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Fab Friends

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fab Friends
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

Since I posted the photo of Andrea, it wouldn't be right not to post this other photo, too. (You may recognize the bloggers -- Marla (Hello Josephine) and Kate (Crabby Kate). You can read the longer captions for both photos at Flickr.


| posted by Ann D @ 10:02 AM

Guess Who Just Posted to Her Blog for the 1001st Time?

Andrea, Fab and Soulful Etc.
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas
If this was your guess, you are right.


| posted by Ann D @ 9:53 AM

Free Tickets to Acoustic Guitar Concert in Peterborough Tonight

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Number4I have four tickets to this intimate acoustic guitar concert and fundraiser in Peterborough tonight to give away, for free (value $160). It's from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. I was really looking forward to going with another couple, but they can't go (one of them is ill) and now we can't go (our childcare provider is ill), so if you live close enough to get to Elements Restaurant (King/Water) by 5:00 pm and you're the first person to email me, the tickets are yours, for free.

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:18 PM

February Wish List: What I Really Want

Friday, February 16, 2007
....is for MUBAR to write to Ikeahacker to see if the parents of the world can get some warehouse hacks. As MUBAR points out and as every parent on the planet can attest, the family-friendly shopping experience falls apart the moment you find yourself trying to move impossibly heavy boxes from the warehouse shelves to your IKEA dolly without trying to squish or otherwise maim the kids who were, moments earlier, having the time of their lives in the much-lauded IKEA ballroom.

....is for Andrea to land a column in the mainstream media, so that she can shake things up a little; challenge people's comfortable assumptions; make change.

....is for there to be a greater appreciation of excellent quality content -- and the time and effort it takes to produce that content. Right now, there are a huge number of pregnancy and parenting and family websites and blogs and social networking communities competing for the same slice of market share -- and the advertising dollars don't necessarily get divied up on the basis of quality. I have no whether financial factors played into Kiddley's decision to go on hiatus -- Claire and Phil note that they wanted to spend more time with their kids -- but I think it's worth making this point nonetheless. It's easy to forget that the labours of real people are at work on the sites and blogs that we surf in and out of so quickly -- real people who need to make a living, find time for their families, and enjoy something resembling a life offline.

A list in progress. To be continued.


| posted by Ann D @ 12:09 PM

Trash Talk

Thursday, February 15, 2007
We have a garbage limit in Peterborough. Yesterday was garbage day at the office and, when I went to put out the garbage, I noticed that someone had tried to get rid of his or her extra garbage by going on a drive-by garbage rampage on our side of the street, randomly chucking extra bags of garbage at the end of each driveway.

The garbage truck didn't pick up the mystery garbage, so it's sitting in our garbage can until next week. I sure hope it's not filled with something disgusting or illegal.

It's bad enough having your own garbage on the premises, but hand-me-down garbage from random strangers?


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| posted by Ann D @ 1:34 PM

Thank You, Anonymous

I received two cards in the mail from Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation today, acknowledging the two most recent gifts that have been made in my name since I listed the Foundation on my charitable giving wish list. One of the gifts was from Anonymous. Since I have no other way of thanking Anonymous, I thought I'd do so via the blog.

Anonymous -- Thank You!
I really appreciate your support of the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation.
They do such amazing research into issues that affect so many of us and so many of our family members and friends. And given how devastating an impact mental health problems can have on the life of the individual affected -- and how deep a shadow they can cast over the family members of that person: those being cared for or caring for the person with a mental illness -- it is so important that research continues into the causes and treatments of mental illness.
As someone who struggles with depression -- who is currently paying very close attention to those tell-tale physical symptoms of depression trying to settle in: that horrible sinking feeling and that I-can't-quite-focus feeling combined with that I-feel-queasy feeling -- it feels so good to know that someone cared enough about who I am or what I do and what I stand for or something else about me to want to support something that really matters to me.
Thank you.
- Ann

Some highlights of the CAMH's recent work:
Hear me, Understand me, Support me: What Young Women Want You to Know About Depression: An innovative document that gives voice to young women strugging with depression. (As the mother of a daughter who has walked this path, I see this as a very important document.)
CAMH Study Sheds Light on Motherhood, Marriage and Mental Illness (Jan. 16, 2007): Divorced or separated women with children are at greater risk for psychiatric and substance use disorders
Research Highlight: Binge Drinking and Depression

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| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 AM

Morning Sickness Revisited

My recent radio interview about morning sickness with Kim Hahn of Conceive On Air is available for online listening or for download to your iPod.

I also have a lengthy article about morning sickness in the issue of Conceive Magazine that just hit the newstands.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:14 AM

The Lit Chicks Take Richmond Hill

Please join me and my fellow Canadian Lit Chicks this Saturday, February 17th, at 1:00 p.m. at the Richmond Hill Indigo Store -- 8705 Yonge Street, Toronto.

Lit Chick Mama Kathy Buckworth -- who conceived the idea for the Lit Chicks and invited the rest of us to join in the fun -- notes that "the Lit Chicks are up to talking about parenting, children, food, sex, writing...anything at all that Canadian women are interested in talking about. We'll be signing copies of our new and favourite books, all written by Canadian women, for Canadian families."

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| posted by Ann D @ 9:40 AM

Purse Karma

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Whether or not you believe in regular Karma or not, you've got to believe in purse Karma after reading this.


| posted by Ann D @ 10:29 AM

The Parenting Squad

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The Parenting Squad
The Parenting Squad
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

I break out the white board and the markers in an attempt to illustrate the concept behind my upcoming TV segment, The Parenting Squad.

The Parenting Squad -- which is sponsored by Hakim Optical -- will air on Friday nights on Newswatch @ 5:30 (CHEX-TV, Peterborough), starting later this month.

CHEX Television is available country-wide by satellite on Star Choice channel 348 and Bell Expressvu channel 217.

I also do regular parenting segments for Live at 5 -- Channel 12 in Durham Region.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:33 AM

Kevin Wheeler, Cameraman for CHEX-TV in Peterborough

Kevin Wheeler, Cameraman for CHEX-TV in Peterborough
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

Kevin is the cameraman who is shooting "The Parenting Squad" -- my brand new parenting segments for CHEX-TV in Peterborough. Kevin told me he almost never agrees to be on the other side of the camera, so it's a rare coup to obtain this photo. Maybe I should tag this "rare."

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:32 AM

Parenting Reno: The Parenting Squad

Parenting Reno: The Parenting Squad
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

One of the props for the "parenting reno" segment for The Parenting Squad segment on CHEX-TV. We shot this in the kitchen of my office. (There is no kitchen as of yet.)

Behind-the-scenes tv production tip of the week: Whiteboards don't like heat. I left the whiteboard on the radiator after Kevin left. A few hours later, I walked into the kitchen and discovered that it had buckled into a u-shape. It's since recovered, after being allowed to rest for a few days on a chilly office floor.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:31 AM

Love Is....

Love Is....
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

Having a Valentine who makes sure you have fresh coffee waiting for you when you need it.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:15 AM

Quiet! Genius at Work

Quiet! Genius at Work
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

Homework in progress, with a snack on the side.

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:14 AM

Kid Creation

Kid Creation
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

A side view of one of the nine-year-old's latest creations -- a chair/desk you can sit in while you're watching TV and doing your homework. (I know: a shocking combo.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:14 AM

Food Literacy: The Key to Helping Our Families Make the Most of Canada's New Food Guide

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Okay, they haven't added caffeine as a food group yet, but other than that, the new-and-improved version of Canada's Food Guide (.pdf) is something worth getting excited about.

What? You weren't planning on throwing a party to mark the release of the new food guide? With all this to celebrate?

  • The guide was created after wide-spread public consultations and it provides for a greater choice of foods than ever before, including foods from a wide varieties of cultures.

  • It can easily be adapted to meet the needs of Canadians at all ages and stages -- including toddlers, preschoolers, moms-to-be, and seniors.

  • There's no one-size-fits-all nutrition solution. (You knew I'd love this part.) One of the coolest things about this release is that you can build your own customized food guide, using this online tool. (It's the Canadian version of MyPyramid.gov -- the customizable U.S. Food Pyramid tool.)

  • As expected, the guide has proven to be controversial. The key criticism? The guide didn't go far enough in waging the war on obesity. Some critics have described the guide as ineffective (or worse) because it doesn't specify recommended calorie count ranges for each food group category.

    What this means, of course, is that the guide assumes a certain amount of "food literacy" on the part of the user. In order to make the food guide work for you, you have to learn what does -- and doesn't -- count as a single serving from each of the food groups. As parents, we have to pass this information on to our kids so that they grow up understanding that potato chips don't qualify as vegetable servings and donuts don't count as grain servings, and so on.

    I guess I'll have to stop lobbying for caffeine to get its own food group if I'm going to walk the nutrition talk at home.

    Canada's Food Guide Dishes Out Fresh Advice.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 2:41 PM

    Cranky Mama on Body Image

    Monday, February 05, 2007
    "My body is mine again. It might be flabby and lumpy and unattractively coiffed, but sometime in the last couple of weeks I stopped feeling like a vehicle for the continued sustenance of my kid and started feeling like a person who is also a mom."
    - Cranky Mama

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    | posted by Ann D @ 7:21 PM

    Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada Release New Guidelines on Prenatal Diagnosis

    The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) released new guidelines on prenatal testing this morning.

    The guidelines state, in part, that

  • All pregnant women in Canada, regardless of age, should be offered through an informed consent process a prenatal screening test for the most common clinically significant fetal aneuploidies (chromosomal abnormalities) in addition to a second trimester ultrasound for dating, growth, and anomalies.

  • Maternal age screening is a poor minimum standard for prenatal screening for aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormalities) and should be removed as an indication for invasive testing.

  • Amniocentesis/chorionic villi sampling (CVS) should not be provided without multiple marker screening except for women over the age of 40. Patients should be counselled accordingly.

  • Health care providers should be aware of the what screening options are available in their province or territory.

  • Screening programs should show respect for the needs and quality of life of persons with disabilities.

  • Counselling should be nondirective and should respect a woman’s choice to accept or to refuse any or all of the testing or options offered at any point in the process.

  • The key points to note about the guidelines are

    (1) That age is being removed as the key factor in determining whether or not prenatal testing is offered. Now prenatal testing will be offered as an option to all pregnant women.
    (2) Multiple marker screening will be the first test offered to pregnant women under 40. Amniocentesis or CVS would be offered as follow-up tests, if a problem were uncovered and the woman decided to pursue further testing.
    (3) Prenatal screening needs to be respectful and non-judgmental. The woman's right to accept or refuse "any or all of the testing or options offered at any point in the process" must be respected; and screening programs "should show respect for the needs and quality of life of persons with disabilities."

    Public Health Agency of Canada: Congenital Anomalies in Canada: A Perinatal Health Report, 2002
    Society Of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada: Prenatal Diagnosis
    Statement on Access to Genetic Screening
    BC Health Guide: Genetics - Prenatal Screening and Testing
    Canadian Down Syndrome Society: Position Statement – Prenatal Genetic Testing

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    | posted by Ann D @ 3:55 PM

    Test Drive the Popularity of That Baby Name with Baby Name Voyager

    If you hop onboard the Baby Name Voyager, you can test-drive names you're considering for your baby before you saddle your newborn with a real cringe-worthy name, like Iggy Bartholemew or Barbie-Dawn Mist or something. I tried my own name and found that Ann reached its peak of popularity in the 1930s (the 34th most popular girls' name, but it's been downhill ever since). If your name is Marla, your name was cool in the 1950s (the 243rd most popular name). If your name is Jennifer, the 1970s were your decade (your name was the most popular girls' name, period). If your name is Lisa, you were the number one "it girl" (or "it girl name" of the 1960s). The name Andrea was at its most popular in the 1980s (33rd most popular girls name). The name Alexis has been very popular for boys and for girls in the past few years. In fact, it's currently more of a boy name than a girl name. (I had no idea. I need to read more baby name books.)

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    | posted by Ann D @ 11:38 AM

    Because You'll Never Forget Your First Stove

    Introducing...two nice people
    Originally uploaded by wardomatic.

    "Mrs. Housewife, we take pleasure in presenting your new Frigidaire Electric Range, as handsome and handy a helper as ever stood by to assist a fair lady at mealtime. We know that he'll capture your heart and predict that you'll stay in love for years and years and years..."

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    | posted by Ann D @ 10:13 AM

    The Two Worlds of Mothers and Babies

    Sunday, February 04, 2007
    Today's Toronto Star includes an article by Oakland Ross entitled "Saving Mothers...and their Babies". It talks about birthing conditions in Afghanistan, where one in nine mothers dies while giving birth, and pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for women, whose average life expectancy is 45 years of age.

    According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada's International Women's Health Programme, the situation in Afghanistan is not unique. Over half a million women die world-wide as a result of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications and 99% of maternal deaths occur in low resource countries, often within the poorest communities.

    In the same issue of the Toronto Star, Jennifer Wells writes about the "baby spa" and "parental pampering" trends: "Taking the Stress Out of Being Infantile: As the appetite for personal pampering expands, the clients themselves are getting smaller. Welcome to the world of baby spas". Jennifer Mattar, owner of Toronto's Sukha Health Spa and Amy Halpenny, founder of Toronto's Ella Centre for Pregnancy and Parenting (where I used to teach parenting classes) are both featured in the article.)

    The article also talks about the commercialized version of the babymoon (as opposed to the Sheila Kitzinger-inspired babymoon, which involves spending time getting to know your baby after the birth).

    The contrast couldn't be more striking: a world where getting a new incubator is cause for celebration and a world where spa services have almost become commonplace. Can we find a way to take care of our own need for pampering and still be generous with other people, both in our own communities and around the world?

    [continued after a brief intermission]

    The amazing women (and men) behind Mothers Acting Up seem to think that's possible. This grassroots organization is "dedicated to mobilizing the gigantic political strength of mothers (and others, on stilts and off, who exercise protective care over someone smaller) to ensure the health, education and safety of every child, not just a privileged few." (The stilts bit refers to what has become the claim to fame of this group -- the fact that the group puts mothers on stilts at its Mother's Day parades. Here is their recipe for making your own stilts, by the way.)

    And the moms behind another U.S. grassroots organization -- MomsRising.org -- know that there is far greater strength to be had when mothers join together rather than when they try to fight systemic problems on their own.

    Besides, working for change is creative and life-affirming work -- and it doesn't have to be as impossible or time-consuming as you might think. What matters is that you see the injustice and that you feel motivated to do something about it.

    Here's a terrific Activists Handbook -- a no-nonsense guide to making change. (I like this one because it's practical and down-to-earth and points out a lot of the potential perils and pitfalls you might encounter along the way. It's as important to know what not to do as what to do, right?)

    Toronto Community Foundation: Getting a Good Start in Canada -- and in Life
    Toronto Community Foundation: The Gap Between Rich and Poor
    Are Poor People Less Likely to Be Healthy Than Rich People?
    Special Report on Maternal Mortality and Severe Morbidity in Canada
    Growing Gap, Growing Concerns Data (.pdf)

    Mothers Acting Up
    Make Poverty History

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    | posted by Ann D @ 11:00 AM

    Inspiring Music

    Friday, February 02, 2007
    I'm putting away books in my office tonight, listening to some music from Veda Hille. I heard her interviewed on Sounds Like Canada this morning. There's something Sarah Harmer- and Sarah McLachlan -esque to her voice: smart lyrics and an enchanting voice. Great music for shelving books about writing....

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    | posted by Ann D @ 8:13 PM

    Cover of The Pregnant Cook's Book (1970)

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Cover of The Pregnant Cook's Book (1970)
    Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

    Here's the cookbook where I found the recipe below. The Asparacrisp recipe came from the chapter entitled "Versatile Vegetables and Salad Sorcery."

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    | posted by Ann D @ 3:37 PM

    Asparacrisp Recipe from The Pregnant Cook's Book (1970)

    Asparacrisp Recipe from The Pregnant Cook's Book (1970)
    Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

    Here's a rather interesting recipe from a pregnancy cookbook I found in a second-hand store a while back. It's for "asparacrisp." (Think apple crisp, but with asparagus. Yum!) The recipe contains asparagus, bacon, salt, and -- wait for it -- sherry. I'm going to post the cover in a second. It's fun, too.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 3:34 PM