at the wrong times.

It would be so much easier if I had a switch on my belly that would allow me to flip between "mother mode" and "writer mode" -- but then I'd miss out on the interesting, albeit messy, crossover that comes from the melding of those roles. And it would be really tough to find clothes that fit over the belly switch.

Enough musing for now. I've got overdue book chapters and a guilt-o-meter on overdrive. Welcome to my world.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:37 AM

Sleeping Like a Baby Photo Contest

Tracey Clark of Mother May I has managed to do the impossible -- pick winners in the "Sleeping Like a Baby" photo contest. I left the judging to Tracey because I would have been totally stymied. Choose between photos of this cute baby as opposed to that cute toddler? Thank goodness Tracey could factor in things like artistic presentation and photo composition. I would have just been using the cuteness factor and the "did it make me want to have another baby?" criteria. (My husband says he doesn't bother reading my blog. We'll find out for sure with this post.)

Be sure to check out the entire group photo pool at Flickr. You'll be inspired to grab your camera and take some photos of your own resident sleepyheads tonight.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:51 AM

Statistics Canada Online Shopping Stats for 2005

Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I came across these Statistics Canada Online Shopping Stats for 2005 (released today) while I was combing the Stats Canada site for some other numbers. Since many of the readers of this blog contributed significantly to the $7.9 billion spent online last year by Canadians (thank you for doing your part), I thought I'd post this link. Pretty neat that "books, magazines, and online newspapers" is the second-highest category of expenditure, second only to travel. (It's my top category but I, alas, am a bookaholic).

| posted by Ann D @ 12:54 PM

New Study May Provide Clues to Up to 75% of SIDS Deaths

A study reported in the Nov. 1, 2006, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association may help to explain up to 75% of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) deaths.

The researchers found that abnormalities with the brain stem affected the body's ability to regulate serotonin, a chemical that regulates vital body functions, including breathing. Read more about the study in this Globe and Mail article.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:42 AM