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There's Hyperspeed, and then There's TV Speed

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Well, that was certainly the speediest 3 minutes of TV I've ever experienced. (At the last minute, my segment was cut from 5 minutes to 3 minutes, so if you tuned in and wondered why each of my answers to Marci's questions was a sentence fragment and the total effect was staccato signals of constant information, it's because we soldiered along and tried to squeeze 5 minutes of content into those 3 minutes.) Just for the record, I had not yet had my Starbucks Venti Bold, so caffeine wasn't to blame for the hyper speed of the interview. It was simply the pace at which those on-screen boards kept coming, relentless waves of content that kept driving the pace of the interview, forcing both host and guest to speed up in order to avoid being dragged under by one of the waves.

That's not to say that the experience wasn't a lot of fun -- or an amazing creative challenge, since this was the first time I've ever cooked anything on live TV -- or that I'm not hugely grateful for the opportunity that I had to go on Canada's top morning show to talk about my book. I'm just feeling slightly breathless in the aftermath.

P.S. Before I could stop him, Seamus ate some of the hummus. I hope he will be alright. I think the ice pack kept it cold all night. Only time will tell.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:17 AM

Canada AM in the morning!

I'll be on Canada AM at 8:45 am in the morning, trying not to poison any of the Canada AM crew. (I'm serious. I have half-prepared food sitting in the parking lot behind the hotel in a cooler bag. I have asked the producers to warn the crew not to sample the food, due to the risk of food poisoning. Vomiting does not make for good TV.)

Then after Canada AM, there's the book launch at The Ella Centre. Should be a totally amazing event, judging by the fact that I'm finally going to get to meet some people I've worked with (virtually) for years.

Then I'll have the chance to hang out with some of the most happening women in T.O. (You know who you are.) It should be a totally awesome day -- one of those Cinderella moments.

So why am I up at midnight with insomnia?

Maybe it's because this feels like someone else's life, rather than mine.

Or maybe I'm waiting for the adrenaline to leave my system. (I had a TV shoot at my house this afternoon. Then I had to hit the grocery store and then Neil and I did all the food prep for Canada AM -- and then I hopped on the highway to drive to Toronto @ about 9:00 pm.)

Anyone know the number of a good therapist -- ideally one who makes house calls to authors' hotel rooms in the middle of the night?

----

6:52 am postscript, Thursday morning. If you catch any news reports of a clearly deranged woman doing "food art" in the back of her SUV in a parking lot in Scarborough, there's no need to worry about the imminent invasion of the Stepford Moms. It's just me getting ready for my 8:45 am appearance on Canada AM. Or maybe there is reason to worry. Do other people play with sweet potatoes in parking lots before they've had their morning coffee?

| posted by Ann D @ 12:00 AM

Party on, Dudettes!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The last half of the book tour flew by at hyperspeed. I barely had time to go to the bathroom or to eat decent meals, let alone to post. (I'll give you the official book tour update later on, but here's the capsule version: media: good; major airline: bad.)

Anyway, I promised Marla that I'd remind you Toronto social types about the post-Ella festivities. The event is this Thursday, so you may want to drop Marla a line ASAP if you're planning to come. That way, we'll know whether we should be renting a phone booth or the Skydome (or whatever it is called these days) for our festivities.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:41 AM

18 Years Ago Today, I Became a Mom

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
18 years ago today, I became a mom.

After spending days musing about how to mark this mother milestone in a suitably fitting way, the universe took care of things for me: I got this wonderful gift from Andi Buchanan: she posted an e-mail exchange that the two of us had recently -- an email exchange I've been meaning to post as part of the blog book tour for It's a Girl.

This email exchange with Andi does as good a job of capturing the essence of my relationship with my daughter as anything else I've ever written -- other than the essay that I wrote for Andi's book ("The Food Rules").

Andi, not only are you a wonderful writer buddy and editor: you're also a wonderful friend. I sure hit the motherload the day I met you. XO

| posted by Ann D @ 6:16 PM

Happy Mother's Day to You All!

Sunday, May 14, 2006
I spent Mother's Day morning with my kids (who all remembered it was Mother's Day without being reminded by their Dad: I think this was a first!). Then I hopped a train to Montreal. Right now, I'm sitting in The Queen Elizabeth Hotel -- the same hotel where John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote "Give Peace a Chance." (This will sound sacreligious, but I've always thought that some nutrition campaign should rewrite the song for kids -- you know, "All we are saying -- is give peas a chance.") Anyway, I just wanted to wish all of my favourite moms (you know who you are) a wonderful Mother's Day. And an extra big hug to those of you who are celebrating your first Mother's Day -- or your first Mother's Day with living children. And to those of you who are nursing a wounded or broken heart on what can be the most difficult of days, I'm remembering you today, too. XO Ann

| posted by Ann D @ 6:43 PM

May 25th: Be There Or Be Square

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Just a quick note to let you know about two events that are happening in Toronto on May 25th -- and you're invited to BOTH.

First, the official book launch at the Ella Centre for Pregnancy and Parenting:
ella invite

And then, the unofficial book soiree being organized by Marla.

ella invite

You have to RSVP to both events (see details on both invitations).

I have been rather slow getting the supremely cool invitation designed by the even cooler Steve posted, so don't make me feel even guiltier than I already do by not getting back to Marla NOW.

Notice the colour of the invitation? Pretty cool, eh?

Don't let the fact that you live in Mississauga, Mimico, Moncton, or Miami hold you back from joining in the fun. We'd love to see you there.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:05 PM

Book Tour: Days 4 to 10

As the subject line indicates, I'm a little behind in posting. But you already knew that. I just fell off the blogosphere for what's got to be the longest time ever for me: an unprecedented ten days.

Some days I couldn't get an Internet connection to save my life. (What some hotels pass off as "wireless Internet" is really "Internet that works if you're standing in the lobby" or "Internet that works as long as not too many of our hotel guests log on at any one time." That's only marginally useful.)

Other days I was too exhausted from the book tour pace to do anything but drop my luggage on the hotel room floor, deal with "emergency emails," and see if there was anything mindless on TV. (That's how I caught the snippet in which Britney announced her pregnancy on Letterman after stumbling her way through Dave's Top 10 List. I bet it will be a while before Dave lets any other guests read the Top 10 list for him. It was painful.)

Day 4 (last Thursday to the rest of you) saw me doing back-to-back radio interviews all day long, plus trying to finish some magazine articles, and pack so that I could get out of town for BabyTime, which started the following day.

Then I spent three crazy but exhilarating days (Days 5, 6, and 7) at BabyTime, talking to parents on the show floor (I lived at the Wiley booth when I wasn't giving my presentations on "sleep solutions" or "mealtime solutions" or participating in "Canada's biggest baby shower." CTV sent out a news crew to interview me about kids and sleep, and I also had the thrill of being a guest on CBC's Fresh Air early Saturday morning. (If you're a CBC junkie like I am, having the chance to walk inside the hallowed halls of the CBC is always a truly magical experience. And Jeff Goodes is just as nice and down to earth in real life as he sounds on the airwaves.)

Most memorable moment at BabyTime? It's almost the end of the show, at which point I'm so tired I'm getting giddy. Really giddy. This guy pushing a toddler in a stroller walks up to the Wiley booth, points to a copy of Parenting for Dummies (another Wiley title) and says, "Only a dummy would read parenting books. You know your child best. What could a book tell you about your child?" I cover up my name tag with my scarf so that I won't be mistaken for a parenting author, and I just smile and nod at the guy, not just because it's the easiest thing to do, but also because I happen to believe that there's a lot of truth in what he's saying -- although I also think parenting books can be helpful to parents, or I wouldn't be writing them. But I've always hated the very same kind of parenting books that this fellow objects to so strongly -- the books in the "I have all the answers to your family's problems -- even though I've never met you or your child" school of parenting books.

I spent Monday (Day 8) in Hamilton doing media: an appearance on CH Morning Live, and then an interview with Denise Davy of The Hamilton Spectator, who wrote this piece called "The Mother of All Parenting Experts" based on our interview, followed by spots on CHTV's Smith and Hayes and AM 900's The Jamie West Show). I also did two phoners with Eve Morgan on CFGX radio in Sarnia and CBC Radio's The Noon Edition with Jennifer Gibson in Saskatchewan. (I think this show will go down in history as the only time I've had the same caller call the same radio call-in show twice. The caller in question had one sleep question and one mealtime question. So either the person was hitting redial the entire time -- or the phone lines were empty!)

Then I headed back to Toronto on Tuesday (Day 9) to sign the book panel members' copies of Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage, which is now hitting the bookstore shelves. (Your books should have hit the mail Wednesday morning, book panel moms and dads.)

My Toronto media is happening in bits and pieces all over the place. I'm going to be the featured guest on the special Mother's Day edition of CFRB's The Parent Coach with Connie Sinclair tomorrow morning (May 14th) and I'm going to be on Canada AM on May 25th. And I'm going to be taping an episode of The Mom Show in early June.

On Wednesday (Day 10), I was in Kitchener/Waterloo. I was a guest on Daytime, CKGL's The Gary Doyle Show, and CKCO TV's Provincewide. Note: The Provincewide segment will air on Sunday at 6:30 pm.

On Thursday (Day 11), I was in London, Ontario. I started my day at the Covent Garden Market, where A-Channel Morning broadcasts live. One of the co-hosts, Jeremy, was kind enough to mention that my books have been in his house longer than he's been a parent. (Apparently his wife read my pregnancy book when they were at the pre-pregnancy stage.) Talk about making an author feel welcome -- that and the endless supply of coffee both on-set and in the immediate vicinity. (There were two gourmet coffee bars right next to the set.) And the producer, Morgan, was way too nice to be working in the TV field. Where was the grumpiness, the edge, the get-off-our-set-now body language? Morgan actually babysat my laptop while I went to scrounge up some breakfast. Wow.

And speaking of the nice people of London, I had the chance to meet with Jennifer McCallum of Parent Guide Inc, founder of a new parent resource guide that started in London, but that has been expanding regionally and nationally. She's also added a school-age resource guide to meet the needs of parents of older children. I've worked with Jennifer for a number of years, but this is only the second time we've had the chance we've had the chance to meet in person -- and definitely the only chance we had the chance to meet in a non-hurried way. Jennifer treated me to dinner at The Tasting Room Bar and Bistro in London, one of the city's newer restaurants, apparently. The food was delicious and the service was great. I highly recommend it, if you're looking for a place to dine in a relax and unhurried way. (And isn't that what dining is supposed to be all about anyway?)

Okay, back to tales from the book tour. Where were we? London. Day 11. The morning. Oh yeah. After the early morning TV interview, I headed over to CFPL AM 980 for an interview with John Wilson. John has apparently made a career out of proudly boasting to his radio audience that he has 500 reasons for not having children. I think my sleep book allowed him to add to his repertoire. ("500 hours of missed sleep during the first year of parenting? And I thought morning radio hosts were the most sleep-deprived people on the planet.") We had a great time during the hour-long interview -- John is a lot of fun -- and he's invited me back so we can get to the mealtime book the next time. By the time we're finished getting through the material in that book, he may be up to 550 reasons....

After my interview with John, I headed over the London Free Press offices, to do an interview with parenting columnist Kathy Rumleski, who immediately put me at ease. Jennifer has a young family herself, so sleep deprivation and kids' mealtime theatrics aren't abstract concepts for her at her current life stage, something that makes an interview a whole lot easier for both the interviewer and the interviewee. It's not like you have to explain the concept of "tired" to someone who thinks being a tired parent means getting 5 hours of sleep in a row one night. (Actually, that's the definition of sleeping through the night. That's sleep nirvana, in the eyes of a new parent.)

I drove back to Peterborough late Thursday night and did another Hamilton interview from home on Friday morning. Since then I've been doing laundry, catching up on some email (I am massively behind again), and packing. I hop a train to Montreal tomorrow. But before I leave, I'll be doing a half-hour interview at 7:30 am on CBC radio tomorrow morning on CBC Montreal's All in a Weekend.

Here's where I'll be next week:

Monday: Montreal (Global's This Morning Live @ 8:15 am; CFCF TV 12 Noon New at 12:30 pm; CBC Radio Noon one hour phone-in; plus some print interviews and taped radio interviews)

Tuesday: Ottawa (schedule TBA)

Wednesday: Calgary (schedule TBA)

Thursday and Friday: Vancouver. (Thursday: City TV Breakfast; CBC Radio Almanac, plus some radio tapings; Friday: Global TV Morning, Shaw TV - Studio 4 with the amazing Fanny Keifer)

Then, home to open the cottage. Yeah!

Okay, on to my belated book blogging on behalf of my buddies. (How's that for alliteration?) But because this post is getting way too long, I'm going to start fresh in two new posts.

But before I sign off, check out this news story that hit the news wire on Tuesday: "Parenting guru says best gift is kids who eat and sleep well." Other that feeling a bit weird about the "guru" thing -- and the fact that I seem to have lived out that awful dream about leaving one child in the grocery store (I'm down to three kids rather than four, according to the story), the story seems to capture what I'm trying to say really well.

Oh yeah: There are magazine excerpts of Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stagein the works (mom's the word for now, but I'll tell you more as soon as I can).

[BTW -- If you read an early draft of this message and then came back and thought, "That looks longer, you're right. I kept expanding it -- and expanding it as I remembered more and more things about the tour. That's why I never write in ink in a journal. I'd have to keep ripping out pages and starting my entries again from scratch. I'd never finish a single entry.]

| posted by Ann D @ 10:52 AM

Book Tour: Day 3

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Today was another quiet day on the book tour front -- three radio interviews and one newspaper interview -- so I managed to get my out-of-province travel insurance purchased and to take care of an errand that's been on my to do list for over a year: buy comfortable shoes.

I found shoe mecca and it's right here in Peterborough (1135 Lansdowne Street West). For the first time in my life I have really comfortable (and gorgeous) dress shoes and sandals: two pairs of each, to be precise. I also scooped up a tangerine orange handbag. (This store has an amazing variety of really nice purses. Those of you who pass through Peterborough on a regular basis for one reason or another should add Chesley's to your list of "must shop" stops.)

Now I've got to finish writing two overdue articles, finish working on my presentations for Babytime, and get the wet laundry out of the washer and on to the line. After all, great shoes can only take a gal so far.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:37 PM

Sleep Mystery Solved

I found out why the eight year old is sleeping with sunglasses on. He doesn't want to keep rubbing his eyes in his sleep. (He has allergies and his eyes are really bothering him.) My child is a genius. What can I say.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:31 AM

Book Tour: Day 2

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Today was a little quieter (and after yesterday's excitement, I appreciated the lull). I pretaped two radio interviews. A couple of other radio interviews were rescheduled for later dates because the interviewers had to cover breaking news about the federal government budget. (Can't blame them. Government spending always gets people pretty excited -- in a good or bad way.)

I also had a chance to catch up on some one-day-overdue writing assignments. I hate being late. Up until about a year ago, I was never late with anything (other than pregnancies). During the past year, my life has become a bit of a hurricane. Okay, a lot of a hurricane. It started with the two back-to-back books -- and then everything else in my life got swept up in the book-related hurricane. I still feel breathless some days.

On the good news front: I'm making serious in-roads in tackling the office clutter and confusion. (I've probably eliminated about 75% of the clutter that was here 6 weeks ago. Yeah, me!) I've also implemented a lot of new systems, many of which were inspired by David Allen's book Getting Things Done (read this for a smart and concise summary of what GTD is all about). So I'm starting to feel like the teeter-totter is tipping in the "less overwhelmed" direction.

Now if only someone would un-invent my nemesis, email, I might have a fighting chance of conquering my to do list on any given day. (Okay, not all e-mail: just the SPAM and the lists I joined in 1997, but have no way of getting off, and the PR pitches that have nothing to do with anything I write about, and the emails made up of strange combinations of characters that fill my in-box with random nothingness.) Is that so unreasonable?

-----

A couple of happy footnotes. (Isn't it nice to finish the day with happy feet?!!!)

First of all, Savvymom.ca featured Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage today in a 10-copy giveaway contest on their site. Knowing how much traffic those savvy moms get in a day, I imagine the books are long gone, but it never hurts to enter the contest, just in case every other mom on the planet is assuming that all the copies have already been won. (Hey, it could happen.)

Secondly, two lovely reader reviews for the book have cropped up at Amazon.com. Now I know what you're all saying. "Back away from the site. Back away from the site! It's only a matter of time before one of those other reviews appears." (You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that say. "This sleep book was so terrible it kept me up all night, tossing and turning. The one you really need is [insert competitive title]." Anyway, until the hateful reviews start to appear, I'm going to enjoy the ones from my first two satisfied readers, who really seem to "get" what I was trying to do with the book. Carpe diem.

And speaking of sleep. there's an adorable eight year old asleep upstairs in my house with a pair of sunglasses on. So what's your theory about why he wore those shades to bed? One: he's pretending he's Corey Hart or Two: his future's so bright, he has to wear shades?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:47 PM

Book Tour: Day 1

Monday, May 01, 2006
I am sure there are people who read this blog and swear I make half this stuff up. Sometimes I feel that way myself.

Today was the official start to my book tour for the brand new books: five radio interviews plus a TV shoot at my house. A pretty full day. A pretty weird day.

The day starts out with an email from my sister (the one with the new baby) saying some morons slashed three of the tires on her husband's car overnight, while it was parked in front of their house. [Note to said morons: The New Mom Fairy Godmother is watching over my sister, you tire-slashing idiots. Expect to slip in a puddle of breastmilk, trip over a baby swing, or to pay the karma piper big-time.]

The TV taping goes well. Then the weird-o-meter kicks into overdrive.

The eight-year-old's school phones to say that his eyes are itchy and they need me to come and get him. I tell the school I'll come and pick him up as soon as I get a gap between back-to-back radio interviews. (What was that we were saying about Mother Guilt?)

I keep smelling something burning outside. I conclude that someone must be burning wood because there's a definite woody smell to the smoke.

Hmmm.

I ask one of the teenagers to help me check to see if the house is on fire.

It's not.

One of the bushes in the garden is smouldering away.

It takes me a while to put the pieces together, but then I remember that one of the members of the TV crew took a smoke break out front right before we started our shoot.

We start dousing the fire with tea kettles of water. (We couldn't find the bucket.)

I use a snow shovel to dig up part of the bush. It's smouldering below ground, right down into the roots. Finally, we manage to extinguish the fire.

My friend Cyndie -- who dropped by for a nice relaxing cup of tea because we haven't had a visit in ages -- hops in my vehicle with me and we start heading across town to pick up the eight-year-old. Halfway across town, we witness a freak accident. A cyclist and a car are involved in a hit-and-run -- but it's the cyclist who damages the car and then flees the scene of the accident. (I give my business card to the driver of the car, in case she needs a witness. I kind of suspect her auto insurance company may have a hard time believing her story.)

I arrive back home after picking up the eight year old (whose eyes weren't itchy at all, by the time I got to the school) and there's another email from my sister. She almost ran over a wild turkey en route to the store to try to pick up replacement tires for her car. I tell her that she's lucky she missed the turkey. One time I hit a mallard duck and it got stuck under the windshield wiper on my old van and died there. For weeks afterwards, other mallard ducks kept showing up at my house, as if they were a posse of grieving relatives (or maybe the duck mafia) looking for answers, and maybe revenge.

So how was your day?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:13 PM