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Amazon Connect Author Blogs

Tuesday, January 31, 2006
If you're signing up for Amazon Connect author blogs to receive in your plog on your home page at Amazon, consider giving mine a try. I'm providing different content there than here -- more bookish content over there.

You can find me on the "D" page. You can find Andi here and other authors by following the links at the top of the page.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:41 PM

My New Favorite Quote Site: Quote World

I also stumbled across a quote site that's light on annoying ads and heavy on really good quotes. Here are a few quotes that I came across during the five minutes that I allowed myself to play on the site.

"A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." - Frank Capra

"All good men are happy when they choose to be their own authors. Those who choose to have others edit their pathways, must live on the edge of another man's sword." - Julie Arabi

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." - Diane Ackerman

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams

The site also allows you to store your favorite quotes and to vote on the quotes you like.

I can feel an addiction brewing.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:54 PM

Vitamin Blog

Wasn't it just this morning that you were saying to yourself, in a very Fargo -esque voice, "Gotta get me another blog to read in my spare time?" Sure you were. Well, here you go. I don't even know how this one showed up in a nutrient search, but it did, so this is clearly what my blog diet was lacking today. Maybe you need some, too.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:39 PM

The All-Request Blog Hour

Monday, January 30, 2006
The eight year old just popped into my office, outraged by something he saw on YTV. "There are people on YTV telling little kids that they live inside the TV. That is so wrong! Little kids might believe that. You should blog about that!"

Done.

Last week, the eight year old was on his soap box about something else. I was driving him to school and he happened to catch some of the CBC Radio One coverage about Toronto's growing gun violence problem, and how Toronto had been consulting with some American experts on gun violence. The little cynic in the back seat says, "We're going to learn about gun violence from the Americans?"

I am starting to wonder if some kid at his school has been playing Bowling for Columbine on a mini-DVD player at recess.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:23 AM

The Febreze Fairy to the Rescue

Okay, this is a little eerie. I just got a free sample of Febreeze Noticeables delivered to my door. The product is assembled and working wonders on what was becoming a rather unpleasant blend of coffee, hamburger, and nacho odors. (Some things just don't go well together, especially first thing in the morning.) We installed the gizmo in the downstairs bathroom to give it its initial workout. I can already smell it in my office, which is a few walls away. (We've got it set on maximum scent, so we may have to turn down the scent volume. My previous experience with Febreze products tells me that "maximum" may be overkill.) We'll give it the real test later on by trying it out in one of the teenage boy's bedrooms. If it can to battle with eau de teenage boy, the folks at Febreeze will have a customer for life. (Or at least the next ten years.)

| posted by Ann D @ 10:03 AM

Life Not Imitating Art

I'm doing all this research on healthy meals this morning, and I can smell hamburgers. At 8:30 am. One of the teenagers is taking advantage of the snow day to make himself a hearty breakfast of hamburgers and nachos for breakfast. I think that has to go on record as the most disgusting and the most unhealthy breakfast that's ever been made in this house. I'll have to air out the kitchen before I make my morning coffee. Blech.

Thank you for all those great links in response to my last post. I'm in the process of checking them out. I fell off the planet for a couple of days because I ended up with two family members in two separate hospitals on Friday. One has since been "sprung." The other is expected to be released in a few days. But it made for a very freaky Friday.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:54 AM

The Best Websites for Mom and Baby Stuff?

Thursday, January 26, 2006
What are your favorite websites to shop for

1. kitchen gadgets (tools that a mom would find useful, cookbook stores, baby feeding products)
2. baby products
3. mom stuff

I'm looking for both Canadian and American recommendations. And I really love top-quality stuff invented by moms. I'm going to use this list for a couple of different purposes. The kitchen-related recommendations that seem to make sense to me may find their way into the appendices for my food book; baby gear and mom stuff may find their way into the updated editions of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Mother of All Baby Books, and I'm going to compile a web directory based on your picks that I'll be sharing with all of you, so everyone will benefit in the here and now.

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Added on Monday, January 30: If you can recommend some products that would be useful for feeding babies, toddlers, preschoolers or for preparing/storing food, that would be really useful to me right now. See this post from my Author Blog at Amazon.com and you'll get a sense of what I'm looking for re: kitchen gadgets and tools. Thanks for any and all inspirations.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:08 AM

Fit to Be Tried

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Here's a really smart new blog that qualifies as a "must read" if you are interested in work-life issues: Work Life Fit Blog. It's just been launched by Cali Williams Yost, author of Work + Life: Finding the Fit That's Right for You.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:35 PM

Applied Health

Monday, January 23, 2006
Here's concrete proof that we've been talking sleep at the dinner table a little too often in recent months.

When I suggested that my eight-year-old take a nap in the car en route to a late-night monster truck event with his Dad on Saturday night, he politely pooh-poohed the suggestion.

"I'd wake up in the middle of one of my sleep cycles and then I'd be a zombie when I got to the monster truck show. I don't think that's a very good idea."

Recently I handed him a nutrition pamphlet to read over because I thought it had some interesting facts about fruits and veggies. Now he's providing on-the-spot nutritional dietary analysis services to his teenage siblings, whether they want them or not.

Let's just say I won't be sharing information on caffeine with him anytime soon.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:56 AM

Shower Power

Saturday, January 21, 2006
If you're planning a shower for a friend who is about to have a baby, the best gift you can give her is a guided tour of life on Planet Mom. Here are five fun ways to give your party guests a chance to pass along their best advice to the mom-to-be.

1. Picture Perfect Advice: Create a poster for your friend that features an eye-catching photo (perhaps a shot of your friend's very pregnant belly). Ask each guest to jot her favourite tip on the poster as she arrives.

2. AdviceCam: Most shower guests are natural-born hams and will welcome the opportunity to offer on-camera advice. By the end of the party, you'll have a one-of-a-kind motherhood video to pass along to your friend.

3. Recipe for Success:
Include an index card with each baby shower invite, and ask each party guest to jot down her best advice on the card.

4. First Year Survival Guide:
Purchase a scrapbook and ask party guests to jot their best bits of mother wisdom on to pages dedicated to such themes as "chasing down the sandman," "taming the laundry monster," and "making time for romance." Voila! The ultimate first year survival guide!

5. Postcards from the Edge: Ask each party guest to purchase a postcard which best symbolizes what the early weeks of motherhood will be like (a mountain climbing expedition? swinging from a trapeze?) and to include their best mothering advice on the back. Let them know that if they include their favourite quote about motherhood, they'll be eligible to win a special door prize (a collection of quotations about motherhood, naturally!)

(Excerpted from a baby shower article I wrote for Living Spree last year.)

| posted by Ann D @ 8:05 PM

A Writerly Read

This is a really interesting blog about writing. The blogger has certainly picked a great place to write. And an interesting topic.

I found this blog via new blog visitor the unrepentant gallivanter's blog links. Thanks, Unrepentant!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:12 AM

The Joy of No

Just a quick post while I have my morning coffee. Neil's off at archery with the eight year old, so it's relatively quiet here. Most of the teenagers are in semi-hibernation mode. But before Neil left, he made a pot of coffee and stuck a post-a-note on the front of the coffee pot that read "Made @ 9 am." That kind of made me feel like I'm high maintenance, as in Sally in When Harry Met Sally. Hmmm....

ImageAnyway, I've been meaning to post about a cool book that my friend Susan has written, The Book of No. It's a great book to give to that girlfriend who gets herself in trouble by saying "yes" too often. Maybe that friend is you. In that case, you'll want to tuck it under your phone so that you'll see it whenever someone calls to ask you if you'd like to volunteer to organize this year's major fundraiser for your kids' school (unless, of course, that's totally your kind of thing) or to join the Board of Directors for the International Order of Cantankerous and Miserable People.

I wrote an official "blurb" for the book which goes like this: "Don't feel comfortable saying "no"? No problem! Susan Newman has written the ultimate guide to sidestepping the "yes trap" -- a friendly and helpful book that will prove to you once and for all that "no" doesn't have to be a bad word."

| posted by Ann D @ 10:40 AM

Risky Business

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Andrea Gordon has a thought-provoking post about what really happens after you give your teen the car keys. She cites research that has proven that it's "the show off factor" -- the desire to impress other teens -- rather than drugs or alcohol that poses the biggest risk to teens behind the wheel.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:47 PM

She's Back....

My friend Laura returns with a mock interview with Prime Minister Paul Martin. What do satirists do for material in countries where the politicians don't provide as much material? Is there no comedy?

| posted by Ann D @ 10:03 AM

Best / Worst / Bizarre

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Have you ever noticed how the postings at Craigslist reflect the best and the worst of humanity? This rant is definitely one of the more bizarre takes on pregnancy I've ever come across. What do you think the odds are of Hallmark hiring the author of that post to write pregnancy greeting cards anytime soon?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:47 AM

Last Writes

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
If you missed Sunday's post at The Grocery List Collection, go back and read it. It serves as a reminder that nothing about our lives is as trivial as we may think -- not even a grocery list that a family member finds bunched up in the ashtray of your car after you're gone.

Every once in a while, I find something in my Mom's handwriting -- usually something totally insignificant, like a phone number she wrote out. I always get a powerful jolt -- this feeling of connection and this awful pang of disconnect and loneliness at the same time.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:38 PM

Dead Like Me

It's not the type of TV show I expected to like -- a show about an 18-year-old dead girl who is a grim reaper -- but I'm serious hooked because Dead Like Me is funny (in an admittedly dark kind of way) and extremely well written. You don't want to miss a single line of dialogue because they're all so good. It's not scary, gory, or morbid. In fact, this show has about death has a lot more to say about life than most other shows on TV. Highly recommended.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:27 AM

Moms and Balance, Toddler Talk @ Ella

Monday, January 16, 2006
It was great to see the Ella Centre featured in this article on Moms and Balance from Savvy Mom. The article features an interview with Ella's Jessica Cherniak, who wisely warns moms not to fall into the trap of thinking that they should be wearing their mom hat 24/7: "Remember who YOU are. You wear many hats, not just the one that says mother. Remember to be a friend, sister, daughter and an individual."

deskdeskSpeaking of the Ella Centre, I'll be back there on April 1 offering another workshop. I've decided to make my The Mother of All Toddler Workshops a little longer this time around because we always run out of time when we're talking toddlers. And with Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage due to be right off the press right around the workshop is being offered, I suspect I'll have even more to say about toddlers this time around.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:26 PM

Pregnant Paper Dolls

Sunday, January 15, 2006
I found out about these Pregnant Paper Dolls over at Baby Gadget. Check out how much grumpier the paper doll looks by the third trimester. I wonder if they'll produce a follow-up series called Postpartum Paper Doll, where the paper doll's pre-pregnancy clothes don't fit properly because she still looks and feels a few months pregnant; she has a laundry basket full of clothes because she has only had time to do the baby's laundry, not her own; and the paper doll has dark circles around her eyes, a slightly shocked, overwhelmed look, and a crying baby velcroed to her breast.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:36 AM

Calendar Makeover

It seems to me that if there were three months in danger of being voted out of the calendar, they would be November, January, and February: November, because it's such a dreary month and because holiday panic has already set in; January, because holiday letdown is hitting you hard and you've got all those lovely bills to pay; and February, because the world has turned to slush along with your hopes of spring actually arriving this year.

So if you were given a nice juicy consulting contract and told that you could cut one month from the calendar and add an additional month to any other season you choose, what would you cut and what would you add?
desk
Here's my answer.

I'd definitely chop November. Unless you're a masochist who likes rain every day, falling leaves, and the constant radio reminders that there are only so many shopping days until Christmas, there's not a single redeeming feature of that totally depressing month. It even starts out with a negative word -- no.

And as for the month I'm adding in, I suggest splicing a new month in right between September and October -- a totally lovely time of year. Mamatember would be a month-long mandatory month of pampering for mothers. Moms would be treated to in-home spa treatments, catered meals, and other luxuries. (Of course, the moms would be so refreshed by mid-month that they'd be kind and share some of the pampering with the Dads. Fair's fair.)

So now it's your turn to play calendar makeover. What month would you lose and what month would you gain if you were in charge?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:42 AM

Music and Friendship

Saturday, January 14, 2006
Here's something lovely to give yourself today: Sarah Harmer singing Spanish Eyes. It's an iTunes Exclusive, so you can only get it at the iTunes Music Store. I found it there when I was purchasing a bunch of tracks from the iTunes Maple Ladies collection. (Strangely, some of the tracks in the collection are no longer available for download, even though the collection was just launched on December 13th. Yes, December 13th, my birthday, Marla.)

I owe you guys some answers to some writing questions. I don't have the blogging focus right now, which is why my posts have been short and flightly lately. The big streams of words are flowing into the book. But the book is almost finished and I'll soon be back to posting way too many times per day. Thanks for your patience and support.

And speaking of support, one person who shall remain nameless gave me some lovely support in the middle of the night when I was feeling a bit blue: a few emails zipped back and forth at 1:17, 1:18, 1:43...and then I lost track. It's nice to have friends with young children when you're a writer up late nursing an overdue book. It can be a very lonely feeling.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:58 AM

The Dormer Room

Friday, January 13, 2006
My friend Laura is a wonderful troublemaking type. That's why I admire her so. Here's her mock interview with two Canadian politicians -- one past, one present: The Dormer Room.

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Postscript: I see Laura has plans to take on Paul Martin next. Laura is an equal-opportunity satirist, after all.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:54 PM

Another Parenting Blog is Born....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Please join me in welcoming Andrea Gordon of The Toronto Star to the wonderful world of blogging. Anyone who reads Andrea's articles knows that she's going to be a natural at this blogging thing. Her articles are lively, opinionated, and funny. And I predict that Andrea is going to become so hooked on posting to her blog and reading her blog mail that her bosses at The Star are going to have to disconnect her modem every now and again so that she can actually write and file some stories for the print edition of the paper. (Andrea: Don't say you weren't warned!) :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 5:55 PM

"I'm Firing Two Kindergartens Today."

That's what the eight year old told me on the way to school this morning.

Two of the kindergartens haven't been doing their jobs properly at recess (or so the eight year old claims).

They were hired to help build the snowfort and to guard it during the second recess that only the kindergartens get, and they've been caught goofing off and letting other kindergartens wreck the fort. So today's the day those two kindergartens are going to get their walking papers.

Well, maybe not.

"I'll give them another chance if they promise they'll listen to me."

I guess he's not such a tough-guy boss after all.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:47 AM

MIA: One Social Life

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I just realized I accidentally stood up a friend over the holidays because I was too busy writing to check my voice mail messages. For all I know, my friend Janet is still sitting in Starbucks, waiting for me to show up -- two weeks after the fact.

I also dropped the ball completely when it came to calling my friend Darlene to arrange a separate coffee rendezvous.

I didn't have time to drop by Lisa's house.

My Christmas cards didn't get addressed and I have only opened three Christmas cards so far.

It's amazing I have any friends left at all. (If, in fact, I do.)

I think I'm going to have to throw a huge, giant grovelfest at my place once I finish writing Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler in a few weeks' time. I'll have to invite any friends I have left to come over so that I can fete them with yummy things like pureed baby food h'ors d'hoevres and let them know how much I've missed them and how badly I feel about falling off the planet for the past six months or so.

That is if I still have any friends left come February.

Sometimes I wonder about that.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:53 PM

Sisterfest Report

Monday, January 09, 2006
First of all, I have amazing sisters. (One sister called me "pathetic" when I refused to open doors for myself after my manicure. But given that the rest of us sisters ruined this sister's dessert one night by discussing methods of cervical dilation, I'm not going to hold a grudge. This sister doesn't have any kids -- and doesn't intend to have any kids -- so she's really not big on pregnancy-related discussions. Our Saturday night discussion about fertility signs almost did her in.)

The inn where we stayed was really nice. If you go, I definitely recommend that you splurge a little and go for one of the suites in The Granary. We spent one night in The Lockmaster and one in The Maple, and both were lovely, but -- if I had to chose -- I'd go for The Lockmaster.

The inn staff were really friendly, especially this lovely woman named Erika who had read one of my books and told me how much she enjoyed it. Then she apologized for being overly enthusiastic. I told her, "Hey, be as enthusiastic as you want! These are the moments that make up for the not-so-great days as an author." She was totally adorable. She even had this adorable accent that I couldn't quite place. (I'm terrible with accents.) And she gave us cookies to take with us for the train ride back home. I saved mine to give to my eight year old, who practically tackled me when I got off the train. It turned out that he didn't like the kind of cookie that I had picked, so he passed it along to his Dad. So one cookie managed to make three people happy. That's a lot of mileage out of a single cookie.

The spa services were terrific. I went all out and had a facial, a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, and an eyebrow wax (and for once it didn't hurt). I'm surprised my family was able to recognize me upon my return, spa goddess that I was. And the spa director, Linda -- who did my services -- made me feel like a million bucks. Given that my spa bill was considerably less than that (this is one of the most reasonably priced spas I've ever visited, in fact) I felt like I got a real bargain.

Now on to the entertainment: One of my sisters brought along one of those tiny DVD players (so that we could watch movies if we all huddled up close and squinted). The first movie she picked was amazing. The second movie she picked was so bad I'm not even going to link to it because I don't want anyone else to know about it. (When we asked her how she'd heard about the movie, she told us someone at work had told her it was hilarious. Upon further grilling, we found out that the coworker in question was a guy in his early '20s. Then it all made sense.)

Anyway, the weekend was fabulous -- a reminder that I have to get away more often with the people in my life who mean the most to me. I had such a great time. And I feel so blessed to have such great sisters.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:50 AM

Don't Forget to Bring Your Camera

Friday, January 06, 2006
The eight year old is better prepared for my trip to the train station than I am. He has his bag of stuff to do in the car all packed. I haven't started to pack my suitcase. I'm still writing Chapter 3.

The eight year old just brought me another cup of coffee (isn't he great?!!!) and told me he's packed one of his disposable cameras to take in the car because he's not going to be caught unprepared on this car trip "like the time we drove past Elvis and I didn't have my camera." That's the kind of experience that can ruin your whole day.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:07 AM

Club Mom

Thursday, January 05, 2006
I am excited to announce that Club Mom has invited me to join their site as an "Expert Mom." This means that I will be playing an active role at Club Mom by contributing parenting articles and otherwise hanging out with other moms in the Club Mom community.

I really like the strong grassroots "mom" feel to Club Mom even though it is obviously one of the really big players in the parenting market, having been co-founded by The View's Meredith Vieira.

Right now, the site is trying to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition to get "Mom's Night Out" declared a national holiday -- a guaranteed break for moms. The site also does a lot of "mom research" through its annual and ongoing "Voice of Mom polls." I like that.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:35 PM

Sisterfest

My sisters are forcing me to get on a train tomorrow to head away for our annual sister getaway, Sisterfest. This year, we're descending on this place. They've booked me a first class ticket on the train and they've told me wine will be waiting. They've also informed me that laptops are not permitted (although one sister is taking a work-related teleconference call on the train). That's fair. None of us has the time to get out of town right now, but we can't move the date because one of our sisters is having a baby in February. We've got to go now!

| posted by Ann D @ 8:13 PM