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And Then There Were Two....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I think my writing fairy godmother knows I need to get some writing done today. The phone is still out and the Bell repairman appears to have gone AWOL.

My email won't download because of mysterious problems that are so complicated even my genius techie is stumped. (Momentarily, I'm sure, but still.)

So scratch yesterday's post about email being an option. We're down to carrier pigeon and cell phone.

Here birdie, birdie....


| posted by Ann D @ 9:53 AM

Phone Problems

Monday, May 28, 2007
The security system at the office has taken over the phone -- or the phone line is acting flaky. If you need to get in touch with us, you can still leave us voice mail messages and we'll get back to you via carrier pigeon, email, or cellphone.


| posted by Ann D @ 10:12 AM

My New Parenting Blog at Yahoo! Canada Lifestyle

Friday, May 25, 2007

Confession time. I've been up to something -- something exciting that I've had to keep hush-hush for about six weeks (an eternity when you're eager to spill the beans). The official launch won't happen until sometime next week, but now that my brand new parenting blog at Yahoo! Canada Lifestyle is live, I can tell you guys about it.

I see the new blog as the logical extension of this blog -- a more high-profile way of continuing to blog about the things I've been blogging about here for the past three years: pregnancy, parenting, and familly life.

I'll still be blogging here about the other kinds of things I always have (writing, life as a mom who happens to be an author, and pretty much everything else), but my more pregnancy/parenting-related posts will be shifting over to Yahoo.ca. I hope some of you will follow them there, while still hanging out for the coffee chit-chat around here.

As for what's happening over at Yahoo.ca, you will find that I'll still be my usual research junkie self.

Sure, I've got opinions (no shortage of them to be found, as you'll see), but I like to hang my opinions on facts and research.

I'm also trying to write about subjects that matter to me and that I hope will matter to my audience (a mix of pregnancy, parenting, family and a smattering of social justice).

I want my column to tackle a range of topics and to be relevant to parents in different parts of the country dealing with different parenting challenges and facing different life circumstances. I want the column to be something that people would like to read, but not something that's been so dumbed down that it no longer has anything to say.

Want to test-drive the new blog?

So far, I've blogged on these topics:

  • The Truth About the Baby Bomb

  • All School and No Play? The Call for a Recess Revival

  • Shedding Some Light on the Issue of Sleep

  • Tuning into the Debate About Babies and TV

  • I've also licensed a large number of pregnancy and parenting articles to Yahoo! -- including many that have never been available on the Web before. Here's a link to what's available in my Yahoo! pregnancy and parenting archive so far.

    Finally: I hope to help other parents feel less guilty about what they see as their shortcomings and to stop putting their faith in every "parenting expert" but themselves.

    As always, I welcome input, ideas, feedback, suggestions, and thoughts on how I can best support Canadian parents through my involvement with Yahoo.ca. I realize that I am very fortunate to have this opportunity and I want to make the best possible use of this opportunity for the benefit of all Canadian families.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 10:31 PM

    One More Post About Mother's Day

    Monday, May 14, 2007
    We had our Mother's Day dinner a day late because my husband was working shift yesterday, which is why I'm going to ask you to indulge just one more Mother's Day post from me. (It's worth it: trust me.)

    Can you imagine what it would be like to have someone surprise you with something like this for Mother's Day? What a fabulous story!


    | posted by Ann D @ 8:55 PM

    Crazyquilter's Cool Use for Fruit Stickers

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Originally uploaded by Crazyquilter.

    Here's an inspiring use for fruit stickers. I knew I had to share this with you guys the moment I spotted this over at Flickr. Crazyquilter's art journal pages are always inspiring -- and very accessible, even for absolute beginners like me -- so you may want to check out more of her stuff.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 5:52 PM

    one plus two: April Just Posts

    Looking for some Mother's Day blogspiration? I highly recommend that after you've been suitably fetted by your family, you pour yourself a cup of coffee/tea/whatever and read a post or two from the one plus two: April Just Posts.

    Mother's Day was founded out of a desire to make the world a better place -- a sentiment that is relevant today as it was in 1870.

    | posted by Ann D @ 5:31 PM

    And to All Moms, Everywhere....

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Double-click on the cloud to start the Mother's Day fun!

    This is such a cool idea, too. Wouldn't it be too cool if, once the campaign is over, the onesies were laundered in the motherlode of baby laundry loads and then donated to women's shelters? Maybe this is already in the motherplan for the event. Just thought I'd toss this out as a suggestion.

    Now over to Mothers Acting Up, where you'll find plenty of Mother's Day inspiration, including their2007 event directory, tips on attracting media to your mother's day event, and Mother's Acting Up's famous recipe for organizating a parade and recipe for making your own stilts. (Hey, when Mother's Acting Up calls on mothers to rise up, they give them practical tools!)

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    | posted by Ann D @ 4:56 PM

    The Scientist and the Citizen

    I've been a Natalie Angier groupie forever, so my ears perked up immediately when I heard her being interviewed on The Current yesterday. I think her new book -- The Canon: A Whirlygig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science The Canon: A Whirlygig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science-- sounds fantastic and will be ordering a copy right away. I also vigorously support the point she's trying to make: we have to remain informed about and interested in science throughout our lives in order to be able to make sense of the increasingly complex issues that we're asked to make decisions about, as part of our responsibilities as citizens.

    The good news is that science is fascinating. I never really liked science as a kid, but I've fallen in love with it as a grownup. I'm addicted to reading science news and science blogs because the information I'm uncovering is fascinating and relevant to my life.

    Science helps us to understand what it means to be human and to think through the hot issues of the day, not the least of which is climate change. Without a base knowledge of these issues, you're at the mercy of politicians and pundits, who all have their own agendas to promote.

    As parents, I think we need to strive to raise kids who are literate on so many levels -- and to be prepared to continue to learn alongside them throughout our lives.

    We want to think about being politically literate, media literate, scientically literate, technologically literate, socially literate, culturally literate -- and I'm only just starting the list of essential literacies based on what's at the forefront of my mother radar these days.

    I also think we need to teach our kids about source credibility: how to question the source of information rather than swallowing the message whole.

    We want them them to learn to apply what they're learning and to think critically about ideas. A child who doesn't question ideas or authority is in a very vulnerable place.

    Our kids also need to have a solid understanding of where they've come from, where they are today, and where we're headed as a society (and that means as a society made of people coming from multiple cultures and multiple parts of the world). I want my kinds to consider what can we learn from one another's histories and experiences and what parts of our experiences are different and the same. This week, I was at a meeting where people were talking about how when mothers from different cultural traditions start comparing experiences, they often discover how much they have in common: that in so many cultures there is a shared tradition of a community of mothers gathering around the new mother and providing support and knowledge as she learns to care for her new baby. (It's a lesson that mainstream North American society could certainly learn from other cultures. So many new moms report feeling isolated and alone in a community that can otherwise be a-buzz with activity.)

    Because of all the pressures placed on the school system in recent years -- to prepare kids for standardized tests while simultaneously dealing with budgets that have been pared down to the point that parents are being asked to fundraise to provide to pay for the costs of head-lice inspections and other necessities in some jurisdictions -- we have to be prepared, as parents, to take a step back and consider what we need to be doing on a day-to-day basis to ensure that our kids are aquiring all the big picture "literacies" that they'll need to function in the world as adults.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 4:02 PM

    Libby Copeland on Putting the I in Advertising

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007
    Did you happen to catch Libby Copeland's fascinating article ("Putting the I in Advertising") in Monday's Washington Post?

    In her article, Copeland talks about how we're increasingly doing the work of online marketers, spreading the word about brands that we love in ways that would have been unimaginable until (i) the advent of the Internet and (ii) until consumers became a lot more casual about the once-sacred distinctions between advertising and editorial. And it wasn't that long ago that pitching a concept like "consumer-generated advertising" -- advertisements created by consumers for consumers -- would have been enough to earn some hotshot ad agency junior an express trip to HR (as in "see ya later alligator").

    "Get the audience involved, the thinking goes, and they'll develop a better connection to the product, as well as tap into what appeals to their own demographic better than the professionals," writes Copeland. "Oh, and they'll save the advertisers serious production money.

    "But even when ordinary people are not attempting to fashion TV spots, they are participating in advertising more than ever, courtesy of the Internet. There are whole branded worlds to be explored, some with obvious product placements, and others whose primary purpose is to entertain -- with only the faintest connections to the business of selling."

    If you brand it they will come, in other words.


    | posted by Ann D @ 12:58 AM

    Report on Business: Top 40 Under 40

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007
    Why are women still so under-represented in leadership awards like the Report on Business' Top 40 Under 40? Only 5 of the Top 40 Under 40 are female (the same number as when the awards launched in 1995).

    Is it because the criteria used to identify young leaders for this particular set of awards (vision and leadership, innovation and achievements, the impact of their efforts, growth and strategy development, and community involvement) inadvertently skew toward males or could it be that women who might otherwise end up rising to the top of their chosen fields end up lagging a bit behind men because they (i) choose slightly different paths or (ii) they carry a disproportionate load in other areas of their lives?

    Female representation on the National Advisory Board for the awards (6 out of 27 positions) is higher than the number of female award winners.

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of nominees are female. Maybe women aren't even making it to the nomination round. Hmmm.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 2:01 PM

    Momnesia: The Laptop Edition

    This morning I thought I had my act totally together. I had four tote bags full of stuff to take to the office. My youngest had a laundry basket full of stuff to take to school -- including some fabric remnants we picked up during our recent treasure hunt at Value Village. I arrived at the office, put everything away, and sat down to do some work. Then it hit me. I'd left my laptop at home.

    Now those of you who know me well know that the laptop goes everywhere with me -- to restaurants, to tradeshows, to booksignings, even out on dates with my husband when there's no safe place to stash the laptop. So forgetting the laptop represents a major psychic lapse. Call it momnesia, if you will: the result of a brain filled to overflowing with things that have to be remembered and acted upon all at once, resulting in one important detail ("Remember laptop") being misfiled.

    I kind of feel like I've had one of those nightmares about leaving your child in the grocery store come true (but at least the laptop was safely nestled away at home, on my desk). And while the laptop protection authorities won't be paying me a visit quite yet, I sense it will take my laptop a while to regain its sense of trust in me after this morning's trauma. It's sitting on my lap right now -- the first step in re-establishing that important writer-laptop bond.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 9:57 AM

    Writing Motherhood

    Friday, May 04, 2007
    Mothers have always written about the experience of mothering. They've written letters to other mothers detailing the complex blend of day-to-day minutae and big-picture thinking that go into raising a child. They've recorded the journey of their days in their diaries. They've captured these moments in poetry, fiction, song lyrics, and movie scripts (to say nothing of countless other art forms). And, more recently, they've been inspired to hit the blogosphere to chronicle their lives and experiences and create a community of mothers online.

    Writing about motherhood is a proud tradition and one that many mothers are drawn to, both to make sense of the powerful, life-changing experience of becoming a mother and because they want to capture moments of this journey, perhaps to share with their child, another friend, or the broader community of mothers.

    Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues reads very much like "Simple Abundance for Mothers:" a guided journey to greater self-discovery and creativity as a mother and a writer. The book is inspiring and encouraging, and the techniques suggested will work well for mothers who are primarily interested in journalling (what Garrigues refers to as keeping a "Mother's Notebook"), but who may also be interested in other types of writing. In a short section entitled "Coming Out of the Notebook," pages 253 to 254, Garrigues discusses first steps to pursuing publication and other means of sharing your work with the world (reading your work, starting a blog). There is an additional section on online options for writers (pages 289 to 294), which will primarily be of interest to the mom who is new to the online world.

    The book is peppered with encouraging quotes from other writers and Garrigues has included enough resources and writing ideas to provide creative inspiration to keep any mom writing non-stop. I love Garrigues' advice about the need for a holistic writing schedule for mothers -- "one that takes into account your whole life." She argues that your writing schedule should be nonnegotiable, individual, reasonable, resilient, and compassionate." Very sensible advice.

    The only suggestion I would make to a reader of this excellent book is not to get too caught up in the formal writing exercises and writing prompts that are provided. Use them to jumpstart your creativity on days when your muse has gone AWOL, but don't allow them to drown out the ideas that are perculating inside your own brain.

    What you want to be writing (and what the world wants to hear) are your own unique ideas; your own unique experiences; those raw moments of motherhood that are so fresh and dripping with truth that you have no choice put to reach for your Mother's Notebook and write. That's what motherhood writing is all about and where Garrigues ultimately wants to take you. Enjoy the trip.

    Note: A review copy of Writing Motherhood was provided by the organizers of the Mother-Talk.com book blog tour. I will also receive a small honorarium ($20 USD) for writing this review.


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    | posted by Ann D @ 8:37 AM

    Doing the Compassionate Thing for Parents of Stillborn Babies

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007
    I was looking for a special way to mark my three year blogging anniversary, which falls today, May 2nd. That special way came my way via an email from my friend Lori, who wanted me to know about this video.

    As a stillbirth mother and a woman whose life and whose family members' lives were forever changed by the passing of a tiny baby girl 10 1/2 years ago, I fully support the message behind the M.I.S.S. Foundation's campaign to provide a birth certificate to the parents of stillborn babise. As Joanne Cacciatore states in the video: this is not a complex issue; this is the compassionate thing to do.

    I hope you will invest the four minutes required to watch this video. You will learn a lot about what it means to lose a child through stillbirth -- a lesson that the stillbirth parents interviewed in the video say they hope you will never have to experience first-hand.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 11:47 PM

    Cookbook for Moms Project from MothersClick:
    Project Update

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    | posted by Ann D @ 5:25 PM

    Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: Issue on Autism Spectrum Disorders

    The current issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine is devoted to autism spectrum disorders. You can read the abstracts and article excerpts free of charge. If you'd like to have access to full-text of one or more articles, you have a couple of different options.


    | posted by Ann D @ 12:56 PM

    Playground Politics

    Peterborough This Week -- one of our two local newspapers -- has two "Letters to the Editor" reacting to its recent story about the playground fundraising pressures being faced by parents in certain school communities:

  • a letter I wrote expressing my concerns about the fact that some students won't have access to playground equipment while others will (a "have" and "have not" situation within the same school board)
  • and
  • a letter from another Peterborough resident who clearly sees the situation quite differently.

  • Here's a snippet from the other person's letter:
    "I find it hard to believe that we are born with the right to playground equipment, but I also do not know of any existing legal document in which the right to playground equipment has been afforded to every individual. In my opinion, it cheapens the word 'right' when parties co-opt it for their own particular issues. The existence of universal rights in general can still be debated. When every party with a grievance claims their 'rights' are being violated, it does not serve proponents of universal human rights well. I urge the Prince of Wales Parent Council and all other similar organizations to consider their terms when engaging in politics."

    I can't help but wonder if, in fact, a case could be made that knowingly providing unequal playground facilities could be viewed as discrimination as defined by The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically:
    1. every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreation activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
    2. member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

    And as the International Play Association has noted, "Article 31 is not the only one with direct implications for children’s play. For example, other articles address such issues as the child’s right to be heard (12), preventive health care (24), a broad range of child development areas (29), children with disabilities (23), culture (30), prevention of harm (19); and all articles are encompassed within the over-arching principle of the best interest of the child (3)."
    This document from the International Play Association also appears to be relevant -- specifically these statements, which really ring true for me:
    "The significance of the inclusion of children’s play in this document is not only an acknowledgement of the importance of play in the fabric of children’s lives, but represents a shift from seeing play as a need to accepting it as a right....[Promoting] the child’s right to play is arguably more important today than it was in the mid-twentieth century. Barriers to free play still include the quantity and quality of playspace and play workers (i.e., the need for trained “animateurs” or facilitators rather than “supervisors”) but now include a wide variety of other issues such as over-emphasis on formal learning, children’s isolation, lack of access to play opportunities by children with disabilities, competition of entertainment pastimes and consequent shrinking of time for play, as well as a range of safety issues.

    IPA maintains that play is not only about providing safe playgrounds for children. It is fundamentally about protecting their right to be free to explore and discover the physical and social world around them. This spontaneous behavior of children is fundamental to all aspects of child development and is a key component of preserving community and culture in the broadest sense."


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    | posted by Ann D @ 10:37 AM

    Greek Edition of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Greek Edition of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books
    Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

    This just arrived in the mail last week.

    It took me a while to figure out if it was The Mother of All Pregnancy Books or The Mother of All Baby Books. (In the end, I figured it out by flipping through the book and looking for the due date chart.)

    More covers of foreign editions of some of my books


    | posted by Ann D @ 3:23 PM