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F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I just finished writing something that I've been working on for a few months. If you know what it is (because you're a regular reader of this blog) and you are one of the first five people to post the correct answer below, you will win a free box of misc. office clutter and goodies (to be gathered up when I start cleaning up my office later this week). GO!

| posted by Ann D @ 5:14 PM

Toronto Event Tomorrow (Wed.)

I'm going to be at Becoming Maternity tomorrow from noon to 2:00 pm giving a book talk entitled "Sleepless in the City." (It's basically a sneak preview of some of the highlights from Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage.)

I'll also be going a lot of mingling at the event, as you'll see if you read the blurb on the promo page for the event: mingling from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm (except for when I'm speaking); mingling from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (along with Erica Ehm, who will be co-mingling).

I guess I will continue to mingle while Erica is giving her talk -- or would that be considered rude? My etiquette books don't cover mingling. I guess I'll copy what the cool kids are doing -- the mingilistas.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:50 PM

Get the Glow

Wondering what to do with your Shoppers Drugmart Optimum points? why not treat yourself to a one-year subscription to Glow? The magazine has been totally remade under the editorial guidance of editor-in-chief Beth Thompson, who has given the magazine a really strong health focus. Anyone who has ever read any of the magazines that have benefitted from Beth's editorial guidance -- Healthy Woman, Zellers Family, and Living Spree -- knows that Glow will distinguish itself with really smartly written, well-researched articles and a "feel great about yourself" approach to looking and feeling good (as opposed to a "become someone else's sex toy/Stepford girlfriend/plaything") beauty guilt guide.

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you this. Well, not only am I one of Beth's biggest fans -- I have worked with Beth at all of the magazines mentioned above and have learned something new everytime I've contributed an article to any of Beth's publications: Glow is carrying my brand new "Compendi-Mom" column (a collection of fun facts and figures focusing on everything mom) starting with the March/April issue. (You'll find it on page M29. My byline is somewhat hidden in the magazine's spine -- the hot new design trend these days -- so you'll have to go looking for it if you want to see my name in print.) I've also written some longer health features for the magazine, which will start showing up in subsequent issues.

I'm really impressed by the new Glow (especially the way that they're getting real moms to test-drive and rate a bunch of consumer products: if you go to the Glow website you can volunteer to be one of those moms). After all, it's that mom-in-the-trenches opinion that we all want to hear.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:01 AM

Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined

Friday, February 24, 2006
I was never late for anything until I became a mother. And now I'm late for everything right now. Oh yeah -- and I used to be so organized. When I was planning my wedding, I set up a database to track the responses of wedding guests. Yes, I was that kind of person. You would have hated me.

But now that I have four kids, being obsessive to that degree simply isn't an option. I don't have time for it. I don't have time for a lot of things these days and haven't for a number of months. Want to know my really deep, dark secret? I haven't had time to open my Christmas cards yet. I didn't want to tear through them and not appreciate them -- and not have time to respond to them -- so I set them aside for a time when I had, well, a little more time. I still waiting for that time to arrive. I expect it to arrive in March. (So those of you who sent me cards: I'll be sending you your cards soon.)

I did, however, find a few moments this week to dive into Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined -- a collection of essays edited by Andi Buchanan and Amy Hudock of Literary Mama -- a website that has raised the bar for writing about motherhood both on and off the 'net.

What I love about this collection of writing is what I love about Literary Mama itself: the fact that it reflects the reality of motherhood. The writing isn't saccharine and cutesy, like so many of those made-for-gift shop motherhood books -- the ones that make you feel like you should be sighing deeply, wiping away a tear, and saying, "I am so blessed!" each time you flip another page.

This collection is honest enough to admit that there are times when we are disappointed and frustrated and angry with our kids -- and times when we feel guilty for feeling that way -- as well as times when we feel so happy about having a chance at motherhood that we feel like loading up on those saccharine motherhood guides by the armful.

Here's something else I love Buchanan and Hudock's collection. Rather than limiting themselves to "name brand writers" (the gutless editors' approach to putting together a book of this type), Buchanan and Hudock have sought to give voice to both well-known and lesser-known writers. The result is a highly personal collection of memoir, reflections, and poetry from a highly diverse and talented group of everymoms. Highly recommended.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:18 PM

The Motherhood Club Welcomes Another Member

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
My youngest sister had her baby yesterday. I am so happy for her (and for me). :-)

When I spoke to her on the phone last night, I found myself having that conversation I have whenever I talk to a brand new mom.

What did you think of labor?

Have you had a chance to try breastfeeding?

So tell me about your baby!

Isn't motherhood amazing?


Okay, it's a bit longer than that. I usually say, "I'm so happy for you" and "I'm so glad your baby is here" and I just gush over the mother and the baby and I ask for a million details about the baby and the birth (in a non-nosy, non-prying way, I promise). You have to let the new mom tell her story her way.

After I hung up, I found myself feeling a little wistful. My baby days are behind me and I'm really enjoying the adorable stage my teenage daughter is going through right now. (Her teen colic has abated and she's totally lovely again.) But those first moments with your first baby are a moment forever frozen in time -- the gold standard against which all other mothering moments are compared. And, naturally, the moment becomes "more golden" over time. You forget how sore and tender and exhausted you were right after the birth. It's the mother high that overpowers your memories.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:34 AM

Do You Color Inside the Lines?

Monday, February 20, 2006
Would you be more inclined to play this game the way the marketers want you to play it with your toddler or would you be more likely to try something different -- like coloring over the item that's an advertisement for a product? How soon do we need to start teaching our kids to be consumer savvy?

| posted by Ann D @ 10:40 AM

What Will CSIS Say?

Sunday, February 19, 2006
Freelancer Kevin Baker mentioned me in his article in The Star today, in a piece on authors with interesting book titles. He writes:

"Borrowing familiar words from a famous person to give your book a catchy title is nothing new to Canadian memoirists and how-to writers. Deborah Grey sampled a Nellie McClung line for her parliamentary reminiscences, Never Retreat, Never Explain, Never Apologize. Ann Douglas adapted a catchphrase from Saddam Hussein to come up with The Mother of all Baby Books and The Mother of All Parenting Books."

I just hope that this doesn't lead to me being flagged as a security risk by the powers that be.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:45 PM

Odd Blogs

Saturday, February 18, 2006
Anyone else following this?

| posted by Ann D @ 3:24 PM

First-Time Novelists: Fear Not!

There's no need to be afraid anymore.

Someone else has already received the worst possible review of a first novel.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:36 PM

Sister Brag

I have three amazing sisters. I can't name them by name because they are all really guarded about their privacy, but all of them are really wonderful people and really successful in their careers. Well, this week, one of those sisters made mother history at her firm -- one of Canada's largest and most prestigious law firms -- by scoring a major coup. She became the first person to achieve partner status while working part-time. (She works part-time so she can spend time with her two young daughters.) I feel like ordering t-shirts that say, "Ask me about my sister." Maybe I'll do that. That would be a great thing to be able to hand out at the next Sisterfest.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:51 AM

A 40-Pages-From-Out Book Writing Review

Dani loves to do "10 pages in" book reviews. I guess what I'm writing is something like a "40 pages from out" book-writing review of Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage.

All the chapters have been written. That leaves me with just the food tools and the appendices and the acknowledgments and dedication left to write. This is my favorite stage of the book writing process. The hard part of labor is over. It's kind of like when you've already delivered the baby and all that's left to deliver is the placenta. No biggie.

I'm having fun putting together these remaining elements, listening to music with words (a treat, because I can't usually listen to music with words when I'm writing -- it's too distracting). Having been "pregnant" with this book and its twin Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage since early June, I am really happy to be at the almost-finished stage.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of As The Book Turns.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:30 AM

Mother Brains in the Morning News

You know you've married Mr. Right when he starts functioning as your own personal clipping service, immediately flagging articles in the paper that he knows you wouldn't want to miss on a busy day. This one from today's Globe talks more about mother brains and mother hormones. The title of the article is rather annoying ("Giving birth to supermom" -- please!) but there are some interesting tidbits in the article.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:35 AM

A Love-o-Gram for You All

Thursday, February 16, 2006
Well, actually, it's a Fridge-o-Gram, as you'll see when you click on the link and follow the instructions.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:21 AM

The Sociology of Snow

I think that some sociologist should do a study comparing the number of school bus cancellations and snow days in the 1970s vs. today. I only remember having a few snow days growing up, but my kids have had at least four snow days this winter, including today. Have you noticed that, too?

And while we're talking snow days, here's something else that's on my mind. The next time I sign a book contract, I am going to ask that they add a snow day contract clause, which gives me extra days of writing time to make up for each snow day. I think I'm going to have to suggest this to some of my buddies in The Writers' Union of Canada, The Professional Writers' Association of Canada, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, and The Authors' Guild.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:42 AM

Connections

I have had a couple of truly amazing conversations and emails today -- totally uplifting, spirit-affirming, I-want-to-do cartwheels at 12:30 am kind of conversations. A friend emailed me to tell me how much a phone call I made to her last week meant to her. Another friend -- someone I only met recently -- told me that she felt an instant connection with me the moment she met me: that she knew from the moment we first met (and she heard me telling a crazy purse story) that we would be friends. I had this really from-the-heart email from someone who had read something that I had written, and who felt moved to write to reach out. On days like this, I have to remind myself to pause, breathe in, and savor this moment. This is the payoff for everything that I do -- the sense of contributing to the world, of connecting with other people, and of making a difference in some way. It feels soooo good.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:37 AM

Looking for a Mom-to-be to Interview

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I'm looking for an American mom-to-be to interview for an article -- someone who is currently pregnant and who is experiencing one or more of the following pregnancy complaints, or who experienced them earlier on in her pregnancy:

Morning sickness/nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
Breast tenderness
Fatigue
Urinary frequency
Round ligament pain
Increased vaginal secretions
Back pain
Difficulty sleeping
Swelling and fluid retention
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Hemorrhoids
Linea nigra (the brown crayon mark up the belly)

Email me at ann@having-a-baby.com and please use "mom to interview" in your subject line if you have an experience to share. I need to do this interview before Friday, so I'd love to interview you ASAP.

----

Update @ 1:00 pm: How do I love thee, Blogosphere? Let me count the ways. I love thee for thy immediacy. I love thee for the fact that there are so many cool moms and moms-to-be in cyberspace. Like L.C., who has already emailed me in response to this query. So I think I'm covered for this story now. Thank you everyone!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:34 AM

Calling All Grocery Store Movie Remainder Bin Fans

I was standing in the grocery store looking at the movie remainder bin on Sunday afternoon and there was a copy of this movie called Hope Springs. I thought that was the movie that Marla really liked. (It turns out that the mvie she had raved about last year was called Hope Floats. I just looked it up. Anyway, Hope Springs ended up being our Valentine's Day date night flick and it was actually kind of a cute movie. I give it three-and-a-half stars. Check your local grocery store remainder bin to see if you can pick up a copy cheap, too.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:20 AM

Chapter One -- Boy Meets Girl

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
I guess it's only fitting that my knight in shining armor first came to my rescue in a library. (I'd managed to get one of those magazine holders jammed halfway up and halfway down.) It was 1978 and we were both high school students living in Mississauga. I was 14 and he was 15. A few weeks later, we started going out. Neil popped the question (the "do you want to go out with me?" question) behind the library.

We both shared a love of reading. That passion for books and ideas is just part of the glue that has kept us together through the years. There's also a tremendous amount of mutual respect and love.

Neil is my greatest supporter when I'm working crazy hours trying to finish a book, taking care of our four kids, making meals (he's making spaghetti while I blog), and making endless trips to Starbucks to keep the coffee flowing. (My hero!)

I dedicated my first book to Neil and I will be dedicating the book I'm writing right now to him, too. It's the 28th book I've written, and none of those books would have been written without his love and support. I really lucked out in love.

If you want to read some other posts about love, check out the love-a-thon that's happening over at Mommybloggers.com today. They're talking about all kinds of love: grandma love, kid love, romantic love, and more.

-----

Postscript: And love is cleaning up vomit together when the eight year old gags on cough syrup on Valentine's Day.... How come the Hallmark cards always miss that one?

| posted by Ann D @ 5:22 PM

Parcel Paranoia

Well, if my editor didn't think I was a nutbar a week ago, by now she's no doubt convinced. The parcel (the one with the used magazines) that she very kindly dropped off on my sister's porch on Friday afternoon has mysteriously showed up in the mail at my editor's house again. I have emailed my sister to see if she has any idea how the magazines got back to J.'s house again. Will keep you posted. (No pun intended.)

At least I won't have to worry about having to meet any future book publishing deadlines. Everyone in the industry is going to have me pegged as a nutbar who stalks editors while they are on maternity leave by repeatedly sending them the same box of used magazines.

-----

Mystery solved!

My sister writes:
"Our mailman is notoriously unreliable and we always get the wrong mail
by mistake. People on our street got sick of bringing things back to
the Post Office and they started just leaving things in their mailboxes
with a note to the mailman - "Please redeliver." Perhaps he thought that
the box had been misdelivered?"


So my sister and I have decided that J. should keep the used magazines. I will find other Douglas hand-me-downs to pass along to my sister and her kids. Clearly the universe really, really wants J. to have these used issues of Highlights. How else can you explain two accidental misdeliveries of the same parcel?

| posted by Ann D @ 1:16 PM

Trent University: Publish and Prosper

Saturday, February 11, 2006
My writing course at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) is only a few weeks away, so I thought I'd better start spreading the word:

Publish and Prosper: The Savvy Writer's Guide to Thriving in Today's Freelance Writing Market
(Part of the Certificate Program in Creative Writing)
:
This no-nonsense guide to making it as a freelance writer will cover all the basics involved in launching a successful career as a freelance writer: finding magazine, newspaper, and online markets for your work; investigating other profitable sidelines like speaking, consulting, teaching, book writing, and freelance radio or TV work; mastering the strategies that successful freelancers use to market and publicize their businesses; managing relationships with magazine, newspaper and book editors and other writing clients; and dealing with the business aspects of thriving as a freelancer: budgeting, managing income peaks and valleys, dealing with contract negotiations, and handling intellectual property issues.
Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm -- March 4 & 5
Fee: $319 (GST exempt) Student/Senior/Alumni Fee: $287 (GST exempt) -- Canadian dollars. To register.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:52 AM

The New You

Friday, February 10, 2006
I'm working on an article for a Canadian magazine. I need to interview a couple of women who have made some really positive changes to their lives. Maybe you (or someone you know) improved your health by making some fitness/nutrition changes, reducing your stress level, started making more time for fun (including more or better sex), or found a way to enjoy improved relationships with family/friends/your partner. You (or your friend) needs to be a Canadian woman. (Don't worry. You can have have a pseudonym if you want to tell all about your amazing sexual metamorophasis. And none of your fellow bloggers will be able to bribe me to spill the details -- not even with offers of coffee or green purses.) If you want to get in touch about this, please email me at ann at having-a-baby dot com. Please put the word "interview" in the subject line. Thanks.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:07 AM

Your Belly and Your Baby -- Big TV Stars!

From the mailbag:

Are you Expecting A Baby? Be On Life Networks Birth Days.

Are you having a baby between late-February and mid-May 2006?

How would you like a top-of-the-line broadcast quality documentary about the birth of your child and the first few weeks of your family's new life?

Birth Days -- the successor to the Life's Birth Stories -- is looking for expectant parents to be on TV and star in the show.

We need families from Toronto and surrounding areas due before mid-May 2006, as well as families who reflect the multicultural diversity of our city.

For more information contact Linda at (416) 531-2500 x136 or email birthdays@nextfilm.ca

Birth Days airs Thursday nights at 9:30pm EST on Life.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:21 AM

Sleep is the New Sex: The Not-So-Secret Sex Lives of New Moms and Dads

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Dads may clock a bit more sleep than moms do during the early weeks of caring for a new baby, but when it comes to overall feelings of exhaustion, moms and dads are pretty much on par. That's one of the key reasons why sex falls off the radar screen for many parents of newborns: no one can stay awake long enough to get the deed done. More.

You can read the rest of my article at Family Man, a fabulous site for dads.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:02 PM

The Sleep Files

There's never been a shortage of wacky sleep advice for tired parents:

    us parenting book
  • "Make the baby's time-table fit yours. It is wise to start him on [a regular schedule] when he's tiny: most hospitals will help you work out such a schedule and train the new baby to it for a few days before he goes home." - 1920s behavioral psychologist John B. Watson, Care of Infant and Child (1928)

  • "The place where baby most likes to sleep is the place where he must not be." - The Glaxo Baby Book (1921)

  • "Occasionally, a child just refuses to stay in bed, and every night there's a battle-royal. Although it sounds cruel, the best solution for this lies in tying, in 6 to 8 places, a tennis or badminton net over the top of his crib. This is a very effective method of keeping a child in his bed....Leave the bedroom door open, so your child doesn't feel totally imprisoned." - Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book (1970)


(From the research files for my book Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 AM

Miss Abigail

I was delighted to see that one of the blogs that I've been recommending since my earliest days as a blogger is going to be producing its own book soon. Congratulations to Miss Abigail!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:11 AM

Nancy White Fans: This Should Float Your Boat

nancy white poster

| posted by Ann D @ 9:26 AM

L-O-S-E-R

Wednesday, February 08, 2006
On Saturday, I asked someone to address and mail two parcels for me.

One was a baby present for one of my editors, who is off on maternity leave, plus a present for the new baby's big sister.

The other was a box of used children's magazines that I was sending to my sister for her kids to read.

Well, you know what happened.

I just got an email from my sister telling me that she has a baby present for "someone named J."

Meanwhile, I just received a polite email from J. thanking me for the used magazines, which she no doubt thinks I sent her as a baby gift.

Right now I feel like the mom-equivalent of Charlie Brown.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:21 PM

Sweet Potato Love

Some toddlers love their vegetables. A lot.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:26 PM

For That Fresh, Clean Feeling

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
One of the coverlines on the home page over at iVillage.com caught my eye.

Pamper Yourself With Luxury Cleaners

So, of course, I had to click through.

This was my favorite part:

"With fragrances as alluring as designer perfumes and pretty packaging to match, luxury cleaning products are making home care hip again. Show your digs a little love -- and pamper yourself in the process -- with these indulgent and divine spritzes, powders and sprays."

It sounds like they've come up with a crossover product -- one part household cleaner and one part feminine hygiene product.

But, then again, these products have been confused before.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:33 AM

Mom's the Word

Sunday, February 05, 2006
Reading about the death of Betty Friedan got me thinking about the first time I read The Feminine Mystique, back when I was in high school. I read it because I was trying to understand the whole "happy housewife" phenomenon of the 1950s -- and how it had lead to a tidal wave of maternal discontent that was still making itself felt 20 years later. (My Mom wasn't the happiest of campers during this time, and I couldn't really blame her. I mean she'd no sooner finish cleaning a room in the house and someone would mess it up, not even noticing all the work she had done. It was a truly vicious circle, one that repeated itself countless times each day, like a laundry load spinning out of control.)

And now we've got an odd shift happening in mother culture again -- something I haven't quite been able to put my finger on, but that seems to involve adding some new ingredients to the recipe for the perfect mom: one part happy homemaker, one part hot mom, and one part exotic dancer.

The job description for mother seems to be expanding by the day. Not only do you have to be a perfect mother and a gourmet chef while holding down that dream job. You've also got to find the time to stay fit, stay beautiful, and be the modern age Marabel Morgan (she of wrap yourself in saran wrap fame).

It's freaking me out, especially because a lot of people are acting like this is all perfectly normal. I think that's the freakiest part of all.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:40 PM

Comfort Kit

Create a comfort kit for a friend who is going through a hard time. This article, which I wrote for the Canadian edition of Homebasics Magazine, has some tips to get you started.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:40 PM

HalfBakery.com

Saturday, February 04, 2006
A few items that caught my eye over at HalfBakery.com.
Time-Release Caffeine Tablets

Caffeine Shower

Shopping Cart Turn Signals; Lanes in Grocery Aisles

Shoutcase

Dirt-Fortified Infant Food

-----

And for the Scrabble fanatics:
Perpetual Scrabble

Beach Scrabble

iScrabble

| posted by Ann D @ 12:28 PM

Night, Night, Sleep Tight...

And don't let the bed bugs bite. While this news story focuses on how bed bugs are affecting tourism in Australia, they're also a big problem in North America, especially in areas with large, concentrated populations, like New York City. That's why health authorities like the Harvard School of Public Health and Ohio State University's Entomology Department have produced tip sheets on dealing with these unwelcome bedmates.

If you want to amuse yourself (or horrify yourself, if you're about to head out of town on a family trip), plug "bed bugs" into the search engine of your favorite Internet travel search tool. I tried it at Trip Advisor and came up with some interesting hits. Wouldn't you love to stay here or here or here? I sense a helliday in the making.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:51 AM

Neurotic Mom

Friday, February 03, 2006
Have you discovered Neurotic Mom (a.k.a. Jen (Strayer) Eyer) over at mlive.com? I just stumbled across her blog this morning. Today, she's got a link to a fabulous piece on mother-daughter relationships, written by linguistics professor Deborah Tannen. It's amazing what turns up while I'm surfing for other stuff. That's when I find some of my favorite blog links. Is that how this blogging thing works for you, too?

| posted by Ann D @ 12:42 PM

Reading Up on My Audio Book's Narrator -- Kate Reading!

Thursday, February 02, 2006
ImageI got a copy of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books Audio Book today. (It's brand new: it just came out last week.) This makes the book accessible to a whole new audience: women who aren't big on reading or who are too busy to read or who like to "read" while they are doing other things. They can load it the book into their iPods or pop it into their CD players and listen to the book at the gym or while they're on their way to work.

It's really interesting and weird to hear my book being read by someone else. Weird and cool and freaky and fun. So I decided to do some research on the narrator. (Yes, I am obsessive about everything. Thank you for asking.) The narrator, Kate Reading, has narrated more than 200 audiobooks (including books by Judy Blume, Erma Bombeck, Sophie Kinsella, Fannie Flagg, Jane Green, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Patricia Cornwell, Louisa May Alcott, Pearl S. Buck, and Anne Rice). And she was named a Voice of the Century by AudioFile magazine. (What's really interesting is that she reads under a couple of different names. Isn't Kate Reading the perfect name for a narrator, incidentally?

Now back to the final sprint on Mealtime Solutions. By the way, I've updated my book list information page to reflect all my new and forthcoming books. Check it out when you have time. I don't think I've had a chance to tell you about the new edition of Body Talk. (I'll get to that one day soon.)

And I still have to add info to the page about my anthology contributions for 2006. That will have to wait until another day.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:21 PM

I Love My Baby.org

Have you guys discovered I Love My Baby.org? It features a really cool mix of unique baby products and interesting pregnancy/parenting articles. It's sort of one part Baby Gadget and one part Blogging Baby, but with a personality all of its own.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:47 AM