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Frugal for Life

Saturday, September 30, 2006
If you're looking for ways to stretch those maternity leave dollars just a
l-i-t-t-l-e further, you'll find all kinds of cool and inspiring ideas at Frugal for Life. Thanks to the always brilliant 43 folders for the lead on this great blog.

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| posted by Ann D @ 9:37 PM

Oh Canada, indeed!

I had no idea that Douglas Johnston, creator of the D*I*Y* Planner, was Canadian. Or that he just moved from Newfoundland to Yellowknife. Or that his wife is this amazingly talented artist: Jennifer Pohl. Or that they just had a baby. Too cool.

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| posted by Ann D @ 9:32 PM

They Don't Call Them Savvy For Nothing

Friday, September 29, 2006
A friend pointed me in the direction of this bit of fine print over at Savvymom.ca.

Editorial Policy
We don't make any money from products or services we promote.
Period.
We write about the savvy stuff we love and that moms need to know about.
Our media partners pay for advertising and you will always know the difference because their messages will be clearly marked as SavvyMom Today sponsored e-mails or seen as banners ads or sponsored links on the top, bottom or side of your SavvyMom Today e-mail.
We are your trusted source and we didn't get here by selling ourselves.
We have strong editorial ethics and we are sticking to them.
Period.


If SavvyMom made this available on a t-shirt, I'd wear it.

I think this declaration is a great example of how transparency about what is (and isn't) an ad message boosts a blog's credibility and makes the entire momosphere stronger. Savvymoms Minnow and Sarah know their target market well. Moms don't like to be played for fools or manipulated. Moms want authenticity, straight up. Lose that ingredient and you'll lose moms. It's that simple. (But sometimes you have to be savvy to "get" simple.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 2:00 PM

Momspiration: Creativity for Moms

Here's the scoop on a workshop that I'm going to be offering in early November in Toronto. I thought it might be of interest to some of the readers of this blog.
- Ann

Momspiration: Creative Inspiration for Moms

Date: Saturday, November 4, 2006: 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
Location: Becoming Maternity, 505 Eglinton Ave West, Suite 401, Toronto (parking available in lot behind plaza across the street)
Cost: $150 per person

Art30743530Moms are the most creative people on the planet. We have to be. It's what allows us to troubleshoot whatever kid-related situations we encounter by day or by night. If you'd like to tackle a different type of creative challenge, then plan to take a timeout from life on Planet Mom to nurture your own creative side.

Your course facilitators -- Jacqueline Osmond Patrick, an artist and arts educator who is currently on sabbatical from Sheridan College's renowned School of Art and Design -- and Ann Douglas, author of the bestselling The Mother of All Books series -- will lead you through a day-long workshop experience that will challenge your thinking about motherhood, creativity, and the types of creative endeavours that refuel the soul.

Some of the themes to be explored in this one-of-a-kind workshop include

  • finding time for creativity amidst everyday chaos,

  • making sense of our motherhood journeys and our motherhood histories,

  • sidestepping creative roadblocks,

  • dealing with perfectionism and other common hangups that can take the fun out of being creative, and

  • savoring the joy in everyday acts of creativity.

Expect to experience plenty of "momspiration" during this very-hands-on workshop for artists, writers, mothers, entrepreneurs, and other creative souls.

  • Six hour small group workshop with two instructors

  • Light lunch and beverages throught the day

  • Art and journalling supplies

  • Course workbook


Workshop is limited to 12 participants. Register early to avoid disappointment.  Call 705-742-2035 or email Ann Douglas to preregister. links and more

| posted by Ann D @ 1:04 PM

ILL PUP

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Another interesting license plate from the streets of Peterborough:

ILL PUP

So who's behind the wheel of this vehicle?


  • a sick puppy?

  • a veterinarian who is particularly skilled in working with dogs?

  • other?



| posted by Ann D @ 1:07 PM

Moms in the City -- Thank You

I had such a great time hanging out with the Moms in the City at Grano yesterday. We spent most of our time together laughing and (oops) traumatizing the young male waiter. (Every time he came into the room, we seemed to be talking about "your sex life after baby." By the time we were done with him, he had learned to pause at the doorway before walking in with platters of this and that. New moms can be a pretty uninhibited group, after all.)

Thanks to Laurin and Jordan -- hostesses extraordinaire -- and the moms who shared from the heart and made me feel so welcome.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:59 PM

Blessed Are The Whatevers

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Blessed Are The Whatevers
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

You don't see a sign like this every day. It really caught my eye so I had to stop and snap a photo.



| posted by Ann D @ 12:46 AM

Moms in the City

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Tomorrow I'll be the guest speaker at Moms in the City. My topic? "Parent/Partner Balance" (finding that zone between being teammates on "Team Mom and Dad" and being the last of the Red Hot Lovers). (Okay, the last of the Red Hot Sleep-Deprived Lovers.) Laurin and Jordan (The Official Moms in the City) tell me there's a good crowd expected for lunch at Grano, and we'll certainly have lots to talk about. Hope to see some of you there.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:07 PM

You've Got Mail -- And More Mail -- And More Mail....


I unplugged from the Internet to enjoy a timeout at the cottage -- and came back to 1000 new email messages. These are on top of the messages that have snowballed during the month of September. (Is it just me or has everyone noticed a huge increase in the volume of correspondence this month? It seems to me that everyone is emailing everyone about everything -- and the spammers are out in full force.)

If you've emailed me recently about something and it's urgent, please forward your email to Florence. She will stalk me mercilessly until I get back to you.

In the meantime, I'll keep doing email triage and try to catch up.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:23 AM

ITS TIME

Friday, September 22, 2006
This morning, I was driving behind a car that was sporting this license plate:

ITS TIME.

(Naturally, if it was my license plate. I would have cheated and used a piece of black electrical tape to add an apostrophe so that it would read IT'S TIME. But that's just me.)

But back to the question at hand.

It's time for what?

Tim Horton's?

The second coming of Jesus?

The end of the world?

The guy driving the car didn't look like the head of a cult (although I'm not sure I'd recognize one if I bumped into one with my car or my person).

Maybe he was actually someone totally harmless, like an alarm clock salesperson. That would explain the time connection.

Hmmm....

| posted by Ann D @ 9:54 AM

Mom University: Brette Sember, Pregnancy and Parenting Author

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Mom University is back with an interview with prolific author Brette Sember, who has written a number of books in the pregnancy and parenting category. Brette is passionate about writing giving voice to audiences whose needs for information have traditionally been ignored or under-served -- plus-sized pregnant women, gay and lesbian parents, adoptive parents, and so on.

Ann: Brette, first of all, I have to say that I've always found you to be a very inspiring person. Not only do you work really hard (look at that list of books!): you are the kind of writer who is supportive of other writers and who generously shares information about what it takes to be successful in this business. I really admire that.

Now let's talk pregnancy books. It seems to me that the baby boom in the pregnancy and baby book publishing category is still going strong. There are more titles than ever before. What types of books do you think expectant parents are looking for these days? What trends have you noticed over the past ten years or so?


Brette: I think that expectant parents are looking for two things, really. First, I think they want good solid, general books that tell them everything important about pregnancy or babies. Once they have that in hand, I think they want books that then specifically address their own particular needs, problems or issues - like pregnancy over 35, plus-size pregnancy, raising babies with special needs, and so on. I think the trend is for more and more specialized books. The problem is that publishers see these special needs as "niche" and are reluctant to publish books in those categories. I also think that pregnancy and baby books have got to be extremely user friendly and provide things you can't find online. It's very easy to just google whatever you want to know and not buy a book.

Ann: What are your favorite subtopics related to pregnancy, babies, and motherhood? Are there subjects that you find particularly fascinating?

Brette: Plus-size pregnancy is my number one. As a plus-size mom myself, I had so many questions and worries when I was pregnant about my weight and there was no information to be had. Fortunately I had a wonderful OB who was plus-size herself and was very reassuring; however, other medical personnel were not as nice.

Ann: I totally get that, Brette. Some people can be patronizing -- even nasty -- about the weight issue. Fortunately, there has been a lot of work done in this area in recent years. And there are more products/services/options available for plus-sized pregnant women. When I had my second child, I put up an ad on the bulletin board at a local parent-child drop-in center asking if anyone had plus-sized maternity clothes. I remember saying something about how I was going to be naked soon if I didn't find some good plus-sized maternity clothes fast! Luckily plus-sized moms today have so many more options when it comes to clothing. And pregnancy books are finally "getting" the fact that plus-sized moms have babies -- and sex lives! -- too. (When John Sussman and I wrote the first edition of our book The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby in 1999, it was considered ground-breaking to include information about plus-sized pregnancy. Times have changed!) But I interrupted you! Go on with what you were saying....

Brette: I also love pregnancy chick lit. There are only a few books in this category, but one of my favorites is actually becoming a tv series this fall (Notes from the Underbelly by Risa Green). I have created an Amazon Listmania list with my favorite books in this category. I think it's a chick lit sub-category that is going to continue to grow, as women who absorbed chick lit in their early 20s become moms.

Ann: What other topics do you enjoy writing about?

Brette: I like to write about a wide variety of topics. It keeps things fresh for me. I have a business book coming out, The Essential Supervisor's Handbook, which was a nice change for me. Having worked as an attorney before becoming a writer, I was able to draw on my experiences as a boss.

One of the things that motivates me as a writer is finding people or interest groups who need information and have a hard time getting it. This is what spurred my plus-size pregnancy, but is also the basis for the gay rights and senior rights books I have written.

I also like to write about books. I did a children's book review column for several years and it was great fun. Some day, when my kids are older, I hope to do more travel writing.

Ann: What is your best career advice for writers/authors?

Brette: Finding a specific niche in which you can specialize is very important. It gives you some footing and separates you from the crowd. It may seem contradictory, but at the same time that you are establishing yourself as an expert in one field, I think it's important to diversify and try other things. If you write only about fitness, for example, there are times when you simply run out of things to write about. That usually changes, as the market changes, lifestyles change, and research comes out, but it takes time for new pathways in a particular niche to emerge. Instead of twiddling your thumbs, find other areas.

Ann : Brette, that's excellent advice. Thanks for dropping by to talk writing and motherhood.

Brette Sember is a mom of two and author of over 25 books, including Your Plus-Sized Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide for the Full-Figured Expectant Mom and Your Practical Pregnancy Planner: Everything You Need to Know about the Financial and Legal Aspects of Preparing for Your New Baby. Her web sites are Your Plus Sized Pregnancy.com and BretteSember.com. Brette recently spoke at the Connecticut Coast Writer's Retreat in Milford, Connecticut.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:34 AM

The Path

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The Path
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

I took my shoes off one evening while I was taking some pictures and found them when I was on my way back to the cottage. I decided to snap a photo of them to remind myself of how much fun I'd had spending a couple of hours totally immersed in what I was doing -- snapping photos, being creative, and following my own path.


| posted by Ann D @ 8:55 PM

Pipe Dreams



Pipe Dreams
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

These gas exhaust pipes are pretty much all that's left of a gas station on Highway 648 near Harcourt, Ontario. The bright colors of the pipes standing tall against the sky really caught my eye.

I had pulled off the highway to take some other photos at the site of the run-down gas station -- abandoned buildings, fuel pump remnants, and other misc treasures -- but this was the most unusual shot I managed to get that day. I think I'll print it out and hang it up on the wall of my new office when we get to the putting-things-on-walls stage. I love the colors in this photo.


| posted by Ann D @ 8:45 PM

Whatever Floats Your Boat



Whatever Floats Your Boat
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

This is the bottom of the second-hand aluminum boat we purchased this summer. You can't always see the bottom. It usually has a few inches of water in it -- either rain or lake water. (The boat has a small leak.) But when you can see the bottom, it's this gorgeous color of greenish-aqua -- definitely photo-worthy.



| posted by Ann D @ 8:30 PM

Starlite Gems




Starlite Gems
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

This is a photo of the sign outside that gem store I blogged about a while back. I've decided I love handpainted signs -- their imperfect lettering and free-flowing designs. Hmm.... instead of ordering new numbers for my new office, maybe I'll make a hand-painted sign of my own.



| posted by Ann D @ 8:22 PM

Children Crossing



Children Crossing
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

I spotted this road on Diamond Lake Road near Bancroft, Ontario. It warns motorists to reduce their speed before they come across a stretch of highway where children like to cross the road to head to the beach. I love the sign's stark homemade lettering as well as the attention-grabbing message: "Children Crossing Slow Down Please."



| posted by Ann D @ 7:20 PM

From Mental Gymnastics to Brain Candy

I'm wiped -- and I know a lot of you who've been participating in the very heated -- and somewhat emotionally draining -- discussions of the past few days are, too. So I'm going to change the pace here and post a few photos for a change. I've recently figured out how to use my digital camera and Flickr. This opens up a whole new world of blogging possibilities for me. Relax, unwind, and get psyched for some 100% politics-free fun.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:15 PM

What SHE Said about What She Said

Marla's most recent post is about much, much more than the recent blogging, advertising, and mom/marketing discussions (although she has a lot of valuable points to add to that discussion in this post and her earlier post). She talks about the division between public and private (kind of what I was eluding to the other day in one of my posts somewhere in the blogosphere (is anyone else losing track of what they posted when and where?) when I raised the point of how marketers are so eager to intrude on the almost sacred conversations between mothers. And she provides dozens of excellent links -- including some deliciously awful examples of what not to do if you want to have a scrap of integrity/content left.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:30 PM

Bedsharing -- With a Partner

Here's another fascinating article on sleep -- this one on sharing your bed with a partner. There's talk about the potentially life-saving benefits of sharing your bed with your partner (something that's likely to get people talking infant sleep again, since both sides of the bedsharing debate have historically cited evidence on this point) as well as laments about snoring. The key message is that it's less lonely sleeping with someone else -- something no one would debate. That's why many couples choose to sleep together even if it means getting less sleep because one or both of them can outsnore Fido, who is also snoring away at the foot of the bed. (And, just in case you're wondering, research has shown that dog and cat owners tend to be more sleep deprived than other people. Fido may be adorable, but he's not helping you rack up your zzzzs.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:50 PM

Sunnyside Bathing Pavillion H 136 Key

Tuesday, September 19, 2006



Sunnyside Bathing Pavillion H 136 Key
Originally uploaded by pageoneca.

I had a bit of free time in between meetings yesterday while I was in Toronto, so I popped into The Big R (2877 Lakeshore Blvd West, 2 Blocks East of Islington). In addition to unearthing copies of Heloise's Hints for Working Women (6th printing, 1972) and Kate Aitken's It's Fun Raising a Family (1955), I stumbled across a well-weathered key to the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion. (I wonder who went home with that in their bathing suit pocket long, long ago.) I spent $3 and a lovely half hour in the store.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:22 PM

The Jean Piaget Clutter Quote

Sunday, September 17, 2006
This is the quote I promised to post for those of you who were at my presentation in Ottawa this morning -- the Jean Piaget Clutter Quote.

"As you know, Bergson pointed out that there is no such thing as disorder but rather two sorts of order, geometric and living. Mine is clearly living. The folders I need are within reach, in the order of frequency with which I use them. True, it gets tricky to locate a folder in the lower levels. But if you have to find it, you look for it. That takes less time than putting them away every day."
- Conversations with Jean Piaget (1980) by Jean Claude Bringuier

Source: Wikiquote.

So: If clutter was good enough for one of the great thinkers of the previous century (a fellow Einstein once described as a genius), isn't it time you got with the clutter program?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:32 PM

Numbers and Links

MUBAR has undergone a bit of a reno in recent days. The new look? Decidedly minimalist. She's killed the statsmeter (which, we all have to admit, is the ugliest bit of blog bling ever invented) and she's ditched the list of blogs she reads. She's trying to make a point about blog hits and linking and marketers and money vs. what she's calling back-to-basics blogging.

My stats counter is gone now, too. I rarely check the thing and (as noted above) I think it's ugly as sin. It's also useless. My traffic hovers between 100 and 150 visitors per day, year in and year out, whether I'm posting about shopping for rocks or finishing books. I'm happy and grateful to have met some amazing people via this blog (many of whom are now true blue friends). The nicest people in the blogosphere happen to frequent this blog. (It's either that or the psychos don't leave comments.)

As for my links page, it's staying. I've tracked down a lot of links on a lot of different topics and parents use this page as a reference/jump page when they don't know where else to look for something.

So there you have it -- my take on numbers (hate 'em) and links (love 'em).

Now over to you....

| posted by Ann D @ 3:37 AM

Well, That Certainly Helped to Clarify Things....

Life Success Tip #4592
When you go to write a note of clarification in the comments section of someone's blog, it's always best if the clarification makes the situation less confusing.


Case in point: I was responding to this post by Mother'Hood columnist Catherine (Her Bad Mother) but addressed my clarification to the site owner. (I didn't spot the bio in the sidebar for Catherine until after I posted, so I assumed that the post had been written by the site owner, Jen.)

I had three key reasons for posting a clarification:

1. I wanted to offer an apology in case anyone at Urbanmom.ca felt attacked or singled out by my most recent blog post about parenting media. (I haven't heard from anyone else I cited as an example of parenting media in Canada in the article, so I'm assuming no one else took offense.)
2. I wanted to highlight the type of online marketing that I find really objectionable and to highlight my personal stake in the momosphere
3. I wanted to point out that it's perfectly legitimate for people to have a discussion that other people have had before -- or for the same people to have the same discussion over and over again, for that matter. That's how ideas evolve and grow. Saying, "we already talked about that" or "it's been said before" are great conversation stoppers. But I don't think we want this conversation stopped. At least not yet.

- Ann


NOTE #1

Dear Jen [this should have been "Dear Catherine" -- Catherine is the columnist (a.k.a. "Her Bad Mother"); Jen is the site owner]

I apologize if you felt singled out or attacked by my blog post on parenting media.

I'm co-presenting a session on Motherhood and Blogging at the ARM Conference in late October and, as always, when I'm doing research on an important topic, I wanted to get a sense of the grassroots thinking on the issue.

In listing parenting media outlets, I was trying to provide a representative sampling of the range of media voices that we now have on the Canadian parenting scene -- big, small; well-known, not-so-well-known; online, offline; chain, independent; etc. These were the examples I chose.

Babyvibe.ca -- a Westcoast parenting e-zine that was recently launched by a former journalist. I picked it because it's new and because the editor does a great job of providing a mix of editorial and product info, plus news and events of interest to moms in the BC-lower mainland.

UrbanBaby.ca -- another example of a BC parenting publication that's doing a great job, IMHO. In addition to carrying a lot of really intelligently written health/parenting editorial (you have to get the print version of the publication to really see what Urban Baby is all about), the publication helps advertisers reach Vancouver families.

Thyme Maternity: This is an example of a high-end "magalogue" aimed at Canadian moms.

Glow.ca: Glow is a Canadian women's magazine that provides strong coverage on motherhood. I included them to show how there's women's/motherhood magazine market crossover. (Not all magazines make the crossover. Chatelaine is an example of a Canadian women's magazine that doesn't.)

SavvyMom.ca: I included Savvy Mom because they -- like UrbanMom.ca -- are an example of a product-focused blog/zine/newsletter. They specialize in drawing Canadian mom's attention to noteworthy products/services. Savvy Mom has a rather noteworthy crossover deal with Canadian Family magazine and has recently extended into Vancouver. Because Canada doesn't have a parenting/pregnancy equivalent to the US baby shopping magazine "Bundle" online blog/zine/newsletters are currently fulfilling this function. I personally think its only a matter of time before someone in the print world steps in and fills this market gap. (Think "Baby Lulu"!) However, given that the blog/zine/newsletters have had a significant head start in this category -- and given how crowded the parenting media category in general has already become -- a print mag may be reluctant to wade in.

City Parent: I included a mention of City Parent as an example of a GTA newspaper for parents. I tried to find a URL for "The Little Paper" that is published in the city's westend because I wanted to add them, too, particularly since they're an independent, but I couldn't find a link for them. Does anyone have one? I'd like to add them to the list of links in the sidebar of my blog.

UrbanMoms.ca: I included a mention of UrbanMoms.ca for the reasons stated in my discussion of SavvyMom.ca; because the site has just undergone a major makeover; and because it has always had a strong product focus (parents testing products).

And, of course, my list was not complete/exhaustive. I could have listed 50 Canadian online/print parenting publications and not covered them all. But that would have been kind of redundant -- and time-consuming!

As to your point that people have had this parenting media discussion before, well, that is true. I've been part of those discussions before -- just as I've been part of discussions about moms and stress, work/life balance, the childcare shortage, the homework debate -- all the topics that bounce around the blogosphere because they still warrant more discussion.

And I suspect we'll be having some variation of this online marketing discussion 10 or 20 years from now. I think the evolution of parenting media, parent blogs, etc., is a fascinating topic. (In fact, I think the evolution of media in general is fascinating.) And the more we talk about these things (and the more voices that join in the discussion), the more we can learn from one another. (And along that vein, thanks for the excellent link to bubandpie's discussion. Lots of very insightful posts over there.)

One final comment that may also provide some insights into why I care so much about this topic: because I gained so much support online after my daughter was stillbirth (and at other dark times in my life as a mom), I'm very protective of the sanctity of mom-to-mom communications. I know from first-hand experience -- and from talking to countless other moms -- that the networks that are created online can be lifesaving, literally. I don't want someone pretending to be my online buddy so that they can sell me a cleaning product or try to get me to join their market-to-moms network or any of that kind of stuff. The few times it's happened to me, I've been enraged. That's what I object to -- the ugly underbelly of blog marketing -- people trading on online friendships to make a buck.

I hope this helps to clarify my comments. If you would like me to remove your link from my original post, please let me know. Otherwise, I will leave it as is so it can remain in the company of other respected Canadian parenting media.

- Ann


NOTE #2

I just realized that Catherine was the author of the column above. (I didn't see any byline, so I thought it was by the site owner, Jen.)

And then after I posted, I was looking at the baby photos and I thought -- wait....that's Her Bad Mother's baby.

So Jen, I don't know if you were offended by the post or not -- or if Her Bad Mother was offended on your behalf -- or whatever. But if anyone was offended and wants the Urbanmoms.ca link removed from my original post, please advise.

I'm off to bed (where I clearly should have gone before posting.) :-)

- Ann

| posted by Ann D @ 1:51 AM

Squidoo Pregnancy and Parenting Group

Friday, September 15, 2006
If you've always wanted to set up a lens at Squidoo to promote your blog or to start a group blog that collects the feeds from a bunch of your favorite blogs or to stand on your parenting soap box to deliver a one-time rant on something that makes you completely insane or to share your knowledge on something you are totally passionate about, maybe I can convince you to start a lens (e.g., mini-website) of your own and join my Pregnancy and Parenting group at Squidoo.

If you join my group, I think you'll either earn a small bonus from Squidoo ($5 comes to mind) or that amount will be will be donated to a charity of your choice. There's some sort of promotion going on where we both get a bonus. I didn't pay that much attention because I donate all my lens proceeds to The March of Dimes. I'm more interested in community-building than getting rich quick. Good thing, given my choice of career. You can do well as an author, but as for having to store money in off-shore accounts? It hasn't been an issue for me quite yet.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:49 AM

Vintage and Retro Cookbooks: Links and Artwork

Thursday, September 14, 2006
Here's something fun and fabulous that one of my fellow lensmasters has created over at Squidoo: a page that features artwork from vintage and retro cookbooks and that provides links to online cookbooks dating from the 1400s to the present. As anyone who has read old cookbooks knows, they were much more than sources of recipes to women in generations past. They often contained etiquette pointers, diet tips, and other information considered essential to the day. That's why they are so much fun to look back on -- plus you can always hope that you'll luck out and stumble upon the ultimate recipe for cream cheese, pineapple, raisin, carrot, and gelatin salad.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:21 AM

A Virtual Model -- Complete With a Virtual Weight Loss Obsession!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I can see the advantages of having an online shopping tool that allows you to get a rough idea of what clothing might look like on someone of your body type -- hence the rational for creating My Virtual Model. But did the virtual models really need a discussion board devoted to health and weight loss ideas. Aren't virtual models, by definition, relatively slim?

| posted by Ann D @ 1:03 PM

Magazines and Mommy Blogs: The Parenting Media Revolution

I spend a lot of time analyzing parenting media -- pregnancy and baby magazines, parenting magazines, and -- over the past few years -- parenting websites, grassroots parenting blogs, shopping blogs and business blogs aimed at the parenting market, and so on.

The slicing-and-dicing of the parenting market must be complete at this point. It's hard to imagine that the market could get sliced-and-diced much more than it already is. Amazon.com lists 71 different parenting magazines for sale under the parenting and families category. That's a lot of hungry publishing mouths to feed from the same ad dollar pie.

The same trend is occuring up here in Canada. A few years ago, there was just one major player in the parenting magazine marketplace.

Now there's another popular parenting magazing -- Canadian Family -- as well as yet another magazine rumored to be coming down the pipeline in 2007; countless targeted print and online media and magalogues that are able to meet the needs of specific audiences of parents: e.g., Babyvibe.ca, Urban Baby, Thyme Maternity, glow.ca, Savvy Mom, Urban Moms, City Parent; a growing number of TV shows; and so on.

And as for the once humble mommy blog, it seems that almost every week, someone else is launching a new parenting blog (or group blog) in an effort to try to reach blogging nirvana, Canadian style. After all, if Dooce can make a living blogging out of Utah, why shouldn't you be able to do the same by doing the same out of Ottawa or Moose Jaw or St. John?

So here are some questions for any of you who happen to like to mull over these types of hypothetical/moral issues. Answer as few or as many as you'd like, as always.

- Do you feel like you are getting more parenting information because you there are more sources of parenting information available to you? Or do you feel like the mainstream media tend to present essentially the same view point, even though the publications in question are being printed by different media outlets?
- What do online parenting media give you that you find lacking in print/broadcast parenting media?
- What do print/broadcast parenting media give you that you find lacking in online media?
- Are print/broadcast and online media providing something radically different or similar products? Is this different than a few years back?
- Do you see yourself making use of a mix of mainstream and online parenting media for at least the foreseeable future?
- What AREN"T parenting media providing that you wish they would?
- How comfortable do you feel about the increasing commercialization of the blogosphere?
- If so, which issues trouble you most (if any): shopping blogs, ads on blogs, ad pitches in blogs, PR companies contacting you to pitch products in your blog in exchange for freebies or celebrity access?
- Do you think it is ethical for a blogger to market to his/her friends without being upfront about his/her intentions or to fully disclose his/her business involvements when he/she is pitching/recommending a particular service. For example, if I were to recommend that you visit a particular resort, should I declare upfront if the resort and I had an agreement for them to pay me a commission for any referrals that resulted in business for the resort? (This is a fictional -- and wishful -- example!) :-)
- Has the cult of celebrity entered the domain of the blog? Have "who you know" and "who you link to" become things that bloggers think and care about?
- Is "the Golden Age of the Blog" (that time of idealism and mutual support and sharing) over? Or has it only just begun?

| posted by Ann D @ 12:32 AM

Post Your Comments on the Canadian Edition of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I'm now hard at work on the revisions to The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (Canadian edition). (The second edition is due out in the spring.) I'm eager to get as much input as possible about what would allow me to make the second edition as helpful as possible to parents today. A lot of things have changed since the book was first published in 2000. What should I be adding to the book? What should I be taking out?
canadian pregnancy book
What drives you crazy about pregnancy books (including mine)? What do you love? If you were writing a pregnancy book today, what would traps would you steer clear of no matter what?

I've set up this chat room where you can drop by and have your say.

Your comments will be erased as soon as you leave so you don't have to worry about them being read by half of Canada unless, of course, half of Canada happens to drop by at the same time as you do. (Hey, it's highly unlikely, but I thought I should tell you about that upfront, just in case your next-door neighbour shows up at the same time you're posting your story about the obnoxious neighbour who kept trying to pat your belly all through your pregnancy.)

If you'd prefer to submit your comments via email (as opposed to playing around with my very cool new online chat toy), email them to me using the email addresses found at the top of this page. If you know someone else who has strong opinions about pregnancy books (good, bad, ugly), please direct them to this page and invite them to have their say, too. The more, the merrier.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:16 PM

What Do You Do With Your Favorite Cards, Letters, Stalk-o-Grams?

Do you have a folder or scrapbook or drawer full of comments that people have sent you over the years that make you feel TERRIFIC?

I have these random bits and pieces of things all over the place. (I'm not neat and organized like Florence, who cuts and pastes nice comments into a single Word document. What can I say? My life is an exercise in multimedia.

Last night I got a lovely note from one of my editors -- one that almost made me cry -- so I made two copies of it -- one for my desk and one for my wallet (so I can carry it around with me on the Really Bad Days). And I wonder why there's so much paper in my life.

I think I should gather up all the emails, cards, letters, reviews, and random nice things I've received over the years from family, friends, readers, people I've worked with, blogging buddies -- including the loving stalk-o-gram that Marla left for me at the Ella Centre one day ("Hand over the author and no one gets hurt," it said, if I recall correctly) -- you know, all that great stuff and create something really special with it.

I'm thinking of a very unscrapbookish kind of scrapbook, if that makes any sense. Something lumpier and multimedia that might not be a book at all. Hmmm.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:27 PM

Upcoming Presentations, etc.

Friday, September 08, 2006
I've started to add some of my upcoming speaking engagements, courses, etc., to my calendar for fall/winter and beyond. I still have a few other exciting things to add, but, hey, a mom can only get so much accomplished during the first week of school. Here's the lowdown on some of the things I'll be doing besides revising the Canadian editions of my pregnancy and baby books and working on my first novel.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:56 PM

Writers and Depression

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
This is one of the most insightful bits of writing I've ever read about writers and depression.

This paragraph makes particular sense, as does the advice which Schuett offers in her post -- tips on how to (attempt to) sidestep the dark pit of depression in the first place; and how to dig yourself out if you feel one leg slipping into a sinkhole -- that tell-tale sign that things are going from bad to worse -- and fast.

"The field itself can create problems you wouldn't be as likely to find in other occupations. We've all experienced the sublime high of a wonderful possibility -- maybe we'll get a book published, or sell an article to a big publication. After the high comes the inevitable low, when we discover that wonderful possibility had some strings attached, it wasn't quite the success we expected, or even worse, was a damaging mistake." - Trudy W. Schuett

While Schuett argues that writers aren't necessarily more prone to depression than anyone else, a study conducted at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop concluded that 70% of writers experienced depression significant enough to meet the DSM3 or DSM4 criteria. The researcher who conducted the study attributed part of this susceptibility to depression to an increased sensitivity and openness to life: "There is a profile of a person who is creative. First, a creative person is open to experience, exploratory, risk taking and tolerant of ambiguity. And those kinds of traits make you see and feel more, but they also make you more easily hurt and more prone to experience suffering. If you do that enough, it can make you feel depressed."

There are definite ups and downs to the writing life. The writers interviewed in the study reported that while they could not write when they were at their most depressed, after they come out of a depression, they typically experienced renewed creative energy. It's the getting out of the depression that's the tough part, of course -- particularly remembering that you have been through the dark days before. (Someone's got to add "depression amnesia" to the depression lexicon: the inability to remember that you found your way out of the dark hole when you were depressed in the past -- and the resulting loss of any hope that you'll do so this time around.)

I can't imagine concluding this post without including this inspiring and empowering advice from writer Holly Lisle, who points out that writers should never give up the good fight without considering, one last time, the power of the pen. "You're a writer. You have options. Write about the bastard who left, and the bimbo, and sacrifice both of them in your next book. Let the bastard pay for the Mastercard while showing the world what a shit he or she was. Change your pen name and give yourself a fresh writing start. Get a crap-ass part-time job to get you through the low spots. Do something to change things, not to end them." Holly concludes by writing: "Live to write another day. For yourself. For the rest of your tribe. For all the good you can do."

Holly's postscript brings tears to my eyes:

"This article is written with thanks and deepest gratitude to all the writers who faced the abyss and found the strength to walk away."

| posted by Ann D @ 10:19 PM

YouTube: The Face of Autism

My friend Nancy Price (creator of the SheKnows empire of websites) created this amazing video called The Face of Autism. It's about her son Quinn.

My youngest son doesn't meet the diagnosis for any one condition, but he lives his life in that fascinating neighborhood bounded by autism, Asperger's, non-verbal communication disorder, and other similar behaviors/conditions. I saw a lot of the types of things he would do when I was watching this video about Quinn -- especially the intensity with which he lives his life.

Typical slice-of-life moment with my son: on the way home from the school yesterday, he tells me that he (a Grade Four) had taken the new crop of Grade Ones aside to tell them that life isn't fair. "They're getting older and they need to know. X wasn't very happy about it. But she's going to have to learn to deal with it." Welcome to the real world, kids. And Happy First Day of Grade One. Kindly check your childhood idealism at the door.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:21 AM

The Lowdown on Lice: A Pesticide-Free Alternative for Canadian Parents

A recent Decima Research survey of more than 1,000 Canadian parents found that nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed were unaware that most medicated head lice treatments contained pesticides, and more than nine out of 10 indicated they would prefer to use a treatment that was pesticide-free if it were as effective or more effective than currently available products. Furthermore, treatment failure was an issue; more than one-quarter of households surveyed who had experienced head lice reported that head lice re-appeared after it was thought to have been treated properly.

Fortunately, such a product is hitting Canadian pharmacies, just in time for back-to-school season. The pesticide-free lice treatment, Resultz, is available without a prescription and has been clinically proven to be 96% effective. The product is fast-acting, colorless, and odor-free. The first application takes 10 minutes (Day 1) and is repeated one week later (Day 7). After protecting the infested person's eyes with a towel, the product is applied to dry hair and scalp until the head and full length of hair are thoroughly saturated and wet to touch. Once this application is complete, the product stays on the hair for 10 minutes and is rinsed away with warm water. The product works by dissolving the wax that covers the exoskeleton of head lice, causing them to die.

The Decima Research survey also asked parents about the impact of head lice on their families. More than 30 per cent cited having to stay away from friends and family. 24 per cent cited a strong emotional impact on the child. 23 per cent said missed days of work; of those, half missed two or more days and nearly one-quarter missed three or more days. Read more. (Note: I'm quoted in the press release for this product, talking about my family's experiences with head lice and how pleased I am to hear that there is now a clinically-proven alternative to using pesticide-based treatments for head lice.)

| posted by Ann D @ 9:11 AM

First Day of School: A Milestone Moment for Moms

Monday, September 04, 2006
Just want to wish everyone a "Happy School's Eve" and a terrific first day of school, particularly those moms who have little ones heading off to school for the first time. It can be an exciting time, but it's also important to recognize that this is a milestone moment in your life as a mom.

You may feel like your baby is being wrenched from your arms and that you're taking that first step down the slippery slope that leads to her heading off to college...getting her first apartment...or otherwise leaving the nest. Or maybe you won't play these kind of melodramatic headgames with yourself -- the kind of headgames that had me weeping the whole way back from the bus stop as my firstborn and my youngest hopped on the bus for the first time. (It wasn't quite so wrenching for the others because they were sandwiched in the middle. I had either been through the "first bus ride" before or I still had another child waiting in the wings.)

Sure, letting go in stages is part of the deal we all signed up for when we joined The Motherhood Club. But knowing that this day would come and feeling that little hand slip out of your hand and then watching those little feet make their way up those too-big stairs bus stairs is something very different.

If you're having a rough day tomorrow, maybe it will help to know that somewhere, at another bus stop, there will be another mom swallowing hard, smiling through her tears, and waving furiously as the bus pulls away. You may feel lonely, but you're not alone.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:54 PM

Karla's Essay

My all-time favorite post from Untangling Knots made the front page in the most recent issue of the Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario newsletter. It's such a beautifully written essay about finding the strength and courage to go on after the death of a baby. I'm so glad that Karla's essay is being shared with a wider audience of grieving parents. I know it will comfort and inspire a lot of people.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:33 PM

Get Your Fix of the Fix Chicks

Sunday, September 03, 2006
It's nice to get a thumbs up from a fellow blogger, so it was nice to find this post from the fix chicks. Apparently, one of the chicks is a big fan of my books. Check out this very cool blog, if you have time. It's opinionated and fun -- always a great combo.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:39 PM