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Push Presents: Media Phenomenon or For Real?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
AOL Shopping has decided to pick up Jane Taguicana's article on push presents. I was quoted in the story -- which ran in the Canadian Press over the holiday season.

Frankly, the whole "push presents" thing kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can't decide how much of this "trend" is real and how much is a media phenomenon. (Obviously at least a few gifts are being purchased or there wouldn't be moms who've received push presents to write about or increasingly lavish push presents to spotlight.)

I can't think of any moms in my circle of friends who've ever tried to make the case that they "deserved" such-and-such for going through labor -- and, trust me, my friends aren't exactly the martyrly type. (If they thought they deserved something, they'd speak up.)

The whole idea of getting some sort of reward for going through labor makes no sense at all. Your baby is the reward. Or at least that's my take on the situation.

And as for making it sound like dad "owes" mom something for giving birth -- like he contributed nothing to the process of having a baby -- well, that's just plain insulting to dads. As Peter Hartlaub put it a few weeks back, "I think the push prize promotes the idea that having a baby is all about one person, instead of a shared experience."

The Poop: The Push Prize -- Great Idea or Biggest Scam Ever?"
Maternity Award: Push Prize Says It All
Push Presents Expected from Expectant Fathers
Push Presents: A Trend is Born

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| posted by Ann D @ 2:42 PM

A Sneak Peek at the WebMD Makeover

Saturday, January 27, 2007
As many of you know, I have a blog over at WebMD. (In my blog -- Pregnant Pause -- I offer "motley mix of noteworthy pregnancy news, tips and pregnancy wisdom seen through the eyes of a mother who also happens to be a pregnancy author.")

A couple of the days ago, the WebMD bloggers got a sneak preview of the site's new look. The makeover hasn't gone live yet, but we were given permission to give friends and family a look, too, so I figured I'd post the link here. If you've got any feedback -- good, bad, or ugly -- the folks at WebMD would love to hear it. I promise I'll pass it on. (Note: I recently told the people at the site about some outdated information I'd spotted in a pregnancy article and they were very receptive to hearing what I had to say. They aren't just saying "Tell us what you think" because that's something they should say. They really want to know.)

Just to get the ball rolling, here are some quick comments from me on the site's new look.

I love the fact that there are so many different ways to choose to navigate the site now. I was particularly happy to see the introduction of tags linking to conversations on the boards since that allows you to immediately get a sense of what real moms are talking about -- and you can jump in with just a click of your mouse.

I love the fact that there's so much content accessible from this one page -- via headlines, pull-down menus, search boxes, lists, and other on-screen summaries of site resources.

I love the new colour scheme. It looks a lot fresher and more contemporary to me than the current template. I particularly like the look of the Health News area. The mix of headlines, lists, and images makes this page very inviting.

I'm a bit mystified by the "Perfect Pregnancy" header beside my picture (scroll down and you'll see what I mean). My Web blog is called Pregnant Pause and -- as regular readers of this blog and my pregnancy books know -- I would never promise anyone a "perfect pregnancy." Given my reproductive history and how I hate it when anyone tries to offer any false guarantees about anything pregnancy or parenting-related -- (the SPALS acronym "Ms PP" for Ms. Perfect Pregnancy" comes to mind) I really feel uncomfortable having the words "Perfect Pregnancy" associated with my blog. It could be that those two words are slug copy that were inserted as place holder text or that someone mixed up the name of my blog ("Pregnant Pause" -- "Perfect Pregnancy" -- they're not that dissimilar). What matters to me is that, before the makeover goes live, they lose the "perfect." After all, I lost "the perfect" a long time ago.

So what do you think? Anything jump out at you that you want to comment on?

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| posted by Ann D @ 5:45 PM

An Impromptu Love Letter to the CBC

Thursday, January 25, 2007
If you're as passionate about the CBC as I am, you may want to read this post in my other blog. Warning: it's a wee bit political and slightly feisty. Be forewarned.


| posted by Ann D @ 1:46 PM

Morning Sickness -- Live on Radio, Today!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Yes, Beachmama, Scarbiedoll, this show is for you. :-) I'm going to be a guest on Conceive Magazine's Radio Show Conceive On Air today at 11 am PT/2 pm ET. I'll be talking about morning sickness. (I've just written a big article on this topic that's going to be published in the next issue of Conceive Magazine, due out any day now.) Pass on the word to any moms you know who might be interested in an all-morning sickness radio format right now.

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| posted by Ann D @ 9:41 AM

Momosphere Morning

Monday, January 22, 2007
Remember how I used to regularly take everyone on guided tours of the momosphere? Thought it was time to revisit that once frequent feature of the blog -- this time with a twist. You'll have to guess which blogs I'm talking about.

The Spice Kids: I've been reading this blog since Nutmeg was still on the inside. Now Nutmeg is about to become a big sister. These are exciting times for those of us addicted to this blog.

From the Beach to the Couch: A lot of you already know Beachmama, because she's a regular poster around here, but I think she could use some extra support these days, what with the morning sickness and her sore back. If you've got an extra 30 seconds in your day, maybe you could drop by her blog to leave her a cheery note or something.

She Can't Be Bought: There are a lot of reasons to love Asha, but I love her because she can't be bought. If she likes something, she'll tell her readers. If she sees some of its flaws, she'll says that, too. You won't find advertorial fluff at ParentHacks, which is why parents have come to trust this site as a source of credible tips and product reviews. Her review for this book, for example, is nicely balanced, pointing out the good points and the not-so-good points. She's also a terrific advocate for dads. Anyone who forgets that Dads are part of the parenting team does so at their own risk when Asha's on the scene.

Making Mondays Better for Moms: I'm sure this is another one of those cases where everyone else on the planet knew about this blog ages before me, but just in case someone didn't know about what Jennifer (the resident blogger) is up to on Mondays, here's the scoop: she's got this feature called "Monday Morning Munchies" where she hops around the blogosphere and the Web, tracking down fun and useful and unexpected tidbits that tie into a particular theme.

Go Fish: Finally, keep your eye on this thread over at Andrea's. Once everyone gets over the shock of it being Monday again and gets caught up with their day, I'm sure there will be much blogging and posting.


| posted by Ann D @ 11:42 AM

Peterborough Event: "Kids Are Everybody's Business"

Sunday, January 21, 2007
If you are interested in attending the following event in Peterborough on Wednesday morning, let me know. It's free but spaces are limited.

Charlie Coffey, O.C., former RBC Financial Group Executive Vice President, will be the keynote speaker at a breakfast forum to be hosted in the Lower Lounge at Showplace Performance Centre, 290 George St. North, on Wednesday, January 24, 2007, from 7:30 am to 8:30 am. Coffey's presentation -- "Kids Are Everybody's Business" -- will be accompanied by a presentation by Betsy McGregor, candidate for the Federal Liberal nomination for Peterborough Riding, who will be speaking on "Investing in Youth: The Value of Youth Mentoring." More.

Note: I am part of the Communications Team for Betsy's campaign, as many long-term readers of this blog already know. Just thought I should declare that, in case you're new to the blog. Long-term readers of this blog also know I am pretty careful about declaring any potential conflicts of interest -- to the point of driving people insane. If you're a short-term reader of this blog, you are probably hitting the eject button right about NOW.

Betsy's blog

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:52 PM

High Tech Customer Service Hasn't Died After All....

What are the odds that you could

1. not remember the email password that you've had for about eight years -- even though you can remember or otherwise retrieve every non-important password you've ever created during your ten years online
2. reluctantly phone your ISP on a Saturday, knowing that the office is closed, and leave a message asking that someone call you back with your password on Monday
3. get a phonecall back within 5 minutes from the head of technology services, providing you with your password and asking you if there is anything else they can do to help?

Pretty slim, huh? But it happened to me yesterday, which is why I will never in a million years move my Internet business from this company. They rock when it comes to customer service.

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| posted by Ann D @ 2:05 PM

Remember the Milk Google Gadget: It Works for Me

I've been meaning to tell you this for a while, but I keep forgetting. However, my email crash has brought new organizational clarity to my life.

Here's the scoop.

You know how I'm always raving about Remember the Milk -- the online to do list that you can integrate with your calendar and pretty much any electronic gizmo you might choose to own?

Now you can build it into your favorite browser by using the Remember the Milk Google Gadget. This means that when you visit your home page at Google, you will automatically see your to do list. I've been doing that for about a month and it really helps to keep my "to do"s top of mind.

Some people who use Google Calendar like to take this one step further and have everything integrated together in their browser. You can do that, too.

I just happen to like to see my "to do"s by themselves. (It's simply a matter of personal preference.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:37 PM

Lisa's Baby Guide: Let's Talk Babies

Lisa -- who just posted to my email woes post -- is doing a great job of creating a helpful pregnancy and baby-related resource at her new blog Let's Talk Babies. She's taken the time to place each of her articles into nice, neat categories so you can find what you want when you want it (even if you're breastfeeding a baby, reading a book to a toddler, and trying to sneak a peak at the screen in your, ahem, spare time).

Lisa -- who is hoping to embark on the journey to motherhood herself soon -- tells us the site is her way of honing her (already considerable) writing skills while she waits for her husband's biological clock to kick in. The result is a well written and well organized guide to pregnancy for moms (and moms-to-be in waiting).

PregnancyLibrary.com: My annotated guide to online pregnancy resources. The the pregnancy tools page has some new goodies as of last week.


| posted by Ann D @ 1:17 PM

"You Do Not Have Mail -- Including the Mail You Had"

Saturday, January 20, 2007
All the e-mail that has arrived in my in-box since mid-August is gone: both the stuff I read and had a chance to act on and the stuff that I was looking forward to reading and acting on -- and the stuff I didn't even know existed (yet). After downloading a huge number of messages yesterday, I decided to take the rather prudent step (I thought) of baking up my email database. The problem is that the Evil Over-Lords of Entourage had other plans in mind for my email universe. The net result is that neither my database nor my backup are functional.

1. If you have emailed me about anything important recently, please re-send it to me at my new email address (yes, I'm starting from scratch with a new email address and new email software): annmdouglas at gmail.com.

2. Consider cc-ing urgent emails to my assistant Florence @ florencekraft at gmail.com. (She's down for the count right now with a sore back -- not email-related, by the way -- but should be back to her usual bouncy self soon.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:24 PM

Citizen Journalism to the Rescue

Thursday, January 18, 2007
Say "mainstream parenting media" and many veterans of the parenting blogosphere are apt to dial 1-800-I-WANT-GARLIC in order to avoid the harmful after effects of reading about celebrity conception tricks or potty training tips. After all, what led to the creation of the momosphere (and the dadosphere) in the first place was that yearning for authentic from-the-trenches sharing of stories. Bloggers who crave that kind of authenticity will no doubt welcome the "citizen journalism" movement, in which ordinary people are encouraged to tell their stories.

Citizen journalism been around for a while. (The Facts and Arguments page of The Globe and Mail has been the most-read page of that paper for years and BBC News has turned its Your Stories, Your News, Your Pics feature into a powerful way to involve its readers in the telling of news.) But now the citizen journalism (a.k.a. participatory journalism movement) is really taking on a life of its own. If you check out Orato.com, you'll find a news site that has ordinary people from around the world reporting on issues that really matter to them -- and that aren't getting picked up on by the mainstream media.

Can you imagine reading a story about bipolar motherhood in a mainstream glossy parenting magazine or the memoirs of The Koolaid Man in your average upbrow lifestyle mag?

Find out more about Citizen Journalism:
About Orato
Wikipedia: Citizen Journalism
Poynter.org: The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism
Journalism.co.uk: Citizen Journalism: Dealing with Dinosaurs
The Current's show on Citizen Journalism this morning, which got me thinking about this in the first place

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:30 AM

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
If I were a fish, there's only one fishbowl I'd be diving into: Andrea's inspiring fishbowl (a.k.a. "A Peek Inside the Fishbowl").

By the way, if you ever forget her URL, just search for "Andrea" and "Fishbowl" and you'll end up finding her blog.

Anyway, I find Andrea's blog really inspiring, so I just wrote a mini-review of it and included two of her Flickr picks in my (very concise) Kid Art page at Squidoo. That way, the four blog readers who haven't already found her blog can quickly swim over to Chez Fishbowl.

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| posted by Ann D @ 2:37 PM

Live Chat @ 9 pm ET

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I'm the special guest at a chat at Pregnancy.org tonight. Come and join in if you're around.

Here's "the blurb."

Mother of All Solutions

Many of us dream of the magic of having a baby. Few of us, however, envision just how complicated that journey to and through parenthood may be! Enter Ann Douglas, truly the Mother of All Solutions. Ann will be joining us live, Tuesday, January 16th at 9 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Pacific.

Ann's area of expertise ranges widely -- covering fertility and loss issues; on through the curious concerns experienced in pregnancy; that all important first year for you and your baby; the joys and woes of having a toddler; parenting issues galore; and her latest ventures which cover both sleep and mealtime solutions!

Let's chat with Ann and discover ways to tackle the more complicated concerns and seek methods to make the most of each and every moment along the way!

Ann Douglas is an award winning journalist and author of 28+ books, including the internationally best selling Mother of AllĀ® Book series -- The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, The Mother of All Toddler Books, The Mother of All Parenting Books and The Mother of All Pregnancy Organizers. She has written the debut titles in the newly launched Mother of All Solutions Series -- Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and Mealtime Solution for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and numerous other parenting books.

Ann delivers keynote addresses at parenting and health conferences across North America; teaches online pregnancy courses, is an ExpertMom online, writes columns and contributes to various pregnancy and parenting publications, and is a popular radio, TV and online chat guest.

Ann and her husband Neil have four children, ages 8 through 18 and are presently living in Peterborough, Ontario.

We are pleased to have Ann Douglas as one of our Pregnancy.org Contributing Experts! You may visit Ann onsite here and glean insight into her offerings on topics of preconceptions, pregnancy, baby, toddlers and beyond, women's health, and much more!


| posted by Ann D @ 8:50 PM

Oh, Baby! Magazine

The new edition of Oh Baby! Magazine is available online. (Or, if you live in Canada, you can pick up a copy at your nearest Sears store, Ontario Early Years location, or Movies for Mommies event.)

You'll find articles in it written by Jack Newman, Denise Altman, Joey Shulman, Lisa Smith, Elizabeth Pantley, Nellie Caruso, Kelly Pryde and me.

The four articles that I contributed to this issue focus on

  • working during pregnancy

  • pregnancy and sex

  • pregnancy and body image

  • what other cultures can teach us about pregnancy, birth, and babies

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:57 AM

Motherisk Wants YOU

Motherisk is currently looking for participants for a number of different research studies (see list below). If you think you might qualify for one of these studies (you can find more about each study by visiting this page, get in touch with the study coordinator at Motherisk. Often participation involves little more than being involved in one or two telephone interviews; and it can help Motherisk to continue its groundbreaking work on behalf of mothers and babies.

Alcohol Use during Pregnancy
Alcohol and antioxidant therapy use in pregnancy (EViCE Study)
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers and ACE Inhibitors in Pregnancy
Control of Hypertension in Pregnancy Study
Depression in Pregnancy
Folic Acid Before and During Pregnancy
Hepatitis B Vaccine in Pregnancy
Lamisil in Pregnancy
Meridia in Pregnancy
Rheumatoid Arthritis & Arava in Pregnancy
Severe Morning Sickness
Singulair in Pregnancy
St. John's Wort in Pregnancy

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:50 AM

Procrastination Central: The Website!

Monday, January 15, 2007
The fact that I managed to find my way to Procrastination Central a moment ago might give you the wrong impression about how my day is going, productivity-wise. I was doing research. Really. (Just not for something I'm working on at this exact second.) But now it's back to work for me, now that I've passed the procrastination baton along. Enjoy!


| posted by Ann D @ 3:33 PM

Today's Parent Investigates the Childcare Needs of Canadian Parents

Today's Parent is taking an indepth look at the childcare needs of Canadian parents in its February issue (article also available online). Here's a brief excerpt from the press release, which describes the results of the study:
"Our national survey, answered by more than 5,000 parents, shows there is nothing simple about today's child care needs and that there are no easy solutions. Increasing numbers of families are finding it difficult to get, keep and pay for quality care. They're managing with a range of adaptations including heavy use of part-time care. More importantly, the wish list from parents goes well beyond the narrow choices offered by politicians. Also, there was surprising consensus between employed and stay-at-home parents as to what families really need."

More resources:
Link to Childcare Code Blue
Briefing Note: Early Learning and Child Care: How Does Canada Measure Up?
Parent Voices

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:30 AM

The Truth About Maternity and Parental Benefits in Canada

Saturday, January 13, 2007
From Womenvote.ca:
"Almost one out of every two new mothers is not eligible for EI benefits, either because we are already providing full-time care for other children, we are self-employed or we have not worked enough hours to qualify....Often, minimum wage earners cannot afford to take maternity leave, to which we are entitled in law."

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| posted by Ann D @ 7:35 PM

DIY Putty (via Lifehacker)

This looks like it would be a lot of fun. (Be sure to read the comments, where some people debate whether you'd actually save money making your own. I think the point is it would be a fun project for a rainy January day. Since we don't have snow, we need alternative winter fun, right?)

You'll note I've labelled this one "dad" (among other things). This project seems like a natural for my favorite mad scientist.

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:37 PM

And Speaking of Multiples

Be sure to check out In the Womb: Multiples (National Geographic) for some fascinating facts about and prenatal images of twins.

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:26 PM

Multiple Births Canada and the Politics of Assisted Reproduction in Canada

I was astounded to read about the difficulty Multiple Births Canada has had in achieving charitable status. They want to be able to accept charitable donations from large companies so that they can provide parents of multiples with some often desperately needed financial assistance.

So I got to thinking about why it might not be in certain people's best interest to have an influential group like Multiple Births Canada having the financial resources that would allow them to speak up about issues affecting parents of multiples. And then I remembered the outcry in response to the Harper government's appointments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Canada Board.

Of course, there could be other factors that explain Multiple Births Canada's difficulty in obtaining charitable funding status. (I'm simply responding to these two news stories and saying, "Isn't this interesting?)

But having been a keynote speaker at their AGM last May, I can vouch for the excellent work they do for Canadian families -- work that they have been doing since 1978 (the year that the world's first test-tube baby was born, coincidentally, and the world of multiple births changed forever). (15% to 17% of multiples result from fertility treatments: find more facts about multiples from Multiple Births Canada's website).

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:15 AM

H is for Happy

Friday, January 12, 2007
I've had such a great day writing -- an entire day in which the words flowed just the way I wanted them to. Those of you who are writers know what a gift this is. I am happy and grateful.


| posted by Ann D @ 4:02 PM

Betsy McGregor Has Her Own Blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Betsy McGregor has her own blog, as of right now. (I didn't mind subletting to her, but a rising star like Betsy needs her own digs.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 5:25 PM

Remington Typewriter from the 1920s

Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

My friend Cynthia gave me this typewriter as an office-warming gift. It's so heavy it took two of us to lug it into my office. It's a Remington typewriter from the 1920s.

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| posted by Ann D @ 12:25 PM

Statute of Limitations on Worry

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Last week, Karla was asking if the worry every goes away: if there's every a point, after the death of a child, when your system resets to normal and you get the gift of naivety back again.

If there is, I'm not quite there yet. It's been over ten years since my daughter was stillborn, and still -- when something scary and unexpected happens -- I instantly default to worst-case scenario mode. I think it's largely a matter of self-protection. Prepare for the worst and anything else is a bonus. But it's amazing how familiar the grooves of worry and panic feel as I step back into them. It's like I've never been away.

Last night, one of my teens went AWOL for a couple of hours. Didn't call; didn't leave a note. It got later and later and -- as I lay in bed rehearsing alternate scenarios (I'll hear a key in the door any minute now; I'll never see my child again) I remembered a time years earlier when I was waiting for the radiologist to confirm what I already knew from the ultrasound technician's eyes. There was something desperately wrong with my baby.

This time my worry was misplaced. I heard the key in the door and then the creak of my teen's bedroom door. I debated going downstairs at that point and saying everything that could be said about not calling and not leaving notes, but I realized my emotions were too raw. That conversation needs to be had -- again -- but not when I'm as much in the past as the present. So I closed my eyes and drifted off into a relieved but wary sleep -- the watchful sleep of mothers.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:27 AM

A Poem is Worth 10,000 Words

Monday, January 08, 2007
Sometimes poetry captures a moment in a way that no other art form can:

a mother's confession

a poet's letter to his baby son

a father's description of his daughter's power

the kinds of things mothers have to teach their daughters

the passage of time in a child's life

a snapshot of adolescence, springing forth

a description of an unhappy pregnancy

the death of a newborn

a poignant portrait of grief

Do you have some favorite poems that capture different moods/moments in a really powerful way?

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| posted by Ann D @ 12:57 PM

Inventive Minds

Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The mothers and fathers of invention who frequent this blog won't want to miss Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian (another online exhibit). Here's are design specs for an orange Crayon and a Brannock device (one of those foot-measuring devices owned by every shoe store on the planet). (Dad, I hope you're reading the blog today because you're going to love this stuff!)

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:36 AM

Key Ingredients: America by Food

The Smithsonian Institute has created a series of online exhibits that are definitely worth checking out. Here's one that's really fun -- an exhibit devoted to 500 years of food and eating in America. You'll find food lore, recipe trivia, and insights into the art and science of growing and making meals. You can even contribute your own family recipes and food stories. Here's Wendy Johnson-Niblick's recipe for Thanksgiving Jello Salad and story about inheriting her Grandma's recipe collection.

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 AM

Resolution Swap

Monday, January 01, 2007
If you find yourself coming up with resolutions that might inspire other people (like Andrea (Quiet Fish)'s, for example), you might want to post them at ChangeEverything.ca -- a blog devoted to change.

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| posted by Ann D @ 8:32 PM

The Resolutions Dept.

I've been giving a lot of thought to my resolutions for this year and just finished putting together a fairly lengthy post on the subject, spelling out what I hope to do differently this year (and what I started doing recently that I hope to keep doing). My resolutions are a bit different this year -- much less about me.

So what about you? Did you make resolutions? Anything new or different this year? Or are you still resolving what to resolve?


| posted by Ann D @ 5:56 PM